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Illustrations of the Civil War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1128, p. 95-96.

January 25, 1862


Frequently there are alarms in the Federal camp on the Potomac at night caused by the driving in of the pickets and the appearance in force of the Confederates at different points of the Union lines. On these occasions it is necessary to communicate with the Commander-in-Chief, and to do this expeditiously a new system of signals has been introduced into the Federal army. By day messages are sent from one division to another by the use of differently coloured flags, thus doing away with the necessity of dispatching mounted troopers with written orders; and by night lamp-torches take their place with the same effect. These signals can be used with an army in motion, the corps attached to the different brigades occupying as they move all elevations or lofty buildings on their route. The accompanying Illustration represents the signals at work by night. At the signalman's feet lies a large brass lamp, which is the axis around which the motive light forms its curves—each curve, according to the direction which it takes, signifying a number, the meaning of which number being known only to the officer commanding each corps.

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The War in America: A Night Alarm in the Federal Camp—Signalling from the Right Bank of the Potomac to Head-Quarters in Washington. From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.[p. 95]


The heroes of the fight at Drainsvllle, Virginia, on the 20th ult., were the Bucktail Riflemen, a corps of sharpshooters raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania. To be eligible for service in this corps each man must have shot a buck, and hence the badge the members wear on their caps, and the name they bear. The forces engaged in this fight—almost the only success which the Federals have gained in the field in that neighbourhood—were the brigades of General Stuart on the Confederate side, and of General Ord, Unionist, to the latter of which the Bucktails belong. The incident illustrated on the first page is where the riflemen are advancing their skirmishers through the undergrowth towards the Confederate gum, while other Federal regiments are making a flanking movement by a detour on each side to clear the pine woods. The Bucktails were consequently exposed to the severest fire during the action, and suffered the most. But the number of dead left by the Confederates in the field in front of their position—nearly all of whom were shot through the head—show that they also paid dearly for the losses suffered by the rifles.

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