Date of Award
Master of Arts
Historical archives bulge with pertinent materials, but the subject of [Civil War intelligence operations] has been an especially neglected topic, neglected, that is, by all but the romancers. Present-day intelligence and security operations are highly sophisticated matters. The substantive discussions they provoke [usually segregated from the public by government classification] tend to be technical, even esoteric, and richly complicated by conflicting schools of thought. Relatively few persons outside the closed circle have gained enough understanding of the subject to write plausibly about it -let alone do historical research on it. As an aspect of Civil War history, the topic still awaits competent students, to say nothing of something approaching definitive treatment.
This statement, written by Robert Dykstra in 1964, plus the availability of the Grenville Dodge Papers for such research prompted me to attempt a study of Dodge's Civil War intelligence operations. One of the major objectives of this thesis has been to place the romantic theme of Civil War intelligence in its proper perspective. Two of the earliest works on Civil War intelligence operations are Lafayette C. Baker's, History of the United States Secret Service (1867), and Allen Pinkerton's, Spy of the Rebellion; Being a True History of the Spy System of the United States Army During the Later Rebellion (1883). Baker served as chief detective for the Union War Department and Pinkerton served as chief detective for General Winfield Scott and later General George McClellan. Baker came under attack from critics who accused him of excessive arrests. His History of the United States Secret Service, is largely a defense of his tactics. It is meticulous but poorly organized. Pinkerton writes of his detectives' exploits during the war. However, to fill the gaps in his 500-page book, Pinkerton began attributing super-human qualities to himself and his favorite detective Timothy Webster. In Pinkerton's book, one begins to see the romantic theme emphasized and the facts deemphasized. This led to the creation of many myths about the Civil War intelligence. The romantic theme which begins with Pinkerton's Spy of the Rebellion is continued in such books as Louis A. Sigaud's Belle Boyd, Confederate ~ (1945), and Mabel Frantz's book Full Many A Name: The Story of Sam Davis (1961).
Three historians, Wilton P. Moore, Edwin Fishel and David Sparks led the way in dispelling the romantic myths of Civil War intelligence operations. Each of these historians published articles in Civil War History. The first to appear was Moore's, "The Provost Marshal Goes to War" (1959). Fishel's article, "The Mythology of Civil War Intelligence" and Sparks's article, "General Patrick's Progress: Intelligence and Security in the Army of the Potomac," both appeared in 1964. These articles were followed by John Bakeless's book, Spies of the Confederacy (1970). Bakeless, like Moore, Fishel, and Sparks does an excellent job of presenting a factual, well-balanced narrative, and a scholarly conclusion. I have tried to continue the type of history that these four historians began. Although a spy certainly led a more exciting life than the average soldier, a more important topic is the organization and the usefulness of intelligence operations. The following pages thus downplay the romantic aspects in favor of the more fundamental elements of Civil War espionage.
The first chapter deals with the overall organization of Dodge's intelligence operations. Dodge had an unusual ability to organize. It was largely through Dodge's capability that his secret service worked as well as it did. The second chapter provides a chronological narrative of Dodge's intelligence work in both the Vicksburg and Atlanta campaigns. This chapter shows not only the value of such intelligence operations to the Union efforts as a whole but also the extensive nature of Dodge's operations. The third chapter deals with the final phase of Dodge's intelligence work in the Department of Missouri. It was here that Dodge's counterintelligence (security) operations became a major part of his intelligence work. Missouri was also the area in which Dodge used his spies to combat the Indians of the plains, which had risen in response to Chivington's Massacre.
The words "secret service" are misleading. One of the misconcep-tions that has grown up over the years is that "there was an organization . F G S t S . "2 ln the ederal overnment known as the ecre ervlce .... An intelligence organization directed and organized on a national scale was non-existent during the Civil War. For this reason I have tried to avoid the use of the words "secret service." Dodge1s military intelligence operations was one of several such organizations operating in the Civil War. The Secret Service Division, as we know it today, was not created until July 1865, when Congress appropriated $10,000 for the use of the Secretary of the Treasury in "detecting and bringing to trial counterfeiters of treasury notes, bonds, or other United States securities."
One final note should perhaps be made before proceeding. Several reasons motivated me to entitle this thesis: "Major-General Grenville M. Dodge's Military Intelligence Operations Duri ng the Civil War." To do a thorough study of Dodge's intelligence work, this study has not been restricted to intelligence work done by spies. His spies, though the major element of his overall operations, were not his only source of information. Southern newspapers, refugees, prisoners, scouts, cavalry, and detectives all must be given credit if a truly complete picture is to be drawn from this study. The words "military intelligence" thus more accurately describe all parts of Dodge's intelligence operations.
Ponsford, Brent Hamilton, "Major-General Grenville M. Dodge's military intelligence operations during the Civil War" (1976). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16254.