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Chickasaw, a Mississippi Scout for the Union

The Civil War Memoir of Levi H. Naron, as Recounted by R. W. Surby

Thomas D. Cockrell

Publication Year: 2005

A well-to-do planter and slave owner in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, Levi Holloway Naron was an unlikely supporter of the Union. And yet, at the outbreak of war in 1861, his agitation against the Confederacy so outraged his fellow Mississippians that they drove him from his home. Bent on retaliation, Naron headed North, contacted the Union army, and was ushered into the presence of General William T. Sherman, who quickly saw the possibilities for employing such a man. Thus began Levi Naron's career as "Chickasaw," Federal scout, spy, and raider. Dictated in 1865, when his memory of events was still fresh—as was his passion—Naron's memoir offers a rare and remarkably vivid firsthand account of a southerner loyal to the Union, operating behind Confederate lines. Active primarily in northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, Naron proved invaluable to Federal commanders in the West, not only Sherman but William Rosecrans, John Pope, Grenville Dodge, Benjamin Grierson, and others—leaders whose official testimony to that effect is included in an appendix here. Naron stood before Rebel commanders as well—Sterling Price, James Chalmers, and John C. Breckinridge—having bedeviled their security forces and intelligence agents. In these pages, he tells how he maneuvered under their noses, burning bridges and railcars full of supplies intended for Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood, recruiting for the Union while clad in a Confederate uniform, chasing down Union deserters and Rebel spies, and, for diversion, suppressing guerrillas and bushwhackers. This long-forgotten historical document, newly edited and annotated, provides indispensable information about Confederate as well as Union espionage and counter-espionage activity. Naron's adventures illuminate this clandestine war in the West while allowing readers to experience with startling immediacy the agony, frustrations, and convictions of a pro-Union southerner trapped inside the Confederate States.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiv

One fascinating area of Civil War historiography that remains sparsely studied is the elusive world of espionage. Compared with published works in other subject areas of the war, the number of...

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pp. xv-xvi

Dr. Horton Taylor, a physician who resides in Ripley, Mississippi, and whose great-grandfather was Levi Naron’s brother, brought Naron’s memoir to our attention in the hope that we would like it enough...

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Biographical Sketch

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pp. 1-3

“Chickasaw” was born in Newton County, Georgia, and is of Scotch descent.1 He is about forty years of age, although he looks older. He is five feet nine inches in height, with a compact, muscular...

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Chickasaw, the Scout

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pp. 5-162

The following narrative was furnished the writer by the hero of the story.4 He is better known in the Union army by the name of Chickasaw, and thousands can testify to his deeds while serving in the capacity of scout...

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pp. 163-165

I will take the liberty of expressing a few opinions respecting the winding up of this rebellion. My long acquaintance with the Southern people, and my knowledge of their dispositions, traits of...

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Naron after the War

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pp. 167-168

Levi H. Naron remained in Mississippi after the war and through Reconstruction, but he realized that animosity toward him from his neighbors would make his continued residence...

Appendix One: Testimonials Included in the Original Published Edition

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pp. 169-170

Appendix Two: Levi Naron’s Attempts to Obtain Benefits from the United States Government

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pp. 171-173


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pp. 175-181

E-ISBN-13: 9780807148846
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807131015

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2005