"I thank you, for myself and for the army, for the immense service that you
have rendered your country today." Thus
wrote Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson to 18-year-old Belle Boyd in appreciation of information she brought him, braving enemy fire that put bullet holes in her
skirt. The year before, Boyd had shot and
killed a drunken Union soldier who was
trying to raise the Stars and Stripes over
her house in what was then Martinsburg,
western Virginia. She was arrested and
tried for murder, but was acquitted on a
defense of justifiable homicide.
Dubbed "La Belle Rebelle" by a French
war correspondent, Boyd continued to
spy for the Confederacy and also served as
a courier and scout for Col. John S.
Mosby's guerrillas. Betrayed by a lover,
Boyd was arrested on order of U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. She spent a
month in Old Capitol Prison in Washington
before she was released in an exchange of
prisoners. Boyd was arrested again in June
1863 and was not released until December.
Having contracted typhoid in jail, she sailed
to Europe to recover and to deliver letters
for Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
When Boyd returned to the Confederacy,
her blockade runner was captured by a
Union warship. Boyd quickly seduced and
fell in love with Union Capt. Samuel
Hardinge, who was placed in command of
the blockade runner to take it to the North.
Hardinge allowed Boyd and the Confederate captain of the blockade runner to
escape to Canada and then to England, and
for these actions he was later court-martialed and discharged from the navy.
Hardinge followed Boyd to England, where
they were married in August 1864.