Hattie Lewis, a Pinkerton Operative and Civil War Spy
Hattie Lawton. That is the name used in Allan Pinkerton's book The Spy of the Rebellion for the operative who teamed up with Timothy Webster in 1861 and '62. Unfortunately, the trouble with using The Spy of the Rebellion as a source is that a large part of it is pure fiction. While other sources make it clear that the operative known as Hattie Lawton did work as a spy for the Union, the use of the name “Hattie Lawton” has had to be used reluctantly by historians simply because they had no better alternative. Surviving reports and account books use only her initials, H. H. L., and no other records of a Hattie Lawton that could have possibly been her have been found. To further complicate questions about her name is the fact that when he wrote his memoirs in 1888, Pryce Lewis remembered her as Hattie Lewis. A recently discovered a letter from Allan Pinkerton to Joseph B. Beale, written on October 26, 1882 (before publication of his book The Spy of the Rebellion), seems to confirm that Pryce Lewis was correct when he wrote that her name was Hattie Lewis.
The following is an excerpt from a letter from Allan Pinkerton to Joseph Beale describing changes he wanted for an illustration to be used in The Spy of the Rebellion: