Loreta’s Civil War: Nothing but his fears

Velazquez, both disgusted and cautious, moves forward with an operation within the U.S. Treasury Department.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 48: Velazquez, both disgusted and cautious, moves forward with an operation within the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Having made my arrangements with parties in Philadelphia and New York and having obtained the information necessary for me to make my initial movements, I went to Washington, and, first of all, had a talk with Col. Baker, giving him some information — real or fictitious, as the case may have been — which I thought would amuse him, and assist in convincing him that I was overflowing with zeal for the Federal cause. This interview with Baker was in accordance with a general plan I had laid out, for … I thought it best to call on him and give an account of myself than to have him or his men getting sight of me unexpectedly and perhaps wondering what I was up to.

Baker’s vigilance having thus been disarmed, I went to a clerk in the Treasury Department, and telling him briefly what I wanted … I asked him to assist me in gaining access to the private rooms in the building where none but the officials in charge and the employees immediately under them were ever allowed to go, except by written permits signed by the secretary. These rooms were chiefly those of the printing bureau, where the Federal bonds and currency were manufactured. …

This clerk was a Confederate sympathizer like a number of other Federal employees of various grades, and he carried his sympathies so far as that he was willing and anxious to aid the Confederacy by every means in his power, so long as he could do so with safety to himself. He was not the sort of a man I had much liking for, but in the kind of work I was engaged in prosecuting, it did not do to be too fastidious about the characters of one’s associates. Moreover, he had proved himself … to be a very efficient spy and was constantly in communication with the Confederate agents, giving them information which often was of extreme importance.

It was probably through him that my associates first learned what was going on in the printing bureau, but of this I am not certain. At any rate, they knew that he was the best person to apply to for the sake of getting such an introduction to the private rooms of the Treasury building … as he was thoroughly posted with regard to the villainies that were being practiced there.

In response to my application to this clerk for assistance, he gave me a letter of introduction to a man occupying a very high and very responsible position — so high and so responsible that I was astonished, beyond measure, on being referred to him on such an errand, who, he said, would accomplish for me what I wished. This letter was so worded that the party to whom it was addressed would understand that I wanted to talk with him about matters that it would not do for everybody to be cognizant of, and I was told that I might speak with the most perfect freedom to him with regard to the business I had in hand.

I accordingly went to this official and presented the letter of introduction, wondering not a little what he would say and do when he read it. His conduct satisfied me at once that he was implicated in unlawful schemes and that he was exactly the man for my purposes. When he read the letter he turned as pale as a sheet, and then red, while his hand trembled so much that I was afraid some of the people in the room would notice it.

He read the letter through two or three times before he was able to obtain sufficient composure to trust himself to speak. He finally, however, said a few commonplace things to me, which meant nothing and were intended for the ears of those around us rather than for mine, and then requested me to give him my address.

I did this, and then, in obedience to a hurried gesture, took my departure without attempting to have any further conversation just then, but feeling well assured that I could speedily be afforded ample opportunity for an exchange of views with him.

That evening my new acquaintance called on me at my hotel, and, although we both for a time fought shy of the main subject, I readily perceived from the general tenor of his conversation that he had, since my visit to his office, been making particular inquiries with regard to me. He remarked, among other things, that he had heard Col. Baker mention my name several times and always in highly commendatory terms. This was very satisfactory intelligence, for it convinced me that I really stood well with the secret service chief. …

At length he said he thought he understood my object in making his acquaintance, and, although he was not quite certain what I wanted, he would endeavor to aid me by any means in his power.

I then told him, plump and plain, that I and my associates had full information with regard to what was being done in certain of the Treasury bureaus, and that we had it in our power to set the detectives to work in such a way that all those engaged in swindling the government would be arrested and brought to punishment. Instead of doing anything of this kind, however, we proposed to share the profits of such fraudulent transactions as were going on in the Treasury Department. As the agent and receivers of the others interested, I wanted to get possession of one or more of the electrotype impressions of the bond and note plates, such as were used for fraudulent issues, and I also desired to obtain facilities for visiting the printing bureau … for the sake of conferring with certain parties there. …

My friend saw that I “had him,” to use a slang phrase that is very appropriate in such a connection as this, for it expresses the situation exactly. He hesitated, however, as well he might, before yielding to my request, and after some immaterial talk, which expressed nothing but his fears, he said, “Well, if I oblige you in this, I will place my honor and my reputation in your hands. I have never yet stepped aside from the duties of my office since I have been sworn in, and what assurances have I that you will not betray me?”

