Discussion Was the term "Intelligence" Used in a Military Sense During the Civil War?


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unionblue

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#3
@JeffBrooks ,

From the above book, Notes, page 602:

"1. In 1857 Army Regulations, the edition in effect during the years when an intersectional war was foreseeable, had instructions on reconnaissance, march security, and the like, but that was as close as they came to the subject of intelligence."

Hope that helps you out a bit.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#4
The word "intelligence" meaning "news/information" is old. The formal definition of (military) intelligence as collected and refined information does not predate World War One, to my knowledge.

Fishel is good (though some of his conclusions are disputed). There are a few others. They can be difficult to find in and among all the retellings of Rose O'Neal Greenhow and Belle Boyd...
 
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#5
It's a very good question and I think we're seeing some very useful answers. I was interested to see @Mark F. Jenkins answer because one of my personal heroes was a Missouri boy who served in an Intelligence unit in WWI. When reading his memoir, I, too, wondered if the term went as far back as the Civil War. My personal hero? Medal of Honor recipient John Lewis Barkley of near Holden, Missouri.
 

unionblue

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#6
It's a very good question and I think we're seeing some very useful answers. I was interested to see @Mark F. Jenkins answer because one of my personal heroes was a Missouri boy who served in an Intelligence unit in WWI. When reading his memoir, I, too, wondered if the term went as far back as the Civil War. My personal hero? Medal of Honor recipient John Lewis Barkley of near Holden, Missouri.
I was with the Army Security Agency (ASA) my first 13 years in the Army. We were a part of Military Intelligence (MI) conducting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operations. What that means is I usually sat in front of two R-390 radio receivers with a pair of headphones over my ears and typing every morse code signal I heard from an assigned target onto my typewriter (mill). Morse code was the principal means of communication between Communist nations during my time, going back and forth between Russian and Chinese military units to their respective headquarters. Most of the messages sent in this manner were encrypted and were sent back to the National Security Agency to be broken out by massive banks of computers and such.

This was mainly strategic intelligence with the main concerns if a Russian Airborne Division was going to move for deployment in Egypt in the Six-Day War with Israel or if a Chinese bomber group was going to fly out to attack Tiawan. Then there were some of my fellow code copiers who were in Vietnam during that conflict who kept tabs on NVA or VC mortar teams who would get coordinates to attack certain American barracks or bunkers. THAT could be very tense.

I once had the job of copying Chinese anti-aircraft missile batteries and fighter aircraft the resulting coordinates to Chinese fighter bases to scramble aircraft to shoot it down at those coordinates, aircraft who might attempt to shot down our US intelligence flights flying out of Okinawa, Japan. If the radars did "light up" the American plane they would send the location to the fighters who would then fly out to try and shoot down the aircraft. It kept you on your toes when you realized you had to be as accurate as possible so the aircraft knew exactly where trouble was coming from and which direction to safely retreat.

I would venture to say that intelligence has come a long way from the Civil War and even my time of the old 1980s.

Unionblue
 
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#8
I was with the Army Security Agency (ASA) my first 13 years in the Army. We were a part of Military Intelligence (MI) conducting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operations. What that means is I usually sat in front of two R-390 radio receivers with a pair of headphones over my ears and typing every morse code signal I heard from an assigned target onto my typewriter (mill).
Wow @unionblue, that is pretty amazing to me. I'm a morse code guy, too, but with none of the responsibility you had. Furthermore, I never had to copy an encrypted signal--nor an encrypted signal in a scrambled foreign language. I was a ham operator for a number of years. At my best, I passed a proficiency test at 13 wpm. I am pretty sure you exceeded that...and THEN some.

This is far from the original intent of the thread, but it sure is fun to exchange these thoughts with you!
 
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#9
I was with the Army Security Agency (ASA) my first 13 years in the Army. We were a part of Military Intelligence (MI) conducting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operations. What that means is I usually sat in front of two R-390 radio receivers with a pair of headphones over my ears and typing every morse code signal I heard from an assigned target onto my typewriter (mill). Morse code was the principal means of communication between Communist nations during my time, going back and forth between Russian and Chinese military units to their respective headquarters. Most of the messages sent in this manner were encrypted and were sent back to the National Security Agency to be broken out by massive banks of computers and such.

