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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 04/20/2010 17:10:12 EDT
Subject: RE: Breaking the SC code

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Tom, what I've read about the Beardslee makes me think of the early reports out of Viet Nam on the AR-15/M-16 and its field reputation for jamming. Under optimal conditions, and maintained by conscientious handlers, the Beardslees seem to have performed easonably well. Of course weather, terrain, and other conditions aren't always optimal, nor are the "handlers" always the best. Hookers signal officers tried to convey their confidence that they could assure "reasonable" security in visual comms, could take extra precautions, had already developed "workarounds," and Butterfield seems either not to have passed that assurance to Hooker or squelched it...or couldn't understand or be convinced of what the comms specialists were trying to tell him.

Paranoia may well have created an atmosphere on both sides that kept the system from performing as Alexander would have expected. In the case of the ANV (lacking a GHQ-level Chief SigO), one must wonder to what extent a "corps" level SigO could transfer his ability to serve the CinC if so tasked. Wilbourn, who may have been the best available, was on the field with Jackson, and, when Jackson was wounded, he was taken from his horse into Wilbourn's arms (Wilbourn, having been on the receiving end of the same volley, lost one of his accompanying signalmen in that "friendly fire" incident.) His colleague, Adams was nearby with Powell Hill. Whatever they were doing or could have been doing was apparently not a capability employed by Lee.

I, too, have sought out a case in which the battle's outcome was dependent on signals and not found a good, solid case. My study long centered on Harpers Ferry in Sep '62, but my conclusion (at present) is not what I had originally expected or hoped to demonstrate.

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