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Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union During the Civil Warby Thomas B Allen
Synopses & Reviews
As he did in his highly acclaimed George Washington, Spymaster, author Thomas B. Allen digs back through historical records to present a famous historical figure in a new light. Readers discover that Harriet Tubman--well-known to them as an ex-slave who led hundreds of her people to freedom along the Underground Railroad--was also a spy for the Union Army. More specifically she worked behind Confederate lines in South Carolina getting information about troop movement and Rebel fortifications from slaves that she was leading to freedom on the Underground Railroad. She also recruited former slaves for Colonel James Montgomery, a Union officer who was raising an all-black brigade for a raid up the Combahee River to attack plantations in South Carolina. Thanks to information obtained by Tubman and her black recruits Montgomery's men along with Tubman managed to elude Rebel torpedoes and swarm ashore. They destroyed a Confederate supply depot, torched homes and warehouses, and freed more than 750 plantation slaves. The report on the raid to Lincoln's Secretary of War stated: "This is the only military command in American history wherein a woman, black or white, led the raid and under whose inspiration it was originated and conducted."
This action is set within the context of Tubman's background as a slave in Maryland, her daring escape, her work with the Underground Railroad, and her association with John Brown and other abolitionists, all of which helps make her the invaluable scout (spy) known to the Union Army as Moses. The author also presents readers with a well-researched and balanced look at slavery in America and its role in the Civil War.
Readers will learn
o Only illness kept Tubman from being part of John Brown's ill-fated raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry
o How the Underground Railroad worked.
o Tubman had a $40,000 price tag on her head for leading so many slaves to freedom
o The Union Army realized Tubman's knowledge of Underground Railroad routes and southern terrain would makeher invaluable as a secret agent
o Tubman and the slaves she freed formed a spy ring that added to the wealth of information contained in a special category of Union intelligence called Black Dispatches
o Tubman became Union officer Col. James Montgomery's second in command and the only woman in American history to conceive, plan, and lead a military raid.
o Although she was praised for her war efforts, it took 30 years for her to get the military pension earned by Union soldiers
o Queen Victoria awarded her a medal for her bravery; no such tribute comes from the United States.
o How Nat Turner's slave revolt fueled southern fears and the debate between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists
o How the Union Army established special intelligence category called Black Dispatches for all the valuable information reported by slaves and runaways
o About a slave in the house of Confederate President Jefferson Davis who passed along information taken from reading his private papers
It's 1863. Harriet Tubman is facing one of the biggest--and most dangerous-- challenges of her life. She has survived her master's lash, escaped from slavery, and risked her life countless times to lead runaway slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Now she has a new role--that of Union spy.
About the Author
Thomas B. Allen is the author of the award-winning book, George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War. He is the co-author with Norman Polmar of Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage; Code-name Downfall; and Merchants of Treason, a report on modern espionage. He is also the co-author, with Paul Dickson, of The Bonus Army. Tom Allen lives in Bethesda, Maryland. You can visit him on the Web at www.tballen.com.
Carla Bauer is a woodcut illustrator whose work has been exhibited in the National Academy of Design. She lives in New York City.
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