Introduction

In 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first telegraphic message from Washington, D. C. to Baltimore, Maryland.  Using wire connecting the two locations and an alphabet of his own devising, Morse's invention of the telegraph made it possible to communicate messages between two locations almost instantly. The practical applications of such a technology during the Civil War, where the speed of information transmission could mean the difference between life and death for West Virginian soldiers and the survival of fledgling West Virginia as a state is difficult to overstate. Suffice to say, Francis H.  Pierpont, provisional governor of the western area of Virginia, was under no small amount of pressure.

The circa 850 telegrams in the West Virginia & Regional History Center's collection convey the sometimes turmultuous and other times mundane logistics driven practice of governance and war in the soon-to-be state. Digitized in 2011, the telegrams include granular descriptions of each telegram including transcriptions of the sender name, sender location, recipient, recipient location, message sent, and date, each transcribed by archival staff. With more than 364 unique senders writing from more than 110 locations in 8 states, Civil War-era West Virginia was more connected than most would expect. This site has visualizations featuring the people, places, and networks created by the information found within the telegrams. 

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