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The Help Desk: 1864

The Help Desk: 1864

August 1864. Petersburg, Virginia. "Military telegraph operators at headquarters." Photograph from the main Eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. View full size. Wet collodion glass plate negative from Civil War photographs compiled by Milhollen and Mugridge.


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Like a guy (a real man that is) lost on the road, I won't ask for directions, but how many of us macho men looked up the word "ramada" and found out it wasn't a hotel chain.

"The elaborate ramada"

also referred to south of the Mason-Dixon Line as a brush arbor.

Could it be possible that some or all of these guy were civilian contract employees? Most are in civilian dress with some odd military pieces.


Check out the elaborate ramada. At first I thought the tents were set under a thicket - then realized that pine trees - with high, thin canopies, are not really shady unless they grow in a thicket of "dog-hair" pine as we call it out west.

The two pines in the foreground are obviously living - but it looks like the poles near the tents are cut and peeled. The stump on the right may have been the source of at least one of the poles. It appears poles are set with viga-like crossmembers and roofed with pine boughs for shade. This would have kept the summer sun from beating down on the canvas tents so they'd be cool in the evening. Might have kept a summer rain from soaking everything, too. Oiled canvas tents will certainly mildew if they get soaked often enough.

This would qualify as a cubicle with a window in Dilbert-speak.


Now THOSE are what I call men! Call me crazy or creepy, but men of the Civil War always get me going.

IT Guys

My husband is an IT Director... and this photo reminds me of him, beards, mustaches, serious expressions, the whole bit.

1864 IT guys...

...would have snickered at anyone with DIAL-UP telegraph. I'll bet they each had one of those Apple stickers on their horse - along with a "Starfleet Academy" sticker and discarded cans of Dew and Red Bull in the wagon.

Goober Pea

Geek Squad

Heh. 19th Century Nerds in a 19th Century Geek Squad. Think about it: these were 1864's "IT professionals".

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