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 DURING the war it was often necessary to signal from
place to place.
During the night, signalling was done by torches, during the day, by flags.
Suppose there were two signal parties, on two different
mountains, five or ten miles apart. Suppose there is a
battle going on near one signal party, or a bridge has been
burned, or the enemy are coming near. The other signal
party will need to know of all this. So first of all the flag-man
sets up his flag. The officer gets his field glass in position,
and watches until he finds that the signal party on the
other mountain has seen the signal, and is waiting to receive
Now the flag-man begins to signal. He waves his flag to
the right, or the left, or the front.
Suppose to the right means 1, to the left 2, in front 3.
Now, if the flagman should dip twice to the right, once to
the left and once in front, that would make the number
When the officer on the other mountain had got the
whole signal, he would look in a book he carries, called a
"signal code." and learn what 1,123 means. Perhaps he
would find that it meant "railroad bridge burned," or "send
 us troops at once," or "we have defeated the Confederates,"
or "Grant is only five miles away."
Of course these books have to be kept very secret; and
if in any way one of them should fall into the hands of the
enemy, a new set of numbers would have to be made out
for it wouldn't be a very nice thing to have the enemy know
what the signals meant.