Lincoln in the Telegraph Office: Recollections of the United States Military Telegraph Corps during the Civil War

Lincoln in the Telegraph Office: Recollections of the United States Military Telegraph Corps during the Civil War


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As the Civil War raged, President Abraham Lincoln spent many hours in the War Department’s telegraph office, where he received all his telegrams. Morning, noon, and night Lincoln would visit the small office to receive the latest news from the armies at the front. The place was a refuge for the president, who waited for incoming dispatches and talked while they were being deciphered.
David Homer Bates, one of the first military telegraphers, recollects those presidential visits during times of crisis. Lincoln in the Telegraph Office, originally published in 1907, shows history in the making and personalities at their most unguarded: Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Andrew Carnegie, General George McClellan, and many others. The reader is with Lincoln at the scene of dramatic tidings: of the Northern disasters at Bull Run, of Meade’s victory at Gettysburg, of Grant’s capture of Richmond. Lincoln wrote the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation at the telegraph office, and from there the news of his assassination was relayed. Wartime human-interest anecdotes, the wonder of the new technology, the unraveling of ciphers and codes, conspiracies and rumors, a heightened sense of onrushing events, the tragedy of Good Friday 1865—all are conveyed in this classic of Lincolniana.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803261259
Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
Publication date: 08/01/1995
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 8.00(d)

About the Author

Introducing Lincoln in the Telegraph Office is James A. Rawley, Carl Adolph Happold Professor Emeritus of history at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His works include Turning Points of the Civil War, also available as a Bison Book.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Bison Books Editionix
IIOrganization of the Military Telegraph Corps14
IIIThe War Department Telegraph Office38
IVCipher-Codes and Messages49
VConfederate Cipher-Codes and Intercepted Despatches68
VIIn the First Months of the War86
VIIMcClellan's Disagreements with the Administration101
VIIILincoln in Touch with Army Movements113
IXEckert, Chief of the War Department Telegraph Staff124
XThe First Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation138
XIThe Gettysburg and Vicksburg Year154
XIILincoln's Tender Treatment of Rosecrans158
XIIIA Remarkable Feat in Railroad Transportation172
XIVLincoln in Every-Day Humor183
XVLincoln's Love for His Children208
XVIA Bogus Proclamation228
XVIIGrant's Wilderness Campaign244
XVIIILincoln Under Fire at Fort Stevens250
XIXCables and Signals257
XXLincoln's Forebodings of Defeat at the Polls267
XXIConspirators in Canada287
XXIIThe Attempt to Burn New York299
XXIIIGrant's Orders for the Removal of Thomas310
XXIVThe Abortive Peace Conference at Hampton Roads322
XXVLincoln's Last Days343
XXVIThe Assassination364
XXVIIPayne, the Assassin377
XXVIIILincoln's Manner Contrasted with Stanton's389

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