• Stop 8 - Emmitsburg Signal Station
  • Stop 10 - Washington Monument Signal Station
  • Stop 12 - Elk Mountain Signal Station
  • Drive toward the center of GETTYSBURG and- turn left on FAIRFIELD ROAD (HWY 116). Drive 9.3 miles passing through FAIRFIELD and turn right on JACKIS MOUNTAIN ROAD. (Jack's Mountain road is not marked. There is (was?) a large billboard advertising the Gettysburg Game Park at the turn-off.) Drive 1.3 miles and turn left on PINEHILL ROAD and take the first right on WARREN ROAD. Drive about 100 yards and stop at the intersection of WARREN ROAD and GLADYS ROAD. Park your car and stand by the telephone pole.


    The exact location of the Jack's Mountain signal station is not known. However, this location gives you a sense of the panoramic view which was available to the signal team operating on this mountain. Take your compass and orient yourself by sighting the National Tower at 70 degrees. Now you can find Little Round Top at 73 degrees. Looking to the left you can see the dome of the Pennsylvania monument and the obelisk of the Congressional monument. Realizing that there was less timber on the field in 1863, you can see that a signal team on this mountain would have had a clear view of troop movements.

    This station was occupied by Capt. C. S. Kendall and Lieut. L. R. Fottescue who were ordered here by Capt. Norton when he was at Emmitsburg enroute to the battlefield. They were able to establish flag signals with Taneytown but were never successful in opening flag signals with the Little Round Top station. Confederate troop movements were visible to include the initial formations massing for Pickett's Charge. This information was signaled to Taneytown but not to the Round Top station. The signalmen at Little Round Top were clearly visible and Lieut. Fortescue sent a courier to the battlefield to tell Capt. Norton that the team could see the Round Top station.

    [J. Willard Brown, Signal Corps, U.S.A. in the War of the Rebellion, New York, Arno Press, 1974, p. 370]

    The information which could have been made available to the Commanding General if the signal officers were more aggressive in contacting each other might have influenced the action. The lack of control exercised by Capt. Norton over the various stations was a limiting factor in the effectiveness of the Signal Corps at this stage in the campaign.

    After the battle was over, Capt. Kendall and Lieut. Fortescue were captured by the Confederates. J. Willard Brown, the historian of the U.S. Veteran Signal Corps Association, tells the interesting story:

    On Saturday morning, July 4th, at about 6 o'clock, a farmer rode up to the station and hurriedly informed the signal party there stationed that the rebel cavalry (a squad of about twenty) were coming down the Millerstown Pike, intending to capture them, that they had fed and watered their horses at his place during the night, and had been heard to refer to the signal flag, which they remarked would be looked after at daylight.

    Being thoroughly satisfied of the truth of this report from the numerous cavalry squads seen on the pike, the signalmen were soon in their saddles and were shown a road not much frequented, which led them to the Millerstown road near Emmitsburg. Arriving at the latter town, they made a detour of the Catholic College and were soon galloping hard for Taneytown. Later in the day, when near the latter place, they met the advance of Kilpatrick's Division of cavalry going in the direction of Emmittsburg, and, as they had received no orders to leave their station, they returned with them to again occupy it.

    When they reached the town it was dark and raining quite hard, a night wholly impracticable for signalling, but with the hope that it might clear away they dismounted under a shed and awaited the rear the cavalry then slowly passing through the town. At twelve o'clock, the last of them had passed.

    They had been informed by members of Kilpatrick's staff that Lee's entire army had retreated through the Montery or Fairfield Gap, and that our army would advance at daylight. Acting upon this information, not having had a word from Capt. Norton, and realizing the impossibility of using torches or of seeing the opposite station in such a rain, as well as the extreme probability of a change of stations owing to Lee's repulse, they turned into a barn near the foot of the mountain, stationed a man on guard near the road, while Kendall and Fortescue made a bed on the floor of the house adjoining.

    Before daylight, Stuart's cavalry having been cut off by Kilpatrick, who occupied the gap in Lee's rear, commenced retreating southward to find an unoccupied gap, and, although the enemy's cavalry were on the roads all around them within three hours after they had lain down, the guard did not recognize the rebels but supposed them to be Kilpatrick's men.

    As daylight dawned, he discovered his mistake and awoke the rest of the party, but too late. The thieving propensity of the rebel cavalry for horseflesh soon led them to the barn, and before very long the signal detachment had taken up the line of march for Richmond.

    [J. Willard Brown, Signal Corps, U._S.A. in the War of the Rebellion, New York, Arno Press, 1974, pp. 370-371.]

