Today in History:

21 Series I Volume XXXVI-II Serial 68 - Wilderness-Cold Harbor Part II


Washington upon my telegraphic requisitions. The horses, equipments, transportation, &c., where furnished in good time by the different staff department, and at the commencement of the campaign this detachment was almost thoroughly equipped, and with fair prospects of successfully accomplishing any legitimate work that should be required of it. In view of a contemplated movement by land and water the following assignments were made:Captain G. S. Dana, with a party of 8 signal officers, to the Tenth Army Corps and 2 of his most intelligent sergeants (who had been instructed in signals) were supplied with equipments and designed to act in the capacity of officers should their services be thus needed. First Lieutenant T. F. Paterson, with a party of 4 signal officers and 3 sergeants, similarly equipped, to the Eighteenth Army Corps. First Lieutenant H. W. Benson, to duty with Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee on board the Malvern, flag-ship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Second Lieutenant P. Carpenter (who was relieved from duty in the District of North Carolina), to the flag-ship of the army gun-boat flotilla, commanded by Brigadier General Charles K. Graham. A signal depot, of supplies was left at Camp Hamilton, near Fort Monroe, under the charge of an officer of the last detail who was not sufficiently instructed to be able to take the field.

On the 4th of May I was informed that the Tenth and Eighteenth Army Corps were ordered to embark upon transports, which, in the evening were to assemble in Hampton Roads preparatory to starting early on the following morning on an expedition up the James River. In anticipation of this movement, some of the signal officers and sergeants, previously assigned to corps were soon after distributed to the division and brigades of those corps. Division and nearly every corps 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. On account of the scarcity of signal officers in the department, but I could be spared (even at this important juncture) to the navy, and he, therefore, remained upon the flag-ship. In the evening of May 4 I was directed by the commanding general to embark with himself and staff on board the steamer Greyhound, and I obeyed the order at 10 p. m., taking with me as assistants the acting quartermaster and acting adjutant of the detachment.

The trip up the river commenced at an early hour on the 5th, and signals were frequently brought into requisition by the commanding general and his subordinate commanders in the transmission of orders and the making od inquiries. The first landing was made by Wild's brigade at Wilson's Wharf, on the north side of the James, and the signal officer with that command immediately established a station on shore and communicated with the different transports as they passed that point. The next place occupied was Fort Powhatan, on the south side of the river, 7 miles above Wilson's Wharf, and here [left] Stafford's brigade, with the signal party which latter at once prepared to communicate with the passing steamers and with Wilson's Wharf. We then pushed on to City Point, and there a landing was effected by General Hinks with Duncan's brigade, of his division. A rebel signal party was found at this place transmitting to Petersburg, even while our troops were disembarking, the intelligence our arrival. The sergeant in charge, his 4 flagmen, his flags, torches, and glasses were all captured, and General