Side X Side World Forums banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
SSW Director
Joined
·
5,457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Civil War message opened, decoded:
No help coming !


2010 The Associated Press.

RICHMOND, Va. — A glass vial stopped with a cork during the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago.
The dispatch offered no hope to doomed Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton: Reinforcements are not on the way.
The encrypted, 6-line message was dated July 4, 1863, the date of Pemberton's surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Siege of Vicksburg in what historians say was a turning point midway into the Civil War.
The message is from a Confederate commander on the west side of the Mississippi River across from Pemberton.
"He's saying, 'I can't help you. I have no troops, I have no supplies, I have no way to get over there,' " Museum of the Confederacy collections manager Catherine M. Wright said of the author of the dispiriting message. "It was just another punctuation mark to just how desperate and dire everything was."
The bottle, less than 2 inches in length, had sat undisturbed at the museum since 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege.
It was Wright who decided to investigate the contents of the strange little bottle containing a tightly wrapped note, a .38-caliber bullet and a white thread.
"Just sort of a curiosity thing," said Wright. "This notion of, do we have any idea what his message says?"
The answer was no.
Wright asked a local art conservator, Scott Nolley, to examine the clear vial before she attempted to open it. He looked at the bottle under an electron microscope and discovered that salt had bonded the cork tightly to the bottle's mouth. He put the bottle on a hotplate to expand the glass, used a scalpel to loosen the cork, then gently plucked it out with tweezers.
The sewing thread was looped around the 6 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch paper, which was folded to fit into the bottle. The rolled message was removed and taken to a paper conservator, who successfully unfurled the message.
But the coded message, which appears to be a random collection of letters, did not reveal itself immediately.
Eager to learn the meaning of the code, Wright took the message home for the weekend to decipher. She had no success.
A retired CIA code breaker, David Gaddy, was contacted, and he cracked the code in several weeks.
A Navy cryptologist independently confirmed Gaddy's interpretation. Cmdr. John B. Hunter, an information warfare officer, said he deciphered the code over two weeks while on deployment aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. A computer could have unscrambled the words in a fraction of the time.
"To me, it was not that difficult," he said. "I had fun with this and it took me longer than I should have."
The code is called the "Vigenere cipher," a centuries-old encryption in which letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places so an "a" would become a "d" — essentially, creating words with different letter combinations.
The code was widely used by Southern forces during the Civil War, according to Civil War Times Illustrated.
The source of the message was likely Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, of the Texas Division, who had under his command William Smith, the donor of the bottle.
The full text of the message to Pemberton reads:
"Gen'l Pemberton:
You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's lines. Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion. I have sent some caps (explosive devices). I subjoin a despatch from General Johnston."
The last line, Wright said, seems to suggest a separate delivery to Pemberton would be the code to break the message.
"The date of this message clearly indicates that this person has no idea that the city is about to be surrendered," she said.
The Johnston mention in the dispatch is Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, whose 32,000 troops were encamped south of Vicksburg and prevented from assisting Pemberton by Grant's 35,000 Union troops. Pemberton had held out hope that Johnston would eventually come to his aid.
The message was dispatched during an especially terrible time in Vicksburg. Grant was unsuccessful in defeating Pemberton's troops on two occasions, so the Union commander instead decided to encircle the city and block the flow of supplies or support.
Many in the city resorted to eating cats, dogs and leather. Soup was made from wallpaper paste.
After a six-week siege, Pemberton relented. Vicksburg, so scarred by the experience, refused to celebrate July 4 for the next 80 years.
So what about the bullet in the bottom of the bottle?
Wright suspects the messenger was instructed to toss the bottle into the river if Union troops intercepted his passage. The weight of the bullet would have carried the corked bottle to the bottom, she said.
For Pemberton, the bottle is symbolic of his lost cause: the bad news never made it to him.
The Confederate messenger probably arrived to the river's edge and saw a U.S. flag flying over the city.
"He figured out what was going on and said, 'Well, this is pointless,' and turned back," Wright said
 

·
SSW Rally/Event Director
Joined
·
5,153 Posts
I saw that somewhere on the 'net. I'm surprised that it took so many years for them to decide to decode the message.

Man, how times have changed. Can you imagine using a message in a bottle to communicate with your troops?! :lol:
 

·
SSW Director
Joined
·
5,457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That was in the news here, saw it and thought I would share it. I find the Civil War period in history very interesting.
 

