War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0220 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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at Banks' Ford this morning, and at 5.30 a. m. had stations of observation and report established, ready to open communication at any time with the troops on the south bank of the Rappahannock, as they approached Banks' Ford. This morning the signal telegraph line was extended from the brick house, proceeding toward Chancellorsville. This line was established satisfactorily, and would have been in good working order, but the enemy having driven in a portion of our forces, in the confusion of the retreat the line was broken, and great trouble was experienced in [re]establishing it. In the afternoon, signal communication was desired from the Phillips house to General Gibbon's headquarters, just back of Falmouth. Captain [Joseph] Gloskoski and Lieutenant [Frank W.] Marston were ordered to establish this communication. The line was established, but was little used, as at 11 p. m. General Gibbon moved his headquarters to the Lacy house. This afternoon I forwarded to Lieutenant Wilson, who was in charge of the signal telegraph near General Sedgwick, 3 miles of wire, with instructions to cross the river with General Sedgwick and advance his wire, subject to such instructions as he might receive from General Sedgwick. At night I received orders to open communication with General Sedgwick, who had crossed the river. Captains [Charles S.] Kendall and Hall were unceasing in their efforts to establish this communication. The telegraph line from Banks' Ford to headquarters camp was to-day taken up, as the military telegraph had established its own line. Communication was still kept up, however, to United States Ford.

May 3, 1863. - I had fond it impossible, during the night previous, to open communication with the officers stationed with General Sedgwick. Imagining for a moment that they were neglecting their duty, I was about to order their arrest, when I received the following dispatch, sent to me by orderly, which explained their failure to open the communication I was ordered to establish the night before:

ON THE MARCH, May 3, 1863 - 4 a. m.

Captain CUSHING:

General S. has received an order from General Butterfield not to use signals, as the enemy can read them. What will we do? Let us know by the next orderly that comes to General Sedgwick from headquarters.


Signal Officer.

In answer to which I sent the following by the orderly who brought the dispatch:

MAY 3, 1863 - 7.15 a. m.

Captain PIERCE:

Use your cipher to send important messages. Tell General Sedgwick that messages may be sent to him, giving him information regarding positions of the enemy, which will not aid the enemy much, and may aid him. I have not seen General Butterfield, but send this from the Phillips house, where your orderly caught me.


As all the important dispatches had heretofore been sent in cipher, and as General Butterfield had been informed by me some days previous that we had a cipher in our possession, I do not understand why this order was sent. Suffice it to say that it had a most disastrous effect upon signal duty during the day. General Sedgwick's confidence was, of course, destroyed, and no representations would be sufficient to induce him to overlook an order. I directed Lieutenant Wilson to push his telegraph line across the river, at the Lacy house, and establish a line to General Sedgwick's headquarters. This line was pushed out to the outskirts of Fredericksburg, and opened communication, but as General