The Gideon Plan Mystery
In 1865, during the closing days of the American Civil War, Union troops descended upon the Confederate Capitol of Richmond. The soldiers found Confederate officials burning government documents. What was salvaged exposed a Confederate initiative known as the Confederate Secret Service. The documents contained many projects that were deemed uncivilized for 19th century warfare including missions of espionage and covert operations. One of these documents mentioned a special project known as the Gideon Plan. Information is scant, but it is noted that William Yancey, Confederate diplomat to Europe in 1861, was able to secure two loans from private investors in France and England to finance this plan.
There had been many theories what the Gideon Plan may have entailed, but for the remainder of the 1800s and all of the twentieth century, the Plan was shrouded in mystery. In the fall of 2008, the estate of William Porcher Miles, the Chair for the Confederate Congress’s Military Affairs, discovered previously undisclosed memoirs written by Miles in his later years. These memoirs were donated to the National Civil War Museum on Christmas 2010 and shed considerable light on the Gideon Plan. Some historians are saying the documents will turn Civil War history on its ear.
The memoirs reveal that in addition to the Yancey loan, as part of the Confederacy’s Partisan Ranger Act of 1862, a special appropriation was set aside to fund the Gideon Plan. Historians were stunned to learn that in all, almost 15% of the Confederacy’s military budget was spent on this project from 1862 to 1863. Miles explained that the plan encompassed the use of a small squad made up of elite sharpshooters recruited from the regular Confederate army who were equipped with experimental weapons and trained in espionage and infiltration techniques. The members of the plan were responsible for no less than a dozen particularly dangerous behind-the-line actions during the Civil War between 1862 and 1863 including the destruction of the Gatling Factory in December of 1862, a failed attempt to destroy the Springfield armory in 1863, a rescue of Stonewall Jackson a week before he was accidently shot by his own men and involvement in the assassination of President Lincoln. The project was abandoned when the Confederacy’s faltering economy could no longer support the project and the congress repealed the Partisan Ranger Act. Miles made special note that some of the squad members committed treason and defected to the side of the Union shortly after the squad was disbanded. It was Mile’s opinion that these members had an important hand in the planning of Grant’s Overland Campaign that led to the eventual end of the War. Additionally, he espoused the theory that these members continued in the service of the United States military and were responsible for extraditing many of the Confederate officials who went into hiding after the war. He also believed that these members had military covert roles in Mexico, Santo Domingo, Cuba, and elsewhere in later years.
Miles’s belief seems to be substantiated by a mystery that has plagued Western Union archivists for years. Between the dates 1865 until 1904, over 300 instances of coded messages written in American Morse code were intercepted as far away as Istanbul and Seoul. Though these messages remain to this day undeciphered, all make use of the word “Gideon.” As of yet, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of State’s archivists have commented on any of these documents.
This entry was posted on September 7, 2011 by danbracewell. It was filed under My Manuscripts, The Gideon Plan and was tagged with aspiring author, author, Civil War, Civil War Mystery, Civil War Story, Confederate Secret Service, Sci Fi Story, Steam Punk, Steam Punk Story, writer, writing.