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Posted By: Tom Ryan on: 11/14/2015 12:55:34 EDT
Subject: RE: Extend'g Telegraph From Poolesville

Message Detail:
Walt, thanks for your response and insight on this question. I was aware of the signal station on Guilford Heights (visited there several years ago), but do you know how close that telegraph wire was to the station. In other words, I assume a courier would have to take the message from the station to wherever the wire was in order to transmit the message. How long would it have taken to get from the SC station to the telegraph? I would think that they would take it to the nearest RR station (Leesburg?), and send the msg by wire from there.

FYI, I believe the SC was using insulated wire as early as April/May 1863, because there is discussion in the OR about insulation deteriorating and causing comms problems during the Chancellorsville campaign.

Brown (p.358) states that wire was run from D.C. to Fairfax (Hooker's HQ), and from there to Reynold's HQ at "Guilford station." This sounds like a RR station along the line between Leesburg and points east.

Plum (II, p. 16) says "From Poolesville a line was constructed to Leesburg, Virginia, and from Point of Rocks to Harpers Ferry."

You mention the line running from HF to Relay and Washington would allow for instantaneous comms. However, the Union outpost there under General Tyler had abandoned HF and moved across the river to Maryland Heights in June 1863. Was there a telegraph connection running from MH to DC?

What I am trying to determine is what comms method/route did Tyler's msgs from MH to Hooker's HQ at Fairfax take, and how long would it have taken for the msgs to arrive? The msgs alerted Hooker that Lee's army had crossed the Potomac into Maryland (OR, 27, II, pp. 28-29), and prompted Hooker to start his army northward across the Potomac. Could these msgs have traveled via a combination of wire, signal flag, and courier?

Regarding your last point, as far as I know, no Union personnel were captured atop Maryland Heights in June 1863. You may be thinking of the surrender of Union forces on MH in September 1862 at the time of Antietam. Not sure whether he captured signal personnel on MH, but following the battle of Antietam, Stuart captured a signal station at ?Fairview Heights? during his ride around McClellan's army and raid at Chambersburg.

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