ordered in from the advanced stations. General Sumner came upon the field.
At the commencement of the action, which now opened, some shells were thrown from a howitzer on the enemy's right, near Williamsburg road, directly among the tents crowded with the wounded surrounding Savage Station. A white flag sent from the hospital was met by the enemy, and thereafter the range of this gun was carefully altered. No other shells fell among the sufferers.
A few moments later the enemy showed themselves on the line of the railway, and opened upon the troops near the central signal station with a gun of the heaviest caliber. The piece is reported to have been either an 8-inch columbiad or a 64-pounder rifle, mounted upon a railway car, and moved upon the railway. The range and service of the piece were splendid, and its fire was most annoying until silenced by a battery of Parrott guns near our center. The signal flag offered too perfect a mark to be used among troops in its presence, and the station here, with the one established before the action, on the right of our line, and now practically useless, ceased working.
Much of the battle of Savage Station was fought on open ground, our lines advancing across the plain to close with the enemy, who held the edge of the woods on the west side of the cleared ground from the railroad to beyond the Williamsburg road. The musketry firing, as the lines closed with each other, was very severe. As our different lines moved up it was thought at one time it would be necessary to establish a signal station far to the front and at a point much exposed to the enemy. Lieutenants Camp, Wiggins, and Denicke, acting signal officers, volunteered to work this station, and took their places with the line, ready to move up when it should be ordered. By the time the line had advanced the enemy had been driven back, and the station was unnecessary. It was dark when the conflict ended. It was fully 9 o'clock before the reports were received from the battle-field. The place of combat, on which they sought the dead and wounded with torches, the trains of cars yet burning on the railway track, a hospital and large grounds crowded with the suffering of other battles, and long lines of troops, lit up now and then with a lurid light by the explosions of ammunition among the burning stores, were some of the incidents of the scene.
Some time after dark the chief signal officer was requested by General Sumner to carry to General McClellan, then on the other side of White Oak Swamp, the message that he had repulsed the enemy after a severe action and with severe loss on both sides; that he was confident that he could repulse their whole force again in the morning,and that he was most anxious to hold his then position at Savage Station. The message caused some excitement upon its delivery at general headquarters. The signal party at Savage Station bivouacked near the battle-field.
The troops under General Heintzelman moved from the works which they had been holding during the day at about the same time that the line of battle was formed at Savage Station. These troops crossed the White Oak Swamp on roads higher up than those leading over the principal crossing. The signal officers accompanies the columns. There was no occasion for their active service.
General headquarters camp was established this night on the south side of White Oak Swamp. Our troops were all night moving over from Savaga Station. The enemy, quieted by the sharp check they had received in their defeat of the afternoon, showed no signs of immediately