    The conduct of signal officers had become a concern to the Chief Signal Officer who issued a General Order in June of 1863 which outlined a "code of conduct." There had been cases where the actions of signal officers had caused panic and confusion within the Army, and this order is interesting in that it not only prescribe conduct to prevent over-reaction from exaggerated reports but also outlines proper conduct in the face of the enemy to prevent capture or compromise of equipment or information which would have an intelligence value to the enemy.
    General Order issued by Col Albert J. Myer, Chief Signal Officer, U.S. Army


    No.9, Washington, D.C., June 26, 1863.

    I. It having come to the knowledge of the Signal Officer of the Army that,in some instances officers of the Signal Corps have transmitted information by signals of such a character as to produce alarm, uproar, and confusion among troops, and the inhabitants of town or cities with which they may be in communication, which reports have often been without foundation, the officer thereby being guilty of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, it is hereby ordered and enjoined that all signal officers shall be held fully responsible and amenable to the military regulations of the Army for such stampede reports forwarded without foundation or forethought. of this

    II. Under all circumstances must officers corps be fully cognizant of the responsibility resting upon them as proper and reliable sources of information or means of communications, such information being in most cases for the use of the commanding general or other officers commanding troops, and being the foundation of important movements or operations of the Army or Navy.

    III. Reports must be make fully, concise, and clear, detailing all important discoveries, such as movements of the enemy, direction taken, probable numbers, whether artillery, cavalry, or infantry, and their position taken by compass from the station of observation. They must be made quietly, and written or delivered without the slightest exaggeration or excitement.

    IV. Should the enemy be discovered advancing toward an officer or station, the signal party must not fall back until it is absolutely necessary to prevent capture, previously reporting to headquarters the advance of the enemy, and then a retreat must be effected quietly, and as much under cover as possible, taking care to create no needless alarm.

    V. Every precaution must be taken that no signal apparatus, glasses, or papers of any description fall into the hands of the enemy. If necessary to prevent capture, everything will be destroyed.

    VI. Chief signal officers of departments-or army corps are required to see that the provisions of this order are fully carried out and that it is promulgated to every officer of the detachment. Nothing gives to commanding generals greater confidence in their informants than to see that they at least are not in the slightest degree excited, stampeded, or alarmed.

    VII. It is designed that the officers and men of this corps shall become known and noticed throughout the Army for their bravery, coolness, and reliability under the most trying circumstances. Every officer not only bears upon himself the responsibility of sustaining his individual honor and reputation, but the honor of a corps performing its duties in the dangerous undertaking of establishing stations of observation and communication almost within the lines of the enemy and amid all the perils of the battlefield.

    By order of the Signal Officer of the Army:

    Captain and Signal Officer.

    [O.R.,SERIES III-VOLUME III, pp. 417-418.]

    Securing the signal station from the enemy to prevent capture or the compromise of information was a concern which was expressed in Col. Myer's A Manual.

    Stations must be kept concealed from the enemy so far as is possible. On stations of observation solely, no flags will be shown and no persons permitted except those a ctually on duty. Every precaution will be taken to prevent the enemy ascertaining the purpose for which the point is occupied. When communication by signals is needed, the flag will be screened from observation, if it can be, and in any case it will be shown only while t ransmitting messages ...

    [Albert J. Myer, A Manual of Signals, New York, D. Van Nostrand, 1868, p. 250.]

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    Now you should return to you automobile and drive to STOP 8.

    Go back to JACKIS MOUNTAIN ROAD and turn LEFT. Drive 1.5 miles and turn left on SR 16. Drive 6.4 miles to EMMITSBURG. Turn RIGHT at the stoplight and drive 0.5 miles to HWY 15. Turn RIGHT and drive 1.1 miles to MT. SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE. Exit HWY 15 to the RIGHT and enter the parking lot of the college. Park by the visitor's center. The signal site was on the hill which you can see directly behind the college. You may ask in the visitors center for directions to the hiking trail. The hill is open to the public. The hill is heavily timbered and visibility is limited. You may wish to read the material here in the parking lot.


    There were at least two signal stations located in Emmitsburg, one in'the town and this one located on the hill behind the college. There was flag signal communication between this station and Little Round Top sianal station from 2 July until 6 July, when it was purposely discontinued. The signal station in the church steeple in Taneytown has not been designated as a stold because it is somewhat out of the way. However, it is mentioned in Norton's report and would make an interesting side trip.

    Report of Capt. Lemuel B. Norton, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac

    On the 30th, general headquarters removed to Taneytown. A signal station was placed in the church steeple at that place, and a party sent to Emmitsburg for the purpose of opening a line between General J.F. Reynolds and headquarters. Communication was not opened this day on account of the haziness of the atmosphere. The signal officer with General John Buford, who occupied the town of Gettysburg, took position in the steeple of the college, and reported to General Buford the whereabouts and movements of the enemy. The offices attached to the First Corps, from a station of observation on the mountain back of Emmitsburg, made a telescopic reconnaissance toward Gettysburg, reporting the results to the general commanding that corps ...

