Sunday, August 14, 2016


ANNE GREENE here: This fourth part of my series ends with other lady spies, first Confederate spies and then Union spies. I so hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Hundreds of women served as spies for the Confederate army during the Civil War. They often carried information about the enemy's plans, troop size and fortifications on scraps of paper or fabric which they sewed into their blouses and petticoats or rolled into their hair. To smuggle goods such as morphine, ammunition or weapons, they attached them to the frame of their hoop skirts or hid them in baskets and packages, even inside dolls.

Most women spies volunteered for the job, but some were recruited by spymasters. Most fit this description: lady spies were young, white, well-to-do and unmarried, as well as attractive, charming, intelligent, and quick-witted. They by-passed society’s strict rules by meeting men in various locations, and riding horses and in buggies unaccompanied.

Apprehended Confederate women spies were often branded as prostitutes unless their reputations were strong enough to protect them. Punishment for the crime of espionage was imprisonment or deportation to Canada or the South. Male spies were hanged.

Confederate lady spies often gathered information from Union troops who, when occupying southern towns, invited local women to army-sponsored balls, where they would sometimes talk about their military plans, not realizing the potential for espionage.

These women spies eavesdropped on soldiers during dinner parties, at boarding houses where the soldiers stayed, or gathered information from their friends and connections in southern society.

Although it was important for spies to keep a low profile while they worked, once they were detected or released from prison, spies like BELLE BOYD became instant celebrities after the press published their stories.

Belle was born into a Virginia family with strong Southern loyalties. A celebrated beauty, Isabelle Belle Boyd became one of the Confederacy’s most notorious spies after a skirmish with a drunken Union soldier in July 1861. The man invaded her home, tore down a Confederate flag, and spoke offensively to her mother. Enraged, the seventeen-year-old Belle shot and killed him. Acquitted of the crime, but closely watched by Union troops, she beguiled her enemies into revealing military secrets, which she transmitted to Confederate commanders.

In May 1862 Belle stayed in Fort Royal, Virginia, with relatives whose hotel had been taken over by Union officers. She
eavesdropped on their meetings through a hole in a door and rode through enemy lines, to report to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Imprisoned that July in Washington, D.C., she was released a month later. A second incarceration the following year ended with her banishment to the South.

Belle sailed for England in May 1864 to serve as a Confederate courier but was intercepted by Union troops. One of them, a naval officer named Samuel Hardinge, fell in love with the alluring spy and helped her escape to London, where they wed. He died shortly thereafter. Belle, now a widow and mother at 20, remained in England to compose her memoirs and launch a successful stage career. She later returned to America, where she continued acting, married twice more and lectured on her wartime experiences across the United States.

MARY KATE PATTERSON was no so famous. When the Civil War began she was sixteen. Mary Kate and her family lived a few miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. Vivacious Mary Kate, with flashing brown eyes and dark brown curls, attended old Elliott School in Nashville, Tennessee. Declaration of war between the North and South interrupted her education, but the contacts she made in school were invaluable during her service as a Confederate spy.

The Federal army occupied Nashville early in the war. Mary Kate provided information to Coleman's Scouts, a spy network of the Army of Tennessee. She befriended Yankees officers and frequently obtained passes to Nashville, where she gathered secret messages and supplies for the Scouts and hid them in her buggy's false bottom.

Mary Kate smuggled boots, blankets, and anything needed by the Confederate army through the lines, concealing quinine and morphine in her voluminous riding habits. She admitted after the war, when it was too late for reprisal, that she had carried six hundred dollars’ worth of medicine in just one trip. She and her family sheltered and fed Confederate soldiers, signaling them by a certain arrangement of louvers and lanterns in the windows when it was safe to come in for medical help and hot meals.

Widowed three times, when she died in 1931, she was buried in the Confederate Circle in Nashville's Mt. Olivet Cemetery, the first woman so honored.
BELLE EDMONDSON, born in Mississippi in 1840, served as a Confederate agent throughout the war. In 1862 after the fall of Memphis, she smuggled supplies and funds to the Confederate army. Her love of the South and of danger attracted her to spying, carrying mail and smuggling. In 1863, she worked for the Independent Scouts, headed by Captain Thomas Henderson.

She lived near Memphis, Tennessee and smuggled supplies to Confederate soldiers throughout the war. In 1864, since soldiers did not search women, she hid uniforms, money, buttons, letters, etc. in her luggage and on her clothing and took them through Union lines.

Belle’s trips eventually attracted the attention of Union forces and they issued a warrant for her arrest. In July 1864, she fled south to Mississippi and lived there for the rest of the war. She was engaged three times. The third was announced two weeks before her sudden death in 1873.And finally, I want to speak of two Union spies who did not fit the profile of lady spies.

PAULINE CUSHMAN was a stage actress who later became a spy for the Union army. Born Harriett Wood in New Orleans on June 10, 1833, Pauline was raised in Michigan, but returned to Louisiana at age eighteen to became a stage actress, changing her name to Pauline Cushman.

Two Confederate soldiers, Colonel Spear and Captain Blincoe, offered Pauline money to toast Confederate President Jefferson Davis during a performance.

Offended, she visited Union Colonel Moore to report the men. Moore directed Pauline to carry out the toast, hoping to embed her as a local Union spy.

She toasted Davis and was promptly fired from the production, since they now believed her to be a Confederate sympathizer.

Since she had successfully gained the trust of the local Confederates, Pauline began posing as a Confederate camp follower in Kentucky and Tennessee. She disguised herself as a man while gathering information from soldiers in local saloons.

