Amerikan Rambler: Thank you, Jacqueline Campbell

From March 2013: “Campbell is one of the historians of the Gary Gallagher school, who believes the Confederacy died from battlefield defeats, not a lack of will.”

Campbell argues that Sherman’s march from Savannah to North Carolina did not kill the Confederacy’s will to resist (and by Confederates, she mostly means women). Instead, Sherman’s destructive campaign left Rebels on the homefront with feelings of bitterness toward the Union and a desire for revenge. Women wrote to their soldier husbands and brothers demanding that they fight to the last man.

via Thank you, Jacqueline Campbell — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Loreta’s Civil War: The approbation of noble-minded men

As the Confederacy collapses and the Civil War comes to an end, Velazquez ponders what she has accomplished for herself and for the South.

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 54: As the Confederacy collapses and the Civil War comes to an end, Velazquez ponders what she has accomplished for herself and for the South.

******

After I had been gazing out of the window some little time, watching the crowds of people passing to and fro along the street, an elderly gentleman came up, and after addressing a few courteous words, asked if I was a resident of the city.

I replied that I had arrived only a few hours before from Columbus, Ohio, but that I was a Cuban.

“Ah, indeed,” said he, and, taking a seat beside me, he commenced a conversation by asking, “What do your people think of our war?”

“Oh, they think it is very bad but it is to be hoped that it is about over now.”

“What do you think of the assassination of the president?”

“That is much to be regretted but you know we Spaniards do not take such things quite so much to heart as some people.”

“It will be a bad thing for the South, and especially for some of the Southern leaders — they will be sure to hang Jeff Davis.”

I thought that it was catching before hanging but, concluding that perhaps it would be best not to put all my thoughts into words, I merely said, “I scarcely agree with you, sir. Why should one man die for the deeds of another?”

“Oh, those Southern leaders are all corrupt, and they sent Booth here with instructions to do this deed for the purpose of enabling them to carry out some of their schemes. They are a set of fiends, thieves, and cutthroats from beginning to end, and there is not an honest man among them.”

This excited my anger greatly but, considering that, under the circumstances, discretion was the better part of valor, I stifled my feelings and concluded to cultivate this old gentleman’s acquaintance further with the idea that perhaps I might be able to make use of him in the execution of any plans I might have for the future.

Taking out my watch, I found that it was half past three o’clock, so, excusing myself, I went to my room and put on my hat to go out. On coming downstairs again, I found my new acquaintance in the hall, near the ladies’ entrance. He asked me if I was going shopping, and on my replying that I merely proposed to go as far as the Executive Mansion, for the sake of a little exercise, he suggested that I ought to have an escort and volunteered to accompany me. I thought this rather an impudent proceeding, considering our very brief acquaintance, but not knowing what advantage he might be to me, I accepted his attentions with apparently the best possible grace.

Getting into a street car, we rode as far as the Park, opposite to the War Department. Taking a seat together under the trees, we entered into a conversation which convinced me that the old gentleman was a harmless eccentric who had become suddenly smitten with my charms. He had some very odd notions about politics, finance, and the like, but from such matters as these he ere long began to discourse upon my personal attractions and finally became quite tenderly demonstrative towards me. I believe the old gentleman would have asked me to marry him had I given him the least encouragement, but I was beginning to find him a nuisance and resolved to return to the hotel.

He persisted in going with me, and when, on reaching the hotel, I hastily and somewhat impatiently excused myself, for, looking at my watch, I saw that it was ten minutes past five o’clock, he asked whether he might escort me to supper. I said that he was very kind, and to get rid of him promised that he might have the pleasure of my company to the evening meal if he desired it. I then bounded upstairs, anxious to keep my appointment.

When I reached my room door it was locked, but in a moment more the key was turned, and on going in I found my Confederate officer waiting for me. He said that someone … had tried to get in. He had put his foot against the door to prevent it from being opened whereupon the person outside had worked at the lock for a while with a key. I replied that he need not be alarmed, as it was probably one of the chambermaids with clean towels, and that being unable to obtain admission she had left them on the knob of the door.

He told me that he would be compelled to leave the city at eleven o’clock, and, as he had several things to attend to, if I wanted to send anything by him it would be necessary for me to get it ready at once. I therefore seated myself to write, but, on a moment’s reflection, came to the conclusion that the risk was too great, as he was not unlikely to be captured, and determined to give him a verbal message.

After discussing the situation with as much fullness as we were able … I went to my trunk, and, getting an envelope, sealed twenty dollars in it, and handed it to him, as I knew that he must be short of money. He made some to do about taking it, but on my insisting, he put it in his pocket with an effusion of thanks and said farewell. I turned the gas in the hall down until I saw him out of sight and then prepared myself for my interview with Col. Baker.

On reaching the drawing room, I found there the old gentleman who had been so attentive during the afternoon, and who was apparently waiting for me rather impatiently. We had scarcely started a conversation, however, before Baker came in, with a friend of his from Baltimore. I excused myself with my aged admirer with very little ceremony and retired with Baker and his friend to the private parlor, where we could talk without being disturbed.

As we seated ourselves, Baker said to his friend, “This is one of the best little detectives in the country, but, unfortunately, she does not like the business.”

“Oh, the business does well enough,” I replied, “but I don’t like having bad luck in it.”

“We can’t always have good luck, you know,” said Baker, “but I have a job on hand now which I want you to undertake for me and which I think you can manage if you will do your best. If you succeed, you shall be paid handsomely.”

“Oh, colonel, you are not going to hold out the pay as an inducement for me to serve the country, are you?” I could not say “my country.”

“Oh, d–n the country, you don’t suppose we are going to work for it for nothing, do you? I want you to find this woman who is traveling and figuring as a Confederate agent. Some of my people have been on her track for a long time, but she is a slippery customer, and they have never been able to lay hands on her.”

I knew it was myself Baker meant, especially when he took out of his pocket a picture similar to the one the detective had shown me on the cars a number of months previous.

Baker continued. “Here is her picture. You can take it, for I am having some more struck off. I am going to capture her ladyship this time, dead certain, if she is in the country, as I believe she is.”

My sensations on hearing Baker utter these words cannot be described. What could make him so eager to capture me just at this particular moment? Could he possibly suspect me of having anything to do with the assassination plot? The very idea of such a thing made me sick, for I felt that, excited as everyone then was, an accusation of this kind was all but equivalent to a condemnation. I managed, however, to maintain my composure but inwardly resolved that the best thing I could do would be to leave the country at the earliest possible moment.

After discussing the method of procedure with regard to the search I was to institute for myself, I asked Baker what he thought the result of the trial of the prisoners accused of being implicated in the assassination plot would be.

“Oh,” said he, “they will all hang.”

“Now, I think that will be too bad. Even if Mrs. Surratt is proven to be guilty, they might commute her sentence. It will be a terrible thing to hang a woman, especially as she was not actually one of the assassins. Do you really think she is guilty?”

“No, but the affair was planned in her house, and she is in a good part responsible for it. I am very much in hope that a full confession from her will be obtained by her priest.”

“But, colonel, the evidence against her is all circumstantial, and surely it is not right or lawful to sentence her to death unless it is absolutely proven that she is guilty.”

“In times like this, it would never do to acquit her or to send her to prison, for the mob would take the law into their own hands. Besides, it is necessary to make an example.”

Baker’s friend here said, “I am glad that they got Booth.”

At this remark, I scanned Baker’s countenance closely. He smiled and said, “So am I. I intended to have his body, dead or alive, or a mighty good substitute for it, for no common criminal is worth the reward.”

This was a very queer expression, and it set me to thinking and to studying certain phases of Baker’s character more closely than I had ever done before.

The colonel and his friend then left. I was to have until nine o’clock the next morning to decide whether I would undertake the business he desired me to or not.

The next morning, before Baker came, I received my mail, and in it a letter from my brother, who expected to be in New York in a few days with his wife and child. He proposed that, as we were the sole remnants of our family, we should continue with each other in the future [and] … it would, perhaps, be best for us to go to Europe for a time, until things quieted down somewhat.

This letter decided me upon what course to pursue, and I determined to accept the commission from Baker, thinking by so doing I would more effectually prevent any of his detectives discovering my identity, while so soon as my brother and his family arrived, we would proceed across the Atlantic without further delay and remain there until the time should come when no one would have any object in troubling us.

