The Boy Spy

John Clem Civil War

A successful scout, or spy, is like a great poet in one respect: he is born, not made—subject to the requisition of the military genius of the time. That I was not born to be hanged is a self-evident proposition. Whether I was a successful scout or not, the reader of these pages must determine. It was my good fortune to have first seen the light under the shadow of one of the spurs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the beautiful Cumberland Valley, in the State of Pennsylvania, near Mason and Dixon’s line. This same locality is distinguished as the birth-place of President James Buchanan, and also that of Thomas A. Scott, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and its system, under whom I served. Mr. Scott used to say he had leased this position for ninety-nine years with twice the salary of the president of the United States. My grandfather, who had been an officer in the Royal Navy, of Great Britain, served in the same ships with Lord Nelson, had after the manner of his class kept a record of his remarkable and thrilling services in the British Navy during the wars of that period. The discovery of this, grandfather’s diary—amongst other war papers—after his death, I may say, here, accounts in a manner for the spirit of adventure in my disposition. I come by it naturally, and following the precedent, submit this unpretending narrative, as another grandfather’s diary. It appears that during the embargo declared during the war between the United States and England in 1812, my grandfather was caught ashore, as it were, in America.

Boy Spy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s