OR XLII P1 #246: Reports of Captain Henry R. Clum, Signal Corps, Chief Signal Officer, AotJ, Sept 1-Oct 31, 1864

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 246. Reports of Captain Henry R. Clum, Signal Corps, U. S. Army, Chief Signal Officer, Department of Virginia and North Carolina, of operations September 1-October 31.1

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF SIGNAL OFFICER,

October 10, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the condition of the signal detachment in the Department of Virginia and North Carolina and of its operations for the month ending September 30, 1864:

In obedience to Special Orders, Numbers 288, paragraph 3, dated War Department, Adjutant-General’s Office, Washington, September 1, 1864, I relieved Captain L. B. Norton in his duties as chief signal officer of the department on the 6th of the month. I found on taking charge twenty-four commissioned officers, fifteen non-commissioned officers, and 173 privates, comprising the detachment. During the month one commissioned officer has been discharged, one non-commissioned officer has been transferred, two non-commissioned officers and seven privates have been discharged by reason of expiration of enlistment and one private by sentence of court-martial. Three privates have died and one has been transferred, leaving at the end of the month twenty-three commissioned officers, twelve non-commissioned officers, and 161 privates.

The signal stations in operation, twenty-three in number, were located as follows: At New Berne, Fort Anderson, Fort Gaston, cavalry camp on Trent road, Batchelder’s Creek, Harrison house on Neuse road, Red House, and Beech Grove, in District of North Carolina; at General Butler’s headquarters, Cobb’s Hill, Battery Numbers 3, Water Battery, on James River, Crow’s Nest, Dutch Gap, General Carr’s old headquarters, headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps, flag-ship Onondaga, Spring Hill, Friend’s house Avery’s house, General Graham’s headquarters, Fort Powhatan, and Fort Pocahontas, in District of Virginia. The stations at Crow’s Nest, Friend’s house, and Avery’s house were used as stations of observation; the one at Spring Hill as a station of observation and communication; all the others as stations of communication.

During the month the following changes in stations have taken place: On the 8th of the month, the station at Crow’s Nest was discontinued, and the tower on James River opposite Dutch Gap, having been completed the same day, communication was established between it and Cobb’s Hill tower, the flag-ship Onondaga, and the working party at

Dutch Gap. The tower on James River is 126 feet high. A good view is had from it of the river to near Richmond and of the surrounding country.

On the 20th station at the Water Battery was discontinued, and the next day communication opened between the James River tower and headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps, at Hatcher’s house, by means of a line cut through the woods, thus doing away with the necessity of keeping a station at the Water Battery. On the 22nd communication was opened by a very little cutting of timber between the James River tower and Battery Numbers 3; and the same day the station at General Carr’s old headquarters was discontinued, it being of no further use as an intermediate station between either Battery Nol. 3 or the Water Battery, and the headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps. On the 24th Lieutenant Brodie, commanding detachment with the Tenth Army Corps, opened communication between the headquarters of the corps and the following places: Avery’s house, Friend’s house, and General Terry’s headquarters. Communication was opened by erecting a tower at the corps headquarters. The next day, however, the Tenth Army Corps was relieved by the Second, and all the stations operated by the Tenth Corps were discontinued. On the 28th, learning that a move was to be made across the James river at Deep Bottom, I instructed Lieutenant A. G. Simons, acting signal officer at Spring Hill, to forward all reports of observation made by him through the Cobb’s Hill tower to the James River tower, and Lieutenant F. J. Amsden, signal officer at James River tower, to watch for signals in the vicinity of Deep Bottom, and if communication was opened to forward to me all reports received from Spring Hill, together with any he might make. On the 29th we left camp and crossed the James River at Deep Bottom. I found, on crossing the river, that Lieutenant Brodie had opened a station of observation on a tree near Deep Bottom. Soon after, the enemy having been driven back, Lieutenant Tuckerman, of Lieutenant Brodie’s detachment, opened a station on an old rebel tower on New Market Hill, and communication was opened with General Butler’s headquarters advanced on the New Market road about one mile and a half beyond Lieutenant Tuckerman’s station. About the same time the station of observation was discontinued and communication opened between the station on New Market Hill and the James River tower. During the day several important messages reporting the movement of troops from Petersburg to Richmond were received at the station on New Market Hill from Spring Hill, and forwarded by couriers to General Butler at the front, it being impracticable to open communication between New Market Hill and general headquarters by signals. On the 30th a station was opened on a tree about one mile from New Market Hill, and near general headquarters; also one near the telegraph office at Deep Bottom, communicating with New Market Hill. The station near Deep Bottom was discontinued at night, the telegraph having been extended to general headquarters. The station on tree was also moved to an open field near by.