I knew exactly how much of this to believe, and so I said to him, “I don’t care, sir, what you may or may not have done before this. I am satisfied, however, that you are the proper person to assist me in the matter under discussion, and if you do you shall have your share of the profits. You can rely upon my secrecy, for I will be implicated as well as yourself; but, independently of that, I think that my character for reliability is sufficiently well known for you to have no hesitation in trusting me.”

“Yes, I know your reputation for skill and secrecy; you seem to have played it finely with Baker. I am glad somebody has managed to get ahead of that fellow, for he has been making himself an infernal nuisance about here.”

This was said with considerable bitterness, and I could not help smiling both at the words and the manner, for there was something absolutely comical in the idea of my friend and those in league with him considering Baker’s negligence a grievance. I, however, said nothing on that point, but merely remarked that Baker appeared to be a tolerably capable officer.

My friend possibly did not care to argue about Baker, for he went on, without noticing the remark, to say that he would have to swear me to secrecy. I laughed at this and ridiculed the idea of my oath being worth any more than my word under the circumstances. He, therefore, abandoned all notion of attempting to bind me, except by the responsibilities I would incur in connection with himself and the others interested, and began to talk business in a straightforward manner. This suited me exactly, and it was not long before we had matters arranged to our mutual satisfaction.

He agreed to furnish any capital that might be needed to commence operations or to do any preliminary bribing that was necessary and was to have a percentage of whatever profits were made. As for getting possession of a fraudulent plate or plates, I would have to talk about that to the people to whom he would introduce me but he did not doubt, if I managed right, I could get all that were necessary for our purposes.

There were other things to be done, however, besides printing bogus notes and bonds, and he thought that a thriving business could be carried on in the genuine articles, which might be abstracted and returned, after being turned over a few times in the market, so as to yield a sufficient profit to pay for the risk and trouble. The bogus bonds, he thought, could be printed in Washington, and seemed rather anxious that they should be but I said that I doubted whether my associates would consent to that — at any rate, I could not undertake to make definite arrangements without consulting them. The idea was to float these bonds, as far as possible, on the European market, and it was thought that it could readily be done, as they could be sold at rates that would defy competition on the part of the government agents who were working with the genuine articles. …

I, of course, made all necessary promises, and he, accordingly, wrote a note, which he signed with a private mark instead of with his name, and told me to call the next day at the Treasury and give it to a certain prominent official connected with the printing bureau. He then took his leave, and I had little or nothing to do with him afterwards, his share of whatever profits was made being paid to him by someone else.

My arrangement with the parties at whose instance I went to Washington on this business was that in event of my being able to make a satisfactory bargain with the officials in the Treasury Department, I was to be the receiver and bearer of whatever they might confide to my care in the way of bonds, notes, bogus plates, and other matters, and was to travel to and fro between Washington, Philadelphia, and New York as a confidential manager, while brokers in the two last-named cities and elsewhere were to do the [financing].

The scheme was an immense one, although it did not reach its full proportions all at once, and it included not only dealing in genuine — borrowed for the purpose from the treasury — and bogus Federal securities, but Confederate bogus bonds also. These bonds were to be, as far as practicable, put upon the English market at the best rates that could be gotten for them, and our — that is, the Confederate — share of the proceeds was to go into a general fund to be used for advancing the interests of the Cause. As for the Britishers, we considered them fair game when selling them either kind of bogus securities, for we regarded their conduct as treacherous to both parties in the great contest and thought that they might as well be made to pay some of the expenses of conducting it.

From first to last the British government had deluded the people of the Confederacy with false hopes of recognition and interference, and, as at the time of which I am writing, it was becoming daily more apparent that it did not propose to interfere unless it could do so without risking anything, the feeling against it — especially among the Confederates at the North and in Canada, who were constantly in correspondence with agents in England and on the continent — was getting to be very bitter.

It was determined, therefore, to go for Johnny Bull’s pocket, and a lively trade in bogus Confederate and Federal securities was started and kept up for a considerable time, which, among other things, involved my making a trip to London. …

The day after receiving the note … I took it to the person in the printer’s bureau, to whom it was addressed. This individual did not appear to be the least surprised to see me, and it was evident that he had been apprised of the fact that I intended to make him a visit and what the visit would be for.

