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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 07/02/2010 10:27:02 EDT
Subject: Md Hgts to Fairfax - Xtmsn Times

Message Detail:
If, as it has been said, it generally took approximately 13 minutes from the time a message was commenced being sent from Maryland Heights to the time it was beginning to be received at Fort Washington.

This too had to do with a number of factors:

1. How long it took for all of the stations along the Potomac Line to respond and alert the next station in line that a message was being sent from Md Hgts to Central Station (the Winder Building on 17th Street),

2. If the weather was clear between all of those points,

3. If any mistakes were made in transmission necessitating the repeating of certain words,

4. How long it took to walk across 17th Street and up to the second floor of the War Department Building, and,

5 Whether or not the message was transmitted in cypher, either from Maryland Heights or/and out of the War Department to Fairfax by wire.

My guess is that when the message was taken down at Poolesville (for each station was required to keep a record of all transmission sent to, relayed or received), the message was also sent in by wire from the telegraph office at Poolesville.

I can not also help to think that the Sugar Loaf station would have signaled over to Frederick, MD., so that William Prescott Smith, Master of Transportation of the B&O Rail Road be notified as a guide to his conducting of trains upon the road.

It may well have been that Supt. Smith may have gotten the news even before the War Department in Washington City since B&O telegraph operators were under obligation to alert rail officials at Camden Station, Baltimore, when large bodies of Confederates were known to be anywhere in their vicinities. This proved to be the case during General Early's incursion of June/July 1864.

It would be a matter of matching the times between the U.S. War Department snt/rec'd msgs and those of the B&O.

The former would be at NARA, the latter at Evergreen, B&O Pres. John Garrett's estate in Baltimore.

Hope this helps.
Walt

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