    ... During the whole of this day [l July 1], endeavors were made to open the signal line between general headquarters, Emmitsburg, and Round Top Mountain, but on account of the smokiness of the atmosphere, the desired result was not obtained until 11 p.m., when the first message was received. These lines were kept open during the subsequent battle at Gettysburg and until July 6. In the event of the repulse and retirement of our army, they must have been eminently useful ....

    On July 6, the lines between Round Top and Taneytown and Emmitsburg and Taneytown were discontinued. The two officers attached to the First Corps made a telescopic reconnaissance from the hill back of Emmitsburg, and sent the information obtained to Maj. Gen. John Newton.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp.201-203.]

    As mentioned in the introduction, signal stations had two distinct purposes, communications and observation. The station behind Mt. Saint Mary's College was used for communications with Round Top but its primary purpose appears to have been for observation. Col. Myer explains the observation function in his A Manual of Signals:

    The observations and reconnoissances made by signal officers differ from those of other reconnoitering Officers, in the facts that, by their long practice, they are use their telescopes with an almost wonderful skill; and that the information they gain can sometimes be compared by them, from the place of observation, with that had at the same time by other officers in view and watching the enemy from other points, by the immediate transmission from one to the other of the facts noticed by each. The reports of their reconnoissances can also, in many instances, at once be communicated to the commanding general from the Diace at which the observations are making, while the reconnoitering officer remains to add further to his information. The reports are of a general character, relating to the presence or movements of the enemy, etc., Such as are made by scouts. They are not expected to embrace the specialties exhibited in a report of engineers. An officer is often posted for weeks together at one station of observation...

    The principal station of observation ought to command a view of fords, principal roads, railways, bridgesp towns, camps, gaps in mountains, rivers, ports, as the case may be, and generally of the routes of march or movement in that section of the country ...

    Observations of reconnaissance are generally made from several prominent stations. They are to be briefiy made, but they ought to be made with scrupulous exactness. The parties moving with signal-officers on reconnaissance are generally small. They should move with the utmost rapidity and secrecy.

    [Albert J. Myer, A Manual of Siqnals, New York, D. Van Nostrand, 1866, pp. 360-362]

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    Now proceed to STOP 9.

    Drive south on HWY 15 22.3 miles and exit on WEST 40. Drive 1.8 miles and turn LEFT ON ALT 40. Drive 5.2 miles to MIDDLETOWN. There was a station located in Middletown which was in flaa communication with the station on Washington Monument. Although it is not documented. it was probably located in the Zion Lutheran Church. The church was used as a hospital during the Antietam campaign and based on the design of the steeple, was more than likely the site of the Middletown signal station in July 1863. Continue on ALT 40 for 5.3 miles stopping across from the OLD SOUTH MOUNTAIN INN. There is room to park by the side of the road adjacent to a number of blue battlefield signs marking the battle of TURNER'S GAP.


    At this point in the campaign, the signal officers who were assigned to the Army of the Potomac were augmented by a detachment of signal officers from the Signal Camp of Instruction sent to assist the Army by Col. Myer. This detachment was headed by Capt. William Nicodemus who organized and controlled it. The actions of the detachment are described by the reports of Capt. Norton and Capt. Nicodemus- Report of Capt. Lemuel B. Norton, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac
    July 7, The headquarters of the army moved to Frederick. The signal officer who had been previously assigned to duty with the detached command under General Neill made a reconnaissance near Waynesborough, Pa., discovering the whereabouts and movements of the enemy.

    July 8, in the afternoon, general headquarters moved to Middletown. A party of signal officers, under charge of Capt. W. J. L. Nicodemus, arrived from Washington, for the purpose of working in conjunction with the signal corps of this army. Captain Nicodemus opened a line of communication between Frederick and South Mountain Pass.

    On July 9, headquarters of the army moved to Turner's Gap. A station was occupied near this place, communicating, through others at Middletown and Crampton's Pass, with Maryland Heights. This line, appearing of little importance on account of telegraphic facilities, was abandoned the same day, and its officers ordered to more active duty in the front ...

    [O.R.,XXVII, Part I, p.- 203]

    Report of Capt. William J. L. Nicodemus, Signal Officer, Commander of the Washington Reserve Signal Detachment

    Captain: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to Special Orders, No. 106, dated Office of the Signal Officer, Washington, July 6, 1863, 1 reported to General French, at Frederick.

