Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

CS Signals at Harpers Ferry

Expand Messages
  • flagflop
    Here s a final--perhaps the key--consideration in arguing that the HF op, as it unfolded, was improvised on the spot, not planned or ordered. Given the terrain
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 27, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Here's a final--perhaps the key--consideration in arguing that the HF
      op, as it unfolded, was improvised on the spot, not planned or ordered.

      Given the terrain of HF (familiar to Lee, Jackson, and Stuart),
      dominated by heights, separated by rivers, and distance, a plan of
      operation against it that would have involved three
      converging "columns" should have provided for telecommunication to
      coordinate the action. That was not done. On arrival, Jax took steps
      to improvise. His chief signal officer (CSO), Wilbourn, was hors de
      combat from wounds sustained at Groveton, in the run-up to Second
      Manassas. Jax sent Jed Hotchkiss (who, altho not a trained signal
      officer had picked up the skill) and a couple of trained signalmen to
      LHgts. "Captain" Bartlett (actually, as Brian has posted on AotW, a
      detailed private) was ordered by Jax to contact the two Hgts, Loudoun
      and Md. (I suspect his "station" was on Schoolhouse Ridge.)

      Meanwhile--perhaps on his own authority--Powell Hill, on the right
      flank, sent his own CSO, Capt. RHT Adams, to LHgts, where he displaced
      Jed Hotchkiss. Adams opened comms with Bartlett.

      McLaws had approached without a commissioned signal officer--
      Longstreet's CSO, Manning, who was assigned, was ill, but McLaws was
      also able to improvise with "second string" (no aspersions meant) and
      to maintain coordinating contact with Anderson on S Mt and Kershaw on
      Elk Ridge from his approach march down the Pleasant Valley. But he had
      no one in a position to "see" Bartlett and quickly became preoccupied
      with looking back over his shoulder at what was happening at the Gaps
      and wrestling some guns into place on MdHgts. He did get a "sight-
      line" on Adams (LHgts), but was evidently not in a position to "see"
      Bartlett to the west.

      Jax' lack of appreciation of the Myer-Alexander visual signal system
      is illustrated by the lengthy order he sought to have transmitted in
      that manner--but it also shows that he had not anticipted what was
      taking place. He was "making do with what he had"--a field expedient.
      Bartlett got the message to Adams, who relayed to McLaws across the
      Potomac.

      What has obscured all of this is the mis-identification of Bartlett as
      a captain, as a commissioned signal officer, and Jax' signal officer.
      This was compounded by H.K. Douglas and Imboden using (hence endorsing)
      that implied authority (B&L), unquestioned by Freeman (Lee's Lts) and
      others to date. All one has to do is to read Bartlett's report (OR Vol
      19). He states very clearly that he was but one of the CS signal men
      present in the operation, and that Capt. Adams (as the only
      commissioned signal corps officer participating, but not in Bartlett's-
      -Jackson's--unit) probably had all messages passed, for that was his
      job).

      Finally, the late completion of Jax' report (or the one issued under
      his signature) and the ex post facto review of what happened--rather
      than what was originally intended or ordered) may help to explain
      Lee's sensitivity to the overall subject. (See Freeman, LL, Vol 2,
      Appendix 1, and the Gordon-Allan memoranda. While discussing Harvey
      Hill and the lost order, Lee "looses his cool" but also stoutly
      defends what Jax did in the event, as if it were well within his
      discretionary "orders" or contingency planning.) What transpired was
      remarkably successful--better to let history dwell on that than the
      poorly thought-out, poorly worded, poorly understood, and poorly
      prepared dividing and dispatching of a major portion of his command
      that ran even greater risk than history has thought.
    • NJ Rebel
      Excellent post, bringing out some details I did not know about. Also, McLaws was one of the few officers in either army during the ACW who truly understood the
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 27, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Excellent post, bringing out some details I did not know about.

        Also, McLaws was one of the few officers in either army during the ACW
        who truly understood the potential and how efficient the wigwag system
        could truly be. As for the remark about Jax sending that long message,
        I do not think the case can be made of Jax not being familiar with the
        wigwag system. I would tend to support the other thought, that Jax had
        to improvise on the fly and therefore was transmitting detailed
        instructions.

        Yr. Obt. Svt.
        G E "Gerry" Mayers

        "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
        people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
        shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
        Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
        1788

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "flagflop" <flagflop@...>
        To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 7:00 AM
        Subject: [TalkAntietam] CS Signals at Harpers Ferry


        > Here's a final--perhaps the key--consideration in arguing that the
        > HF
        > op, as it unfolded, was improvised on the spot, not planned or
        > ordered.
        >
        > Given the terrain of HF (familiar to Lee, Jackson, and Stuart),
        > dominated by heights, separated by rivers, and distance, a plan of
        > operation against it that would have involved three
        > converging "columns" should have provided for telecommunication to
        > coordinate the action. That was not done. On arrival, Jax took steps
        > to improvise. His chief signal officer (CSO), Wilbourn, was hors de
        > combat from wounds sustained at Groveton, in the run-up to Second
        > Manassas. Jax sent Jed Hotchkiss (who, altho not a trained signal
        > officer had picked up the skill) and a couple of trained signalmen
        > to
        > LHgts. "Captain" Bartlett (actually, as Brian has posted on AotW, a
        > detailed private) was ordered by Jax to contact the two Hgts,
        > Loudoun
        > and Md. (I suspect his "station" was on Schoolhouse Ridge.)
        >
        > Meanwhile--perhaps on his own authority--Powell Hill, on the right
        > flank, sent his own CSO, Capt. RHT Adams, to LHgts, where he
        > displaced
        > Jed Hotchkiss. Adams opened comms with Bartlett.
        >
        > McLaws had approached without a commissioned signal officer--
        > Longstreet's CSO, Manning, who was assigned, was ill, but McLaws was
        > also able to improvise with "second string" (no aspersions meant)
        > and
        > to maintain coordinating contact with Anderson on S Mt and Kershaw
        > on
        > Elk Ridge from his approach march down the Pleasant Valley. But he
        > had
        > no one in a position to "see" Bartlett and quickly became
        > preoccupied
        > with looking back over his shoulder at what was happening at the
        > Gaps
        > and wrestling some guns into place on MdHgts. He did get a "sight-
        > line" on Adams (LHgts), but was evidently not in a position to "see"
        > Bartlett to the west.
        >
        > Jax' lack of appreciation of the Myer-Alexander visual signal system
        > is illustrated by the lengthy order he sought to have transmitted in
        > that manner--but it also shows that he had not anticipted what was
        > taking place. He was "making do with what he had"--a field
        > expedient.
        > Bartlett got the message to Adams, who relayed to McLaws across the
        > Potomac.
        >
        > What has obscured all of this is the mis-identification of Bartlett
        > as
        > a captain, as a commissioned signal officer, and Jax' signal
        > officer.
        > This was compounded by H.K. Douglas and Imboden using (hence
        > endorsing)
        > that implied authority (B&L), unquestioned by Freeman (Lee's Lts)
        > and
        > others to date. All one has to do is to read Bartlett's report (OR
        > Vol
        > 19). He states very clearly that he was but one of the CS signal men
        > present in the operation, and that Capt. Adams (as the only
        > commissioned signal corps officer participating, but not in
        > Bartlett's-
        > -Jackson's--unit) probably had all messages passed, for that was his
        > job).
        >
        > Finally, the late completion of Jax' report (or the one issued under
        > his signature) and the ex post facto review of what happened--rather
        > than what was originally intended or ordered) may help to explain
        > Lee's sensitivity to the overall subject. (See Freeman, LL, Vol 2,
        > Appendix 1, and the Gordon-Allan memoranda. While discussing Harvey
        > Hill and the lost order, Lee "looses his cool" but also stoutly
        > defends what Jax did in the event, as if it were well within his
        > discretionary "orders" or contingency planning.) What transpired was
        > remarkably successful--better to let history dwell on that than the
        > poorly thought-out, poorly worded, poorly understood, and poorly
        > prepared dividing and dispatching of a major portion of his command
        > that ran even greater risk than history has thought.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > SPONSORED LINKS Civil war history Civil war battles Civil war
        >
        >
        > --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
        >
        > a.. Visit your group "TalkAntietam" on the web.
        >
        > b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        > TalkAntietam-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
        > Service.
        >
        >
        > --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >
        >
      • flagflop
        Tks, Gerry, Probabably bad choice of words on my part: I had not meant to imply that Jax did not comprehend the value and the general concept behind the
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 27, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          Tks, Gerry,

          Probabably bad choice of words on my part: I had not meant to imply that
          Jax did not comprehend the value and the general concept behind the
          Myer-Alexander system. Rather, the mechanics of the system as used in
          the CS army were possibly not appreciated. The abbreviations and
          conventions did not lend themselves to a formatted, multi-paragraph
          order of fair length. (Quite different from "Look to your left-you are
          being turned" fourteen months earlier.)

          I agree that this was a prime example of Jax improvising--note that the
          order is unnumbered and appears not to have gone through AAG processing.