The army of Joe Johnston, like that of Lee, had been surrendered, and it was evident to me that the war was practically at an end, although I thought it not impossible that it might be prolonged in a desultory manner for some time yet in the West and Southwest. I could plainly see, however, that further fighting would do no good and that the Confederate cause being lost, my mission in connection with it was at an end and my sole duty now was to consider my own welfare and that of my family.

All the bright dreams of four years ago had vanished into nothingness, and yet I could not regret having played the part I did. I loved the South and its people with a greater intensity than ever, while at the same time many of my prejudices against the North had been beaten down by my intercourse with its people during the past eighteen months. There were good and bad in both sections, and I believed that if the good men and women, both North and South, would now earnestly and patriotically unite in an endeavor to carry out the ideas of the founders of the government, they would, ere many years, be able to raise the nation to a pitch of greatness such as had yet been scarcely imagined.

As for my own experiences … they were sufficiently rich and varied in incident to satisfy all my ambitions. I had participated in bloody battles and sieges, and in the thickest of the danger had borne myself so valorously as to win the commendation of men who did not know what fear was, while, in addition to the campaigning I had gone through, my adventures as a spy and secret-service agent were not only of advantage to the cause I had espoused, but they had supplied me with exciting and absorbing work which had demanded the best exercise of all my faculties. I felt that I had reason to be proud of my war record and was the better satisfied with myself, as I knew that I had won the approbation of noble-minded men whose esteem was well worth winning.

When Col. Baker called, therefore, to hear my decision, I told him that I would undertake to do what he desired. He accordingly gave me my instructions, and I was astonished to find how much he knew of some of my movements. He and his men must have been on the point of capturing me many times, and they undoubtedly would have done so had I not had the wit to take the course I did in cultivating his acquaintance. With many self-congratulations at having been successful in escaping thus far … I started for New York on a search for myself ostensibly, but in reality to wait anxiously for the coming of my brother. …

Loreta’s Civil War: The poor devils

Velazquez sadly remembers how immigrants could be so easily deceived and re-directed into military service.

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 50: Velazquez sadly remembers how immigrants could be so easily deceived and re-directed into military service.

******

I posted to Washington, and having notified my confederate there when he might expect me, he met me in the Capitol grounds, and I gave him a statement of the account between us as it then stood, turning over to him the borrowed money and half of the profits of the speculations that had been carried on with it. He informed me that I was just in the nick of time, as the reports had not yet been made out, but they were about being, and he was beginning to get the least bit uneasy concerning me.

I continued to take an active part in such transactions as these for several months, traveling to and fro between Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, and often having about me immense sums of money. At length, however, I became afraid to risk it any longer, as Col. Baker had commenced his investigations in the Treasury Department and accordingly went out of the business of money-making for the time being. I did the fair thing by the Treasury people in giving them a hint with regard to Baker and then made haste to get out of the way until the storm should blow over.

As things turned out, it was not, by any means, as much of a storm as I expected it to be. Baker failed to strike the right trail, and the revelations which he made, while sufficiently scandalous were with regard to matters of very secondary importance, and he dallied so much with these that the scamps were able to get ready for him. …

It was not the woman who was working for the Confederacy, and who was under obligations to do those whom she regarded as her enemies and the enemies of her cause all the injury in her power, who fell into Baker’s hands, but certain high Federal officials who were under oath and who were entrusted with some of the most responsible duties that could possibly be entrusted to any men. …

In the matter of notes and bonds printed from the duplicate plates obtained from the treasury, an immense business was done both in this country and in England. The person to whom I gave the first plate delivered to me printed eighty-five thousand dollars’ worth of one hundred-dollar compound interest notes from it. These were, so far as appearances were concerned, just as good as the genuine ones issued from the Treasury Department. Of this batch, twenty-five thousand dollars’ worth were sent to England, and we received exchange for them. The rest were disposed of to the banks and through various channels.

The bankers and brokers both here and in England took these bogus notes and bonds without any hesitation whatever, as indeed there was every reason they should, for there was nothing to distinguish them from the genuine ones that could avail for their detection by ordinary purchasers.

It is impossible for me to give any idea of the enormous amount of this kind of counterfeiting that was done without apparently any serious effort being made on the part of the Federal government to check it. I and my associates had the handling of bogus paper representing immense sums, which we disposed of advantageously but the amounts that passed through our hands only represented a very small proportion of what was issued during the war.

The headquarters of the dealers in bogus currency and securities were chiefly in Wall and Fulton Streets, although a number of these swindlers were located on Broadway. With each succeeding month, during the continuance of the war, the spirit of speculation seemed to increase, and men became more and more eager to make money and less particular how they made it. It was not always obscure men and insignificant banking concerns that were wittingly engaged in this traffic in unlawful paper, but there were plenty who stood high in the esteem of the public and whose reputations for probity were supposed to be unimpeachable.

As for myself and other Confederates, we took all the advantage we could of the general demoralization and not only replenished our treasury, so as to be able to carry on many operations that otherwise would have been impossible, but worked in many ways to turn the criminal selfishness and unpatriotic greed of people … for the benefit of our cause.

The bounty-jumping and substitute-brokerage frauds arose out of a contest between the efforts of the Federal government to maintain the armies in the field at their maximum strength and the determination of nearly the entire body of male citizens to escape military duty by any means in their power.

Under the terms of the conscription law, persons drafted were permitted to furnish substitutes if they could get them, and consequently the purchasing of substitutes became an important branch of industry, in which many thousands of dollars capital were invested and in which immense sums of money were made. This traffic in human flesh and blood would have been bad enough had it been honestly conducted, but, from its very nature, it held out inducements for fraudulent practices which were irresistible to a majority of those engaged in it.

Anything like volunteering … had ceased long before my arrival at the North, but each locality being anxious to avoid the conscription made desperate efforts to fill its quota of men by offering bounties, greater or less in amount, to encourage enlistments. The payment of these bounties was a direct encouragement to desertion, and, as a very different class of men were tempted by them from those who had enlisted out of patriotic motives at the outbreak of the war, a vast number of those who pocketed these premiums were very willing to go through with the same operation again and as often as it was practicable to do so.

Bounty-jumping, or escaping from the recruiting officers and enlisting over again, was carried on … all over the country but the headquarters of the bounty-jumpers and substitute-brokers was in New York.

It was to New York that the agents of interior counties came for the purpose of filling their quotas, and they always found a horde of brokers ready to accommodate them with real and bogus enlistment papers, each one of which was supposed to represent an able-bodied man, fit for military duty, who had passed the mustering officers, been accepted, and was then ready for service. Whether the papers were bogus or genuine mattered very little to those who purchased, so long as they could obtain credit on them from the authorities at Washington. It would probably not be making too large an estimate to put down one half of the enlistment papers sold to country agents and others as forgeries, while not one half of the genuine ones, no, not one fourth, represented men actually ready for duty.

Of course such stupendous frauds as these could not have been carried on without the criminal connivance of the officials of various kinds who were … connected with the enlistments. There may have been some honest officers, soldiers, and civilians connected with this service in New York during the last year of the war, but I was never lucky enough to meet any. So far as I could see, the whole of them — commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, surgeons, clerks, notaries public, and others — were intent only upon making all the money they could while the opportunity for making it lasted.

The bounty-jumping and substituting-frauds were perpetrated in such an open and barefaced manner that I could not help wondering why some efforts were not made by the authorities at Washington to check them. At length, however, the services of Col. Baker were called in, and he succeeded in creating quite a panic among the swindlers by the investigations which he instituted and the large number of the arrests he made. The war, however, came to an end before he succeeded in discovering a hundredth part of the rascalities that were going on, so that, practically, his investigations were of very little benefit to the government.

The rates which were paid for substitutes varied from five hundred to twenty-one hundred dollars. The parties with whom I was associated enlisted chiefly for the army and did very little for the navy. The bulk of our profits, so fast as they were made, went to Canada or England, and some of the parties who received the money are today living in luxury on it.

The recruits, when they were enlisted, and when they did not escape from the recruiting stations — as hundreds of them did every day — were sent to Governor’s Island. It might be supposed that once there, they would have been safe. They would have been, had the officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, been honest. The temptations for gain, however, were too great, and there was not a person in authority on the island who was not pocketing hundreds of dollars every week by conniving at the escape of recruits. I have known some of the regular professionals jump as high as sixteen bounties, walking away from Governor’s Island every time they were sent there with as much ease as if there was no such thing as army regulations and martial law in existence.

The way this was managed was by the purchase of passes. In going through the boat-house, a slip of paper with the number of passes on it would be put in a book on the table, and on returning, the passes would be found in the same book. The money for these could either be folded in the slip or an order on the broker’s office be given to the sergeant.

One application for a substitute that was made at the office with which I was connected was from a very prominent and very wealthy gentleman of New York, who was willing to pay as high as twenty-one hundred dollars for some one to take the place of his son, who had been drafted. This old gentleman was noted for his advocacy of the war and for his bitterness in denouncing the South, and yet, when it came to letting his son go and do some of the fighting, his patriotism tapered down to a very fine point, and he was willing to send any number of substitutes if necessary. … He was a very fair sample of the kind of patriots I was in the habit of meeting, and I could not help contrasting the whole-souled enthusiasm of the Southern people with the disposition shown by so many prominent adherents of the Federal cause. … As it was all in the way of business, however, I and my partners endeavored to accommodate this old gentleman.

I knew of a couple of barbers in Brooklyn, well built and hearty young colored fellows, and I accordingly went to them and finally induced one of them to enlist as a substitute for the old man’s son. He came over to our office, and on being enrolled received five hundred dollars with a promise that the rest of his bounty would be handed to him by the officer on the island. Privately, however, he was told how he might make his escape by giving the sergeant at the gate fifty dollars [and] was warned not to return to the city or he would be arrested and tried for desertion. He acted according to instructions and deserted so easily that he was tempted to try it over again several times, and I believe he managed to pocket several bounties without being caught.

The emigrant depot at Castle Garden, however, was the great resort of the bounty and substitute brokers, some of whom actually had agents in Europe who deceived the poor people there with all kinds of promises and then shipped them to become the prey of scamps on this side of the Atlantic so soon as they set foot on our shores.

All manner of inducements to enlist were held out to the poor Irish and Germans at Castle Garden. They were surrounded by crowds of shouting and yelling brokers until they were fairly bewildered and found themselves enlisted before they well knew what was the matter with them. To those who hesitated, the most lavish promises were made — their wives and children were to be cared for; they were to receive one hundred and sixty acres of land; money in larger sums than they had ever beheld before was flaunted in their faces. One fellow would shout, “Here you are, sir, come this way. I’m your man. I have five hundred dollars for you.” Another would say, “Here is five hundred dollars and a land warrant,” and another, “I have twenty-one hundred dollars for you if you will come with me.”

The poor devils — deafened by the clamor around them, tempted by the magnificent inducements held out to them, and believing that they really had at last reached the Eldorado of which they had been dreaming — … were marched off to act as substitutes for able-bodied American citizens who had no fancy for fighting the rebels. Every broker’s office had its runners, just the same as the hotels, who were posted at the emigrant station whenever a vessel load of human beings came into port, and among them the poor foreigners, who came over here to better their fortunes, had but little chance to become anything but food for Confederate bullets.

On one occasion I saw a squad of Germans who had just landed and who seemed to be looking for someone. As a runner approached them, their head man, who acted as interpreter, drew from his pocket a letter and asked, “Are you Capt. P.?”

“I am here in his place,” replied the runner. “What can I do for you?”

The German hesitated a moment, and before the runner could fairly commence work with him. Capt. P. made his appearance from the purser’s office, where he had, doubtless, just been receiving intelligence of the arrival of his human cargo. The runner, seeing P. and knowing that his opportunity was now gone, went off to seek for his prey elsewhere, while the captain proceeded to take the party in charge with small ceremony.

“Is your name P.?” queried the leader.

“Yes, and you are …” and without more ado, he hurried them off to a den in Greenwich Street, where they were forthwith enlisted in the Federal service.

These people, like thousands of others, had been picked up in Europe by agents under all kinds of pretexts and promises and shipped for this side of the ocean just like so many cattle. Capt. P. considered himself as their owner, and he sold them to the government exactly as he would have sold cattle, if that sort of traffic had been as profitable as dealing in white human beings. …

Amerikan Rambler: Stonewall Jackson’s Arm

From June 2012: “Jackson had just helped Robert E. Lee win one of his greatest victories against a northern army that outnumbered the Rebels 2:1. Yet, it was a dearly bought victory.”

Stonewall Jackson was wounded at the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 by his own troops while scouting a mission in the dark. Anxious Confederate pickets thought he was a Yankee and opened fire on him and those riding with him.

via Stonewall Jackson’s Arm — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: Did 620,000 Men Die in the Civil War?

From Dec. 2011: “For generations, historians have assumed that the Civil War took 620,000 American lives (360,000 Union; 260,000 Confederate).”

Although I never doubted that the Civil War cost this country more than a half-million lives, I have always wondered where the 620,000 figure came from. Casualties are often difficult to pinpoint, especially on the Confederate side, and especially later in the war.

via Did 620,000 Men Die in the Civil War? — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Loreta’s Civil War: I am willing to risk it

Velazquez angles her way into a job as a spy for the Union. It’s a crucial part of her role in an astounding Confederate covert operation to turn the tide of the war.

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 38: Velazquez angles her way into a job as a spy for the Union. It’s a crucial part of her role in an astounding Confederate covert operation to turn the tide of the war.

******

On being introduced to Col. Baker by Gen. A., I asked him if he could not give me a position in his detective corps in some capacity, explaining as my reason for making a request that, having lost everything through the rebellion, I was in urgent need of obtaining some remunerative employment by which I could support myself. … I told pretty much the same story that I had to the Federal officers at Memphis: I was of Spanish extraction, and all of my friends and relatives were either in Spain or Cuba. My husband, who was a United States army officer … had died about the outbreak of the war, and I had been plundered and otherwise so badly treated by the rebels that I had been compelled to come North, where I had resided for a considerable period, but without being able to do much in the way of supporting myself. I was well acquainted throughout the South, having traveled a great deal … and I did not doubt but that I possessed much information that would be of value to the government and believed that I could obtain more. …

Baker asked me a good many questions — not particularly skillful ones it seemed to me — about myself, my family, how long I had been at the North, what induced me to take up with the idea of joining the secret service corps, what employment I had hitherto been engaged in, and a variety of other matters. To his interrogatories I replied promptly and with seeming frankness, and I left his presence tolerably confident that he believed all I had told him. … [But] was cautious — he would see about it, he would talk further with me on the subject, he did not know that he had anything he could give me to do just at present, but he might have need of me shortly, and would let me know when he wanted me — and all that sort of thing. …

This interview with Col. Baker convinced me that he was the man to begin with if I wanted to get admission behind the scenes at Washington and if I wanted to execute any really masterly coup at the North in behalf of the Confederacy. As a member of his corps, I would not only be able to do many things that would be impossible otherwise. … As for Baker himself, I made up my mind that he was an individual wise in his own esteem, but with no comprehensive ideas whom it would not be difficult to fool to the top of his bent. All that it would be necessary for me to do, in case he employed me, would be the performance of some real or apparently real services for him to secure his fullest confidence, while at the same time I could carry on my real work to the very best advantage.

Having waited about Washington for a week or two without hearing anything from Col. Baker … I decided to return to New York as I thought, from a hint given me in a letter from my brother, that I might be able to commence operations there. I resolved, however, to cultivate Baker’s acquaintance at the earliest opportunity but thought that perhaps it would be best not to trouble him again until I had some definite scheme to propose.

When I reached New York and saw my brother, he was expecting every day to be exchanged, and he told me that he had been visited by several Confederate agents who wanted him to try and carry some documents through when he went South. He was afraid, however, to attempt anything of this kind, and, besides, did not think that it would be honorable under the circumstances. Without saying anything about my plans to him, therefore, I went and saw the agents in question, told them who I was, referred them to people who knew me in the West, and in a general way disclosed to them my schemes for aiding the Confederacy. I did not, however, tell them about my interview with Col. Baker or that I had the intention of becoming an employee of his. This, I thought, was a matter I had best keep to myself for the present for fear of accident.

These agents were exceedingly glad to see me and had several jobs of work cut out which they were anxious that I should attend to. They did not strike me as being very important, but I thought that they would do to begin with and that they would aid me in becoming acquainted with the Confederate working force in the North. I, therefore, promised to give them my aid so soon as my brother should leave for the South.

They then evinced a great eagerness to have me persuade my brother to carry some dispatches through but I said that it would be useless to ask him, and that the most I could expect of him was that he would take a verbal message from myself to the officials who knew me in Richmond to the effect that I was at the North, endeavoring to aid the Confederate cause by every means in my power, and filled with zeal to do whatever was to be done. It required considerable persuasion to induce my brother to do even this much, but finally, to my great satisfaction, he consented.

