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 Posted: Mon Oct 5th, 2009 12:20 pm
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Naim Peress
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I think Rose Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew were the most effective spies of the Civil War.  Greenhow's information helped the South win the first Battle of Manassas and Van Lew's work helped Grant's army in 1864 and Benjamin Butler's Army of the James.  Which do you think were the most effective?



 Posted: Mon Oct 5th, 2009 03:40 pm
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GeorgeM
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My vote goes to Longstreet's spy (scout) Henry Thomas Harrison (1832-1923). He provided invaluable intelligence to Lee and Longstreet on Union troop movements and positions in the immediate days before Gettysburg.



 Posted: Mon Oct 5th, 2009 10:59 pm
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Naim Peress
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I've never heard of the man. Perhaps you could enlighten me.



 Posted: Tue Oct 6th, 2009 02:50 pm
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GeorgeM
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There is a good article on Henry T. Harrison in Wikipedia and there are four  references cited there about him.  Additionally, in the movie Gettysburg, actor Cooper Huckaby provides an excellent portrayal of Longstreet's spy, providing interesting and informative insights about him.  However, there is no evidence that Harrison participated in the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge as depicted in the movie.     



 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2009 11:38 am
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Naim Peress
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It's interesting to see a spy have so much influence. His information convinced Lee to send the army to Gettysburg. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.



 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2009 02:33 pm
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GeorgeM
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You are welcome. Henry T. Harrison was a very interesting guy.



 Posted: Sat Oct 10th, 2009 08:29 am
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fedreb
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For more info on Spies you could read Spies and Spymasters of the Civil War by Donald E Markle which gives short histories of dozens of spies, both Union and Confederate, male and female their lives, techniques, successes and failures. Fascinating book.
Another good source is Spies, Scouts and Raiders from the Time Life Civil War series. (volume 18 if I've gotten them in the right order)



 Posted: Fri Oct 23rd, 2009 07:07 am
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cklarson
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I hate to sound like a broken record, but Anna Ella Carroll is right up there with Greenhow. She was an adviser to Lincoln, writing political/legal pamphlets for him.

On October 11, 1861, she left Washington accompanying secret agent Lemue D. Evans, State. Dept. secret agent for Texas and Mexico, to St. Louis. There she ensconced herself at the Mercantile Library whose head was Gen. Joe Johnston's brother. As a result of conversations with him and other Southern sympathizers she had an interview with Capt. Charles M. Scott, a riverboat pilot working on the Mississippi River expedition, or the planned one. It was during this interview that Carroll asked Scott about the use of the Tenn. River rather than the Mississippi. Scott replied that gunboats would not be suited to fight on the Mississippi due to its strong current and the many defensible points. But the Tenn. was especially suited to the gunboats. As a result Carroll wrote up a plan she submitted to the Lincoln administration recommending that the planned US invasion be switched to the Tennessee R. According to testimony by Asst. Secty. of War Thomas A Scott and Sen. Benjamin F. Wade, Lincoln adopted Carroll's plan.

On this site see my announcement of the publicaton of my biography: Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894 and my entry on the Tennessee River campaign. Great Necessities is available through Xlibris.com/1-888-795-4274. Do no use Amazon as other sellers are selling at outrageous prices.

C. Kay Larson, independent scholar/author



 Posted: Fri Oct 23rd, 2009 07:43 pm
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Let us not forget Belle Boyd a Union spy living in Richmond who entertained Confederate officers in her home and told secret Federal agents the size of their armies and where they were. Because of her sympathy to the Union cause, after the war or in the last months, her house was burned to the ground.

On Longstreet's spy Harrison, he did participate in Pickett's charge and survived. Later he went back to play Shakespeare. One of Gen. Longstreet's aides Maj. Sorrell, went to see a play and recognized Harrison. Later they talked backstage and that is the last time Maj. Sorrell saw him. (This is mentioned during the credits at the end of Gettysburg)



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 Posted: Fri Oct 23rd, 2009 07:48 pm
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Um GeorgeM, not to sound biased but Wikipedia is not a good source to look up information. Don't get me wrong, there are some great articles but my history proffessor says that Wikipedia is not reliable because anyone can post something that if false. I am just saying.



