The Spy of the Rebellion (Based on True Events) - Allan Pinkerton - E-Book

The Spy of the Rebellion (Based on True Events) E-Book

Allan Pinkerton



This eBook has been formatted to the highest digital standards and adjusted for readability on all devices. The Spy of the Rebellion follows the activities of Allan Pinkerton, famous American detective and spy, during events leading up to and during the American Civil War. By his own admission, in 1861 Pinkerton led a group of agents who foiled a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Later, under the pseudonym of Major E. J. Allen, Pinkerton was in charge of an organization which carried out an intelligence and espionage for General George B. McClellan. The book is filled with the amusing stories about spy work and methods used by Pinkerton to recruit and manage agents.

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Allan Pinkerton

The Spy of the Rebellion

(Based on True Events)

Published by


- Advanced Digital Solutions & High-Quality eBook Formatting -
2018 OK Publishing
ISBN 978-80-272-4626-7

Table of Contents



Table of Contents

Nearly a score of years have passed since the occurrence of the events related in the following pages. The "Rebellion," with its bloody scenes, has ended, and the country is at peace. The grass is waving green and beautiful over many Southern fields that once ran with human blood, as the contending forces met in the deadly encounter. The birds are carolling sweetly in the air, which then was laden with the clarion notes of the trumpet; the fierce, wild yell of assaulting soldiery; the booming of cannon, and the groans of the wounded and dying. The merchant, the mechanic, and the husbandman have returned to the pursuits which they followed before the dark clouds of war had overshadowed this fair land, and they shouldered their muskets in defense of the Union. From the desolation and the ravages of war, the country has emerged into the sunshine of abiding peace, and now, in the evening twilight, the gray-haired veterans gather around their family hearthstones to repeat the stories of bravery and devotion associated with those trying hours of their country's history.

In the twilight of my days I have been tempted to the recitals which follow, and in relating my experiences as the Chief of the Secret Service of the Government during the Rebellion, I have been governed by a desire to acquaint the public with the movements of those brave men who rendered invaluable service to their country, although they never wore a uniform or carried a musket. Working quietly, and frequently under disguises, their assistance to the Union commanders was of incalculable advantage, and many acts of courage and daring were performed by these men which, until now, have never been revealed. Indeed, as to my own nom-de-plume, "E. J. Allen," many of the officers of the army and officials of the Government, with whom I was in constant communication, never knew me by any other name, and the majority of them are to this day in ignorance of the fact that E. J. Allen, late Chief of the Secret Service, and Allan Pinkerton are one and the same person.

During the progress of the struggle, and the years which have since elapsed, many of my old acquaintances, who held important positions in the army and in governmental departments, have passed away from earth. Some of them falling in the heat of battle, in the courageous discharge of duty, while others, passing through the fiery ordeal, have died amid the comforts and the charms of home.

President Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton, William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase, all giants in their day, have departed from the sphere of their usefulness, and have gone to their long home. Soldiers and civilians, generals and privates, with whom I was connected, and their name is legion, have taken up their journey to "that bourne from whence no traveler e'er returns."

In detailing the various events which follow, I have been careful to offer nothing but that which actually transpired. I have avoided giving expression to any thoughts or feelings of antagonism to the South, because the time for such utterances has passed. Indeed, except for the existence of slavery, I always cherished a warm affection for the Southern people. But this institution of human bondage always received my most earnest opposition. Believing it to be a curse to the American nation, and an evidence of barbarism, no efforts of mine were ever spared in behalf of the slave, and to-day I have not a single regret for the course I then pursued.

Many times before the war, when I was associated with those philanthrophic spirits who controlled the so-called "Underground Railroad," I have assisted in securing safety and freedom for the fugitive slave, no matter at what hour, under what circumstances, or at what cost, the act was to be performed. John Brown, the white-haired abolitionist of Kansas fame, was my bosom friend; and more than one dark night has found us working earnestly together in behalf of the fleeing bondman, who was striving for his liberty. After his gallant effort at Harper's Ferry, and while he was confined in a Virginia prison, my efforts in his behalf were unceasing; and had it not been for the excessive watchfulness of those having him in charge, the pages of American history would never have been stained with a record of his execution. As it is, though his fate may have been in accordance with the decrees of the laws then existing, I can recall with all the old enthusiasm that I then experienced, the thundering effect of thousands of our brave "boys in blue," joining in that electric war cry, the refrain of which was:

John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave, But his soul goes marching along,"

while they hurried in solid phalanx to meet the enemy upon the field of battle.

In the preliminary chapters, I have detailed with accuracy the facts connected with the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, when he was first elected to the Presidency. The part I took in discovering the existence of that plot and the efforts of my men in ferreting out the prime movers of that murderous compact, are told for the first time in these pages, and the correctness of their relation is undoubted; though in the dark days that followed, the bullet of the assassin removed the martyred President, while engaged in the fulfillment of his mission. I cannot repress a sense of pride in the fact, that at the commencement of his glorious career I had averted the blow that was aimed at his honest, manly heart.

In the events which transpired during the years 1861 and 1862, I took an active part. From the early days of April until after the battle of Antietam had been fought and won, I was connected with the military operations of the government. In Washington I acted under the directions of the Secretaries of War, and Colonel Andrew Porter, the provost-marshal; and in the field, I was under the immediate direction of General George B. McClellan.

My relations with the various departments were always of the most cordial and confidential character. To particularize in this matter is almost impossible; but I cannot refrain from mentioning, in the highest terms of respect and friendship, Colonel Thomas A. Scott of Pennsylvania. In the early days of the nation's peril, he occupied the position of Assistant Secretary of War. In him I always found a warm friend and advocate, and in many emergencies his prompt and intelligent action was most potent in accomplishing good results in that era of confusion, of doubt and hesitation.

