War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0260 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records


About an hour later the chief signal officer, then at the deserted camping ground at Haxall's, whence headquarters had that evening moved to Harrison's Landing, was informed that the whole army would move that night for Harrison's Landing, and he was ordered to arrange such communication that General McClellan, who would remain on board the Galena off Haxall's,might be in communication with General Keyes, whose corps was the rear guard, and be also informed of the manner in which the march was made and of any occurrences in relation to it.

An order was sent to the signal party upon the battle-field notifying the officers of the order, and directing them to accompany the movement of the troops.

Lieutenant Kendall, acting signal officers, established a station on the bank of the river, and through the night reported from time to time to General McClellan, through Lieutenant Clum, acting signal officer upon the flag-ship, the names of the different corps and divisions and the times as they passed on the road on their march down the river. A message was also sent a dawn reporting the condition of the troops and the character and conduct of the march. The general commanding the army communicated with General Keyes in reference to it.

Soon after daylight the movement was so far completed that the last troops and trains were passing. The corps of General Keyes was in position to cover the roads on which our forces were moving. It was raining heavily. A message was received from General McClellan a little later, about 9 a.m., announcing his departure to superintend the landing of fresh troops at Harrison's Landing, and the flag-ship moved down the river.

The signal station held up to this time by Lieutenant Kendall was now abandoned. At about this hour the last wagons of the trains were entering the clearing at Haxall's. The rear guard of the army was crossing the bridge over Turkey Creek, already swollen by the torrents of rain which had fallen. The timbers of the bridge had been partially cut, and trees on the sides of the road were weakened, to obstruct it as soon as the rear guard had passed. The trains, though retarded by swelling streams and the mud, were moving in good order upon the road, and General Keyes, whose corps covered the rear, had every confidence that the movement would be completed with success.

In this movement from Haxall's to Harrison's Landing to roads were at one time so encumbered that trains were not permitted to move upon them. It was thought some of the wagons would be lost. In these circumstances the instruments taken from the field telegraph train were sent forward upon horseback. The rebels of wire were to follow as occasion offered. Of these one reached Harrison's Landing in safety. The other, broken upon the road, was destroyed by the officer in charge.

The last detachment of two signal officers and their men, who had been kept back to enable the rear to be covered by the naval guns if necessary, now rejoined general headquarters, established at Harrison's Landing, 6 miles below Haxall's. A report of the state of the march was made to the general commanding.

The road from Haxall's to Harrison's Landing is at many points, if not throughout its whole course, within the range of cannon-shot from the river. It was recommended that should the enemy attempt to follow our trains in force, two signal officers be placed upon a gunboat to be sent up the river to attack them. Of these officers, one, landing and