This expressive photograph of a young Assistant Surgeon Thomas McMillin was kindly shared to the FamilySearch database [free login required] by Kelly Harrison Thomas in 2021. Dr. McMillan was Medical Purveyor of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam in 1862 and into 1863.

In 1864 and 1865 he was in charge of US Army hospital steamships Baltic and J.K. Barnes (named for the US Army Surgeon General). Here’s more about the J.K. Barnes from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (Vol. 2, Pt. 3).

McMillan died young of heart disease in April 1873, still in US Army service.

I’ve consulted this fine map on more than one occasion during my recent research into signal officers and surgeons at Antietam.

It is annotated with the locations of US Army field hospitals and signal stations on and near the battlefield, and is a compilation of two earlier maps which supported the after-action reports of Army of the Potomac’s Medical Director Jonathan Letterman [report] and Chief Signal Officer Albert Myer [report].

I expect I’ll need it again, so I’ll keep a copy here.

Here’s a blow-up of the middle part of the map [touch to enlarge] focusing on the local signal stations used by the Federals during the battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862.

The signal officers who manned each station during the battle were:

Signal Station near Gen. Sumner’s Hd. Qrs.
Poffenberger farm near the Hagerstown Pike
1Lt. J.B. Brooks (4th VT)
2nd Lt. W.H. Hill (99th PA)

Signal Station near Gen. Smith’s Hd. Qrs.
Smoketown Road, East Woods
1st Lt. E.C. Pierce (3rd ME)
2nd Lt. W.F. Barrett (27th MA)

Advance Signal Station
On the Roulette farm
1Lt. F.N. Wicker (28th NY)
1Lt. G.J. Clarke (62nd NY)
…briefly, then …
1Lt. F. Wilson (5th PA Reserves)
2Lt. F.W. Owen (38th NY)

Head Quarters Signal Station
Dual station at/near the Pry house east of the Antietam
2Lt. W.S. Stryker (83rd NY)
1Lt. J.C. Paine (57th NY)
2Lt. C.F. Stone (6th ME)
1Lt. P.A. Taylor (49th NY)

Signal Station communication with the Washington Monument on South Hill
East of the Boonsboro Pike near Keedysville
[not named] possibly 2nd Lt. C.H. Cary (3rd MI)

Mountain Signal Station
On Elk Mountain east of Sharpsburg
1Lt. J. Gloskowski (29th NY)
2Lt. N.H. Camp (4th NJ)

Burnside Signal Station
Ridge on the Rohrbach farm east of the lower bridge
1Lt. S. Pierce (27th NY)
Capt. C.S. Kendall (1st MA)

All stations were under the supervision of Signal Detachment commander Capt. B.F. Fisher (3rd PA Reserves); he was most often at the Head Quarters station on 17 and 18 September.


For a little about Confederate Army signal stations at Sharpsburg, see A New View of the Field at Sharpsburg, an exhibit on Antietam on the Web.


The map here is part of Plate XXVIII (28) from Volume I of the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (US War Department, 1891-95). There’s a lovely digital set of all 178 plates from the Atlas online thanks to Baylor University. Here’s their zoomable copy of Plate XXVIII.

My information about the specific manning of the signal stations comes from Major Myer’s report, with details from that of Captain Fisher [here].

Each of these officers were detailed from their regiments to the Signal Corps earlier in 1861 or 1862 and all were Acting Signal Officers (ASOs) at Antietam. Many of them were later commissioned directly in the Signal Corps.

Each officer was accompanied at his signal station by two Privates as flagmen – men also detailed from volunteer regiments to the Signal Corps.

There were at least 37 US ASOs [see their unit page on AotW] on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and more than 110 flagmen. I regret I have identified only 3 of those Privates to date.

This lovely photograph of Lieutenant William Francis Barrett, complete with Signal Corps kepi, was taken by T.M. Schleier, photographer, Nashville, Knoxville & Chattanooga, TN, and is in the massive Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress [online].

On 17 September 1862 …

… As our lines advanced on the west side of the Antietam, driving in the enemy’s left, stations were established as closely as possible behind the lines, and near to the generals commanding in that portion of the field. A station was thus established, subject to artillery fire, by Lieuts. E. C. Pierce and W. F. Barrett, at the Miller house, near the position of General E. V. Sumner. The signal package carried on the saddle by one of the flagmen of this party was cut in two by a cannon-shot.

He served through the war as a Signal Officer and mustered out in August 1865.

Sadly, William died not quite 3 weeks later of malaria or dysentery contracted on campaign, leaving a widow Ellen and small son Charles. He was 30 years old.

