CAMP AND PRISON.
With an Introduction
BY A FRIEND OF THE SOUTH.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
SAUNDERS, OTLEY, AND CO.,
66 BROOK STREET, W.
[All rights reserved.]
WILLIAM STEVENS, PRINTER, 37 BELL YARD,
OF VOLUME THE FIRST.
- INTRODUCTION . . . . . 1
- CHAPTER I.
Home - Glimpse at Washington City . . . . .
- CHAPTER II.
Political Contest - Commencement of the Great
Struggle in America - Secession of the Southern
States - We hear of the Fall of
Fort Sumter - Call for Troops - The Stars
and Bars - Volunteers - Enlistment of my
Father - Patriotism of the Southern Women -
Harper's Ferry - Visit to Camp Picnics, Balls,
&c., &c., . . . . . 43
- CHAPTER III.
Fourth of July - The Yankee Flag is hoisted in
Martinsburg - Great Excitement - My first
Adventure - An Article of War is read to me -
- Miss Sophia B.'s Walk . . . . . 62
- CHAPTER IV.
Battle of Manassas - Establishment of a Hospital
at Front Royal (Virginia) - A Runaway Excursion -
Capture of Federal Officers . . . . .
- CHAPTER V.
Advance of the Federal Army - I leave Home
with my Father - Battle of Kearnstown - I
am Arrested and carried Prisoner to Baltimore
- Released and sent to Martinsburg - I
attempt to go South to Richmond - Shields' Army
at Front Royal - Incidents, &c., &c. . . . . .
- CHAPTER VI.
My Prisoner - Battle of 23rd May - My Share in
the Action - The Federals Fire upon me -
The Little Note once more - The Confederates
are Victorious - Letter from General "Stonewall"
Jackson. . . . . 122
- CHAPTER VII.
Tone of the Northern Press towards me - General
Banks refuses to pass me South - How I
procure Passes - The two Confederate Soldiers
- I write to "Stonewall" Jackson - Novel
Method of conveying Information - My Letter
is Intercepted - I am warned to depart South
without delay - I prepare to leave . . . . .
- CHAPTER VIII.
I am Arrested by order of Mr. Stanton, Federal
Secretary of War - My Room and Trunks are
closely searched - Yankee disregard for the rights
of Personal Property - My Departure for
Washington - My Escort - I arrive at General
White's Head - quarters in Winchester. . . . .
- CHAPTER IX.
A false Alarm - Arrival at Martinsburg - My
Mother and Family visit me - Departure for
Washington - My Reception at the Dépot -
The "Old Capitol" - My Prison Room - My
Treatment - Interview with the Chief of
Detectives - Offers of Liberty - My Reply -
A Pleasing Reminiscence of my Captivity . . . . .
- CHAPTER X.
My First Night in Prison - The Secret Telegraph
- An Incident in connection with President Davis's
Portrait - I am punished for my Indiscretion - I
am permitted to walk in the Prison Yard, where I
meet with a Relation - I am informed I am to be
exchanged - Departure from Washington . . . . .
- CHAPTER XI.
Arrival at Fortress Monroe - Passage up the
James River - Arrival at Richmond - "Home
again" - Interview with General "Stonewall"
Jackson - A Refugee once more - Review of
the Confederate Army under General Lee - I
receive my Commission - Flying Visit to my
Home - Letter from "Stonewall" Jackson - My
Reception by the People of Knoxville - I hear
of the Death of General Jackson - Battle of
Winchester - At Home once more. . . . .
- CHAPTER XII.
Invasion of Pennsylvania - Panic in the
Northern States - General Lee issues an Order
respecting Private Property - Battle of Gettysburg
- The Retreat of Lee's Army - How I occupied my
time with other Ladies - I receive a call from
Major Goff - Am held a Prisoner in my own Home
- Again come to Washington a Prisoner -
New Quarters - The Carroll Prison - How
Ladies and Gentlemen were treated who recognised
us in passing the Carroll - The "Old Familiar
Sound" once more - The Bayonet - Our Mail
Communication is again established . . . . .
- CHAPTER XIII.
A very Romantic Way of Corresponding - The
Prison Authorities for once are at a loss - My
Confederate Flags - The wave over Washington
in spite of Yankee assertions to the contrary - I
become very ill - Mr. Stanton in an unfavourable
light once more - My Prisoner of Front Royal in
her true Character - Sentence of Court-martial is
announced to me - A Relapse of my former Illness -
I am banished - The cry of "Murder" raised round
the Corner - Incidents in my Prison Life. . . . .
BY A FRIEND OF THE SOUTH.
"WILL you take my life?"
This was the somewhat startling question put
to me by Mrs. Hardinge - better known as Belle
Boyd - on my recent introduction to her in Jermyn
"Madam," said I, "a sprite like you, who has
so often run the gauntlet by sea and land, who
has had so many hair-breadth escapes by flood
and field, must bear a 'charmed life:' I dare not
attempt it." Then, placing in my hands a roll
of manuscript, she said, "Take this; read it, revise
it, rewrite it, publish it, or burn it - do what you
will. It is the story of my adventures, misfortunes,
imprisonments, and persecutions. I have written all
from memory since I have been here in London; and,
perhaps, by putting me in the third person you can
make a book that will be not only acceptable to the
public and profitable to myself, but one that will do
some good to the cause of my poor country, a cause
which seems to be so little understood in England."
