Friday, January 27, 2012

Tmail--Different Times, Same Problems

I have been reading a book by Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen called The Battle of the Crater.  I know I just read the Bill O'Reilly book, Killing Lincoln, but . . . I have to review them, so I read them.  So far, they have been pretty good, even if the 21st century politics of their authors is a bit hard to swallow.

One small sub-theme in Crater concerns the technology of the telegraph.  It was a relatively new addition to war communications, and its consequences were not completely understood.  

A general was supposed to be able to be in constant communication with his staff and those ranked above him by using this device. Sound familiar?  Yeah, well--it gets more familiar.

Apparently, the area around the Siege of Petersburg was completely wired for communication between Generals Meade and Burnside.  The problem was that they had to be in different places in the area for the telegraph to work properly.  "Can you hear me now?"

So, during the Battle of the Crater, Burnside and Meade were 800 yards apart, in different tents, tied to their telegraphs for communication instead of actually being close to the action and working in concert.  

I am guessing the tents were pitched/dug in where each general could get the most bars on his phone.  

We all know how the Crater turned out--or if you don't it was a terrible loss for the Union and an equally terrible mark against the USCT men who had been trained especially for this battle, but were not allowed to lead the charge at the last minute.

Or perhaps one of those phony pine tree cell towers got shot up during the earlier bombardments.

No matter.   Technology is a double-edged sword, then, and now.

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