Allan Pinkerton, a Civil War hero?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Allan Pinkerton was born in Glasgow Scotland and was a cooper by trade. I am uncertain how his experience as a cooper helped him be a good police detective. Pinkerton worked for Chicago abolitionist and his house was a stop on the Underground Railroad. By the start of the Civil War he did have some experience as a detective stopping train robberies. Through this he met George McClellan. I am not sure his detective work prepared him to be the head of the Union Intelligence Service for the first two years of the Civil War. It would seem like some military experience would have been helpful to properly collect and evaluate military intelligence.

This leads me to my first question. Did Pinkerton's lack of military experience hurt his leadership as the head of the Union Intelligence Service? General McClellan seemed to over estimate the size of the Confederate forces, was part of this Pinkerton's fault?

My next question is; Pinkerton personally conducted several undercover mission in the Southern states, was this an appropriate roll for the head of the Union Intelligence Service? It would seem like he should have had agents to do this and should have stayed in the North to actually lead the Union Intelligence Service.

My next question is, did Pinkerton really stop the assassination of Lincoln in Baltimore? Other than Pinkerton's claims, was their any real proof that Lincoln was going to be assassinated?

In the end did Pinkerton, as head of the Union Intelligence Service, help the Union war effort more than he hurt it? I can not help but wonder if Pinkerton's over estimation of the size of the Confederate forces impacted Union operations in the Eastern Theater.