- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009


Regarding the subject of John Lockwood’s article (“Sturges Rifles guard McClellan,” Plugged in, Thursday), the Sturges Rifles, a group of more than 100 men who served as Gen. George McClellan’s personal guards, included a soldier by the name of John Babcock. Babcock holds the distinction of being one of the first, if not the first, American civilian who served as a military intelligence analyst. Babcock, who worked as an architect in Chicago, joined the Rifles at the beginning of the Civil War. His talent for drawing led to a job as a mapmaker with McClellan’s intelligence chief Allan Pinkerton.

When President Abraham Lincoln relieved McClellan as army commander in 1862, the general ordered his personal guards to be mustered out, making Babcock a civilian once again. The army kept him on as an intelligence agent, however, and he went on to distinguish himself by analyzing various sources of intelligence and accurately determining the organization, strength and leadership of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg Campaigns and thereafter through the end of the war. Though unheralded, John Babcock set a high standard for future military intelligence analysts.


Bethany Beach, Del.

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