soldiers or sailors.
These flags were Signal
flags, and the men who used them and made them talk were known in the service as the Signal Corps
What was this corps for?
Well, to answer that question at length would make quite a story, but, in brief, I may say that it was for the purpose of rapid and frequent communication between different portions of the land or naval forces.
The army might be engaged with the enemy, on the march, or in camp, yet these signal men, with their flags, were serviceable in either situation, and in the former often especially so; but I will begin at the beginning, and present a brief sketch of the origin of the Signal Corps.
The system of signals used in both armies during the Rebellion
originated with one man — Albert J. Myer
, who was born in Newburg, N. Y.
He entered the army as assistant surgeon in 1854, and, while on duty in New Mexico
and vicinity, the desirability of some better method of rapid communication than that of a messenger impressed itself upon him. This conviction, strengthened by his previous lines of thought in the same direction, he finally wrought out in a system of motion telegraphy.1
Recognizing to some extent the value of his system, Congress created the position of Chief Signal Officer
of the army, and Surgeon Myer
was appointed by President Buchanan
to fill it. Up to some time in 1863 Myer
was not the Chief Signal Officer
alone, but the only
signal officer commissioned as such, all others then in the corpsand there were quite a number — being simply acting signal officers
on detached service from various regiments.
One of the officers in the regular army, whom Surgeon