Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 4, 1863 (Tuesday): From Cedar Mountain Signal Station

Stereoscopic View of Cedar Mountain

October 4, 1863-7. 30 p. m.
Captain NORTON:
     All quiet at sunset. Enemy's signals report "all quiet. " Yesterday enemy planted a color in one of their works near Raccoon Ford. They are strengthening their works every day between Rapidan Station and Morton's Ford. General F. Lee has his headquarters down the river; I think at or near Halstead's house. General Ewell is somewhere in rear of Clark's Mountain. General Steuart's headquarters can be seen from this station. We have Captain Frayser's station (chief signal officer Stuart's cavalry) in view. Also stations which communicate with Ewell, Early, and F. Lee.
    I do not think that General R. E. Lee has been here for a week. The fords as far up the Rapidan as I can see are pretty strongly picketed, with at least a regiment of infantry at each. Stuart's cavalry, with exception of Fitz. Lee's division, lies between Rapidan Station and Madison Court-House. The enemy appeared to be quite short of rations, as in answer to the inquiry, "When do you expect the men's rations," a cavalry colonel replied, "God only knows. "
     I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     L. B. NORTON,
     Captain, and Chief Signal Officer.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 252.

The efforts of the signal corp are much under appreciated.  They managed to gather surprisingly accurate intelligence and contributed much to the ability of the army commanders to plan their movements.  This is an excellent example.  The location of Fitz Lee, General Ewell, and general Steuart are all revealed here, as well as the fact that General Robert E. Lee had not been in the vacinity in some time.  It should be noted that the lack of pollution in that period of time meant the distance at which things could be seen was much greater than today.  Also revealing is the decoded exchange related to rations for the Confederate army.

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