Patriots, students of the American Civil War can effortlessly recite its great battles, the politics of the protagonists, the names of the generals, etc. etc. But few, even among the most lettered historians, know the name Custis Morgan, the slavering chitterbox whose lust for peanuts may have determined the outcome of the war and its horrific aftermath.
Little is known about Custis' early years. It's said that he was born in Richmond, Virginia, at the exact moment Confederate cannons fired on Fort Sumter to begin the Civil War in 1861. Whether Custis had any particular political beliefs or favored one side over the other is unclear.
What is certain: Morgan had a penchant for peanuts. Thus, he was easily recruited by the United States Secret Service to infiltrate, disrupt, and spy on Confederate General Robert E. Lee's family in Richmond. And he worked for... peanuts.
Custis easily gained entry to the Lee household. He merely gamboled up to their home in Richmond, posed adorably at the door, and was immediately taken in by Lee's daughters as a pet in 1864 (click Custis for comment).
The Wilderness Campaign
Soon, however, Custis' household shennanigans gained the attention of General Lee himself. For while troops on both sides were being bled dry in the Wilderness north of Richmond, visitors to the female Lees underwent a similar experience at the hands (well, fangs and claws) of Morgan.
The threat to Lee's family clearly distracted him from the war of attrition set in motion in the Wilderness. Desperate to refocus his attention, Lee appealed to one of his daughters to dispatch the chitterbox:
"Am very glad to hear your mother is better... Keep Custis Morgan out of her sight and if you would immerse his head under water for five minutes in one of his daily baths, it would relieve him and you of infinite trouble."*
Later, as casualties mounted and Richmond became inundated with wounded soldiers, Lee made a final plea:
"How would you like a little squirrel soup? Custis Morgan would shew in such a position. If not required by you, I know it would be beneficial to the poor, sick and wounded in the hospitals and it would be most grateful to his feelings to be converted into nutricious aliment for them and devote his life to the good of the country."*
*Source: The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee, edited by Clifford Dowdey and Louis H. Manarin, Brandall House, NY, 1961, pp. 810, 814, 816-18.
The Journey North
Then as suddenly as he arrived, Custis left the Lee home. Some say he simply ran off believing that General Lee himself might take matters into his own hands. But history suggests otherwise.
Our sources believe that Custis left Richmond and went north with secret documents relevant to Lee's strategies in the war's final days. The photo below appears to support this. It shows a skwerl matching Morgan's description delivering a document into the hands of a Union soldier...
But Custis' stay in the north was short lived. The copious amounts of peanuts he'd been promised did not materialize. For while the North had abundent orchards of delicious nuts, it did not have that Southern favorite, peanuts. And to his horror, Custis discovered that the Union troops, while better provisioned than the Confederates, were more than interested in a little squirrel soup themselves.
So Custis returned to Richmond in the final days of the war. Records of Custis' deeds in those final days are long gone. However, historian Burke Davis, in his book Sherman's March, wrote that Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond by train accompanied by what remained of his Cabinet and a box of squirrels:
"On April 11, a decrepit train came down from Virginia bearing President Davis and five members of his cabinet...... Young John Wise, an eighteen year old Virginia soldier had watched it pass.... "a government on wheels....In one car was a cage with an African Parrot, and a box of tame squirrels and a hunchback." - Davis, Burke, "Who's doing this surrendering anyhow," Sherman's March, P. 256, p4.
Settling the Score
Was Custis Morgan one of the "tame" nutzys on that train? And what happened to Custis and the other skwerls? Were they prisoners? Or were they now in the employ of the Confederate government?
Again, documentary evidence from that time is scarce. However, we note the obvious: on April 14, 1865, Union President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
History tells us the Lincoln assassination was the product of a conspiracy and carried out by John Wilkes Booth. But what if Booth was aiming at someone, or something else when Lincoln was shot? And when he leaped from Lincoln's theater box to floor below, was he running from the scene, or was he running after the real assassin... Custis Morgan?
Perhaps we'll never know the answer to the questions above. Booth was pursued and shot dead in a burning barn on April 26, 1865. Eyewitness accounts say that they observed Booth in the barn, flames encroaching, raising his gun to shoot...
Patriots, we'll leave it to you to decide whether or not Custis Morgan was the target of Booth's gun on these occasions. We also leave Custis' ultimate fate to speculation. Some say he died in the barn. Others contend that he escaped and eventually made his way to Canada where he organized a world-wide network of skwerlien spies who still toil today in the service of squirrel world domination.
Of course, we're also prepared for the inevitable criticisms we'll receive from pathetic skwerlhuggers regarding Custis Morgan and the notion of a chitterbox spy ring of global proportions. But the proof is in the pudding. Consider the following news report:
Spy Squirrels Apprehended in Iran
July 06, 2007
According to IRNA, the official Islamic Republic news agency, Iran's national Police chief has implicitly verified the news about the confiscation of a number of squirrels, equipped with eavesdropping devices, on the Iranian borders. He has declined to give any more details, but, reportedly, when asked about the confiscation of 14 spy squirrels, he stated, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information". IRNA adds, "These squirrels were equipped by foreign intelligence services, but were captured two weeks ago by the Police". Source: IRNA
Research: Michael Schaffner and Jeff Cokenour