Friday, December 16, 2011

"No Help Coming!": Message Decoded-- Part 1

"Civil War message opened, decoded: No help coming" by Steve Szkotak, AP.

A glass vial stopped with a cork has been opened and decoded. It was sent to Confederate General John C. Pemperton 147 years ago and told the general that no reinforcements were coming to help his besieged army at Vicksburg.

The encrypted six-line message was dated July 4, 1863. reinforcements on their way would have been of no use to Pemperton at the time as he surrendered to Grant that day.

It was from the Confederate general on the west side of the Mississippi River. The two-inch high bottle it was in sat in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, undisturbed since 1896. It was a gift from Confederate Captain William A. Smith of King in George County who had served in the Vicksburg Campaign.

This past year, Collections manager Catherine M. Wright decided to investigate the bottle.

She and others at the museum tried to crack the code but were unsuccessful. Finally, retired CIA code breaker David Gaddy was able to figure it out after several weeks.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

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