rebellion by the collision of friendly troops. The attention of the general commanding the Army of the Potomac was early called to this matter. Under the instructions emanating from him a plan of countersign signals has been devised, which will, in my opinion, render such collision impossible. These signals will be furnished to every regiment of the Army of the Potomac. I recommend that such signals be introduced with all the armies of the United States.
At a time when almost every family has sent its representative to the war, it is but right that every safeguard should be given that precious lives will not be sacrificed through the want of provision or by carelessness and inattention.
The equipments and stores of countersign signals have been furnished on special requisitions by the Ordnance Department.
Portable and flying electric telegraphs. - On June 27, 1861, I submitted an estimate for the sum of $ 10,000 to be expended in the construction of movable (portable and flying) electric telegraphs. For reasons known to the Honorable Secretary of War this estimate was not submitted to Congress.
At the battle of Manassas there were no portable or flying telegraphs. Soon after the battle, on August 6, 1861, I submitted a proposition for the construction and use with the army in the field of portable and flying telegraphs. This paper, indorsed by General McDowell, commanding the Department of Northeastern Virginia, and approved by Major-General McClellan, then commanding the Division of the Potomac, was not returned from the office of the Secretary of War. On August 17, 1861, I was authorized in a letter conveying other orders to purchase a small telegraphic train. Acting upon this authority I have caused to be constructed model reels and specimens of portable telegraphs.
I have been delayed in the discharge of this duty because no sum of money was distinctly placed at my disposal and no direct and explicit orders gave me the powers I needed and had asked for the organization and equipment of the telegraphic train.
To obviate such difficulty in future I recommend that an appropriation of $ 30,000 be asked from Congress; this sum to be expended under the direction of the signal officer in the construction and equipment of portable and flying telegraphs to be used with the different armies of the United States.
The experiments I have caused to be made render it certain that movable electric apparatus can be made of great simplicity and at reasonable rates; that such apparatus can, it is probable, be so constructed and arranged as to be worked by any intelligent person who can read and write, with very little previous experience or practice, and that with properly organized parties it can be extended between designated points with sufficient speed and in so simple a manner as to render it practicable to use such telegraphs everywhere with the Army.
The organization of such parties, which can be detailed from the regiments, and their equipment with perfect electric apparatus promises so great advantages to the service that I ask for this subject the careful consideration of the Secretary of War.
I inclose herewith, in brief, the estimates of sums required.*
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALBERT J. MYER,
Signal Officer U. S. Army.