Of my service with the military department while in active duty, little needs to be said here. From the time of his commission by Governor Dennison of Ohio, to the day when he was relieved, after his splendid victory at Antietam, I followed the fortunes of General McClellan. Never doubting his ability or his loyalty—always possessing his confidence and esteem, I am at this time proud and honored in ranking him foremost among my invaluable friends. When secret enemies were endeavoring to prejudice the mind of the President against his chosen commander; when wily politicians were seeking to belittle him in the estimation of the people, and when jealous minded officers were ignorantly criticising his plans of campaign, General McClellan pursued his course with unflinching courage and with a devotion to his country unsurpassed by any who have succeeded him, and upon whose brows are entwined the laurels of the conqueror.

His marvelous reorganization of the army, the enthusiasm with which his presence invariably inspired the soldiers under his command, and the grand battles which he fought against enemies in front and in rear, have all passed into history—and to-day the intelligent and unprejudiced reader finds in a calm and dispassionate review of his career, an ample and overwhelming justification of his course as a loyal and capable commander-in-chief.

Self-constituted critics, whose avenues of information were limited and unreliable, have attempted to prove that the force opposed to General McClellan was much less than was really the case; and upon this hypothesis have been led into unjust and undeserved censure of the commanding general. From my own experience, I know to the contrary. My system of obtaining knowledge upon this point was so thorough and complete, my sources of information were so varied, that there could be no serious mistake in the estimates which I then made and reported to General McClellan. From every available field the facts were gleaned. From prisoners of war, contrabands, loyal Southerners, deserters, blockade-runners and from actual observations by trustworthy scouts, my estimates were made, and to-day I affirm as strongly as I then did, that the force opposed to General McClellan before Richmond approximated nearer to 200,000 men, than they did to the numerous estimates of irresponsible historians who have placed the strength of the rebel forces at that time below 100,000 men. In this connection I must refer also to the valuable assistance rendered both General McClellan and myself by that indefatigable Aid-de-camp Colonel Key. Though he no longer mingles with the things of earth, the memory of his devotion and his intelligent services to the cause of the Union is imperishable. No truer, braver man ever drew a sword than did this noble and efficient staff officer, now deceased.

Of Timothy Webster, who so ably assisted me in my various and delicate duties, and whose life was sacrificed for the cause he held so dear, I have only words of warmest commendation. Brave, honest and intelligent, he entered into the contest to perform his whole duty, and right nobly did he fulfill his pledge. No danger was too great, no trust too responsible, no mission too delicate for him to attempt, and though executed as a spy in a Richmond prison, his name shall ever be cherished with honor and friendship by those who knew his worth, and who appreciated the unswerving devotion of a loyal heart. No dishonor can ever attach to the memory of a patriot who died in the service of his country.

The events narrated have all occurred. The record is a truthful one. Although not so complete as I could wish, they must serve the purpose for which they are intended. In the disastrous fire which swept over Chicago in 1871, my records were mainly destroyed, and to this fact must be attributed the failure to more elaborately detail the multitudinous operations of my men. With the able assistance of Mr. George H. Bangs, my efficient General Superintendent, "we did what we could," and the approbation of our commanding officers attest the efficiency of our efforts.

After leaving the service, the conduct of the war passed into other hands. Other men were chosen to the command of the armies, and other sources of information were resorted to. Succeeding battles have been fought, defeats have been sustained, victories have been achieved, and the war is happily ended. The slave is free, and in the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship. The country is at peace, her prosperity is assured, and now that passion and prejudice have died away, and honest judgments are given of the events that have transpired, I leave to the impartial reader, and historian, the question whether the course I pursued, and the General whom I loved and faithfully served, are deserving of censure, or are entitled to the praises of a free and enlightened people.

Allan Pinkerton.


Table of Contents

"An Unwritten Page of History."—A Political Resumé.—Mr. Lincoln is Elected President.

Many years have elapsed since the occurrence of the events which I am about to relate. Years that have been full of mighty import to the nation. A bitter, prolonged and bloody war has laid its desolating hands upon a once united country. For years the roar of cannon and the clash of steel reverberated through the bright valleys and the towering hills of the fruitful South. In those years when brother arose against his brother, when ties of kindred and association were broken asunder like frail reeds, glorious deeds were wrought and grand results have been accomplished. America has taught the world a lesson of bravery and endurance; the shackles have been stricken from the slave; an error of a century has been crushed, and freedom is now no longer an empty name, but a beautiful and enduring realism.

To-day peace spreads her broad, sheltering arms over a reunited and enlightened nation. The roll of the drum and the tramp of armed men are now no longer heard. North and South have again clasped hands in a renewal of friendship and in a perpetuity of union.

But a short time ago a Republican President elected by but a slight majority of the voters of this great community, left his peaceful home in the West and journeyed to the capital of the nation, to take the oath of office and to assume the high duties of a chief magistrate. As he passed through the towns and cities upon his route a general plaudit of welcome was his greeting, even noted political foes joining in the demonstrations. His road was arched with banners and his path was strewn with flowers. Everywhere he found an enthusiasm of welcome, a universal prayer for success, and the triumphal train entered the capital amid the ovations of the populace, which reached almost a climax of patriotic and effervescing joy.

Twenty years ago witnessed a different condition of affairs. The political horizon was dark and obscured. The low mutterings of the storm that was soon to sweep over our country, and to deluge our fair land with fratricidal blood, were distinctly heard. Sectional differences were developing into widespread dissensions. Cherished institutions were threatened with dissolution, and political antagonism had aroused a contented people into a frenzy of hate.

