War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0827 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

surplus equipments and stores, and directed that his officers have such, and only such equipments as were needed in the discharge of their duties. His administrative and executive abilities are of the first order. (Appendix C, Papers D, X, B1.)*

Casualties: One enlisted man died of disease and one missing in action.

Department of the Cumberland.-The detachment serving in this department during the latter part of 1863 worked under great difficulties. Forage for a while had to be transported great distances. Finally the distance growing greater and the roads worse, Major-General Rosecrans directed all its animals to be sent where forage could be more easily obtained. The officers were compelled, therefore, to do duty on foot. They were also much exposed at night, there being no transportation for their tents; and yet not a murmur from them was heard.

In January Captain P. Babcock, jr., assumed charge of the detachment as chief signal officer. He instituted many valuable changes in its administration, and was soon rewarded for his zeal and energy by the improved efficiency and appearance of his party.

Captain Babcock, under date of April 27, says:

Herewith I have the honor to transmit copies of rebel signal messages, intercepted by the signal officers stationed on White Oak Ridge, Ga., communicating with Ringgold, Ga., Lookout Mountain, and Graysville, Tenn., and Gordon's Mill, Ga.

Aside from the ordinary duties of this station, as one of communication and observation, the officers conducting it, Captain A. S. Cole and Lieutenant H. W. Howgate, have read every message sent over the rebel line.

The importance of this cannot well be overestimated, when it is remembered that any important change in the enemy's lines, strength, or disposition would be very apt to be noticed by their signal officers and some mention made of it. (Appendix C, papers L and M.)+

Owing to active operations in this department, few reports have been made; hence it is impossible to do justice to its detachment. The work performed, however, has been second to none.

Major-General Thomas acknowledges in a beautiful tribute its valuable services. (Appendix C, papers A, L.)++

Casualties: One officer killed and 3 wounded; 2 enlisted men killed, 3 wounded, 3 died of disease, 1 taken prisoner, 1 missing in action.

Department of the Susquehanna.-First Lieutenant A. M. Thayer, chief signal officer, with one officer and fifty-eight enlisted men, reported for temporary duty to the commanding officer at Harper's Ferry the latter part of June.

These men, with one exception, were recruits who had seen no active service, and were, of necessity, inexperienced in everything pertaining to the operations of a signal party in the field.

At 8 a. m. July 4 Lieutenant Thayer signaled to General Weber the approach of a large force from Charlestown toward Harper's Ferry. This information was the first given, and preceded the attack by at least one hour. Our pickets on the Virginia side were immediately notified, but, notwithstanding the time given for preparation, they retreated disgracefully, leaving Bolivar Heights in possession of the enemy. This retreat left the station at General Weber's headquarters only a few yards behind the skirmish line; nevertheless, Actg. Sergt. Thomas J. Franklin worked continually during the day with great


*See report of F. E. Town and H. R. Clum, Series I, Vol. XXXV, Part I, pp. 46, 48, 454.

+Omitted; contents substantially quoted herein.

++See Thomas to Babcock, Series I, Vol. XXXI, Part III, p. 377.