The armies have been older. The generals, more experienced, and with a better comprehension of the modes in which the Signal Corps could be best used, have learned to both employ the detachments with their commands and to appreciate their services. There have been fewer unauthorized interferences with signal duties, and parties have been able to take the field with more complete appliances for the rendering of their services, and with a skill increased by practice. The portable telegraphic lines- always necessary for the best success of the corps-have been furnished at last by a wise liberality of the War Department, and the equipments for aerial telegraphy and reconnaissance have been improved by such additions as the longer service of the corps seemed to indicate. The slowness with which the organization of the corps has, of necessity, been made has prevented so great a utility as may be hoped from a perfect organization; and it has sometimes been the task of its officers, by service rendered, to bring generals to a conviction of its utility, by experience, of the service rendered, only to find each changed as he seemed at last to thoroughly understand and rely upon them. They appear, however (struggling with all these disadvantages, and fighting while they have been organizing, through all the great campaigns of the last year), to have maintained an efficiency equaling that of other branches of the service.
It has been a cause of congratulation to officers of the corps that their service seemed to be approved and sought for in proportion as generals commanding them have proved enterprising and successful.
The corps has taken part, during the past year, in every campaign of note east of or upon the Mississippi, and also in some west of that river, in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Detachments were present and serving at the battle of Ralston Mills, N. C.; battle of Kinston, N. C.; battle of White Hall, N. C.; battle of Goldsborough, N. C.; battle of Murfreesborough, Tenn.; battle of Georgia Landing, La.; expedition against gun- boat Cotton, Louisiana; engagement before Fredericksburg, Va. (from December 11 to December 16, 1862); expedition against Swansborough, N. C.; action at New Berne, N. C. (March 14, 1863); siege of Washington, N. C.; siege of Suffolk, Va.; expedition to White House, Va. (from April 11 to May 2, 1863); expedition from New Berne, N. C. (July, 1863); with combined operations of land and naval forces at Baton Rouge and Port Hudson, Miss. (March, 1863); siege of Port Hudson, from its commencement until the surrender of the post (July 8, 1863); at the attack of the works of the enemy near Charleston, S. C. (April, 1863); during operations at the siege of Charleston, S. C.; expedition to James River, Va., by cavalry forces of Army of Potomac (June 28, 1863); battle of Chancellorsville, Va.; Pennsylvania campaign; battle of Chickamauga, Tenn.; siege and capture of Vicksburg, Miss.; battle of Gettysburg, Pa.
The exposure of life in this service is, so far as can be judged from returns at this office, about the same as that on other staff duty. The risk of capture, resulting from constant service on reconnaissance and at outposts, is, perhaps, greater than that in any other branch of the service. The casualties of the past year have been as follows:
Commissioned officers: Wounded in action, 4; missing in action, 1; taken prisoners, 9; deaths by disease, 2. Total, 16.
Enlisted men: Wounded in action, 6; missing in action, 1; taken prisoners, 22; deaths by disease, 9; deaths from wounds received in action, 1. Total, 39.