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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 11/08/2015 11:05:46 EDT
Subject: Extend'g Telegraph From Poolesville

Message Detail:
Tom,

I don't want to counter what Colonel William Rattle Plum may have said about the USMT operating a Morse electric wire over to Leesburgh from Poolesville (if that's what he meant).

Guilford station (to-day it is Reston, VA) had a Union army signal flag station and a nearby wire connecting it to the War Department along the unfinished railroad right-of-way. The question ought to be, did they also have a wire extending to Lessburgh along the Vestal pike, as this was used almost exclusively for military traffic?

We need to remember that the USMT were not suppose to have come into possession of insulated wire until the bulk of the army's signal corps supply was turned over to them following Albert Myer's removal as CSO by Edwin Stanton in mid-November of '63. Constructing a non-insulated lateral temporary telegraph line between Poolesville and Leesburgh would have taken time and, because it would have run parallel to, instead of to the rear of, the Union lines, that would have gone against the grain of good military roll-up practices of the time.

For those who think that sending and receiving telegraph messages over a wire of many miles or through a series of office stations takes a long time, this is not the case.

The telegraph station at HF ran east along the B&O rail road line to Relay (nine miles from Baltimore) and then southwest in to Washington City. Message traffic would be almost instantaneous, telegraphically speaking.

Were any signalmen known to be captured when the Confederates bagged the Union forces atop Maryland Heights (southern-most tip of South Mountain where it meets the Potomac)? I don't know of any but this may be an oversight on my part.

Hope that helps.

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