This was mainly strategic intelligence with the main concerns if a Russian Airborne Division was going to move for deployment in Egypt in the Six-Day War with Israel or if a Chinese bomber group was going to fly out to attack Tiawan. Then there were some of my fellow code copiers who were in Vietnam during that conflict who kept tabs on NVA or VC mortar teams who would get coordinates to attack certain American barracks or bunkers. THAT could be very tense.

I once had the job of copying Chinese anti-aircraft missile batteries and fighter aircraft the resulting coordinates to Chinese fighter bases to scramble aircraft to shoot it down at those coordinates, aircraft who might attempt to shot down our US intelligence flights flying out of Okinawa, Japan. If the radars did "light up" the American plane they would send the location to the fighters who would then fly out to try and shoot down the aircraft. It kept you on your toes when you realized you had to be as accurate as possible so the aircraft knew exactly where trouble was coming from and which direction to safely retreat.

I would venture to say that intelligence has come a long way from the Civil War and even my time of the old 1980s.

Unionblue
Thanks for sharing! My late father was a member of the WWII Naval Unit OP-20-G... he spent the war working on the machines used for deciphering the Purple (Japanese) and Enigma (German) transmissions. That led to a later career with AFSA which then morphed into the NSA where he retired in 1976. Unfortunately, he shared very few stories, and he was committed (up to his death in 2012) to maintaining secrecy.
 

unionblue

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#11
Wow @unionblue, that is pretty amazing to me. I'm a morse code guy, too, but with none of the responsibility you had. Furthermore, I never had to copy an encrypted signal--nor an encrypted signal in a scrambled foreign language. I was a ham operator for a number of years. At my best, I passed a proficiency test at 13 wpm. I am pretty sure you exceeded that...and THEN some.

This is far from the original intent of the thread, but it sure is fun to exchange these thoughts with you!
You know, the entire time I copied morse code, I was never required (or taught) to SEND it.

I did copy way beyond 13 wpm, as it was required at my morse code school at Ft. Devens to copy with 90% accuracy at 16 wpm.

In those days if you failed, you were reassigned to the Infantry and sent to Ft. Polk, LA. Needless to say, not very many in the course failed! :smile:
 

unionblue

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#12
Thanks for sharing! My late father was a member of the WWII Naval Unit OP-20-G... he spent the war working on the machines used for deciphering the Purple (Japanese) and Enigma (German) transmissions. That led to a later career with AFSA which then morphed into the NSA where he retired in 1976. Unfortunately, he shared very few stories, and he was committed (up to his death in 2012) to maintaining secrecy.
Thank you for sharing about your father! He and the men like him of the time were legends to us MI newbies!

As for him keeping quite about his work all those years, it was a very natural habit to acquire when I was threatened with a $10,000 fine and ten years in a federal prison if you broke your secrecy oath (which I am very sure was not your late father's biggest concern, but his desire to protect NSA secrets and national security).

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#14
Let's see... the ones I've discovered that are worth reading are the aforementioned Fishel, Edwin C., The Secret War for the Union (Houghton Mifflin, 1996); Feis, William B., Grant's Secret Service (Univ. of Nebraska, 2002); and Allen, Thomas, and the Office of Public Affairs, Intelligence in the Civil War (CIA, Public Affairs, printed on demand, also at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/intelligence-history/civil-war/Intel_in_the_CW1.pdf).

There's an interesting paper from Down Under, the New South Wales chapter of the American Civil War Round Table of Australia at https://www.americancivilwar.asn.au/meet/2011_08_15 military intelligence paper SydACWRT.pdf .

Despite some of the more arguable conclusions of Fishel, his work is by far the deepest and most penetrating look at real military intel during the war (as opposed to the various romantic tales of dashing spies-- yawn).

There's also some interesting stuff at http://www.civilwarsignals.org/pages/spy/pages/grantintel.html .

On the Confederate side, I left a note to myself to follow up on G. Moxley Sorrel's Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer, a trail I evidently forgot to follow-- so I'm not sure how much might be there to find.
 
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#15
You know, the entire time I copied morse code, I was never required (or taught) to SEND it.

I did copy way beyond 13 wpm, as it was required at my morse code school at Ft. Devens to copy with 90% accuracy at 16 wpm.

In those days if you failed, you were reassigned to the Infantry and sent to Ft. Polk, LA. Needless to say, not very many in the course failed! :smile:
So cool! You could copy way faster than I could. I could send way faster than I could copy. Of course, that's because the text was already written down in front of me. But I have led this waaay off topic. I promise I won't continue to do that on this thread.
 



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