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Civil War Spies

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  • June 2008
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Male and female spies were essential sources of information during the Civil War. The best spies were people you would never suspect. Spies were brave, faceless and they knew the environment very well. Their presence was incredibly excepted. Whether they dressed as men and joined the army, posed as mindless slaves, or just kept their ears opens in collective circles, spies provided necessary information. It was even a woman spy who provided Union battle plans to Confederate Army, which allowed them to win the First Battle of Manassass (First Bull Run). Throughout history, men have been spies and the American Civil War was no exception. The finest spies are people you would never suspect. Spencer Kellogg Brown, George Curtis and Philip Henson were some of the most well known and finest spies. These spies all had a direct effect on the outcome of specific battles and therefore the outcome of the Civil War. Overall, spies were clearly vital in deciding the war.

Sarah Lane, one of the best female spies, was born February 11, 1838 in Greene County, Tennessee. In 1854, Sarah married Sylvanius H.Thompson and they had two children. Sylvanius later became a private in the 1st Tennessee Calvary U.S.A., where he served primarily as a recruiter for the Union Army. Sarah worked alongside her husband assembling and organizing Union sympathizers in a predominately rebel area around Greeneville, Tennessee. In early 1864, Sylvanius Thompson was ambushed and killed by a Confederate soldier. Spurred by her husband's death, Sarah Thompson continued her work for the Union, delivering dispatches and recruiting information to Union officers. When CSA General John Hunt Morgan and his men spent the night in Greeneville, Sarah managed to slip away and alert Union forces to his whereabouts. Union troops invaded the area and by her accounts, she personally pointed out Morgan hiding behind a garden fence to a Union soldier who proceeded to kill Morgan.

After this event, Sarah served as...