Categories: Civil War

by Jeanne Gehret


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Today’s blog on one of my most-admired American women features my favorite historical novel (pictured) as well as a quiz on spies!

During the Civil War, Union Spy Elizabeth Van Lew lived in Richmond, VA, the very heart of the Confederacy. A wealthy churchgoing woman, she cited simple compassion for prisoners as her reason for visiting Libby Prison, six blocks from her home. Meanwhile, she was was exchanging valuable war secrets disguised in the soles of shoes and casserole dishes with secret compartments.

Even her rebel sister-in-law and neighbors did not realize she was against the politics of her city.

With nerves of steel (just like my March 16 blog heroine Beulah Vanderhoop), Van Lew managed a spy ring that included a servant in the most dangerous place of all—the home of the Confederate president. In her later years she was shunned by Richmond society and after her death, her mansion was burned, perhaps for spite.

For one of my favorite historical novels entitled Spymistress (by Jennifer Chiavarini), click here. Chiavarini’s style in this book inspired the writing of my historical novel of the same era, The Truth About Daniel.

For a factual account of Van Lew, click here.

And finally, watch this great video and take this quiz to identify female spies!


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