Shortly after this my brother went South on a cartel of exchange, and in due time I received information that my message had been delivered and that I was recognized as a Confederate secret service agent.

In the meanwhile I made a large number of acquaintances among the adherents of both the Federal and Confederate governments and did a great deal of work of one kind or another. None of my performances, however, for several months were of sufficient importance to warrant special mention in these pages, and their chief value to me was that they kept me employed and taught me what kind of work there was to do and how to do it. During this time, I visited Washington frequently and always made it a point to see Col. Baker, to whom I furnished a number of bits of information, the majority of which were of no particular value to him, although several were of real importance and aided him materially in his effort to break up certain fraudulent practices and to bring the rogues to justice.

By this means I retained his favor and succeeded in gaining his confidence to a degree that the reader will probably think rather astonishing, considering my antecedents and the kind of work that I was engaged in sub rosa. It should be borne in mind, however, that Baker did not know and could not know anything of my previous history, that I had been highly recommended to him, and that I was constantly proving useful to him. …

My grand opportunity at length did arrive, and the cunning secret service chief fell into the trap laid for him as innocently and unsuspectingly as if he had never heard of such a thing as a spy in his life. The colonel, as I have before remarked, was not a bad sort of a fellow in his way, and as I had a sincere regard for him, I am sorry he is not alive now that he might be able to read this narrative and so learn how completely he was taken in, and by a woman, too. He was a smart man but not smart enough for all occasions. …

[My] magnificent scheme was on foot during the summer and fall of 1864, for making an attack upon the enemy in the rear, which, if it had been carried out with skill and determination might have given a very different ending to the war. As it was, the very inefficient attempt that was made created an excitement that almost amounted to a panic and seemed to show how effective a really well-directed blow … would have been. … A large extent of country was to be operated upon, [and] several distinct movements of equal importance were to be carried on at the same time, the failure of any one of which would imperil everything, and a neutral soil was to be the base of operations.

That a considerable number of persons should be informed of the essential points of the proposed campaign could not be avoided, and, of course, each person admitted to the secret diminished the chances of it being kept. … Besides all this, two great difficulties in the way of success existed. There was no thoroughness of organization … and there was no recognized leader whose authority was admitted by all and who had the direction of all the movements. …

We were utterly unable to tell how much we could count on in the way of active assistance from the Southern sympathizers, or “Copperheads,” as they were called. … These people were really traitors both to the South and the North, and in the long run they did the cause of the Confederacy far more harm than they did it good. They professed to believe that the South was right, and yet they were not willing to take up arms for her. … They annoyed the government by their captious criticisms of all its actions, by opposing the prosecution of the war in every way that they could with safety to themselves, and by loud expressions of Southern sympathy. All they accomplished, however, was a prolongation of the war and the disfranchisement of nearly the entire white population of the South after the war was ended, for to them — more than to the Southerners themselves — was due the imposition of the hard terms which were the price of peace. To the “Copperheads,” therefore, as a class, the South owe little or nothing, and, according to my view, they were the kind of friends that people in difficulties had best be without.

The great scheme to which I have alluded was no less than an attack upon the country bordering upon the Great Lakes; the release of the Confederate prisoners confined at Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie, near Sandusky, Ohio, and at other localities; their organization into an army, which was to engage in the work of devastating the country, burning the cities and towns, seizing upon forts, arsenals, depots, and manufactories of munitions of war, for the purpose of holding them … or of destroying them; and … of creating such a diversion in [the Union] rear as would necessitate the withdrawal of a large [Federal] force from the front.

It was expected … that the Federal forces would be placed between two fires and that the commanders of the Confederate armies in the South and in the North would be able between them to crush the enemy and dictate terms of peace, or at least give a new phase to the war by transferring it from the impoverished and desolated South to the rich, prosperous, and fertile North. …

While the plans for the proposed grand attack in the rear was maturing, I was asked to attempt a trip to Richmond and consented without hesitation. I was to consult with and receive final instructions from the Richmond authorities with regard to the proposed raid on the lakeshores and was also to attend to a variety of commercial and other matters, and especially to obtain letters and dispatches for Canada.

Now was my time to make use of Col. Baker, and I accordingly resolved to see what I could do with him without more delay. Having received my papers and instructions, therefore, I went to Washington and called on the colonel, who received me … and asked what he could do for me, for he saw … that I had some definite project on hand and began to believe that I really meant serious business.

In order to understand the situation from Col. Baker’s point of view, it may be necessary to state that more than once rumors that attempts to liberate the Confederate prisoners were to be made had been in circulation and that Baker, as I knew, was exceedingly anxious to effect the arrest of some of the more active of the Confederate agents engaged in this and similar schemes.

I told him, therefore, that I had obtained information to the effect that a noted Confederate spy had been captured and was now in one of the prisons, from whence he could doubtless find means to communicate with Confederates outside. My proposition was that I should go to Richmond, where, by passing myself off as a Confederate among people with whom I was acquainted, I would not only … succeed in finding out exactly who this man was and where he was, but what he and his confederates were trying to do. I suggested, also, that I could most likely pick up other information of sufficient value to pay for whatever the trip would cost the government.

When I had explained what I proposed to do, Baker said, “I am afraid if you attempt to run through the lines the Rebs will capture you. [If] they do, they will use you rough.”

I replied, “I am not afraid to take the risk if you will only give me the means of making the trip and attend to getting me through the Federal lines.”

“It will be a troublesome thing to get you through our lines,” said Baker, “for it don’t do to let everybody know what is going on when a bit of business like this is on hand, and after you pass our lines you will have to get through those of the rebels, and that you will find no easy job, I can tell you, for they are getting more and more suspicious and particular every day.”

“Oh, as for that,” said I, “I can … go to Havana, where my relatives are living, and try and run through from there. I believe, however, that I can get through from here if I make the right kind of an effort — at any rate, I would like to make the attempt, if only to show you what I am capable of.”

The colonel laughed at my enthusiasm and said, “Well, you are a plucky little woman, and as you seem to be so anxious to spy out what the Rebs are doing, I have half a notion to give you a chance. You must not blame me, however, if you get caught, and they take a notion to hang you, for, you know, that is a way they have of dealing with people who engage in this sort of business, and your sex won’t save you.”

“Oh,” said I, “I don’t think that my neck was ever made to be fitted in a noose, and I am willing to risk it.”

[H]e gave me a variety of instructions about how to proceed and about the particular kind of information I was to endeavor to obtain. I saw very plainly that he did not entirely trust me, or, rather, that he was afraid to trust me too much, but I attributed his lack of confidence in me to the fact that I was as yet untried and consequently might be led by my enthusiasm into underrating the difficulties of the task I was undertaking rather than to any doubt in his mind with regard to my fidelity. I resolved, therefore, to give him such proofs of my abilities as well as of my fidelity as would insure me his entire confidence in the future.

It having been determined that I should make the trip, Baker told me to get ready for my journey immediately, and, in the mean time, he could procure me the necessary passes to enable me to get through the Federal lines, and money to meet my expenses.

When we next met, he gave me five thousand dollars in bogus Confederate bills and one hundred and fifty dollars in greenbacks, which he said ought to be enough to see me through all right. I suggested that if the Confederates caught me passing bogus currency, they would be apt to deal harder with me than they would simply as a spy. Baker laughed at this and said that that was one of the risks I must run but that he did not think there was any danger, as these bogus notes passed more readily in the Confederacy than the genuine ones did, which he could only account for on the supposition that the Confederacy was a bogus government. He seemed to think that this was rather a good joke, although I was not able to see exactly where the laugh came in, and am afraid that I must have struggled hard with the faint smile that I attempted.

Loreta’s Civil War: Hypocrites and traitors

As she prepares a new espionage operation in the heart of Washington D.C., Velazquez identifies her archenemy, Col. Baker, and pauses to study his character and the danger he may pose to her.

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 37: As she prepares a new espionage operation in the heart of Washington D.C., Velazquez identifies her archenemy, Col. Baker, and pauses to study his character and the danger he may pose to her.

******

At the time of my arrival at the North the anti-war party was concentrating its strength for the approaching presidential campaign, and many men who were prominent in it were decidedly confident that the next election would place a president in the White House whose views about the proper policy to be pursued towards the South would be radically different from those of Mr. Lincoln. If an anti-war president could be elected … a speedy wind-up of the war on terms satisfactory to the Confederates would almost certainly follow his inauguration.

