Henry Thomas Harrison (1832-1900) Biography

Henry Thomas Harrison (1832-1900)


Harrison, a shadowy figure who shows up from time to time as a spy, usually working for Gen'l Longstreet. He has a role to play in the Gettysburg movie and appears to have preferred to keep his personal life "personal." He was identified as James Harrison (1834-1913), the actor, for a time (see the entry in the Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War, for example, but he is more probably Henry Thomas HARRISON (ca. 1832-post 1900). Known simply as "Harrison," he was an effective southern spy. He operated out of Washington, DC, prior to Gettysburg and reported back to Longstreet on 28 June 1863, bring the first news of George G. Meade's relief of Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac. He also reported that Meade had crossed the Potomac River. Longstreet passed the information along to Lee and the stage was set for Gettysburg. Stewart Sifakis, Who was who in the Civil War, notes that Harrison was "positively identified" in the middle 1980s as Henry Thomas Harrison, originally a Mississippi scout serving with the CSArmy in northern Virginia during the first year of the war. He became a special agent in 1862 with Secy War James A. Seddon and the following spring was serving with Ongstreet in s.e. VA before going on his Washington "hunt." In the fall, 1863, he appears to have been paid off for his services because he was a security risk (heavy drinking). However, when Longstreet was in the west, he again sought out "Harrison" for more work. Harrison was gone. He allegedly went to Mexico to aid Maximilian and later disappeared in the Montana Territory until 1900. Then he vanished once more. There is an article in the Civil War Times Illustrated that discusses the spy, February 1986 ("The spy Harrison") Above information taken from Sifakis, Who was who.

Submitted by Ken Jones

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Last Updated: 28 January 1998
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