Henry Thomas Harrison, a Confederate spy, supplied Generals Longstreet and Lee with details about the advancing Union army. Based solely on that information, Lee ordered his dispersed army to move immediately towards a small crossroads town in south-central Pennsylvania. Thus was the beginning of the historic three-day battle known as Gettysburg.
We can only imagine what might have happened if Harrison had failed in his mission but it is a fact that he did change the course of history.
The identity of General James Longstreet's famous scout, known only as "Harrison" remained a mystery for more than a century. However, in 1986 historian James O. Hall identified this elusive man. Researching the Civil War records at the National Archives, Hall found conclusive evidence that Longstreet's scout was Secret Agent H. T. Harrison.
Harrison had joined the Mississippi State Militia in the spring of 1861 as a private. But in November of 1861 he was discharged and eventually became a spy for CSA Secretary of War James Seddon. Harrison's service for Longstreet at Gettysburg has long been established history and Hall's research has identified him but there is more to the story. The purpose of this website is to publish additional facts as they are uncovered.
Colonel G. Moxley Sorrel, Longstreet's Chief of Staff, wrote in his book, Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer, that Harrison provided valuable information regarding the whereabouts and intentions of Union forces under their new commander, General George Gordon Meade, prior to the battle of Gettysburg.
Harrison appeared at Longstreet's headquarters near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on the night of June 28, 1863 with news that Federal forces centered around Frederick, Maryland and were on there way north. At that moment Lee's army was dispersed over a wide area of south central Pennsylvania. Based solely on the information from a spy, Lee directed his army to converge near Gettysburg. Harrison's news saved Lee from a potential disaster and thus altered the course of history.
Sorrel knew nothing about Harrison's identity and no one on Longstreet's staff even knew his first name. Longstreet must have known because he obtained a photograph of Harrison for his published memoirs, From Manassas to Appomattox. But Longstreet continued to maintain his secrecy in this matter.
1923, October 28 - Harrison at age 91, dies in Covington, KY.. He is buried at Highland Cemetery, Fort Mitchell, KY.
FIND-A-GRAVE SUBMISSION: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=harrison&GScid=74378&GRid=9076&