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Posted By: Tom Ryan on: 04/20/2010 11:51:49 EDT
Subject: RE: Breaking the SC code

Message Detail:
Dave, very nice explanation. I have been a little slow on the uptake regardng this subject (I read your post three times before it really started to sink in), but persistence counts, I suppose. Having a better understanding of the capabilities of both sides is helpful when reading Brown's chapters on signal activity during the engagements throughout the war.
As I go through this book, I am keeping an eye out for the "smoking gun" that points to signal activity being crucial to the success or failure of army units during conflict. So far, I have not found many candidates for this aspect, except that it appears that communication would have been much more difficult without a SC capability. On the other hand, from a negative point of view, I gather that at Chancellorsville both Hooker and his chief of staff Butterfield had shown some paranoia about sending messages by flag for fear of intercept. This appears to have created problems that interferred with prompt action on the part of some units. This coupled with the basic shortcomings of the Beardslee and the poor condition of the wire compounded some of the communication shortcomings.
Having said that, there is also the realization that even perfect comms conditions would likely not have helped Hooker at Chancellorville, given his mindset and lose of confidence. Good communications and intel can influence the outcome, but only when a commander has the knowledge and capability to put them to proper use. Regards, Tom
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