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Posted By: David Winfred Gaddy on: 10/14/2005 23:07:13 EDT
Subject: RE: Post-Civil War Heliograph

Message Detail:
RAY, A CLIPPING WAS FOUND A WHILE BACK (UNSOURCED AND UNDATED) ABOUT FLAGGED MSGS ANNOUNCING LINCOLN'S DEATH, GOING FROM DC TO WINCHESTER, VA, IN WHAT SEEMED AN UNREASONABLY SHORT TIME. MY COLLEAGUE, DR. JAMES O. HALL, CALLED TO MY ATTN AND ASKED IF THE TIME WAS REALISTIC. I EXPLAINED HOW THEY COULD WORK RELAYS VIA INTERMEDIATE STAS. GIVEN THE EXPERIENCED OPS AT THE END OF THE WAR, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF ABBREVIATIONS, PROSIGNS, AND THE LIKE, I DID NOT CONSIDER IT AN IMPOSSIBILITY. (CONVENTIONS OF THAT SORT--ABBREVIATIONS, ETC.--PROBABLY AREN'T CONSIDERED WHEN ESTIMATES OF WPM ARE GIVEN FOR FLAG SIGNALING. FOR THAT MATTER, I DON'T KNOW THAT THERE WAS A STANDARD FOR "WORD" DURING THE FIRST DECADE OR SO, SO I'D TAKE ESTIMATES OF SPEED WITH A BIG CHUNK OF SALT--NOT UNLIKE ESTIMATES OF HOW MANY SHOTS A VETERAN RIFLEMAN COULD GET OFF IN A MINUTE.)
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