TheAmerican Civil War was a very harsh time in U.
S. History. Although this arose aneed and time for spies on either side, it was still bloody and hard fought.The spies during this time period are very interesting and had very importantimpacts on the War. Among these spies were women and even African Americans.This was no regular war but, a war between seven states (The Confederacy) andthe U.S.
Government. Spies were needed for gathering critical intelligence andrisked their lives going behind enemy lines.At the beginning of the Civil War,neither the Union nor the Confederacy had a military intelligence network.Early on, the Confederacy started setting up a spy network in Washington D.C.
,South of the Mason Dickson Line. Virginia being full of Southern Sympathizers,John Letcher, former congressman and governor of Virginia at the time, set upan intelligence Network inside of the capital. Very little is known about theConfederate Secret Service Bureau due to the burning of many files byConfederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin. Even so, there were stillsome very resourceful networks of spies along the “Secret Line.” The line ranfrom Washington to Richmond. It had to cross two rivers, the Potomac and theRappahannock.
They also had many spies and sympathizers that carriedinformation along the secret line. Most Confederate Spies of the Civil Warwere Southern Sympathizers with little to no experience in the Military, theyjust loved the South. Although the Confederate Signal Corps did have an Agencythat ran espionage and counter-espionage missions, the main focus wascommunications and intercepting Union movements or messages.
One resoundConfederate spy, by the mane of Rose O’Neal Greenhow was credited for providinginformation that won General P.GT. Beauregard the victory at the First Battleof Bull Run. She was put in charge of the intelligence operations in Washingtonalong the Secret Line.The Union, on the other hand, relied ondifferent tactics to gather information. During the first several months ofCivil War the head of the Department of Ohio, General George B, McClellan wassummoned to Washington D.C., by President Abraham Lincoln.
General George B,McClellan hired Allan Pinkerton, a former Chicago Police Officer, who at thattime owned his own Detective Agency “Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency”, tobe in charge of Intelligence for the Army. Pinkerton called his operation U.S.Secret Service even though he only worked for Gen, McClellan. The fact is, theUnion did not have a centralized government intelligence agency. SeveralGenerals hired their own agents. Even Lincoln himself hired his own agents.Although Pinkerton was an incredibleundercover agent, most of the information he provided to Gen.
McClellan washighly miscalculated, sometimes up to three or four times over calculated.Pinkerton, using the alias E.J. Allen, set up a counterespionage network withinWashington, he also sent several agents to Richmond to integrate. Due to being credited for the victory atthe Battle of Bull Run, Greenhow was one of the first that Pinkerton set hissights on.
Pinkerton was not the onlyagent credited with providing valuable information for the Union. Lafayette C.Baker was another intelligence officer, who worked for former General in ChiefWinfield Scott and then later for Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Baker had anotorious reputation for rounding up Suspected Southern Sympathizers and beingtoo extreme in his means of interrogation.
Several articles have pegged him asa man who was committed to the Law of the Land. He was later accredited forleading the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Southern sympathizer,who shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln. One of Pinkerton’s agents, TimothyWebster, who was sent down to several Confederate states including Mississippiand Kentucky to collect information. During this time, he integrated very wellwith several very important people. So close, in fact, that he was offered theposition of Colonel of the Second Arkansas Regiment. He gracefully declinedtelling his friends that he was rather, heading towards Richmond.
With verificationof his pure loyalty to the Confederates cause, he attracted the attention ofConfederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin. Benjamin recruited Webster tobe a part of the Secret Line.
Thus making him a double agent. Sadly though,African Americans were also used ascouriers during the Civil War. “Black Dispatchers” was the term used duringthis time to describe the African American men and women who risked their livesto bring information back to the Union from the Confederacy. They were amongthe most productive at gathering information because they blended in.
Even thewell know Harriet Tubman was an intelligence agent. The Union used these spiesto infiltrate Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s White House staff. TheUnion offered them asylum if they made it to the north Spies were needed to gather criticalintelligence