Black Dispatches

Cleveland Park Library

Black Dispatches

Union Military Espionage and African Americans in the Civil War

Black History Month Banner © Getty ImagesOn Saturday, February 25th, author Kenneth Daigler will discuss the important contributions of runaway slaves (considered "contraband of war"), slaves in place and free blacks to Union military intelligence.

Much intimate detail of terrain and geography was known to locals that could not in any way be known to a Union soldier. Careful watchers could provide an accurate order of battle for Confederate armies. Free blacks posing as slaves could gather a surprising amount of information. It was against the law in most of the South to teach a slave to read and write, so no one worried about leaving documents in the open. People were careless about talking in front of the servants. By way of a female Union agent in Richmond, a free black woman (originally from Richmond, educated in the North) was placed as a slave in the "Confederate White House". Given that she had a photographic memory, it's hard to imagine a more valuable agent.

Saturday, February 25th, 1:30 PM, first floor auditorium.