This being the situation, it was as much for the interest of the Richmond government that the political dissensions existing within the Federal lines should be kept alive and the success of the anti-war party promoted by every possible means as it was to win victories on the battlefield. Indeed, it was much more important, for victories cost men and treasure which the Confederacy could not well spare, and even more was to be gained by fighting the enemy on his own ground with the ballot than there was by shooting him on Confederate soil with the bullet.

It was an important part of the duty of the Confederate agents at the North to aid by every possible means the success of the anti-war party, and to this end they labored incessantly and effectively in various ways, but outside of the field of politics, there was an immense amount of highly important work being done, the like of which my brief experiences in New Orleans had barely given me a hint of. …

Many officials in the government employ were either secret service agents of the Confederacy or were in the pay of such. There was not a public building at Washington that did not contain a person or persons who was not only willing but eager to do much more than furnish information to the commanders of the Confederate armies and to the Richmond authorities, as far as it was possible to do so without placing themselves in peril. In all of the large cities were men and women, many of them in government employ, who were in constant communication with the Confederate agents, and in all of them were merchants who were rapidly growing wealthy by sending goods of all kinds, including arms and ammunition, to the South, either by having them smuggled through the lines or by shipping them to some neutral port for the purpose of having them transferred to blockade-runners.

Some of these merchants made no pretensions but sold to whoever would buy, having the avowed intention of making all the money they could by every safe means. They simply asked no questions, but took their cash and shipped according to order. Others were blockade-runners, pure and simple, and their only anxiety was to keep their operations concealed from the government detectives.

Millions of dollars’ worth of goods, however, were sold for the Southern market by men who were loud in their protestations of loyalty to the Federal government, who bitterly denounced the South in public and in private, who contributed largely to aid in carrying on the war, and who enjoyed in the fullest manner the confidence of the government, and of those of their fellow-citizens who honestly believed that the war was a just one.

I will not say that all of these men were hypocrites and traitors, for I am confident that very many of them were not. Some, however — and those not the least influential and wealthy — had different opinions about things in general, and the war, in particular, in public and in the social circles which they frequented, and in their counting-rooms, when certain people called on them for the purpose of buying goods. They were more than anxious to sell to any one who would buy, but in case the buyer was known to be, or was suspected of being, a Confederate agent, the question of the moment was to sell without being found out. Of course, some of them were detected occasionally, but there was generally a way to be found for dealing with these gentlemen with tender consciences and highly loyal reputations, by which their goods could be purchased for cash and their reputations spared at the same time.

Another element in the situation was the intense opposition to the conscription which was going on for the purpose of recruiting the armies — the supply of volunteers having long since failed. This opposition, before my arrival at the North, had culminated in bloody riots in New York and several other places which caused the greatest alarm because they indicated in a very positive manner that there was a very large disaffected class in the population, which, if excited to take up arms, might be able to start anew and formidable rebellion within the Federal lines. Many of those, too, who professed to favor the war were opposed to the conscription, that is, they were opposed to being conscripted themselves, although they were willing enough that other people should go and do their fighting for them.

The most obnoxious feature of the draft, however, had been in a measure overcome — the different states, cities, and towns offering liberal bounties for men to enlist. In this manner most of the quotas were filled, but the payment of bounties — a demoralizing proceeding under any circumstances — opened the way for the most shameless and gigantic frauds. The story of the bounty jumping during the last two years of the war is not one that any patriotic American citizen can read with complacency or satisfaction, and for pure infamy I think that it surpasses anything that the future historian of the war will be compelled to put on record.

I had a good deal to do with these bounty-jumping frauds and with a number of other matters very nearly as bad … and it may be thought that I was as culpable as those whom I now denounce. To those who are only willing to consider such a subject as this from one point of view, I have simply nothing to say. But fair-minded persons, North and South, will, however, freely admit that my actions as a secret agent of the Confederate government are not to be put in comparison with those of the dealers in human flesh and blood, the counterfeiters, and others who did what they did solely from motives of gain. At any rate, acting as I was under orders from the only government the authority of which I acknowledged, and animated only by an ardent desire to advance the interests of the cause which I had espoused, I felt that I was justified in embarrassing the enemy by any means in my power, and that the kind of warfare which I carried on in the rear of the Federal armies was just as legitimate as that which was carried on face to face with them in the field. …

It took me some little time, of course, to master the entire situation, but a very brief residence at the North enabled me to see that there was a vast amount of most important and valuable work to be done within the Federal lines, and that it was exactly the kind of work that I could do with the very best effect. I arranged my plans, therefore, for a series of operations in behalf of the Confederate cause, and, at the earliest practicable moment, placed myself in communication with the Richmond authorities and with the various secret service agents in the Northern States and in Canada, and also with Federal officials of various kinds with whom I desired to establish confidential relations. …

[In] going to Washington I had no very definite idea of what I would do, or, indeed, what I could do. I was now about to work under different auspices from any under which I had hitherto been placed, and it was necessary for me to look around a bit and study the situation. In a general sort of way I hoped to get access to the different departments so that I would be able to find out what was going on and to place myself in communication with persons who would be able to give me such information as I desired. It was also important that I should make the acquaintance of and be on friendly terms with officers of the army and others who would have the power to help me in case I wanted to run through the lines, or in event of my getting into any trouble through meddling with affairs that the government might not desire an irresponsible outsider like myself to know too much about.

The visit I had paid to the prison where my brother was confined made me think deeply about the privations and sufferings endured by the brave Southern boys captured on a hundred battlefields and now in the hands of the Federal authorities. The more I thought of them the more I was moved by an intense desire to do something to secure their release, and more than one crude suggestion of a plan for the accomplishment of so desirable an end floated through my mind. …

I hoped, on going to Washington, to find there someone with whom I was acquainted and through whom I might fall in with those who could aid me in the execution of my designs [or] meet some of my military friends of the good old days before the war, and I was not long in learning that Gen. A and Capt. B were both on duty in or near Washington. I will remark here that I designate these gentlemen by the two first letters of the alphabet because I desire to avoid giving any clue to their real names. They were both men of unimpeachable honor, and, had they suspected in the least what my designs really were, I believe that they would immediately have procured my arrest, in spite of any private friendship they might have had for me. I made use of them for the furtherance of my plans in the interest of the Confederacy, but they neither of them, on any occasion, wittingly gave me any information that they should not have given. On the contrary, they declined to be of any assistance to me in visiting the departments or in going to the front, on the plea that the stringent rules in force would not permit them to do so. … [T]he chief aid which they extended was in introducing me to people whom I could use and in maintaining intimate and friendly personal relations with me by which I was enabled to gain a standing in certain quarters without trouble.

The general, when I introduced myself to him, appeared to be very glad to see me and asked me innumerable questions about myself, my friends, and my adventures since we last had seen each other. I had a plausible story ready to tell him, in which fact and fiction were mingled with some degree of skill, and expressed myself with considerable bitterness concerning the rebels, wishing that I could do something to aid in securing a speedy termination of the war by their defeat. After a very pleasant intercourse with the general, I parted from him with a request that he would do me the honor to call on me at the hotel, which he promised to do.

The next day I met Capt. B in the street and we exchanged greetings. He, too, promised to call upon me. This promise he kept, and I had quite a long talk with him on general topics, preferring to see more of him before attempting to make him useful.

I saw both the general and the captain several times after that, and in the course of conversation with one of them, I forget which, he happened to say something about Col. Baker which excited my interest and induced me to make particular inquiry concerning him. I had never heard of this individual before, but I now speedily learned that he was the chief government detective officer and that he was uncommonly expert in hunting down rebel spies and in putting a stop to their performances. I immediately concluded that Col. Baker was a personage whom it was eminently desirable that I should become acquainted with at the earliest possible moment and that it would be much more advantageous for me to make his acquaintance through the introduction of one of my military friends than through finding him on my track just when I had some enterprise for the benefit of the Confederacy in process of consummation.

Whichever of the two it was that I had my original conversation with about Baker, it was the general who made me acquainted with him and who spoke of me in such a manner as to put me in the good graces of this terrible man at the start.

