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Belle Boyd
Confederate Spy
Civil War

From Spy Book, the Encyclopedia of Espionage
One of the several female Confederate agents of the American Civil War. Isabelle Boyd, born in Martinsburg, WV, was a beautiful young woman known as Belle. She graduated from Mount Washington Female Collegein Baltimore, MD, in 1860.

When Virginia suceded from the Union in 1861, Belle's father joined the Confederate Army, serving under Major General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson. She later claimed that when Union soldiers invaded her home, she fatally shot one of them. At the urging of a Confederate intelligence officer, she began to spy for the South.

Arrested twice and interrogated once by Allan Pinkerton, the Union's counterintelligence expert, beautiful Belle Boyd talked her way out of formal charges and was released both times.

Boyd continued her espionage even though she was now a marked woman. While staying at a hotel in Front Royal, VA, she heard Union officers quartered there discussing military plans. She slipped out of the hotel and made her way through Union lines to tell Jackson's intelligence officer that Front Royal, a vital crossroads in the Shenandoah Valley, was undergarrisoned. Jackson wrote her a personal note of thanks.

Arrested in 1863 by Lafayette Baker, Pinkerton's successor, she was held for a month in a Washington, DC, prison. After being released in an exchange of prisoners, she sailed for England aboard a Confederate ship in the spring of 1864. When the blockade runner was captured by a Union ship, she was again taken prisoner, and this time condemned to death.

But a Union officer, Samuel Hardinge, fell in love with her, helped her gain her freedom, and married her. He died a few months later.

After the war, she went on stage in London and New York, dramatizing her life as a spy. She wrote Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison (1865), a romanticized version of her adventures.

At the age of 56, Belle Boyd died of a heart attack in Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells), WI. Her four children and third husband, who was 26 years Belle's junior, buried her in Wisconsin. Four former Union soldiers helped lower the famous Confederate spy into her Northern grave.

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