Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
July 1862

Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 26, 1862

Southern female spies--Miss Belle Boyd.

A letter dated Front Royal, Va., July 12th, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, says of Southern female spies:

These women are the most accomplished in Southern circles. They are introduced under assumed names to our officers, so as to avoid detection or recognition from those to whom their names are known, but their persons unknown. By such means they are enabled to frequently meet combined, but at separate times, the officers of every regiment in a whole column, and by simple compilation and comparative of notes, they achieve a full knowledge of the strength of our entire force. Has modern warfare a parallel to the use of such accomplishments for such a purpose?--The chief of these spies is the celebrated Belle Boyd. Her acknowledged superiority for machination and intrigue has given her the leadership and control of the female spies in the Valley of Virginia. She is a resident of Martinsburg, when at home, and has a pious, good old mother, who regrets as much as anyone can the violent and eccentric course of her daughter since this 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 Martinsburg, she wore a revolver in her belt, and was courted and flattered by every Lieutenant and Captain in the service who ever saw her. There was a kind of Di Vernon dash about her, a smart pertness, a quickness of retort, and 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 a 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 Richelle would have delighted to employ from its kinded {sic} affinities.

Well, this 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 of whom 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 prime to its success.

During the past campaign in the Valley this woman has been of immense service to the enemy : She will be now if she can.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: July 1862

West Virginia Archives and History