American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Spy & Intelligence - American Civil War


Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Secret Agents in Hoop Skirts: Women Spies of the Civil War
In July 1861, Rose Greenhow obtained critical information about the Union Army`s planned attack of Manassas, Virginia. She sent her 16-year-old courier, Bettie Duvall, through 20 miles of Union territory with a coded message for Beauregard tucked into her hair. Confederate President Jefferson Davis later credited Greenhow for his army`s success at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). On August 23, 1861, Allan Pinkerton, head of the federal government's secret service, arrested Greenhow. She was placed under house arrest and later sent to prison. Despite her confinement, Greenhow still managed to transmit cryptic notes to Confederate leaders.
(history.com)

How black spies risked their lives by going undercover during the Civil War
Confederate officers thought slaves were powerless and oblivious, and as a result leaders in the South would openly discuss troop movements and battle plans and leave important documents right under their noses, without any fear they would comprehend and relay the information. Little is known about the black men and women who served as Union intelligence officers, because Union spymasters destroyed documents to shield them from Confederate soldiers and sympathisers during the war and vengeful whites afterwards.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Stealing Secrets by H. Donald Winkler -- How female spies altered the course of the war
"Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War" explores the tales of women and girls who spied for either the Union or the Confederacy during the Civil War.
(wcfcourier.com)

Black spies infiltrated staff of Confederate president Jefferson Davis
When Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, realised somebody on his staff was leaking information to the Union, the last person he thought of was the nanny, Mary Elizabeth Bowser. He thought she was only an illiterate slave. "Wrong Jeff, she was a school teacher from Philadelphia," said Hari Jones, curator of the African American Civil War Memorial Museum in Washington, adding that: "African American spies in the Civil War were critical to the Union effort." Called the Lincoln's Loyal Legal League, a network of African American spies used their own form of communication to weaken the Confederate effort and pass on information to the Northern states.
(fosters.com)

Female Confederate spy Isabelle Boyd - Cleopatra of the Secession
Isabelle Boyd - one of the most infamous of Confederate spies, who provided information to General "Stonewall" Jackson - today lies buried among the very "Yankees" she plotted so hard against. She became known as "Le Belle Rebelle" by French war correspondents and the "Cleopatra of the Secession" by the North and is now sometimes referred to as the "Wisconsin's Southern Belle." Isabelle's town was occupied by the Union in 1861. One day a band of drunken Union soldiers broke into her home looking for souvenirs. They found nothing and one soldier intent on raising the Union flag pushed her mother. Belle drew her pistol and shot the man dead - She was just 17.
(examiner.com)

National Cryptologic Museum is filled with secrets of the past
The little National Cryptologic Museum is on the Fort George G. Meade military base near Washington, D.C. It records the story of cryptology and the persons who have worked in this unusual field. The museum shows many pieces of equipment that were once used to make information secret. One unusual example is a bed covering called a quilt. In the early American history, black people from Africa were used as slaves in the confederate states. Slaves stitched quilts with designs that revealed slaves how to escape to freedom in the northern states.
(voanews.com)

Confederate States Army scout Dewitt Jobe died horrible death
Sam Davis, "the boy hero of the Confederacy," was a member of Coleman`s Scouts, a unit that worked behind Union lines collecting information and disrupting Union operations in Middle Tennessee. Davis was executed after refusing to divulge the source of the information he was carrying. His last words: "If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all, rather than betray a friend or my country." Less glamorous is the story of another Coleman Scout, Dewitt Smith Jobe and his cousins Dee Smith and Thomas Benton Smith (a `boy` general with the 20th Tennessee). Each met a horrible end at the hands of Federal troops.
(murfreesboropost)

