Conrad, Thomas Nelson

Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Class of 1857
    Full name
    Thomas Nelson Conrad
    Place of Birth
    Burial Place
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Slave State
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    Nelson Conrad (father), Lavinia Thomas Conrad (mother), Emma S. Ball (wife)
    Dickinson (Carlisle College)
    Church or Religious Denomination
    Political Parties
    Confederate Army
    Household Size in 1860
    Occupation in 1860
    School Teacher
    Residence in 1860
    Marital status in 1860

    Thomas Nelson Conrad (Dickinson Chronicles)

    Thomas Conrad was born on August 1, 1837 in Fairfax Court House, Virginia, to Nelson and Lavinia Thomas Conrad. He attended the Fairfax Academy before enrolling in Dickinson College in 1853. While at Dickinson, Conrad was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, and served as secretary and then president of the Belles Lettres Literary Society. He also formed an enduring friendship with a fellow classmate, Daniel Mountjoy Cloud. Conrad graduated with the class of 1857. From 1857 until 1861 Conrad served as principal of the Georgetown Institute in Washington, D. C. For his efforts, he was awarded a master’s degree from Dickinson in 1860.

    Conrad enlisted as a chaplain in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in 1861, and eventually attained the rank of captain. After three years of service, he accepted a position in the Confederate Secret Service. He was responsible for operating the successful “Doctor’s Line,” that supplied reliable intelligence to Richmond. With the aid of his friend Daniel Cloud, Conrad organized a plot to abduct President Lincoln, but their plans fell through. After Lincoln’s assassination, Conrad was briefly incarcerated.

    Following the war, Conrad returned to teaching, first at the Rockville Academy in Maryland, then at the Preston and Olin Institute. In 1877 he became professor of English literature at the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. From 1881 until 1885, Conrad served as the third president of that college. He then spent several years at the Maryland Agricultural College as the chairman of faculty, and later as acting president. Conrad eventually published a book, “The Rebel Scout,” about his experiences during the Civil War. Thomas Nelson Conrad died January 5, 1905 in Washington, D. C.
    John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Thomas Nelson Conrad,” Dickinson Chronicles,

    Thomas Nelson Conrad (Phi Kappa Sigma Register, 1900)

    Rev. Thomas Nelson Conrad, А. В., A. M., M. Sc., Neabsco Mills, Va.
    Born at Fairfax C. H., Va., August 1, 1837.  Principal of Georgetown Institute, D. C., 1857-61. Entered C. S. Army 1861. Served in Stuart’s Cavalry.  Chaplain, 1861-63.  Scouting Captain, 1863-65.  Principal of Upperville Academy, Va., 1866-69.  Principal of Rockville Academy, Md., 1869-72.  Principal of Olin and Preston Institute, Blacksburg, Va., 1872-77.  Professor of English, 1877-82, and President Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, 1881-85.
    Semi-Centennial Register of the Members of the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity (Philadelphia: Avil Printing Co., 1900), 113.

    Thomas Nelson Conrad (Washington Post)


    Confederate Scout and Former President of Blacksburg, Va., College.

    Thomas Nelson Conrad died yesterday morning at 3 o’clock at 2150 Florida avenue northwest of acute indigestion.  The remains were taken to Blacksburg, Va., yesterday afternoon, where the funeral will be held at 10 o’clock this morning.  The deceased was sixty-four years of age. 

    Mr. Conrad was a Confederate scout during the civil war in the command of Gen. J.E.B. Stewart.  Afterward he served for many years as president of the Blacksburg (Va.) College, which was attended by Thomas Nelson Page and Representative Claude A. Swanson, of Virginia, during his incumbency of that office.  He resigned the presidency of the college in 1890 to accept a position in this city as a general statistician in the Census Office.  The deceased recently published a book, the title of which is “Personal Memoirs,” and which deals with his experiences during the civil war.

    “Thomas Nelson Conrad Dead,” Washington (DC) Post, January 6, 1905, p. 10: 5.
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Conrad, Thomas Nelson. A Confederate Spy: A Thrilling History of Scouting Life in the Southern Army. New York: J.S. Ogilive Publishing Company Company, of Rose Street, 1892. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "Conrad, Thomas Nelson," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,