Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
The Civil War

Spies for the Union

Spies for the Union
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.84

     challenging words:    best-organized, contraband, interrogation, misdirect, co-workers, peddler, telegraph, crossing, better, civilian, response, washerwoman, military, network, dispatches, organization
     content words:    James Bond, Civil War, Allan Pinkerton, General McClellan, Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Brigadier General Lafayette Baker, Henry Young, Sarah Emma Edmonds, Frank Thompson, Elizabeth Van Lew

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Spies for the Union
By Mary Lynn Bushong

1     Do you like James Bond movies or stories? It's fun to think about those dashing, romantic adventures he's had over the years. Spies can help a country avoid a war or win it more quickly. During the Civil War, both sides used spies to try to gain an advantage. It was rarely romantic though, and if caught, a spy usually died.
2     When the Civil War started, there was no spy network in place as there is now. On the Union side, there wasn't even the start of any organization until the summer of 1861. It was then that Allan Pinkerton, the detective, began trying to establish a network of spies using many of his own investigators. He was a better investigator than spy, but he did manage to do a lot of traveling behind enemy lines. He worked under General McClellan, and when the general moved to Washington, Pinkerton did too. It was there that he was able to break up the Confederate spy ring of Rose O'Neal Greenhow.
3     Just as a spy can help the war effort, he can also hinder it. In 1862, Pinkerton passed along some bad information. It involved troop movements and numbers, and it hindered the Union response on the battlefield.
4     Pinkerton was a civilian spy, as were many others, but there were also spies who served in the military. One spy master was Brigadier General Lafayette Baker. He was known to be a hard man and needed only to be suspicious of someone before bringing them in for interrogation and imprisonment. Even his co-workers were afraid of him.
5     Another well known spy in the military was Maj. Henry Young. He had 58 men under him who served as scouts and spies during the final months of the war, especially at Appomattox. It was their job to climb the telegraph poles and misdirect the trains that might have supplied Gen. Lee's army.

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