Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sepia Saturday: A Real-Life Spy

Not that I'm endorsing spying, you understand,
but somehow I think of spying in wartime
as a guy thing.

So it was intriguing to find these old images
of Belle Boyd, Confederate Spy,
in the Library of Congress Photo Collection
(images from the Brady-Handy Studio in
Washington, D.C.).

She gathered intelligence for the South
from her father's hotel in Front Royal, Virginia.
Her information proved so valuable
 to General "Stonewall" Jackson
during the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley
that he commissioned her as a Captain
and aide-de-camp on his staff.

She was eventually betrayed by her lover
in summer 1862 and imprisoned for a month
in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C.
She was then part of a prisoner exchange
and was released.

She, undaunted, continued her spy career.
She was arrested again in June 1863.
She was released from prison on December 1, 1863
suffering from typhoid and went to Europe
to regain her health.

While in England, she had a career on the stage
and when she came back to the U.S.,
she had a go at the speaking circuit.
She died in Wisconsin in 1900
while on a speaking tour.

For more biographical information
click HERE.

And to see all the other SEPIA SATURDAY posts,
click HERE or on the link at the right.


Kat said...

Excellent! You might say she was the "Belle of the Hall" ultimately.

Liking this new blog. How will I keep up with so many?


Kat said...

Catchy title, by the way.

tony said...

She Could Have Hidden a Fully Functioning Radio Transmitter Under That Frock!

Martin H. said...

Something of a contradiction in her life. The capacity for detachment as a female spy, yet a career on the stage, performing to an audience. What a woman!

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved this. True she could have gotten away with arms or radios or whatever they used in those gowns. Great photos and narration.

Nancy said...

Interesting post, Meri. I don't think I'd ever heard of her before. The photos are amazing and so are the gowns. Martin, I was thinking as I read this that acting and spying are so similar -- the ability to impersonate someone else, be it a queen on stage, or a disinterested person as a spy. Both required her to act in a way that presented her as someone she wasn't, no?

Crystal Mary said...

What a grand lady, she led an interesting life.A spy gosh that was very scary, she could have lost her life. She shows a loyal spirit in what she believed in. Her gowns are beautiful.Her hair was a growning glory.. A magnificent elegant person..Worthy to be remembered.

Meri said...

I think you're onto something Nancy. I think acting ability would come in quite handy for a spy. I still think it's amazing she was let go so many times.

Eric S. said...

Great photos, and a nice little piece of history. I bet they had a hard time figuring out how to handle back then. She seems to be too much of a lady for prison.

Christine H. said...

She must have had some unseen charm. Why else would they keep letting her go? Fascinating.

kylie said...

men wanted her and women wanted to be her, i bet!

i just want the dresses


what a glamourous and intriguing creature!!!

Barbara and Nancy said...

I think she might be a cross-dresser. Her face is very masculine. Now, wouldn't that be a story!

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Very interesting history; back that far, who would have suspected! Ahh but she was betrayed!

Alan Burnett said...

Great post and a great story. It makes you wonder about your chances of being a effective spy if you have already once been caught tried and sentenced for the crime.