Transcriptions, Model Transcriptions!

The Thomas T. Eckert Papers have, on the surface, ledgers and codebooks. How hard can they be to transcribe? Well, it turns out that people can get creative when transcribing – some will do one word at a time, some will do pairs, so will do whole lines. Individual words are a particular hazard when confronted with the columns of the codebook. Then there are insertions, deletions, and unclear words. And what of the the ellipses (…), separating bars (|), underlines (____),  and dashes (- vs. =)?

To be clear, we want people to transcribe the text and text-adjacent characters as they see them. So transcribe the dashes and the double dashes or equal signs, but omit markings that are part of the page such as ellipses, curlicue brackets, underlines, and separating bars. We have made some models to show what we are seeking. Hopefully this will help answer any questions one might have.


Charleston Va Feb 28
12.30 P.M.
Sandy Hook 2 P.M.
For E.M. Stanton I have decided to
occupy this town permanently and am
arranging accordingly I make other arrangements
on the right which render us
secure you will be satisfied when
I see you that I have
acted wisely and have everything in
hand signed Andes my fingers cold

Camp Chase Paw Paw Feb 28 –
For Andes Is the Enemy’s force
at Bunkers Hill and Mills Gap
reported large or small signed Humboldt

Sandy Hook Va Feby 28
Hon. E.M. Stanton –
Your dispatch received I propose to
occupy Charleston and Bunkers Hill so
as to cover the rebuilding of
the Railway while I throw over
the supplies necessary for an advance
in force I have just men
enough to accomplish this I could
not at present supply more – finis
G.B. McClellan
Maj Genl


Rcvd March 20th
Wheeling, Va March 20
For – [insertion]Adjt Gen Thomas[/insertion] Twenty three regiments infantry
Total for duty twelve thousand two
hundred eighty six Aggregate eighteen thousand
nine hundred eighty Six batteries artillery
five hundred twenty five for duty
six hundred nine aggregate one regiment
and ten detached companies Cavalry for
duty thirteen hundred fifty four aggregate
fifteen hundred eighty In Col Garfields
command no returns Information by letter
tenth March ten regiments infantry one
battery artillery one squadron and five
hundred Cavalry Returns made every ten
days Return of Department for tenth
instant mailed on 12th signed Rosecrans.

E M Stanton March 21st 5 P.M
Genl Hamiltons division dined four
[unclear]to[/unclear] of P M yesterday
one steamer returned to Alexandria
last night balance are unloading
today weather storms which caused
delay vessels should be started
from Alexandria as fast as
they are loaded if delayed
there until a division or
corps to loaded much delay
will occur here in the
debarkment it is behind here
that the Merrimac will not


Hd Qrs AP
Oct 2
Maj Eckert
Please send me
forty 40 good laborers
as soon as you can
get them – I wish to
Send all detailed men
to their Regiments as
soon as I can get
civilians to fill their
D. Doren

10 15 P 2
Cleveland 2
Maj Eckert
Have Johnson report to
me & Hammond to yourself
A Stager


Generals Continued
Nabob P.H. Sheridan W.F. Smith Nankin
Naple H.P. Van Cleve T.J. Wood Nero
Nestor J.M. Palmer J.M. Shackleford Nettle
[insertion]Rear Admirals[/insertion]
Neptune S.P. Lee Jno W Dahlgren Negus
Niagara D.D. Porter B.G. Farragut Nile
[deletion]Nose[/deletion]Miscellaneous Words[deletion]Nasty[/deletion]
Nutmeg Available Nugget
Nuptial Artillery Negro
Niggard Arms Nuisance
Nurse [deletion]Ammunition[/deletion] [insertion]Abandon=ed=ing[/insertion] Nymph
Opal Army Oyster
Offal Ammunition Olive
Oakum Arrest-ed-ing Odor
Oats Attach=ed=ing Oil
Optic At the Orbit
Orchard Advance-ed-ing Owl
Oxide After the Ordnance
Peru As soon as Persia
Pagan Battery Pagoda
Palate Brigadier General Palsy
Panther Brigade Pelican
Pardon Battle Parson
Patent Bridge-ed-ing Patron
Peasant By the way of Perfume
Pewter Capture-ed-ing Pilot
Princess Captain Pilgrim

[insertion]Add “ed” or “ing” to Arbitrary[/insertion]


Message or division of 6 [deletion]lines[/deletion] [insertion] Columns[/insertion]
[insertion]Blind[/insertion][deletion]commencement[/deletion] words.
Battle Banks Brigade
Boston Board Beverly
Blair [deletion]columns[/deletion] Battery [deletion]columns[/deletion] Bates [deletion]columns[/deletion]
Route:-Up the 6th column-down the 3d-up the 1st
down the 5th-up the 4th-down the 2d-up the
Line Indicators
Address 1 Faith
Adjust 2 Favor
Answer 3 Confine
Appear 4 Bed
Appeal 5 Beef
Assume 6 Bend
Awake 7 Avail
Encamp 8 Advice
Enrol 9 Absent
Enough 10 Accept


Archery Ark Miss Ark
Asp Ala Mo Axis
Alkali Acquia Creek Potomac Attica
Applause Big Sandy Pearl Abortion
Adorn Big Black Ohio Agate
Alias Bear Creek Rappahannock Amen
Abbey Cumberland Rapidan Audit
Babel Coosa Roanoke Baden
Baltic Chattahootchie Red River Berlin
Bremen Chicamauga Shenandoah Brussels
Bangor Elizabeth Shallow Fork Bengal
Bagdad Attowah Tenn Bethel
Bedford Holston Tombigbee Biscay
Bergen James Talapoosa Bombay
Botany Kanawha Tallahatchie Bourbon
Belgium Sequatchie White River Bermuda
Berkshire Hiawassie Savannah Belgrade
Bologna Prest U.S. Bolivia
Brima Secy War Brutus
Byron Secy State Bunyan
Burton “ Navy Buxton
Barnard “ Treasury Balfour
Beach Adjt Gen US Barton
Bender Q M Gen Belcher
Benjamin Gen in Chf Bennett
Borgia Chf Staff Berry


[insertion]No. 1 Cipher[/insertion]


Write a given number of words in each line ; space regularly
so as to form columns. The message will then be prepared for
transmission by copying up and down the columns in the order
of the “Route” named in connection with the “[deletion]Commencement[/deletion] [insertion]Blind[/Blind]
Word” used.

At the end of each column an “extra” or “check” word
will be added. The extra or check word serves to detect errors
in the transmission, also to deceive those who have not the key.
The “[deletion]Commencement[/deletion] [insertion]Blind[/insertion] Word” indicates the number of [deletion]lines[/deletion] [insertion]Columns[/insertion] in
the message, or the division of a message. [deletion]Messages containing ten[/deletion] [insertion]& the sum of the numbers[/insertion]
[deletion]lines or more may be transmitted in divisions, to facilitate trans-[/deletion]
[deletion]lation.[/deletion] [insertion]set opposite the next two words indi-[/insertion]
[insertion]cating the number of lines in message-[/insertion]

[deletion]It will be observed that there are three combinations of cipher[/deletion]
[deletion]on each of the first eight pages, and three commencement words[/deletion]
[deletion]for each combination. The ciphers can be varied so that the same[/deletion]
[deletion]combinations need not occur except at long intervals, thereby[/deletion]
[deletion]greatly increasing the difficulty of even experts to decipher the[/deletion]

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