On the twenty-second of May, 1856, an American Senator was assaulted in the Senate-house by a political opponent for daring to give utterance to opinions that were hostile to the slave-holding interests of the South. Later in the same year a Republican candidate, with professed anti-slavery views, was nominated for the presidency, and although defeated, gave evidence of such political strength that Southern leaders became alarmed.

At this time the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas was a prominent leader of the Democratic party, but through his opposition to what was known as the Lecompton Bill, he incurred the displeasure of his political friends of the South, who vainly endeavored to enact such legislation as would practically lead to his retirement from the party.

In 1858 the famous contest between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas for the United States Senatorship from Illinois took place, and during its progress absorbed public attention throughout the country. The two candidates indulged in open discussions of questions of public policy, which were remarkable for their brilliancy and for the force and vigor with which their different views were uttered. It was during this canvass that Mr. Lincoln made the forcible and revolutionizing declaration that: "The Union cannot permanently endure half slave and half free." Mr. Lincoln was defeated, however, and Mr. Douglas was returned to the Senate, much against the wishes of those Democrats who desired the unlimited extension of the institution of Slavery.

In the following year occurred the slave insurrection in Virginia, under the leadership of that bold abolitionist, John Brown. The movement was frustrated, however, and John Brown, after a judicial trial for his offense, was sentenced to be hung. Up to the day of his execution he remained firm in the belief that he had but performed his duty toward enslaved humanity, and he died avowing the justice of his cause and the hope of its ultimate success.

All of these occurrences tended to engender a spirit of fierce opposition in the minds of the Southern leaders. The growing sentiment of abolitionism throughout the North, and the manifest disposition to prevent its increase or extension, aroused the advocates of Slavery to a degree of alarm, which led to the commission of many actions, both absurd and unjustifiable.

The year of 1860 opened upon a scene of political agitation which threatened to disrupt long united associations, and to erect sectional barriers which appeared almost impossible to overcome.

In April, 1860, the Democratic National Convention assembled in Charleston, South Carolina, for the purpose of nominating a candidate for the presidency. During its session loud and angry debates occurred, in which the Southern element endeavored to obtain a strong indorsement of the institution of Slavery, and of the right to carry slaves into the Territories of the United States. They were met by the more conservative portion of the party, who desired to leave the question to be decided by the States themselves. After a prolonged discussion the majority of the Southern States withdrew their delegates from the convention, and the remainder proceeded to ballot for a candidate of their choice.

After a protracted sitting, during which several ballots were taken and no decided result obtained, the convention adjourned, to meet in the city of Baltimore on the eighteenth day of June succeeding. Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, received a large percentage of the votes that were cast, but failed to obtain a sufficient number to secure his nomination.

The withdrawing delegates organized a rival convention, but, without transacting any business of a decisive character, also adjourned, to meet in Baltimore at a date nearly coincident with that of the regular body.

On the nineteenth day of May, the Constitutional Union (being the old American) party held their convention in the city of Baltimore, and nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for the Vice-Presidency.

The Republican Convention was held on the sixteenth day of May, in the city of Chicago, and upon the third ballot nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, for the office of President, and Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, for the second office.

This convention also adopted a platform very pronounced upon the subject of Slavery, and which was calculated to give but little encouragement to the extension or perpetuity of the slave-holding power.

On the eighteenth day of June the regular Democratic Convention assembled, pursuant to adjournment, in the city of Baltimore, and named Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, and Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia, as their standard-bearers in the political conflict that was to ensue.

On the twenty-eighth day of the same month the seceding delegates met in the same city, and after pronouncing their ultra views upon the question of Slavery, nominated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky (then the Vice-President of the country), and General Joseph Lane, of Oregon, as the candidates of their choice.

The lines of battle were now drawn, and from that time until the election, in November, a fierce contest was waged between the opposing parties. Never before in the history of parties was a canvass conducted with more bitterness or with a greater amount of vituperation. The whole country was engrossed with the gigantic struggle. Business interests, questions of finance and of international import were all made subservient to the absorbing consideration of the election of a national President.

The Southern "Fire-eaters," as they were called, fully realized their inability to elect the candidates they had named, but strove with all their power to prevent the success of the regular Democratic nominees, and when at last the day of election came, and the votes were counted, it was found that the Republican party had been victorious and that Abraham Lincoln had been elected.

In many portions of the South this result was hailed with joyful enthusiasm. The anti-slavery proclivities of the successful party was instantly made a plausible pretext for secession and the withdrawal of the slave-holding States from the Union was boldly advocated.

The same power that threatened in 1856, in the words of Governor Wise of Virginia: "That if Fremont had been elected, he would have marched at the head of twenty thousand men to Washington, and taken possession of the capital, preventing by force Fremont's inauguration at that place"—was again aroused, and an open opposition to the Republican inauguration was for a time considered.

The absorbing and exciting question in the South was: "Would the South submit to a Black Republican President and a Black Republican Congress?" and the answer to the question was a loud and decisive negative.

Among the bolder advocates of secession the election of Mr. Lincoln was regarded with pleasure, and meetings were held in Charleston, rejoicing in the triumph of the Republican party. Secession and disunion were loudly advocated, and the slave oligarchy of South Carolina regarded this event as the opportunity to achieve her long-cherished purpose of breaking up the Union, and forming a new confederacy, founded upon the peculiar ideas of the South.

Says Horace Greeley: "Men thronged the streets, talking, laughing, cheering, like mariners long becalmed upon a hateful, treacherous sea, when a sudden breeze had swiftly wafted them within sight of their looked for haven, or like a seedy prodigal, just raised to affluence by the death of some far-off, unknown relative, and whose sense of decency is not strong enough to repress his exultation."

