Virginia Bethel Moon
Written by Peter Fitzgerald
History of War - Spies
American Civil War where she is most well known for espionage and intelligence for the Confederates.Virginia Bethel Moon is a well regarded lady due to her activities during the
For many, Virginia Bethel Moon is the quintessential American putting all their best efforts for the good of the nation. What many don’t realise is that Virginia Bethel Moon did so at great risk and is hailed as being a pivotal intelligence gatherer during the Civil War.
Today you will get to know more about this amazing lady and the actions she carried out during the American Civil War.
A Young Virginia Bethel Moon
Virginia Bethel Moon, known as Ginny to her friends and family, was born in 1844 in Ohio. Ginny was the second of two daughters, her older sister being 15 years older. Ginny was born to Cynthia and Robert Moon, an affluent family who owned a sprawling cotton plantation in the Virginia region of America. The plantation was a great success but times changed and in 1856 Robert Moon passed away.
Upon the death of Mr. Moon Ginny’s mother moved the family to Shelby County, Tennessee although Ginny did go to study at the Oxford Female College in Ohio.
This was until 1861 when she requested to be allowed to leave College at the outbreak of Civil War to be with her mother. The story goes that the college declined to let Ginny leave so she took a gun, went out into the school yard and shot out all the stars of the Union flag flying there, this move made the college release her and grant her wishes.
Virginia Bethel Moon and the Civil War
At 18 years of age in 1862 Ginny moved with her mother to Memphis in Tennessee where they both set themselves up as nurses to support the Confederate war effort. Here they dressed injured soldiers returning from battle.
It soon became apparent that their bandage supplies were in short supply in the Confederate held areas so Ginny started moving over the battle lines in to Union held areas to collect supplies; this was done under the guise that she was meeting a boyfriend.
Over time the Confederates came to trust Ginny and she was able to start taking information across the battle lines to give the information to Confederate agents. The Union did not notice her regular trips at first because they knew she had family in Ohio and simply thought she was visiting them, this was until they caught Ginny with a haul including bottles of morphine, 7 pounds of opium and a supply of camphor.
Ginny was taken under arrest and kept captive until her sister’s ex-boyfriend, a Union General called General Ambrose Burnside stepped in and arranged the release of Ginny. Ginny decided to stay in Ohio and lived with her older sister who had a home there.
During these travels there are two notable stories that are said to be true. One of these is that with Union soldiers showing interest in Ginny’s activities she once swallowed a note meant for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The other is that she once travelled to Canada under the guise of an affluent English lady and rode in horse and carriage on the trip with Abraham Lincoln.
It must be said that these two stories can neither be confirmed nor denied but do show what a resilient lady Virginia “Ginny” Bethel Moon really is.
Virginia Bethel Moon after the Civil War
After the war Ginny opened a boarding house for males only in Memphis, over time she moved out of Memphis to Hollywood and was even credited in two films called “The Spanish Dancer” and “Robin Hood”. In her older age Ginny then moved to New York.
Ginny passed away in 1925 at 81 years of age while living in New York, she was cremated their and her ashes bought back to Memphis where they were interred in the Elmwood Cemetery.