Belle Boyd Biography for Kids
Known as Cleopatra of the Secession, Belle Boyd was a hotel operator and Confederate spy. She was born in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) in May of 1843 or 1844. She was considered a very well educated woman for her time and graduated from the Mt. Washington Female College in Baltimore, MD in 1861. Her career as a spy began that same year when Union soldiers in Front Royal allegedly tore down the Confederate flag that flew over her mother’s boarding house and replaced it with a Union flag. When the Union soldier insulted, or perhaps, pushed her mother, Boyd shot him dead. She was acquitted of any wrong doing.
Later that year , Boyd became a courier for Generals Beauregard and Jackson. She obtained information by charming Union soldiers and officers passing through the area and relayed the information to the Generals. The information was supposedly relayed via Boyd’s servant, Eliza Hopewell in a hollowed-out watch case to escape detection. Once, Boyd learned valuable information about Union troop positions and formations after her the boarding house was seized by Union forces. She rode 15 miles through the wilderness and battle lines to relay the information personally to General Jackson. On the way, a bullet tore through her skirt. To show his appreciation, Jackson made the 17 year-old girl a Captain and Honorary Aid-de-Camp.
During the Civil War, Belle Boyd was arrested six times and imprisoned twice. After the war, she published a famous book about her life and became an actress. She died in Wisconsin in 1900 of an apparent heart attack. Today, the Belle Boyd House and Museum is located in Martinsburg, West Virginia and her birthday is celebrated there every third weekend of May.