Today in History:

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


On the 20th also about 3,000 of the enemy's cavalry, under Fitzhugh Lee, attacked Wild's brigade at Wilson's Wharf, and during the fight, which lasted from 2 till 6 p. m., the signal officer at that post directed the fire of the gun-boats upon the enemy and kept up constant communication with Fort Powhatan, 7 miles distant, and could afford assistance, if necessary. For these services then rendered the signal officer and his party received the thanks of the general commanding the post. On the 25th a code for rocket alarm signals was devised by Major-General Smith and his signal officer, and rockets furnished by this department to be used along our picket-line in case the enemy should make any demonstration at night. The same code and system was adopted by General Gillmore on the 26th for the right of the line, and his pickets were also furnished with rockets. On the 27th, by consent of the chief of staff, 3 signal officers were relieved from the Tenth Army Corps and assigned to duty with the mobile column of Major-General Smith, who had at that time but 1 signal officer in his new command of 20,000 men, and who requested that he befurnished with 3 more. On the 30th I accompanied the general commanding to a point on the Appomattox, opposite Port Walthall, and enabled him by means of signals to direct the fire of Spring Hill Fort upon the railroad at Wathall Junction. On the 31st about 700 of the enemy attacked Duncan's brigade, posted at Spring Hill, on the south bank of the Appomattox, and the signal communication previously established between the two sides of the river was maintained and called into constant, requisition throughout the fight. During this short engagement the commanding general occupied a position at Point of Rocks, and a station was there opened communicating across the river with the officer commanding at Spring Hill and with the commander of the gun-boats in the stream. The attack was repulsed in a few hours and the enemy retired.

In the District of North Carolina the same signal stations were operated during the month of May that were found there when I assumed command, and nothing beyond the usual routine of signal duty transpired until the 26th when the station built across the railroad track at Batchelder's Creek was destroyed by the accidental explosion of some torpedoes, which it is supposed were being carelessly handled front he cars beneath the signal station. By that accident 2 flagmen were killed and 1 wounded.

During the month of June the following changes were made in the signal stations already established, and the following new nest opened and operated: The station at Bermuda Hundred, which for over a month afforded the only rapid means of communication had between that place and City Point, was discontinued on the 13th because of a telegraph line having been extended the two points mentioned. Considerable official business between the quartermaster's department and General Hinks' command, and between the commanding general Hinks, was, during the existence of the Bermuda station, transacted over its signal line. The stations previously, established at Battery 1 and the Curtis house were removed on June 11, former to General Terry's new headquarters, which he had changed from Curtis' house to a camp in the woods,1 mile to the rear of Battery 6, and the latter to a tower, 50 feet high, at the water battery, which was built for purposes of observation and to facilitate communication with the gunboats