He proceeded to business at once … by requesting me to call the next day at his office, when, he said, the matter would be arranged to my satisfaction. He was not disposed to be talkative about the situation and, as I found out shortly afterwards, certain persons under him in the bureau were the active agents in the swindling transactions that were going on — his plan being to avoid, as far as practicable, any palpable participation in them. … This man, however, was at the head of the ring, and was responsible for all the rascalities that occurred in connection with the important bureau with which he was connected.

The abstraction of currency and bonds for speculative purpose and the permitting electrotypes of the plates used for printing bonds and currency, to be taken and disposed of to outside parties for the purpose of enabling them to print bogus issues, were not his only offenses. He and another official … had several abandoned women employed under them, at large salaries, and with whom they were in the habit of carousing in their offices at midnight. Indeed, so shameless and abandoned were both the men and the women that their doings became a public scandal and did much to bring about an exposure of their official misdeeds.

Before I knew anything of these matters, Col. Baker pointed out these women to me as the pets of these two men and told me about their introducing them into the Treasury building and taking them to the Canterbury saloon in male attire. This was some time before Baker commenced the investigations which created such a sensation by revealing to the public the vice and corruption that ruled in the Treasury Department. Baker then said he was certain that villainies of no ordinary character were going on and that he proposed some day to try and find out what they were.

The fact that Baker had his eye on these officials and others whom I knew were guilty of transactions … induced me to conclude that I had best have nothing to do with them, and, accordingly, I severed my business relations with the printing bureau after giving those interested a hint to beware of the colonel.

This hint was disregarded for the reason that the scamps knew that he could not commence an investigation into the affairs of the Treasury Department without the consent of Secretary Chase, and this consent, for reasons which to them were good and sufficient, they did not believe would ever be given.

Loreta’s Civil War: Villains of the blackest dye

Despite her frustration with Confederate military setbacks, Velazquez turns her attention to a secret logistical operation that will take her back to Cuba.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 46: Despite her frustration with Confederate military setbacks, Velazquez turns her attention to a secret logistical operation that will take her back to Cuba.

******

It was a comparatively easy matter to persuade me to continue to act as a Confederate secret service agent, although I was too angry over the Johnson’s Island matter to be willing to place myself in peril very soon again by attempting to play a double game, as I had been doing with Col. Baker and other Federal officials. I was willing to risk as much as anyone when there was a fair chance of accomplishing anything, but I was not willing to undertake enterprises of extraordinary peril, and to run the chance of being betrayed through either the stupidity or the treachery of those who professed to be working with me. … I did not care to cultivate the acquaintance of Baker and the members of his corps any further just then and was not sorry to have an opportunity to leave the country for a time.

This opportunity was afforded in a proposition that I should purchase a quantity of goods in Philadelphia and New York to fill Southern orders, and should go to the West Indies with them as a sort of supercargo for the purpose of arranging for their shipment to different Southern ports. I was also to supervise the shipment of a variety of goods of various kinds from Europe.

It was thought that, as in the cases of the proposed raid, a woman would be able to do a great many things without exciting suspicion that it would be hazardous for a man to attempt. It was daily getting to be more and more difficult to smuggle goods, especially merchandise of a bulky nature, through the blockading fleet. The tribulations of the blockade-runners, however, did not begin when they approached the beleaguered ports of the Confederacy. There were great difficulties in the way of purchasing goods, especially at the North, and of getting them shipped in safety, and then, in the majority of cases, they had to be taken to some point in the West Indies to be re-shipped, all of which involved trouble, expense, and risk.

The purchase and shipment of goods at places like New York and Philadelphia required particularly discreet management. There were, doubtless, some merchants and manufacturers who would not knowingly have sold to Confederate agents or for Confederate uses in any shape. For such, I had and have every respect, for they were entirely honest and consistent in their opposition to the secession of the Southern States. I am very much afraid, however, that these were few in number, and I know that the prospect of cash payments and handsome profits caused many men — who were loud in their profession of loyalty to the Federal government and bitter in their denunciations of the South — to close their eyes to numerous transactions of a doubtful character when opportunities for making a good round sum without danger of detection were presented.