·
PRC & SSW Administrator
Joined
·
4,302 Posts
RZRRich said:
That was in the news here, saw it and thought I would share it. I find the Civil War period in history very interesting.
I am fascinated with Civil War history Rich! I would rather go to a battleground than to an amusement park any day. I also like reading about the Revolutionary War, but anything about the Civil War is a must see/read for me!
 

·
SSW Support Staff
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
Traveling and living in the South most my life, I have stopped and visited many of the sites focus around events durign the Civil War, to me the most interesting things are them items that have been donated by the families of Confederate Soldiers, and reading the stroies that were passed down through the generations.
 

·
SSW Director
Joined
·
5,457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Divers: 1811 wreck of Perry ship discovered off RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A team of divers say they've discovered the remains of the USS Revenge, a ship commanded by U.S. Navy hero Oliver Hazard Perry and wrecked off Rhode Island in 1811.
Perry is known for defeating the British in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie off the shores of Ohio, Michigan and Ontario in the War of 1812 and for the line "We have met the enemy and they are ours." His battle flag bore the phrase "Don't give up the ship," and to this day is a symbol of the Navy.
The divers, Charles Buffum, a brewery owner from Stonington, Conn., and Craig Harger, a carbon dioxide salesman from Colchester, Conn., say the wreck changed the course of history because Perry likely would not have been sent to Lake Erie otherwise. Sunday is the 200th anniversary of the wreck.
Buffum said he's been interested in finding the remains of the Revenge ever since his mother several years ago gave him the book "Shipwrecks on the Shores of Westerly." The book includes Perry's account of the wreck, which happened when it hit a reef in a storm in heavy fog off Watch Hill in Westerly as Perry was bringing the ship from Newport to New London, Conn.
"I always thought to myself we ought to go out and have a look and just see if there's anything left," Buffum said.
The two, along with a third man, Mike Fournier, set out to find it with the aid of a metal detector. After several dives, they came across a cannon, then another.
"It was just thrilling," Harger said.
They made their first discovery in August 2005, and kept it secret as they continued to explore the area and make additional discoveries. Since then, they have found four more 42-inch-long cannons, an anchor, canister shot, and other metal objects that they say they're 99 percent sure were from the Revenge.
Buffum and Harger say the items fit into the time period that the Revenge sank, the anchor appears to be the main one that is known to have been cut loose from the ship, and that no other military ships with cannons have been recorded as sinking in the area.
They have not discovered a ship's bell or anything else that identifies it as the Revenge, and all the wood has disappeared, which is not unusual for a wreck that old, they said.
The Navy has a right to salvage its shipwrecks, and the two say they've contacted the Naval History & Heritage Command, which oversees such operations, in hopes the Navy will salvage the remains. A spokesman for the command did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
If the Navy does not, they said they hope to raise the money for a salvage operation so the artifacts can be displayed at a historical society.
They say they are concerned now that they are going public that other divers might try to remove objects from the site, which is a violation of the law. Many of the objects they found are in only 15 feet of water, although the area is difficult to dive because of currents, they said.
As for whether the wreck of the Revenge changed the course of history, David Skaggs, a professor emeritus of history at Bowling Green State University, said Perry might not put it that way. Skaggs has written two books on Perry, "A Signal Victory," about the Lake Erie campaign, which he co-authored, and a biography, "Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S Navy."
While Harger and Buffum say Perry was effectively demoted by being sent to the Great Lakes rather than getting another high seas command, Skaggs said the Great Lakes commission still gave Perry great prestige. Perry, a Rhode Island native, became known as the "Hero of Lake Erie" after he defeated a British squadron, becoming the first U.S. commander to do so.
"Whether or not there is another officer that could have done as well as Perry did is one of those 'might-have-beens' that historians are not prone to ask," Skaggs said.
Still, Skaggs said he was intrigued by the discovery.
"It is certainly an interesting new find on the eve of the bicentennial of the War of 1812," he said.
 

·
SSW Rally/Event Director
Joined
·
5,153 Posts
That's very cool. :)
 

·
SSW Support Staff
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
Thanks Rich, that was some good reading.
 

·
SSW Director
Joined
·
5,457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oldest living member of 'Band of Brothers' dies.

