Lottie and Ginnie Moon: Confederate Spies

Sisters Who Spied for the Confederacy Image: Lottie and Ginnie Moon Born Charlotte and Virginia, the Moon sisters were from Virginia, the daughters of a doctor. In the 1830s, the family moved to Oxford, Ohio, in the southwestern corner of the state. One of Lottie’s suitors was a young man from nearby Indiana named Ambrose Burnside, and sources say that she jilted him at the altar. She finally settled down with Jim Clark, who soon became a judge. After Dr. Moon’s death, Mrs. Moon enrolled Ginnie in the Oxford Female College and moved to Memphis. One of the teachers criticized Ginnie for her Confederate leanings. She dropped out of school and went to live with Lottie and Jim, who were…

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Sojourner Truth and The Civil War

African American Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist Sojourner Truth was a nationally known feminist and social reformer. During the Civil War, she helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army. After the war, she tried to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves, a project she pursued for seven years, meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant to discuss the subject. Image: Sojourner Truth Monument Florence, Massachusetts Truth lived in Florence (a village of Northampton) from 1843-1857. She came to Florence to join the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian community dedicated to equality and justice. After the Association disbanded, she remained in Florence, bought her first home, dictated her autobiography to Olive Gilbert and became…

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Lily Ann Granderson

Union troops occupied Natchez, Mississippi in the summer of 1863. Soon thereafter, missionaries from the northern states came to establish schools for the slaves. They were surprised to learn that one such school already existed and had been educating slaves for years. The teacher was Lily Ann Granderson, and she was a slave as well. Knowledge of her background is far from complete. Lily Ann was born a slave in Virginia in 1816. Her grandmother was a free woman of Native American heritage. After her death, Lily’s mother was enslaved at the age of three. At some point, Lily was moved to Kentucky. She worked as a house slave, and her master’s children taught her to read and write. After…

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Kady Brownell

Female Soldier from Rhode Island Kady Southwell was born in 1842 in an army camp on the coast of Africa, where her French mother had traveled to watch her Scottish father on maneuvers. Accounts of her life have always been in dispute, but it is known that her mother died shortly after her birth. Good friends of the family, the McKenzies, took Kady into their home and soon moved to Providence, Rhode Island. There is no record that they ever adopted her. Kady did not appear in any census records until 1860. At that time, she was living with the Rodman family while she worked as a weaver in the mills. Working in the textile mills was a hard and…

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Cornelia McDonald

Civil War Diarist of Winchester, Virginia Cornelia McDonald (1822–1909) was the author of A Diary with Reminiscences of the War and Refugee Life in the Shenandoah Valley, 1860-1865 in which she records her experiences during the Civil War as a woman living in Winchester, Virginia. The town changed hands numerous times during the war, and life there was uncertain at best. McDonald was among the group of women who became known as the “Devil Diarists of Winchester.” Cornelia Peake was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1822, the youngest child of a doctor. Her father’s debts forced him to move his large family several times during Cornelia’s childhood. The family and their slaves ended up in Palmyra, Missouri, where several family…

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female Confederate soldier Malinda Blalock

Malinda Blalock

Female Soldier and Bushwhacker in the Civil War Union sympathizers Malinda Blalock and her husband Keith enlisted in the Confederate army near their home in the mountains of western North Carolina, planning to desert and join the Union army. In the meantime, Malinda was wounded. The couple deserted and returned home where they became the most feared bushwhackers in the mountains, feared by secessionists and Unionists alike. Sarah Malinda Pritchard was born in 1842 in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. She met William McKesson Blalock (nicknamed Keith) in a one-room school they both attended. Their marriage in 1856 was a shock to their neighbors, because their families had been feuding for 150 years. The couple resided on Grandfather…

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Janie Smith

Civilian at the Battle of Averasboro Janie Smith lived on a huge plantation near Averasboro, North Carolina. She was eighteen years old when General William Tecumseh Sherman plowed through the Carolinas with his scorched-earth policy, hoping to end the civil war that had dragged on for four long years. Janie lived with her parents and her nine brothers and two unmarried sisters; eight of her brothers were serving in the Confederate Army. Following the Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina – March 15 and 16, 1865 – eighteen-year-old Janie Smith (1846-1882) wrote an insightful letter on scraps of wallpaper (due to the paper shortage during the war) about the battle and her family’s experiences to her friend Janie Robeson in Bladen…

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Elizabeth Van Lew

Elizabeth Van Lew

Union Spy in the Confederate Capital Elizabeth Van Lew, a well-to-do resident of Richmond, Virginia, recruited and operated an extensive network of spies who gathered intelligence for the Union in the shadow of the Confederate White House. Van Lew was also an Angel of Mercy for the Union soldiers who were being held at Libby Prison near her home. Her gifts of food and clothing meant the difference between life and death for many inmates there. Early Years Elizabeth Van Lew was born October 25, 1818 in Richmond, Virginia, the eldest daughter of Eliza Baker Van Lew and John Van Lew, a prominent Virginia businessman who owned a prosperous hardware business and several slaves. Elizabeth attended a Quaker school in…

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Mary Ann Shadd

Abolitionist, Educator and Suffragist in the Civil War Era Mary Ann Shadd Bust BME Freedom Park Chatham, Ontario Mary Ann Shadd (1823–1893) was an anti-slavery activist, journalist, teacher and lawyer. She was the first black woman newspaper publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. Shadd was one of the most outspoken and articulate female proponents of the abolition of slavery of her day. She promoted equality for all people and taught former slaves how to be self reliant. Early Years Mary Ann Shadd was born October 9, 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of 13 children of Abraham and Harriett Shadd, both free-born blacks. Her father was active in the Underground Railroad and a subscription agent…

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Civil War spy Mary Elizabeth Bowser

Mary Elizabeth Bowser

African American Spy During the Civil War Mary Elizabeth Bowser was a freed slave who worked with Elizabeth Van Lew as a Union spy in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. Van Lew sent Bowser to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia in the late 1850s. After graduating, she returned to Richmond, where Early Years Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born a slave on the plantation of John Van Lew, a wealthy hardware merchant in Richmond, Virginia. The exact time of her birth is uncertain, but believed to be about 1840. After Mr. Van Lew died in 1851, his daughter, Elizabeth, a staunch abolitionist, freed all of their slaves. Mary Elizabeth remained in the Van Lew household after she was…

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