Rose O’Neal Greenhow

Confederate Civil War Spy Early Years Born in Port Tobacco, Maryland, as a teenager Rose O’Neal moved from her family’s Maryland farm to her aunt’s fashionable boardinghouse in Washington, DC. Personable, intelligent, and outgoing, she adapted easily to the social scene of the capital, and people in Washington’s highest circles opened their doors to her. At the age of 26, Rose disappointed an army of suitors by marrying 43-year-old Dr. Robert Greenhow, a wealthy and learned man with whom she had four daughters. In 1850, the couple left Washington and traveled west to pursue the promise of great financial gain. Instead, an injury led to the early death of Dr. Greenhow in San Francisco. A popular Washington widow and hostess…

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Belle Boyd

Confederate Spy in the Civil War One of the most famous of Confederate spies, Belle Boyd served the Southern forces in the Shenandoah Valley, running her spying operations from her father’s hotel in Front Royal, Virginia. Betrayed by her lover, Boyd was arrested on July 29, 1862, and again in June 1863. Finally released but suffering from typhoid, she went to Europe to regain her health. Childhood and Early Years She was born Maria Isabelle Boyd in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), on May 9, 1844. Her father, a hotelier and storekeeper, was prosperous enough to send his spirited daughter to Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore, where she studied from 1856 to 1860. She learned to speak French fluently…

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Pauline Cushman

Civil War Spy and Theater Actress Pauline Cushman, a Union spy, was born Harriet Wood on June 10, 1833, in New Orleans and spent some of her early childhood there. Her father then moved the family to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pauline did not like it there, and at seventeen she ran away to New York to become an actress. She landed some small parts and caught the attention of a theatre owner from New Orleans, who hired her on the spot. While Pauline was in New York, she married Charles Dickinson, a musician, on February 7, 1853. Sometime after their wedding, Charles and Pauline moved to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, where he found work as a music teacher. In…

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Nancy Hart Douglas

Confederate Spy and Guerrilla Fighter Nancy Hart, a Confederate spy and soldier, was born in 1846, in Raleigh, North Carolina. When she was an infant, her family moved to Tazewell, Virginia. Her mother was first cousin to Andrew Johnson, who became president after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Image: Nancy Hart Douglas in 1862 In 1853, Nancy and her family moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William Clay Price. In the next six years, Nancy lived in the wilderness of Roane County, Virginia—now West Virginia. She became an excellent shot with a rifle and an expert rider. After the Civil War began, western Virginia became a dangerous place. The citizenry held divided loyalties—some pro-Confederate and many…

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Belle Edmondson

Civil War Spy and Smuggler Belle Edmondson ardently supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. She probably began smuggling supplies and funds to the Confederate army in 1862, after the fall of Memphis, and served as a Confederate agent throughout the war. In July 1864, she fled south, because the United States had issued a warrant for her arrest. Isabella Buchanan Edmondson was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on November 27, 1840, the youngest of eight children. When the Civil War began, the Edmondsons were living on a farm in Shelby County south of Memphis, Tennessee. They were staunch supporters of the Confederacy. Two of Belle’s brothers fought at Shiloh, and Belle nursed the wounded from that battle. In June 1862,…

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Rebecca Wright

Virginia Spy for the Union Rebecca McPherson Wright, a Union spy during the Civil War, was born near Winchester, Virginia in January, 1842. Her family was one of the few in Winchester who supported the Union. Her father, Amos Wright, died in a Confederate prison early in the war. Rebecca was a schoolteacher, and due to her Quaker beliefs, she abhorred slavery. Image: Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave, Rebecca Wright and Thomas Laws Marker in Winchester, Virginia In August 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early’s army occupied Winchester. While trying to discover the troop strength of Early’s army, Federal scouts came across Thomas Laws, an elderly slave, at his home. When Laws told them that he had a permit to pass…

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Eugenia Phillips

Confederate Spy in the Civil War Born into an assimilated Jewish family in the South, Eugenia Phillips, like many Southern Jews, was a strong supporter of the Confederate cause. Beginning in 1861, Phillips aided Confederate spy networks and secretly passed material aid to Confederate troops. The family later moved to Georgia, where Phillips supposedly toned down her outspoken support of the Confederacy. Eugenia Levy was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820 to prominent Jewish parents. One of six daughters, Eugenia was well-educated, outspoken and fiery-tempered. At age l6, she married a prominent Jewish lawyer, Philip Phillips, who was 13 years her senior. The couple moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he had already established a successful law practice. He and…

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Antonia Ford

Confederate Spy in the Civil War Antonia Ford was a Confederate spy credited with providing the military information during the First Battle of Manassas (1861), and during the two years following. In 1863 Ford was accused of spying for John Singleton Mosby after his partisan rangers captured Union general Edwin Stoughton in his headquarters. Mosby denied that Ford ever spied for him, but she was arrested and incarcerated at Old Capitol Prison. Antonia Ford was born in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1838, daughter of prominent merchant and secessionist, Edward R. Ford. Antonia was living a life of quiet comfort when the Civil War began. She was 23 years old and unmarried. Their home was located across the road from the Fairfax…

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Emeline Pigott

Emeline Pigott

Confederate Nurse and Spy North Carolina native Emeline Pigott offered her services to the Confederate Army as a spy. Single and 25 years old, Pigott hosted parties for local Union soldiers and gathered information about their plans. In the folds of her voluminous skirts she hid important papers and other contraband, which she later passed on to the local Rebels – until 1865, when she was arrested and jailed. Emeline Pigott was born in December 15, 1836, in Harlowe Township, Carteret County, North Carolina, and spent her youth there. When Emeline was 25 years old, just after the Civil War began, she and her parents moved to a farm on Calico Creek at Crab Point on the coast – what…

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Laura Ratcliffe

Confederate Spy in Virginia Known as a local beauty, Virginian Laura Ratcliffe saved the life of the Grey Ghost, Colonel John Singleton Mosby, in 1863. Among her many admirers was the famous cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. She was also the sixth cousin of General Robert E. Lee. As a Confederate spy, Ratcliffe is a prime example of the brave women on both sides of the conflict who put themselves at risk to help their cause. Laura Ratcliffe was born May 28, 1836 at Fairfax City, Virginia to Francis Fitzhugh and Ann McCarty (Lee) Ratcliffe. Following the death of her father, Laura moved with her mother and two sisters to Frying Pan (later Herndon) in Fairfax County, just south of Washington,…

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