Open threats were made to withdraw at once from the Union, and these demonstrations seemed to find sympathy among other nations than our own, and soon foreign intrigue was hand and glove with domestic treason, in the attempt to sap the foundations of our government, and seeking peculiar advantages from its overthrow.

It is unnecessary to detail the various phases of this great agitation, which, firing the Southern heart with the frenzy of disunion, finally led to the secession of the Southern States. Various compromises were attempted, but all failed of beneficial result. The "masterly inactivity" of the administration contributed in no small degree to the accomplishment of this object, and in the end the Southern Confederacy was organized and Jefferson Davis was elected as its President.

The Palmetto waved over the custom-house and post-office at Charleston; government forts and arsenals were seized by the volunteers to the Southern cause, and on February 1, 1861, the Federal mint and custom-house at New Orleans were taken possession of by the secessionists.

The removal of Major Anderson from Fort Moultrie to the more secure stronghold of Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, had been accomplished, and as yet no measures had been taken by the government to prevent further demonstrations of a warlike character on the part of the Southern Confederacy. The administration remained passive and inert, while every effort was being made to calm the public fears of hostilities, and the organization of an open revolt.

The city of Baltimore was, at this time, a slave-holding city, and the spirit of Slavery was nowhere else more rampant and ferocious. The mercantile and social aristocracy of that city had been sedulously and persistently plied, by the conspirators for disunion, with artful and tempting suggestions of her future greatness and advancement as the chief city of the new government.

If a Confederacy composed of the fifteen slave-holding States was organized, Baltimore, it was urged, would naturally be the chief city of the new Republic. In time it would become the rival of New York, and occupy to the Confederacy the same relations which New York does to the Union, and would be the great ship-building, shipping, importing and commercial emporium.

These glittering prophecies had not been uttered without effect. The ambition of the aristocracy was aroused. Already they saw the ocean whitened with her sails, and the broad domain of Maryland adorned with the palaces reared from her ample and ever-expanding profits. Under these hallucinations, their minds were corrupted, and they seemed eager to rush into treason.

Being a border State, Maryland occupied a position of particular importance. Emissaries were sent to her from South Carolina and elsewhere, and no effort was spared to secure her co-operation in these revolutionary movements. It is to be regretted that they were too successful, and the result was that the majority of the wealthier classes and those in office were soon in sympathy with the rebellion, and the spirit of domestic treason, for a time, swept like a tornado over the State.

Added to the wealthier classes was the mob element of the city of Baltimore—reckless and unscrupulous, as mobs generally are—and this portion of her community were avowedly in full accord with the prospective movement, and ready to do the bidding of the slave power. Between these, however, there existed a great middle class, who were loyally and peacefully inclined. But this class, large as it was, had hitherto been divided in their political opinions, and had as yet arrived at no common and definite understanding with regard to the novel circumstances of the country and the events which seemed to be visibly impending.

The government of the city of Baltimore was under the control of that branch of the Democracy who supported Breckinridge, and who had attained power under a popular cry for reform, and it was soon learned that these leaders were deep in the counsels of the secessionists.

The newspaper press was no small factor of this excitement—their utterances had much to do in leading public opinion, and though their efforts "to fire the Southern heart," many were led to sanction the deeds of violence and outrage which were contemplated.

Especial efforts had been made to render Mr. Lincoln personally odious and contemptible, and his election formed the pretexts of these reckless conspirators, who had long been plotting the overthrow of the Union. No falsehood was too gross, no statement too exaggerated, to be used for that purpose, and so zealously did these misguided men labor in the cause of disunion, and so systematically concerted was their action, that the mass of the people of the slave States were made to believe that this pure, patient, humane, Christian statesman was a monster whose vices and passions made him odious, and whose political beliefs made him an object of just abhorrence.

This was the condition of affairs at the dawning of the year 1861.


Table of Contents

Opposition to Mr. Lincoln's Inauguration.—A Plot to Assassinate him.—The Journey from Springfield.

With the opening of the new year, the political condition evinced alarming symptoms. As the day of the inauguration of the new President drew near, the excitement became intense. Loud threats were made that Mr. Lincoln should never be permitted to take the oath of office, and the hostility of the South manifested itself in such a manner as to excite the fears of those who desired the peaceful solution of the important question of continued union.

The events about to be related have been for a long time shrouded in a veil of mystery. While many are aware that a plot existed at this time to assassinate the President-elect upon his contemplated journey to the capital, but few have any knowledge of the mode by which the conspiracy was detected, or the means employed to prevent the accomplishment of that murderous design.

Considerations which affected the personal safety of those who actively participated in this detection, precluded a disclosure at the time, but that such a conspiracy existed no doubt can be entertained. Now, however, that the dark clouds have passed away, and the bright sunshine of an enduring peace is throwing its beneficent rays over a united country, the truth may be disclosed, and a desire to peruse a hidden page of history may now be gratified.

Early in the year 1861 I was at my headquarters in the city of Chicago, attending to the manifold duties of my profession. I had, of course, perused the daily journals which contained the reports of doings of the malcontents of the South, but in common with others, I entertained no serious fears of an open rebellion, and was disposed to regard the whole matter as of trivial importance. The same tones had been listened to before, and although the disunionists had hitherto never taken such aggressive steps, I was inclined to believe that with the incoming of the new administration, determined or conciliatory measures would be adopted, and that secession and rebellion would be either averted or summarily crushed.

At this time I received a letter from Mr. Samuel H. Felton, the president of "The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad," requesting my presence in Philadelphia upon a matter of great importance. From his communication it appeared that rumors were afloat as to the intention of the roughs and secessionists of Maryland to injure the road of which he was the President. From what had already been learned, it was feared that their designs were to prevent travel upon the road either by destroying the ferry-boats which then carried the trains across the Susquehanna river at Havre de Grace or by demolishing the railroad bridges over the Gunpowder river and other streams. This road was the great connecting link between the metropolis of the country and the capital of the nation, and it was of the utmost importance that no interruption should be permitted to the free communication between Washington and the great cities of the North and West.