After visiting the camp of General Braxton Bragg in May of 1863, Pauline obtained the general’s battle plans, but aroused suspicion and was caught. She was tried in a military court and sentenced to death. But her execution was delayed when she became ill.

Shortly after, the Union army invaded Shelbyville, Tennessee, where she was being held, forcing the Confederates to flee without her.

Despite her brush with death, Pauline continued to spy for the Union army. At war’s end, President Abraham Lincoln awarded her the honorary rank of Brevet-Major, earning her the nickname “The Spy of Cumberland.” She was buried with military honors in the Golden Gate National Cemetery.

HARRIET TUBMAN set up a vast spy ring in the south, sending African-American men to pose as servants in order to gather intelligence for the Union army.

One of the most celebrated heroines in American history, Harriet Tubman is best known for ushering slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad in the 1850s. But not everyone knows that the courageous Harriet, who escaped slavery in 1849, set up the vast espionage ring.

In early 1862, with the support of abolitionist friends in the North, Harriet traveled to South Carolina, where she served as a nurse and teacher for the hundreds of newly liberated slaves who had assembled in Union camps. She recruited black men to slip behind Confederate lines, posing as servants or slaves to gather military intelligence. She organized dangerous missions in which Union troops destroyed plantations and spirited former slaves to freedom on warships. In June 1863, Harriet led an armed expedition along the Combahee River, disrupting Confederate supply lines and liberating more than seven hundred slaves. Later in life, Harriet became a key figure in the suffrage movement.

Which of the Civil War Spies In Hoop Skirts did you like the most? Would you have liked to have lived during that historic period? Do you prefer the freedom of today’s clothing styles or the beauty and romance of the styles of the 1860s? Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Angel With Steel Wings.

Thanks for visiting and please leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Angel With Steel Wings.

ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGS is a World War II romance where Steel Magnolias meet Band of Brothers. While doing her part test flying planes as a Woman Air Service Pilot, WASP, Mandy McCabe escapes her dead-end life in Hangman’s Hollow, Tennessee. But, can she escape from her past? Major Harvey Applegate lost his wife to the WASP program, and he’s convinced Yankee Doodle Gals have no place flying in the war effort. He determines to protect the remaining WASPs by sending them packing back to the home front. Both Mandy and Harvey experience immediate attraction, which increases Harvey’s desire to send Mandy home to safety. Can a man burdened with memories of death undertake added emotional danger? Will their new love survive the test? One love. Two goals. Someone has to give.

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. Her Women of Courage Series, first book, ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGS spotlights heroic women of World War II, and read her private investigating series, Handcuffed In Texas, first book HOLLY GARDEN, PI, RED IS FOR ROOKIE. Enjoy her other award-winning historical romances and novellas. Anne’s highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Buy Anne’s books on Type in Anne Greene. Visit Anne at


  1. Wow, I love this! I never knew that about Harriet Tubman. That woman was amazing! Thanks for sharing. No need to enter me in the drawing. I already own Angel With Steel's near the top of my TBR pile.

    1. Debbie, you are one of my heroes. You have Angel soon tbr. Love you. However, if you win I can send you one of my other books. Do you like mystery/suspense?

    2. Awesome!


  2. I thoroughly enjoyed every story on our hoop skirt spies! While the clothes were beautiful and quite handy to transport information in, think I'd rather not have to wear them.

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

    1. Hi Melody, I'm with you. Especially in this hot, hot Texas summer. Thanks for leaving your email, that's really helpful if you win.

  3. What a great post and what brave women! Thank you for sharing and the giveaway opportunity. mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Thanks, Melanie! Good to have you here again. I love seeing readers return. And thanks for leaving your email.

  4. Enjoyed your post Anne. Your book sounds very interesting, would like to read it.
    Blessings, Tina

    1. Hi Mrs. Tina, I don't think I've seen you here before. I hope you return each 14th day of each month. We always have something interesting on HHH. Thanks for leaving your email too, that's so helpful in case you win.

  5. I have enjoyed learning about all of these amazing women. With the vantage point of history, we can see their contributions, but I wonder....if I was any of their neighbors and considered them a dear friend, would I have been appalled had I known of their exploits, or would we have been on the same side? Interesting to think about!!!!

    1. Hi Connie, yes, interesting question. However, I think a neighbor would hold much the same viewpoint as the spy. But probably the spy had a hard time not telling her dear friend of her adventures. Thanks for leaving your email. Sometimes I forget to ask readers to leave their email and I have no way to contact them.

  6. Annie, thank you for an amazing post about courageous women as spies. All the spies were impressing but Mary Kate Patterson tugged at my heart with her being so young, along with all she smuggled to the men and concealing medicine. I love the lady in the green dress you shared. Angel With Steel Wings sounds like a book I will not want to stop reading till the last page. Thank you for sharing. marilynridgway78[at]gmail[dot]com

  7. Hi Marilyn, good to meet you here. Thanks for the great comment, and thanks for sharing your email. I will be pulling a name out of a hat tomorrow or the next day.

  8. I have enjoyed learning about these lady spies and I was especially surprised to learn of Harriet Tubman's spy escapadas. I have always admired her work with the Underground Railroad but her efforts to help the Union is another fascinating part of her life!
    Thanks for sharing these four posts.

  9. CONGRATULATIONS, Melanie Backus you won an autographed copy of Angel With Steel Wings. Look for an email from me!