Lafayette C. Baker
1826 – 1868
Who was Lafayette C. Baker?
Baker's exploits are mainly known through his book A History of the Secret Service which he published in 1867 after his fall from grace. During the Civil War, he spied for General Winfield Scott on Confederate forces in Virginia. Despite numerous scrapes, he returned to Washington, D.C., with information that Scott evidently thought valuable enough to raise him to the rank of captain and he swiftly took over charge of the Union Intelligence Service from the Scottish detective Allan Pinkerton.
Baker largely owed his appointment to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, but suspected the secretary of corruption and was eventually demoted for tapping his telegraph lines and packed off to New York. He was quickly recalled, however, after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. Within two days of his arrival in Washington, Baker's agents in Maryland had made four arrests and had the names of two more conspirators, including the actual presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. Before the month was out, Booth along with David Herold were found holed up in a barn and Booth was himself shot and killed by Sgt. Boston Corbett. Baker was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and received a generous share of the $100,000 reward offered to the apprehender of the president's killer.
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