Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Belle Boyd, Civil War Confederate Spy

From the New York Times, July 20, 1862:

This famous rebel agent is thus described by a correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Her acknowledged superiority for machination and intrigue has given her the leadership and control of the female spies of the Valley of Virginia.  She is a resident of Martinsburgh where at home, she has a pious good mother, who regrets as much as anyone can, the violent and eccentric course of her daughter since the rebellion has broken out.  Belle has passed the freshness of youth. She is a sharp-featured black-eyed woman of 25, or care and intrigue have given her that appearance.  Last summer, whilst Patterson's army lay at Martinsburgh, she wore a revolver in her belt, and was couried and flattered by every lieutenant and captain in the service who ever saw her.  There was a kind of Di Veron dash about her, a smart pertness, a quickness of retort, and an utter abandon of manner and bearing which were attractive from their very romantic unwontedness.

The father of this resolute, black-eyed vixen is a Paymaster in the Southern army, and formerly held at place at Washington under our Government.  She has undergone all that society, position, and education can confer upon a mind suited to the days of Charles the Second, or Louis the Fourteenth--a mind such as Mazarin or Richlieu would have delighted to employ from its kindred affinities.

Well this young woman I saw practicing her arts upon our young lieutenants and inexperienced captains, and in each case I uniformly felt it my duty to call them aside, and warn them who she was.  To one she had been introduced as Miss Anderson, to another as Miss Faulkner, and so to the end of the chapter.  She is so well known now that she can only practice her blandishments upon new raw levies and their officers.  But from them she obtains the number of their regiments and their force.  She has, however, a trained band of coadjutors who report to her daily -- girls aged from 16 upward -- women who have the common sense not to make themselves as conspicuous as she, and who remain unknown, save to her, and are therefore effective.

The reports that she is personally impure are as unjust as they are undeserved.  She has a blind devotion to an idea, and passes far the boundary of her sex's modesty to promote its success.  She, with all her faults and devotions to ideas, which are at the foundation of our political and social disorders, has not yet lost the crowning virtue of woman.  Reporters who thus attack a woman, defenceless within their province, exceed the license which justice and fairness even allot to outlaws.

During the past campaigns in the Valley, this woman has been of immense service to the enemy.  She will be now, if she can.  She, therefore, should at once be passed beyond our lines, sent to Richmond, and allowed to remain with those with whom she deeply sympathizes.

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