The officer in charge had piled wood under and on top of it, and setting fire to the mass, which blazed up fiercely, was quietly waiting some time after the gun had been rendered useless for its entire destruction. A train of cars laden with ammunition and provisions stood on the railroad track close to the station. This was being dismantled. A great pile of boxes of hard bread stood by the road near the hospital. This was to be left, it was said, for the sick and wounded. The wagon trains had passed out of view from Savage Station. There remained only the troops designated to hold for a time this position.
The signal officers who had reported to General Hooker in the morning, though reconnoitering, had not been called upon for any active service. The reserve party yet remained at Savage Station.
THE BATTLE OF SAVAGE STATION.
Early in the afternoon the troops of Generals Sumner and Franklin, falling back from the positions they had held in the morning, began to form their line upon what was to be the battle-field. Another train attached to a locomotive was started as speed and without guidance toward the broken railroad bridge crossing the Chickahominy. Soon after a terrific explosion in that direction announced the destruction of large supplies of ammunition.
Our lines were formed upon the east side of the open grounds at Savage Station, the left of the line extending in the woods upon the south side of the Williamsburg road. As the line was forming the signal officers, who had been held ready during the day, together with those coming in with the different bodies of troops, were assigned to stations.
Lieutenants Birney and Yates, acting signal officers, were posted on the Williamsburg road as far toward the front as they could be visible, with instructions that one of the party should proceed yet farther toward the enemy, supposed to be approaching in that direction, to reconnoiter; and, returning, his reports should be sent by signals to the central station, placed near the point at which the Williamsburg road leaves (going toward White Oak Swamp) at Savage Station.
Lieutenant Wiggins was placed at a point where the railroad track first enters the cleared ground from the direction of Richmond. Hence the railroad is a long way visible. Lieutenant Wiggins was to report any advance of the enemy upon the railroad or from that direction.
Lieutenant Tompkins, acting signal officer, was placed where the right of our line rested on the deep cut of the railroad east of Savage's house. He was to report any force appearing on our right by the road from Trent's house or over the bridges of the Chickahominy.
At the central station were posted Lieutenants Neel, Marston, and Denicke, acting signal officers. The arrangements were hardly completed when a message from the station on the Williamsburg road and a verbal report made by an officer from that station announced the enemy as not far distant, and moving on the railroad slowly, and with artillery. This report was sent to General Sumner. Other reports soon indicated the presence of the enemy at other points in our front. The shells from their guns began to strike in the edge of the woods near the signal officers there stationed. A final report from Lieutenant Wiggins estimated the distance of the enemy from his station in yards. These reports were forwarded to General Sumner, who, in reply to the last, said he was coming upon the field in person. The officers were