The Confederate Dirty War

Arson, Bombings, Assassination and Plots for Chemical and Germ Attacks on the Union

They echo modern headlines—a shadowy underground organization orchestrating plans to bring down the government; bands of saboteurs slipping in from Canada to attempt coordinated acts of destruction; plans to poison water supplies and spread deadly diseases among the urban populace—but these and similar incidents were part of a Confederate strategy to wreak “terror and consternation” upon the North during the Civil War. Elements within the Confederacy, acting officially or otherwise, developed—and attempted—numerous plans to inflict terror and death upon the Union populace and bring down the government using a variety of unconventional means. These efforts are an overlooked and important aspect of the Confederate strategy during the Civil War.

This is a history of Confederate efforts to terrorize, demoralize and defeat the North by attacking civilians and the government, using means outside the bounds of conventional warfare. It covers arsonists, “destructionists,” engineers of chemical and biological weapons, bands of mobile operatives, and a variety of other nefarious characters and those who opposed them.