Some Northern merchants and manufacturers sold goods, either immediately or at second hand, to Confederate agents innocently enough, being deceived as to the nature of the transactions. No dealers could be expected to maintain a corps of detectives for the purpose of watching their customers and of tracing out the destination of the goods purchased from them, and thus the most ardent and enthusiastic supporters of the Federal government were liable to be imposed upon. That some of these men were honest I know, for I am aware of instances where the sale of goods has been refused, on the plea that there was reason to believe that the intention was to send them South. These refusals have been made where the sales could have been effected with entire safety and with perfect propriety, so far as outward appearances went.

These very fastidious people were not numerous, however, and in the majority of business houses the practice was to welcome all customers and to ask no questions. In many large establishments, the chiefs of which were noted for their “loyalty,” confidential clerks could be found with whom it was possible to transact any amount of contraband business, especially if the cash was promptly forthcoming. Some of these people, I am sure, were well aware of what their subordinates were doing. With regard to others, I am in doubt, but think that they could scarcely have been ignorant of what was going on and only wanted to be able to say, in case of any difficulties occurring, that they, personally, were not to blame.

There were, of course, numerous manufacturers, merchants, jobbers, brokers, and others, who were eager to make money wherever it could be made, and whose only object in concealing their transactions, so far as the Southern market was concerned, was to avoid getting into trouble. Some of these people were loyal to the Federal government after a fashion, while others were as undisguised in their expressions of sympathy for the South as they dared to be. Political partisanship was, however, not a very strong point with either set — they considered it legitimate to make money by the buying and selling of goods without regard to what the politicians at Washington and elsewhere might think or do. So long as they bought and sold in a reasonably honest manner, their consciences did not trouble them. With such as these, I and my associates found it easy to deal.

If it was easy, it was not always satisfactory to deal with people of this kind, and during the last year of the war, especially, some of the largest transactions were with houses that had reputations to lose, and that were managed by men who aimed to stand high in the regards of the government. … To do business with such houses required some finesse, but, except in rare instances, it could be done without a great deal of trouble, and … with the approbation of the heads of the concerns.

Looking at this buying and selling from a Southern point of view, it was not only legitimate and proper, but it was a violation of every natural or political right for the Federal government to interfere with it. From a Northern point of view, however, it was giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and it was … sustaining the government in the prosecution of the war.

The sale of goods for the Southern market and the active or surreptitious encouragement of blockade-running were, however, very venal offenses compared with some others that were committed by people at the North, who professed to be eager for the subjugation of the South. Now that the war is over, a good many who made money by supplying the South with contraband articles other than munitions of war can afford to laugh at the perils they then ran … without fear of the kind of business they were engaged in. As the reader, however, will discover, there was an immense amount of evil and rascality going on, and some of the most trusted officers of the government were engaged in transactions concerning which there could not possibly be two opinions.

With some of these transactions I had considerable to do, and I was cognizant of undiluted villainy that unveiled depths of human depravity such as I never would have believed to be possible, had I not been brought in such close contact with it.

It may be thought by some who read this part of my narrative that I was as much in fault as those with whom I consented to associate for the purpose of accomplishing the object I had in view. I do not despair, however, of finding readers, even in the Northern States, who will be able to take a liberal and charitable view of my course. …

These things have, many of them, never been told before, although dark hints with regard to them have been dropped from time to time. … In fact, there is a secret history of the war, records of which have never been committed to paper and which exists only in the memories of a limited number of people. That this secret history will ever be written out with any degree of fullness is scarcely possible for reasons that will readily be understood but some idea of what it will be like, should it ever be written, may be gathered from these pages….

With regard to my associates. Confederates and others, who were mixed up with me in certain transactions, the case, however, is different. I deem it proper, in certain cases, to refrain from mentioning their names, as many of them are still living and might yet get into trouble through my utterances. I kept faith with them when we were acting together, and will do so still, although some of them were villains of the blackest dye who richly deserve any punishment that the law against which they offended is capable of inflicting upon them.

Having consented to make a trip to the West Indies, I commenced my preparations immediately and was soon as deeply engaged in commercial matters as I had recently been in some of not quite so peaceful a character. Having once got started, I speedily found trade — and especially this kind of trade — quite as exciting as warfare, while it had certain attractions in the way of prospective profits that lighting certainly did not possess.

I had some few transactions with Philadelphia houses, but they were none of them very important, and most of my fitting out was done in New York, where I … labored for a number of weeks with all possible zeal, being resolved to make the venture a profitable one for ourselves as well as of advantage to the Confederacy.

