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this place and at a reunion of the Army of the Tennessee, to respond to a sentiment complimentary to the Signal Service.
It is pleasant in this presence, for a few to know how much the Signal Service owes of its success to the first commander of the Army of the Tennessee, to-day the great commander of us allOur President Grant. It is grateful the lips of others should tell him to-night that when, years ago, he lent his strong hand to the little beginning, he was doing well.
It is pleasant in this presence, for never has the Signal Service received a greater compliment than from the distinguished chieftain who presides at this table. when Sherman wrote: “had it not been for the services of this corps on that occasion, I am satisfied we should have lost the garrison at Alatoona and a most valuable depository of provisions there, which was worth, to us and the country, more than the aggregate expense of the whole Signal Corps for one year.” And Corse, who came when Sherman and the men who carried muskets with him were soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee.
It is pleasant in this presence and in this place, the Capital of Iowa—for in the administration of a soldier of Iowa,
1-a soldier of the Army of the Tennessee, a Secretary of war, General Wm. W. Belknap, on whom have rested greater responsibilities, far more extended duties than perhaps ever before fell to a Secretary of War in times of peace, the Signal Service has grown from the little cloud no bigger than a man's hand until to-day it aims to watch the clouds over the whole Northern hemisphere.
It will not seem strange to any that the Signal Service, with its simply organized telegraphy—the duties of which are to gather and transmit information of whatever character, and to give warning of coming danger by the most rapid method—by flags or torches, or lights, or its own field telegraphy, should have been useful with armies and navies in the war, and that its record should have been with your arıny and elsewhere, as your kind words say,—a good one. But it may seem strange to some of you that a service whose efficiency is useful in war should "aid the labors of the husbandman.” It seems something like the Biblical text about peating the spear into the pruning hook. There will be little difficulty in making this understood, however, by men who have seen and lead thousands who, leaving the plow and seizing the
sword, became reapers in the harvest of death in the war, to return to the field and the plow again with peace.
It is so with the Signal Service, which, accompanying the march of your armies in war, when there is war, goes back, when the armies have scattered, to aid the men who make armies in their peace works of commerce and agriculture. The duties of the different periods are similar. It was the duty of the corps to find out, if it could, where the cloud of war was gathered and the storm was coming, and to give notice of it in advance. It is a similar duty, and one to be as faithfully done, where one of the storms which come in peace is chartered on our charts and traced from hour to hour, to give warning of the coming danger of its approach. This service is rendered by soldiers. Eternal vigilance is easier, as you soldiers all know and believe, with military men. Where observations must be exact and must be taken day after day and at midnight unceasingly, at the precise instants of time, to where the warning signal must go up at our ports, or the cautionary message sped at the moment it is ordered, the need of military organization and military obedience is imperative.
The duty is one which binds together every State and river and lake, and even the seas which wash the coasts of the Union, and over all the watch must be; not one which knows no North, no South, no East, no West, but one which knows all about the North, and South, and East, and West, and cares in its duty for one as carefully as for the other. The cyclone which comes in by the Gulf of Mexico will not tarry on State lines. The cold current first seen near Lake Superior will presently be heard of in Texas. The field of the continent must be under the vigilance of the service. The aim of that vigilance must be to do nothing but good. As it is with the rain, which is given alike on the just and on the unjust, the Signal Service must labor to benefit all classes and conditions of men.
You will hardly expect me to talk a book to you after dinner, or to tell you all the Service does or how it does it. You have been kind enough to say in the sentiment to which I respond, "Its efficiency imparts confidence to the plans of the army and navy and certainty to the labors of the husbandman." It it but at the beginning. If the Service is permitted to succeed, I hope the time will come, and I believe it will, when the uses of its teachings will be universal. When the soldier, the sailor, the farmer, the mechanic, the merchant, the business man, the professional man, shall be able to judge for themselves, each in the line of his duty, of the coming changes, and the "Old Probabilities” shall be increased beyond enumeration. It will not be nearly so difficult as one might imagine. Year by year, as the work goes on, the rules will shape themselves and become simple, and their use will be known as commonly as household words. With the encouragement which reaches us to-day from nearly every nation, there is reason to hope for the co-operation of the world for the solution of questions the world never before studied in common. There seems no reason why any well-informed man, wi such a general view of the atmospheric conditions as a central office can give him, should not be able to judge with the instruments which may stand on his table or hang in his ship's cabin, by himself and with reasonable certainty, of what weather he is to expect within the next twenty-four hours. It is to this end the Service tends. It is something worth working for. The experiences of the years passed go to show it is attainable.
Comrades, I must not take more of your time. In behalf of the service I represent, accept our thanks for the courteous attention and the honors you have bestowed upon us, and believe that if we could, each and all of us, would make the paths of each and all of you, those in which you would meet no storms, military or civil, but where all should be joy and sunshine forever. [Great Applause.]
Music by the Band.
General John Tilson had been assigned for the response to this toast, but was called home in the afternoon by illness, and General H. N. Eldridge accepted to respond. He made some very felicitous remarks bringing forth hearty applause.
Captain Church, following, by special request sang “Marching through Georgia"
The President then declared the ninth annual reunion at an end and adjourned. Respectfully submitted,
L. M. DAYTON,
SOCIETY OF THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE.
Almon, S. H., Major, Tamaroa, Ill.
Banks, J. C., Lieutenant, Antwerp, O.
Brunor, F., Cincinnati, O.
Cady, W. F., Surgeon, Lafayette, Ind.
Dawes, E. C., Major, Cincinnati, O.