I love spies. I don’t think I’d have the brains or intuition to be one myself, but I just adore reading about the exploits of other, braver people.
In Civil War Spies, Camilla J. Wilson tells the stories of seven spies who operated during the War Between the States – Allan Pinkerton, Sam Davis, John Scobell, Mary Surratt, Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Harriet Tubman. A chapter is given to each which recounts their most exciting adventures and – in some cases – the executions they faced as captured spies.
Although the war itself is referred to as the Civil War throughout the book, there didn’t seem to be either a Northern or Southern slant to the book. Both Union and Confederate spies are included, and all are extolled for their brave performances.
I really really enjoyed the chapter on John Wilkes Booth. I had no clue that he had a longstanding plot to kidnap President Lincoln before the war ended, nor that on the night of Lincoln’s assassination he had also planned that friends of his would kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William Seward, and General Ulysses S. Grant. How different history would have been had his plan succeeded!
In the chapter on Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow, it is mentioned that his employer’s wife was desperate for her husband’s attention, so she spread the [false] rumor that Frank was interested in her. [He wasn’t.]
The types of deaths faced by a few of the spies are briefly described – death by hanging, firing squad, etc.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret