Reverse Engineering Lost Codebooks

mssEC_15_105_p103_tel212.jpg

Apl 21 1862
Andes Your dispatch of the nineteenth
was received that day Fredericksburg is
evacuated and the palate destroyed by
the rampant & a small part
of Anthons command occupies this side
of the Sabel opposite the town
He proposes moving his whole force
to that point signed Berlin good

Let it never be said that no good comes from spending time on Twitter! As I was scrolling through Decoding the Civil War’s feed I came across a handwritten copy of a telegram from Lincoln to McClellan, and I asked myself whether we might have a copy in the Eckert Collection as well. It turns out that we do, it’s a lightly coded version, and Project Leader Mario had already done some initial work on it for the folks developing education modules based on the Eckert materials. He had determined, in fact, that the message was sent in a code that has not survived (as far as we know).

By using the original message we can start to reconstruct this missing codebook, which may help us decipher other messages in the future. So far we have learned:

Andes = McClellan
Palate = bridge
Rampant = enemy
Anthon = McDowell
Label = Rappahannock River
Berlin = Lincoln

It may not seem like much, but it’s a start! Thanks to   for inspiring this blog post!

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2 responses to “Reverse Engineering Lost Codebooks”

  1. Marlys Sebasky (Birdie2u) says :

    How are we doing on the challenge? Every time I finish a transcription and click “done”, there are 20-30 people working! Wowsers, and hooray for us! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • katecpeck says :

      Y’all are doing amazingly! Mario wrote up an announcement that we hope will go out soon, but we are absolutely blown away by the response we’ve received. People are cottoning on to what you figured out long ago, that this project is worthy of their time and effort!

      Like

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