course above recommended is decided upon and ordered every brigade in the service can be supplied with the means for signal communication.
The successful use of field signals by the rebel forces in the battles of July 18 and July 21 warn us that if we are to meet them on equal terms organizations of this kind are necessary.
If signals are used as thg rebellion, a number of signal officers will be constantly on duty. It is not possible to find better material for this duty than can be found among the regimental officers of volunteers. They are, however, when detailed, subject to a peculiar hardship. By their absence from their companies they lose the chance of promotion by election. There is now no path open for their advancement by their services, no matter how distinguished, on this especial duty. This is not just.
If officers are needed by the United States for this service, and are expected to risk their lives in its discharge, they ought to be fairly provided for. If there are fears that there might be thus fastened upon the people of the United States a number of offices sinecure, the offices may be made to terminate with the war or at the will of the President.
With the view to the formation of a temporary corps to serve during the present emergency, I would recommend that there be requested the enactment by Congress of an act authorizing the President to appoint, upon the recommendation of the general commanding, and for service during the present war, so many signal officers with the rank of captains or lieutenants, and so many enlisted men as noon-commissioned signal officers, as he may deem necessary, provided that the number of captains shall not exceed one for each military department, and provided further that every officer shall be, before receiving his appointment, examined and approved by a competent military board convened for the purpose.
The total of appropriations by Congress for the period from June 30, 1860, have been $ 7,000. There has been expended up to the present date for the equipment and supply of the parties above enumerated, commencing with the service in New Mexico, for the use of signals in the field, and the furnishing the supply train for the Army of the Potomac, the sum of $ 6,452.05. Some of these supplies were purchased under the pressure of an instant necessity, and therefore at a greater expense than need otherwise have been incurred. There remains unexpended and to the credit of the United States the sum of $ 547.95.
The estimate (a total of $ 5,000) submitted before the last session of Congress did not contemplate nearly so great an extension of the use of signals as has been made necessary by the large forces afterward called into the service and by the military operations since and now in progress.
The total cost of one complete set of day and night signal apparatus for each officer is $ 30.
The cost of the glasses with which each is furnished is from $ 14 to $ 30. The cost of keeping each set of apparatus in the field may be estimated at $ 10 per set per year.
To supply all the forces now in the field, that is, to equip them for the first time, during the ensuing year, for the purchase of such signal apparatus, equipments, lights, and stores as may be necessary, I recommend that the appropriation of $ 20,000 be asked for. For contingent expenses, $ 1,000.
Countersign signals. - Serious and sad loss has happened to the troops of the United States on more than one occasion since the outbreak of this