Union Signals Enlisted Patch
(left) Officers generally wore a frock coat with a kepi or slouch hat, footwear may have been either brogans or boots.
(right) Enlisted wore the typical sack coat with forage cap and brogans. Note the patch worn only by Union enlisted personnel.
(place mouse over enlisted uniform to view Confederate uniform)
The main device used for signalling was the flag. Torches and lanterns could be used at night, but, the primary instrument was the flag.
There were three sizes of flags of three different colors. The sizes were 2', 4' and 6', with a proportioned center square, the colors were white, red and black. The signal kit contained seven flags.
(before reading on, take a few moments and think on why there were different sizes and colors of flags)
The 4' and 6' flag were generally used for distance signalling. Distances of no greater than 8 miles was usually sent and under good conditions messages were sent at distances of 18 miles. It is recorded that a message had been successfully sent at a distance of 24 miles, from Maryland Heights MD to Sugarloaf Mountain near Frederick MD.
Brass torches were used for night signalling. The same system of 1's, 2's and 3's were used. The torch on the right was know as the flying torch, which was attached to a staff and the foot torch on the left was placed in front of the flagger and used as a reference point. Turpentine was the primary fuel used in the torches. When not in use, the torches were placed in tarred canvas bags and wrapped in tar cloth in a way that when placed into the canvas carrying bag, there would be no leakage. Notice the copper canteen, this was used for transporting turpentine and the extra wicks in brown paper that would of been in the kit.
32X telescope (rear)
Officers field glasses (right)
Officers telescope (left)
Note: Tools and accessories bag (center) for equipment repair, funnel and extra container for turpentine.
Flags are rolled for placement into canvas carrying bag and torches are rolled in tarred cloth for transport