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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 01/20/2010 06:46:21 EDT
Subject: RE: Trans-Miss. Confederate telegraph

Message Detail:
Robert Luther Thompson, "Wiring a Continent" (1947, Princeton) offers a starting point, but not an answer. Then see J. Cutler Andrews, "The Southern Telegraph Company, 1861-1865: A Chapter in the History of Wartime Communication," in "The Journal of Southern History," XXX, 3, August 1964, pp. 319-344. This will give you some of the key commercial lines in operation.

The Southern (formerly those lines of the American south of the Mason-Dixon line) was under the control of Dr. William Morris (not to be confused with Capt/Maj Wm. Norris, head of the Signal Corps) as its president. He was also "czar" of telegraph in the CSA, under PMG Reagan, and, further, had control of the CS Mil Telegraph, which supplemented the commercial lines for purely mil purposes. The Southern lines were mostly in the east, and the farther west one goes, there were other companies, some stoutly resisting control or encroachment by Dr, Morris under either of his "hats."

Morris filed reports with the PMG, which can be researched. He accounted for rebuttals to the contesting of his controls and authorities (see Andrews) and his own commercial operations. But his reports are not comprehensive, and comparable reports by the other companies -- in the area of your interest -- are spotty.

I know of no detailed listings of lines in the TMD, nor of maps, responsive to your question. (Morris's reports of miles of mil lines erected or taken down/destroyed by the enemy are gross or generalized, not specific.)

Commercial lines generally followed the railroads. (Cf. Black, "The Railroads of the Confederacy.) Holmes would have been conservative in use of commercial lines, for the War Dept PAID for handling of telegrams, and frequently leaned on commanders to limit the expensive use. (OR or other examples of his use of telegrams should point to some of the lines/companies involved.)

In short, there's fodder, but much work ahead to get an answer

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