Technology and Communication
President Abraham Lincoln was a techie!
He was fascinated with the idea of applying new technology to war: In 1861, for example, after being impressed by a demonstration of ideas of balloon surveillance, he established the Balloon Corps, which would float hot-air balloons over enemy camps and spy on them.
President Lincoln also encouraged the development of rapid-fire weapons to modernize combat. In 1862 Lincoln personally tested the new Gatling Gun (picture on the left) on the side lawn of the White House. The Gatling Gun had been develop by Dr. Richard Gatling of Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an early version of a machine gun that had a crank-handle and several barrels that revolved and reload themselves to fire bullets rapidly.
But above all this, President Lincoln loved the telegram. Invented just a few decades earlier than the Civil War, the telegraph system had reached coast-to-coast in 1844.
It is recorded that the White House did not have a telegraph system installed so twice daily President Lincoln walked to the telegraph office of the War Department (on the site of today’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building, just west of the White House Click Here) to receive updates and to send orders to his generals on the front lines.