Scouts and Spies of the Civil War

By William Gilmore Beymer; Howard Pyle | Go to book overview
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Timothy Webster: Spy

Civilians fell in the great war. They fought in an army that was without flags or uniforms, without stirring music or flashing arms; an army ever in an enemy's country, surrounded and outnumbered. Theirs was an army of individuals; in little groups, in couples, or a alone, they fought against cities and communities, against whole armies, in one great, silent, unending conflict of wit and subterfuge and cunning. When they fell, their death was not a swift blotting out as in battle, but it was made a ceremony of horror and shame; for the men and women of this civilian army were spies—soldiers set apart from soldiers by the stern rules of war; sowers, whom we, the complacent reapers, “damn with faint praise”; patriots, sacrificing their innermost selves to a military necessity that is as old as war is old, that has been justified since the day when Moses “by commandment of the Lord” sent his twelve spies into the land of Canaan.

Several months before Sumter was fired on, the War had begun for Timothy Webster. At no time after the actual outbreak of war was he more liable to the fate of a spy than at Perrymansville, 1 Maryland, early in February, 1861, when he quietly took up his regular duties as detective of the private agency of Allan Pinkerton, of Chicago. At the outset his visit to Perrymansville was commonplace enough and quite within his routine—merely to expose the suspected plot of malcontents to

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1
Now Perryman

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