Hanged

Spies caught disguised in their enemy's military uniforms were quickly disposed of. Lawrence Orton Williams was a cousin of Mrs.

Robert E. Lee. Union troops caught him wearing a U.S. Army uniform. Williams claimed to be a member of the inspector general's staff. He was questioned, then hanged.

Lawrence Orton Williams Civil War Spy

The secret war

A SUCCESSFUL SPY This may be the only photograph of William Henry Harrison, a Confederate army officer who worked as a scout and spy. He won his place in history by pinpointing Union army positions during General Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North in summer, 1863, bringing on the Battle of Gettysburg. Here he holds a coded message that reads "I Love You."

Long before the civil war, soldiers knew to watch out for civilians who banded together to attack the troops and destroy the property of conquering armies. These combatants were called guerrillas and saboteurs. Virginia attorney John Mosby organized a group of such men to operate in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountain region. They called themselves Partisan Rangers, and at night they often rode behind enemy lines to attack and capture Union troops. During the day, they disappeared into mountain hideouts or Confederate homes and were difficult to catch. Spies were another danger, reporting military plans and movements to the enemy. This secret warfare is called espionage. It was easy to carry out in the United States, because the opponents looked alike, shared the same culture, and spoke the same language. Elizabeth Van Lew of Richmond, Virginia, was very successful at it. She was a mature single woman who held strong pro-Union opinions, but was a member of a wealthy, well-known family living in the Confederate capital. Van Lew pretended to suffer from mild mental illness and acted in eccentric ways. As a consequence, Southern government leaders gathered in her family's home or around the town, they spoke freely in her presence, believing she was harmless. Using couriers, Van Lew sent word of what she heard to Union military commanders. When the war ended, she received the thanks of General Ulysses S. Grant, the general in chief of the Union army.

Center-fire hammer

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment