Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Communications along the Defensive Line
A series of signal stations linked the forts of the Defenses of Washington. The soldiers who relayed secret messages from station to station had to learn new code systems. To communicate, they waved flags, blinked lights, set of rocket flares, or where wires had been strung, sent telegrams. In 1863, U.S. Army records listed 70 signal stations.
"It was a repeating station in every sense of the word. I gradually opened with other stations until the number of directly communicating was six. This compelled me to destroy the beauty of the large chestnut . . ."
Lieutenant Willlard Brown, 1864
Members of the Signal Corps, 1861
Each Union signal officer was issued a set of seven flags in red, black, and white, each with a contrasting center square.
Signal Tower, 1865
Stripped of its top and branches, a large chestnut tree served as a base for Fort Ethan Allen's signal tower. The house at the base of the tree, which housed the fort's commanding
A First in American Warfare
On September 24, 1861, Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, Chief of the Corps of Aeronautics of the U.S. Army, launched a balloon from Fort Corcoran to direct artillery artillery fire on Confederate soldiers three miles away in Falls Church. From the balloon, Lowe signaled firing instructions to soldiers on the ground. They, in turn, relayed messages to gunners at Fort Ethan Allen. For the first time in warfare, gunners could accurately fire on an enemy they could not see. This was the only offensive attack on Confederate troops from an Arlington fort.
Army in the Air
Lowe, who was personally appointed by President Lincoln to head the army's Balloon Corps, commanded seven balloons and eight aeronauts. In the photos from left to right: operators fill the balloon Intrepid using portable hydrogen generators; replenish Intrepid with air from Constitution; and hold tether lines as Lowe (aloft) surveys enemy positions during the Peninsula Campaign near Williamsburg, Virginia in May 1862. The corps was disbanded in 1863.
Location. 38° 55.47′ N, 77° 7.416′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3829 North Strafford Street, Arlington VA 22207, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Ethan Allen—What to Look For (here, next to this marker); Lives of the Soldiers (here, next to this marker); Protecting the Fort (a few steps from this marker); The View in 1865 (within shouting distance of this marker); A Defensive Artillery Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); A Bastion-Style Fort Is a Mighty Fortress (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Defensive Stronghold, Heavily Armed (about 400 feet away); Welcome to Fort Ethan Allen (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington.
Categories. • Air & Space • Communications • Forts, Castles • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on April 29, 2019. This page originally submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 63 times since then. Photos: 1. submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2. submitted on April 26, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 25, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6, 7. submitted on April 26, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.