    July 7. - on the 7th instant, with 12 officers and 27 enlisted men, General French ordered me to report to General Meade, who ordered me to the front, then the South Mountain Pass; ordered Lieutenants [Charles] Herzog and [Thomas P.] Rushby to Maryland Heights; Lieutenant Fisher to Crampton's Pass; Captain Daniels, with Captain Denicke and Lieutenants [William J.] Galbraith, Briggs, Denicke, Swain, and [S. Cary] Tuckerman, to the front, with the following instructions:

    You will open communication between Frederick City and South Mountain Pass, and establish observation stations to command the Boonsborough Valley. July 8. - Left Frederick City on the 8th instant, accompanied by Captain McCreary. Lieutenant [William S.] Andrews being sick, was left at Frederick City, with orders to report to me as soon as able. Broke up stations along the route as fast as Morse's telegraph communication was established. Captain Daniels opened communication at 12 m. between battle-field and South Mountain station. Result of the day's fighting was driving the enemy to Beaver Creek Bridge, on Boonsborough and Hagerstown pike, 31-2 miles north of Boonsborough. All movements of the enemy were observed from Washington Monument on South Mountain, by Captain [Ernst A.] and Lieutenant [C. F. M.] Denicke, and promptly reported to the different headquarters concerned.

    July 9. - General Buford on the 9th drove the enemy about 2 miles. A line of signal stations commanded the enemy's front. A timely report of Captain McCreary prevented our left from being flanked this day. July 10. - Heavy skirmishing on the left; enemy driven to Funkstown; his dispositions accurately reported to the general commanding.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, p. 207.1]

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    You should now drive to STOP 10

    Continue towards BOONSBORO and take the first right on WASHINGTON MONUMENT ROAD. Drive 1.2 miles, following the signs to WASHINGTON MONUMENT STATE PARK. Park in the parking lot and follow the signs on the walking trail to WASHINGTON MONUMENT. Climb to the top of the monument.


    This station was used extensively during the Gettysburg campaign. The monument was not as tall as it is now but the additional height of the present structure does not add significantly to the field of view. As you will see from the reports, trees were cut down in order to get a better view of and from the monument. On the way back to the car, stop at the visitors center and view the painting of the monument in use as a signal station.

    Take your compass and sight the signal stations from left to right as follows: Middletown - 145 degrees, Turner's Gap - 150 degrees, Crampton's Gap - 190 degrees, Elk Mountain - 225 degrees, Hill behind Boonsboro - 295 degrees, and the approximate location of Buford's tactical signal station at Beaver creek crossing - 322 degrees.

    Report of Capt. Lemuel B. Norton, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac

    On July 10, the general commanding and his staff removed to a bivouac near Beaver Creek crossing, west of Boonsborough. In the evening, communication was opened from general headquarters, through Washington Monument station, with headquarters of the Second and Twelfth Corps, near Bakersville, Third and Fifth Corps near Antietam Bridge, and the First and Sixth corps near Beaver Creek crossing on the Hagerstown pike. On this day the officer who accompanied General Neill on his expedition from a point selected by him on Franklin's Cliff, South Mountain Range, near Leiterburg, discovered the numbers and position of the enemy in and around Hagerstown, and sent the information to General Neill, and by orderly to General Meade ...

    On July 13, all signal communications previously established was still kept up. Two officers were sent to make a telescopic reconnaissance from Elk Mountain.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp. 203-204.]

    Report of Capt. Nahum Daniels, Signal Officer, Washington Reserve Signal Party
    Captain: I have the honor to submit the following report:

    Agreeably to orders received at Frederick, Md., July 7, at 6 p.m. I started with Captain Denicke, Lieutenants Denicke, Galbraith, Briggs, and Swain to open communications by signals from the advance of our army, then near Boonsborough, to Frederick. I left Lieutenant Galbraith at South Mountain Pass, with instructions to open an intermediate station at that point between Frederick and Washington Monument. On the morning of the 8th instant, I ordered Captain Denicke and Lieutenant Denicke to open a station on Washington Monument; also procured a detail of men to cut away the timber which obstructed the view near the monument. At 8 a.m. I ordered Lieutenant Swain to open a station at Boonsborough, then our extreme advance. Lieutenant Briggs also proceeded to open a station on the Blue [Elk] Ridge, about 4 miles from Boonsborough. At 10 a.m. our forces commenced skirmishing with the enemy. I immediately proceeded to the front, and opened communication with the Washington Monument, about 1 mile from Boonsborough, on the Hagerstown pike. I directed Lieutenant Swain to take charge of the station at this point. At 11 a.m. I sent the following message to Captain Nicodemus:

    Our advance is engaged with the enemy. Captain Denicke reported no communication yet with Frederick. It being now quite clear, I ordered Captain Dencke to report by signal to me the movements of the enemy, which I reported to the commanding officer in front. Our forces were now engaged a distance of 3 miles in front. Lieutenant Swain remained at his post receiving messages subject to a severe fire. I cannot too highly mention his bearing while under fire. At 1 p.m. the engagement became quite warm, Captain Den4cke reporting constantly to me the every movement of the enemy, which was immediately reported to General Buford, while he by such reports was enabled to be fully prepared to meet every movement of the enemy, knowing in advance what their force was, and the kind of force. At 3 p.m., finding that communication was not open to Frederick, I ordered Lieutenant Denicke to assist Lieutenant Galbraith in opening through to that place.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp. 208-2091]

    This station was significant in that it served as a key station of observation and that information gathered by Capt. Denicke was quickly relayed through Capt. Daniels to Brig. Gen. Buford in the Antietam Valley. Below is a representative sample of the message traffic sent from Denicke and passed to Buford by Daniels as well as some general traffic.

