STOP #12

       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.


       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 reply; 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 signal 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, Norton, Captain.

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.

Captain, Signal Officer.

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; not able to see anything.

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.

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 1 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.]

Drive to STOP 13.

Turn around and go back on Red Hill Road and drive 1.6 miles. Turn LEFT on WYAND STREET in KEEDYSVILLE. Drive 0.8 miles following the signs to HWY 34. Drive 2.4 miles to BOONSBORO. Turn right on Old National Park (South Main) and drive 0.6 miles. Turn LEFT into the parking lot of the BOONSBORO BIBLE CHURCH.


STOP #12

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