Col. Lafayette C. Baker occupied at Washington a somewhat similar position to that held by Gen. Winder at Richmond, although he scarcely had the large powers and extensive authority of the chief of the Confederate secret service department. In fact, Col. Baker was a detective officer more than anything else, and he had comparatively little to do with military matters. The chief employment of himself and his assistants was to hunt down offenders of all kinds, and he was much more successful in this than he was in procuring information for the use of the war department, although he prided himself considerably on his own performances as a spy and upon several not unsuccessful secret service expeditions into the Confederacy that had been made by his directions. …

I confess that I came into the presence of so formidable an individual with some degree of trepidation but I very soon learned to regard him as not half so ferocious as he looked and as very far from being as difficult and dangerous a personage to deal with as he was made out to be. …

Baker was a tolerably fair-looking man, after a certain fashion. He was a returned Californian, having resided in San Francisco for a number of years before the war, and having been a member of the famous vigilance committee which made such short work with the rogues of that city in 1856. He had the bronzed face and the wiry frame of a western pioneer, and his manners were marked by a good deal of far-western brusqueness. His hair was dark and thick, and he wore a full and rather heavy beard but his eyes were the most expressive feature of his face. These were a cold gray, and they had a peculiarly sharp and piercing expression, especially when he was talking on business. He also had a particularly sharp and abrupt manner of speaking at times, and more than once, when I have had reason to think that he might have knowledge of some of my transactions as a Confederate secret service agent, I have felt cold creeps all over me as he looked me straight in the eyes and spoke in that cutting tone of voice he was in the habit of using on occasions.

Col. Baker was, in my opinion, a first-rate detective officer and nothing more, for something more is necessary in the chief of a secret service department in time of war than to be a good hand at hunting down offenders. Give him a definite object to go for, and a very slight clue, and he would … accomplish a creditable piece of work. He had, however, very little skill in starting enterprises for himself. Gen. Winder, in his place, would have made Washington a much more uncomfortable residence for Confederate spies and agents than it was during the war, and the fact that I was able to play double with the colonel … and to carry on … a number of important operations on behalf of the Confederacy, so to speak, under his very nose, was not very creditable to him. …

Colonel Baker, however, was not without his good qualities, even if he was far from being as great a personage as he thought he was. He was stern and severe, but he was a kinder man at heart than Gen. Winder, although he lacked the intellectual attainments of the Confederate officer. With regard to the relative honesty of the two, it is perhaps as well that I should express no opinion.

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.

Loreta’s Civil War: I had reason to congratulate myself

Her plot to inject paranoia into Federal military plans seems to work out better than she expected. But then she learns that Federal troops captured her brother and sent him to a Northern prison. She determines to head North to help him.

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 35: Her plot to inject paranoia into Federal military plans seems to work out better than she expected. But then she learns that Federal troops captured her brother and sent him to a Northern prison. She determines to head North to help him.

******

The provost marshal accordingly furnished me with a sheet of paper, and I sat down at his desk and scribbled off a brief note to the general, telling him enough about the source from which I had obtained the dispatch to induce him to believe in its genuineness, and [I] intimated that if he wanted to know more he could send for me. This note and the dispatch I enclosed in the same envelope and handed it to the provost marshal, with a request that it might be given to the general immediately. I fully expected that when Gen. Washburn received these enclosures he would have me brought before him for … interrogation [but I] was much surprised when he did nothing of the kind. …

To the hotel I accordingly went, under the escort of my friend the lieutenant and registered myself as Mrs. Fowler, not at all grieved at not having seen the general, and quite satisfied not to see him in the future if he did not wish to see me, for I considered the material part of my errand now practically accomplished. …

[A] servant appeared with a very nice supper. This I ate with immense relish, for I was desperately hungry, at the same time making certain inquiries of the servant for the purpose of enabling me to judge whether it would be safe or prudent to attempt to communicate that night with the spy for whom I had the dispatch. … It was now nearly dark, and I decided that no better time for meeting the spy could be found. I accordingly asked the servant to try and borrow for me some rather more presentable articles of attire than those I had on, as I desired to go out for the purpose of making a few purchases and was really ashamed to go into the streets dressed as I was. …

The servant, whose zeal on my behalf was stimulated by a five-dollar greenback, was not long in appearing with a reasonably decent-looking dress, bonnet, and shawl. I then attired myself with as much speed as I could command, and after having the dust and dirt brushed off my shoes, was ready to start. It is scarcely necessary to say that I was well acquainted with Memphis and consequently knew exactly how to go and where to go in search of my man. Fortunately for me, the place was not a very great way from the hotel, and persuading the accommodating servant to show me out the back door … I was not long in reaching it.

I knocked at the door, and the very man I was looking for came to let me in. I had never seen him before, but I knew him immediately by the description I had of him. Giving him the password I was admitted, and he eagerly inquired what I had for him. I handed him the dispatch … [and] gave him the verbal instructions which Lt. Shorter had ordered me to convey to him. …. He, however, said that he thought that a movement of the Federal troops was in contemplation and that he would like to find out exactly what it was before starting, and as I seemed to be on good terms at headquarters, he urged that I should endeavor to obtain the information for him. I consented to try what I could do, while he promised not to delay his departure longer than two days, at the farthest. …

On my way back to the hotel, the prudence of my change of dress was sufficiently demonstrated, for on turning a corner I nearly ran against my friend the lieutenant and another officer, who were walking slowly along the street. My heart leaped into my mouth when I saw who it was, but as there was no retreat, I trusted to the darkness and my change of costume and glided by them as swiftly and quietly as I could and, fortunately, was able to gain my room without discovery.

My errand was now accomplished, and in as satisfactory a manner as could be desired, and the only apprehension I had was lest the spy to whom I had given the dispatch … might not succeed in getting off in safety. If he should be arrested and the document found on him, the finger of suspicion would not unlikely point to me as the original bearer of it. I thought, however, that he was probably well able to take care of himself, and being too much of a veteran to allow myself to be worried about possibilities that might never come to pass, I went to bed feeling that the responsibility of the business was well off my shoulders, and was soon in happy obliviousness of cares of every kind.

The next morning the lieutenant made his appearance bright and early, and said that he had raised a hundred dollars for me by representing me as a Union woman who was flying from persecution in the Confederacy, and who had brought important information into the lines. This money I regarded as lawful spoils of war and therefore had no hesitation in accepting it. Expressing my gratitude to my friend for his zeal in my behalf, I said that he would place me under still further obligations if he would aid me in obtaining some better clothing than that I had on. He expressed the greatest desire to oblige me, and taking half of the money, he invested a good portion of it in a stylish bonnet, a handsome piece of dress goods, and a pair of shoes. He also presented me with a number of little articles, which I was given to understand were meant for testimonials of his individual regard.

During the day I was called upon by several officers and others, and one lady — an officer’s wife — loaned me a dress to wear until mine should be finished. Taking my piece of goods to the dressmaker’s, I stated that I was in a great hurry, and she accordingly promised to have it finished by the next evening. Thus, I was in a short time fitted out in good style. … My new friends were extremely anxious to know exactly what was going on within the rebel lines and asked me all sorts of questions. I endeavored to gratify their curiosity as well as I could without committing myself too much, and in return made an effort to find out what I was so desirous of knowing about the contemplated movement of the Federal troops.

I did not have a great deal of trouble in learning very nearly everything that was to be learned about the number and disposition of the [Federal] troops along the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. … This information I promptly communicated to my [Confederate] confidant. … The concentration of the Federal force at Colliersville, I had every reason to believe, was induced by the dispatch I delivered to Gen. Washburn. At any rate, it had the effect of leaving a gap in the Federal line beyond Grand Junction for [Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford] Forrest to step through; and, when in a day or two, intelligence was received that he was on a grand raid through western Tennessee, I knew that the plot in which I had been engaged had succeeded in the best manner.

I made a great to-do when the news of Forrest’s raid was received and pretended to be frightened lest an attack should be made on Memphis and the rebels should capture me. The fact is that Forrest, before he got through, did come very near the city, and some of my new acquaintances were just as much frightened in reality as I pretended to be. He, however, did not make any demonstration in the city, but after a brilliant campaign of several weeks slipped by the Federals again, carrying back with him into Mississippi sufficient cattle and other booty to amply repay him for his trouble.

I thought that I had reason to congratulate myself upon the success of the enterprise in which I had been engaged. Taking it altogether, it was as well planned and as well executed a performance as any I ever attempted during the whole of my career in the Confederate service.

