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William Orton Williams - Other People of the Civil War - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 03:06 pm
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64thNYDrummer
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This man (subject of the weekend trivia question) got me interested in a subject I know nothing about. In June of 63 he was caught posing as a yankee officer, tried by a Drumhead Court and Hanged. This man was Bragg's chief of artillery, see "Staff Officers in Gray" by Kirk, page 363, however on April 3, 1863 Bragg detailed him as a cavalry officer under an assumed name, see O.R. 52 pt.II, page 451. This was the spring and summer that Bragg and Rosecrans were playing cat and mouse over large parts of Tennessee and North Georgia, Bragg must have known his real mission, and there must have been others, you would not send out just one spy to cover such a large area. Does anyone know any good sources for espionage in the western theater.

Dennis Conklin



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 05:12 pm
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ole
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Dennis:

Never heard of him until a dear lady on the chat room, related some of the story. He was a young man with family and social ties to the Lees of Virginia. He and (I think) two others dressed as Union Cavalry hung around camp for a day or two. When they left, he was recognized by a Union lieutenant with whom he'd served before the war.

They were a few miles out when they were captured and returned. Donning the uniform of an enemy is always a hanging offense. So they were.

Next time I run across the lady, I'll again ask her where her article was published. It was either in Blue & Grey or North and South a year or two ago. Or you can hang around Shotgun's Chat Room. He handle is Teej.

ole



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 08:00 pm
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64thNYDrummer
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Thanks Ole. the article you refer to would be a start, but I am convinced that Williams and his adjutant, were not the Lone Ranger and Tonto, I think Bragg must have had a network of opertives and I am wondering if there is anytthing written about such a network, thanks again Ole.

Dennis



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 08:01 pm
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Texas Defender
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   William O. Williams was a cousin of Mrs. Lee. His story was mentioned by Freeman. See the link below. Scroll down to the paragraph containing footnotes 27-37.

 

Robert E. Lee (by Freeman) — Vol. III Chap. 12



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 08:47 pm
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64thNYDrummer
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Thanks Texas, amazing what you can find on line, still I got the book down off my shelf and read it there, something about holding the real thing in my hand which I prefer. I don't buy the Canada cover story, am still convinced Bragg must have had a network of spys of which they were a part.

Dennis



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 09:05 pm
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ole
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Dennis: Strongly suspect that all the generals had a network of sorts. How organized that was is quite a mystery to me, and I haven't seen a book on Confederate spying. As the CSA was fighting in basically friendly territory, there would have been a supply of local informants. However, I suspect you're looking for evidence of a more "professional" network. Someone will be along to help with that.

ole



 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 10:13 pm
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javal1
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Dennis:

You could try some of these, but my guess is they'll be hard to find :

Axelrod, Alan. The War Between the Spies: A Historyof Espionage during the American Civil War.Intelligence Services during the Civil War. NewYork, Atlantic Monthly Press 1992


Bakeless, Katherine Little. Confederate Spy Stories.Biographies of men and women who, for patrioticor mercenary reasons, engaged in espionage forthe Confederacy. Philadelphia, Lippincott. 1973


Bakeless, John Edwin. Spies of the Confederacy.Secret Service in the Civil War, 1861-1865.Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1970


Bulloch, James Dunwody. The Secret Service of theConfederate States in Europe. New York Putnam’s, 1884. Reprinted. New York: ThomasYoseloff, 1959


Foster, G. Allen. The eyes and ears of the Civil War:Communications, Intelligence Services, andEspionage. New York: Criterion Books, 1963


Forman, Allan. A Bit of Secret Service History:Intelligence Services during the Civil War. 1861-1865

Kinchen, Oscar Arvle. Confederate Covert Operations in Canada and the North; Alittle knownphase of the American Underground and SecretService during the Civil War. North Quincy, Mass,Christopher Publishing House, 1970



 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 03:01 pm
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susansweet
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Teej's article on Orton is in North and South , Vol 8 but I don't remember which edition.  I have it at home .  I found it at the Drum after talking to Teej about it.  Good article with some good pictures too.  I would tell you the rest of the information but the magazine is on the coffee table at home in California and I am in a motel in Oregon getting ready to go see two more plays today and attend another class session. 

Go to North and South on line and check back issues. 

 

Susan



 Posted: Sat Sep 29th, 2007 07:45 pm
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sweetea
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If you're looking for info about spies in the Western Theater, I might recommend "The Confederate Veteran" if you can get a copy.  I have a story about a 15 year old boy whose father was serving in the CSA while he stayed with an elderly doctor in Natchitoches(?).