The first thing done was the chartering of a schooner and the engaging of a warehouse. In this warehouse our goods were stored until we were ready to load. The watchman was perfectly aware that we were engaging in contraband traffic, but, as he was paid handsomely for holding his tongue, he kept his own counsel and ours. When everything was ready, the schooner was loaded at Pier No. 4, North River, and she sailed for Havana. …

The greatest trouble we had was not in getting our schooner to sea, but in making our purchases without exciting suspicion that we intended to find our market in some Confederate port. To do this required circumspect management but some of those with whom I was co-operating had done this sort of thing before and knew how to go about it, while I was not long in learning all the tricks of the trade. …

According to the plan which we arranged, I was to pretend that I intended opening a store and was to visit some of the largest houses and obtain their prices and terms of payment. The terms varied from sixty to ninety days, or so much off for cash. At one of the most extensive dry goods establishments in New York — Messrs. C & Co. — I inquired for a Mr. B, who, on being informed that I had been sent to him by certain parties, whose names I mentioned, introduced me to a confidential clerk, who undertook to fill my orders and deliver the goods in accordance with my instructions. He understood the whole matter thoroughly, and, from various expressions he let drop in conversation, I had no difficulty in concluding that his firm was doing a big contraband trade, although the principals, like many other prominent merchants, were taking especial good care not to be known as having anything to do with it.

The leading members of this firm were very prominent as upholders of the Federal cause, and it would have been ruin to them had it been found out that they were surreptitiously shipping goods to the South. I never was quite able to make up my mind whether they really knew what was going on or not. At any rate, all the arrangements for carrying on a contraband traffic were very complete in their establishment, and anyone going there with proper credentials was sure of receiving every attention. If these gentlemen did not know what their employees were doing, they were much less shrewd than they had the credit of being, and I am afraid that a love of gain was a more powerful incentive in their bosoms than loyalty to the cause for which, in public, they professed so much devotion, and for which they professed a willingness to make almost any sacrifices. …

Loreta’s Civil War: Introduced to entirely new scenes

Velazquez successfully manages a parole for her brother, and as she moves into the Northern states, she gains a close-up view of the society determined to destroy her beloved Confederacy.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 36: Velazquez successfully manages a parole for her brother, and as she moves into the Northern states, she gains a close-up view of the society determined to destroy her beloved Confederacy.

******

I had quite a lengthy conversation with Lieutenant B. about my brother and about affairs generally, and, having announced to him my intention of visiting the North and perhaps of acting as a secret service agent if I saw opportunities for doing anything for the advancement of the Confederate cause, I obtained from him quite a number of hints about the best methods of proceeding, and he gave me the names of persons in different places who were friends of the Confederacy and with whom I could communicate. He also advised me to talk with certain parties … in Memphis who could advise me and give me much valuable information.

The next day I conferred with some of the persons whom he had mentioned, and, having become thoroughly posted, I began to prepare for my departure. My friend the Federal lieutenant, whose attentions had been getting more and more ardent every day, was, or pretended to be, very much cut up when he heard that I intended to leave. I promised, however, to write to him as soon as I arrived in New York — having given him to understand that that city was my immediate destination — and intimated that I might possibly correspond regularly. He, in return for the very slight encouragement which I gave to his hopes that we might meet again when the fighting was all over, procured for me a pass and transportation from Gen. Washburn, and off I started, leaving Memphis, where I was liable at any time to be recognized and consequently get into trouble, with but little regret. As for the lieutenant, I certainly appreciated his attentions to me, but I thought that any heart pangs he might feel at parting would scarcely be so severe that he would not be able to recover from them in course of time.

My first object was to see my brother, to give him such assistance as 1 was able, and to discover whether I could not do something towards having him released. I had not seen him for a number of years, and, as the reader will remember, had only learned of his being in the Confederate army some little time before my second marriage. He was the only relative I had in the country, and I felt very anxious about him, fearing greatly that he might be sick or suffering for some of the necessities of life. I therefore pushed forward as rapidly as I could and made no stoppage of any moment until I reached Louisville, Ky., where I took a room at the Gait House and communicated with a Mr. B., a gentleman whose name had been given me as one in whom I could confide and to whom I could appeal in case I was in need of assistance. …