My friend the lieutenant, whose regard for me really increased with each succeeding interview, was obliged to return to his camp after having assisted me in obtaining a new outfit. In a day or two, however, he returned, having obtained a ten days’ leave of absence, and he began to increase the zealousness of his attentions. On his return to Memphis he brought with him a fine horse, which he claimed to have captured, and said that it should be reserved for my use, if I would accept of it, so long as I remained in the city. I was not at all averse to having a good time, although I was beginning to wonder how I was ever to get back to my starting-place again, and I rode out [several] times with the lieutenant and accepted his escort on all occasions that he offered it.

It was while attending church on the Sunday following the arrival on leave of this rather overattentive young gentleman that something occurred which caused a very material alteration in my plans, which induced me to abandon my design to return to Mobile, and which resulted in my entering upon an entirely new field of operations. I, of course, at the time, had no idea whatever how things were going to turn out, but if all had been arranged beforehand they could not have turned out more in accordance with my desires.

During the service I noticed in the congregation a Confederate officer in citizen’s clothes, whom I knew by sight, and who belonged to my brother’s command. He did not know me, especially as a woman, although he had seen me a number of times attired in the uniform of a Confederate officer. I was most desirous of communicating with him for the purpose of inquiring about my brother, of whom I had received no intelligence whatever for a number of months. So, after the service was over, I watched him as he left the church, and seeing him turn the corner, said to the lieutenant, “Let us take a walk down this street.” Keeping him in sight, I saw him turn down towards the Hardwick House and consequently suggested to the lieutenant that it would perhaps be as well to return to the hotel instead of indulging in a promenade. My escort thought that I was disposed to be whimsical but I did not bother myself very greatly about his opinion of me one way or the other, being now only intent upon devising some means of obtaining an interview with the disguised Confederate.

On reaching the hotel I found that the man I was after had disappeared, and I was considerably perplexed to know what course to pursue. I was afraid to send him my card for fear of compromising him in some way, as I thought it highly probable that he was stopping at the hotel under an assumed name. I was bent on securing an opportunity to converse with him, however, and hoped to be able to meet him and to attract his attention before evening, but failing in this, I was resolved to find out what I could about him from some of the servants and to send him a note requesting a private interview, giving him a sufficient hint as to who I was to induce him to think that he would be in no danger. Fortunately, however, I was not compelled to resort to any such expedient as this, for, on going into dinner at five o’clock with the lieutenant, I saw him at one of the tables, having apparently just sat down.

The lieutenant was conducting me to the seat which we usually occupied, but I said, as if seized with a sudden freak for a change of locality, “Suppose we go over to this table today. I think we will find it pleasanter,” and, before my Federal friend had time to object, I had walked him across the room and seated myself beside the Confederate, indicating for the lieutenant to take the seat on the other side of me. When the waiter came up to get our orders for dinner, I asked him to bring me a couple of cards.

All this time I took not the slightest notice of the Confederate but chatted with the lieutenant in the liveliest and most animated manner possible, my object being to so engage his attention that he would not think of observing what I was doing for the purpose of letting the gentleman on the other side of me know that I was interested in him.

On one of the cards I wrote some nonsense, which I sent by the waiter, after having shown it to the lieutenant, to another officer whom I saw on the opposite side of the room. On the other one I wrote, “Meet me at my room at half past ten o’clock this evening, unobserved. Important.” This I made a pretense of slipping in my pocket, but dropped it on the floor instead, touching the Confederate officer as I did so, and half-turning towards him in such a manner that he could readily understand that I was endeavoring to attract his attention. While this was going on, the lieutenant was watching to see what would be the effect of the jesting remark I had written on the first card on the gentleman across the room to whom I had sent it. He laughed and nodded, and the lieutenant and I did the same — all of us, apparently, being satisfied that there was a capital joke in progress, which indeed there was, but not exactly the kind of one they imagined.

The Confederate officer, when he looked down and saw the card on the floor, quickly dropped his napkin on it, and stooped to pick it up. He found an opportunity to read my message before he left the table but I took no further notice of him whatever, until just as he was about to retire, when I turned slightly and, looking him full in the face, gave him a meaning glance so that he could understand that there was no mistake about the matter.

At the hour named on the card the Confederate officer came to my room, evidently very much perplexed, and uncertain what the end of the adventure would be. I hastened to apologize for the liberty I had taken and to place him at his ease by explaining matters.

I said, “You will pardon me, sir, but this is Lieutenant B. of Arkansas, is it not?”

“Yes, madam, that is my name,” he replied.

“You need be under no apprehension, sir. I know you, although you do not know me. I am the sister of Captain […], and I am exceedingly anxious to learn where he is and how he is, for I have not been able to hear from him for a very long time.”

The announcement that I was the sister of Captain […] was evidently an immense relief to Lieutenant B., whose face brightened up immediately. He stated that he was very much pleased to meet me, but that he was sorry to have to tell me that my brother had been captured by the Federals about four months before, and was now a prisoner at Camp Chase.

This was unpleasant news, and it determined me to give up the idea of returning to Mobile but to go North and visit my brother for the purpose of assisting him in any way possible. From what I had learned during my late stay in Memphis, too, I was very well convinced that, as a secret service agent, I would be able to operate with far more effect at the North than I would if I remained in this region of country, which was an additional inducement for me to travel northward, rather than to essay the hazardous experiment of regaining the Confederate lines without having some definite object in view.

Loreta’s Civil War: An awkward, lubberly manner

Velazquez manipulates a young lieutenant to bring her closer to her goal: a meeting with a Union general.

ks39

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 34: Velazquez manipulates a young lieutenant to bring her closer to her goal: a meeting with a Union general.

******

As I stated before, my disguise, as I had arranged it with Lt. Shorter, was that of a poor countrywoman, and the story I was to tell was that I was a widow and was flying for protection to the Federal lines. Having disposed of the pistol, I sat down for a few minutes to think over the situation and to decide upon the best method of procedure with the first Federal soldier I met. Experience had taught me, however, that no settled plan … amounts to much, so far as the details are concerned, and that it is necessary to be governed by circumstances. I resolved, therefore, to regulate my conduct and conversation according to the character and behavior of those I chanced to meet. And so, having first ascertained that my papers were all right, I mounted my pony again and started in the direction where I supposed I would find the Federal camp.

Letting my pony take his own gait — and he was not inclined to make his pace any more rapid than there was necessity for — I traveled for a couple of miles before I saw any one. At length a picket, who had evidently been watching me for some time, stepped out of the woods into the road, and when I came up to him, he halted me and asked where I was from and where I was going.

“Good morning, sir,” I said, in an innocent, unsophisticated sort of way. “Are you commanding this outpost?”

“No,” he replied. “What do you want?”

“Well, sir, I wish you would tell the captain I want to see him. …”

The soldier then called to his officer, and in a few moments up stepped a good-looking young lieutenant, whose blouse was badly out at the elbows, and whose clothing generally bore marks of very hard service. Although his attire was not of the most elegant description, he was a gentleman, and, as he approached me, he tipped his hat, and said, with a pleasant smile, “Good morning, madam. What is it you wish?”

“Well, captain,” said I, “I want to go to Memphis, to see Gen. Washburn. I have some papers here for him.”

This made him start a little, and he began to suspect that he had a matter of serious business on hand, and, evidently with a different interest in me from what he had felt before, he inquired, with a rather severe and serious air, “Where are you from, madam?”

“I am from Holly Springs. A man there gave me these papers and told me that if I would get them through he would pay me a hundred dollars.”

“What kind of looking man was he, and where did he go after he left you?”

“I mustn’t tell you that, sir. The man said not to tell anything about him, except to the one these papers are for, and he would understand all about it.”

“Well, madam, you will have to go with me to headquarters. When we get there I will see what can be done for you.”

His relief came … and off we started for headquarters. As I had informed my new-made friend that I was hungry, having ridden for a considerable distance since very early in the morning, he stopped with me at a white house near the road, … went in with me, and asked the woman … to give me some breakfast. Quite a comfortable meal was soon in readiness, and while I was eating, the lieutenant busied himself in trying to ascertain something about the number and position of the Confederate troops. I told him that there seemed to be a large force of them near Holly Springs, but beyond that statement — which was, I believe, far from being the truth — I am afraid he did not find me a very satisfactory witness. I am sure that such information as I did give him was not likely to be of very great use.

