Regimental Division,
Office Chief of Signal

United States Army Signal Center, Fort Gordon, GA
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Lieutenant Colonel William J.L. Nicodemus

LTC William Nicodemus photoAs of 10 Nov. 1863, the senate had not yet confirmed the position of Chief Signal Officer, therefore the position was that of " acting chief signal officer." This is the position that Colonel Albert J. Myer held when secretary of war Edwin Stanton withdrew Myer's nomination for the position for insubordination. Stanton began the process of stripping Myer of his commission in the army. On 15 Nov.1863, Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus became acting chief signal officer. Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus moved signal headquarters to a larger building where he installed a printing press for use in turning out required hundreds of copies of orders, circulars and directives to members of the signal corps. Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus used this printing press to print his annual report. The report was highly critical of the way the signal corps was being hindered by having the field telegraph trains taken away and given to the military telegraph department which was run primarily by civilians. He was also critical of the West Point Military Academy for their attitude toward military signaling. In essence Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus was revealing in some ways an attitude that was distinctly that of Myer's. This attitude was not surprising due to a deep loyalty to Myer. As soon as secretary Stanton got hold of a copy of Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus' annual report, he sent a detachment of troops to take over who the office of Chief Signal Officer and seized the printing press and the original manuscript of the annual report. Secretary Stanton also ordered all copies of the report to be destroyed. Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus was summarily stripped of his commission and dismissed from the service.

On 26 Dec.1864, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin F. Fisher succeeded Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus as acting chief signal officer. As the senate had not yet confirmed anyone to the post of chief signal officer Lieutenant Colonel Fisher was still acting chief signal officer at the close of the civil war.  Herein lies the story of the " forgotten" acting chief signal officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nicodemus.

Last modified on:
April 04, 2012

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