Wig Wag flags at Fort Sanders

Francis M. Poore took part in the attack on Fort Sanders.


Artillery supported the 13th Regiment’s charge against Fort Sanders at Knoxville in the ice and snow of winter, 1863. The big guns were spread out so far around the southern curve of the battlefield that their commander had to use signal flags to tell them when to cease firing.

The commander, Gen. Edward Porter Alexander, had learned the wig wag signal flag system as a U.S. Army officer before the war under Albert J. Myer, an army surgeon.

“I was one of the very few, if not the only Southern officer who knew Myer’s system of signals,” Alexander wrote in his memoir Fighting For The Confederacy.

“Both the Union and the Confederacy,” writes Trevor at Fold3, an online archive of military records, “developed an army Signal Corps during the Civil War. The job of the Signal Corps in both the North and South was to quickly and accurately relay…

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