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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 10/30/2007 10:25:53 EDT
Subject: John Hunt Morgan's

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Someone has recently mentioned that Confederate general John Hunt Morgan's telegrapher, Canadian born George A. "Lightning" Ellsworth may have been a graduate of the Samuel F.B. Morse Telegraph Institute, located in Syracuse, NY.

Might anyone have access to more Ellsworth information which might shed light on this possibility?

According to the 1900 Confederate Veteran. Vol. VIII, page 35, (in the Last Roll reporting the passing of this notable operator) it was said that George came from Canada to Washington DC as a boy and served under Saml. F.B. Morse. No birth date was noted. Ellsworth moved to Houston Tex. in 1860 and made his entry in to the history books shortly thereafter.

According to James A. Ramage, writing in Rebel Raider: The Life of John Hunt Morgan:

"Ellsworth would "milk the wires" of intelligence and use a ground wire to cut towns from the circuit, then answer for them when other operators called. He disrupted [Union] communications and sowed confusion in all directions. Near Horse Cave, Kentucky, early in [Morgan's first Kentucky] raid, he tapped the line on the L&N Railroad during a thunderstorm. Sitting on the end of a crosstie, water up to the knees of his cavalry boots, he continued to operate while the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed, thus earning the nickname "Lightning Ellsworth"

The London Times declared Ellsworth's intelligence gathering "... the first and most striking innovation in the war."

Where might the records of the once renown Morse Institute be to-day? Syracuse Historical Society perhaps? How might we crack the history code and tap into George's earlier history?

Walt

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