Civil War message found in a bottle
Monday 27 December 2010
A glass vial stopped with a cork during the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago.
The dispatch offered no hope to the doomed Lieutenant-General John C Pemberton: "Reinforcements are not on the way." The encrypted, six-line message was dated 4 July 1863, the date of Pemberton's surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S Grant, which ended the siege of Vicksburg in what historians say was a turning point midway into the Civil War.
The message is from a Confederate commander on the west of the Mississippi River across from Pemberton. It read in part: "You can expect no help from this side of the river."
The bottle, less than 2in in length, had sat undisturbed in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, since 1896. It was a gift from Captain William A Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege.
A member of staff at the museum decided to investigate the contents of the strange little bottle. But the coded message, which appears to be a random collection of letters, did not reveal itself immediately. A retired CIA code breaker, David Gaddy, was contacted, and he cracked the code in several weeks. A Navy cryptologist independently confirmed Mr Gaddy's interpretation.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...