The accompanying map will who the location of the stations of observation and the lines of communication that have been in operation during the month in the District of Virginia, with the exception of those established on the 29th and 30th, and those at Forts Powhatan and Pocahontas. I am unable to furnish a map of the stations on the north side of the James at present, but will endeavor to do so with my next report. No changes in stations in the District of North Carolina have taken place.

On reviewing the operations for the month, I find that nine new stations have been opened, that five of the old stations and six of the new ones have been discontinued, leaving twenty-one stations in operation on the last day of the mont. Five of the stations have been under fire during the month. The ones at Water Battery, James River tower, and Dutch Gap have been subjected to a very severe fire. The small tower at the Water Battery has been struck twice. The James River tower has had about 250 shot and shell fired at it without doing it any injury. A few holes in the platform and the barking of some of the braces by fragments of shells are the only evidences of the severe fire it has been subjected to. The station at Dutch Gap has been under fire nearly every day. The stations at Cobb’s Hill and Avery’s house have been under fire several times during the month.

The following officers and enlisted men are entitled to honorable mention for the gallant manner in which they have discharged their duties under fire: First Lieutenant S. B. Partridge, while in charge of station at Water Battery, several times under fire; Second Lieutenant F. J. Amsden, in charge of James River tower, and Sergt. F. A. Lindal, Second-class Privates William R. Owens and William L. Calhoun, of Lieutenant Amsden’s party, several times under a severe fire, and especially on the 29th of the month, when our forces crossed to the north side of the James (on that day the enemy opened a sharp fire from five pieces of artillery upon the tower, with the view of preventing the forwarding of messages to our advancing column-135 shots were fired at the tower, but communication was not at any time interrupted or delayed); Second Lieutenant G. M. Chase, acting signal officer, and Sergts. Thomas S. Baird and William N. Baker, at different times in charge of the station at Dutch Gap, and almost constantly under the fire of the enemy, who was endeavoring to prevent the operations of our working party at that place.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. R. CLUM,

Captain and Chief Signal Officer, Dept. of Va. and N. C.

Lieutenant Colonel W. J. L. NICODEMUS,

In Charge Bureau of the Signal Corps.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF SIGNAL OFFICER,

November 1, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the signal detachment in the Department of Virginia and North Carolina for the month ending on the 31st day of October, 1864:

On the 1st of the month the position of our troops on the north side of the James River was as follows: The Eighteenth Army Corps on the elect, extending from near the river at Graveyard Bend to a short distance to the right of Fort Harrison; the Tenth Army Corps joining the eighteenth on the right, and extending to a short distance to the eight of the New Market road; Kautz’s cavalry division joining the Tenth Army Corps on the eight, and extending to the Central, or Darbytown, road, also picketing down the central road to its junction with the New Market road. No material change has been made in the position during the month. The lines of signal communication of the 1st of the month, on the north side of the James River, were from the old rebel tower on New Market Hill to the James River tower, and to a

point about one mile toward the front on the New Market road. On the same day a station was established by Lieutenant Partridge at a house called by some Chaffin’s house, situated near the Kingsland road, and to the left of the Varina road. This station was used as a station of observation, and communicated also with a station opened same day at headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps. The station at Dutch Gap was discontinued same day, and on the following day the station at Battery Numbers 3, on south side of James River, was discontinued. On the 3rd the station at Chaffin’s house was discontinued and one opened at Fort Harrison, the fort being a better point for observing the enemy, and communication opened from it with the James River tower, and with headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps. On the 4th general headquarters were moved from a point on the New market road about half a mile to the rear of our line of works, to Frayser’s house, and communication established the same day between it and the James River tower and, via James River tower, with station on New Market Hill. On the 5th a station was opened by Lieutenant Krzywoszynski, of Lieutenant Brodie’s detachment, in a tree to the right of and near the New Market road, to be used as a station of observation, also as a station of communication with Fort Harrison. This station was discontinued on the 9th, it being found impossible to see any point on the enemy’s line or in rear of it that would be of any benefit, and the communication with Fort Harrison was not thought of sufficient importance to warrant its continuance. On the 12th another station of observation was opened by Lieutenant Krzywoszynski on a tree in front of our line of works and in front of the left of the Tenth Army Corps. This station overlooks the enemy’s line and some of the roads leading to Richmond. On the 14th the station at Spring Hill was discontinued, for the reason that all the points watched from it could be seen from Cobb’s Hill tower, and one officer be gained for the front. On the 16th general headquarters having been permanently removed to the north side of the James River at Frayser’s house, the station at the old headquarters, near Broadway Landing to Hatcher’s house on the same day, and communication was at once established by Lieutenant Carpenter, signal officer with General Graham, with James River tower. On the 27th a demonstration was made on our extreme right. Our lines were extended from the Central, or Darbytown, road to a short distance beyond the Charles City road, part of the Eighteenth Army corps advancing up the Williamsburg road. The country being so thickly wooded to the right of the Central road, it was impossible to open any lines to the right of the road. A line was established from a point near the headquarters of the Tenth Army Corps, which was near the Central road, and a t which General Butler also made his headquarters, and headquarters of General Hawley, commanding one of the divisions in the Tenth Army Corps. The next morning (28th) the station opened on the 5th was reopened and communication established along the front from the station of observation, marked C on the accompanying map, and the headquarters of the Tenth Army Corps, near the Central road. During the day, however, our troops withdrew to their original position and the three stations on the right of the New Market road were discontinued. The stations at Forts Pocahontas and

