Today in History:

70 Series I Volume V- Serial 5 - West Virginia

Page 70 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

report for duty at the headquarters of the then Division of the Potomac, on August 14, 1861. This order was consequent upon information which had been received that our forces on the Upper Potomac needed intercommunication between the different divisions, and also to the fact that attention had been called at that part of our lines and along our front before Washington to the telegraphic field signals of the enemy. The general commanding the then Division of the Potomac required a signal line to connect the right of his army with the forces surrounding Washington. Orders to this effect were received on the same day, verbally, from the general commanding the army and by the letter herewith from the Assistant Secretary of War.

The organization of the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac was commenced on the issue of the order herewith. On this order officers and men were collected from various regiments and were gathered at small camps of instruction, which were formed at Poolesville, Md., then the headquarters of General Stone; on the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, a prominent mountain in Maryland, and at Hyattstown, then the headquarters of General Banks. These camps were respectively in charge of Lieuts. Theodore S. Dumont, Fifth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer; Evan Thomas, Fourth Artillery, U. S. Army, and acting signal officer, and Leonard F. Hepburn, Fourth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, who, instructed and previously serving at Fortress Monroe, Va., had been ordered to aid in the formation of this party. The course of instruction in signal duty was commenced at the camps mentioned while the officers there stationed had communication by signals between them.

On the 31st August, 1861, the central signal camp of instruction was established at Red Hill, Georgetown, D. C. The detachment of officers and men detailed for signal duty from the Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps and on examination approved for instruction was the first received at this camp.

On the 12th of September, 1861, the approved officers and men of the detachments from the Upper Potomac were here concentrated. The next day the new camp was organized, the courses of instruction were decided upon, and the central signal camp of instruction in Georgetown became the school for all the acting signal officers of the Army.

For the successful management and control of this camp of instruction much credit is due to the efficient co-operation of the then First Lieutenant Samuel T. Cushing, Second Infantry, U. S. Army, acting signal officer, who, from the day of its formation until it was abandoned, associated with the Chief Signal Officer, labored zealously and with perseverance to fit the officers and men there under instruction to honorably bear their parts in the campaigns of the war then just opening..

The organizing, instructing, disciplining, and retaining for service the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac (from which all other detachments of the signal corps in the United States have directly or indirectly sprung) was attended with many circumstances of interest and many of difficulty. It was a work of no ordinary toil to originate and to put in the field in the time of such a war a corps before unknown. There were duties to be performed in the face of prejudices which were childish, and in spite of opposition born of ignorance. The narrative of these early days and the recital of the modes in which step by step the signal corps won its way will form a part of a general report to the Chief Signal Officer.

At the signal camp of instruction the officers and men were taught.

Page 70 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.