What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate

mssEC_05_213 - message received is confusing - sarahtheentwife.jpg

4 PM  New York 7. Nov 1862
Genl H W Halleck Genl-in- Chf
there appears to be some mistake
in transmitting or translating your message
I dont understand whether there ten
thousand troops or transports at Ft Monroe
or the troops only or merely
transports for ten thousand the message
says the latter do you wish
me to come to Wash or
to go direct from here to
Ft Monroe N P Banks Maj General
Answer to Astor House

The ability to communicate clearly is an important skill in any job, but I would suggest that it is doubly so in times of war. In this telegram, Major General Nathaniel Banks is trying to clarify the situation at Fort Monroe as laid out by General Halleck. Are there 10,000 troops and their transports at Fort Monroe, or just 10,000 troops, or just transportation for 10,000 troops. Halleck’s job as General-in-Chief must have seemed like herding cats, if each of the cats being herded had tens of thousands of kittens under their command.

Thanks to Zooniverse volunteer and all around rock star SarahtheEntwife for pointing this one out!

Edit: Thanks to the mysteriously named “name required” for catching my transcription error! This is why having multiple people look at the same text is so important.



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2 responses to “What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate”

  1. name required says :

    Does not appear to say
    says the letter do you wish
    Does appear to say
    says the latter do you wish

    Liked by 1 person

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