May 24, 2012

Follow Up on Gen. Negley's Ill-Fated Spy

Gen. James S. Negley
(Source Unknown)
As a follow up to my last post mentioning a conversation that soldier-correspondent Corp. Elias H. Witmer had with a Unionist later hanged as a spy, I now have more information thanks to the genealogical work of Debbie Halley.  Debbie kindly sent me a copy of Gen. James Negley's letter of support for a pension to be awarded to Samuel W. Kenney's widow, Miriam.  The letter can be viewed here:

The letter confirms that Negley indeed employed Kenney as a spy while in that part of Tennessee in summer and fall of 1862.  I was under the impression Kenney was caught and hanged in spring 1863, so it's possible he spied when Negley's division was nearby in either or both of those instances.  Negley mentions that Kenney had lived in Armstrong County, from which the 78th Pennsylvania hailed, which makes me wonder if that is correct or Negley misremembered Lancaster and the 79th Pennsylvania as Kenney had lived briefly in Lancaster.  He also mentions that he paid Kenney's family $100 for his service and rather astoundingly added $400 from his own pocket. 

Regarding Kenney's last mission, Negley wrote:
His last and fatal venture was made contrary to my wish--voluntarily on his part, because I could find no one was willing to penetrate the camps of the enemy and ascertain their intentions.  When I suggested to him that I would not take the responsibility (much as I desired information) of hazarding his life he said he was willing to take the risk, because he was sure no other citizen who might be induced to go knew the country sufficiently well to escape capture and certain death, hence your Department will correctly interpret the personal interest and sympathy shown (on the occasion of his summary execution) for his family. 

No comments:

Post a Comment