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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 06/03/2009 07:27:27 EDT
Subject: USMT Authority Over Private Lines

Message Detail:
Ray,

The following might help.

“Mr. Stager's first written authority over the telegraph lines for military uses, reads as follows :

HEAD-QUARTERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OP THE OHIO,
CINCINNATI, O., May 27, 1861
GENERAL ORDER, No. 13.

Mr. Anson Stager is hereby appointed superintendent for military purposes of all the telegraphic lines within the Department of the Ohio, and his instructions will be strictly obeyed.

By command of Maj. General McClellan.
N. H. MCLEAN, Asst. Adjt. Gen.

Had there been less patriotism among the telegraph stockholders, some discontent might have been generated, owing to this sweeping authority ; but there seems never to have been any trouble with any Northern telegraph company, and none to speak of with any other. It was seldom required actually to possess any telegraph office in the North. For the most part, military control of private lines was merely nominal—not for want of power or authority, but because a hearty co-operation made unnecessary the exercise of an arbitrary supervision. Nevertheless, there was no little embarrassment in Mr. Stager's position, owing to his being a mere citizen and a superintendent of a private company, whose business antagonized that of the telegraph companies in West Virginia, where McClellan was first to operate and where positive-control of the telegraph was impending.”

Source: Military Telegraph During the Civil War in the United States… by William Rattle Plum ~~30~~

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