This letter at once aroused me to a realization of the danger that threatened the country, and I determined to render whatever assistance was in my power towards preventing the successful operation of these ill-advised and dangerous men.

I lost no time, therefore, in making my arrangements, and soon after receiving Mr. Felton's communication, in company with four members of my force was upon the train speeding towards Philadelphia. Upon arriving in that city, I went directly to the office of Mr. Felton and obtained from him all the information he possessed of the movements and designs of the Maryland secessionists. I also had a consultation with Mr. H. F. Kenney, the superintendent of the road, with reference to a plan of operation which I proposed, and which was considered would result in obtaining the information so much to be desired.

I resolved to locate my men at the various towns along the road, selecting such places where, it was believed, disaffection existed. With a view, therefore, of acquiring the facts necessary for an intelligent prosecution of the inquiry, I took passage on one of the trains of the road, intending to see for myself how affairs stood, and to distribute my men in such a manner as to me seemed best.

At the city of Wilmington, in Delaware, I found evidences of a great political excitement, but nothing that indicated a hostile disposition or which led me to believe that any danger was to be apprehended at this place. Nothing that savored of organization was apparent, and I was therefore compelled to look further for the existence of any antagonism to the railroad or any desire to prevent the running of their trains.

At Perryville I found the same excitable condition of affairs, but nothing of a more aggressive character than at Wilmington. Men indulged in fierce arguments, in which both sides were forcibly represented, but aside from this I discovered no cause for apprehension, and no occasion for active detective work as yet.

At Havre de Grace, however, the lines were more clearly drawn and the popular feeling much more bitter. It was at this point that the boats which carried the trains crossed the Susquehanna river, and where serious damage might be done to the company, should the ferries be destroyed. I therefore left one man at this place, with instructions to become acquainted with such men as he might, on observation, consider suspicious, and to endeavor to obtain from them, by association, a knowledge of their intentions.

At Perrymansville, in Maryland, the feeling was considerably more intense. Under the influence of bad men the secession movement had gained many supporters and sympathizers. Loud threats were uttered against the railroad company, and it was boastfully asserted that "no d—d abolitionist should be allowed to pass through the town alive."

I have always found it a truism that "a barking dog never bites," and although I had but little fear that these blatant talkers would perform any dangerous deeds, I considered it best to be fully posted as to their movements, in order to prevent a catastrophe, if possible.

I accordingly directed Timothy Webster, a daring and discreet man upon my force, to locate himself at this point, and to carefully note everything that transpired which had any relation to attempted violence or a disposition to resort to aggressive measures.

As I neared the city of Baltimore the opposition to the government and the sympathy with secession was manifestly more intense. At Magnolia, particularly, I observed a very dangerous feeling, and among men of all classes the general sentiment was in favor of resistance and force. Another operative, John Seaford, was accordingly left at this place, with instructions similar to those which had been given to the others.

I then proceeded on to Baltimore, and there I found the greatest amount of excitement that I had yet experienced. I took quarters at the Howard House, and proceeded to inquire closely and carefully into the political situation. I soon found that the fears of the railroad officials were not wholly without foundation. The opposition to Mr. Lincoln's inauguration was most violent and bitter, and a few days' sojourn in this city convinced me that great danger was to be apprehended, and that the sentiment of disunion was far more widespread and deeply rooted than I had before imagined.

The police force of the city was under the control of Marshal George P. Kane, and was almost entirely composed of men with disunion proclivities. Their leader was pronouncedly in favor of secession, and by his orders the broadest license was given to disorderly persons and to the dissemination of insurrectionary information. This individual was subsequently arrested, and, after a brief sojourn in Fort McHenry, fled in 1863 to the more congenial associations of Richmond.

From the knowledge I gained of the situation in Baltimore, I resolved to establish my headquarters in that city. I accordingly engaged a building situated on South street, and in a position where I could receive prompt reports from all quarters of the metropolis. I also sent for an additional force of men, whom I distributed among the people of all grades and conditions of life. The building I had selected was admirably adapted for my purpose, and was so constructed that entrance could be gained to it from all four sides, through alleyways that led in from neighboring streets.

Day by day, the reports of my men contained many important revelations of the designs of the opposition, and as a matter of additional precaution, I advised Mr. Felton to employ a small number of men to guard the various bridges and ferries, who could be warned in time to resist attack should such be made.

The chief opposition seemed to be to the inauguration of President Lincoln, and the plan of the conspirators was to excite and exasperate the popular feeling against the President-elect to the utmost, and so successfully had this been done that a majority of the wealthier classes, with few exceptions—those in office—and the mob element in general were in full accord in their desire to prevent the inauguration from taking place.

On the eleventh day of February, Mr. Lincoln, with a few of his personal friends, left his quiet home in Springfield to enter upon that tempestuous political career which eventually carried him to a martyr's grave. Among the party who accompanied the President were Norman B. Judd, Esq., Col. Ward H. Lamon, Judge Davis, Col. Sumner, a brave and impetuous officer, Major Hunter, Capt. John Pope, Col. Ellsworth, whose heroic death took place shortly afterwards, and John G. Nicolay, the President's private secretary.

