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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 05/16/2005 08:16:36 EDT
Subject: RE: Assignment of Signal Officers

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I'd say that, in the CSA, the recommendation went from the Chief Signal Officer (CSO)/head of the Signal Bureau to SecWar directly or through A&IGO, where final decision was made--and not always as recommended.
Gen Lee's attitude is a more complex question. He chaired the pre-war USA committee that looked into and finally recommended adoption of the Myer system ("polished" with the assistance of Lt. E.P. Alexander). So he was well acquainted with what the inventor claimed and what had been demonstrated. For whatever reasons, when he became a general officer, he chose not to "allocate a billet" on his staff (personal or general) to having his own, army-echelon signal officer (as I pointed out in my article, "The Confederate Army Signal Corps at Gettysburg" in "Gettysburg" Magazine, intended to provide some balance to Bill Cameron's excellent two-parter on the Union side). I suggested one explanation, in the hope that it would be challenged--that he preferred the time honored, traditional method (trusted messenger, writing, signed receipts, etc.), whereas his slightly younger adversary "took to" the new technology (as did Stonewall Jackson, for example).
Lee was also "security-conscious," as we might say today. He probably had a concern about the security afforded by battlefield communications that might be intercepted.
There is another (at least one) explanation, one that has parallels in his "MO" in dealing with his "lieutenants"--his corps commanders. Lee deprived himself of what he considered as any unnecessary bodies hovering around his Spartan HQ. (He preferred diverting available bodies to shooting.) Instead, he relied on the corps commanders and often traveled in company with, for example, Longstreet. (And there was Porter himself, as an arty commander, but available for consultation.) All three corps commanders (and Stuart) had captain-level signal officers, with experience (except for Stuart's) stemming from training by Alexander. This is four captains out of the total of ten authorized by law. They were "at his service" as and when needed, but not part of the army staff overhead. What I suggested (and do) is that he thereby deprived himself of what he allowed his corps commanders--a "tech specialist" who thought in terms of the army echelon and the total span of command and control. Lee has been quoted as saying that once he was in position, he left it to his subordinates to carry out his strategy--and that can be argued, similarly, pro and con. But if there was a Lee battle that cried out more for command and control coordination than Gettysburg, I can't think of it. Lack of a CSO didn't lose the battle, but one just might have helped pull his army together in coordinated action.
I don't think that Lee's skeptical reaction to info (raw intel) reports he rcvd via the Signal Bureau reflected his attitude toward signaling, for we know he interceded in at least one case to get a sergeancy for demonstrated performance. Perhaps we might consider his attitude realistic, rather than innovative.
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