Discussion Communication Impact on Civil War Outcome

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USS ALASKA

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A small but important point, the development of insulated iron wire to replace copper wire aided in the improvement of the telegraph systems as it was stronger, cheaper and insulated to protect against the effects of the weather. Confederates also appreciated the improved wire as they could use captured supplies of it to set off electrically detonated underwater torpedoes (mines) in the James River.
And was also imported, expensively, through the blockade. The Confederates set up manufacturing sites to attempt to satisfy their requirements.

Source - 'Infernal Machines: The Story of Confederate Submarine and Mine Warfare' by Milton F. Perry

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USS ALASKA

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Lieutenant Commander James Waddell of CSS Shenandoah was in the same position as General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and Major General Sir Edward Pakenham vs Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson to name a few. No direct comms...keep fighting...
372

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Lubliner

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Telegraph messages were a major step forward, and just as in any innovative system, a way for thwarting communications kept up with the advancement. Another pitfall to these 'instantaneous' messages could occur with incomplete or unverified reports being spread. A very interesting case can be made on the 24 to 48 hours after Lincoln's assassination. Due to the terrible calamity of the news, and the need to summon all field commanders to an extreme alert status, many of the early reports over the wire ascribed numerous deaths and upheaval at the seat of Government. In fact many on the confederate side viewed it as mere hearsay, without validating proof. Thanks,
Lubliner.
 
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Decatur

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No you did not. I thought they had to stay close by equipment that consisted of wires run on poles located far away and thus physical presence was required for one who desired messages communicated telegraphically. But today it's done wirelessly, so there is no need to go anywhere for rapid communication by text or voice. I read a Civil War-era book that described how folks would ride miles on horseback to see most recent dead soldier lists that telegraph offices would post in a window before close of each business day. This led me to think telegraphs involved a physical link for sender or recipient, if not both parties.
"During the battle of Spotsylvania in the Wilderness Campaign of May 1864, Major General George Gordon Meade used the telegraph to reinforce Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps after it had come under heavy Confederate counterattack. Luther Rose, a telegrapher attached to Hancock’s headquarters, set up his key and sounder at 3:30 a.m., an hour before Hancock’s advance on the Confederate lines, allowing Hancock’s chief of staff to coordinate the attack with other corps commanders. Favored with a heavy early-morning fog, Hancock’s advance was successful. Later in the day, however, the Confederates counterattacked. Hancock telegraphed to Meade that he was unable to hold his gains unless the VI Corps on his right came to his support. Ten minutes later, as Rose recorded in his diary, “the 6th Corps was thundering away & Hancock held his own…. Here the Telegraph came forcibly into play, showing to what great benefit it could be used.” Rose used a field telegraph that could be deployed within a few minutes from the backs of mules and could be strung almost anywhere. Such flexibility meant that Rose accompanied Hancock closely, taking down and resetting his instruments if Hancock moved his headquarters more than half a mile. Rose and a companion operator were so close to the front at Spotsylvania that heavy shelling frequently broke their wire. The two took turns splicing the breaks, remarking before setting out, “If I stop a shell, send my things home.” [3] " https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-telegraph.html
 

Lubliner

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Amazingly the echo of freedom's right can be heard down through the ages; just as a shadow that creeps across the right's we bear today.
Sometime about May 20, 1861, Attorney General Bates and Simon Cameron, the then Secretary of War, issued instructions for certain U. S. Attorneys a simultaneous raid to take possession of all wire "dispatches sent to or received from the Southern section of the country for a year and upward."
[Series 2, Volume 2, Section 1, page 6].
This did create an almost comedic problem of immense proportion, as an attorney continued to say...."They are so numerous and bulky and so systematically arranged that the marshal determined not to remove them at present and to place two deputy marshals in continual charge of the apartments in which the dispatches were found...."
[Page 7]- "Upon obtaining possession of these dispatches should the record or file in which they are included also embrace other telegraphic dispatches having no construction with the subject you are authorized to assent to the packages which may be taken by you sealed, to be opened and examined on the part of the United States Government....".
These orders encompassed, Philadelphia, Newark, New York, and probably other districts as well.
On May 25, 1861 the U. S. Attorney in New York tells Cameron; [page 8]
"Sir: It is estimated that the telegraphic dispatches in our custody covering a period of a year number not less than 200,000 or 300,000."
Due to the vast sum of the material, the attorney recommended to find someone qualified for employment to be intrusted with the duty for making methodical examinations to investigate charges of treason; that he was too busy with other civil and criminal matters.
Oh what a world of difference then, and yet it truly is not at all that different; just more expeditious.

Lubliner.
 
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