Today in History:

48 Series I Volume XXXIII- Serial 60 - New Berne

Page 48 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.

Knox, Carpenter, and Craft, the first-named being in charge of the detachment.

For some time previous to the attack a line of signals, connecting all of the important points on the line of our outposts between the Trent and Washington roads with the headquarters of the officer commanding the outposts at Batchelder's Creek, was in operation. Unfortunately on the morning the attack was made a dense fog prevailed and prevented any communication during the first attack on the right of our line from Batchelder's Creek to Beech Grove. The disappearance of the fog during the latter part of the morning made it possible to transmit a few important messages, showing what might have been done under more favorable circumstances. If our line of signals could have been worked during the whole morning it is thought the command at Beech Grove could have been saved, as then timely notice could have been given them of the evacuation of Neuse road bridge, and enabled them to reach the point at which the road leading to Neuse road bridge, and enabled them to reach the point at which the road leading to Neuse road bridge intersects the Washington road before the enemy had pushed his column to this point.

Previous to the evacuation of Batchelder's Creek, word was sent by signals and signal telegraph (which, by order of Major-General Peck, was in charge of Lieutenant Thayer), to the left of the line of has since expressed the opinion that this line of communication enabled him to save his entire left wing from capture.

After the concentration of our forces within the defenses of New Berne communication, maintained as it had been previously from the headquarters of the commanding general with Fort Anderson on the north side of the Neuse River and Fort Gaston on the south side of the Trent River, was opened with Fort Totten by means of the signal telegraph.

Officers and enlisted men, when it was necessary were stationed on board of the gun-boats and picket-boats in the Neuse and Trent Rivers, and kept continual communication with the general commanding until the end of the siege. Many important messages were sent over these lines, and valuable service rendered. The officers and men, as far as my reports show, performed their whole duty, and remained faithfully at their stations, though necessarily much exposed. Three enlisted men were missing, 1 of whom was reported killed, but from information since obtained it is probable he is a prisoner.

I would respectfully ask that in future part of my command be allowed to accompany any expedition in or from this department against the enemy. They would probably be able to keep up communication between different parts of the force. If this could not be done they could be usefully employed in another and perhaps the most important duty of a signal officer in an active army, that of reconnoitering and finding the position and strength of the enemy.

I append to this report a map* showing the position of our station and our line of communication.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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

Major R. S. DAVIS

Assistant Adjutant-General.


*Not found.


Page 48 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.