HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Jones’ House, August 31, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on the 12th instant the Second Corps moved from its camp near the Deserted House to the north side of the James River, at Strawberry Plains, where it arrived at an early hour on the morning of the 14th. The Tenth Corps (General Birney) coursed the James at the same time at Deep Bottom, the whole force under command of Major-General Hancock. I
at once established flag communication between Generals Hancock and Birney across Four-Mile Creek, sending Captain Thickstun to report to General Birney, with whom he remained until relieved by Captain Dana late in the day. Lieutenant Neel was placed on duty on station at General Hancock’s. His station was moved several times to conform with the changes in locality of headquarters. This line of communication was maintained until 1.30 a. m. of the 15th, at which time General Birney with his force joined General Hancock on the east side of Four-Mile Creek. During its continuance the line was much used and afforded great advantages to the commanding general in communicating rapidly with General Birney regarding the operations of his force while separated for the time from the main body by Four-Mile Creek. On the 14th I also established a station of observation at the potteries, overlooking the enemy’s position on Spring Hill, and a road upon which he moved to re-enforce different parts of his lines. A number of important movements were observed and reported by myself and Lieutenant Neel. Lieutenant N., who occupied this station after the breaking up of his flag station, in addition to his duties of observation, directed with good effect the fire of one of our batteries stationed near him. A station of observation was also established just in rear of our picket line near the New Market rad, which overlooked the enemy’s lines for a considerable distance. Lieutenant Holland was placed upon duty at this point, relieved occasionally by Captain Thickstun.
On the night of the 20th our forces withdrew from the north side of the James and the Second Corps returned to its old camps-headquarters at the Deserted House. 21st, two divisions of the corps moved to the Weldon railroad at Six-Mile Tavern, and one of them set to work tearing up and destroying the railroad in direction of Reams’ Station. 24th, General Hancock, with two divisions of his command, moved by a circuitous route to Reams’ Station and proceeded to destroy the railroad below that point. The country in that vicinity is comparatively flat and thickly timbered, and afforded no opportunity in the immediate vicinity of our operations for signal service. One of my men was sent to the top of a lofty pine tree near the station, and reported that the country in every direction as far as he could see presented an unbroken forest. 25th. When skirmishing commenced this morning on the left of our lines Captain Thickstun was sent our to our skirmish line, where he remained until the line was forced back by the enemy. During the assault upon our line, which followed late in the day, no opportunity was offered for our services as signal officers, but when our line was broken and our men straggling to the rear, the officers of my party were active with the staff in collecting and driving them forward to
their commands. On the night of the 25th Reams’ Station was abandoned and corps headquarters established at the Jones house on the Jerusalem plank road.
One of my officers is daily at the station at Fort Warren to report to General Hancock anything of interest to him. His troops occupy Fort W [arren] and the line upon which it is located.
P. A. TAYLOR,
Captain, Signal Corps, U. S. Army.
Major B. F. FISHER,
Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac.
- 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 212-213 ↩