"A Manual of Signals: For The Use Of Signal Officers In The Field."
Washington, D.C., 1864.
CARE OF SIGNAL APPARATUS.
REPEATING SIGNALS TO VERIFY MESSAGES
"Whenever particular sets of apparatus are to be habitually used for signals in the field, that apparatus should be cared for with scrupulous exactness. Defects in the apparatus not only annoy the signallist himself, sending the message, but they more annoy the person to whom messages are, for this cause, imperfectly sent. A decent, courteous regard for the rights of others ought, of itself, to prevent any person from inflicting on another the consequences of his own carelessness.
Neglect of apparatus is a matter for discipline. Daily inspectors should insure that the telescopes, etc., are clean and in perfect order. If the common field sets of the army are to be used, the torches must be each morning cleaned: they can be scoured with ashes, or washed with turpentine. The torch wicks must be examined, trimmed, and renewed. They must be made tighter by adding new threads to them, if they seem too loose; and this can be judged to be the case, if there is even a slight dropping of turpentine; or they must be loosened by lessening their size, if so tight that the fluid cannot readily flow through them, to feed the flame. The torch screws and catches must be examined, and the torches prepared, in every part, for the labor of the coming night. The torch is to be filled, however, during the day. The flags must be examined, each by itself. If there are rents or loosened ties, they must be washed and dried. A clean-washed flag is seen and read with ease, where flags, dusty and dingy with use, are invisible. Signal flags in use, should be habitually washed each week. The joints and bands of the staff must be scoured and tightened if loose, or carefully fitted again if any shifting or springing has been noticed. Rivets must be reclinched if started. The staff itself ought to be cleaned and scraped. The copper cans and the service canteens, are to be examined and filled. They must be cleaned; and if there is a leakage, it must be temporarily stopped. Steps should be taken to turn in any article thus damaged to the depot. If the leather in the top screws of either the canteens or cans is worn or loosened, it must be replaced. The carrying straps and buckles of the canvas case and of the canteens, must be examined, and the binding-straps counted to render certain that none are lost.
The senior officer on a station, or with any party, is primarily responsible for the condition of all the apparatus; and it is his duty to see, each day, that the whole equipment is ready for instant service. Officers should be held responsible with their commissions for the proper discharge of this duty; and each set must be placed in charge of an enlisted man who will be held responsible with his pay for its condition; precisely as in the case of other branches of the service, each soldier is responsible for the proper condition of his equipment’s.
When the apparatus is to be packed, the torches must be perfectly emptied of any fluid they contain, or the flags and other portions of the set may be ruined by its leakage.
To carry Apparatus in the Field.---On marches, the whole set of apparatus, packed, may sometimes be carried in an ambulance. This ought never to be done, however, unless the officer is dismounted and traveling in the ambulance.
A signal officer, mounted, and serving with troops, ought never to permit himself to be, at any time, without his glasses and signal equipment’s, his compass, message book, or map. No matter for what purpose he is moving, or how little chance there may seem for his particular duty, the occasion may, at any instant arise, when the power to communicate a few sentences would be invaluable. On reconnaissance’s, or when examining a tract of country for signal points for stations, this precaution is to be always observed.
The following is a convenient way in which to carry the equipment on horseback: the large or first joint is taken from the set and is not carried; the three other joints of the staff, jointed together, are carried, like a lance, the butt of the staff resting in a lance-socket at the stirrup; the staff being carried on the right side of the body of the horseman, mounted, and slung behind the right arm, with the arm passing through the leather strap or lance sling which accompanies each set. The torches, flags, and the remaining articles of the signal set, neatly rolled together, and placed in the canvas case, and strapped across the horse, either in front of or behind the saddle. This package bends easily to fit itself to the saddle. The canteen is carried on the left side of the horse, strapped close to the saddle, and the bottom of the canteen is strapped down, so that it can have no motion.
To carry a flag flying when mounted, as in changing stations, or at any time when it is desired the progress of the party should be watched, attach the four-foot flag to the staff, and have the staff then carried, slung as a lance, as described above; or let it be carried upright, the staff held in the hand, and the butt placed in the lance rest.
REPEATING SIGNALS TO VERIFY MESSAGES.
It may happen, that very important messages received by signals must be verified by repeating, at the receiving station, signal by signal, each signal used by the transmitting station in conveying the message. There can be no error in signals thus verified, and the correct reception of the message is made certain.
In the verification, each signal must be repeated by the receiving station, as soon as it is made at the sending station.
The signallists and their signal men, at each station, face each other, the signal men, standing each with his flag and staff in the first position for signals. The chief of each of the corresponding stations has his glass fixed upon the opposite station, and takes his post at the glass. The sending of the message is commenced. As the chief, at the receiving station, notices each signal completed by the sending station, he orders that signal at his own station. The chief, at the sending station, pauses after each signal of the message made at his own station, until he has noted that signal repeated correctly at the receiving station.
The signal-element numbers, made at each station, must be identical. The signals used may be different, provided their value is understood. Thus, if "one-two" is made at one station, "one-two" must be repeated at the other, though the elements "one" and "two," may be indicated at one station by different signals from the indications of the same numbers at the other station. The messages thus transmitted, signal by signal, the sender pausing after each signal, until he sees a similar signal shown, complete and correct, at the receiving station. That his own signal has been seen and noted, is then certain. A record is kept at each station of the signals shown at the other. This record must agree with the record of message sent. This practice of repeating signals was habitual when semaphores were much employed for telegraphing. It is used with advantage in may instances with field signals, particularly with all those kind of signals which are made by position.
There are three styles of repetition: one is to repeat each
elementary signal of each letter combination as it is made. Thus, to transmit and repeat the signal combination "one-two-one" (121), one is made and is seen repeated at the other station; then two is made, and this is seen repeated; then one is made, and is seen repeated. In this case, no signal element is made until the repetition of the preceding element is certain. The second style is to repeat each letter combination complete. As in the instance of "one-two-one", this combination is made without stop, and is then repeated. Both of these modes are applicable to field uses. The first is tedious and rarely ever used. Correctness is sufficiently insured by repeating the letter combinations complete, letter by letter, or a message may be repeated word by word, or sentence by sentence, or the whole message sent is remembered as to its words, and repeated back from the receiving station, showing the same number of words. The occasions for such exactness as requires the trouble of repetition, must be determined by the commanding officers, or by the chiefs of stations dispatching the message."