Lincolns Spies

Lincolns Spies➿ [Download] ➽ Lincolns Spies By Douglas C. Waller ➵ – A major addition to the history of the Civil War Lincoln’s Spies is a riveting account of the secret battles waged by Union agents to save a nation Filled with espionage sabotage and intrigue it is A major addition to the history of the Civil War Lincoln’s Spies is a riveting account of the secret battles waged by Union agents to save a nation Filled with espionage sabotage and intrigue it is also a striking portrait of a shrewd president who valued what his operatives uncovered Veteran journalist Douglas Waller who has written ground breaking intelligence histories turns his sights on the shadow war of four secret agents for the North—three men and one woman From the tense days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in to the surrender at Appomattox four years later Waller delivers a fast paced narrative of the heroes—and scoundrels—who informed Lincoln’s generals on the enemy positions for crucial battles and busted up clandestine Rebel networksFamed detective Allan Pinkerton mounted a successful covert operation to slip Lincoln through Balti before his inauguration to foil an assassination attempt But he failed as General George McClellan’s spymaster delivering faulty intelligence reports that overestimated Confederate strengthGeorge Sharpe an erudite New York lawyer succeeded Pinkerton as spymaster for the Union’s Army of the Potomac Recruiting skilled operatives some of whom dressed in Rebel uniforms Sharpe ran highly successful intelligence operations that outpaced anything the enemy could fieldElizabeth Van Lew a Virginia heiress who hated slavery and disapproved of secession was one of Sharpe’s most successful agents She ran a Union spy ring in Richmond out of her mansion with dozens of agents feeding her military and political secrets she funneled to General Ulysses S Grant as his army closed in on the Confederate capital Van Lew became one of the unsung heroes of the warLafayette Baker was a handsome Union officer with a controversial past whose agents clashed with Pinkerton’s operatives The unscrupulous Baker assembled a retinue of disreputable spies thieves and prostitutes to root out traitors in Washington DC But he failed at his most important mission uncovering the threat to Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth and his gangBehind these secret operatives was a president one of our greatest who was an avid consumer of intelligence and a ruthless aficionado of clandestine warfare willing to take chances to win the war Lincoln’s Spies as Waller vividly depicts in his excellent new book set the template for the dark arts the CIA would practice in the future. When the American Civil War became a total war and not just an armed misunderstanding a network of spies and informants was needed to help the generals make their decisions on how to move and place their armies We know of the use of cavalry as information gatherers but the use of small bands of spies and individuals planted behind enemy lines in strategic locations some in both governments is toldThis book placed in the war's Eastern theater tells the story of how that came about and how and who gathered that information Usually information about these operations is sketchy at best because of the secrecy involved but the author did a great job of weaving a story of these events about the underside of government and military covert operations in Washington DC and Richmond Va throughout the war and also included the Lincoln assassination investigationOne drawback of the book was the author telling stories of different spies in the same timeline and the stories got broken up and were difficult to follow at timesOverall I was surprised at the length and depth of the book and the wealth of information that was presented Many official websites are made available in the back of the book to explore that provide a vast amount of added information on related subjects It goes without saying that intelligence gathering during the American Civil War was an inexact science Information was derived from a myriad of sources that included; newspaper articles railroad passengers and riders free blacks runaway slaves deserters prisoners of war local farmers and other non combatants along with the Union’s use of hot air balloons during the first half of the war This menagerie of sources produced a great deal of conflicting information that needed to be sifted through and analyzed The key information rested on how many troops each side possessed and their location The end result was a decision making process that at times was flawed and battlefield decisions that rested on a weak foundation If one was to compare the intelligence strengths of the Union and the Confederacy the northern spy network had major advantages and in the end would create an intelligence service that would later develop into an effective organization that contributed to victory Effective studies of Civil War spying are few in number and Douglas Waller’s new book LINCOLN’S SPIES THEIR SECRET WAR TO SAVE THE NATION is a wonderful addition Waller has previously shown himself to be adept at dissecting important aspect of the history of American intelligence in his previous works DISCIPLES THE WORLD WAR TWO MISSIONS OF THE CIA DIRECTORS WHO FOUGHT FOR WILD BILL DONOVAN and WILD BILL DONOVAN THE SPY MASTER WHO CREATED THE OSS AND MODERN AMERICAN ESPIONAGE are all thoughtful well researched monographs with a strong element of analysis Waller has now shifted his focus to the Civil War and those interested in early American intelligence gathering and techniues should be very satisfied with the latest contribution to the topicWaller focuses on the Civil War’s Eastern Theater arguing that a comprehensive history of all theaters of the war would reuire a minimum of three volumes His approach includes Virginia Maryland Pennsylvania West Virginia and Washington DC because some of the largest costliest and significant battles of the war took place in those states Waller zeroes in on a number of important characters but his main focus is on Allan Pinkerton the founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency and a man whose ego knew no bounds and in the end was not a very effective head of Lincoln’s spy organization despite the reputation that he himself cultivated Lafayette Baker is another individual who plays a significant role in Waller’s narrative Baker was a poorly educated aimless drifter who arrived in Washington after a rather uestionable career as a detective in California He would eventually convince Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to employ him and set up a spy network for the military In the end the corruption use of blackmail coercion and illegal means to extract information and bribes would lead to the end of Baker’s career as a wartime spy by 1864 Next Waller introduces the reader to George Sharpe probably the most effective Union spy during the war whose intelligence was the most accurate and in the end after his network of detectives was able to assist General George Meade at Gettysburg would join with General Ulysses S Grant in helping to achieve final victory With a background as a lawyer who inherited a great deal of money Sharpe never could conceive that he would become the war’s “preeminent spymaster” Lastly Waller discusses the contributions of Elizabeth Van Law a Richmond socialite who abhorred slavery and all the Confederacy stood for Using her “social contacts” inside the Confederate government she was able to tap into a great deal of useful information She would create the “Richmond Spy Ring” and was very helpful for the Union cause She provided accurate estimates of Confederate forces in and around Richmond assistance for runaway slaves to reach Union lines helped organize prison breaks and hid political prisoners and those suspected of spying against the ConfederacyWaller a stickler for detail provides mini biographies of all his characters particularly those who were involved with the aforementioned four figures His discussion of the course of the war and its major players be it Generals Robert E Lee George McClellan George Meade Joseph Hooker Ulysses S Grant President Lincoln Secretary of Defense Edwin M Stanton and Jefferson Davis among many others echoes the comments of earlier historians Waller excels in describing the differences and dislikes that led to competitions and downright hostility among allies especially Sharpe and Pinkerton; Baker and Pinkerton; Meade and Sharpe; Lincoln and McClellan; Meade and Grant among many presented The strategies and geographical and economic conflicts are presented in a cogent fashion and are easily understood by the general reader Perhaps Waller’s best chapters include his analysis of the contribution intelligence made to the Union victory at Gettysburg which along with Grant’s triumph at Vicksburg was the turning point in the war Another fascinating chapter deals with Allan Pinkerton and how poorly he ran his intelligence operation for Lincoln and how incompetent he was A key to finally defeating the Confederacy was Sharpe’s relationship with Grant that Waller explores in detail Their mutual respect for each other’s skills and capacity in their fields of expertise was the foundation of their personal alliance Lastly and throughout the book Waller discusses Civil War spy craft and how it evolved into an effective tool for victoryAccording to Waller intelligence gathering during the war also pioneered what today is called “all source intelligence” under the leadership of George Sharpe The result was “merging espionage cavalry reconnaissance and signal intercepts with prisoner deserter and refugee interrogations to produce reports on Confederate strength and movement The phone tapping human collection and aerial snooping today’s US spy community engages in can be traced to the Civil War It’s no wonder that the CIA tasked analysts to study era’s tradecraft for lessons learned” 417The human side of the war is on full display as the carnage was unimaginable up until that time The book does not present itself as a history the war but just a component that contributed to the northern victory An aspect of the war that has not been given enough treatment by historians The book itself does a remarkable job focusing on the Eastern front of the war and I recommend it to the general reader as well as Civil War aficionados A highly entertaining and well researched look into intelligence gathering during the Civil War mostly from the Union side whoose resources were abundant than the Confederacy's and directed in large part by Lincoln himself who proved to be a savy inturpretor of the raw data people places and things in constant motion during the fog of war One of my favorite time periods in American history is the Civil War I have read and love reading books on the Civil War from the generals to the battles This was a very interesting and intriguing book Not much is mentioned about spies during the Civil War and this was an excellent book about the spy rings set up by Abraham Lincoln and other Union generals and how they went behind enemy lines on dangerous espionage counter missions on Confederate troop movements A compelling look at the often unknown spy networks that helped the Union win the Civil War With his focus on Allen Pinkerton Elizabeth Van Lew George Sharpe and Lafayette Baker the author lets us into the secrets of finding secrets Some of their activities helped the North win battles while others show the failures of integrity that those with power sometimes exhibit Well written and comprehensive there is a little bit of everything for everyone in this well researched tome Just when you thought McClellan was the biggest tool of the war along comes Pinkerton This is a meticulously detailed impressively researched book on the Civil War centering on the role of intelligence History buffs will LOVE it but there was a bit than I really wanted to know about battle details etc so I confess I skimmed or even skipped some parts There re a LOT of persons and places mentioned and it was impossible to keep them all straight To appreciate it properly the book reuires concentrated attention; it is not a vacation book Lincoln’s Spies was about the period and events surrounding the lead up to and actual Civil War This period in our Nation’s history resulted in rapid changes in our country for better and worse Waller has written an entertaining chronicle of the times and the people that made and influenced history Many of the people in this book are not household names and there are no statutes for them yet in some cases their efforts helped save the Union as much as the efforts of Grant and LincolnThe author takes us from Fort Sumter to Appomattox his narration is thorough with an easy to follow writing style the notes prove that his research was uite thorough The sentence structure was at times uestionable and the work does not rise to the heights of other civil war authors such as Stephen Ambrose and James McPherson only because his approach is different The descriptions of Washington DC and Richmond during this war are graphic and examples of Waller’s uniue style The depiction of the sweltering heat disease mud drunkenness soldiers wandering all over each town some with wounds and many sleeping on the street overcrowded homes and hotels poor hygiene swamp gas; along with prostitutes’ thieves and rampant crime; paint a horrid yet accurate picture The strength of this work is the background of battles from the spy’s point of view and his biographical sketches of the spy’s Generals and Presidents who most impacted the outcomes of battles including the maneuvers of the combatants and the politics of the times There are snippets in this book that I have read nowhere else nor as graphic for instance “Lincoln was one of the least experienced men who ever took the office of President he had the briefest of formal education and was largely a self taught lawyer further he had failed twice in bids for the US Senate and had no administrative experience in a senior government position “Davis was haggard and worn looking he was afflicted with neuralgia digestive disorder venereal disease and bronchial problems and had lost sight in one eye He was a workaholic inaccessible haughty and peevish – not suffering fools lightly and always feuding with his Generals” Spies such as George Sharpe and Elizabeth Van Lew are real heroes and our history books should have given attention to their work certainly Waller does Sharpe made use of many creative methods in this craft and it is said that he revolutionized the profession of spying His work on behalf of Grant particularly at Gettysburg was invaluable in securing a victory Many other Union Generals grossly overestimated the size of the Confederate Armies facing them and as a result made bad decisions Sharpe gave Grant the accuracy he needed in the battle with lee’s armies Van Lew’s courage was her amazing attribute she risked capture and imprisonment daily Her work in the City of Richmond and her band of spies saved many lives and gave Grant the intelligence he needed to secure victory for the Union in the SouthWaller’s portrayal of the lead up to the Gettysburg campaign is uite interesting with some controversy and some little known facts Listed below are some of the things this reviewer found uite remarkable 1This reviewer has always believed that the two armies just collided at Gettysburg Yet Waller points out that General Meade while trying to decide on the right site for battle had scouted Gettysburg and correctly concluded that Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge were good sites for his army to occupy 2 Among the many little known facts presented by Waller was that Lee was reluctant to fight at Gettysburg and during this engagement he was uite sick and stricken with diarrhea3 This reviewer believes that Waller is wrong in his depiction of Longstreet as having been derelict in his duties at Gettysburg In many of the books written about this battle an allegation is made by his enemies after the war that Longstreet was not the good soldier and he was less than enthusiastic about following Lee’s orders at Gettysburg There is a uote written about Longstreet telling Lee that he had been a soldier for 30 years and his experience tells him that Lee’s strategy on the second