Skip to main content

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Squadron, Confidential Memorandum Number 14

North Atlantic Station.


At Sea

Confidential Memorandum No. 14.                      May 5, 1898.

     The attention of Commanding Officers is called to the following coast signal service, which is published for their information and guidance.

William T. Sampson,         

Rear Admiral,          

Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.     

Headquarters of the Superintendent of Coast Signal Service1 at New York.

Telegraphic address: Supcoastsig, New York.


Headquarters on board the U. S. S. Minnesota, Boston, Mass.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, Boston, Mass.

     1. Monhegan Island, Me.

     2. Cape Elizabeth, Me.

     3. Appledore Island, N. H.

     4. Cape Ann, Mass.

     5. Cape Cod, Mass.

     6. Gay Head, Mass.

     7. Block Island, R. I.

                        SECOND DISTRICT.

Headquarters on board U. S. S. New Hampshire, New York.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, New York.

     1. Montauk Point, N. Y.

     2. Quogue, Long Island.

     3. Fire Island, Long Island.

     4. Barnegat, N. J.

     5. Cape Henlopen, Del.


Headquarters at Norfolk Navy Yard.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, Norfolk, Va.

     1. Cape Henry, Va.

     2. Cape Lookout, N. C.

     3. Cape Fear, Va. (Carolina Beach.)


Headquarters at Charleston, Light-house Inspector’s Office.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, Charleston, S. C.

     1. Charleston, S. C.

     2. Hilton Head (establishment uncertain).

     3. Tybee Island, Ga.

     4. South Simons Island, Ga.


Headquarters Jacksonville.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, Jacksonville, Fla.

     1. Mouth of St. Johns, Fla, Mt. Cornelia.

     2. Cape Canaveral, Fla.

     3. Jupiter Inlet, Fla.

     4. Miami, Fla.


Headquarters, Port Tampa,

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, Port Tampa, Fla.

     1. Key West, Fla.

     2. Dry Tortugas, Fla.

     3. Sanibell Island for Punta Rosa.2

     4. Anna Maria Key for Port Tampa, Fla.

     5. Pensacola on Santa Rosa Island, Fla.

     (Independent station directly connected with Navy Yard.)


Headquarters at New Orleans, La., in Armory of Naval Battalion.

Telegraphic address: Coastsig, New Orleans, La.

     1. Mobile, Ala., Fort Morgan.

     2. Port Eads, La.

     3. Galveston, Texas, near southern limit of city.

     These stations will be occupied immediately on order following the outbreak of hostilities, when wig-wag signals can be made and answered, with a twelve foot staff and a six-foot flag. When completely installed they may be recognized by a black drum eight feet high by about five feet wide hoisted at the head of a mast ninety feet high, which is provided with a signal yard, and fitted to the Navy and International flags and shapes by day.3 At night a substitute for the Adrois system will be available as well as Very signals and rockets.4

     Coast Signal Service. U. S. S. New Hampshire, N. Y., April 24th, 1898: — “I hereby confirm my telegram of yesterday, as follows: ‘Coast stations Monhegan to Gay Head, Montauk to Cape Henry, Tybee Island and Pensacola, manned.’-Superintendent Coast Signal Service.”

     Washington, D. C., April 25, 1898:-“Signal stations nearing completion at the following points: MonheganIsland, Cape Elizabeth, AppledoreIsland, Cape Ann, Gay Head to Block Island, Montauk, Quogue, Fire Island, Barnegat, Henlopen, henry Tybee, Pensacola, Mobile, Fort Morgan, Alabama, Port Eads, details of locations will be sent later.


     Telegram, May 3, 1898:-“Day distinguishing mark of Coast Signal Stations International Code P on breezy days; Drumshape quiet days; night distinguishing marks white-red-white, vertical hoist. Are having lines of bearing of stations taken, will advise soon as possible.—KANE.”

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56, Box 11.

Footnote 1: Capt. (Ret.) Theodore F. Kane was Superintendent of the Coast Signal Battalion until 9 May. He was replaced by Capt. (Ret.) John R. Bartlett. Annual Report of the Navy Department, 1898, 386, 393.

Footnote 2: That is, Sanibel Island, FL.

Footnote 3: International maritime and U.S. Navy signal flags used the same alphabetical letters or combinations of letters to spell out messages.

Footnote 4: The Adroissignal system used red and white lights to convey messages. The Very signal system used rockets that burst into different colored lights.

Footnote 5: Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

Related Content