November After Action Report by Archie Lintz

November 2015 After Action Report
The Civil War Round Table of Northeast Indiana
Mr. Stephen Towne, archivist/special
collections at IUPUI Indianapolis, gave us a talk
last November on the subject of his book,
Surveillance & Spies in the Civil War. This was
no ordinary book on this topic, because much of
the content is specific to northeast Indiana. For
those of us who may have thought the conspiracy against the United States on
the part of confederate sympathizers was not serious had the fog of time lifted
before us and were taken back to a time when the outcome of the war was a
question, one some Hoosiers and other Midwesterners would try to answer by
providing important aid and comfort to the enemy.
Towne outlined the development of army intelligence in the Midwest
(Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan). The army spied on Midwesterners because
of the problems of desertion, draft‐dodging, and threats to the security of
prisoner‐of‐war camps. The army infiltrated secret organizations and stopped
conspiracies to attack POW camps and raise rebellion in the region.
The fact that they were effectively suppressed has shaped the illusion in
retrospect that the Copperhead movement had not been dangerously significant,
and was quite exaggerated by Governor Oliver P. Morton and the Republicans for
political effect. Mr. Towne’s presentation was that it was both a real and
dangerous threat that was also used for political effect to bolster the Lincoln
Administration’s war effort and perhaps, one might argue, to strengthen the
power of the Republican party in Indiana. Separating the patriotic work to
preserve the Union from the fortunes of the Lincoln Administration and the
Republican party became increasingly difficult as the war continued.
The hero of this history is Brig. General Henry Beebee Carrington, who
established an intelligence network and skillfully managed it in Indiana, where a
hotbed of Copperhead activity was centered in Allen and surrounding northeast
Indiana counties. We learned that the Knights of the Golden Circle became the
Organization of American Knights, then the Sons of Liberty.
His talk was based on his book: Surveillance and Spies in the Civil
War: Exposing Confederate Conspiracies in America’s Heartland. It is published
by Ohio University Press. You may buy it from local bookstores or online from the
following booksellers:
Ohio University Press
Barnes & Noble

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