Lecture to focus on slave turned spy - Abraham Galloway
Southerners fought for the Confederacy, northerners fought for the Union, Abraham Galloway fought for the slaves. The North Carolina slave-turned Union spy played the role of double agent and often felt neither side fighting the Civil War was protecting the interests of blacks. "Very quickly, he starts to feel like he`s fighting a war against both sides. Galloway was fighting the Union in some ways as hard as the South. Galloway is a good story - he sort of breaks all the molds," said Dr. David Cecelski.
(havenews)

Discovery suggests York's rebel helper - Civil War mystery
One of York County's whodunits now appears to have an ending. Who was that young girl who handed a bouquet of flowers to the Confederate general as his rebel brigade marched through York in June 1863? This story has been told and retold since Gen. John B. Gordon recounted the tale of the anonymous floral gift in his 1904 autobiography. Military historians writing about the famed Confederate general often tell the tale. Now they have a name to attach to the story: 12yo Margaret Small. It wasn't the flowers that made the moment important: The bouquet hid a note showing Union troop defensive positions.
(ydr)

Pauline Cushman: Dramatic espionage career of Yankee spy
In March 1863 in Louisville... To create a disturbance, paroled rebel officers offered actress Pauline Cushman $300 if she would drink a toast to Jeff Davis and the Confederacy while on stage. She hid the $300 in her shoe and reported the offer to federal authorities. Colonel Truesdale recruited Cushman as a Yankee spy. He told her to go ahead with the toast - She would be a heroine in the south. Her career in espionage lasted less than a year. She was used as a courier, contacting loyal groups in the south, and collecting information on Confederate plans. In early l864 she was captured by scouts from General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry.
(dailytidings)

Cuban woman as confederacy soldier in the Civil War
Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford. Velazquez didn't just fight as a soldier in the historic battles of Bull Run and Shiloh, but posed as a spy after she was wounded. Velazquez chronicled her adventures as a soldier in a 600-page memoir called "The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier." It features rare images of her as both a woman and a man.
(boston)

Breaking The Confederate Code (137 Years Too Late)   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Dr. Kent D. Boklan: In the spring of 1999, I received a catalogue for a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts, lot 79 was: "A letter of intelligence, partially written in confederate code. The first 11 lines of this document are in undeciphered code, but the last paragraph provides pertinent information regarding the Union army and its movements." I visited Sotheby's and expressed my desire to break the code. I realized that accurately transcribing the very deliberate penmanship of the cipher clerk was going to be a challenge. Not only had a few letters faded but there was a very unusual looking character that resembled a spermatozoon.
(rz1)

Civil war cross dressers - Female combatants and spies
Of the thousands of brave women who served as nurses (including Florence Nightingale), some 400 "others" - Northerners, Southerners, free, slave, and citizen - also served as combatants or spies. Two well-known cross dressers received high honors for valor: Dr. Mary Walker, and Flint's neglected hero(ine), Sarah Emma Edmonds, aka Frank Thompson. Dr. Walker, a surgeon, lived in drag most of her long life, and spent four months undetected in a Confederate prison. She received a Medal of Honor from President Andrew Johnson.
(pridesource)

Civil War women are hailed as heroines   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Military museum exhibit traces their military and home front roles during nation's great conflict. Women served as nurses, activists, educators, spies and even impersonated men to fight as soldiers during the Civil War, according to a new exhibit at the State Military Museum. "Lost Ladies" details two dozen women who contributed significantly to the nation's Civil War effort but are rarely mentioned in classrooms. It also features several mid-19th century dress styles, interpretive panels, pictures, stationery, jewelry, hand fans, purses and other female belongings of the time.
(timesunion)

Black American Contributions to Union Intelligence
"Black Dispatches" was a common term used among Union military men for intelligence on Confederate forces provided by Negroes. This source of information represented the single most prolific and productive category of intelligence obtained and acted on by Union forces throughout the Civil War. Black Dispatches resulted from frontline tactical debriefings of slaves--either runaways or those having just come under Union control. Black Americans also contributed, however, to tactical and strategic Union intelligence through behind-the-lines missions and agent-in-place operations.
(cia)