Women Spies for the Union

Image: Illustration of Sarah Emma Edmonds on horseback dodging a bullet fired by a southern woman.

American society was still quite Victorian in many ways during the 1860s. Therefore, women spies were not as likely to be roughly interrogated or hanged when their true identity was discovered. These heroines exhibited great courage and were willing to suffer imprisonment or death in the service of their country.

Elizabeth Van Lew
From a wealthy family well-known …Read More...

Female Confederate Spies

Washington, DC was an ideal place for Confederate operatives to gather information against the North. Not only was it adjacent to slave-holding states, it was full of Southern sympathizers, many of whom were members of Congress or held other government positions, which gave them easy access to valuable intelligence. Confederate recruiters only had to find the men and women who were brave enough to act as agents.

Image: Rose O'Neal Greenhow with her daughter
Old Capitol …Read More...

Union Spy and First Female Private Investigator

The person in this Civil War era photo is believed to be Kate Warne. It was cropped from a larger photo of Allan Pinkerton and his operatives during the War. This is the only person in that photo without facial hair, and the figure also appears feminine.

Kate Warne was born in 1833 in New York City, and was left a childless widow shortly after she married. There is little information about her …Read More...

Confederate Spy and Messenger

Image: Olivia Floyd Marker

One of the more fascinating figures during the Civil War was Miss Olivia Floyd. She lived at a plantation house known as Rose Hill in Charles County, Maryland. Rose Hill was built in 1730, and was the former home of Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown, a physician to George Washington. In later years, Rose Hill was purchased by Ignatius Semmes, who willed it to Olivia Floyd, her sister Mary and their brother Robert …Read More...

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 …Read More...

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 …Read More...