In a war where one's appearance and speech did not give away one's loyalty, espionage and the black market thrived. This was particularly true in border areas, where the people's sympathies were divided. Many former slaves and some southern Unionists provided valuable local knowledge to Union forces. Confederate women spies, such as "Rebel Rose" Greenhow of Washington, D.C., and Belle Boyd of Virginia were particularly celebrated for their exploits in a Romantic age.
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Victorian novelists could not come up with a better plot: pretty young Virginia belle is accused of spying on the Yankees, is imprisoned, falls in love with her married captor, scandal ensues, he gets a divorce, they marry...and she romantically dies of consumption. Antonia Ford may or may not have been a spy, but her story certainly rivals any novel. Read more