any historians consider the Civil War the first modern war not only because of innovations in I weapons and battle tactics, but also because of advances in communication. In 1844, Samuel Morse, a young New York inventor and successful painter, perfected a way to send coded messages from one location to another using an electromagnetic current, creating the first reliable telegraph. Morse also invented a code using a series of dots and dashes (what we now know as Morse code) to send messages along the current. Telegraph op- Samuel Morse erators translated the dots and KN0W Y0UR SLANG dashes, which were punched into a piece of paper with an jawings—talking automatic stylus, into English words. Eventually, telegraph operators became so good at deciphering the code that they were able to translate messages immediately as they came through the lines.
Samuel Morse first planned to create an underground telegraph system by burying the telegraph wire in pipes running from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland, and he was awarded $30,000 by Congress to put
The best way to learn Morse code is to memorize the sounds each letter makes. Dots sound like "dit." Dashes sound like "dah." The letters "SOS," the famous plea to "save our ship," sounds like this: "dit dit dit, dah dah dah, dit dit dit."
who were they?
According to the 1860 census, about 2,000 people were employed as telegraph workers in the year just prior to the start of the Civil War. Most were men, but as many as 200 women also worked as telegraphers. One of the first women telegraphers was Sarah G. Bagley, a known women's rights activist and newspaper editor. Her participation helped make telegraphy the first technical career open to women. The telegraph became important for communication during the war, and military telegraphers were vital in relaying important military information. These workers
_ were both men and women. Despite their important contribution to the war effort the living and working conditions for military telegraphers were miserable. Furthermore, they did not receive pay or pension as normal soldiers did, and they often were placed in highly dangerous zones without adequate protection. Many of them died of disease or injury during the war.
Women were an important part of the workforce of the early telegraphs.
his project into action. These 40 miles of telegraph line were intended to allow Morse to demonstrate his new form of communication, but problems arose. The wire bought for the project was faulty and the project was running out of time and money. The fastest and cheapest alternative was to string the lines on trees and poles from Baltimore to Washington, and that's how telegraph (and later telephone) poles and wires became part of the American landscape. On May 24, 1844, Morse transmitted the words "what God hath wrought" from the office of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., to a train station in Baltimore— the first-ever electronic message.
The telegraph would forever change communication. By 1861, telegraph lines ran from coast to coast, owned mostly by the railroads, which put up lines next to the tracks. Transmitting messages via telegraph became a standard method of communication.
The telegraph also had a huge impact on how the Civil War was fought and won. In the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, armies relied on messages delivered on foot or horseback—communication depended on whether the messenger made it to the destination, whether he could find the people he needed to deliver the message to, and how quickly he could do it. As a result, changes in battle strategy were very slow. But in the Civil War, both sides used telegraph teams to relay information from one place to another in a matter of minutes. For the first time, armies were able to communicate with each other over long distances very quickly and efficiently, which meant that they could make important battlefield decisions immediately.
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