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 Announcement: New Member: Heliographer

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heliographer

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PostSubject: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:40 am

As my ID suggests, heliographs are my particular interest, and since the 1879 Zulu War was (narrowly) the second major conflict where the heliograph played a significant role, I thought others on this forum might be interested.

Since the forum tells me I can't post any links for the first 7 days, there probably won't be much from me for the first week.

However, to get started on the topic - from Google Books ([1], pp 254, 255): on March 15, 1880

Major A.C. Hamilton, R.E., Director of Military Telegraphs and Signalling during the Zulu Campaign, had these remarks about heliographs in the 1879 Zulu War:

"I may perhaps be permitted to say a few words on the subject of signalling by heliographs, as I was placed in the position of Director of Military Telegraphs and Signalling during the Zulu Campaign. We employed the heliograph to a very great extent, having at times 15 or 16 different signalling stations. The greatest distance between the stations was 35 miles, the general distance being from 20 to 25 miles and sometimes less. At the commencement of the movement of the second division, General Newdegate's division under Lord Chelmsford, there were only 3 pairs of heliographs available for that column, a pair of large 10-inch Mance, a pair of 6-inch, and a pair of 3-inch ones. The 3-inch ones had been given to some cavalry signallers of the 17th Lancers who had learned the use of them in India, when in the 16th Lancers, from which regiment they were volunteers, and they were most useful throughout the whole of the operations. They took the most advanced positions and carried their 3-inch heliographs on their saddles. I may mention that those 3-inch instruments were rather imperfectly constructed, and the heavy wear and tear of four or five months completely wore them out, so that the threads came off all the screws, the tripods became broken, and we had great difficulty in working them. Shortly afterwards Sir George Colley brought from India some of the Roorkee pattern. I am sorry that Major Wynne was not able to show us-some of these. I consider that they were far superior to the Mance heliographs. They only required one tripod, and the sighting rod was supported on an arm. We never found that the length of the arm to support the sighting rod or reflector caused any inconvenience or any unsteadiness. The only objection I had to it was that it had to be kept loose, while you were adjusting the sighting rod or the reflector, and then the mere tightening up of the clamp, owing to some imperfection in the manufacture, raised or lowered the end of the sighting rod, so that after you had adjusted it, you found, on tightening it up, that the instrument was out of adjustment on the distant object. What I should recommend to be added to the Roorkee pattern, which is otherwise an extremely useful instrument, is that both the sighting rod and the reflector should have slow-motion screws attached to them, (which would add but little to the weight), so that you could either adjust the sighting rod or the inclination of the reflecting mirror by means of a screw. The 10-inch heliographs which we received were altogether too large for use on service. I think they would be extremely valuable in a fortress where it might be necessary to signal to very great distances, 40, 50, or 60 miles, to a neighbouring fortress if such a one were visible; but the 10-inch instrument is extremely clumsy to move about, and it required a packsaddle and horse or mule to carry a pair of such instruments—the two weighing about 120 lbs."

While 99% of [1] is devoted to the use of the heliograph in the Aghan war, it is an excellent reference to the heliograph of the day, and the differences between the Rookee offshoot of Mance's heliograph and Mance's original. Note that, despite the famous illustration in the Illustrated London News, the sun-telegraph communication during the seige of Ekowe was done by field-improvised instruments on both sides, and neither design much resembled a Mance or Roorkee heliograph.

To get a better idea of how the early Mance heliographs looked, see Mance's United States patent on his device ("Improvement in apparatus for signaling by means of reflected light", Filed Feb 25, 1876 - ‎Issued Jan 23, 1877) by entering the search word: US186427 in the "Search Patents" search box at Google Patent Search. (While the figures are fine for viewing in the browser, I'd download the .pdf to read the text).

Heliographer

[1] Wynne, Major A.S. (March 15, 1880). "Heliography and Army Signalling Generally".
    Journal of the Royal United Service Institution XXIV (CV): 235–258. doi:10.1080/03071848009417153
    ( You can find this with a Google Book search, or use the hyperlink at what is (currently) Ref. 23 in the Wikipedia article: "Heliograph"
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:51 am

Welcome
Didn't I hear that John Young was doing some research into this field a short while ago?

Cheers
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:13 am

Frank,

Was will be the operative word at present.

Current events will taking precedence over those of 1879 I'm afraid.

John Y.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:16 am

Hi Heliographer, nice to have you on-board.

