Saturday, December 25, 2010

Civil War message opened, decoded: No help coming

This Jan. 14, 2009 image shows a Civil War bottle with a message that was tucked inside at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. The message to Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton says reinforcements will not be arriving. The encrypted dispatch was dated July 4, 1863—the date of Pemberton's surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant in what historians say was a turning point in the war. (AP Photo/Museum of the Confederacy) (AP)
The bottle, less than 2 inches in length, had sat undisturbed at the museum since 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege.

It was Wright who decided to investigate the contents of the strange little bottle containing a tightly wrapped note, a .38-caliber bullet and a white thread.

But the coded message, which appears to be a random collection of letters, did not reveal itself immediately.  . . .The code is called the "Vigenere cipher," a centuries-old encryption in which letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places so an "a" would become a "d"—essentially, creating words with different letter combinations.  

Read full article here.

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press, Saturday, December 25, 2010

No comments: