Telegram tidbits

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compiled by Daniel Stowell, editor of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln



All Honor to the Brave Dead, Washington, May 7, 1862

Editors Republican:

Your dispatches of yesterday, from the "Headquarters Army of the Potomac," contained the announcement of the death of D. B. Lathrop, telegraph operator, who was killed by one of the infernal machines left in the office at Yorktown. The deceased was from Springfield, Ohio, and early entered the service, attaching himself to the telegraphic corps of the army of the Potomac. He was a noble young patriot, scarce twenty years of age, and beloved by all who knew him. He was earnestly devoted to the cause of his country, and first take a forward and dangerous position, as is evinced from his death, being the first to enter the deserted office of the enemy. In the civil walks of live he was known to be a moral and upright young man, and being early impressed with his duty to God, undoubtedly carried these impressions with him to the battle-field, and not only died in the cause of his country, but also in that of Christ. He will be mourned by a large circle of friends in the place of his nativity. To a sister who idolized him his loss will be beyond our conception. When last they were together, it was at the open grave of their only remaining parent, an idolizing mother, to bury whom he was called from his duties here. But little, then, did he think to be called so soon to meet her. He wore no gaudy trappings, or glittering symbols of rank, to cause a nation to do him martial honors, yet he died no less a hero. No one, I venture to say, gave his life more willingly to the cause of his country, and none, I know, were better prepared to go. All honor to the noble dead who have fallen in their country's honor, whether they be high in rank or only menial in service.

Ohio.

---National Republican (Washington, DC), 8 May 1862, 2:6.


More details:

"There was with us at Yorktown a young man by the name of D. B. Lathrop, from Springfield, Ohio. He was the son of a widow, and had been, before the war, studying for the ministry. When the war broke out, wishing to do something helpful to the Union cause, he joined that hard-working and useful body, the telegraph corps. Mr. Lathrop was attached to General Heintzelman's headquarters. As soon as Yorktown was opened, following the wires he hurried to the telegraph office. He sat down at the operator's table and touched the instrument. Instantly an explosion of a percussion shell took place, and young Lathrop was mortally wounded."

---O. O. Howard, Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard, 2 vols. (New York: Baker and Taylor, 1907), 1:218.


The booby trap was apparently created by Gabriel J. Rains. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_J._Rains

See also William R. Plum, The Military Telegraph During the Civil War in the United States, 2 vols. (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Company, 1882), 1:145.



The telegraph operator at Salt Lake, communicates the intelligence that the snow on the mountains is about five feet on a level, and at one point (a ravine probably) it has drifted to a depth of forty feet, covering up telegraph poles, wire, and all.

---National Republican (Washington, DC), 31 March 1862, 4:1.



Opening of the Telegraph Line to Fortress Monroe.—The telegraph line to Fortress Monroe was built by order of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the general manager of military telegraph lines. The extension of the Government line from Harrington, Delaware to Cape Charles was constructed in twenty-three days. Thirty miles of submarine cable was manufactured for the channel crossing in twenty days from the date of the order, by S. C. Bishop, of New York city. The sixteen miles that was laid before the recent gale was recovered in good condition. The cable to replace the portion lost off Cape Henry was furnished by Mr. Bishop in five days. The shore end was landed at Cape Charles at four o'clock this, Sunday, afternoon by Mr. W. H. Heiss, Assistant Manager Government Telegraphs, who had the immediate charge of the work. Its completion at this opportune moment to bring the news of the splendid victory of the Monitor, and the disabling of the Merrimac, has saved the country from great anxiety and expense.

The delay in completing the cable connection had been owing entirely to the continued boisterous weather.

--- National Republican (Washington, DC), 10 March 1862, 2:3.

P.S. The distance from Harrington, Delaware, to Cape Charles, Virginia, is 113 miles in a straight line or 136 miles to drive. The distance from Cape Charles across the Chesapeake Bay channel to Fortress Monroe is between 20 and 25 miles.




Order in Respect to Military Intelligence by Telegraph, Mail, or otherwise.

War Department,

Washington City, February 25, 1862.


Ordered, first. On and after the 26th day February, instant, the President, by virtue of the act of Congress, takes military possession of all the telegraph lines in the United States.

Second. All telegraphic communications in regard to military operations not expressly authorized by the War Department, the General Commanding, or the Generals commanding armies in the field, in the several Departments, are absolutely forbidden.

Third. All newspapers publishing military news, however obtained, and by whatever medium received, not authorized by the official authority mentioned in the preceding paragraph, will be excluded thereafter from receiving information by telegraph, or from transmitting their papers by railroad.

Fourth. Edward S. Sanford is made military supervisor of telegraphic messages throughout the United States. Anson Stager is made military superintendent of all telegraph lines and offices in the United States.

Fifth. This possession and control of the telegraph lines is not intended to interfere in any respect with the ordinary affairs of the companies, or with private business.


By order of the President.

Edwin M. Stanton,

Secretary of War.




Telegraphic Feat.

---On Sunday the military telegraph, the lines of the American Telegraph Company and those of the Western Telegraph Company, were connected with the headquarters of Maj. Gen. McClelland, and put in direct connection with General Buell at Louisville, General Halleck at St. Louis, and Commodore Foote at Cairo. By arrangement, the messages of the General-in-chief to each commander were repeated at the same time to the others. The distance traversed by the electric fluid at one writing was over thirteen hundred miles. The communication was maintained from eleven o’clock A.M. until six P.M., with the promptness of a personal interview, and not only gave entire satisfaction, but also called forth the warmly expressed admiration of the distinguished correspondents.

---National Republican (Washington, DC), 18 February 1862, 2:1.




On the military telegraph.

On no other occasion has the utility of the electric telegraph been more forcibly illustrated than for the last three or four days in connection with the Government’s military operations. From Gen. McClellan’s headquarters, night and day in that time, it has worked in a circuit of full fifteen hundred miles without a break or a repetition from an intermediate point. Thus has the General-in-Chief been able while sitting at his telegraphing table here to communicate as readily with Generals Halleck and Buell, who in turn communicated with the officer at the ends of their telegraph lines nearest the scene of the operations of their respective armies, as though sitting face to face to each other over a single table. Thus it is that the General-in-Chief has been able to carry out so simultaneously, as well as triumphantly, his remarkable military combinations at points so distant from each other.

---Evening Star (Washington, DC), 18 February 1862, 2d ed., 2:2.




Telegraph Business of the War Department

During the last eight months there have been received and sent from the War Department, independent of the headquarters of General McClellan, over 4,000 messages to and from the various camps and different sections of the country.

Evening Star (Washington, DC), 3 February 1862, 2:2.




The Army Telegraph Department.

It is stated that the military telegraph line now has near twelve hundred miles of telegraph wire in operation, and one hundred and thirty operators, and several hundred repairers and builders in the field.

Evening Star, 5 February 1862, 2d ed., 1:2.




In the wake of the Union victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February 1862, Union troops advanced quickly up the Cumberland River and captured Nashville, Tennessee.

Telegraph to Nashville, Tennessee.---The following dispatch received here shows that telegraphic communication is now complete to Nashville:


Nashville, March 1, 1862.

To John A. Kasson,

First Assistant Postmaster General:

The Federal flag is floating over the post office here. I am in charge of the office; will retain it until relieved by orders from the Department.

A. H. Markland,

Special Agent P. O. Department.



National Republican (Washington, DC), 4 March 1862, 2:3.