As the President was about leaving his home, the people turned out en masse to bid him farewell, and to them Mr. Lincoln addressed the following pathetic words of parting:

"My Friends: No one who has never been placed in a like position can understand my feelings at this hour, nor the oppressive sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. Here I have lived from youth until now I am an old man; here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed; here all my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, and all that I am. All the strange checkered past seems now to crowd upon my mind. To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God who assisted him shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same Omniscient Mind and Almighty Arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail—I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him I commend you all. Permit me to ask that with equal sincerity and faith you will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me. With these few words I must leave you, for how long I know not. Friends, one and all, I must bid you an affectionate farewell."

How touchingly simple and earnest seem these words. A strange and almost weird presentiment of grief and suffering give his utterances a pathos that becomes profoundly impressive when linked with subsequent events. How prophetic too—full of tears and fraught with the prescience of a future terrible and bloody war—they bear yet an echo like that of the voice that sounded in the ear of Halleck's dying hero—for surely in their tones are heard the thanks of millions yet to be. How more than prophetic they seemed when, four years later, "a funeral train, covered with the emblems of splendid mourning, rolled into the same city, bearing a corpse whose obsequies were being celebrated in every part of the civilized world."

From Springfield the passage was a perfect continuous ovation. Cities and towns, villages and hamlets, vied with each other in testifying their devotion to Union and their determination to uphold the chief magistrate in the great trial before him. Immense crowds surrounded the stations at which the special train halted, and in the cities of Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Albany, New York, Trenton, Newark, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, public demonstrations of an imposing character were given in his honor, and vast concourses of people assembled to greet him. Everywhere he was received and honored as the chief of a free people, and in reply to complimentary addresses which he day by day received, the President endeavored to utter cheering words, and indicated a disbelief in any bloody issue of our domestic complications.

On the day prior to the departure of Mr. Lincoln from his home, I received a letter from the master mechanic of the railroad, of which the following is an extract:

"I am informed that a son of a distinguished citizen of Maryland said that he had taken an oath with others to assassinate Mr. Lincoln before he gets to Washington, and they may attempt to do it while he is passing over our road. I think you had better look after this man, if possible. This information is perfectly reliable. I have nothing more to say at this time, but will try to see you in a few days."

This communication was confirmatory of reports of an indefinite character which had reached me prior to this, and the information was far too important to be disregarded. I determined, therefore, to probe the matter to the bottom, and obtaining the authority of Mr. Felton for such action, I immediately set about the discovery of the existence of the conspiracy and the intention of its organization, and then, if coolness, courage and skill could save the life of Mr. Lincoln, and prevent the revolution which would inevitably follow his violent death, I felt sure of accomplishing it.

My plans were soon perfected, and they were to have several of my men, together with myself, announced as residents of Charleston and New Orleans, and by assuming to be secessionists of the most ultra type, to secure entrance into their secret societies and military organizations, and thus become possessed of their secret designs. In looking over the qualifications of the members of my corps I found two men admirably adapted to the object I had in view. They were both young and both fully able to assume and successfully carry out the character of a hot-blooded, fiery secessionist.

One of these men, whom I shall call Joseph Howard, was a young man of fine personal appearance, and of insinuating manners. He was of French descent, and in his youth had been carefully educated for a Jesuit priest, but finding the vocation distasteful to him, he had abandoned it. Added to his collegiate studies, he possessed the advantage of extensive foreign travel, and the ability to speak, with great facility, several foreign languages. He had a thorough knowledge of the South, its localities, prejudices, customs and leading men, which had been derived from several years residence in New Orleans and other Southern cities, and was gifted with the power of adaptation to persons whom they wish to influence, so popularly attributed to the Jesuits.

Howard was instructed to assume the character of an extreme secessionist, to obtain quarters at one of the first-class hotels, and register his name, with residence at New Orleans. This was done because he was well acquainted with the city, having resided there for a long time, and was consequently enabled to talk familiarly of prominent individuals of that city whom he had met.

The other man whom I selected for this important work was Timothy Webster. He was a man of great physical strength and endurance, skilled in all athletic sports, and a good shot. Possessed of a strong will and a courage that knew no fear, he was the very man to operate upon the middle and lower classes who composed the disunion element.

His subsequent career as a Union spy—one of the most perilous and thankless positions—and his ignominious death at Richmond, at the hands of the rebels, have passed into history, but no historian will ever relate the thousand perils through which he passed in the service of his country; of his boldness and ingenuity in acquiring information that was of incalculable value to the Union officers, nor of his wonderful fertility of invention, which frequently enabled him to escape from dangers which would have appalled a less brave or less devoted man. Arrested at last, he was condemned as a spy, and on the thirtieth day of April, 1862, he was executed in the City of Richmond, by order of Jefferson Davis. Even then he would have succeeded in effecting a well-devised plan of escape, had he not been rendered incapable of movement by reason of a prostrating sickness. His name is unknown to fame, but fewer hearts beat truer to the Union, and fewer arms performed more devoted service in its cause, and a record of his daring and romantic adventures as a Union spy, would certainly equal, if not surpass, those of the Harvey Birch of Cooper.

It was not long before I received undoubted evidence of the existence of a systematized organization whose avowed object was to assist the rebellious States, but which was in reality formed to compass the death of the President, and thus accomplish the separation of the States. I learned also that a branch of this conspiracy existed at Perrymansville, under the guise of a company of cavalry, who met frequently and drilled regularly. Leaving Harwood to operate in Baltimore with the others, I dispatched Timothy Webster back to Perrymansville, and in twenty-four hours thereafter he had enrolled himself as a member of the company, and was recognized as a hail fellow among his rebel associates.


Table of Contents

The Conspirators at Work.—Detectives on Their Trail.—Webster as a Soldier.

Every day reports would be brought to me from the numerous men I had detailed along the line of the railroad, and regularly on alternate days I would make the journey from Baltimore to Philadelphia for consultation with the officers of the company.

