Civil War CannonTechnology is so completely ingrained in our everyday lives that we tend to take it for granted. Can you remember how you ever managed without a mobile phone? How did news spread prior to the Internet? A lot of the technologies that define our way of life today were only developed in the past few decades, such as screen sharing.

In this blog series, we look at 3 defining moments in history and wonder how certain events might have turned out differently if a solution like Mikogo had been available then… and we may even learn a thing or two from history in the process. So gather round the fireplace, dust off your ancient tomes – it’s time for a history lesson.

3 Moments in History Where Screen Sharing Could Have Made a Difference

  • Part 1: Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign and Data Security (see below)
  • Part 2: The Ancient Greek Railway and Collaboration (coming soon – stay tuned!)
  • Part 3: The Spanish-American War and the Importance of Communication (coming soon – stay tuned!)

Part 1: Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign (and Data Security)


In September 1862, right in the middle of the American Civil War, Robert E. Lee led his army into Maryland in an attempt to invade the North. Lee wrote his detailed movement orders with information about routes and maneuvers, particularly the division of his forces, out by hand and passed them to his highest-ranking generals. These crucial orders were accidentally left behind at the campsite when the troops moved on, wrapped around three cigars lying on the ground.

Inevitably, the orders were found by a Union soldier and promptly sent to George McClellan, a Major General for the North. McClellan, who shortly before had had to retreat from Lee’s army, was now able to anticipate his movements and place his troops in a strategically advantageous position. Had McClellan acted as soon as he received the enemy intelligence, he might have destroyed Lee’s army for good. As things went, he hesitated, and the subsequent Battle of Antietam ended in a tactical draw. However, Lee did retreat back to Virginia, giving Abraham Lincoln enough confidence to announce the Emancipation Proclamation.

What Mikogo could have done:

Old KeyWhether you’re working on your battle plans or on sensitive customer data and new product designs, the idea is the same – you don’t want anyone who means you harm to find your confidential information lying around. Security is one of our main concerns when developing Mikogo, so this is right up our alley.

Mikogo sessions are encrypted with 256 bit AES encryption, so no one can just access the data you’re transmitting. And to make sure that no unauthorized person listens in on your session (like, say, a spy in your war camp), we’ve implemented several layers of security. The first of those of course is the unique 9-digit session ID which everyone needs to join a session. If you want to make completely sure that your confidential data is safe even if someone guesses the session ID, you can add your own password to the session and even lock it once your intended participants have joined. Once you’ve locked a session, even if someone knows the time and date, the session ID and the password, they won’t be able to join – or rejoin, if they’ve been in the session before and were kicked out by you once you discovered their true identity as an enemy spy!

Mikogo Locked Session

Additionally, if you’re planning any Civil War-like campaigns (or new product designs or financial strategies – you know, same principle), you don’t have to resort to pen and paper at all anymore (so no risk of someone using your plans as cigar wrappers and leaving them lying around in the first place). With the Mikogo Whiteboard, you can draw movements on the map right there in a session, no matter where your officers are. Or, if you’ve already prepared everything for them (you are the commander of this army, after all), send it via the file transfer feature within your secure session.

Mikogo File transfer

So, what can we take away from this?

Of course, Lee wouldn’t have conquered the entire North with his army even if his orders hadn’t been discovered, underfed and ill-equipped as the soldiers were. However, he likely would not have needed to, had he managed to make a sufficiently heavy dent in the morale of the North and its supporters. Maryland was a slave-holding state, and a great share of the population was sympathetic towards the South anyway.

Had Lee hit Maryland with a powerful blow at several different points simultaneously, this could have led to an uprising in Maryland and a subsequent change in diplomacy from France and England. If Maryland was falling or switching sides, how long until other states followed suit? With a Northern victory attainable only at a high cost, Southern independence would quickly have become a real possibility, especially if the Confederacy was recognized internationally.

The lesson to be learned here is this: If you are working with confidential information, treat it as such. You wouldn’t leave your army strategies lying around after you have left the camp, and the same goes for dealing with information online. If you have the opportunity to use a solution like Mikogo, make sure that it offers the security that you need – and make use of those security features, too!

Up next: The opposite lesson and the ancient steam engine empire that could have been!