Thomas T. Eckert and field telegraph operators, near Petersburg, Va., 1864.


Welcome to the Decoding the Civil War blog site. Come be a witness to the United States Civil War by reading through the transcribed and deciphered messages and codes from the United States Military Telegraph (USMT). We have sought to engage experts and amateurs alike – our new DCW Volunteer Corps – in a unique collaboration to transcribe and decipher a collection of almost 16,000 telegrams and 32 code books from The Thomas T. Eckert Papers, thought lost at the end of the war, and now housed at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Our volunteer corps will be transcribing the daily telegram communications among Union officers, Cabinet members, telegraph operators, and others. The transcriptions and, ultimately, the decoding, will contribute to national research and education, creating materials that will give insight into telegraphy, cryptography, civilian-military relations, and many other aspects of the war and American history more generally. Some of the more interesting finds will be posted here, along with longer posts about the USMT, its operators, and its operations.

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