Spies in the Civil War Sarah


The Civil War was a four year long regional conflict between the north and the south of the United States. This bloody battle erupted over issues including slavery, westward expansion and more. Leaders from the Union and Confederacy begin to welcome in spies to help them win the war. These spies would travel with troops to secretly gather information about the opposing sides. Spies changed the tactics of warfare.

What were Spies for?

Spies were meant to secretly scout on the opposing side to smuggle information about them, what they were planning, their weaknesses, and what they were up to.

Why Spies were Important

Spies helped both sides in the war achieve ways to gather information to help win the war.

Women Spies

Female spies played an extremely important role in the Civil War. A majority of the spies were women, they made it easier to infiltrate union camps. Women spies were not as suspicious as women were. They befriended the men and troops inside the camp to collect information about them.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was a female spy/ investigator in the Civil War as well as being an abolitionist and constructing the underground railroads.

Harriet Tubman

How Spies Impacted the Civil War

Spies helped the North and South with the war. Spies changed the tactics of warfare in this war and wars to come.

Union Spies

Union Spies were considered to be "more experienced", but it wasn't until 1862 when Allan Pinkerton created an official organization for spies. Later it was found that his spies were a failure, for example, ""in 1862 Pinkerton estimated that the confederate army had... 150,000 men, they ended up only having around half that amount.

Union Spies: Belle Boyd, Antonia Ford, Alexander Keith, Jr, Henry Thomas Harrison, etc.

Confederacy Spies

Confederate spies were very successful in the war. One spying organization that was being run was the Confederate Single Corps association. This group of people handled with coding and decoding messages that were being sent from the South up to spies in the North. It helped pass messages through secretly and quickly. John Letcher also set up a network of spies for the south. He received the messages and then decoded the messages. One of the most credited indecent was when a spy sent a coded message to Letcher, the message gave him information about the north planning on an invasion. Confederate spies were more successful.

Confederate spies: William Bryant, Zora Fair, Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Nancy Hart Douglas, etc.

Union Spies vs. Confederate Spies

Confederate Spies were more successful throughout the war. More women were involved in the spying of the war. Confederate spies were overall superior to Union spies.


Although we don't know much about spies, we do know that they made a significant impact on the Civil War. Each individual spy were different on how they achieved gathering information.


1. Who played the most important role as spies?

2. Who had an all female spy network?

3. Harriet Tubman served for... (Union or Confederacy)

4. Union spies were considered to be...

5. Were Union or Confederate spies superior?

6. Who were some spies in the Union?

7. Who were some spies in the Confederacy?

8. Who was Harriet Tubman?

9. What was the name of the first Confederate spy association?

10. What did John Letcher do?

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