Encrypted Civil War Message Finally Decrypted, 147 Years Later

from the wasn't-that-hard,-actually dept

When talking about encryption, people often talk about just how long it would take a certain level of computing to crack the code, so there may be some interest in the fact that it apparently took 147 years to decipher a coded Civil War message... but it turns out that the main reason it took so long was that no one looked. The message had been stored in a bottle and was apparently delivered to Confederate General John Pemberton during the battle of Vicksburg (which the Confederacy lost) on July 4th, 1863. The bottle was given to the Museum of the Confederacy back in 1896 by a former soldier, but the museum staff never bothered to pull the message out of the bottle until a few months ago. After discovering the message was coded, the museum asked some top code breakers to see if they could decipher it, and it apparently took them a few weeks. The message? It probably wasn't that important either, as it basically told General Pemberton he was in trouble and wasn't getting any reinforcements:
"You can expect no help from this side of the river."

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  1. icon
    Ian (profile), 28 Dec 2010 @ 8:18pm

    Re:

    Ditto! Actually had to read that a couple of times before it clicked!

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