War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0824 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

and six in the District of Virginia. The former gave the removal commanding our forces at new Berne communication with al parts of his picket-line and with the three forts defending the town.

Whenever the enemy threatened or attacked our lines in the vicinity of New Berne the signal communication established was found to be of the utmost importance. It enabled the commanding officer to speedily concentrate his forces at the threatened point, and thus render the line defensible by a less number of men than it would otherwise have required.

Four of the stations in the District of Virginia constituted a line of signals which connected the left and center of our intrenchments south and west of Portsmouth with the headquarters of Brigadier-General Heckman, who commanded that position. Of the remaining stations one was at Yorktown, the other at Gloucester Point. These stations were extensively employed each day in the transmission of official dispatches, particularly after the concentration of the Eighteenth Army Corps at Yorktown and the Tenth at Gloucester Point.

April 9 Captain L. B. Norton relieved Captain Merril as chief signal officer of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. As active operations were about to commence the detachment was at once prepared for action in the field.

On the 15th of May the Tenth and Eighteenth Army Corps, embarked on transports, started on an expedition up the James River. Each corps, division, and nearly every brigade commander had with him upon the steamer occupied as his headquarters the means of communicating by signals with his commanding officers as they moved up the river.

At City Point a rebel signal party was captured while transmitting to Petersburg the arrival of our troops. it consisted of a sergeant in charge and four flagmen. Their flags, torches, and glasses fell into our hands. Their station was immediately occupied and communication opened with general headquarters, on board the Greyhound, and with other boats as they came in view.

May 6 the signal officer at Wilson's Wharf accompanied a detachment of the First U. S. Colored Troops, which captured the rebel signal station party and equipments at Sandy Point, on the James River. The enemy's signalists made an armed defense and the sergeant in charge, with three of his men, were killed. The record of all the dispatches and reports sent and received through that rebel station was captured and forwarded to the commanding-general.

May 7 an officer was sent to Turkey Bend to open a temporary intermediate station between the flag-ship Malvern, which had moved up the James to Curl's Neck, and general headquarters on the Greyhound. Through this line Admiral Lee transmitted his official report to the Navy Department of the loss of the gun- boats Showsheen and Commodore Jones, the former having been destroyed by a rebel battery, the latter by rebel torpedo.

Constant communication was kept open between the gun-boats and the land forces whenever they co-operated. Important service was rendered on the following occasions: During the advance of the gun-boats up the Appomattox May 8; a reconnaissance in force toward Petersburg on the 9th; their return to camp on the 10th; the occupation of Spring Hill, and a general advance to gain possession of the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad and turnpike on the 12th.

On the 20th the enemy attacked Wild's brigade at Wilson's Wharf, and during the fight, which lasted from 2 till 6 p. m., the signal