Army

February 14, 2014

Military Intelligence – this week in history

Tags:
Ruth Quinn, Staff Historian
USAICoE Command History Office
Photos property of the U.S. Army
Col. George Sharpe’s All-Source Intelligence organization became the Bureau of Military Information. From left, this photo shows Sharpe, civilian John Babcock, an unknown officer, and Capt. John McEntee in front of their headquarters.

Colonel appointed Army of the Potomac’s intelligence chief

Col. George Sharpe’s All-Source Intelligence organization became the Bureau of Military Information. From left, this photo shows Sharpe, civilian John Babcock, an unknown officer, and Capt. John McEntee in front of their headquarters.

Feb. 11, 1863
During the first two bloody days of fighting in the decisive battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces battered Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac. Shortly after nightfall on the second day, Meade assembled a Council of War.
The primary question was whether the Army of the Potomac should remain at Gettysburg or fall back to a position closer to its supply base. After little debate, Meade and his corps commanders unanimously agreed to stay and fight a defensive action the third day. The result was both a tactical victory, as an exhausted Confederate army retreated from Union territory and a strategic victory as it renewed northern support for continuing the war.

The Council of War’s decision to remain at Gettysburg was based on solid intelligence presented by Col. George Sharpe, the chief of the Bureau of Military Information formed only three months earlier. Sharpe’s assistant, John Babcock, was an expert in Order of Battle, and had developed detailed charts revealing enemy troop strength.
Babcock reported that, “prisoners have been taken today [July 2], and last evening [July 1], from every brigade in Lee’s Army excepting the four brigades of Picketts Division. Every division has been represented except Picketts from which we have not had a prisoner. They are from nearly one hundred different regiments.”

Sharpe used this information to present a clear and remarkably accurate picture of Lee’s remaining forces around Gettysburg. His figures depicted a Confederate army badly depleted with only four fresh brigades out of 37, approximately 15,000 men, to fight the next day. Conversely, the Army of the Potomac could field about 58,000 fresh troops, a nearly four-to-one advantage.

Sharpe was a natural, charismatic leader of many talents. He delivered the salutatory address in Latin during his graduation from Rutgers University at the age of 19 before moving on to Yale Law School. Passing the New York bar exam in 1849, he spent a few years in Europe, traveling, studying languages and serving in U.S. diplomatic positions in Rome and Vienna.

By the start of the Civil War, Sharpe had a successful law practice in New York and a rising reputation. Within weeks after the bombardment of Fort Sumpter, Capt. Sharpe was commanding Company B of the 20th New York militia regiment known as the “Ulster Guard.” The unit was only in service for three months, being mustered out shortly after the battle of First Bull Run.

But this was just the beginning of Sharpe’s military career. In the summer of 1862, Sharpe single-handedly raised 900 men to form the 120th (named by Sharpe in honor of the former 20th) with his own money and his family’s influence. But in February, 1863 he was called away from his beloved unit to serve as the intelligence chief for the Army of the Potomac and pull together an organization charged with getting information about the enemy.

The new organization was initially called the Secret Service Department but quickly became known as the Bureau of Military Information, or BMI. It was made up of soldiers and civilians, listed as “guides” for pay purposes, but commonly known as scouts or agents.

The BMI was a rare example of a business-like staff section created solely for the collection and dissemination of intelligence. It not only collected and coordinated information from its scouts, but it also cross-checked information with other sources, such as that derived from observation balloons, signal stations and open-source materials such as Southern newspapers, to compile a comprehensive intelligence report for the commander. Babcock, in addition to drawing maps and creating Order of Battle charts, developed an effective prisoner of war and refugee interrogation program. In essence, Sharpe created an all-source intelligence organization, arguably the first in the Army.

Following the Confederacy’s surrender at Appomattox nearly two years after the Battle of Gettysburg, the Army completely dismantled the intelligence organization that had contributed so much to the Union victory in war. Sharpe survived the war and was brevet promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers in 1864. He left Army service in 1865.

It would be another 20 years before another intelligence organization within the Army was considered. However, the enduring contributions of Brevet Brig. Gen. George Sharpe to Military Intelligence will be honored at Fort Huachuca when he is inducted into the Class of 2013 MI Hall of Fame this June.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Gabrielle Kuholski

Antiterrorism Exercise assesses installation readiness, reinforces important relationships

Gabrielle Kuholski First responders with the Fort Huachuca and Whetstone Fire Departments work together to get a wounded Soldier into an ambulance during the full scale exercise, Apache Warrior 2013, Tuesday. These first respon...
 
 

Labor Day Safety Message

Labor Day marks the traditional end of the summer season and celebrates the American worker and the contributions they make to our great country. I want to commend you on your efforts to control heat injuries through another hot summer. Your diligence and care for teammates contributed to an overall 20-percent decrease in accident fatalities...
 
 
Gabrielle Kuholski

VA clinical psychologist raises military sexual trauma awareness

Gabrielle Kuholski Michael Moore, Ph.D., military sexual trauma coordinator at the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Tucson, presents a session on military sexual trauma, or MST, in the Murr Community Cent...
 

 

Glass recycling now available in Sierra Vista

SIERRA VISTA – Clean glass bottles and jars can be dropped off for recycling at the new Sierra Vista Glass Recycling Depot as part of the city’s trial glass recycling project. The Glass Recycling Depot, located in the parking lot of the Pedro Castro Government Maintenance Center, is a glass collection point that is separate...
 
 
Maranda Flynn

FH Community Spouses’ Club accepting new members, shares plans for coming year

Maranda Flynn Fort Huachuca Community Spouses’ Club board members, Katrina LaDue and Lesley Hocker, (left foreground and background), assist new club members, Dana Edwards and Sandi Weishaupt, (right foreground and background...
 
 

Retiree Council shares news, notes Did you forget to care for your Family?

No one forgets to care for his or her Family on purpose. It just happens – more often than one might think when it comes to the military Survivor Benefit Plan, or SBP. Most often, retired Soldiers don’t know the federal law and the time limits it imposes on maintaining their SBP elections. If a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin