Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MYER, Albert James, chief signal officer, born in Newburg, New York, 20 September, 1827 ; died in Buffalo, New York, 24 August, 1880. He was graduated at Hobart, college in 1847 and at Buffalo medical college in 1851. In September', 1854, he entered the United States army as assistant surgeon and was assigned to duty in Texas. While so engaged he devised a system of army signals with flags and torches for day and night, by means of which messages could be sent as fully and accurately as with the electric telegraph, though less rapidly. In 1858-'60 he held command of the signal corps and was engaged in perfecting his system. He was commissioned major in 1860 and made chief signal officer of the United States army. His first field-work with the new signal code was in New Mexico, but at the beginning of the civil war he was ordered to Washington and assigned to duty in the Army of the Potomac Throughout the peninsular campaign he served as chief signal officer to General George B. McClellan, participating in all of the battles from Bull Run to Antietam. He then returned to Washington, where he took charge of the United States signal office on 3 March, 1863, with the rank of colonel. At this time he introduced the study of military signals at the United States military academy and was a member of the central board of examination for admission to the United States signal corps. In December, 1863, he was assigned to reconnoissance on Mississippi river, between Cairo, Illinois, and Memphis, Tennessee, and later he became chief signal officer of the military division of West Mississippi under General Edward R. S. Canby, by whom he was commissioned to arrange the terms of surrender of Fort Gaines. He was relieved of his command at this time by the secretary of war on the ground that his appointment had not been confirmed, and his appointment of chief signal officer was revoked on 21 July, 1864; but he was brevetted brigadier-general on 13 March, 1865. After his removal from the army he settled in Buffalo, and there devoted his time to the preparation of a "Manual of Signals for the United States Army and Navy" (New York, 1868). He was reappointed colonel and chief signal officer on 28 July, 1866. An act of congress, approved 9 February. 1870. authorized provision for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the states and territories of the United States, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and seaboard by telegraph and signals of the approach and force of storms; and the execution of this duty was confided to General Myer, as he had been interested previously in the subject of storm telegraphy. The preparatory work of organization was prosecuted with energy. Arrangements were made with the telegraph companies for transmitting the observations, and on 1 November, 1870, at 7.35 A. M., the first systematized simultaneous meteorological observations that were taken in the United States were read from the instruments at twenty-four stations and placed on the telegraphic wires for transmission. On the first day of the report weather bulletins were posted at each one of the twenty-four selected stations, and the practical working of the scheme was assured. The work of the weather bureau soon became popular and was rapidly extended. It had increased, at the date of General Myer's death, to more than 300 stations with a force of 500 men. In 1873 Gem Myer represented the United States a, t the International congress of meteorologists in Vienna. On 1 July, 1875, the signal service bureau began the publication of a daily "International Bulletin," comprising the reports from all co-operating stations, and on 1 July, 1878, this was supplemented by a daily international chart. In 1879 he was a delegate to the Meteorological congress at Rome. He was promoted brigadier-general on 16 June, 1880, as a special reward by congress for his services in the line of his profession. General Myer established a system of cautionary day and night signals for the benefit of lake and ocean commerce and navigation, a system of reliable river reports for the benefit of interior commerce, and special series of reports for farmers and planters.
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