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In addition to its employment in spanning long distances under the civilian-manned military telegraph organization, mobile field service was provided in the Union army by wagon trains equipped with insulated wire and lightweight poles for the rapid laying of telegraph lines.Immediately before and during the Civil War visual signaling also received added impetus through development of a system, applying the Morse code of dots and dashes, that spelled out messages with flags by day and lights or torches by night.Simultaneously, the Prussian and French armies also organized mobile telegraph trains.During the short, decisive Prussian campaign against Austria in 1866, field telegraph enabled Count Helmuth von Moltke, the Prussian commander, to exercise command over his distant armies.Soon afterward the British organized their first field telegraph trains in the Royal Engineers.Another instrument was added to the techniques for visual signaling through the development of the heliograph.It employed two adjustable mirrors so arranged that a beam of light from the sun could be reflected in any direction.The beam was interrupted by a key-operated shutter that permitted the formation of the dots and dashes of the Morse code. Because consistency and regularity of sunshine were important, the heliograph was never widely adopted throughout the armies of continental Europe.
This was probably due to the fact that the compelling stimulation of war was not present and to the fact that the development of long-distance telephone communication was not achieved for many years. This military use was not extensive, and it made little material contribution to the development of voice telephony.Military communication has thus long played an important role in warfare.Messengers have been employed in war since ancient times and still constitute a valuable means of communication.Three years later, in the Indian Mutiny, the newly established telegraph, which was controlled by the British, was a deciding factor.In the American Civil War (1861–65), wide use was made of the electric telegraph.