I have been told that a network of Heliographs could cover a distance of 100 miles. (I'm not sure if that's a fact) I have in the past looked up the Heliograph but its seems to have many different names, "sun telegraphing, designated as mirror telegraphing, heliographic, helioscopic, heliostatic and heliotropic, all of which seem to be essentially identical. There is some mention of an improvised heliograph in Ian Knights book (Companion to the Anglo Zulu War) in which he describes an improvised heliograph which was used at the Eshowe garrison to signal Thukela. I look forward to reading your posts on the subject.

Regards
Waterloo
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heliographer

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:14 pm

> I have been told that a network of Heliographs could cover a distance of 100 miles. (I'm not sure if that's a fact)

Heliograph networks certainly extended > 100 miles in the contemporaneous Second Afghan War and later - I don't know about the 1879 War network extent. The citation above said that 35 miles was the longest single Zulu war link. I've personally signaled and seen flashes naked-eye with a 3"x5" rectangular signal mirror at 44 miles, and Colonel Everest's sizing rule for naked-eye mirror flash visiblilty was 10 miles per inch of side.

>  have in the past looked up the Heliograph but its seems to have many different names, "sun telegraphing, designated as mirror telegraphing, heliographic, helioscopic, heliostatic and heliotropic, all of which seem to be essentially identical.

Excellent point. At the time, the nomenclature for sun-signalling hadn't settled out. That's something to be wary of when researching heliograph use in this era - what you are looking for may be going under a different name than you expect. Elsewhere in the 1880 reference I cite above, it says:

" In the "Army Signalling Manual" an instrument called the heliostat is described, which differs from the heliograph chiefly in this particular only, viz., that instead of making the appearances and disappearances by a slight alteration of the mirror they are effected by raising or lowering a shutter which exposes and hides the reflecting surface."

However, most commentators of the day were likely unaware of that set of definitions, so sun-flashing, heliotrope, flashing, telegraph, etc., show up in accounts as well as the terms you list.

In the terminology of the "Army Signalling manual", both sides of the communications at Ekowe were (field-expedient) heliostats, and the instruments used elsewhere in the 1879 war were mainly Mance or Roorkee heliographs. Begbie's heliostat preceded and co-existed with Mance's heliograph, but I have yet to see any reference to their use in the 1879 War.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:34 pm

There seems to be few reports out there about the use of the heliograph during the AZW, apparently the Brisbane Courier also reported on its use in South Africa during the Zulu War of 1879.
Just to be clear, the only difference between the heliostat and the heliograph would be the use of a shutter? in your opinion, which one of these would most likely have been used during the AZW?
You may also find this link interesting.
http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=6608
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:11 pm

heliographer wrote:
As my ID suggests, heliographs are my particular interest, and since the 1879 Zulu War was (narrowly) the second major conflict where the heliograph played a significant role, I thought others on this forum might be interested.

Since the forum tells me I can't post any links for the first 7 days, there probably won't be much from me for the first week.

However, to get started on the topic - from Google Books ([1], pp 254, 255): on March 15, 1880

Major A.C. Hamilton, R.E., Director of Military Telegraphs and Signalling during the Zulu Campaign, had these remarks about heliographs in the 1879 Zulu War:

"I may perhaps be permitted to say a few words on the subject of signalling by heliographs, as I was placed in the position of Director of Military Telegraphs and Signalling during the Zulu Campaign. We employed the heliograph to a very great extent, having at times 15 or 16 different signalling stations. The greatest distance between the stations was 35 miles, the general distance being from 20 to 25 miles and sometimes less. At the commencement of the movement of the second division, General Newdegate's division under Lord Chelmsford, there were only 3 pairs of heliographs available for that column, a pair of large 10-inch Mance, a pair of 6-inch, and a pair of 3-inch ones. The 3-inch ones had been given to some cavalry signallers of the 17th Lancers who had learned the use of them in India, when in the 16th Lancers, from which regiment they were volunteers, and they were most useful throughout the whole of the operations. They took the most advanced positions and carried their 3-inch heliographs on their saddles. I may mention that those 3-inch instruments were rather imperfectly constructed, and the heavy wear and tear of four or five months completely wore them out, so that the threads came off all the screws, the tripods became broken, and we had great difficulty in working them. Shortly afterwards Sir George Colley brought from India some of the Roorkee pattern. I am sorry that Major Wynne was not able to show us-some of these. I consider that they were far superior to the Mance heliographs. They only required one tripod, and the sighting rod was supported on an arm. We never found that the length of the arm to support the sighting rod or reflector caused any inconvenience or any unsteadiness. The only objection I had to it was that it had to be kept loose, while you were adjusting the sighting rod or the reflector, and then the mere tightening up of the clamp, owing to some imperfection in the manufacture, raised or lowered the end of the sighting rod, so that after you had adjusted it, you found, on tightening it up, that the instrument was out of adjustment on the distant object. What I should recommend to be added to the Roorkee pattern, which is otherwise an extremely useful instrument, is that both the sighting rod and the reflector should have slow-motion screws attached to them, (which would add but little to the weight), so that you could either adjust the sighting rod or the inclination of the reflecting mirror by means of a screw. The 10-inch heliographs which we received were altogether too large for use on service. I think they would be extremely valuable in a fortress where it might be necessary to signal to very great distances, 40, 50, or 60 miles, to a neighbouring fortress if such a one were visible; but the 10-inch instrument is extremely clumsy to move about, and it required a packsaddle and horse or mule to carry a pair of such instruments—the two weighing about 120 lbs."

