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According to historian Tom Wheeler, the telegraph gave Lincoln a secret weapon that no head of state had possessed in wartime up to that point.

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Kings and Presidents had been forced to sit in their capitals and allow generals in the field to operate and make decisions on their own, a situation that gave the generals extraordinary power. Lincoln, in contrast, used his newfangled communications tool not just to gather information, but to give orders and "put starch in the spine of his often all-too-timid generals, and to propel his leadership vision to the front," Wheeler writes.

During the battle of Gettysburg, for example, Lincoln used telegraph messages to make sure that Gen.

Joseph Hooker, who wanted to seize upon the Confederate advance to strike against Richmond, hewed instead to Lincoln's strategic goal of destroying the Confederate army. Union troops erecting telegraph lines during the Civil War.

The Secret Treason of Abraham Lincoln's Brother-in-Law

Credit: National Archives. But Lincoln, who visited the telegraph office several times a day, didn't just read messages from his commanders. Instead, as Bates wrote in his memoir, Lincoln would open the drawer containing copies of all the telegrams received since his previous visit, and scan through them all, regardless of whom they were addressed to.

That gave Lincoln a chance to find out what information other officials in his government were getting--a useful bit of intelligence that helped him to manage the "team of rivals" in his cabinet. Lincoln also relied upon his telegraph operators as cryptographers, employing them to decipher intercepted written messages from the Confederates. We'll get into that in another installment.


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View the discussion thread. Wakely, via Wikimedia Commons Before the war, amazingly, the government hadn't even possessed its own telegraph operation, instead relying upon the same commercial telegraph offices that civilians used.

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Credit: National Archives But Lincoln, who visited the telegraph office several times a day, didn't just read messages from his commanders. Burnside Gen. Ambrose E. Todd, serving in the 24th Louisiana or "Crescent Regiment" , was among the twenty-three soldiers of that regiment killed in the battle. Despite his service to the cause, Kellogg was still a Yankee traveling in the Confederacy and thus aroused suspicion.

Abraham Lincoln Created The Secret Service The Day He Was Shot

Sometime in April he was arrested by military authorities and placed in prison in Montgomery, Alabama. Kellogg's letter of April 18, , to Judah P. Benjamin, formerly the Confederate secretary of war, asking for help provides most of what we know about the case so far. Baxter, the commissioner charged with investigating civilian prisoners arrested by military authority in the Confederacy.

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Baxter reported that Kellogg said he had come to the Confederacy to look after his family, especially his mother-in-law, and that the trip had no political object. Baxter believed him and paroled him with liberty of the city of Richmond but to be watched by the police. The letter and notes of the subsequent investigation do not reveal precisely what Kellogg's mission in the South was nor how he finally managed to return to Cincinnati.

But they do clearly reveal the secret treason of President Lincoln's brother-in-law. Please allow me to draw your attention to my case which I suppose is not entirely unknown to you.


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I will be as brief as circumstances will allow. I came into the Confederacy from Cincinnati about the 12th of Feby last for purposes which when explained I think can be made entirely satisfactory. When we arrived at Courtland the inclemency of the weather had been such as to seriously impair my health, I took rail and went to Memphis to [illeg. I lost a brother in Law Sam B. Todd of N.

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I continued to assist in the La hospital till the 12th inst on the morning of which day I applied to Genl Beauregard [10] to carry out the promise of Genl Johnston to give me a pass to go north after the Battle the Battle was over. I was placed on the cars by Col Smith without papers of any kind; on my own reconoiscence [sic] to report to maj Calhoun at Montgomery. There is evidently some great mistake in this matter, at least if this has been done under the impression that en enemy of the south has been arrested.

But I will not speculate as to the cause of my arrest.

Secret Symbol of the Lincoln Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)

It may have seemed sufficient to those who ordered it. Judge Alex Walker, T. I presume you can hardly call me to mind altho twenty five years ago you prosecuted some claims for me in N. But it is useless to make out a case now. Skip to main content Skip to quick search Skip to global navigation. Quick search:.