Honors College | Session 4

Title

Women in the Civil War: Female Espionage Agents for the Confederacy

Presenter Information

Sarah StellhornFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

English and History Education

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. James Humphreys

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Although historians have frequently examined the role of women on the home front during the Civil War, women who contributed to the cause in more direct ways, such as espionage, are often neglected. An in-depth examination of specific females spying for the Confederacy, such as Rose O’Neal Greenhow and Belle Boyd, proves that their actions, both remarkable and uncharacteristic of women at the time, had a direct impact on the war. A vast network of spies and smugglers existed not only in the southern and border states, but also throughout the North, even in Washington D.C. itself. This network was utilized especially in the early war years to transmit a number vital messages, including several collected and sent by Rose O’Neal Greenhow concerning imperative information in the Battle of First Manassas. Females who spied for the Confederacy came from a variety of social classes and backgrounds. Some of the most successful spies, however, were women who used their high political connections in the North to retrieve information and send it South. For spies who were caught, punishments varied, but typically included imprisonment or banishment to the South.

Spring Scholars Week 2018 Event

Honors College Senior Thesis Presentation

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Women in the Civil War: Female Espionage Agents for the Confederacy

Although historians have frequently examined the role of women on the home front during the Civil War, women who contributed to the cause in more direct ways, such as espionage, are often neglected. An in-depth examination of specific females spying for the Confederacy, such as Rose O’Neal Greenhow and Belle Boyd, proves that their actions, both remarkable and uncharacteristic of women at the time, had a direct impact on the war. A vast network of spies and smugglers existed not only in the southern and border states, but also throughout the North, even in Washington D.C. itself. This network was utilized especially in the early war years to transmit a number vital messages, including several collected and sent by Rose O’Neal Greenhow concerning imperative information in the Battle of First Manassas. Females who spied for the Confederacy came from a variety of social classes and backgrounds. Some of the most successful spies, however, were women who used their high political connections in the North to retrieve information and send it South. For spies who were caught, punishments varied, but typically included imprisonment or banishment to the South.