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CIA Codebreaker Reveals 147-year-old Civil War Message About The Confederate Army’s Desperation

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The piece of paper with a message for a Confederate leader was rolled up, tied with string and sealed along with a bullet in a glass vial. It remained a mystery for 147 years, until a CIA codebreaker cracked the message after a museum had the vial opened

The message is from a Confederate commander on the west side of the Mississippi River across from Pemberton.

'He's saying, 'I can't help you. I have no troops, I have no supplies, I have no way to get over there,' ' Museum of the Confederacy collections manager Catherine M. Wright said of the author of the dispiriting message.

'It was just another punctuation mark to just how desperate and dire everything was.'

The bottle, less than two inches in length, had sat undisturbed at the museum since 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege.

The code is called the ‘Vigenere cipher,’ a centuries-old encryption in which letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places so an ‘a’ would become a ‘d’ — essentially, creating words with different letter combinations.

The code was widely used by Southern forces during the Civil War, according to Civil War Times Illustrated.

The source of the message was likely Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, of the Texas Division, who had under his command William Smith, the donor of the bottle.

The full text of the message to Pemberton reads:

'Gen'l Pemberton: You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's lines. Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion. I have sent some caps (explosive devices). I subjoin a despatch from General Johnston.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1341666/CIA-codebreaker-reveals-147-year-old-Civil-War-message-Confederate-desperation.html#ixzz2iHcjjnvs 


A Handwritten Newspaper, Produced by Confederate POWs

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By

By 

Confederate prisoners of war confined at Fort Delaware produced this newspaper by hand in 1865. The New-York Historical Society holds one of four surviving copies, each of which was likely passed around and read by multiple prisoners. The paper numbers four pages in total.

Like camps holding Union prisoners in the South, Fort Delaware, located on the Delaware River, was not a pleasant place. More than 40,000 Confederate POWs cycled through the brick-walled prison between 1862 and 1865. Overcrowding, poor handling of sanitation, and short rations resulted in the deaths of many prisoners. (Astonishingly, 56,000 men fighting on both sides died while imprisoned during the conflict.)

Read the full article at The Slate

Telegraphy, the first information superhighway

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By SUSAN SCHULTEN , NYTimes.com

The advent of the Internet has prompted endless claims that we are living through an unprecedented revolution in communication, one that has annihilated the concept of distance. Yet the real revolution came with the arrival of the telegraph in the 19th century.

The innovations of Joseph Henry and Samuel F.B. Morse, among others, led to the first telegraphed message in 1844, and by the late 1850s President Buchanan was famously exchanging pleasantries with Queen Victoria. Over 50,000 miles of telegraph wire were strung across the country in the prior two decades, and by November 1861 a transcontinental network was complete.

Continue reading at the NYTimes.com


150 years ago, a primitive Internet united the USA

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, OCT. 24, 2011 AND THEREAFTER - This circa 1863 photo provided by the U.S. Library of Congress shows a repairman working on a telegraph line in the United States. One hundred fifty years ago, as the nation was being ripped apart by Civil War, it was being knitted together electronically by what was arguably the world's first high-tech gadget, the humble telegraph. On Oct. 24, 1861, with just the push of a button Stephen J. Field would send a message from a telegraph office in San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, telling him the first transcontinental telegraph line was up and running. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)

This circa 1863 photo provided by the U.S. Library of Congress shows a repairman working on a telegraph line in the United States. One hundred fifty years ago, as the nation was being ripped apart by Civil War, it was being knitted together electronically by what was arguably the world's first high-tech gadget, the humble telegraph. On Oct. 24, 1861, with just the push of a button Stephen J. Field would send a message from a telegraph office in San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, telling him the first transcontinental telegraph line was up and running. (AP Photo/Library of Congress) 

(AP)  LOS ANGELES — Long before there was an Internet or an iPad, before people were social networking and instant messaging, Americans had already gotten wired.

Monday marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental telegraph. From sea to sea, it electronically knitted together a nation that was simultaneously tearing itself apart, North and South, in the Civil War.

Americans soon saw that a breakthrough in the spread of technology could enhance national identity and, just as today, that it could vastly change lives.
"It was huge," says Amy Fischer, archivist for Western Union, which strung the line across mountains, canyons and tribal lands to make the final connection. "... With the Civil War just a few months old, the idea that California, the growing cities of California, could talk to Washington and the East Coast in real time was huge. It's hard to overstate the impact of that."

Continue reading "150 years ago, a primitive Internet united the USA" »