"A Vast and Fiendish Plot": The Confederate Attack on New York City

by Clint Johnson

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New York City, November 25, 1864. Confederate officers attempt to destroy the city with a series of lethal fires that will forever diminish it to a mere speck of an island.
What fueled these Southern patriots' rage? And what if they had succeeded?

This terrifying scenario almost became a reality following what the New York Herald declared "a vast and fiendish plot." Infuriated by the Union's killing of their beloved General John Hunt Morgan and the burning of the Shenandoah Valley, eight Confederate officers swore revenge. Their method: Greek fire. Their target: Manhattan's commercial district. The daring mission could have changed the course of American history.

In the first book to bring to life this bold conspiracy in full detail, Civil War expert Clint Johnson reveals shocking facts about the treacherous alliances and rivalries that threatened nineteenth-century America. Here is the truth about this stunning event, the spirit that fueled it, and the near destruction of the world's most influential city.

"A fresh and intriguing addition to Civil War literature. . .. Johnson dispels myths and shows how Southerners sought to take revenge on a 'sister city' they felt betrayed them."
--Brion McClanahan, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers

"Insightful analysis of an amazing turn of events that nearly set New York City ablaze during the Civil War." -- David J. Eicher, author of The Longest Night

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806533889
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 229,278
File size: 491 KB

About the Author

Fascinated by the American Civil War since the fourth grade, CLINT JOHNSON has written eight books on the subject, including the acclaimed Civil War Blunders. Originally from Florida, he counts Confederate soldiers from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama among his ancestors. He is active as a Civil War re-enactor and has portrayed soldiers from both the Confederacy and the Union. In researching “A Vast and Fiendish Plot,” he spent days reading musty newspapers and poring over maps of 1864 New York to track the details of the plot to burn down the city. A graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in journalism, he lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, Barbara. Please visit his website: clintjohnsonbooks.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Prologue: "A Born Gentleman to the Tips of His Fingers" 1

Part I The South's Secessionist Sister City

Chapter 1 "Decayed Is Here" 15

Chapter 2 "A Traffic in Enslaved Africans" 22

Chapter 3 "A Great Distribution Point for Cotton" 31

Chapter 4 "Money Is Plenty, Business Is Brisk" 41

Chapter 5 "The Meetings of These Madmen" 53

Chapter 6 "The City of New York Belongs to the South" 62

Chapter 7 "That Which Comes Easy Goes Easy" 73

Part II The South Seethes

Chapter 8 "How Sad Is This Life" 89

Chapter 9 "A Fire in the Rear Will Be Opened" 99

Chapter 10 "State Governments Will Be Seized" 109

Chapter 11 "The People Have Lost All Confidence in Lincoln" 122

Part III The Plan

Chapter 12 "Organize Only in 'the Territory of the Enemy'" 137

Chapter 13 "New York Is Worth Twenty Richmonds" 149

Chapter 14 "Set Fire to Cities on Election Day" 161

Chapter 15 "Rebel Agents in Canada" 174

Part IV Burn New York

Chapter 16 "Something Dead in That Valise" 189

Chapter 17 "Do the Greatest Damage in the Business District" 196

Chapter 18 "It Blazed Up Instantly" 207

Chapter 19 "A Vast and Fiendish Plot" 219

Part V The Aftermath

Chapter 20 "If Convicted, They Will Be Executed" 233

Chapter 21 "Trust to Luck" 242

Chapter 22 "A Terror for Our Citizens" 253

Chapter 23 "They Sacrificed Everything" 263

Epilogue: What Happened to the Principal Characters 272

Acknowledgments 276

Source Notes 278

Selected Bibliography 293

Index 297

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