Sunday 4 December 2016

Coded message in a bottle from 1863

Published 25/12/2010 | 15:51

A message in a bottle from the American Civil War has been opened (AP)
A message in a bottle from the American Civil War has been opened (AP)

A glass bottle 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.

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The dispatch offered no hope to doomed Lt Gen John C Pemberton: Reinforcements are not on the way.

The encrypted message was dated July 4, 1863, the date of Pemberton's surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S Grant, ending the Siege of Vicksburg.

The bottle had sat undisturbed since 1896 at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. It was a gift from Capt William A Smith, who served during the Vicksburg siege.

The museum called in a retired CIA code breaker to decipher the message.

Press Association

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