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Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar each developed an elaborate system of relays by which messages were carried from one messenger post to another by mounted messengers traveling at top speed.They were thus able to maintain contact with their homelands during their far-flung campaigns and to transmit messages with surprising speed. As he advanced upon his conquests he established pigeon relay posts across Asia and much of eastern Europe.Early signaling between naval vessels was by prearranged messages transmitted by flags, lights, or the movement of a sail.
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.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.The major powers throughout the world were quick to see the wonderful possibilities for military and naval signaling.Development was rapid and continuous, and, by 1914, it was adopted and in extensive use by all the armies and navies of the world.
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.