          ------------------------------------------------------------------------\
          -----------------------------

          --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "NJ Rebel" <gerry1952@...> wrote:
          >
          > Excellent post, bringing out some details I did not know about.
          >
          > Also, McLaws was one of the few officers in either army during the ACW
          > who truly understood the potential and how efficient the wigwag system
          > could truly be. As for the remark about Jax sending that long message,
          > I do not think the case can be made of Jax not being familiar with the
          > wigwag system. I would tend to support the other thought, that Jax had
          > to improvise on the fly and therefore was transmitting detailed
          > instructions.
          >
          > Yr. Obt. Svt.
          > G E "Gerry" Mayers
          >
          > "....the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the
          > people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same
          > shall be perverted to their injury or oppression;.."
          > Act of State of Virginia adopting the Federal Constitution, 26 June
          > 1788
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: "flagflop" flagflop@...
          > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 7:00 AM
          > Subject: [TalkAntietam] CS Signals at Harpers Ferry
          >
          >
          > > Here's a final--perhaps the key--consideration in arguing that the
          > > HF
          > > op, as it unfolded, was improvised on the spot, not planned or
          > > ordered.
          > >
          > > Given the terrain of HF (familiar to Lee, Jackson, and Stuart),
          > > dominated by heights, separated by rivers, and distance, a plan of
          > > operation against it that would have involved three
          > > converging "columns" should have provided for telecommunication to
          > > coordinate the action. That was not done. On arrival, Jax took steps
          > > to improvise. His chief signal officer (CSO), Wilbourn, was hors de
          > > combat from wounds sustained at Groveton, in the run-up to Second
          > > Manassas. Jax sent Jed Hotchkiss (who, altho not a trained signal
          > > officer had picked up the skill) and a couple of trained signalmen
          > > to
          > > LHgts. "Captain" Bartlett (actually, as Brian has posted on AotW, a
          > > detailed private) was ordered by Jax to contact the two Hgts,
          > > Loudoun
          > > and Md. (I suspect his "station" was on Schoolhouse Ridge.)
          > >
          > > Meanwhile--perhaps on his own authority--Powell Hill, on the right
          > > flank, sent his own CSO, Capt. RHT Adams, to LHgts, where he
          > > displaced
          > > Jed Hotchkiss. Adams opened comms with Bartlett.
          > >
          > > McLaws had approached without a commissioned signal officer--
          > > Longstreet's CSO, Manning, who was assigned, was ill, but McLaws was
          > > also able to improvise with "second string" (no aspersions meant)
          > > and
          > > to maintain coordinating contact with Anderson on S Mt and Kershaw
          > > on
          > > Elk Ridge from his approach march down the Pleasant Valley. But he
          > > had
          > > no one in a position to "see" Bartlett and quickly became
          > > preoccupied
          > > with looking back over his shoulder at what was happening at the
          > > Gaps
          > > and wrestling some guns into place on MdHgts. He did get a "sight-
          > > line" on Adams (LHgts), but was evidently not in a position to "see"
          > > Bartlett to the west.
          > >
          > > Jax' lack of appreciation of the Myer-Alexander visual signal system
          > > is illustrated by the lengthy order he sought to have transmitted in
          > > that manner--but it also shows that he had not anticipted what was
          > > taking place. He was "making do with what he had"--a field
          > > expedient.
          > > Bartlett got the message to Adams, who relayed to McLaws across the
          > > Potomac.
          > >
          > > What has obscured all of this is the mis-identification of Bartlett
          > > as
          > > a captain, as a commissioned signal officer, and Jax' signal
          > > officer.
          > > This was compounded by H.K. Douglas and Imboden using (hence
          > > endorsing)
          > > that implied authority (B&L), unquestioned by Freeman (Lee's Lts)
          > > and
          > > others to date. All one has to do is to read Bartlett's report (OR
          > > Vol
          > > 19). He states very clearly that he was but one of the CS signal men
          > > present in the operation, and that Capt. Adams (as the only
          > > commissioned signal corps officer participating, but not in
          > > Bartlett's-
          > > -Jackson's--unit) probably had all messages passed, for that was his
          > > job).
          > >
          > > Finally, the late completion of Jax' report (or the one issued under
          > > his signature) and the ex post facto review of what happened--rather
          > > than what was originally intended or ordered) may help to explain
          > > Lee's sensitivity to the overall subject. (See Freeman, LL, Vol 2,
          > > Appendix 1, and the Gordon-Allan memoranda. While discussing Harvey
          > > Hill and the lost order, Lee "looses his cool" but also stoutly
          > > defends what Jax did in the event, as if it were well within his
          > > discretionary "orders" or contingency planning.) What transpired was
          > > remarkably successful--better to let history dwell on that than the
          > > poorly thought-out, poorly worded, poorly understood, and poorly
          > > prepared dividing and dispatching of a major portion of his command
          > > that ran even greater risk than history has thought.
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > SPONSORED LINKS Civil war history Civil war battles Civil war
          > >
          > >
          > >
          ------------------------------------------------------------------------\
          --------
          > > YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
          > >
          > > a.. Visit your group "TalkAntietam" on the web.
          > >
          > > b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > > TalkAntietam-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > >
          > > c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
          > > Service.
          > >
          > >
          > >
          ------------------------------------------------------------------------\
          --------
          > >
          > >
          >
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.