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Food & History

The beautiful rebel spy from Virginia —

Belle Boyd hated Yankees, but she gladly used her charms — on gullible Union officers for her own protection. French newspapers called — her "La Belle Rebelle" (the beautiful rebel) . Boyd was born with that — indefinable quality of women like Cleopatra. Men turned into putty in — her hands.

She was born in 1844 in Martinsburg, (now) West Virginia. — Her father was a wealthy merchant who sent his daughter to a fashionable — girls school in Baltimore. Belle returned home shortly before the Civil — War came to her valley. Union forces under General Robert Patterson occupied — Martinsburg on on July 3, 1861.

When a Yankee soldier tried to remove the Confederate — flag flying over her house, she killed him. Patterson did not punish her. — The soldier had shoved her mother out of the way. She was just protecting — her mom. Nevertheless, Belle moved to Front Royal until tempers cooled.

At Front Royal, she began collecting information on Union — troop movements which she forwarded to General "Stonewall" Jackson. She — was arrested in early 1862 and sent to a military prison in Baltimore. — She managed to charm General John A. Dix, who arranged for her to be included — in the next prisoner exchange. Belle went right back to Front Royal and — her espionage. Her finest hour came on May 23, 1862.

Union forces made plans to ambush the advancing rebels, — inflict heavy casualties, then withdraw, blowing up the bridges behind — them. Belle raced to intercept Jackson's columns. Jackson changed his — battle plans, tricked the Union commander, and won a decisive victory — at Front Royal.

A few days later, Belle was arrested again and sent to — Capital Prison in Washington. "La Belle Rebelle" charmed Lafayette Baker, — who supposedly created the U.S. Secret Service. Baker arranged for her — to be exchanged. The "Cleopatra of the South" was back in business.

The Union victory at Gettysburg and the Confederate retreat — stranded her in Yankee territory. She was arrested in August 1863 and — imprisoned in Carrol Prison near Washington. She almost died of typhoid — fever, which won her widespread sympathy. The Union solution was to banish — their troublesome prisoner.

In Richmond, President Davis gave her important letters — to take to England. The blockade runner she sailed on was captured by — the USS "Connecticutt." Ensign Samuel Hardinge was ordered to sail the — captured prize to Boston. En route, he fell in love with his tempestous — captive. He arranged for Belle to continue to Canada. He followed her — to England where they were married on August 24, 1864. Hardinge died a — few months later.

His widow had a brief career as an actress in England — and published a book about her adventures as a Confederate spy. She returned — to the US in 1869. She married twice, to men named Hammond and High, both — of whom died. Belle also claimed she was once married to Cole Younger, — a Confederate veteran and famous outlaw.

Her stage career did not flourish. Finally, she turned — to giving "readings" of her life. But the Yankees had the last word. Belle — Boyd Hardinge Hammond High died in Kilbourn, Wisconsin on June 10, 1900, — where she had scheduled a reading at the local post of the Grand Army — of the Republic. Union veterans paid for the funeral. She was broke, having — sent her last $2 to her daughter, apologizing for the small amount and — explaining: "I have been able to play only one night, so I am sending — you all I have over expenses, $2." Six union veterans were pallbearers — when the tempestous rebel spy was laid to rest under a simple headstone — that reads:


Confederate Spy

Born in Virginia

Died in Wisconsin