forces under command of General Sigel moved up the Shenandoah Valley to New Market, at which place the enemy engaged us, and compelled us to fall back to Cedar Creek, near Strasburg.
On the 21st of May the command of the department passed into the hands of Major General D. Hunter, who immediately ordered an advance.
On the 5th of June, at New Hope, we met and defeated the enemy, and advance to Staunton, at which point we were joined by the column under command of Brigadier-General Crook. The force then advanced in four columns to this point, reaching here last evening. A large portion of our way the enemy resisted our advance, but have been steadily pushed backward.
During all these movements the signal corps has been used to advantage. The officers are improving in efficiency, and the men also. By the receipt to-day of sixty horses I have been enabled to mount my entire party. Officers have been kept with all detached parties, and at the advance of columns, to communicate with headquarters during marches; and stations of observation have been established during marches and at halts; and thus far all our operations have met the approval of the commanding general. At the battle of New Market the field was too limited to admit of the use of signals, but they were used at New Hope.
I regret to be compelled to inform you of the probable capture by the enemy of 2 officers and 5 men. On the 4th of May Lieutenant Smith, then stationed at Round Hill, near Strasburg, left his station with two men so search for a party of three men, who had that morning gone out by my order to learn the whereabouts of a party sent the night before on a reconnaissance. Neither Lieutenant Smith's party nor the preceding one has since been heard from; but as I afterward learned that a party of Mosby's men were in the neighborhood of Round Hill that day, I can only infer that the signal parties were captured.
Lieutenant Caswell was ordered to Martinsburg by the surgeon for medical treatment on the 23rd of May. A wagon train coming to our column was attacked, and part of it captured, and some officers and soldiers with it were captured at Newtown about the 1st of June; and as Lieutenant Caswell had informed me that he should come out on the first train, and I have been unable to hear anything from him since, I am forced to believe that he started on that train and was captured.
As soon as we return to camp, or communication is again opened I shall forward to your office a detailed report of our operations.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANKLIN E. TOWN,
Captain and Chief Signal Officer, Dept. of West Virginia.
Captain H. S. TAFT,
Signal Corps, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.
Numbers 4. Report of Surg. James V. Z. Blaney, U. S. Army.
MARTINSBURG, VA., May 17, 1864.
General Sigel had an engagement near Mount Jackson on the 15th; about 600 killed and wounded. All dead and most of badly wounded