This fascinating telegram was probably sent soon after the earthquake, though it arrived at the War Department some 19 hours after the catastrophe.
It seems odd today, but almost all military communications were encoded, and transmitted by private telegraph companies, and this practice continued up to Pearl Harbor. In Gen. Funston's case his telegrams, and those to him from the War Department, were not encoded, because the cipher books burned with the Phelan Building which housed the Department of California. Given Gen. Funston's movements immediately after the earthquake - around the burning city - he remained away from communications with the War Department until the Signal Corps established a direct line, via Western Union, to Washington.
Western Union and Postal Telegraph's facilities so badly damaged, it appears
this telegram was hand-
T E L E G R A M.
OAKLAND PIER, Cal., April 18, via Union Pacific R.R. Special Wire, via New York, 18th. (Received 2:50 a.m., 19th),
We are doing all possible to aid residents of San Francisco in present terrible calamity. Many thousands homeless. I shall do everything in my power to render assistance, and trust to War Department to authorize any action I might have to take. Army casualties will be reported later. All important papers saved. We need tents and rations for twenty thousand people.