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The Pinkerton Agency


In my Civil War short, In the Shadows, I briefly mention Allan Pinkerton and use he and his agency as the basis for Marion’s foray into spying. Actually, it was Allan’s co-worker, possible lover, Kate Warne that gave me the idea. She was a woman who did as she pleased, and working as a Pinkerton was what she wanted to do. None of this secretary business. No, Kate wanted to be a spy. Not being a stupid man, Allan agreed to a trial case. She didn’t fail, and went on to save President Lincoln before his inauguration.

President Lincoln hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency, during the Civil War, to organize a “secret service” to obtain military information on the Confederates and sometimes act as Lincoln’s bodyguard.  Allan traveled under the name Major E.J. Allen. After the war, the agency was often hired by the government to perform many of the same duties that are now part of the Secret Service, the FBI, and the CIA’s duties.


  1. That’s cool. I am surprised they’d even let a woman work for them, but glad they realized how clever a woman can be.

  2. This is a fascinating topic, Isabel! And I love that you made the heroine the agent in your story!

  3. carolyndee says:

    I loved this information also. One of my own family–a lateral line, actually–was a Confederate spy. I believe women have been spies in all wars. Women are able to blend into the background or play the empytheaded sweet thing–or rely on pillow talk.

  4. Denise Eagan says:

    I love reading about the Pinkertons. I’ve used them in a couple books, but only as background. At some point, I need to read more about them.

  5. Isabel Roman says:

    I was going to write more, but since I forgot I was supposed to post this, alas. Still, Kate Warne was a fascinating woman and Pinkerton, well he was a complicated man. I couldn’t find a photo of Kate, which is a shame.

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