After I had finished my breakfast, the lieutenant took me to Moscow, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and here, for the first time, I was subjected to very serious annoyance and first began to appreciate the fact that I was engaged in a particularly risky undertaking. The soldiers, seeing me coming into the town mounted on a ragged little pony, and under the escort of an officer, jumped at the conclusion that I was a spy and commenced to gather round me in crowds. …

Finally we reached the building occupied by the colonel in command, and I was ushered by that official into a private room, in the rear of the one used as an office. The lieutenant accompanied me and related the manner of my coming to the picket station, and the story which I had told him.

The colonel then proceeded to cross-question me, being apparently desirous of finding out whether I was possessed of any information worth his knowing, as well as whether I was exactly what I professed to be. I flattered myself that I played my part tolerably well. I knew very little about the movements of the Confederates, or their number, but, under the process of rigid cross-questioning to which I was subjected, I said just enough to stimulate curiosity, pretending that what I was telling was what I had picked up merely incidentally, and that, as I took no interest in the fighting that was going on, except to desire to get as far away from it as possible, I really knew scarcely anything, except from rumor.

As for myself, I stuck close to one simple story. I was a poor widow woman whose husband had died about the time of the breaking out of the war. I was for the Union and had been badly treated by the rebels, who had robbed me of nearly everything, and I had been anxious to get away for some time with a little money I had collected and had finally got tired of waiting for the Federal troops to come down my way and had resolved to try and get through the lines … that a man had promised I should be paid a hundred dollars if I would carry a dispatch to Gen. Washburn …

The colonel tried to make me vary this story and he several times pretended that I had contradicted myself. He was tolerably smart at a cross-examination, but not by any means smart enough for the subject he had to deal with on this occasion. I had the most innocent air in the world about me and pretended half the time that I was so stupid that I could not understand what his interrogatories meant, and, instead of answering them, would go off into a long story about my troubles, and the hardships I had suffered, and the bad treatment I had received. The colonel then tried to induce me to give him the dispatch, saying that he would pay me the hundred dollars and would forward it to Gen. Washburn. This I refused to do, as I had promised not to let anybody but the general have it, if I could help it. Neither would I tell who it was that had entrusted me with the dispatch. …

When we reached the depot, the colonel procured me a ticket and gave me five dollars, and I overheard him say in an undertone to the lieutenant, “You get in the rear car and keep an eye on her movements. I think that she is all right, but it would be just as well to watch her.”

The lieutenant said, “There’s no doubt in my mind but she is all right.”

This little conversation made me smile to myself and served to convince me that I would have no trouble in getting along nicely with my friend the lieutenant.

The colonel moved off, and the lieutenant and I stepped aboard the train. … The lieutenant was overwhelmingly polite, and after having got me fixed comfortably in my seat, he said, in a low tone, “I may go up with you as far as my camp, if I can get anyone to hold my horse.”

I thought that this would be a good chance to improve my acquaintance with him and perhaps do something for the furtherance of my plans, so I said, “I would be so glad if you would. I would so much like to have company.” And I smiled on him as sweetly as I was able to impress him with the idea that I profoundly appreciated his courtesy. The young fellow was evidently more than half convinced that he had made a conquest, while I was quite sure that I had. If he had known what my real feelings were and with what entire willingness I would have made a prisoner of him, could I have got him into the Confederate lines, perhaps he would not have been quite so eager for my society. …

As matters turned out, the lieutenant not only did accompany me, but he let out many things that he ought to have kept quiet about, knowing, as he did, the manner in which I had come into the lines and having no assurance whatever beyond my bare word that I was not a spy. To be sure, the information I obtained from him with regard to the main object of my errand was not very momentous, for I was afraid to say too much on points relating to my errand. But I … learned enough to enable me to know exactly how to go to work to find out a great deal more. Besides this, he was really of much assistance to me in other ways and saved me considerable trouble at headquarters — for all of which I hope I was duly thankful.

It may be thought that an officer of the experience of this one — he had been through the war from the beginning — would have understood his business sufficiently by this time to have known how to hold his tongue concerning matters that it was desirable the enemy should not become informed of, when in the society of a person whom he well knew might be a spy. If all the officers and men in an army, however, were endowed with … plain common sense, the business of the secret service agents would be a very much more difficult and hazardous one than it really is. The young fellow was only a lieutenant, with no great responsibilities, while some of my most brilliant successes in the way of obtaining information have been with generals, and even with their superiors, as the reader will discover, if [the reader] feels sufficient interest in my story to follow it to the end.

The fact is that human nature is greatly given to confidence, so much so that the most unconfiding and suspicious people are usually the easiest to extract any desired information from, provided you go the right way about it. This may seem to be a paradox but it is not. It is merely a statement of a peculiar trait of human nature. Women have the reputation of being bad secret-keepers. Well, that depends on circumstances. I have always succeeded in keeping mine when I have had any worth keeping, and I have always found it more difficult to beguile women than men into telling me what I have wanted to know when they had the slightest reason to suspect that I was not a suitable recipient of their confidence. The truth seems to be that while women find it often troublesome, and well nigh impossible, to keep little and inconsequential secrets, they are first-rate hands at keeping great ones.

For certain kinds of secret service work women are, out of all comparison, superior to men. This, I believe, is acknowledged by all detectives and others who have been compelled to employ secret agents. One reason for this is that women, when they undertake a secret service job, are really quicker-witted and more wide awake than men. They more easily deceive other people and are less easily imposed upon. Of course there is a great deal of secret service work for which women are not well-fitted, and much that it is scarcely possible for them to perform at all, but, as a rule, for an enterprise that requires real finesse, a woman will be likely to accomplish far more than a man.

I was just thinking that my lieutenant had deserted me or that he was in another car for the purpose of keeping an eye on me unobserved when he appeared beside me, having jumped on the rear end of the car as it was starting.

He said, “You have no objections to my occupying the same seat with you, have you, madam?”

“Oh, no, sir!” I replied. “I shall be exceedingly glad to have the pleasure of your society, so far as you are going.”

“Well, I only intend going up to my camp now, but I have half a mind to run on as far as Memphis — that is, if my company will not be disagreeable to you.”

“I will be very greatly pleased if you will go through with me. It has been a long time since I have met any agreeable gentlemen, and I particularly admire officers.”

As I said this I gave him a killing glance and then dropped my eyes as if half-ashamed of having made such a bold advance to him. The bait took, however, as I expected it would, and the lieutenant, giving his mustache a twist, and running his hand through his hair, settled himself down in the seat with a most self-satisfied air, evidently supposing that the conquest of my heart was more than half completed, and began to make himself as agreeable as he knew how. Finesse was certainly not this youth’s most marked characteristic, and he went about making himself agreeable and endeavoring to discover who I was, where I came from, and all about me in such an awkward, lubberly manner that it was mere play for me to impose upon him. …

At length the whistle blew, and the train stopped at his camp. He jumped up and rushed out without even saying good-bye, and while I was wondering where he had left his politeness, I saw him running as fast as he could go and presently dodge into a tent. In a moment or two more out he came in his shirt sleeves and ran for the train, with his coat in his hand, and jumped on board just as we were starting. I turned around and watched him as he got into the car behind me and saw him put on a rather better-looking uniform coat than the out-at-the-elbows blouse he had been wearing, and a paper collar and black necktie. These last I considered as particularly delicate attentions to myself.

When he had completed his toilet, he came forward, and, seating himself beside me, said, “I will allow myself the pleasure of going through to Memphis with you.”

I assured him that I was pleased beyond measure and came to the conclusion that it would be my fault if long before we reached Memphis I did not stand so well in his good graces that I would be able to make a most useful ally of him in carrying out my plans for the benefit of the Confederacy. …

[Our] conversation amused me and gave me a good number of points worth knowing in the particular business in which I was engaged until at length the train reached Memphis, and my escort assisting me to alight, requested me to wait on the platform for him while he engaged a carriage.

In a few moments he returned with a close-bodied carriage, and when I was seated in it [the] driver was accordingly directed to take us to headquarters, and before many more minutes I was ushered into the presence of the provost marshal, to whom I stated my errand. The fact of the lieutenant being with me undoubtedly prevented a great many questions being asked, some of which it might not have been agreeable, or even possible, for me to answer, and I accordingly was more than ever impressed with the value of having him for an acquaintance, especially as he put in a word now and then which had the effect of establishing me on a satisfactory footing with the provost marshal. That official, when he had heard my story, said, “Madam, I am sorry, but the general is very much indisposed, and cannot see you. I will be glad to receive anything you may have for him, and to give him any message from you. …”