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Devil's Game: The Civil War Intrigues of Charles A. Dunham
     

Devil's Game: The Civil War Intrigues of Charles A. Dunham

by Carman Cumming
 

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The first book-length study of one of the Civil War's most outlandish and mysterious characters, Devil's Game traces the amazing career of Charles A. Dunham, double agent. Dunham was a spy, forger, "reptile journalist," and master of dirty tricks. Writing under different names for different newspapers, including New York's Tribune, Herald, and World, he routinely

Overview

The first book-length study of one of the Civil War's most outlandish and mysterious characters, Devil's Game traces the amazing career of Charles A. Dunham, double agent. Dunham was a spy, forger, "reptile journalist," and master of dirty tricks. Writing under different names for different newspapers, including New York's Tribune, Herald, and World, he routinely faked stories to promote the North's war aims, sometimes writing contradictory stories for rival papers. Dunham also used his journalism to create new identities and sometimes stepped into them, playing (with the help of his wife, Ophelia) at least a half-dozen such roles.

His Southern characters included the vicious "Colonel" Charles Dunham, under the command of General Early; Colonel James Watson Wallace, a wounded Virginian convalescing in Montreal; and Colonel George Margrave, "one of the most cool and reckless villains in the Confederacy." In the North he was known mainly as Sandford Conover but also used the name Isaac Haynes, among others. At times he would reinforce his house of cards by having his invented characters accuse each other of heinous crimes, like plans to assassinate President Lincoln.

Dunham achieved his greatest infamy at the war's end. Called to testify in Washington, he was the most notorious of the witnesses who swore that Lincoln's assassination had been plotted by conspirators in Montreal and Toronto, on orders from Richmond. That testimony (later discredited but never officially challenged) helped lead to the execution of several alleged associates of John Wilkes Booth. Dunham's postwar intrigues were almost as complex, as he continued to collect faked "evidence" of Southern war crimes. Finally convicted of perjury in these schemes, he worked in prison to produce evidence implicating President Andrew Johnson in the assassination, then reversed himself and sold out his associates to the President. Until now many parts of Dunham's wartime (and postwar) career have remained shadowy. Carman Cumming sheds new light on numerous escapades, including Dunham's effort to sell Lincoln on plans for a raid to capture Jefferson Davis and a complex effort in Canada to plan -- and then betray -- cross-border raids. Exhaustively researched, Devil's Game is a striking portrait of a consummate chameleon. Drawing together previous Dunham scholarship, Cumming offers the first detailed tour of Dunham's convoluted, high-stakes, international deceits. A carefully crafted assessment of Dunham's motives, personality, and the complex effects of his schemes make Devil's Game an important and original work that will change some basic assumptions about the secret operations of the Civil War.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The first extensive treatment of [Dunham’s] mendacious career. . . . Well worth reading for a glimpse at the termites that are eternally at work in the foundations of historical truth.”—Civil War Book Review

“Cumming has done a great service in so fully and carefully bringing [Dunham’s] activities to the attention of scholars and anyone interested in the more bizarre and Byzantine aspects of the Civil War."—Louisiana History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780252028908
Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
Publication date:
03/18/2004
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Carman Cumming worked as a reporter and editor in Canada and the United States before becoming a journalism professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. His publications include Secret Craft: The Journalism of Edward Farrer and Sketches from a Young Country: The Images of Grip Magazine.

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