Came across a photo of Anson Stager"Anson Stager, the former general superintendent of the Western Union Company, was another important figure in the secret Civil War. A skilled telegrapher, he served on Gen. George B. McClellan’s staff before being promoted to colonel and put in command of the Military Telegraph Corps. Stager controlled the Union’s entire telegraph system and developed a code based on one used by Scotland’s Earl of Argyle in his fight against the British some 200 years earlier. In Stager’s system, the message’s words were tapped out in standard Morse code, but they were transmitted out of order to make them gibberish unless one knew the decipher key.
To decipher the message, the words had to be rearranged on a grid of rows and columns. The first word in the message was the key that told the reader how to arrange the words in a predetermined vertical or horizontal manner. Some words were standard code words for important cities and individuals (“Lincoln” meant Louisville, Ky., and “Adam” meant Gen. Henry Halleck), and some were “nulls” or meaningless words designed to confuse anyone trying to decipher the message.
Pvt. Charles A. Gaston, a telegrapher serving in the 11th Mississippi and detached as a scout, intercepted Union messages encrypted in Stager’s code near Petersburg in the last year of the war, but Confederate agents were unable to break the code. Some of the encrypted messages were even published in Southern newspapers with rewards offered to anyone who could decode them. Apparently, no one ever collected the money."
From the NYT Opinionator Blog, here.
|Thread starter||Similar threads||Forum||Replies||Date|
|Telegrams from Vicksburg, July 1862||The Naval War||1|
|For Sale: The Telegram that announced Lincoln's Death||Abraham Lincoln||12|
|Handwritten telegram announcing Abraham Lincoln’s death goes up for sale||Uniforms & Relics||0|
|Telegram Announcing the Surrender of Fort Sumter (1861)||Fort Sumter||0|