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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 12/02/2004 23:27:55 EDT
Subject: RE: Signal Research and Development

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The Smithsonian began experimenting in an area of military intelligence in 1864. The height of the Smithsonian Building's highest tower made it a superior location to test signalling systems. We have found several references to the testing of different signalling systems between the Smithsonian and the Coast Survey office on Capitol Hill, between the Smithsonian and Fort Washington sixteen miles south of the city, and between the Smithsonian and the U.S. Soldier's Home, which was on the second highest elevation in Washington (next to Fort Reno). One night in August of 1864, for example, Professor Joseph Henry and others signalled across the Smithsonian grounds with two lime-light lanterns. The next night they put one lantern in the tower of the Smithsonian Building and the other in the tower of the Soldiers' Home near Lincoln's summer White House. President Lincoln was present at this August demonstration.

I wonder if these lime-lights were equipped with shutters or slide plates in order to allow for the transmission of short and long flashes.

Walt

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Signal Corps Association (1860-1865)
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