At every visit which I made to the suspected localities, I could not fail to notice an increase in the excitement and the indications of a disposition to open revolt became more evident. Everywhere the ruling principle seemed to be opposition to the new administration and a decided inclination to aid the Confederacy. As the daily papers, which chronicled the events which occurred upon the journey of Mr. Lincoln towards Washington, or the desperate movements of the Southern ringleaders, were perused by the people, or were read aloud in tavern or store, they would be greeted by alternate expressions of hate and malignity for the abolitionist and wild cheers for the rebellion.

This feeling, too, was largely increased by the visits which prominent villagers would make to Baltimore, and who, upon their return, would relate marvelous stories of what they had seen and heard of the courage, the unity and the determination of the Southern people. Everything calculated to inflame the popular mind was seized upon, and the wonderful spirit of invention which these men evinced was simply astonishing. As a consequence, the ignorant residents of these villages and towns, having no authoritative information of their own, relied implicitly upon the exaggerated statements and untruthful reports of their leaders, and were kept in a condition of excitement that made them ready tools of their unscrupulous and better-informed managers. As far as could be learned, however, no definite plan of action had been arranged, and no public outbreak had as yet occurred.

Barnum's Hotel, in Baltimore, appeared to be the favorite resort of the Southern element. The visitors from all portions of the South located at this house, and in the evenings the corridors and parlors would be thronged by the tall, lank forms of the long-haired gentlemen who represented the aristocracy of the slave-holding interests. Their conversations were loud and unrestrained, and any one bold enough or sufficiently indiscreet to venture an opinion contrary to the righteousness of their cause, would soon find himself in an unenviable position and frequently the subject of violence.

As this hotel was so largely patronized by the so-called "Fire-eaters," I instructed Howard to go there in order to secure quarters and to ingratiate himself with these extremists. It was not long after this, that, joining a company of gentlemen who were loudly declaiming against the ruling powers of the country, he entered into their discussion, and by blatant expressions of the most rebellious nature, he was warmly welcomed by the coterie and instantly made one of their number.

Hailing as he did from New Orleans, his residence was a ready passport to their favor and confidence, and his fine personal appearance, gentlemanly address and the fervor of his utterances soon won the favor of those with whom he associated. To a general inquiry he stated that private affairs of a financial nature required his presence in Baltimore, but as his acquaintance with the trustworthy emissaries of rebeldom increased, he quietly insinuated that affairs of a national character were far more dear to him than individual interests or private concerns.

By continued intercourse with these men, he greatly increased the circle of his acquaintances, and soon became a welcome guest at the residences of many of the first families of that refined and aristocratic city. Here his accomplishments appeared to the best advantage. His romantic disposition and the ease of his manner captivated many of the susceptible hearts of the beautiful Baltimore belles, whose eyes grew brighter in his presence, and who listened enraptured to the poetic utterances which were whispered into their ears under the witching spell of music and moonlit nature.

He gradually neared the circle of which Marshal George P. Kane appeared to be the leader, and in a short time he had succeeded in entirely winning his confidence, and from this gentleman Howard acquired many important items of information. The entire police force of the city—officers and men—were in full sympathy with the rebellion, and it became apparent to him that a strict watch was kept over every man who expressed Northern opinions, or who was not identified with the cause which they had espoused.

To all of these arrangements Howard signified his hearty indorsement, and by every means in his power he sought to convince the leaders of his full sympathy with their efforts and his resolve to take a leading part in the struggle that seemed to be impending.

Accepting the invitation of Mr. Kane, he one evening accompanied that gentleman to a meeting of one of the secret societies that then existed, the first one he had succeeded in gaining entrance to. Arriving at the place of assembly, he was surprised at the many familiar faces which greeted him. Men whose aristocratic doors had opened to his entrance and whose social positions were unquestioned; young men who traced their lineage through several generations, and whose wealth and intelligence gave them a social status of no ordinary character, were found in full accord and upon perfect equality with tradesmen, artificers, and even with those whose vocation was decidedly doubtful, and some of whom had heard the key of a prison lock turned upon them for offenses committed in days gone by.

The leader and President of this society was a Captain Fernandina, who was known as one of the most active of the conspirators. This individual at one time occupied the exalted position of a barber at Barnum's Hotel, but treason and conspiracy had elevated him to the station of a military captain whose orders were to be obeyed, and a leader whose mandates compelled respect. He was an Italian or of Italian descent, and having lived in the South for a number of years he was thoroughly impressed with the idea of Southern wrongs, and that the election of Mr. Lincoln was an outrage which must not be tamely submitted to by the high-toned and chivalrous people of the South.

He was an enthusiast and fanatic, a dangerous man in any crisis, and particularly so in the one now impending, which threatened a civil war and all its direful consequences. Educated with Italian ideas and possessed of the temperament of his people, he openly justified the use of the stiletto, and fiercely advocated assassination as the means of preventing the President-elect from taking his seat in the executive chair. He was also the captain of a military company which drilled regularly and whose members were believed to fully indorse the views of their chief.

At this meeting Fernandina delivered an address which, for its treasonable nature and its violent opposition to all laws, human or divine, has scarcely a parallel. He boldly advocated the doctrine of State rights; he fiercely denounced the party who had succeeded in obtaining power; he inveighed in violent language against the policy of the so-called abolitionists, and his arraignment of Mr. Lincoln was most vile and repulsive. As these words fell from his lips the excitement became intense. Faces were eagerly turned towards him, eyes glistened with the fires of hate, and hands were clenched as though each one present was imbued with the same feelings which animated their sanguinary leader.

As he proceeded, overcome by the violence of his emotions, he drew from his breast a long, glittering knife, and waving it aloft, exclaimed:

"This hireling Lincoln shall never, never be President. My life is of no consequence in a cause like this, and I am willing to give it for his. As Orsini gave his life for Italy, I am ready to die for the rights of the South and to crush out the abolitionist."

