Mobile Bay, August 10, 1864. For research on topics related to the telegraph and its use,
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MAJOR: I have the honor to submit, for the information of the major-general commanding
the Military Division of West Mississippi, the following report of signal duty performed
by the officers of the Signal Corps in the combined land and naval operations against the
lower line of defenses of Mobile:
My officers were distributed among the principal vessels of the fleet as follows: Captain
Denicke, with two flagmen, on the Brooklyn; Lieutenant Dane, with two flagmen, on the Richmond;
Lieutenant Adams, with two flagmen, on the Lackawanna; Lieutenant Jerome, with two flagmen, on
the Bienville; Lieutenant Kinney and myself, with five flagmen, on the Hartford. Captain Walker,
Lieutenant Sizer, and Lieutenant Harris, the latter in charge of the field telegraph, were assigned
to duty with Major-General Granger, and operated with the land forces. Lieutenant Denicke remained
on board the boat Laura, personally attached to the general commanding. On board each of the lesser
vessels of the fleet was placed an instructed man, with one flagman each. This distribution of
officers and men was effected on the evening of the 4th.
Instructions had been given to those on the fleet to watch for signals from this ship during the
operations; and to the officers with the army to open communication from the inside of Dauphin Island
with the flag-ship, immediately after we should anchor inside the harbor. The wooden ships of
this fleet steamed in column toward the forts, our advance covered by the iron ships, at about
7 a.m. The instructions previously given to the signal officers were faithfully carried out,
while opposite the fort (Morgan) exposed to its fire and that of four gun-boats. Several important
messages were transmitted from this ship to the Brooklyn, which, having the advance, had stopped
under the fire of the fort and gun-boats, delaying the farther progress of the column in the order
previously assigned. Captain Denicke, on the Brooklyn, and Lieutenant Kinney, on the flag-ship,
received and transmitted these messages with coolness and precision while exposed to the heaviest
fire. Shortly after the passage of the forts by the fleet, and while most of the ships were at anchor,
the rebel ram Tennessee was seen to be steaming rapidly up the harbor, making directly for the wooden
vessels of the fleet. The admiral called upon Lieutenant Kinney and myself to signal the ships to get
under way and run down the ram. This message was immediately transmitted to the following ships: the
Brooklyn, Richmond, and Lackawanna. The order was promptly obeyed. After the action with the ram,
a large number of messages, official, were sent from ship to ship.
* * * * * * * * * *
At 10 a.m. communication was opened by signals with the army on Dauphin Island, messages were sent
from the admiral to the major-general commanding, and answers transmitted. This communication was
valuable, and was kept up until after the surrender of Fort Gaines. During the transfer of the
troops from Dauphin Island to Mobile Point, preparatory to the investment of Fort Morgan, the
services of the officers were constantly in demand. A station was established on Mobile Point,
communicating with the navy and with the boat Laura, headquarters of Major-General Granger.
This station was equally as valuable as that on Dauphin Island.
I have the honor to mention the names of Captain Denicke, acting signal officer, for gallant and
meritorious conduct on the occasion of passing the forts, and subsequent close attention to his
duties; that of Lieut. J. C. Kinney, acting signal officer, for gallant and meritorious conduct
on the same occasion. Lieut. M. C. F. Denicke has displayed energy and attention to duty during
the entire recent operations. I recommend that First Lieut. J. C. Kinney and
Second Lieut. M. C. F. Denicke, acting signal officers, be ordered to appear before the board
for examination of candidates for admission to the Signal Corps of the army. I further respectfully
recommend the instructed men on duty in this fleet be ordered to report to the Signal Camp of Instruction,
New Orleans. They have not been sufficiently instructed in their duties as to be of service in the field.
FRANK W. MARSTON,
Major, Signal Corps, U.S. Army,
Chief Signal Officer, Military Division of West Mississippi.
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Military Division of West Mississippi.