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Wartime Army of the Tennessee Headquarters Badge - Signals Corps

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John Fushi

Wartime Army of the Tennessee Headquarters Badge - Signal Corps 


Army of the Tennessee 


     History remembers the Army of the Tennessee as one of the most important Union armies during the Civil War, an army intimately associated with the Union's two most celebrated generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman.It is thus rather ironic that frequent military reorganizations and looseness of usage during the war itself make it difficult to pinpoint the exact date at which this army formally came into existence. It should suffice to note that the "nucleus [of troops] around which was to gather the... Army of the Tennessee" first took shape in 1861–1862, while Grant was headquartered at Cairo, Illinois.Those troops continued under Grant in his next command, the distinct District of West Tennessee; they were then sometimes, and perhaps most appropriately, called the "Army of West Tennessee."However, army correspondence began using the term "Army of the Tennessee" in March 1862; that term soon became commonplace and naturally lived on when Grant's command was elevated to departmental status in October 1862, as the Department of the Tennessee.During the course of the war, elements of the Army of the Tennessee performed many tasks, and the army evolved with the addition and subtraction of many units. It is not feasible to chronicle every such development here, even at the corps level. Rather, this article traces the main thrust of the army's development and its most memorable activities. At any given time, substantial numbers of troops were engaged in activities not discussed here. For example, in April 1863, less than half of Grant's departmental strength was directly engaged in the Vicksburg Campaign.


Signal Corps 


     Signal Corps accomplished tactical and strategic communications for the warring armies, including electromagnetic telegraphy and aerial telegraphy ("wig-wag" signaling).


"Wig Way Signaling" - Wig-wag signaling was performed during daylight with a single flag tied to a hickory staff constructed in four-foot jointed sections. Flags were generally made of cotton, linen, or another lightweight fabric and were issued in the following sizes. The 4-foot flags with white backgrounds, mounted on 12 foot staffs, were most often used, although 2-foot flags were used when the flagman wanted to avoid enemy attention. Red flags were generally used at sea. For nighttime signaling, torches were copper cylinders, 18 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter with a cotton wick. 


Badge - Army of the Tennessee Headquarters Badge with 15th and 17th Corps - Signal Corps symbol above 15th Corps cartridge box 



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M24 Chaffee

Very nice badges and an informative post! I’ve been rereading Shelby Foote’s chapters on Sherman’s march. 


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