A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 29, 2010

Dah-Dit-Dit, Telegraph in the Civil War

One of the key technologies from the civil war was the telegraph, both for transmitting military orders and for control of the railroad. I had hoped to add a telegraph system to my layout to add even more authenticity. There is another modeler across the river in Maryland that uses telegraphs for train orders and OS reporting on his layout. So it is a feasible aspect, but I know almost nothing about it.

Tonight I got an interesting telephone call from Walt Mathers asking me if I would be interested in participating with the Morse Telegraph Club in the 150th reenactment of the first telegraph message from a field army to Washington, DC.  They need some high ranking officers to gather at the War Department to receive the first message from General McCellan's command. While I am not a serious re-enactor, this sounded like a fun event and a good opportunity to learn more about how telegraphs were used in the civil war.  So I am probably going to do it.  Here is a link to an affiliated group with information on civil war re-enactors doing Morse Code

Telegraph station at Stonemans Station used an old conductor's car as a shed.


  1. Bernie:

    A ACW book, The Warrior Generals (author unknown: came out about 15 years ago, a really good read of some very different leadership styles and understandings) has a nice description of the way George Thomas, in particular, used telegraphs in a sophisticated way and has a nifty picture of a mobile telegraph operator's wagon, complete with sides that fold down into fully equipped desks so that a number of operators can sit around the wagon and work int he field.

    The drying laundry on the roof of the cabin car in your photo would make a neat model.


  2. I'll have to check out that book. Thanks.