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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 07/18/2009 09:59:44 EDT
Subject: RE: Telegraph insecurity during CW

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Both Lee and Davis, to use two examples, were extremely security-conscious. (Davis declined permitting Rains to print a little booklet about his "torpedoes," or what today we'd call "improvised explosive devices." Rains persisted, and Davis wrote to him his reasoning: that nothing committed to paper -- printed -- could be kept secret.) But, as you're aware, the glaring exceptions in practice are amazing, e.g., the contents of Lee-Davis plain language exchanges committed to courier and compromised through capture. Lee cautioned others against plain language, or to use cipher, then didn't practice what he preached -- or was this lack of personal involvement with details of transmission and/or gaffes by his staff? Similarly with Davis. Both may have rationalized the circumstances that led to the exceptions, but they exist. Similarly with instructions to destroy after reading, found on originals or copies among archived manuscripts.

Slightly off the subject, but I've come to see a distinction between General and Special Orders that bears on "the Lost Dispatch." I "corrected" an active duty BG in his ref to the latter as GO 191, and said, actually it was an SO. He rejected that because of the scope. I said, nevertheless, here's a photocopy. But that started my pondering. The GO was used for matters of general concern to the army and went to a wide, standard distribution; the SO was pertinent to named indivs (who rcvd extracts) and units or activities. I have come to think it was considered, in modern parlance, controlled or LIMDIS -- intended for the recipients only. I don't mean that so much in scty terms as the equivalent of marking confidential or secret on it, but confidence in the courier system and receipt method in use. Something to keep in mind as a possibility. (Compare the Circular.)

I hadn't thought about his attitude toward Imboden in this case, but have no reason to disagree -- this would be similar to the patient treatment of newly elevated corps cmdr Powell Hill in the interval before Gettysburg campaign opened. Lee's patience is evident, as he "leads Hill by the hand." 'Trouble was, there was one Lee, and he couldn't spend but so much time cautioning and mentoring before his attention was shifted to other matters. Imboden was being entrusted with duties and responsibilities in a quasi independent mission that were beyond what Lee had experienced and had confidence in, and he squeezed in time for mentoring. I'll buy that.

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