War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0218 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

was in bad order, and the instrument was not sufficiently strong to work through the wire with success. A heavy rain-storm during the day, and the scattered condition of our forces, prevented the establishment of communication by flags.

April 29, 1863. - The telegraph line was extended to United States Ford, but the instrument would not work it successfully. It was possible to work, but it did not work well. Captain Beardslee was immediately sent forward to examine and repair. He reported at 9 p. m. that the instruments were repaired and that the lines were in working order. During the day, stations, commenced yesterday but prevented from working by the rain, were completely established at Taylor's Hill and at the Fitzhugh house, making a continuous line of communication from Buckner's Neck to the Phillips house. Lieutenant [Louis R.] Fortescue, at the Fitzhugh house, was in such a position to watch the line of railroad of the enemy at the depot near Hamilton's Crossing, and made, as I am informed, frequent reports. Captain P. Babcock was directed this morning to assume command of signal duty upon the left wing of the army. During the day I received several reports from officers on duty to watch the movements of the enemy, all of which were promptly forwarded for the information of the general commanding. About 9.30 p. m. I received a dispatch from Lieutenant A. B. Jerome, at United States Ford, giving secondary information regarding points upon which he and his informant were uncertain. This dispatch was not sent until after 9 p. m., and was injudiciously dated 5.30 p. m., being the time the wagons and balloon were seen. As it was very uncertain, and I did not desire to forward any information which would tend to mislead, I telegraphed back to the officer for further information. Before doing so, however, I submitted the dispatch to the assistant adjutant-general of the army, and informed him of the action I was going to take. The answer to my dispatch reached me about 10.30 p. m., and a statement embodying both the dispatches was immediately sent to the chief of staff, without regard to my impressions of their truth or importance. I was also informed that if these dispatches had reached the chief of staff one-half hour previously, they would have been received in time to have been submitted to the commanding general before he went to bed, and that his repose was worth more than the commissions of a dozen signal officers. In obedience to these instructions, I forwarded thereafter all dispatches without taking copies, and I have no retained messages regarding movements of the enemy to submit with this report since that date. During the morning, Lieutenants [J. Calvin] Wiggins and [N. Henry] Camp, with General Reynolds, opened communication with Captain Kendall, near General Sedgwick's headquarters.

April 30, 1863. - On this day the Morse operators were placed upon the line of telegraph wire previously extended to Banks' Ford. These instruments, being attached to more powerful batteries, were more successful in their working than the magnetic instruments had been, but to what extent I am unable to state, as the management of the line was taken from me, and I could obtain no reports. I was merely held responsible for the wire, subject partially to orders or instructions from the citizen operators. I am of the opinion, however, that with the instruments under my control, after the necessary adjustments had been made, I could have so kept up communication as to relieve the corps from the unfortunate opinion formed of it from the accident of the predecing day. Communication by the signal telegraph was kept up to United States Ford, and Lieutenant Jerome extended the line across the river at United States Ford, and opened a station at the brick