Monday, December 27, 2010

147-year-old Civil War Message Cracked

There is an encrypted message from 147-year-old Civil War. This six-line message was dated July 4, 1863. It remained a mystery for 147 years, until a CIA codebreaker cracked the message after a museum had the vial opened.

The piece of paper was rolled up, tied with string and sealed along with a bullet in a glass vial.

The full text of the message reads:
'Gen'l Pemberton: You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's lines. Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion. I have sent some caps (explosive devices). I subjoin a despatch from General Johnston.'
The code is called the 'Vigenere cipher,' a centuries-old encryption in which letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places so an 'a' would become a 'd' — essentially, creating words with different letter combinations.

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