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Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925 / Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate: and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire
(1896)

Chapter XXXVII. The Arizona campaign. (I),   pp. 480-493 PDF (5.5 MB)


Page 483


GENERAL NELSON A. AILES.
success of the system was largely due to the able and judicious manner
in which these officers performed their duties. The stations were generally
situated on high mountains, some of them being six or seven thousand feet
above the level of the sea. They were mianned by two or three operators
according to the amount of work to be done. and were usually provided
with from one to five guards, according to the dangers of the situation.
Couriers were also furnished wherever needed. Sometimes it was nieces-
sary to establish these stations a mile or two from water, which in that
case was brought to them on the backs of mnules. Rations were usually
supplied by the mnonth from the most convenient military post.
   Besides the heliographs these stations were fitted out with field glasses,
and usually also with a telescope, and all day long the lookout scanned the
country for signals from  undetermined points.  Whenever possible the
station was so situated as to afford a dark background, as it was found that
a flash from such a stationm could be much more easily seen than from one
where the sky formed the only )acklgroulnd.
   In the division of New Mexico there were thirteen of these stations,
and in that of Arizona there were fourteen. The work w as systematized
from the very beginning. All details, clmaimges and instructions were m-ade
by regular orders, and each station was provided with the necessary nmate-
rial for keeping records. Weekly reports were rendered by each station
as to the number of messages sent and received, and weekly reports of the
weather were also required. As the numnber of members of the signal
corps was limited, much work was performed by enlisted men, who proved
themselves to be very intelligent and apt, some of them being competent
to go on a station after but two weeks' instruction. Naturally, telegraph
operators found it much easier to learn the system than others did.
   Some of these stations communicated with but one other, while some
communicated with as many as five, as in the case of the one at Bowie
Peak, Arizona Territory, or the one at the extreme northern point of the
Swisshelmi Mountains. The average distance between these stations was
in a direct line about twenty-five miles, but Fort Huachuca, which coin-
municated with three other stations, was thirty-one miles distant fromn the
nearest.
   In the division of Arizona the total number of messages sent from May
1. 1886, to September 80, of the same year was 2,264. The greatest numblher
of miessages froni one station (802) was from Fort Bowie, and the next
greatest numbers (284 and 241) were from the stations at Rucker Cafion
and at Antelope Springs, near the south end of the Dragoon Mountains,
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