Lincoln and the Telegraph

With all this research I have been doing it’s easy to imagine how excited I was to see Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln. I was more than pleased to find a scene set in the Telegraph Office at the War Department. By all accounts Lincoln spent many hours there crafting messages and awaiting updates. While neither Richard nor John are pictured in the film it appears that their compatriots Samuel Brown and David Homer Bates were. Both Samuel and David were members of the immortal four along with Richard. Comparing my mother’s ambrotype (Brown on top, Bates on the bottom) and a screen shot of the actors playing the scene I’m impressed with the resemblances. Daniel Day Lewis even address the operator as “Sam”.


Here is a clip from the late night scene in the telegraph office.

Addendum. February 9, 2013 : I have since leaned, from an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, that this character appearing in the film is credited as being Samuel Beckwith, General Grant’s personal telegraph operator. However, as Beckwith was stationed with Grant and not at the War Department the character is mostly likely based on source material from David Homer Bates.

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