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Field Lines of Information

Welcome to the latest blog celebrating the accomplishments and rather insightful predictions of former Chief Signal Officer General George Owen Squier.  In this example, in 1906, Squier is a Major and the Assistant to the Commandant of the Signal School, the lecture is “Field Lines of Information.” 

In this lecture, Squier divided military information into two classes, tactical lines and “strategical” lines.  Tactical lines he describes are the most serious concern at the time.  Because, he says, in any great war taking place in areas inhabited by civilized people, the problem of constructing lines (strategic lines) can be met by utilizing and adapting commercial lines at hand.  It is the tactical lines, the lines that by their definition are lines constructed and operated in the presence of the enemy that is the task that requires the signal officer to devote his closest attention.

Tactical line construction requires certainty of operation and extreme mobility.  Success in war requires constructing field lines that are “so reliable and certain in action as to inspire and insure the complete confidence of the line in the army which is to depend on them.”  Mobility is required to be able to provide field telegraph stations at the side of the commander, no matter the location.  This means, Squier says, the abandonment of cumbersome lance trucks, and the use of pliable, well insulated wire of great tensile strength.

Portait of Squier as a Young Man

Initially, Squier said, “Professor Morse” elevated lines because commercial insulated wire had not been invented and because they used a low potential battery.  Squier notes that insulated wire in use at the time was capable of carrying minute fractions of the power needed to distant locations capable of operation of equipment.  Squier explained that the commander, once he learned one wagon is capable of laying or taking up line at any speed up to a fast trot and can furnish reliable telegraphic/telephonic service, he will positively demand this service for all of his field operations.  The commander would also learn that wire trailing behind his command can be concealed by mounted men with picks, and because of this raiding enemy cavalry can no longer find lines conspicuously on poles inviting destruction. 

Squier described the wire train.  It consisted of four wagons, each with 12 men (ten mounted, two in the wagon) and had a total capacity of 60-miles of field wire, with 15 miles per wagon (one day’s march of a division).  There were four buzzer stations per 15 mule section of wire (sixteen buzzer stations per train).  The buzzer wire was a light steel wire weighing about five pounds to the half-mile coil, and could be easily paid out or reeled up by a mounted man at a trot.

The train enabled wire to be laid and concealed quickly helping to ensure that communications lines were secured from enemy attack.

Note: This entry composed by Floyd, and edited by Chrissie.

Posted in Squier's Stories.

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  1. Chaiane says

    thanks to you i have learned something new today, thanks a lot.