Spies During the Civil War

Both sides who fought in the war used spies. Spies would pass on all sorts of information regarding the armies of the enemy during the Civil War. They told about troop movements, numbers of soldiers, and the conditions of the enemy army. This type of information could make the difference between winning and losing a battle. It allowed generals to know when and where to attack, or if they should retreat. They sent coded messages from the confederates to the union or vise versa without getting caught. If they did get caught however, some would be executed or imprisoned. The spies never changed sides, for the most part, but they did change the spying tactics. The men and women would work independently on different missions. In order to blend in, they'd wear street clothes. The spies were never trained and carried weapons only if they wanted to. Most of the time they were looked down upon and had no pay. They were never ordered to kill anyone because their main job was to get information, not kill other enemies. Some of the most famous spies were LaFayette Baker, Belle Boyd, Mary Bowser, Sam Davis, and Rose O’Neal Greenhow. The most famous women spy was Belle Boyd. She impacted the confederate side of the fight and worked from her father’s hotel to gather information from the people. Women would often flirt to get the Union soldiers to give information. Surprisingly, it was more common for women to be spies than men. To this day, some armies still use them or have someone doing similar tasks.

Well-known spies from the Civil War.

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