the base of the mountain, that there was but a small force left with which to attempt a flank on the right. So small was it that the Commanding General seems to have been deterred from pushing it vigorously eastward toward the railroad in the rear of Marietta, for fear of detaching it altogether from the main army and exposing it to disaster. Nothing further was attempted, therefore, as I have said, than to extend the right on a long line down along the enemy's flank, with the hope that this would weaken his strength in the centre and render the hills on the east and west of Kenesaw pregnable to an assault. The rebels did not allow themselves to be deceived by this lengthened line; from the elevated top of Kenesaw they could see plainly that our main posts still confronted them, and that the flanking movement was not in earnest. They contented themselves with sending a corps to check it partially, which they did in the fight of the twenty-fourth, as will be remembered. What might have been accomplished more than has been, if the force we sent out that day had been made stronger by details from the centre (which could have amply protected itself behind intrenchments), and had pushed vigorously for the railroad, even at the risk of becoming entirely detached from the main body, and had thus fallen upon the enemy's rear, I will not attempt to say. The result might have been better; possibly much worse. Signalizing, a most interesting and useful arm of the military service is, perhaps, less heard of by the public than any other; and its invaluable labors, as well as its frequent imminent perils, are alike unrecorded, and, therefore, unappreciated. The signal-officer who would bring late and full news to the Commanding General must undergo not a little fatigue and hardship. He must climb high trees to watch the enemy; he must penetrate through tangled thickets and forests, in search of eligible stations; he must climb the sides of steep and rugged mountains, and his bright and showy flag never fails to attract the rebel sharpshooter's fire when he is in reach, which he must often be to secure a good post, or observe the enemy closely. When once a station is established, his flag must never droop by day, nor his torch grow dim by night, till he has orders from his chief to abandon the post for a new one. And yet so great is the mystery with which he must enshroud his art, so profoundly secret must he keep the weighty messages and orders confided to him, and so silent are his operations, that the world, and even the army, know little about him. He alone is proof against the wiles of those “universal walking interrogation-points,” the correspondents, though he, above all others, is the man whom they would delight to be permitted to “use.” But he has his reward for all this. In the clear, upper air where he dwells he sees, as with a hawk's eye, the whole great drama played out beneath him; he sees the long lines of men deployed through the valleys, and knows where they go and why; his eyes feast upon the field of battle, where the columns of attack rush impetuously down a wooded slope, across an open field, and up into another piece of woods, and all is clear to him and intelligible, while, to others who must grovel on the ground, there is nothing but an exasperating muddle. Signal stations are of two kinds; reflecting stations and stations of observation: the former for transmitting despatches, the latter for watching the enemy and communicating the results to the commander. Both are constructed on the same principles, and employ the same instruments. The latter are few and simple. The flag is made of different colors, to contrast with the line of the back-ground, white, black, or red. The one usually employed is but four feet square; for the longest distances it is made six feet square, and mounted on a third joint of staff, to give it wider range. The marine glass is used for scanning the horizon rapidly, and making general observations; the telescope for reading signals at a great distance, and observing fixed points minutely. Besides these, there is a certain mysterious pasteboard disc, stamped with a circle of figures, and a sliding interior one of letters corresponding to each. This is the key and clue of the whole matter, and to the uninitiated is, of course, impenetrable. When a message is about to be sent, the flag-man takes his station upon some elevated object, and “calls” the station with which he desires to communicate, by waving the flag or torch slowly to and fro. The operator, seated at the glass, watches closely the distant flag, and as soon as it responds by dipping he is ready to send his despatch. Holding the written message before him, he calls out to the flag-man certain numbers, each figure or combination of figures standing for a letter. The flag-man indicates each separate figure by an ingenious combination of a few very simple motions. For instance, one stroke of the flag from a perpendicular to a right horizontal indicates one figure; a stroke to the left horizontal, indicates another; a stroke executing a halt circle, another, &c. After each motion indicating a figure, the flag returns always to a perpendicular. There are a few syllables which are indicated by a single stroke of the flag; otherwise the word must be spelled out letter by letter. Experienced signal officers, however, employ many abbreviations by omitting vowels, &c., so that scarcely a single word, unless a very unused one, is spelled out in full. When a message is being received, the operator sits at the glass, with the flag-man near to record it. This the operator then interprets, for not even the General himself is in the secret, and by supplying the omitted vowels, &c., makes out an intelligible piece of the King's English. The rapidity with which all this is executed by experienced operators is astonishing. The
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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