Fredericksburg or the other side of the river was cut off, I sought for a point from which to open communication with Phillips' house by signals.
At 10 a. m. I found such a point just in rear of our line of battle, and immediately opened the communication. Leaving Captain Gloskoski to watch the station, I rode off to report the fact to General Sedgwick. This done, I obtained 2 orderlies to carry dispatches from and to General Sedgwick, and then returned to Captain Gloskoski and assisted him in running the station up to the time that we were forced to leave it by the enemy forcing General Sedgwick's lines back after three desperate efforts. During the most of the day this station was worked within rifle range of the enemy. It was abandoned only when our lines were forced beyond it. This station proved of great utility connecting General Sedgwick with general headquarters and all the points heretofore mentioned, through the Phillips house. The enemy being between us and the point to which we were communicating, I believe it to have been the only way of communicating with General Sedgwick. Messages of the utmost importance passed through this line all day - orders from General Hooker to General Sedgwick, and information which must have largely aided General Sedgwick in forming his plans. The enemy could not move a single brigade without the fact being reported to him, and the strength of the enemy's force was reported to him by Captain Hall and Lieutenant Taylor through this station with an accuracy which future events proved astonishing.
I cannot forbear to mention the alacrity with which this line was opened, and to say that it was entirely due to the unceasing watchfulness of Captain Hall and Lieutenant Taylor, for, of course, they had no warning of our intention to open with them from this point; yet we had not swung our flag but four minutes when it was answered by them, and ten minutes after I reported the fact to General Sedgwick, who, in the midst of the excitement and dangers which encompassed him, seemed much pleased, and told me to hold the station as long as the line afforded me any protection, which we did. At this point the only casualty was a slight wound on one of my horses from a rifle ball. while this was being done, Captain Pierce and Lieutenant Clarke had found a station of observation, which General Sedgwick regarded as very important, and ordered them to remain upon it. Lieutenant Brooks also rendered the general great service in the same manner. At dark that evening, our entire force fell back to Banks' Ford, being pressed on all sides by the enemy. At 10 a. m., I recrossed the Rappahannock with Captain Gloskoski and Lieutenant Brooks, and bivouacked for the night, reporting to General Sedgwick on the way. Next morning (6th) reported to him again, and received permission to take my party back to camp, to obtain forage and rations. At 12 m. left again for Banks' Ford, with Lieutenants Brooks and Hill, arriving there at 4 p. m., intending to open communication from the Scott house or England house to the Phillips house, but finding both within range of enemy's guns, and finding the troops all within range if they opened upon us, I desisted, and reported facts to chief signal officer.
At 9 a. m., on the 7th, ordered to return with party to camp, which order was immediately obeyed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. BABCOCK, JR.,
Captain Seventh New Jersey Vols. and Acting Signal Officer.
Lieutenant WM. S. STRYKER,
Adjutant, Signal Corps, Army of the Potomac.
16 R R - VOL XXV, PT I