Civil War U.S. Army Signal Officer’s Glasses & Documents – SOLD

French made binoculars, U.S. Signal Glass marked, belonging to Lt. Myron Adams, Signal Corps.

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Signal glasses and documents belonging to Lieutenant Myron Adams, U.S. Signal Corps.

Myron Adams was 21 years of age when he mustered in as corporal in Company “F” 126th New York Infantry in August of 1862.  He was with the regiment when they surrendered at Harper’s Ferry, Va. in Sept. of 186 2 and paroled shortly after. He was discharged from the 126th NYI in March of 1863.

Adams was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 2nd U.S. Colored Infantry shortly after his time in the 126th, and went to the deep south with the African American recruits.  He remained in that unit until early 1864, when he transferred to the Signal Corps and assigned to the Department of the Gulf.

During the attacking of confederate forts around Mobile Bay, Adams and two privates were assigned to go aboard the USS Lackawanna, a steam sloop, and with other vessels were ordered to attack the CSS Tennessee, and iron clad ship much like the CSS Virginia.

The fight with the Tennessee was quite the undertaking, and the Lackawanna, nearly lost her bow in an attempted ramming of the Tennessee. Communication between Admiral Farragut’s ships was difficult do to all the smoke, and the Lackawanna had already unintentionally collided with the USS Hartford, Farragut’s flag ship. Myron Adams, at this time had lashed himself to the Lackawanna’s foremast fighting top and passed on any messages received from the flag ship or others.  Farragut, had his signalman send a message to Lackawanna, and Adams was only able to read a portion of the message due to the smoke drifting across his view, and a breeze that wrapped the American Flag around him at that inopportune moment.  What he picked up was, “For Gods sake get out…(Farragut wanting Lackawanna to get out of Hartford’s way), the ships continued the attack and Adams was witness to the horrid sights, and themselves (he and his privates) were also in mortal danger. (I have more of this account copied, that comes with this collection of material.

More engagements ensued with Myron Adams still acting under General Canby in the Dept. of the Gulf.  In May of 1865, Gen. Canby received the surrender of the last Confederate forces in that region, and accounts point to Myron Adams being ordered with the mission of carrying the surrender documents to the War Department in Washington, an honor normally afforded one in a higher rank, but Adams was held in high esteem by his general.

The documents are as follows:

  • Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Signal Detachment, dated June, 30, 1864. Adams issued 3 Colt’s Army revolvers caliber .44 and 72 rounds, along with other cavalry accoutrements, 3 sabers and more. Signed at New Orleans,
  • Invoice for Signal equipment issued to Adams; one pocket compass (new) on 18 July, 1864.
  • Form letter from Office of the Signal Officer, Washington, July 21, 1864.  Concerning the his returns being examined.
  • List of Signal Equipments and Signal Stores, Mobile Bay; one signal dispatch book (note: Expended in transmitted official messages during the campaign of Mobile Bay.” Dated 13, Sept. 1864.
  • Same form list; dated 13 Sept. 1864; for 1 pocket compass (note: “Compass was placed in valise with other property; the valise was locked & placed in my tent near my bunk. Said valise was feloniously taken from tent on the night of the 11th of July while i was sleeping, carried a short distance from camp, cut open & this compass, together with clothing  etc. abstracted.”
  • Treasury Department letter, Oct. 26th 1864.  Relating to returns.
  • Ordnance Office, War Department, Nov. 29, 1864.  Returns examined.
  • Letterhead, Headquarters, Military Division of West Mississippi, Office of Chief Signal Officer, New Orleans, La. Dec. 15th, 1864;  (see photos)  Great content.
  • Letterhead, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, Jan 5th, 1865.  Special Order No. 4  (see photos) more great content.
  • Letterhead, Bureau of the Signal Corps, Washington, Jan 18th, 1865.  Ouarterly returns.
  • Monthly Return of Quartermaster Stores, Mobile Bay, April 1865. Return of horses.
  • Invoice, Mobile Bay, April 22, 1865.  return of one horse, unserviceable.
  • Quartermaster General’s Office, Property Division, Washington, June 6, 1865.  Returns for March and April received.


The Paris made signal glasses are made by Bardou & Son.  Finely engraved on bridge, “U.S. Army / Signal Glass.”  Approximately 6.5 inches high not extended.  Elevating screw functions, sun shades are functional as well. Leather wrapping is fine with one side stitching broken (see photo). Optics are good.  The leather case is dry and has seen some restoration to hold mainly the lid together.  There are no markings on the case.  No sling survives, and sling guides are present, but some flaking and dryness (would not hold a sling.  Lid completely dislodged from case body.  Overall wear to binoculars is light except on the high spots and would rate fine condition overall.

Great display item! Seldom found with any condition and history.

Additional information

Weight 2 lbs