Numbers 7. Report of Captain Samuel T. Cushing, Commissary of Subsistence, U. S. Army, Acting Chief Signal Officer.
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 23, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to your instructions, I have the honor to submit the following [report] of the operations of the Signal Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the movements of that army from the 27th of April, 1863, to the 6th of May, 1863:
April 27, 1863. - I received instructions from the chief of staff to extend signal telegraph lines from headquarters camp to Banks' Ford and to Franklin's Crossing. Upon inquiring what rules should govern these lines, I was merely told to have them extended by night. In obedience to which instructions, I directed Captain F. E. Beardslee to take charge of the line to Banks' Ford, and to have the wire extended. Lieutenant F. Wilson was placed in charge of the line to Franklin's Crossing. A line of signal stations was already established, watching the movements of the enemy at the Phillips house, at the Seddon house, at Buckner's Neck, and at the England house. Receiving no instruction, I did not direct the establishment of other lines. As I received no information regarding the movements pending, it was impossible for me to decide as to what points would be advantageous to establish signal stations, but feeling confident that the station at the Phillips house would be one of importance, I directed the officers then upon station there not to move with the corps to which they had been partially assigned. I also directed that the telegraph line should be so placed that, on its way to Franklin's Crossing, it would permit the establishment at any time of an intermediate station at the Phillips house. My instructions were carried out, and the circumstances of the operations, I am proud to say, fully bore out my anticipations. The telegraph line to Franklin's Crossing was erected and ready for operations at 4.30 p. m. The line to Banks' Ford was arrested by our pickets at a point near the England house, and about 2 miles from Banks' Ford. Imagining that a portion of the army would cross at or near Banks' Ford, I directed Captain B. F. Fisher to be at Banks' Ford at dawn on the morning of April 28, and assume charge of all signal operations with the right wing of the army. He was invested with plenary power to use all the signal officers with the right wing, and establish such stations as he might deem necessary.
April 28, 1863. - This morning the telegraph line was extended to Banks' Ford, and I received orders to extend the line to United States Ford. I was obliged to use wire in which I had but little confidence, it having been in constant use for four months upon the line from general headquarters to Belle Plain. I think that justice to the corps demands that I should here state that on the preceding day I had requested permission to abandon this line and bring in the wire for repairs, but was refused. This wire was taken up a distance of 11 miles, was carried forward to Banks' Ford, toward United States Ford, making the aggregate distance marched by the party about 35 miles. This march, considering the duties performed in one day, I consider as being worthy of the highest credit, and great credit is therefore due to Captain F. E. Beardslee for his untiring energy in carrying out my instructions. This line was put up to within 2 miles of United States Ford, and would have been ready for work at night, but, owing to an accident to one of the instruments, communication was not opened that night. The wire