day of battle will not work These allegations while widespread have been documented based on primary evidence to be untrue Longstreet did everything possible to support Lee The defeat at Gettysburg was all on Lee and he acknowledged it4 If the Gettysburg battle is of interest to the reader then Meade’s council of war with his Generals is not a surprise Waller indicates that the spy Sharpe was present and this is a surprise Meade asked his Generals whether they should withdraw from battle or fight another day Because of the intelligence provided by Sharpe concerning the condition of Lee’s army the decision was made to continue the fight Sharpe’s presence at the war council and his important contribution are new facts provided by Waller5 Waller tells us why the Confederate artillery barrage failed prior to Pickett’s charge Prior to the barrage the Confederate artillery commanders could look up the hill and see the Union position hundreds of yards away; these were experienced men tested in battle yet they overshot the targets why? Some historians say it was because of all the smoke in the Valley two hundred cannons firing at once Waller tells us it was because of poor ammunition This is new information and Waller does not document a source for this ammunition failure and I uestion whether it is true Is Waller saying that this ammunition had never been used before? 6 While a subordinate to Halleck in Tennessee and when Halleck became Chief of Staff in Washington Grant had difficulty with Halleck; yet Waller tells us that when Grant was put in charge Halleck became his chief of Staff Grant never discussed his difficulty with Halleck yet many biographies mention the issue but no one states that Halleck became a subordinate to Grant7 Waller points out on many occasions Union Generals ‘lost their nerve” resulting in either defeat or Confederate Army escape this reviewer had not seen this choice of words before It does seem accurate even Lincoln remarked about Grant’s courage and willingness to fight As stated previously once accurate information about troop strength on the Confederate side was available and used then it was clear that in most engagements the Union had superior numbers This failure to know troop strength was certainly the fact that haunted McClellan 8Waller did a commendable job of describing General Early’s threat to Washington DC This was an intelligence failure and an embarrassment to Grant because at the time no one could find Early’s army Grant never lost faith in his spymaster; Sharpe redeemed himself for this one failure many times In the final analysis it is Waller’s conclusion that the spy system lead by Sharpe was an important factor in ending this warMany many topics for further discussion are present in this book A student of Civil War history will find a treasure trove of interesting views presented by Waller The author was successful in proving that superior intelligence on the Union side resulted in the conclusion of the War The courage and resourcefulness of the men and woman who risked life and limb in the Union case makes this book well worth reading This book is an odd mixture of historical and biographical information about the subjects who were all in theory working on behalf of the Union during the American Civil War Their roles official or otherwise were in aid of what might be called espionage or counter espionage but the people were an odd mixture of altruists and con artists detectives and do gooders and that made the story even interestingBy the end of the book I did have a uestion How the heck did Lafayette Baker keep his job? He was apparently such an unmitigated crooked jerk and yet he somehow came away not rich so he wasn't even all that good as being an unmitigated crooked jerk Plenty has been written about him and about Pinkerton but the others covered in this story are less well known and that made the book even interestingThis is not a battlefield book and if you're looking for spies riding into combat waving stolen papers to be delivered to generals in order to save the dayno this isn't that kind of book On the other hand though it's an interesting study of people places and events that shaped history Not an exhaustive history of all the spies operating during the American Civil War but a very well written and researched account of four major spies Allan Pinkerton is known as the first private detective in the US despite his lucrative private practice he was not the best Civil War spy grossly overestimating strength George Sharpe was much efficient than Pinkerton and fielded a group of operatives far better than any the Confederates had Elizabeth Van Lew was a wealthy resident of Richmond who ran a highly successful spy ring in the Confederate capital amazingly avoiding the hangman's noose alienating her neighbors becoming a pariah for the rest of her life arguably the noblest of all the spies showing true fearless patriotism Lafayette Baker was a disreputable ruthless spymaster who searched for enemies of the Union in Washington but missing John Wilkes Booth These four people were all instrumental in developing many of the techniues still used in present day spycraft The author's account is very interesting and was very informative even debunking some misconceptions I had especially of the role of Allan Pinkerton

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  • Hardcover
  • 624 pages
  • Lincolns Spies
  • Douglas C. Waller
  • 17 July 2015
  • 9781501126840