Saw surrender of Lee (1924)

3 December 2022

On the occasion of Jedediah Chase Paine‘s 85th birthday the Lititz (PA) Record of 10 April 1924 published this piece about his presence at Appomattox Court House in April 1865 when he was a Captain, Signal Corps, US Volunteers. He had been with the Army of the Potomac on South Mountain and at Antietam in September 1862 as a Lieutenant in the 57th New York Infantry and Acting Signal Officer.

Here’s a carte-de-visite of Captain Paine made at the Brady studios in about 1863. It was offered for sale by Dan Morphy Auctions in 2010.


Some of the claims in the news clip above are a little confusing, possibly misleading. He was not really a staff officer – rather a Signal Officer. He was one of many officers – most of the Corps, in fact – who were commissioned into the Signal Corps when it was reorganized in March 1863. He was not actually in the Cavalry, but was assigned as Signal Officer to General Stoneman in 1863. He was awarded brevets (honorary rank) to Major and Lieutenant Colonel of Volunteers in 1865.

This lovely photograph is online in the MOLLUS Massachusetts Collection (Vol. 40, pg. 1994) at the US Army Heritage & Education Center. It was listed in the catalog for Photographic Incidents of the War; from the gallery of Alexander Gardner, photographer to the Army of the Potomac (1863) as having been taken in November 1863, though the MOLLUS mat notes say October.

It was also published in F.T. Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War (Vol. 8, pg. 327; 1911), which is where these men are identified:

Standing, left to right, Lt. Frederick E. Beardslee, Lt. William H.R. Neel, Lt. George J. Clarke, [unknown], Capt. Charles L Davis;
Seated, left to right: Lt. Charles J. Clarke, Lt. William S Stryker, and Lt. Adin B. Capron.

From their pictures in Brown’s The Signal Corps, U.S.A. in the War of the Rebellion (1896), I think the man seated at left is Thomas R Clarke, not Charles; Charles was wounded at Fredericksburg in December 1862 and discharged in March 1863. And the “unknown” officer may be Capt. Robert Patterson Hughes, much later Major General, USA.

Here are Clarke and Hughes from Brown:

Other sources have the man seated on the box as Lt Fountain Wilson rather than Stryker, and I agree. From Brown, again:

Of this group of 8 signal officers, two, Lieutenants George J Clarke and Fountain Wilson were on the Maryland Campaign of 1862; Lt Clarke was one of several signal officers and men on the battlefield of Antietam under fire on 17 September 1862.

Although probably not pictured with this group, Lieutenant William S. Stryker was also at Antietam.

After his service in 1861 as First Sergeant of Company C, Duree’s Zouaves, pictured here, Norman Henry Camp was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 4th New Jersey Infantry. He was on detail to the Signal Corps at Antietam in September 1862.

This photograph is online from the US Army Heritage & Education Center [CWP 189.66].

This Brady Studio portrait of Captain Joseph H Spencer was probably taken soon after he was commissioned Captain in the Signal Corps and assigned to the Office of the Signal Officer of the Army in Washington, in April 1863. He been a signal officer since being detailed from the First Minnesota Infantry in August 1861, and was on the Peninsular and Maryland Campaigns.

The original print is online from the Library of Congress.

Lieutenant Charles Henry Cary was an Acting Signal Officer in Maryland in September 1862, detailed from the 3rd Michigan Infantry. He was only 24 years old at his death in 1863, seen in this notice in the New York Times of 9 August 1863.

A clipping from the San Antonio Daily Express of 12 October 1910, online thanks to The Portal to Texas History.

Mentioned as the youngest attendee was Frank E. Yates. In addition to his history with the Zouaves, Yates was a First Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officer on the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Joseph L Bartlett is seen in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as a Captain in the Confederate States Signal Corps at both Manassas in August 1862 and near Harpers Ferry in September. He was surely a signalman, but it is more likely he was actually a Private in both places.

There are very few records of him, but I did find this voucher he signed when he bought a condemned CSA horse in May 1863.


I first heard about Bartlett in a 2005 email conversation with David Winfred Gaddy, retired NSA cryptanalyst and historian, who clued me to the fact that he probably wasn’t actually a Captain as the Official Records compilers assumed.

I am sorry to have just learned that Dave passed in 2015; I think he would have been amused to see this scrap of paper.

Here he is on temporary duty in Vietnam in 1960, with NSA cryptologist Gene Raymond, in a photo from the 2017 edition of his translation of A History of the Cryptographic Branch of the People’s Army of Viet Nam, 1945-1975 (1994), online [pdf] from the Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency.