April 12, 1865

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Main Page For the Lincoln Telegrams
The Lincoln Telegram Project
Telegram Sent on: April 12, 1865.
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Main Page for the Lincoln Telegram Wiki

The Lincoln Telegram Project

Image of the April 12, 1865 telegram

First telegram March 10, 1864 (April 12, 1865 is the last telegram in our collection.)

This page presents a method for transcribing a telegrapher's ciphering of a Lincoln telegram to Godfrey Weitzel. The telegram and method for ciphering were featured in an article by Daniel Stowell, Director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln titled "Anatomy of a Cipher" in the January-March, 2013 Quarterly Newsletter of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln April 12 1865 Lincoln to Godfrey Weitzel Image [1]

Original Lincoln telegram transcript

Below is a transcript of a message written by President Abraham Lincoln and sent to Major General Godfrey Weitzel in Richmond, Virginia on April 12, 1865.


Office U.S. Military Telegraph,

War Department,

Washington, D.C., April 12. 1865

Major General Weitzel

Richmond, Va.

I have seen your despatch to Col. Hardie about the matter of prayers. I do not remember hearing prayers spoken of while I was in Richmond; but I have no doubt you have acted in what appeared to you to be the spirit and temper manifested by me while there. Is there any sign of the rebel Legislature coming together on the understanding of my letter to you? If there is any such sign, inform me what it is; if there is no such sign you may as [well] withdraw the offer.

A. Lincoln


Lincoln wrote this message to General Weitzel, in part, to respond to questions about prayers being offered for President Lincoln in churches in Richmond, Virginia after the city fell to Union troops on April 3, 1865. Weitzel had been embroiled in a disagreement with Secretary of War Stanton about the opening of churches in Richmond for Sunday services on April 9, 1865. The CWAL describes disagreement and confusion about whether ministers in Richmond should be required to proclaim their loyalty to the United States and offer what was at the time a standard prayer for the president. [1]

The second part of this telegram concerns an offer Lincoln made to John A. Campbell and the Confederate leadership describing a process for Confederate armies to surrender. Campbell was a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice from Alabama who resigned when the war began and served as Confederate Assistant Secretary of War. Campbell had emerged as a lead negotiator in sporadic peace talks that began in January 1865. Later in the day, Lincoln telegraphed Weitzel again following up on his communication with Campbell (just 48 hours before leaving for Ford's Theater, this is the last telegram Lincoln would send). [2] Lincoln's offer to the Confederate leaders via Campbell is available from the CWAL as is Lincoln directions for Weitzel regarding the offer. [3] [4]


  1. For more see - http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:853?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
  2. See the 6 PM April 12, 1865 telegram from Lincoln to Weitzel here - http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:854?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
  3. Lincoln's memorandum to Campbell dated April 5 is available - here http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:832?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
  4. Lincoln's directions to Weitzel were contained in an April 6 telegram, available from CWAL here - http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:835?rgn=div1;view=fulltext

Encoded Transcript

Below is a version of Lincoln's message encode by Thomas Eckert.
link=http://wiki.lincolntelegrams.com/index.php?title=CWAL Collected Works Abraham Lincoln

April 12 1865 Lincoln to Godfrey Weitzel Image [2]

Abraham Lincoln to Godfrey Weitzel

12 April 1865


Apr 12 1865

By Telegraph from War Dept 1865

To J. H. Emerick

Whats next news I the prayers I to while coming star what you you mean dispatch zebra I you spirit there understanding any if the piloted your offer there such of any and have was I to Emma never seen of of no toby Zodiac on there is with what remains yoke as sign my sign temper acted in to paradise flood over weitzel abe remember pekin that my walnut to form such why not say may it if together there you have spoken matter have senses shelter bardie not galway in manifested torch letter in no bologne plenty dont sign me you legislature me appeared but bearing out unity in your prayers while doubt the is the is pedlar draw you down

T. T. Eckert


Key: Text in Lincoln’s original; Arbitraries substituted for specific words; Arbitraries substituted for punctuation; Null words with

Message Encoding

Below is an image of a table for encoding the message by Thomas Eckert.

link=http://wiki.lincolntelegrams.com/index.php?title=CWAL Collected Works Abraham Lincoln

April 12 1865 Lincoln to Godfrey Weitzel Image [3]

Lincoln's message was transmitted using the cipher code below.

Abraham Lincoln to Godfrey Weitzel, April 12, 1865
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10






Weitzel Washington


April 12

/65 have

seen your dispatch
text here text here text here text here text here text here text here text here text here text here