Civil War message opened, decoded: No help coming
By STEVE SZKOTAK
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A glass vial 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.
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.