Antonia Ford Willard

Photo of Confederate Spy Antonia Ford Willard
Confederate Spy Antonia Ford
Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Significance:
Confederate Spy
Place of Birth:
Fairfax Court House, VA
Date of Birth
July 23, 1838
Place of Death:
Washington, DC
Date of Death
February 14, 1871
Place of Burial:
Washington, DC
Cemetery Name
Oak Hill Cemetery

Widely reported to have been a volunteer Confederate spy, Antonia Ford was the daughter of prominent Fairfax, Virginia merchant and dedicated secessionist Edward R. Ford. Ford, an ardent secessionist herself, is alleged to have gathered information on troop strength and movements from Union officers billeted around the Fairfax region in mid-1861, which she then may have passed on to her brother's commander Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart. Ford reportedly also spied for Colonel John S. Mosby, leader of a band of Confederate rangers in Northern Virginia.

After being reported to authorities by a Union spy, Ford was arrested by the Union Provost Marshal in Fairfax, Major Joseph Willard, and jailed in Washington, D.C. at the Old Capitol Prison in early 1863. She was charged with aiding and abetting Mosby's capture of Union General Edwin H. Stoughton, but no evidence could be found to support her accusers' claims. During her confinement, her arresting officer, Major Willard, had worked for her release. Ford eventually took the Oath of Allegiance, was released from prison, and later married Major Willard on March 10, 1864. After bearing three children, Antonia Ford Willard died from complications brought about by her imprisonment.