Wiki-Find: Confederate Secret Service


I have a habit of reading some small unimportant fact on one website and deciding I’d like to know more about it.  I quickly find myself on Wikipedia, clicking various links and often finding myself on a totally different trail than I started.  Even so, I find some of the most interesting stuff this way, so I’m going to turn this tenacious curiosity of mine into a series called “Wiki-Find”.

For the first edition of Wiki-Find, I found myself wanting to learn more about the United States secret service after looking at this picture of president-elect Barack Obama’s new armored limo.  I found an interesting little link to the Confederate Secret Service, which was the Confederate States of America’s short lived intelligence and spy agency.  Some interesting facts of note:

– A foreign base of operations was planted in England by James D. Bulloch (who may have been their 1st agent).  While the English were officially neutral, they had a vested interest in the Souths cotton trade and would buy any southern cotton that managed to get past the Union blockades.

– Canada (British North America at the time) was also a launching point for many British North America because it to was technically neutral, but swayed not only by King Cotton, but the chance that a the now smaller northern United States might attempt to annex Canada.  From their Toronto base of operations, the Confederate Secret Service gathered sympathizers in the north and attempted to sow rebellion among citizens of the Union.


– The Torpedo Bureau of the Confederate Secret Service created “coal torpedoes”, which weren’t really torpedoes at all.  Rather, these mock lumps of coal were filled with gunpowder and secretly mixed in with enemy coal stores. When a coal torpedo was shoveled into a ships boiler, you can easily guess what would happen.

– Famous Confederate Secret Service agents include Rose O’Neal Greenhow (that’s her picture up their), whose friendships before the war gave here access to Union senators, presidents, and generals and whose is credited by Confederate President Jefferson Davis with supplying information necessary to the Confederate win at Manassas and Belle Boyd, who hid as a prostitute for Union soldiers and supplied information to the Confederacy that won her a Southern Cross of Honor.

– According to William A. Tidwell with David Winfred Gaddy the Confederate Secret Service may have been secretly plotting the assassination of President Lincoln, among other bomb plots on the White House and hostage plans on president Lincoln.

The whole idea of their having been another country (an extremely short lived country) in North America, with its own congress, president, and secret service is a little odd to think about.  If their had been some sort of North Korea/South Korea style truce their would probably still be a huge amount of intelligence gathering and counter intelligence going on between the two United States.  With all this Civil War history, I’m getting really hyped for reading Manhunt, which will be made into a movie next year.  The CIA has a lot more on this topic here.


One Response to Wiki-Find: Confederate Secret Service

  1. Pingback: Wiki-Find: Skylon Spaceplane « Raxdakkar

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