Jordans War - 1861

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In July , Greenhow sent coded reports across the Potomac to Jordan now a volunteer in the Virginia militia concerning the planned Federal invasion. One of her couriers, a young woman named Bettie Duvall, dressed as a farm girl in order to pass Union sentinels on the Chain Bridge leaving Washington, then rode at high speed to Fairfax Courthouse in Virginia to deliver her message to Confederate officers stationed there.

Confederate General P. Beauregard later credited the information received from Greenhow with helping his rebel army win a surprise victory in the First Battle of Bull Run Manassas on July The Confederate Signal Corps, which operated the semaphore system used for communicating vital information between armies on the field, also set up a covert intelligence operation known as the Secret Service Bureau.

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Stuart , the celebrated cavalry officer whom General Robert E. Allan Pinkerton, the founder of his own detective agency in Chicago , had collected intelligence for Union General George B. When President Abraham Lincoln summoned McClellan to Washington late that summer, the general put the detective in charge for intelligence for his Army of the Potomac, and Pinkerton set up the first Union espionage operation in mid Calling himself E. Allen, Pinkerton built a counterintelligence network in Washington and sent undercover agents to ingratiate themselves in the Confederate capital of Richmond.

Though he called his operation the U.

Secret Service, Pinkerton actually worked only for McClellan. Union military intelligence was still decentralized at the time, as generals and even President Lincoln employed their own agents to seek out information and report back to them.

A Brief Overview of the American Civil War

Another prominent Union intelligence officer was Lafayette C. Shortly after the southern victory in the First Battle of Bull Run, Pinkerton put Greenhow under surveillance and subsequently arrested her. Belle Boyd, another famous southern belle-turned-Confederate spy, helped smuggle intelligence to General Stonewall Jackson during his Shenandoah Valley campaign in Benjamin, the Confederate secretary of war later secretary of state. Benjamin sent Webster to deliver documents to secessionists in Baltimore, which Webster promptly passed on to Pinkerton and his staff.

Webster was eventually arrested, tried as a spy, and sentenced to death. Though Lincoln sent President Jefferson Davis a message threatening to hang captured Confederate spies if Webster were executed, the death sentence was carried out in late April But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. The election of Abraham Lincoln in caused seven southern states to secede and form the Confederate Info Print Cite.

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Originally published in the Britannica Book of the Year. Presented as archival content.

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