men, post D, at Whitehead's, Chesterfield County, Va., 7 men, an important post as it reports all movements of the enemy's train in the rear of their defenses from City Point to the Weldon railroad; post E, at Cumming's battery, 3 men; post B, at Fort Clifton, 9 men; stable guard 3 men; headquarters-as clerk and acting assistant surgeon, 2 men. On courier-line, 3 men; teamster, 1 man; scouts with Lieutenant Woodley and Sergeant Emmell, 20 men. Absent with leave, 4 men; absent without leave, 2 men; absent sick, 9 men. Detailed by order of War Department, 12 men. Prisoners of war exchanged but not reported, 1 officer, Captain De Jarnette, and 4 men; prisoners of war, 10 men. The Second Company for the last quarter have been performing signal duty in our front at Petersburg and extending to General Pickett's right in Chesterfield. Connection has been at all times kept up between the posts; the number of men performing this duty is 46, and the majority are excellent operators. This company, since the 8th of October, have been furnished as well as the First Company, with clothing complete, with the exception of overcoats, which have never been issued to the corps as an organization, about forty having been drawn in all upon special requisition.
The arms and equipments of the corps are good, but owing to the exchanged prisoners not having been furnished, and the arms of the sick having been turned over last summer, the corps lacks some the Enfield rifles in the Second Company and some few Austrian rifles in the First Company. The corps has been at all times prepared to render able and efficient services in the trenches or wherever else called upon to do duty as soldiers. As operators and signal men, they stand on their own merits, and can compare favorably with the best in the service. Feeling a deep interest in the success and utility of the signal organization and its deportment, if I find a man worthless as an operator I report it at once and request his transfer to some other branch of the service, where he can be made more efficient to the public interest. The men detailed upon the blockade-runners from Wilmington from the Independent Signal Corps are highly spoken of for efficiency and ability by Lieutenant Wilmer, in charge of marine signals (stationed at Wilmington.) This is highly gratifying, and conclusively proves that where harmony prevails duty and co-operation are appreciated. It affords me infinite pleasure to record the courtesy and laudable interest of the Signal Bureau in Richmond, under charge of Captain Barker, Signal Corps, C. S. Army, who shows at all times a lively interest in the utility of the service by suggesting and perfecting improvements of great service to its successful operation, both in the field and the security of our communications from the scrutiny of the enemy.
On 1st of October I introduced a new system, with an entire change of alphabet, which, experience has developed works with ease and satisfaction to all concerned. The system consists in a series of arbitrary abbreviations, contractions, and combinations, which have the advantage of speed and security from the enemy. By a slight preconcerted signal agreed upon every message can be sent by a different key-word or letter. I have, therefore, fully demonstrated the fact that abbreviations do not sacrifice certainty to speed, and I feel confident of proving it to any intelligent mind in the signal service not blinded by prejudice or incapable of judging upon the merit of the system by success. The operations of the scouts of the Independent Signal Corps in this quarter have been confined to the lower James and Nansemond Rivers; their duties have been dangerous and onerous; onerous from the fact that their movements have to be concealed; no fixed abode or camp; cross-