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 Posted: Sat Oct 24th, 2009 06:33 am
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cklarson
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Dear LSU Student:

RE: Belle Boyd. The woman you're referring to is Elizabeth Van Lew, who was a society lady in Richmond and headed a large interracial spy ring. Elizabeth Varon's new bio of her is excellent.

Belle Boyd was the teenaged Confed. spy at Front Royal, VA.

CKL



 Posted: Sat Oct 24th, 2009 07:56 am
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oh, I guess I am used to hearing Belle Boyd. Thanks for clearing that up.

Oh, it's LU (Liberty University).



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 Posted: Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 05:41 am
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cklarson
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RE: Anna Ella Carroll: You're exactly correct. As one commentator noted, any competent military mind should have been able to figure out the Tenn. R. was better than the Mississippi. And so did Halleck and Foote and C. F. Smith and Grant. Unfortunately McClellan was relying on Buell for thinking and not at all communicating with Lincoln. Many thought E. TN was the key strategic point.

Most historians solely credit Grant, relying on his writings and the memos in the campaign section of Vol. 7 of the ORA. But you need to go through all the background correspondence, the Navy records, Lincoln's and Stanton's records, Thomas Scott's bio and Carroll'l papers and congressional testimony to learn the real story. I just figured that neither Grant nor Carroll were wrong, but the story was bigger than the two of them which it was. I took a lateral cut across the administration and all the pieces fell perfectly into place.

You can read my whole Tenn. R. chapter online at nymas.org - right sidebar, scroll down. Of course, I'd like people to buy my book too, since it was totally self-funded and due to discrimination I was unable to engage a trade publisher and had to self publish, in spite of excellent recommendations. There are a lot of people out there who don't want to give a woman credit for critical historical evnts, particularly military ones.

Also a note on Greenhow. Like Van Lew and Carroll, she was a Washington society doyenne, had cultivated the scions of DC for years as her husband had been a top State Dept. official. She had been a protege of Calhoun and was an informal political adviser to Buchanan. At the end of the war Jeff Davis entrusted her with an imporant diplomatic mission to Europe. She was said to be having an affair with Sen. Henry Wilson, from whom she allegedly obtained some of her information. These were very important women, but women aren't supposed to be important historically so they are consistently marginalized.

C. Kay Larson
Author: Great Necessities: The Life, Times and WRitings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894 (Xlibris.com/1-888-795-4274



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 Posted: Wed Nov 4th, 2009 02:15 am
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javal1
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"why?because your a women?maybe its just not something that would sell?sour grapes you didnt even know when greenhow died maybe your research on carrol is spotty"

We don't allow personal attacks on other members. Discuss Civil War spies or don't discuss at all.



 Posted: Thu Nov 5th, 2009 06:15 am
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cklarson
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The profusion of bad comments about Anna Ella Carroll is on record. Her claim to the Tenn. River campaign has been called "fantastic" and "preposterous." To my mind, a man who had the political and intellectual record that she did would never have been ignored and maligned like she has been. This nastiness has also extended to me, distorting my record of research. If there is a fault in my research it is that it is too lengthy, hence the manuscript was lengthy. But no publisher told me to cut it and one stated that they could not convince themselves that AEC was worthy of a full length biography--Lincoln's only female political and legal advisor? Please.

As for Greenhow's death, she drowned off Fortress Monroe (?) trying to make shore in a small boat which capsized in a rough surf. She had come off a blockade runner returning from England. Her death perhaps was abetted by the bundle of gold coins tied around her waist, proceeds from her autobiography published in London.

CKL



 Posted: Wed Nov 18th, 2009 03:04 pm
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rsburk
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There is a distinct difference between 'spies' and 'scouts'. It's somwhat like comparing apples and oranges.

Spies, in the strict defination, are geared to infiltrate an ememies territory, normally remaining in place over a period of time, collecting and transmitting more strategic information.

Scouts, were utilized in the gathering of 'real time' information of a tactical nature (i.e. battlefield intel, troop movements, etc.).

Having said that however, I am sure that there were many which preformed both roles at one time or another.

Just my humble comments



 Posted: Sun Nov 29th, 2009 03:28 pm
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Naim Peress
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I think it's important to understand the difference between tactical and strategic intelligence. Tactical involves, for example, the location of particular units. That is short-term and immediate information. Strategic involves the long-term intentions or plans of an enemy. For example, a policy meeting of Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet being reported to Washington would have been strategic intelligence.



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