of the corps, enabled the commanding general to be in constant telegraphic communication with the several corps commanders. Second. The country through which our army operated was covered with dense and extensive forest and so devoid of prominent points as to render flag signals almost impossible. The officers of the reserve detachment were instructed to keep themselves upon the flanks and advance of our army, in order to gather and forward to the commanding general any information that might be of service to him. The officers with the army corps had general instructions to make themselves useful as "additional aides when the nature of the country prevented them from doing signal service."
During the battle of the Wilderness, the battles in front of Spotsylvania Court-House, the march to the North Anna, thence to Cold Harbor, and in the several battles attending these later movements, the officers were almost constantly engaged in reconnoitering,a nd made numerous reports of the enemy's movements and positions which aided the commanding general, more or less, in determining the movements of our army. Upon the 19th and 20th of May the reports of Colonel Beale, commanding the enemy's cavalry covering the right flank of his army, to General Lee, were intercepted and forwarded to the chief of staff.
May 30 First Lieutenant J. E. Holland and First Lieutenant W. H. R. Neel were directed to occupy a station at Shelton house, where our batteries were established, to direct their fire and give the commanding geneal any information of the enemy's position and movements they might observe. The enemy's batteries were posted on the opposite side of a creek not more than 700 yards distant from ours, and kept up a fire during the entire day. Lieutenant Holland and Neel remained on duty at this station when every person around them had left, and sent frequent reports for the information of the commanding general, besides directing the fire of our batteries.
Fifty shots from the enemy's batteries passed through the house, upon the roof of which Lieutenants Holland and Neel were stationed, and solid shot cut down trees all around them; yet they remained firm at their posts of duty. General Hancock on hearing of their behavior on this occasion sent at once a special dispatch to General Meade commending his signal officers for great gallantry, mentioning the names of Lieutenants Holland and Neel.
On the 12th of June our army commenced moving in the direction of the James River, and on the 13th of June our advance reached the vicinity of Wilcox's Landing, where signal communication was immediately opened with Fort Powhatan and Wilson's Wharf. The general commanding was thus placed in immediately communication with General Butler's command and was enabled to call for the necmy of the Potomac to the south bank of the James. During the passage of our troops from Wilson's Wharf to Windmill Point communication was kept open between the opposite sides of the river, enabling corps commanders to issue their instructions conveniently and speedily, thus facilitating and expediting the crossing of their commands. June 22 the fire following very important stations were established:
Numbers 1, at the Walthall house, upon the extreme right of our lines, commanding railroad of the city of Petersburg and a section of the Weldon railroad near the depot; a broken view of the country extending from Cemetery Hill southwestward to the Lead Works, and
53 R R-SERIES III, VOL IV