How the Telegraph Changed the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have the ability to communicate with his officers on the battlefield in close to real time.  Lincoln and the North had the huge technological advantage of the telegraph.  It enabled Lincoln to spread his leadership and ideas throughout his military and to gather information about the battles going on.  In past American wars, for example, the War of 1812, officers would receive news about the war very late.  For example, one of Andrew Jackson’s major victories was completed after the war had been completed due to his late notice.  Never again would this problem persist for the US after the implementation of the telegraph.  The South, unfortunately for them, did not have this advantage.  They were still stuck having to deal with very delayed communication and separating the leadership roles from military roles.  This Northern advantage over the South was a very crucial point in the victory of the North in the Civil War.  In 1861, the Union Army established the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps(U.S.M.T.C.) and in 1862, the U.S.M.T.C. trained 1,200 operators, strung 4,000 miles of telegraph wire, and sent more than a million messages to and from the battlefield.  Those statistics convey how much the North used the telegraph to their advantage.  President Lincoln, unlike President Davis, could assert his strategies and message throughout the battlefield.  This direct way of communicating earned them many victories, and arguably greatly contributed to their victory in the Civil War.

One thought on “How the Telegraph Changed the Civil War

  1. The telegraph was a very interesting choice. We live in such an advanced world that we often lose sight of the past and its innovative devices. With the innovation of the telegraph, Abraham Lincoln was able to communicate more efficiently, allowing the nation to become what it is today. Communication is often a key to success. Nice job.

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