SpyCast 1.31.23
Ep 572 | 1.31.23

"The Lion and the Fox – Civil War Spy vs. Spy" – with Alexander Rose

Show Notes


Alexander Rose (Website; Twitter) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss a gripping spy-vs-spy true story from the U.S. Civil War. He wrote the book that was the inspiration behind the hit TV-series TURN.

What You’ll Learn


  • The secret plot to build a Confederate Navy
  • Why Liverpool was so important to both the North and the South 
  • How Civil War espionage played out in Great Britain 
  • The high-level spy the South had in the British Foreign Office 


  • The birth of the Atlantic World
  • The malleability of public opinion

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

Liverpool. The city of the Beatles. The home of Liverpool F.C., winner of six European Cups. Did you know that there – thousands of miles away from the bloody battlefields of Fredericksburg, Shiloh, and Gettysburg – the U.S. Civil War played out? 

In fact, it was a key part of the strategies of both the North and the South since at that time it produced more ships than every other dockyard in the world combined. The North wanted to choke off the South, with the help of spies; but the South wanted to build a navy, with the help of spies. Who would prevail? This is the story of spy-vs-spy, North vs South, and Thomas Dudley vs James Bulloch.


If this spy story makes you hungry for more, check out Alex’s historical espionage newsletter, Spionage

Quotes of the Week

“If Dudley hadn't stopped Bulloch, or if Dudley hadn't existed and Bulloch created this massive fleet of blockade runners and had built more commerce raiders … You would've had a many more sinkings of American merchant vessels. You would've had larger inflows of arms and weapons into the South. The biggest change of all would've been that having the sea lanes open like that would've allowed the South to fight on much longer than it actually did.” – Alexander Rose.



Andrew’s Recommendation

  • You must watch Ken Burns landmark documentary The Civil War; but, you must also read more recent commentary and critique – there’s even a whole book related to it. 

Headline Resource

  • The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy, A. Rose (Mariner, 2022)

*Beginner Resources*




  • The Civil War Abroad, J. Priestley (McFarland, 2022)
  • Cotton, Liverpool and the American Civil War, J. Powell, (LUP, 2020)
  • Lincoln’s Spies, D. Waller (S&S, 2019)
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, K. Abbott (Harper, 2015)
  • The Union and Confederate Navies, J. McPherson (University of North Carolina, 2012)
  • The Civil War at Sea, C. Symonds (Oxford, 2012)


Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource(s)*

  • You know Liverpool as the city of the Beatles. Did you know that The Beatles’ first single “Love Me Do” and James Bond’s debut movie “Dr. No” were released within a month of each other in 1962? And while none of the Beatles went on to become spies themselves, Ringo married Bond girl Barbara Bach in 1980 and Paul was behind the first rock Bond theme song, “Live and Let Die,” in 1973.