Welcome to the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation. The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

  • ...The nation’s brightest young minds to consider careers in STEM and cyber related fields

  • ...Robust dialog with the American public on cyber policy, technology, and privacy

  • ...Those who “served in silence” with valor and distinction, especially those who gave their lives in service

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Polish mathematicians & code breakers made the first breakthroughs against Nazi Germany's Enigma code.......

1862: Confederate Signal Corps Established.

Friday, April 19, 2019
1862: Confederate Signal Corps Established.

19 April 1862: Confederate Signal Corps was established. Learn about the National Cryptologic Museum's updated Revolutionary Secrets exhibit via the link below.

The Confederate Signal Corps accomplished tactical and strategic communications for the warring armies, including electromagnetic telegraphy and aerial telegraphy ("wig-wag" signaling). Although there was an implicit mission of battlefield observation, intelligence gathering, and artillery fire direction from their elevated signal stations, the Confederate Signal Corps also included an explicit espionage function. The Confederate Signal Corps included a covert intelligence agency known as the Secret Service Bureau, which managed spying operations along the so-called “Secret Line” from Washington to Richmond.

Flag signals were also easily intercepted by the enemy. The trick was to encrypt the messages so that they would make sense only to the intended receiver. To send messages, signal officers placed themselves in high elevations where friendly and enemy troops could easily see them. This made signal officers easy targets for enemy sharpshooters.

Soon after the war began, the "Battle Honors" flag, such as the one displayed at the NCM's updated Civil War Exhibit, was designed and awarded only to signal officers for bravery in combat. The points of the star denoted important battles in which the officers distinguished themselves. The flag displayed at the NCM's newly updated Civil War exhibit is only one of two known to exist today in which all five points have been adorned with battle names. The exhibit also displays messages between commanders warning each other of intercepted messages, one of the last existing Union code books, and a replica of a Confederate cipher wheel.

The first use of wigwag during battle was by the Confederates at the Battle of First Manassas (or First Bull Run for the Union.) Captain Edward Porter Alexander, who worked with Myer in developing the system, caught the glint of bayonets from his viewpoint atop a hill and immediately wigwagged the message "Look out for your left; you are turned." It played an important role in the Confederate's victory.

This star flag, displayed in the Museum, is a rare item. In order to enhance morale, a signal flag was modified by placing a star in the center. This special flag was awarded only to Signal Corps officers who distinguished themselves in combat. The points of the star could be used to denote important battles in which the unit had distinguished itself. This flag is only one of two known to exist today in which all five points have been adorned with battles.

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  • GRAB, first reconnaissance satellite, launched. GRAB - ("Galactic Radiation and Background," its cover, or codename TATTLETALE), was the world's first reconnaissance satellite and is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum. Photo from NSA Anniversary Timeline: Naval Research Lab Team at Cape Canaveral for spin test of GRAB1 atop Transit 2A. (Left to right) Martin J. Votaw, George G. Kronmiller, Alfred R. Conover and Roy A. Harding

About Us

The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. We think you will agree it is truly a "museum like no other."

Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCMF acquires the best artifacts for the NCM and supports new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCMF provides exceptional cryptologic programs throughout the year, encourages young minds to explore cryptology and innovation through valued awards, and hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events.

As part of the Foundation's partnership with NSA to build the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation - Home of the National Cryptologic Museum (CCEI-NCM), the NCMF also serves as a leader in the field of cybersecurity - striving to provide the best in educational resources and programs.

The NCMF and NCM share a joint three-fold mission to Educate, Stimulate, and Commemorate. Learn more about our MISSION.