While 99% of [1] is devoted to the use of the heliograph in the Aghan war, it is an excellent reference to the heliograph of the day, and the differences between the Rookee offshoot of Mance's heliograph and Mance's original. Note that, despite the famous illustration in the Illustrated London News, the sun-telegraph communication during the seige of Ekowe was done by field-improvised instruments on both sides, and neither design much resembled a Mance or Roorkee heliograph.

To get a better idea of how the early Mance heliographs looked, see Mance's United States patent on his device ("Improvement in apparatus for signaling by means of reflected light", Filed Feb 25, 1876 - ‎Issued Jan 23, 1877) by entering the search word: US186427 in the "Search Patents" search box at Google Patent Search. (While the figures are fine for viewing in the browser, I'd download the .pdf to read the text).

Heliographer

[1] Wynne, Major A.S. (March 15, 1880). "Heliography and Army Signalling Generally".
    Journal of the Royal United Service Institution XXIV (CV): 235–258. doi:10.1080/03071848009417153
    ( You can find this with a Google Book search, or use the hyperlink at what is (currently) Ref. 23 in the Wikipedia article: "Heliograph"

Looking forward to your posts. I believe the 7 days rule was applied after a few new ex-members posted links to a site selling medication.
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heliographer

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PostSubject: Re: Announcement: New Member: Heliographer   Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:54 am

waterloo50 wrote:
There seems to be few reports out there about the use of the heliograph during the AZW, apparently the Brisbane Courier also reported on its use in South Africa during the Zulu War of 1879.

Yes, though from my quick look at the digitized Brisbane Courier issues on the Trove, most of their reports on South Africa sun-mirror signalling dealt with the communication between the besieged at Ekowe and the British forces on the Tugela. The Ekowe signalling got a lot of press coverage - much more than all the other use of sun-mirror signalling in the AZW, in my experience.

waterloo50 wrote:
Just to be clear, the only difference between the heliostat and the heliograph would be the use of a shutter?
In the terminology of the Signalling manual, yes. In fact, later issues of the manual suggested (under the heading of "heliostat") that in special situations, a shutter could be used with advantage with a Mance heliograph, in which case the use of the shutter would truly be the only difference.

The non-initiated quickly settled on calling any sun-telegraph a heliograph - I suspect that the marketing efforts of Mr. Goode (Mance's man of business) in London from 1875 on may have had much to do with that. By 1888, the United States Signal Corps referred to both classes of sun-telegraph as heliographs, and when they wanted to make the distinction, referred to the shutter type as "the fixed flash system" ( Begbie, Grugan and Purssell instruments) and the tilting-mirror type as "the movable flash system" (Mance and Garner instruments). In 1888 the United States standardized on a modification of the Grugan instrument, which was subsequently almost invariably referred to as a heliograph. In modern English both are heliographs.

waterloo50 wrote:
in your opinion, which one of these would most likely have been used during the AZW?

All references I've found to date of sun-telegraph devices used in the AZW outside of the signaling to & from Ekowe during its siege are to tilting-mirror devices - a mix of Mance heliographs and Roorkee heliographs. In contrast, both ends of the signaling to and from the besieged at Ekowe were field-expedient improvised interrupted beam devices - the one made by Lt. Haynes on the Tugela (which he referred to as a heliostat), and the heliostat operated by McGregor. However, the press accounts nearly universally referred to Hayne's and McGregor's devices as heliographs, and a fanciful two-page illustration in the Illustrated London News showed signalling to Ekowe being performed by moving-mirror heliographs ( a coloured version of that illustration is a popular postcard today).

Thanks for the citation, by the way.

Apropos of the citation - I have yet to find a .pdf of the "Army Signalling Manual" in force at the time of the AZW ( I have those of 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1896)  - any pointers?
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