OMAHA, Neb. — A member of the "Band of Brothers" who fought in some of World War II's fiercest European battles, Ed Mauser shunned the limelight and kept his service with the Army unit a secret, even from some of his family.
His role came to light only after a friend loaned him a copy of the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," said his daughter, Laurie Fowler of Omaha. Mauser, who died Friday, told his family that some of the things in the miniseries, like the locations of buildings, weren't quite what he remembered from being there in person.
"He said, 'I know all those places,'" Fowler said.
But before that, "he never talked about it for years and years and years," said Terry Zahn, president of the Midwest chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association. He met Mauser during a 2009 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.
Mauser, 94, was the oldest living member of Easy Company, which is often better known now as the "Band of Brothers."
Born Dec. 18, 1916 in LaSalle, Ill., he was drafted in 1942 and volunteered for the 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to Company E, 506th Regiment — Easy Company — which participated in the D-Day invasion of France and the follow-up Operation Market Garden. The 101st also helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Easy Company leader Dick Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries that began airing in September 2001 was based. Winters, of Hershey, Pa., died earlier this month at age 92.
The miniseries followed Easy Company from its training in Georgia to the war's end in 1945. Its producers included actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg.
Mauser was not among the soldiers portrayed in the miniseries.
Zahn said Mauser kept his service a secret, even from his relatives. Besides being "extremely humble," Fowler said, her father was also sensitive about talking about the war in front of his wife, who had relatives injured in the conflict.
Mauser, who was a watch repairman, worked hard and "prided himself on providing for his family," Fowler said.
"He enjoyed movies, and he absolutely loved 'Band of Brothers,'" she said, adding that her father put the DVD on often.
After his actions became known, Mauser reunited with some of his Army buddies and made a few public appearances. He preferred to stay out of the limelight.
"Don't call me a hero," Mauser told the Lincoln Journal Star in a 2009 interview. "I was just one of the boys. I did what I was told, and let's leave it at that."
Mauser had been fighting pancreatic cancer, Zahn said.
Mauser was preceded in death by his wife, Irene.
A funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday in Omaha. He will be given a military burial at Calvary Cemetery.
 

·
SSW Support Staff
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
More good and interesting reading

Thanks Rich
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
174 Posts
Thanks for this post.

We are losing too many of these hero’s. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.
 

·
SSW Director
Joined
·
5,457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Last living US WWI vet dies in W. Va. at age 110

Last living US WWI vet dies in W. Va. at age 110

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — He was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. But Frank Buckles would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.
Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. He was 110.
Buckles had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of the Great War in the nation's capital.
When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me." And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, "without a doubt."
On Nov. 11, 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the war, Buckles attended a ceremony at the grave of World War I Gen. John Pershing in Arlington National Cemetery.
He was back in Washington a year later to endorse a proposal to rededicate the existing World War I memorial on the National Mall as the official National World War I Memorial. He told a Senate panel it was "an excellent idea." The memorial was originally built to honor District of Columbia's war dead.
Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917. He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18. He was actually 16 1/2.
"A boy of (that age), he's not afraid of anything. He wants to get in there," Buckles said.
Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week. The family asks that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.
More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. As of spring 2007, only three were still alive, according to a tally by the Department of Veterans Affairs: Buckles, J. Russell Coffey of Ohio and Harry Richard Landis of Florida.
The dwindling roster prompted a flurry of public interest, and Buckles went to Washington in May 2007 to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.
Coffey died Dec. 20, 2007, at age 109, while Landis died Feb. 4, 2008, at 108. Unlike Buckles, those two men were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended and did not make it overseas.
The last known Canadian veteran of the war, John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., died in February 2010.
There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive.
Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. The fact he did not see combat didn't diminish his service, he said: "Didn't I make every effort?"
An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.
After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.
Buckles returned to Oklahoma for a while, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he again took advantage of free museums, worked out at the YMCA, and landed jobs in banking and advertising.
But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.
In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.
"I was never actually looking for adventure," Buckles once said. "It just came to me."
He married in 1946 and moved to his farm in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in 1954, where he and wife Audrey raised their daughter, Susannah Flanagan. Audrey Buckles died in 1999.
In spring 2007, Buckles told the AP of the trouble he went through to get into the military.
"I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps," he said. "The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21."
Buckles returned a week later.
"I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21," he said with a grin. "I passed the inspection ... but he told me I just wasn't heavy enough."
Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.
Buckles wouldn't quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.
"I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'"
He enlisted Aug. 14, 1917, serial number 15577.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top