"A Manual of Signals: For The Use Of Signal Officers In The Field."
Washington, D.C., 1864.
TRANSMISSION OF REPORTS.
LINES OF SIGNALS
"It is essential that the reports of signal officers should be transmitted with rapidity. To gain time should be a chief consideration. The reports are generally of a character relating to facts actually transpiring, and if they are not known to the proper authorities at once, they are useless. For this reason, minute arrangements ought always to be made beforehand, that the report may come by signals, from the post of observation, at once to the headquarters of the General commanding, if possible. The reporting officer must also, at his discretion, dispatch written reports, with maps giving full information. There should never be delay. The report should go by messenger at any time, rather than incur the risk of losing value by detention. When, as on the field of battle some times happens, or in minor advances, etc., the report is of local importance only, and action on it would probably be taken by immediate commanders, copies of the report ought to be sent quickly to the nearest regimental, brigade, division, and corps commanders. Care must be taken to sign the report clearly, with the name and rank of the sender. A copy of each report should be kept. The chief signal officer of the army at general headquarters, must be furnished daily with a copy of each report for the information of the Generals commanding. It is the duty of these officers to make, every evening, from all the detached reports which have reached them, a consolidated report from all information of any kind which has been received at their offices during the day, the chiefs with the corps, basing their reports on those of their subordinate officers, and the chief at headquarters consolidating for his reports those received from the chiefs of corps. The corps chief, submits his report to the corps commander, and sends a copy to general headquarters. The chief with the army, submits his own to the chief of staff, or to the General commanding. All chief signal officers, in submitting their reports, give their views in reference to the accuracy of its parts. The reliability of the reporting officer, the concurrence of statements coming form officers observing at different parts of the line; the opportunities for correct observation had at different signal stations, and reporting other facts within their knowledge, by which the value of the report may be judged.
The consolidated report from each chief signal officer of corps should be sent in to general headquarters before the chief signal officer of the army makes his general report, and should be accompanied by outline maps, if possible. In this manner, the General commanding has before him, each night, a summary of all the information gained by the Signal Corps during the day, and can estimate its value by comparison with information from other branches of the service.
To render his reports accurate, complete, and really valuable, should be the aim of every officer, and to this end, the hours of leisure which come so often on stations of observation, should be devoted to the reading of works on general reconnaissance, the practice of map-sketching, and those companion studies of the military art which must go to make the education of any really valuable officer. The student will soon find his reward in the satisfaction to himself with which he renders his reports, and the higher satisfaction of the approval they are certain to elicit from his superior officers. There are open to none, broader fields to usefulness, than to the signal officers of the army.
LINES OF SIGNALS.
At the beginning of the war, the use of signals was almost unknown. Telegraphs were novel in armies, not practically well understood by our soldiers, and not provided for in organization. Very little was known of the principles of telegraphic communication. It was not known how simply signals could be made, and at what great distances they were legible. The duty was experimental.
This want of general knowledge was simply because attention had not been directed to the subject. In the progress of the war, the use of signals has greatly developed itself. Signal stations may be really picket posts on long lines. If each little post is fortified, a line may thus be held in the immediate presence of the enemy.
A river passing through an enemy's country, with commerce upon it liable to interruption by guerrilla attacks, or by forces of the enemy can, by the establishment of small fortified signal stations, garrisoned and communicating, say at a distance of nine or ten miles apart, be virtually picketed and be made safe for commerce. This has been proposed in case of the Mississippi.
So when an army has for its duty only to watch a certain line, by a judicious arrangement of signal posts upon that line, it can be made almost impossible for the enemy to pass it without encountering concentrated forces. A heavy force lying back of the line of signal posts, and ready to move in whatever direction it may be notified, it would be impossible to destroy one of these little posts before information could be given to the others neighboring.
The uses of signals upon the field of battle, daily develop
themselves. All the dominant points near a field of battle should be occupied by signal officers. Combined land and naval operations should never be undertaken without properly instructed signal men.
When the Generals of our armies, and the officers commanding fleets, shall have become acquainted with the power of signals, the facility they give to operations, and the ease with which they can be used, thousands of applications will be found which are not now thought of. Each chief signal officer should consider it his duty to cause the subject of those duties, and their value, to be comprehended by the general officers with whom he is serving, and each chief should see that every post in his department, which might be liable at any time to be isolated, is furnished with equipments, code, and instructions to use it. The issue of these notes will render this easily practicable. Similar provisions ought to be made for co-operating naval vessels, and the chief of each department, under instructions from the central office, should be held responsible that no detriment happens to the service from any want of communication between the different branches.
It is to give general knowledge of this kind that these notes are partially intended."