Powhatan, in the District of Virginia, and all stations in the District of North Carolina, with the exception of the one at Fort Gaston, which was discontinued on the 21st of September, are still in operation. The station on the flag-ship of the James River division has been temporarily discontinued, Lieutenant W. W. Clemens, with his flagmen, having been ordered on the 26th to report to the commanding officer of the North Atlantic Squadron. The station will be reopened as soon as a party can be spared for that purpose. I find on reviewing the operations for the month that eight stations have been established and ten discontinued, including the one at Fort Gaston, leaving nineteen in operation on the last day of the month.

The accompanying map will show all the stations that have been opened and in operation on the north side of the James River during the month, including, also, those opened on the 29th and 30th of September. The ones marked 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the station of observation marked A, were established on those days. Three stations have been under fire during the month-the one on the right of the New Market road, established on the 5th, and in charge of Lieutenant Krzywoszynski, was under a severe fire during an attack of the enemy on our lines at that point on the 7th; the one at Fort Harrison has been frequently under fire during the month; the tower at James River has also been under fire more or less during the month. The stations of observation are the towers at Cobb’s Hill and James River, at Fort Harrison, and in front of the Tenth Army Corps. The Cobb’s Hill station reports all trains and movements of troops over the railroad between Richmond and Petersburg; it also overlooks most of the enemy’s line between the James and Appomattox Rivers. The James River tower station reports operations and movements of the enemy on the James River, and on each side of it to near Richmond. The stations at Fort Harrison and in front of Tenth Army Corps report everything that takes place on enemy’s line in the immediate front of the Eighteenth and Tenth Army Corps.

During the month ten enlisted men have been discharged by reason of expiration of term of enlistment, one has been transferred, and seven have died. Of the latter five belonged to the detachment in District of North Carolina. Owing to the large number sick in that detachment, Lieutenant Moffatt, at present in charge, had twelve enlisted men detailed for watch duty. I have made no application for more enlisted men to be ordered here, that I might furnish him with a sufficient number to perform the duty required of him, for the reason that the yellow fever has been and is now so prevalent in that district that I did not think it advisable to send more men there until the epidemic abated.

On the 15th Privates H. G. White and James Toman were captured by guerrillas on the New Market road a short distance below the old rebel signal tower, whence they had gone after lumber and forage. They had with them each a horse and equipments, and Private White a pistol and equipments, belonging to the Government. On the 29th Private Toman returned, having made his escape from Richmond, to which place they had been taken after capture.

Lieuts. Paul Brodie and S. B. Partridge, in charge of detachments with the Tenth and Eighteenth Army Corps, respectively, are entitled to great credit for the zeal and energy they have shown in opening lines of communication and stations of observation, whenever and wherever it has been practicable to do so, and for the able manner in which they have managed their detachments generally. Lieutenant Krzywoszynski is entitled to great credit for the ability and energy he has shown

in opening stations of observation,, and for the information furnished by him from such stations. He is also entitled to honorable mention for discharging his duty under fire, during the attack of the enemy on our right on the 7th of the month.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. R. CLUM,

Captain and Chief Signal Officer, Dept. of Va. and N. C.

Lieutenant Colonel W. J. NICODEMUS,

Commanding Signal Corps, U. S. Army.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 652-657

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