Huntington Library sets out to decode thousands of Civil War telegrams hidden for a century: 'It's mind-boggling'
They ticked out news of typhoid, scurvy and fear. They spoke of long marches and vast battles. They hummed with frailty and humor, fretting over drunken soldiers and praising the unwavering president of a fraying republic. They clacked in broken rhythms that rang with the ominous: “We will not remain undisturbed tonight. Even the Rail Road men have been ordered to leave.”
The 15,971 telegrams — hidden in a wooden foot locker for more than a century — scrolled like a Twitter feed through the Civil War. The messages from the Union side, many tapped out in code to elude Confederate forces, carried the urgings and reflections of Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and other prominent players. But most echo with the thoughts and schemes of colonels, infantrymen and lesser-knowns that offer a peek into the bureaucracy and machinery of war. Read more.