War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0483 Chapter LVIII. EXPEDITION TO PETERSBURG, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 2. Report of Bvt. Major Ocran H. Howard, Signal Officer, U. S. Army.



New Orleans, La., August 11, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the detachment of the Signal Corps, U. S. Army, under my immediate command during the month of March, 1865:

On the 26th of February I had received orders to be ready on the following morning, 27th, with one officer as an assistant, to accompany the commanding general o n an expedition, the object and destination of which was to me unknown. I accordingly designated Lieutenant M. A. Ellis, acting signal officer, as the officer to accompany me.

The expeditionary forces consisted of the First and Third Divisions of Cavalry, to which Lieutenants Wiggins and Mayell, signal officers, were respectively attached. The expedition left Winchester on the morning of February 27, and proceeded up the Valley pike. At Cedar Creek Lieutenant Ellis was sent ahead to find the rebel signal stations which had been designated a few days before by a deserter from the rebel signal corps, with instructions to call for a cavalry force if the stations were found, and to capture the officers and men thereon. Lieutenant Ellis proceeded with the advance as far as Woodstock, but saw no stations, and learned from citizens that they had been abandoned some days before. During our march up the Valley a signal officer was kept with the advance with instructions to find, if possible, the rebel signal stations. Owing to the rapid march of the column and the small space occupied by the command when encamped at night it was deemed inexpedient to establish any communication by signals.

By way of Staunton the column reached Waynesborough on the evening of March 2, where Lieutenant Mayell, acting as aide to General Custer in his engagement with the enemy's forces under Early, had his horse shot under him.

The column reached Charlottesville on the evening of March 3.

On the 4th communication by signals was established between the headquarters of the two divisions and headquarters of the army. This communication was maintained during the stay of the army at this point, the stations being also used as of observation, watching and reporting the movements of the enemy's scouts on the surrounding hills.

From Charlottesville the army marched on the morning of the 6th, the First Division marching, via Howardsville, to New Market, reaching that point on the evening of the 7th; headquarters marching with Third Division along the railroad toward Lynchburg, reaching the same point, via Arrington Station, on the morning of the 8th. At New Market the Third Division was put in communication with headquarters by signals.

Leaving New Market on the morning of the 9th, marched through Scottsville to Columbia, reaching the latter place on the evening of the 10th. Communication by signals was here established between the various headquarters. From Columbia, on the 11th, Lieutenant Ellis, with two men, was sent with a brigade of cavalry to Goochland Court-House, returning at 12 p. m.

The command left Columbia on the morning of the 12th and marched, via Tolersville, Frederick's Hall, Beaver Dam Station, Taylorsville, Ash