    The enemy are advancing in front and on our right. A large cavalry force in front.


    Enemy are advancing; skirmishing on our right.


    General Buford:
    Enemy-have just placed a battery on left of road, behind-a large barn.


    Captain Nicodemus:
    Enemy's cavalry pickets are 1 mile in advance.


    General Commanding:
    The enemy are advancing infantrv and cavalry across the Antietam about 1 mile to our left.

    [O.R., XXVII, PART I, pp. 201-202.]

    Report of Lieut. Julius M. Swain, Acting Signal Officer, Washington Reserve Signal Party

    Captain: I beg leave to submit the following report, which I regret contains but an imperfect record of the messages sent while with the signal party recently under your command in Maryland:

    I had the misfortune to lose my memorandum book containing a copy of the messages sent to General Buford from station near-Boonsborough during the engagement on the afternoon of the 8th instant, as well as some others of later date.

    In accordance, with your orders, I left Frederick on the evening of the 7th instant, and proceeded to South Mountain Gap, in company with Captain Denicke, at which point we were ordered to-report to Captain Daniels, July 8. We arrived at 3 a.m., and as it was raining very hard and Captain Daniels could not be found, we lay by till daylight.

    Captain Daniels arrived at the Mountain House at 8 o'clock, and as soon as the weather would permit, about 9 a.m., I was ordered to Boonsborough, where I arrived a 10 o'clock, and reported to General Kilpatrick, after which I opened station on hill in rear of town, which commanded a good view of our front.

    At 12 m. Captain Daniels opened station near the Hagerstown pike, about 1 mile beyond Boonsborough, and ordered me to join him which I did at once.

    I remained there during the day in communication with Captain Denicke, on Washington Monument, whose station overlooked the enemy, and sent frequent messages from him to General Buford, then in command.

    At 3 p.m. sent the following: Captain Denicke:
    Lieutenant Denicke will open communication between you and Frederick.


    July 9. - Enemy retreated last evening about 2 miles toward Funkstown, and Captain Daniels went to front this morning, leaving me on the station opened yesterday.

    On your arrival, about noon, you ordered me to send frequent dispatches to Colonel Myer at Washington, apprising him of all movements of interest.
    Sent following:

    Boonsborough July 9 - 7.30 p.m.
    Heavy skirmishing has just opened about 3 miles from here, on Hagerstown road.


    July 10, Removed station to hill near Boonsborough, and opened communication with Lieutenant Tuckerman on left of our line, with Captain Denicke on Monument, and Captain Stone on Sharpsburg pike, near General French's headquarters ...

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp. 217-218]

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    Now you should walk back to your car and drive to STOP 11.

    Return to ALT 40 and drive 1.6 miles towards BOONSBORO turning LEFT on ROUTE 67. Drive for 7.1 miles and turn LEFT on GAPLAND ROAD. Drive one mile to GATHLAND STATE PARK. On the way up the mountain, notice the high ground to the left. Park in the parking lot by the CORRESPONDENT'S MEMORIAL ARCH.


    This station was occupied on 8 July by Lieut. George A. Fisher, who was directed here by Capt. Nicodemus. It had little utility as a station of communication or as a station of observation. Lieut. Fisher was forced to move further up the ridge in order to communicate with the necessary stations. The high ground you observe'd on the left as you drove up the mountain is the area to which Fisher relocated his station. Lieut. Fisher explains in his report.

    Report of Lieut. George A. Fisher, Acting Signal Officer, Washington Reserve Signal Party

    Captain: I have the honor to submit the following report of duty performed since July 6, 1863.

    On the evening of the 6th, was ordered to precede the main party, with Lieutenants Herzog and Rushby, and with our men accompany and guard the wagon train to Frederick, Md., where we arrived on the 8th instant, and immediately reported to you at your headquarters. About an hour afterward I received orders from you to proceed without delay to Crampton's Gap, in the South Mountain Range, and open communication with Middletown, Maryland Heights, and South Mountain, if possible, and take observations of the movements of the enemy. I endeavored that evening to open communication, but was unable to find a point where I could see more than one of the stations, and after calling Maryland Heights for some time, was obliged to give it up for the night. Early next morning I moved across the gap, and proceeded along the ridge about 3 miles, and selected a station from which, with some labor, I was enabled to communicate with both Middletown and Maryland Heights, .thus completing the line of stations between Maryland Heights and Hagerstown.

    On the 12th instant, Captains [Joseph] Gloskoske and [Richard] Dinsmore received orders from Captain Norton to close up the station at Middletown and rejoin his command. I was then obliged to find some other station with which to keep up the line of communication, and was enabled to do so with Lieutenant Briggs, who was at Elk Ridge, in communication, with South Mountain. Owing to the state of the weather, for the most of the time we were unable to take many observations, but embraced every opportunity that presented itself ...

    [O.R., XXV-II, Part I,-pp. 213-214.]

    As evidenced by the movement to establish line of sight with other stations described in Lieut. Fisher's report, it does not appear that maps were used to establish line of sight profiles for the potential signal stations. This was probably due to the lack of maps with sufficient contour detail as well as the fact that the art simply had not progressed that far. There is no mention of the use of maps for this purpose in Col. Myer's A Manual. Col. Myer's visual method for establishing signal stations is as interesting as it is intricate. It is described in his manual as follows:

    To open a line of stations across a country, first choose some prominent position, and one well visible; and here establish the initial station. Let the party assemble here. Let them, together, select a second prominent point in view as nearly as possible in the line of direction you wish to take. Upon the first station, erect some kind of beacon - as a white or other colored signal-flag; or some marked object, by which it can be recognized from a distance. Take from this first point the bearing by compass of the point selected. This second point should be one not only visible from the initial point, but one also probably in view from positions beyond it. Note should be made of some peculiar house, rock, tree, or other marked object upon it, in order that the exact place may be recognized when it is reached. At the first point, now marked with its beacon, station an officer to reply to any signals he may see, and to watch the course of the marching party. The other officers will then move, guided by compass, if need be toward the second point selected, carrying a signal-flag flying, in order that their position may be known whenever they come in view from the first station, and intently watched by the officer left at that station, the marching party will, from time to time, put itself in communication with the first station, so as to receive from it any direction as to its course the first station may wish to give, or any other information. It will also frequently verify its course by compass. On reaching the point chosen for the second station, a beacon or flag will be there erected, observations will be made, and communication will be opened with the first station. Points, on either side or to the rear, will be examined, to see if the second station can be better located than it is with reference to a third station to be next established. The second station will then be definitely established and marked, and an officer there stationed, as before at the first station, to watch the marching party. The point for the third station will be hence chosen,. and the party will proceed toward it with the same general rules as before. These operations will be repeated in the case of each rminal station is reached. station, until the te Attempts will be afterward made to reduce the number of intermediate stations by finding other and better points at which to locate some of them.

    [Albert J. Myer, A Man anals, New York,D. Van Nostrandt 1866, pp. 255-256.]

    Now you should drive to STOP 12.

    Go back down GAPLAND ROAD and turn right on ROUTE 67. Drive 5.4 miles and turn LEFT on MT. CARMEL CHURCH ROAD. Drive 0.3 miles and it turns into DOGSTREET ROAD- Continue for 2.1 miles and turn LEFT on RED HILL ROAD. You are now on ELK MOUNTAIN. Drive 1.2 miles and stop in the parking lot of the MCCLELLAN GUN CLUB.


    The exact site of the Elk Mountain Signal Station is not known. This location affords a view of Washington Monument and Crampton Gap stations. The various stations in the valley to the left are obscured by timber. A picture of the Elk Mountain Signal Station Battle of Antietam, appears in Volume 8 of The Photographic History of the Civil War. This particular tower was not used by Briggs in that he mentions in his report that he built one. However, it is a good example of a hastily constructed signal tower. Report of Lieut. Ephraim A. Briggs, Acting Signal Officer, Washington Reserve Signal Party
    Captain: In compliance with an order received this morning to make an official report of all duty performed by me as acting signal officer of the Washington Reserve Signal Corps since the 6th instant, I submit the following:

    At 5 p.m. of the 6th instant, I received orders to be prepared to leave camp with the party going to the front for active duty in the field.

    At 8 p.m., the 6th instant, said party left camp, Georgetown, D.C., proceeding toward Frederick, riding all night, arriving at Frederick, Md., 5 p.m. of the 7th instant, when I was ordered to proceed toward South mountain without delay, in company with Capt. N. Daniels. We proceeded to South Mountain, opening signal station on the Washington Monument at 9 a.m. of the 8th instant, the heavy rain falling all night preventing its being sooner accomplished.

