"This investigator hired by C&H through Petermann, “Operative #1,” assumed
the guise of a socialist journalist hailing from Denver. From his written reports, there
are small but noticeable variations in English attributed to Germanic speakers; the
operative was likely a German immigrant or a second-generation German American
whose parents spoke German in the home. Denver was also the headquarters of the
WFM, and with that set of credentials, Operative #1 had almost complete access
to union aff airs in Calumet. His first day of “work” was likely January 5, 1914, about
two weeks after the terrible events at Italian Hall. Like any other fellow starting a
new job, he was nervous, but he also had good reason to be downright terrified.
His first contact with the union was a tense one: 'Today in the afternoon, I went to
the ‘Union Hall’ . . . every man looked at me suspiciously. . . . Later on a fellow came
to me asking if I belonged to that Union. I said, ‘No, I am a correspondent for two
Socialist newspapers in Denver, Colo.’ and showed him my card.'"
"Intrigue was high. If caught in his ruse, who knows what the union men would
have done to the operative. Th e operative’s reports back to his handler, Captain
Foster, read like some of the best cloak-and-dagger fiction ever imagined, but one
indisputable fact remained: he was in Calumet to detect, discover, and identify the
man who yelled “Fire!” at Italian Hall. Captain Foster’s description of Operative #1’s
job in relation to Italian Hall was explicit: 'He is making his headquarters around
union headquarters and McNally’s office and is working along the lines laid down by
me to find one responsible for the panic Christmas eve.' This was the grim reality
of his subterfuge.