As he stood before them, his black eyes flashing with excitement, his sallow face pale and colorless and his long hair brushed fiercely back from his low forehead, he seemed a fitting representative of so desperate a cause, and his influence over the assemblage was wonderful to behold. Loud cheers and wild clapping of hands greeted his utterances, and all seemed in perfect accord with his declared intentions.

There could be no mistaking the fact, that the object of these men was dangerous, and that they had fully determined to oppose and prevent the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, but the exact plan of operation had not as yet been agreed upon.

Upon these facts being conveyed to me by Howard on the following morning, I resolved to interview this desperate leader of the conspiracy myself, and endeavor to learn from him further particulars of their movements and designs.

In the immediate vicinity of Barnum's Hotel at that time there was a famous restaurant, popularly known as "Guy's," and this place was much frequented by the secessionists who were in the city. Fernandina spent much of his time there, either in drinking or in consultation with his numerous political friends, who all seemed to regard him as an important personage, and one who was eventually to perform giant service in the cause.

Howard having effecting an introduction to Fernandina, and convinced him of his devotion to the interests of the South, I experienced no difficulty in obtaining the desired interview. About three o'clock on the following afternoon Howard and myself carelessly entered the saloon, and were gratified to perceive that Fernandina was also there, accompanied by several members of the military company which he commanded. Walking directly up to these gentlemen, Howard introduced me as a resident of Georgia, who was an earnest worker in the cause of secession, and whose sympathy and discretion could be implicitly relied upon.

Fernandina cordially grasped my hand, and we all retired to a private saloon, where, after ordering the necessary drinks and cigars, the conversation became general, and to me, absorbingly interesting.

The question of assassinating the President was freely discussed, and Captain Fernandina expressed himself vehemently in its favor.

Some one in the party remarked:

"Are there no other means of saving the South except by assassination?"

"No," replied Fernandina; "as well might you attempt to move the Washington Monument yonder with your breath, as to change our purpose. He must die—and die he shall. And," he continued, turning to Captain Trichot, a fellow-conspirator who stood near, "if necessary, we will die together."

"There seems to be no other way," interposed Howard, "and while bloodshed is to be regretted, it will be done in a noble cause."

Fernandina gazed approvingly at Howard, and then added:

"Yes, the cause is a noble one, and on that day every captain will prove himself a hero. With the first shot the chief traitor, Lincoln, will die, then all Maryland will be with us, and the South will be forever free."

"But," said I, "have all the plans been matured, and are there no fears of failure? A misstep in so important a direction would be fatal to the South and ought to be well considered."

"Our plans are fully arranged," answered the Captain, "and they cannot fail; and," he added, with a wicked gleam in his eyes—"if I alone must strike the blow, I shall not hesitate or shrink from the task. Lincoln shall certainly not depart from this city alive."

"Yes," added Captain Trichot, "it is determined that this G—d d—d Lincoln shall never pass through here alive, and no d—d abolitionist shall ever set foot upon Southern soil except to find a grave."

"But about the authorities"—I asked—"is there no danger to be apprehended from them?"

"Oh, no," said the Captain, assuringly, "they are all with us. I have seen Col. Kane, the Chief Marshal of Police, and he is all right. In a week from to-day the North shall want another President, for Lincoln will be a corpse."

All the company gave approving responses to these threats, with but one exception, and he remained silent, with a doubtful, troubled expression upon his face. This young man was one of the fast "bloods" of the city, who proudly wore upon his breast a gold Palmetto badge, and who was a Lieutenant in the Palmetto Guards, a secret military organization of Baltimore, and I determined to select this man for the purpose of obtaining the information I so much desired; and as the company shortly afterwards broke up, Howard and myself accompanied Lieutenant Hill from the saloon.

Hill soon proved a pliant tool in our hands. Being of a weak nature and having been reared in the lap of luxury, he had entered into this movement more from a temporary burst of enthusiasm and because it was fashionable, than from any other cause. Now that matters began to assume such a warlike attitude, he was inclined to hesitate before the affair had gone too far, but still he seemed to be enamored with the glory of the undertaking.

By my directions Howard, the ardent secessionist from Louisiana, and Hill, of the Palmetto Guards, became bosom friends and inseparable companions. They drank together, and visited theaters and places of amusement in each other's company.

By reason of his high social position Hill was enabled to introduce his friend to the leading families and into the most aristocratic clubs and societies of which the city boasted, and Howard made many valuable acquaintances through the influence of this rebellious scion of Baltimore aristocracy.

Finally the young man was induced to open to his companion the secrets of the plot to assassinate the President. It was evident, however, that Hill was playing his part in the conspiracy with great reluctance, and one day he said to Howard:

"What a pity it is that this glorious Union must be destroyed all on account of that monster Lincoln." From Hill it was learned that the plans of the conspirators were first to excite and exasperate the popular feeling against Mr. Lincoln to the utmost, and thus far this had been successfully accompanied. From the published programme Mr. Lincoln was to reach Baltimore from Harrisburg by the Northern Central Railroad on the twenty-third day of February, now but a few days distant. He would, therefore, reach the city about the middle of the day. A vast crowd would meet him at the Calvert street depot, at which point it was expected that he would enter an open carriage and ride nearly half a mile to the Washington depot. Here it was arranged that but a small force of policemen should be stationed, and as the President arrived a disturbance would be created which would attract the attention of these guardians of the peace, and this accomplished, it would be an easy task for a determined man to shoot the President, and, aided by his companions, succeed in making his escape.

Agents of the conspirators had been dispatched to all the principal Northern cities, to watch the