climate and brought on by exposure), were, with the exception of those on the permanent stations, gathered into camp, that they might be rested. The party was re-equipped and reorganized. Its members had profited by the experience they had gained in the file, and after a few days of repose were ready again for service.
At midnight on the 30th of July the enemy, who had crept down after dark with two batteries, opened fire from the right bank of the James River at two points-one opposite the mansion station, the other opposite Westover-upon the encampment of our army and the transports in the river. A report of the position of their batteries was made by the officer on the mansion station, and was sent to the general commanding just at the close of the bombardment. During this cannonade the officers on the stations on our right flank were on the alert. The gunboat Maratanza, lying on our right, engaged the battery at Westover, and drew its fire. The foretop, in which Lieutenant Paul Babcock, jr., Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, and acting signal officer, had posted himself, was struck by a cannon-shot while that officer was calling the flank station on shore with his lights. The stores camp of the signal party was for a time endangered this night by the shells which fell in it. A corporal of the party was killed and one man wounded.
On the following day or forces occupied both banks of the James River. As soon as they had permanently established themselves on the right bank signal stations were posted, which placed them in communication with the signal lines before mentioned, and at the same time enabled the fire of the fleet to be called at any moment, and to be directed to cover them.
On the 5th of August, and in the temporary absence of the chief signal officer, Lieutenant Fisher was in command of the signal party of the Army of the Potomac. On this day General Hooker, with two divisions, moved to reoccupy Malvern Hill. In the brief combat that followed Lieutenant Camp, acting signal officer, posted on the field at the Mellert house and over 2 miles inland, directed the fire of the steamer Port Royal on the positions of the enemy at Malvern, and by his messages notified its commander of the progress of this action. He also first reported the retreat of the enemy.
On the following day a line of stations connected General Hooker's headquarters on Malvern Hill with general headquarters at Harrison's Landing, 8 miles distant. Re-enforcements were sent for by this line, and over it were passed the messages which directed some of the movements, and finally the withdrawal of the expedition. The reports of Lieutenants Fisher and Camp, herewith, have reference to this operation.
From the date of this expedition until the 15th of August (the time of the evacuation of Harrison's Landing) there were no operations of magnitude. There was the usual routine of messages between the permanent stations and across the river.
On the day of the evacuation of Harrison's Landing the station on the Harrison mansion was one of the last points abandoned, and a party of two signal officers with their men served with the rear cavalry of the rear guard, under General Pleasonton, as the columns moved down the Peninsula.
When the troops were gathered near Fortress Monroe stations were posted at Newport News and on that fortress, and these were worked until the army embarked for Alexandria to take part int he campaigns then making in Northern Virginia.