through mountain station, as that station commanded almost the entire valley. I also instructed Lieutenant Howgate to keep a sharp lookout for him. In so doing [if Lieutenant Ayers should succeed in opening with mountain station] it would keep the general well posted as to what was being done on the front.
About 12 o'clock the general started to the front. The station was closed and Lieutenant Howgate was instructed to look for our flag at the front, Lieutenant Flook and myself accompanying the general to new headquarters at Davis' house, 1 mile from Tunnel Hill. About half mile to the rear and 500 yards to the left, Lieutenant Flook called mountain station, and in five minutes received acknowledgment.
Having herd nothing from Lieutenant Ayers, I directed mountain station to keep a sharp lookout, and, if possible, find his flag.
On going to the front a short time afterward, I saw Lieutenant Ayers, who was watching rebel signal station on Bald Knob of Tunnel Hill. I instructed him that as soon as our skirmishers took possession of the knob to occupy it, and, if possible, open with mountain station.
A number of messages passed during the afternoon. The line was worked well until 7 p.m., when the smoke from the camp-fires of General Baird's division, which was in rear of the station, cut off communication until morning. Lieutenant Howgate, however, forwarded all messages that came from Chattanooga to the front by messenger.
On the morning of the 25th, the smoke had become so dense [owing to the woods catching fire along the line] that it was impossible to communicate. At 1 p.m. Lieutenant Ayers reported to me at General Davis' headquarters, near Buzzard Roost, and informed me that in accordance with my instructions he had occupied the rebel signal station on Bald Knob, capturing a fly, canteen of turpentine, and some commissary stores, which the rebel signal officer was obliged to leave, but did not succeed in opening communication with mountain station.
The morning of the 26th, Lieutenant Ayers opened with mountain station from Tunnel Hill, the smoke having cleared away and the line worked well.
I learned from the general that General Cruft's division, which had previously occupied the left of the line, had fallen back to Catoosa Station, and as soon as night would cover the movements our entire force would fall back, having accomplished the object for which the expedition had started.
I sent Lieutenant Flook to re-open the station near Davis' house. At the same time I instructed Lieutenant Ayers to go to Catoosa Station, or as near as he could get to General Cruft's headquarters, and open with mountain station, thereby [if accomplished] making a complete line of communication from front to rear. At 9 p.m. the general left the town of Tunnel Hill for Catoosa Station. As we passed, Lieutenant Flook closed his station and joined me.
On arriving at headquarters I expected to find Lieutenant Ayers, but on inquiry found that he had attempted to open with mountain station, and not succeeding had left. Subsequently I ascertained from him that he had misunderstood my instructions and had gone to mountain station, where he remained until next morning. Lieutenant Flook, however, opened at once with mountain station, and reported communication open with Chattanooga.