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A week in Lincoln’s telegraph office – Part 3

Lincoln-in-the-Telegraph-OfficeWhen David Bates got to Washington in April of 1861, he was ordered to the Navy Yard, to be the telegrapher for a Captain Dahlgren.

Dahlgren didn’t want anyone tampering with his telegrapher, so he told his sergeant of the guard to post a sentry at the door to the telegraphy room with orders to let no one in or out.

Bates found himself a prisoner on the job. His door was opened long enough to slip in meals, and I suppose he was escorted by the sentry to the privy to relieve himself.

After four days, Bates said in his book, “Lincoln in the Telegraph Office,” he locked the door and climbed out the window, to go for a walk.

When he returned, clambering back in through the window, there was the sentry waiting for him. Try this again, the sentry said, and I’ll shoot you.

That ended Bates’s private strolls.

A week later, he was transferred to Annapolis, to be the telegrapher for General Benjamin Butler. He remained there until the end of May when he was assigned permanently to the telegraph office in the War Department.

Tomorrow: Tenting in the Capitol

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