crossing of the Seaboard and Roanoke and Norfolk and Petersburg Railroads, to which the pickets on the South Quay and Carrsville roads were instructed to report for orders in case of attack. Through this station the commanding general at Suffolk was kept informed of movements on the front toward the Blackwater.
This station stood at the junction of two roads, on each of which a company of cavalry was stationed 1,200 yards in advance.
At 3.30 p. m. April 11 a contraband reported to the officer (Lieutenant Thayer) on duty at this station that the enemy was advancing in force on both roads and only a few miles distant. Through the extraordinary promptness of this officer this information was immediately transmitted to General Peck by Lieutenant Strong, who received it by signal at Suffolk. A few minutes afterward Lieutenant Thayer (noticing the cavalry soldiers coming in at a furious rate, riding barebacked) sent to General Peck by signals the message, "Pickets driven in. "Re-enforcements needed."
In the absence of a commissioned officer to command the infantry pickets Lieutenant Thayer took command and made such disposition of them as he thought necessary to check the advance of the enemy's vanguard and prevent the cutting off of the cavalry pickets on the South Quay road.
This actin he immediately reported by signals to General Peck, and while so doing the enemy opened five with their sharpshooters on Lieutenant Thayer and his flagmen (Privates A. H. Eames and W. J. Mott), who were located in the top of a high tree performing their duty, and so remained until the arrival of a regiment of cavalry, when Lieutenant Thayer was ordered to abandon his post and come in.
On the 12th I was notified by telegraph that signal supplies and officers were needed at Suffolk. The supplies were promptly sent, and I received orders from the commanding general of the department to proceed there at once, taking with me such officers as could be spared from elsewhere.
Communications was immediately opened by Captain Tamblyn between the signal tower (which had been previously erected in the town of Suffolk for this vary emergency) and the fronts, commanded by Generals Terry, Corcoran, and Dodge. These lines of communication were constantly employed in transmitting intelligence as to the movements of the enemy.
On the morning of the 13th a message was received from Lieutenant Strong, on General Terry's front, that the enemy had established a signal station at the junction of the Seaboard and Roanoke and Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and were signaling. This information I immediately gave to General Peck, and was directed by him to ascertain from Captain Lee whether he could shell the enemy from their position, and if so, direct him to do it. Captain Lee, from his gunboat in the Nansemond River, immediately opened his fire, and being entirely unable to see where his shot struck on account of the intervening woods he was directed in his firing by signal. The point where each shot struck, with direction as to change of range, was given him through signals by Lieutenant Thayer, who noted the effect of each shot from the tower in Suffolk and transmitted the same to Captain Lee by signals. After firing a number of shots, most of which struck well, Lieutenant Thayer signaled to Captain Lee the enemy's signal station was abandoned.
On the 14th Lieutenant Young, stationed at headquarters of General Corcoran, at Fort Union, together with numerous other messages, trans
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