Belle Boyd

History of War - Spies




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Belle Boyd is the little known lady who made a big impact on the American Civil War. Rather than being out there for all to see, Belle Boyd was a spy for the Confederates.

This unassuming lady was in the inner circle of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and regularly updated him with important information she had gleaned from being imprisoned by the Union’s as you are about to find out.

Belle Boyd before the American Civil War

Belle Boyd was born on the 9th May in the year 1844 to Benjamin Reed and Mary Rebecca Boyd. She was the oldest of all the children and enjoyed a carefree life as a bit of a tom boy climbing trees with all the young boys.

While her family were not affluent they thought it important for their children to gain a good education so Boyd still enjoyed good education.

After graduating Boyd’s family arranged her debut and like most young ladies Boyd enjoyed playing the debutant showing off to the many available young men around.

Belle Boyd the Confederate Spy

Boyd never attempted to try and become a spy and it all happened by a rather strange circumstance. One day a group of Union soldiers happened to be passing her residence when they noticed the Confederate flag on a flag pole on the property. These soldiers took it upon themselves to change flag for a Union one.

While this move irked Boyd, it was when one of the soldiers slew a mouthful of lewd comments at her mother than the blood in Boyd’s veins boiled. In response to these comments Boyd pulled out a pistol and shot the soldier dead.

An inquiry was held into the shooting and Boyd was cleared of the killing. The Union army was not so impressed and put her under house arrest with soldiers stationed outside at all times. Her house also happened to be a hotel her father owned.

This move is what led to Boyd becoming a spy as she became familiar with many of the officers outside her property and gained important information from them.

Boyd then passed this information by paper to a slave who worked for Boyd called Eliza Hopewell. This was through a hollowed out watch case.

The first attempt was feeble and they were found out and thus sentenced to a spy’s sentence of death, the sentence was not carried out and Boyd carried on without being found out again.

On one fateful evening by listening to a knothole in the door to her room Boyd learned much of the Union army in the area was being moved east, thus leaving a very small force in Front Royal. That night Boyd managed to sneak past the guards and ride out on false papers to meet the Confederate force of General Stonewall Jackson. This was done in the face of Union bullets wit huge bravery.

After meeting General Stonewall Jackson Boyd advised the Union force is small and that the Confederates needed to move quickly to advance on them, this they did and won the battle.
Boyd was arrested again in 1862 and released after a short time and again arrested a third time, spending one month under arrest.

In 1864 Boyd moved to England, United Kingdom where she actually went on to marry a Union officer.

Boyd died in Wisconsin, America of a heart attack aged 56 while on a holiday trip from England.





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