I had no hesitation in informing him that after having seen my brother and made an effort to procure his release, my intention was to operate as a secret service agent, as I had had considerable experience in that line of duty. I did not think it necessary or proper to entertain him with a recital of the enterprises in which I had been engaged, but told him just enough about myself to let him understand that my pretensions were genuine and that I really meant business. He, for his part, posted me very thoroughly about the best method of going to work, not only for procuring the release of my brother but for picking up information of value to the Confederate authorities, and [he] gave me the names of a number of persons in New York and Washington as well as in the West with whom it would be well for me to become acquainted as early as possible. …

Before taking his leave, he suggested that I should retire early and be ready to go by the first train in the morning, and said that he would see that I was provided with funds. The name of this gentleman I could never discover, although I had considerable curiosity on the subject. He was very much of an enthusiast on the subject of the Confederacy and was evidently an efficient secret worker for the cause but he was either excessively timid or else he believed that he could do more to advance the interest of the cause by being, as far as practicable, unknown even to those with whom he co-operated.

Early the next morning I was awakened by a knock on my door, and someone outside asked if I was going on the early train. I replied that I was and hastened to dress myself for the journey. As I was dressing, I was somewhat startled to see a large envelope on the floor, which must either have been pushed under the door or thrown in over the transom during the night. On opening the envelope I found in it five hundred dollars in greenbacks and letters to a couple of persons in Columbus, Ohio. This money was very acceptable, for I had very little cash with me, and it enabled me to resume my travels with a mind completely free from care. …

I concluded, before delivering the letters I had received in Louisville, that I would try and see what my own unaided efforts would do for my brother. I therefore, the next day, called upon the general in command — I have forgotten his name — and introducing myself, said, that if it was allowable, I would like very much to visit that rebel brother of mine. The general asked me if I had a brother in the prison, and I told him that such was unfortunately the case, but that, notwithstanding he was on the wrong side, I could not help having an affection for him and was desirous of assisting him in case he should be in need.

The general asked me a number of questions about myself and my brother, in answer to which I gave him to understand that I was from New York, was a strong Unionist, and had only recently heard that my brother was a prisoner, although I was aware that he entered the rebel army shortly after the breaking out of the war. Having satisfied himself that I was all right, the general without hesitation gave me the desired permit, and, with a profusion of thanks, I bowed myself out of his presence.

On reaching the Todd Barracks, where the prisoners were confined, I found a one-armed major in command. He was very polite indeed and entered into quite a conversation with me, during which he told me that he had lost his arm in the Mexican War. When my brother came, the major gave us his own private room so that we might talk together without fear of interruption.

My meeting with my brother was a most affectionate one. It had been a very long time since we had seen each other, and there was much that each of us had to say. I disclosed to him part of my plans and instructed him how to talk and act towards me. He was to call me his Union sister and was to speak of me as a New Yorker. I expressed considerable hope that I would be able to effect his release and stated that I would go on to Washington for the purpose, if necessary, and see the president and secretary of war.

This proceeding, however, I found to be unnecessary, for Gov. Brough of Ohio, a hearty, pleasant-spoken, and good-natured old gentleman, happened to be stopping at the same hotel with me, and I contrived to obtain an introduction to him. I cultivated the acquaintance of the governor with considerable assiduity, and he took quite a fancy to me, so much so that he promised to use his influence to obtain a parole for my brother. This promise the governor kept, and in a short time the prisoner was released and ordered to proceed east and to report first to Gen. Cadwalader at Philadelphia and then to Gen. Dix, at New York, the idea being that he was to remain with me in the last-named city.

In company with my brother, therefore, I proceeded east, and went to New York, where I left him while I went on to Washington for the purpose of seeing what could be done in the way of aiding the Confederate cause by a series of operations at the Federal capital.

I was now introduced to entirely new scenes, new associations, and a new sphere of activity. I had never before been farther north than Washington, and my visit to the Federal capital was the hasty and secret one made shortly after the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. …. It was almost like going into another world to pass from the war-worn Confederacy to the rich and prosperous states which adhered to the Federal government, and when I saw the evidences of apparently inexhaustible wealth around me, and contrasted them in my mind with what I was leaving behind in the yet unconquered Confederacy, I confess that my heart began to fail, and I despaired of the Cause more than I had ever done before.

In a great portion of the South the towns and villages were few and far between, the forests large and dense, the population thin and scattering, while the most imposing of the Southern cities were far less splendid than New York and Philadelphia, and such prosperity as they had at one time enjoyed was now all but destroyed through the rigidness of the Federal blockade. Back of the Northern cities, too, was a rich, highly cultivated, and thickly populated country, with numerous large towns, abounding in wealth, and with apparently as many men at home, attending to the ordinary duties of life, as if there was no war going on, and no huge armies in the field.

