Telegraph Communication in the Civil War

Topics: American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln Pages: 6 (1868 words) Published: August 6, 2007
I.The Telegraph and Abraham Lincoln

The urgency of communication was never much felt until the beginning and use of telegraphy. It was much easier to transmit and receive messages over long distances that no longer needed physical transport of letters.

As such, Abraham Lincoln made use of this medium described in an unprecedented manner that revolutionized and secured the status and dealings of his national leadership. When Lincoln arrived for the 1861 inaugural, there were no existing telegraph line to the War Department and even the White House itself. This did not stay for long when rapid changes were implemented. Wires were installed in the War Department and other similar key installations almost immediately (Wheeler, 2006).

The telegraph room for Lincoln was considered one of the sacred places in the War Department. It was surprising that the White House had no telegraph office that is why Lincoln made daily visits thereto (Wheeler, 2006). According to the writer Benjamin, he spent a good deal of soul searching in the cipher room where the quiet seclusion made it a favorite place for both rest and work that requires undivided attention and undisturbed thoughts on the brewing Civil War (1997).

In the telegraph room, Lincoln turned over with precise exactness and anxious expectations the files that come in for important news and messages. Lincoln patiently awaited every translation of ciphers that gave forecasts and promising information about the dragging war, the acceptance of the telegraph as a new mode of communication, the unexpected defeats and countless lives lost, the story of victory in battles coupled with the drama of betrayal and treason among others.

With the influx of messages from the telegraphs, Lincoln absorbed and pondered every vital information to find answers for both political and military problems that needed considerations for the public good. The telegraph became a tool to win the war and also they symbol of that will lead to the proclamation of emancipation (Benjamin, 1997).

II.Importance of the Telegraph Communication

The installation and use of telegraph communication was indispensable during the American Civil War. In spite of the growing interest for the new technology at that time, the telegraph' potential was received with skepticism and was likewise unduly underappreciated. The beginning of the work was not easy because it had to gather personnel to attend to its use and enforcement.

Nevertheless, Lincoln made use of this advantage by tapping and capitalizing on electric communications. This is considered as something remarkable because it is utilized without precedence and it was use in a time where war was waged in America during the Civil War. As such, Lincoln with sheer determination changed and transformed the nature of his presidency through telegraph communication. He used it as a tool to manage and promote leadership which soon helped win the war (Benjamin, 1997).

The turn of events during the war could be seen in using the telegraph as soon as Lincoln assumed his presidency. The generals leading the war were taken aback and unaccustomed with adjusting to the use of rapid communication that they stalled each passing time as the war raged on. Still, Lincoln was getting anxious every time messages were delayed after every unforeseen circumstance that tried to cut communications and sabotage the passing of pertinent information. Ultimately, Lincoln was soon found working first hand in communication from the front office of the War Department. As such, the telegraph was beginning to change the presidents' relationship with his forces in the field (Wheeler, 2006).

All throughout the entire history of the Civil War, there were no instantaneous exchange of vital information between the national leaders at the seat of government and his forces in the field except of the stubbornness Lincoln showed in advocating the telegraph. Usually, during...

References: Benjamin, Micheal. (1997). The Story of Abraham Lincoln: The Leader Par Excellence.
Harvard Business Review. January-February, pp. 124-134.
Feriols, D., & Friesen, A. M. (1982). Telegraph Communication in the Civil War. Academy of Management Journal (25), pp. 867-892.
Jonas, Richard. (1990). The Union Military Strategy and Tactics:
Understanding the Enemy. New York: Princeton. pp. 36-48.
Levitt, C., & March, A. G. (1988). Civil War Atrocities.
New York: HarperCollins Publications.
Wheeler, Tom. 2006. Mr. Lincoln 's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used
the Telegraph to Win the Civil War. New York: HarperCollins.
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