Belle Boyd

Belle Boyd

Belle Boyd was born in Martinsburg, Virginia, on 9th May, 1844. She studied at Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore between 1856 and 1860.

When the Union Army occupied Martinsburg in July, 1861, she shot and killed a soldier who was trying to enter her house. Boyd was tried and acquitted after her defence lawyer argued that it was a case of justifiable homicide.

Boyd was a strong supporter of the Confederate Army and during the early stages of the American Civil War took details of enemy troop movements to Thomas Stonewall Jackson. She also supplied information to John S. Mosby and his Partisan Rangers.

Boyd's activities became known to the Union Army and in 1862, Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, gave orders for her arrest. Boyd was eventually detained by Lafayette Baker, head of the National Detective Police (NDP), an undercover, anti-subversive, spy organization. Baker was accused of conducting a brutal interrogation and despite this inhuman treatment Boyd refused to confess and was finally released in 1863.

In 1864 President Jefferson Davis sent Boyd on a mission to England. Her ship was intercepted by a Union vessel but after using her charm on an officer named Hardinge, she was able to escape. Hardinge was court-martialed and discharged from the navy. He then followed Boyd to England and the couple married in 1864.

After the war Boyd wrote a book, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison (1865) about her experiences during the American Civil War. Boyd later worked as an actress in England and the United States. Boyd also toured American giving dramatic talks about her war adventures. Belle Boyd was on one of these tours when she died in Kibourne, Wisconsin, on 11th June, 1900.