Huntington Library sets out to decode thousands of Civil War telegrams hidden for a century

From LA Times

” The 15,971 telegrams — hidden in a wooden foot locker for more than a century — scrolled like a Twitter feed through the Civil War. The messages from the Union side, many tapped out in code to elude Confederate forces, carried the urgings and reflections of Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and other prominent players. But most echo with the thoughts and schemes of colonels, infantrymen and lesser-knowns that offer a peek into the bureaucracy and machinery of war.“It’s mind-boggling and unpredictable,” said Olga Tsapina, curator of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens’ trove of 35 leather-bound ledgers and documents relating to telegrams sent between 1862 and 1867. “We don’t really know what is in here. Every single telegram has a story behind it, from the president to the greatest generals and to the privates and telegraph operators. It’s like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle.”The telegrams were part of papers kept by Thomas T. Eckert, a Lincoln confidant and head of the U.S. military telegraph office at the War Department. The Huntington has started a Decoding the Civil War crowdsourcing campaign that relies on volunteers using cipher charts to unravel secret texts.”