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Spencer Kellogg Brown was born August 17, 1842 in Belleville, New York[1]. His family moved to Kansas.

In retaliation for what was known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, pro-slavery forces sacked Osawatomie on August 30, 1856 August. Spencer's family house was burned to the ground during the raid, and Spencer was captured and taken to Lafayette County, Missouri, for several weeks.[1].

"In January 1861 Spencer, using the name Spencer Kellogg to avoid suspicion, enlisted in the Union Army. In September he was discharged from the regular Army so he could be John C. Fremont's recruiting officer in Saint Louis, in charge of enlisting volunteers into the "Lyon Legion," part of the 12th Regiment, Missouri Volunteers. This appointment lasted only a few weeks until Fremont was replaced and Spencer dismissed. He then enlisted as a sailor on the Essex, a Union vessel in the Mississippi River. The Essex played a pivotal role in the destruction of the Confederate Navy along the Mississippi, most notably in the disabling of the Confederate ironclad Arkansas.".[1]

"While in the Army Spencer found himself very adept at espionage, at one time spending many weeks behind enemy lines in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and observing the battles of Corinth and Fort Pillow from the Confederate side. After the latter conflict he escaped across the Tennessee River to rejoin the Union forces. During his expedition in the South he was twice invited to join Confederate units. The first time he was able to decline without arousing any suspicion, but on the second invitation he was obliged to go so far as to don a Confederate uniform, though he never took an oath or participated in any actual enrollment.".[1]

"During a furlough from the Essex in June of 1862 he married Mary Manahan whom he had met during his earlier residence in Saint Louis."

"While ashore from the Essex on surveillance duty he was captured by Southern troops and eventually was sent to Jackson, Mississippi. Because of his affability, and because the charge of spying was not a serious one, he was allowed some freedom of movement in the city. Unfortunately while on one of these trips he was spotted by a Confederate soldier who remembered him as a Southern serviceman from his previous espionage mission in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This man alerted the authorities that Spencer was a deserter, a much more serious charge. Although technically he never enlisted in the Confederate Army, Spencer was charged with desertion and spying. When General Ulysses S. Grant's forces converged on Jackson, Spencer and other prisoners were moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and ultimately Richmond. After over a year in confinement Spencer was finally tied and condemned to death. His execution took place in Richmond on 25 September 1863."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Orville Chester Brown Collection, 1834-1904.


  • Brown S. K., & Smith, G. G. (1903). Spencer Kellogg Brown, his life in Kansas and his death as a spy, 1842–1863, as disclosed in his diary. New York, D. Appleton and Co.
  • Orville Chester Brown Collection, 1834-1904. Kansas State Historical Society. Accessed October 10, 2007.