Gen Earl Van Dorn solicits aid of CSA spy in late summer 1862

Confederate Spy Manuscript Report to C.S.A. General Daniel Ruggles

Confederate Spy Manuscript Report to C.S.A. General Daniel Ruggles

From Cowan’s Auction online

The summer of 1862 was a dire time for the Confederacy in the deep south. After the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate forces were driven south into Mississippi and were besieged by a determined union foe. In September, Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn ordered an unidentified spy to ride out from Vicksburg and survey the state of Confederate forces in the Mississippi Delta and across the river in Helena, Ark. His findings could not have been encouraging, discovering disorganization and low morale wherever he looked. Near Prentiss, Miss., he found a regiment that had faded back, being apprehensive the enemy would surround them, although to my own personal knowledge there was no enemy or any likelihood of their being molested in that particular section and their presence there was of no earthly advantage to the Confederacy — and the citizens being aware of their ineficiency, are very desirous for the regiment being removed…

At Helena, things were a little better. The spy found Gen. Alcorn and held a long conversation with him and from his remarks concluded he had sworn allegiance to the Federal Government — and many other citizens in Gen. Alcorn’s neighborhood, have taken the oath of allegiance and do not deny it — I found great dissention amongst citizens in Bolivar, Cohoma, Tunica Counties [all Mississippi Delta], touching their loyalty to the North and South. There are two or three Guerilla Companys in Cahoma County, but totally undisciplined and consequently of little service — but if they were consolidated and placed under a good leader, would be of incalculable service to the citizens…

After estimating the size and condition of federal forces near Helena, their fortifications, and use of Negro laborers, the writer concludes I have found that our slaves are [illeg.] be demolraised by the presence of the enemy, and the only check to it, is the patrolling of well disciplined vigilant cavalry companys [sic]…

Ruggles himself was a bit unconventional: despite being a native of Barre, Mass., and graduate of West Point, Ruggles resigned from the US Army at the start of the Civil War to join the Confederacy. Many Southern USMA graduates did this, but few Northern ones did.

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