    By order of Captain Daniels, I proceeded to Elk Mountain to open signal station communicating with one on Washington Monument. Arriving at Elk Mountain 11 a.m., I opened station, and called Monument until 1 P.M.; had no re-ply; atmosphere was clear. I saw the enemy's pickets within 2 miles of this point. At 2.30 P.M., commenced and called Monument all the afternoon, excepting from 4 p.m. until 5.30 p.m., without receiving reply; 4 p.m. received the following message by orderly;

    To Signal Officer:
    Ascertain and send immediate report whether the rebels are in Sharpsburg or Keedysville. Their evident intention is to take Sharpsburg. Make report in writing, and send by orderly.

    A. B. Jerome,
    First Lieutenant, and Acting Assistant Signal Officer.

    At 4.15 p.m. sent following answer:

    Lieutenant Jerome:
    I can see no signs of enemy occupying Sharpsburg or Keedysville. Their cavalry were in both places this morning, I am informed by reliable citizens.

    If you can communicate with Washington Monument, tell them to answer my call.

    E. A. Briggs
    First Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

    At 9 p.m. returned to Boonsborough, and procured rations and forage for my men and animals, oil, etc. At 10-30 a.m., received following by orderly:

    Lieutenant Briggs:
    Proceed to station on Elk Ridge, which you occupied last night, and communicate with station one-half mile northeast of Boonsborough. If you cannot see that station, communicate with the Monument.

    Captain, Signal Officer.

    July 9. The day smoky; not able to do anything.

    July 10. - Called the Monument from 8.30 a.m. an hour and thirty minutes before any reply.

    At 3 p.m. received from monument sianal station: To Elk Mountain:

    You will go to the gap, and open with Bakersville and the White flag at the foot of the Monument.

    By order of


    In obedience to above, I spent from that time till 6 p.m. answering and swinging, as I saw three or four white flags swinging in vicinity of Bakersville, though facing too much to my right. Swung torch during the evening without any success.

    Called the Monument to report I was not able to communicate with Bakerville; after an hour's work, gave them up.

    July 11 - The morning thick and hazy. Clear at 10.30 a.m.

    At 1 p.m. received from Washington Monument:

    I want communication with Maryland Heights, though Boonsborough and Lieutenant Fisher.


    5 p.m. - Sent from Elk Mountain:

    Captain Nicodemus:

    I have seen Fisher, at Crampton's Pass, and have communication open with Maryland Heights when atmosphere permits.

    E. A. Briggs,
    Lieutenant, Acting Signal Officer.

    10 p.m. - Sent from Elk Mountain:

    Captain Nicodemus:

    Maryland Heights are in full view of this point, at Crampton's house. On this range, both Maryland Heights and Monument are to be seen, and commanding miles of the river and fords at the same time; the latter not to be seen excepting at Dam No. 4.
    E. A. Briggs,
    Lieutenant, Acting Signal Officer.

    Through messenger, I called Monument till 12 a.m. and got no reply, and sent it by an orderly.

    July 12. - Thick and excessively smoky all day; nct able to see anything.

    12 m. Received by Orderly Knapp:

    Lieutenant Briggs:

    You will open signal station on Elk Mountain beyond Keedysville, communicating with Maryland Heights, Crampton's Pass, Washington Monument, and, when Downsville Station is open, with Fairview. You will report to me through Washington Monument station, or in any way possible. My headquarters are with the right wing. Answer all flags. You will be relieved when station is not needed.

    Captain, Signal officer

    Sent the following at 1 p.m.:

    Captain Nicodemus:

    My men are in need of rations and my animals of forage. Please light a fire at 9 p.m., that I may find your locality. In order to run this station successfully, requires more men.

    Your obedient servant,

    Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

    3.30 p.m.. - Heavy shower until 5.30 p.m. Worked until 12 m. Could not get the Monument. Went to bed.

    July 13. - Day rainy and thick. Cut the timber and bushes from top of mountain, so as to command all points. Built a tower. Had calls from several signal officers of Army of the Potomac viewing the country and Antietam Battle-ground.p> Elk Mountain,12 p. m.

    Captain Nicodemus:

    The weather has prevented my getting Bakerville or Downsville. Communication to Maryland Heights is perfect. I tried to communicate with you via the Monument yesterday without any success.

    E. A. Briggs,
    Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

    July 14 , 8 a.m.- Sent from Elk Mountain:

    Captain Nicodemus:

    Captain Norton orders me to Crampton's House, on this range of mountains. I await your order.

    Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

    Kept a close watch all day for flags, and till I a.m. July 15 for lights near Mount Moriah or Donnellies Hill.

    8.30 p.m. - Received from Fisher, at Crampton's Pass:

    Captain Nicodemus:

    Our troops crossed and reoccupied Harper's Ferry and Bolivar Heights. Saw Martinsburg to-day; no movement to indicate troops there.

    Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

    Called Monument one hour, and closed up, unable to forward the message.

    July 15, - Smoky all morning and afternoon. Orderly brought following message:

    Lieutenants Herzog, Rushby, Briggs, and Fisher, with parties, will report to me at Frederick without delay

    Captain, Signal officer Comdg. Washington Reserve Signal Party.

    Sent same to Lieutenant Fisher without any delay, and immediately repaired to Frederick and awaited further orders.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part III, pp. 214-217.]
    Return To
    Now you should drive to STOP 13.

    Turn around and go back on Red Hill Road and drive 1.6 miles. Turn RIGHT on 14AIN STREET in KEEDYSVILLE. Drive 0.8 miles following the signs to HWY 34. Drive 2.4 miles to BOONSBORO. Turn right and drive 0.6 miles. Turn LEFT into the parking lot of the BOONSBORO BIBLE CHURCH.


    The hill behind Boonsborough referred to in the reports is directly behind the church. The hill is not accessible but this location affords a good view of it and the Washington Monument. The station on the hill was occupied by Lieut. Swain whose report we have already read. Now you should leave the parking lot turning RIGHT on ALT 40. Drive 3.3 miles on ALT 40 until you reach BEAVER CREEK. Pull to the side of the road. This is the approximate location of Captain Daniells station on the Hagerstown Pike. Captain Daniels, Capt. William McCreary and LieLLt. Tuckerman supported Brig. Gen. Buford's First Cavalry Division between the Beaver Creek crossing on the Hagerstown Pike and the Antietam. As previously described, Captain Daniels was receiving reports on Confederate troo,o movements from the Denicke brothers on Washington Monument and passing that information to General Buford.

    The following excerpts from Capt. McCreary's report give a good description of the action:

    Report of Capt. William G. McCreary, Signal Officer,
    Washington Reserve Signal Party

    Early next morning, with the advance of our troops, in company with yourself, advanced beyond Boonsborough, when I was directed by you to report to the right, with the right brigade of General Buford's cavalry division, General Merritt commanding, Captain Daniels being in the center and Lieutenant Tuckerman on the left of same division, to keep open communication along the line.

    Soon after taking our position, an advance was made along the line, and we advanced with them. At the crossing of Beaver Creek, the enemy were established with infantry, cavalry, and artillery to dispute our advance, but after a severe skirmish were driven back.

    Early next morning, July 10, moved forward, and drove them to Antietam, a distance of 4 miles. During this movement, I was. in communication with Captain Daniels, but the rapid movements of our forces prevented sending many messages; but from our points of observation much valuable information was furnished the commanding officers, for which we received their personal thanks...

    The following are some of the communication sent and received:

    July 9

    General Merritt:

    A battery of the enemy is visible on the crest of the hill. I can also see bayonets, indicating that it is supported by infantry. No cavalry visible except pickets.

    Signal Officer.

    July 10

    General Merritt:

    Three squadrons of rebel cavalry have passed to our right, and are concealed behind the woods. We have not any skirmishers in that direction.

    Signal Officer.

    To Commander of the Right:

    Cease firing in our front. Captain McCreary, signal officer, reports three squadrons of cavalry passing to your right. Throw out skirmishers, and keep a sharp lookout to prevent being flanked.


    General Howard wishes to know anything relative to the enemy's movements in front.

    T. R. Clark

    All quiet. Enemy are throwing up earthworks near Antietam Creek.


    Our cavalry are retiring from the right. The enemy's cavalry and infantry are advancing on the left.

    July 13

    Captain Nicodemus:

    The enemy are reported by a citizen from within their lines to have broken up their camps, and to be moving all their wagon trains toward Falling Waters.

    Respectfully, your obedient servant,

    W. G. McCreary,
    Captain, Signal Corps, U.S. Army.

    [O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp. 211-213]

    83 Report of Capt. Lemuel B. Norton, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac
    In summing up the operations of the signal corps of this army for the month and a half herein recorded, I find that sixty-seven signal stations of observation and communication were occupied, eight signal telegraph lines established, and seventeen extra reconnaissances made.

    I have stated as concisely as possible the amount and character of the work performed, When it failed in a signal point of view it has been noted; but of the real value of the information obtained by the corps and the importance of other services rendered, the commanding general and the corps commanders are best able to judge ...

    During the late movements of the army, 3 signal officers and 6 flagmen were captured by the enemy. The only reported injuries were those of 2 flagmen slightly wounded at the battle of Gettysburg. [O.R., XXVII, Part I, p. 206]

    This is the last stop of the tour. The quickest way back to Gettysburg is to go back to FREDERICK on ALT 40. Take HWY 15 north to GETTYSBURG.
    End of File

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    To Go On To Epilogue and Appendices"

    End of File