Not only was there no blockade to put an end to commerce and to cause a deprivation of many of the necessaries of life, but commerce, as well as all manner of home industries, had been greatly stimulated, so that the war — while it was starving the South and forcing the male population into the field until there were scarcely left enough to carry on absolutely needful trade and tillage — actually appeared to be making the North rich, and thousands of people were literally coining money with government contracts and by means of innumerable industries brought into being by the great conflict.

The subjugation of the South was therefore simply a question of time, if matters continued as they were, and the Federals would achieve the ends they had in view by sheer force of numbers and practically inexhaustible resources, no matter how valiantly the Confederate soldiers might fight or how skillfully they might be led. Was this subjugation of the South inevitable, however? This was the question that addressed itself to my mind and upon the determination of which the course it would be best for me to pursue in the future would have to depend.

I was not very long in coming to the conclusion that a triumph of the Confederate cause was not by any means an impossibility, provided the right means were used to bring it about. I also speedily satisfied myself that the interests of the cause could be advanced just as much by diligent and zealous workers at the North as by the men who were fighting the battles of the Confederacy in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas, and I was so well convinced that at last I had found the best field for the exercise of my own peculiar talents that I greatly regretted not having made my way into the midst of the enemy’s country long before.

For very nearly a year now I had done very little that was at all satisfactory to myself, or at all really helpful — that is, helpful in a large and positive way — to the Confederate cause, whereas, all this time I might have been carrying on a series of important operations at the North. It looked, indeed, like a great waste of time but, if it was wasted, I resolved to do my best to redeem it by the activity of my performances in the future, and I had great reason to hope that these performances would be productive of not unimportant results.

It required but a slight acquaintance with the condition of affairs to discover that the surface indications of wealth, prosperity, and overpowering strength at the North were delusive. The North certainly was wealthy and powerful but, unfortunately for the Federal government’s efforts to conquer the South and to put a speedy end to the war, the people were very far from being united.

At the South there were few, if any, genuine adherents of the Federal government, and public opinion was united on the subject of achieving independence. At the period of which I am writing — the winter of 1863-64 — there may have been, and doubtless were, many persons who were heartily tired of the war and who would have been glad of peace on almost any terms. The vast majority, however, were still in favor of fighting the thing out in spite of poverty and in spite of the privations of every kind which they were compelled to suffer.

At the North, on the other hand, the majority of the people had entered upon the war with reluctance — many who did go into it with considerable enthusiasm, with the idea of preserving the Union, were disgusted when it became day by day more apparent that the emancipation of the slaves was a part of the policy of the government. … [M]any who went into it for the sake of seeing some fighting were heartily tired and wanted to stop. … and many more who were eager enough to begin a fight, simply out of animosity to the Southerners, sickened of the thing when their pockets were touched by the enormous advance in prices and by the heavy taxes which the prolongation of the contest necessitated, and [they] were quite willing for peace at almost any price.

In addition to these elements of discord, there was a large, influential, powerful, and wealthy anti-war party composed of people who were and always had been opposed to the war, and who numbered among them many who were not only opposed to the war, but who were warm and earnest friends of the South. These latter believed that the government had no right to coerce states which desired to leave the Union to remain in it, and they were bitterly antagonistic to any and all attempts to subjugate the South and did everything in their power to baffle the efforts of the government to carry on the war efficiently. These people constantly aided, with their money and their influence, the Confederate agents who were working and scheming for the advancement of their cause at the North and did a great deal to embarrass the Federal government.

Besides these, there were a great number of weak-kneed or indifferent people who had no opinions of their own worth speaking of, and whose chief anxiety was to be on the winning side. These were for the war or against it, as the tide of battle turned in favor of the Federals or the Confederates. The news of a tremendous defeat inflicted on the Confederates or of the capture of an important position would excite their enthusiasm and make them talk loudly of fighting the thing out until the rebels were whipped, while a season of prolonged inactivity or a succession of Confederate victories caused them to look gloomily on the situation and to suggest that there had been about enough fighting, that it was about time prices were coming down a little, and that as the war had been going on so long, without any practical results, there was not much use in killing more men and spending more money, when there was no more chance this year than there was last of a speedy end to the contest. In this class the Confederates found many allies.