There were at least two signal stations located in Emmitsburg, one in the town and this one located on the hill behind the college. There was flag signal communication between this station and Little Round Top signal station from 2 July until 6 July, when it was purposely discontinued. The signal station in the church steeple in Taneytown was not used heavily because it is somewhat out of the way. However, it is mentioned in Norton's report and would make an interesting side trip.
Report of Capt. Lemuel B. Norton, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac:
On the 30th, general headquarters removed to Taneytown. A signal station was placed in the church steeple at that place, and a party sent to Emmitsburg for the purpose of opening a line between General J.F. Reynolds and headquarters. Communication was not opened this day on account of the haziness of the atmosphere. The signal officer with General John Buford, who occupied the town of Gettysburg, took position in the steeple of the college, and reported to General Buford the whereabouts and movements of the enemy. The offices attached to the First Corps, from a station of observation on the mountain back of Emmitsburg, made a telescopic reconnaissance toward Gettysburg, reporting the results to the general commanding that corps ...
... During the whole of this day [l July 1], endeavors were made to open the signal line between general headquarters, Emmitsburg, and Round Top Mountain, but on account of the smokiness of the atmosphere, the desired result was not obtained until 11 p.m., when the first message was received. These lines were kept open during the subsequent battle at Gettysburg and until July 6. In the event of the repulse and retirement of our army, they must have been eminently useful ....
On July 6, the lines between Round Top and Taneytown and Emmitsburg and Taneytown were discontinued. The two officers attached to the First Corps made a telescopic reconnaissance from the hill back of Emmitsburg, and sent the information obtained to Maj. Gen. John Newton.
[O.R., XXVII, Part I, pp.201-203.]
As mentioned in the introduction, signal stations had two distinct purposes, communications and observation. The station behind Mt. Saint Mary's College was used for communications with Round Top but its primary purpose appears to have been for observation. Col. Myer explains the observation function in his A Manual of Signals:
The observations and reconnoissances made by signal officers differ from those of other reconnoitering Officers, in the facts that, by their long practice, they are able.to use their telescopes with an almost wonderful skill; and that the information they gain can sometimes be compared by them, from the place of observation, with that had at the same time by other officers in view and watching the enemy from other points, by the immediate transmission from one to the other of the facts noticed by each. The reports of their reconnoissances can also, in many instances, at once be communicated to the commanding general from the Diace at which the observations are making, while the reconnoitering officer remains to add further to his information. The reports are of a general character, relating to the presence or movements of the enemy, etc., Such as are made by scouts. They are not expected to embrace the specialties exhibited in a report of engineers. An officer is often posted for weeks together at one station of observation...
The principal station of observation ought to command a view of fords, principal roads, railways, bridges, towns, camps, gaps in mountains, rivers, ports, as the case may be, and generally of the routes of march or movement in that section of the country ...
Observations of reconnaissance are generally made from several prominent stations. They are to be briefly made, but they ought to be made with scrupulous exactness. The parties moving with signal-officers on reconnaissance are generally small. They should move with the utmost rapidity and secrecy.
[Albert J. Myer, A Manual of Signals,
Now proceed to STOP 9.
Drive south on HWY 15 22.3 miles and exit on WEST 40. Drive 1.8 miles and turn LEFT ON ALT 40. Drive 5.2 miles to MIDDLETOWN. There was a station located in Middletown which was in flaa communication with the station on Washington Monument. Although it is not documented. it was probably located in the Zion Lutheran Church. The church was used as a hospital during the Antietam campaign and based on the design of the steeple, was more than likely the site of the Middletown signal station in July 1863. Continue on ALT 40 for 5.3 miles stopping across from the OLD SOUTH MOUNTAIN INN. There is room to park by the side of the road adjacent to a number of blue battlefield signs marking the battle of TURNER'S GAP.