It seems that Banks was advancing, and was coming by Pleasant Hill and Mansfield.  The boy made a ride to Taylor's headquarters; that was it - just a ride.  He was given no message, as they didn't want him to be subjected to the "damn Yankees":D.  The message for Taylor was plain as day, though.  The message was on the shirt (Nankeen brown cotton).  He would wear a shirt with braid if Banks came to the north of the Red River, but would wear a plain shirt if they came by way of Mansfield.

Taylor got the message; the boy was never in danger.  Banks got defeated at Mansfield, Chapman's Orchard, and Pleasant Hill.

 

 

 



 Posted: Fri Jun 6th, 2008 10:30 pm
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garo
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I the the article you sent in to the civil war interactive dicussion board was sent in a few years ago , but something you said was there was a great writen in the north and south about Orton, I'm an Orton and would love to read it, do you remember your note? hope you can get back to me...thanks

Gary Orton

garo33@charther.net



 Posted: Sat Jun 7th, 2008 01:13 am
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PvtClewell
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This comes from Elizabeth Brown Pryor's book, 'Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through his Private Letters':

"...Promoted to captain, Orton distinguished himself at the battle of Shiloh, leading an important charge and lending invaluable support to General Braxton Bragg. Still, he continued to be reckless — 'he was not a sound man,' wrote a comrade. In one instance, he ran his sword through a private who refused to salute him...

"...the first strange occurrence was that Orton changed his name from William Orton Williams to Lawrence William Orton, a variation of his brother's name...

"On the evening of June 8 (1863), Colonel Lawrence William Orton and Major George Dunlop appeared at Fort Granger near Franklin, Tennessee. They were dressed in Federal uniforms, including hats covered with crisp new havelocks — an item used to shield the head and neck from excessive sun. Dunlop was in reality another relative, Walter Gibson Peter. 'Gip' had spent his life trailing his exciting cousin Orton, and had evidently been talked into this excursion as well. The two introduced themselves as an inspection team from Washington, and told how they had been attacked and robbed by rebel pickets. Their papers seemed to be in order, and when they asked for a loan to continue their journey, the post commander, Colonel John P. Baird, advanced it. After they left, several officers at the fort began to question story. Something seemed odd: the havelocks, for example, had been used at the beginning of the war, but they had long since been discarded. Orton was also calling himself 'Auton,' and it seemed wrong that they would have been attacked and still escaped with their horses. The Union officers were also worried about the presence of rebel partisan Nathan Bedford Forrest in the neighborhood and anxious to protect their position. Finally, the two were followed and brought back to the camp, where they were placed under guard while frantic telegrams were sent to verify their identities, 'as they can given no consistent account of their conduct.' At length word came back from General James A. Garfield — who ostensibly had signed the bogus inspection team's orders — that there were 'no such men...in this army, nor in any army so far as we know.' On searching the two more closely, Baird found that Dunlop's sword carried the inscription 'Lt. W.G. Peters, C.S.A.,' and that each man had his real name on the band of the headgear they had artfully covered with the havelocks.

"Baird contacted Washington again and was instructed to conduct as quick court-martial and, if found guilty, to hang the men immediately. The drum-head court-martial, among the most chilling of wartime events, took place in a dark tent, lit by rows of candles along the edge of a long table. One of those present remembered that the 'tiny flames threw garish shimmers of light on side-arms and brass buttons,' casting a fearful glow over the proceeding. When pressed, Williams and Peter confessed that they were Confederate soldiers, but denied repeatedly that they were spies. Williams alluded to a larger mission, vaguely mentioned something about France or Canada, but would divulge no details...In short, the two were pronounced guilty and sentenced to death...

"...At nine a.m., three hours after the execution was to have started, the company assembled, and the two men marched to the gallows. When Walter Peter began to whimper Orton announced: 'Let us die like men!' Then the wagon on which they were perched was driven from under them, their bodies left dangling in the air. According to newspaper accounts, neither died instantly, Gip struggled almost two minutes, and Orton, grabbing the rope with both hands, struggled for five minutes or longer.

"...Just what Walter Peter and Orton Williams were actually doing has remained a mystery. If they were indeed on an official mission, they played their final roles very well, for their secret has never been discovered.


"...Markie came to believe that they had embarked on an ill-advised lark, testing their courage and luck as they had together as boys. Lee, absolutely infuriated by the incident, also thought the men were off on an adventure and that their execution had been 'ordered from a spirit of malignant vindictiveness, common in a cowardly people.'



 Posted: Sat Jun 7th, 2008 03:23 am
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garo
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I just got on line and found what you had put in on Orton and I want to thank you for it so much, I'm getting a book ready to print out on the Orton family from 1600 on to today and want to put all kinds of things in it for all my kids and my sister. thank agin
gary orton
garo33@charter.net



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