I took the manuscript, promising to look it over,
and return it with an estimate of its merits. I
have done so; and hence the publication of "Belle
Boyd, in Camp and Prison." The work is entirely her
own, with the exception of a few suggestions in the
shape of footnotes - the simple, unambitious
narrative of an enthusiastic and intrepid schoolgirl,
who had not yet seen her seventeenth summer
when the cloud of war darkened her land, changing
all the music of her young life, her peaceful "home,
sweet home," into the bugle blasts of battle, into
scenes of death and most tumultuous sorrow.
Believing, with all the people of the South, in
the sovereignty of the States, and the absolute
political and moral right of secession, our young
heroine, like Joan of Arc, inspired and fired by
the "tyranny impending," resolved to devote her hands,
and heart, and life if need be, to the sacred cause
of freedom and independence. How much she has
done and suffered in the great struggle which has
crimsoned the "sunny South" with the "blood of
the martyrs," we shall leave the reader to gather
from the narrative itself.
But, by way of introduction, I have a few
incidental facts to relate; and it is proper to
add that I do it entirely on my own responsibility,
and without consulting "our heroine" in the matter.
At the time of my presentation to Mrs. Hardinge,
above alluded to, I found the lady in very great
distress of mind and body. She was sick, without
money, and driven almost to distraction by the
cruel news that her husband was suffering the
"tender mercies" of a Federal prison. Lieutenant
Hardinge was in irons; and his friends were
prohibited from sending him food or clothing!
Letters addressed to his young wife, containing
remittances, were intercepted; and thus I found
her, not quite friendless, in this great wilderness
of London, but, what is worse, absolutely destitute
of that indispensable and all-prevailing friend
The sight of a pair of flowing eyes, that for
thirteen long months had refused to weep in
a Northern prison, were enough to call forth
the following communication, addressed to the
"Morning Herald," that able and consistent
defender of the Southern cause: -
"A WORD TO CONFEDERATE SYMPATHIZERS.
"SIR, - Your readers cannot have forgotten the
glowing description of the recent romantic wedding
of 'Belle Boyd' (La Belle Rebelle), so pleasantly
celebrated a few months since at 'a fashionable
hotel in Jermyn Street.'
Alas, poor Belle! Her bridal bliss was 'like
the snow-fall on a river.' Her husband of a
day is now tasting the sweets of a Yankee prison,
and she (who 'was made his wedded wife yestreen')
all the bitterness of poverty and exile. After
enduring for many a long and weary month the
insults, sufferings, and persecutions of the
'Old Capitol Prison,' I heard the afflicted lady
say yesterday that she 'had rather be there as
she was than here as she is.' And why? Cut off
from all pecuniary resources at home, she has
had to part with her jewellery piece by piece,
including her 'wedding presents,' to pay her
"We can well understand how trouble like
that would smite the heart of a high-toned
woman, the daughter of affluence and luxury,
even more cruelly than the tortures of a Federal
"Without further comment, I will only add
that Madame Hardinge (Belle Boyd) has prepared
for publication a narrative of her adventures,
imprisonment, and sufferings, for which there
are no lack of publishers ready to advance a
handsome sum; but she has recently received
threatening intimations that her husband's life
depends upon the suppression of her story!
"The father of 'Belle Boyd,' a most respectable
Virginian gentleman, has lately died, at the age
of forty-six, from a disease induced by his daughter's
sufferings. These are the sad, simple facts of the
case, and I commend them to the kind consideration
of Confederate sympathizers in England.
Surely poverty, in a young and accomplished woman,
is not only a sacred claim to the protection of
society - it is also the very highest credential
The above was copied by one of the London
morning papers, with the following sympathetic
"We are in a position to verify all that is
here stated, and a great deal more. Probably
the history of the world does not contain a
parallel case to that of this newly married
lady, who has just only emerged from her teens.
Her adventures in the midst of the American war
surpass anything to be met with in the pages of
fiction. Her great beauty, elegant manners, and
personal attractions generally, in conjunction
with her romantic history before her marriage,
which took place only three months ago at the West
End, in the presence of a fashionable assemblage of
affectionate and admiring friends, concur to invest
her with attributes which render her such a heroine
as the world has seldom, if ever, seen in a lady
only now in her twentieth year."
Several of the New York journals also copied the
above, and one of them, "The World," published the
following communication: -
"I would respectfully ask the use of a small
space in the columns of 'The World' to say a
word regarding these statements.
"Within the past few months Mrs. Hardinge's
agent in the United States has sent her bills
of exchange on London bankers to the amount of
eight hundred pounds sterling, or nearly ten
thousand dollars in greenbacks. She has never
received a sou of this money. Her letters have
been opened here and the drafts extracted before
going on to her, and this is the reason she is
in distress. Too proud to beg, too honourable
to borrow, she pawned her jewels and wedding
presents, piece by piece, until her situation
became known to her friends. Cut off from pecuniary
resources, a stranger in a strange land, her husband
in a Northern prison, what could she do? 'Surely
poverty in a young and accomplished woman is not
only a sacred claim to the protection of society,
but is also the very highest credential of honour.'
"I received during the week a letter from this
poor lady; and she says, 'I think it is so cruel
in the Yankees to intercept my letters and stop my
money, and I don't know why I am thus persecuted.'
It is cruel, and it is beneath the dignity of any
Government to stoop to such means of revenge.
Such things in the dark ages would be called
unchivalrous. Good God! can this be the nineteenth
"Mr. Hardinge came here, as a peaceable citizen
would come, to attend to his private business and
return to England. He had no Confederate duties.
Having nearly completed his labours, he went to
Martinsburg to see his wife's mother, and, while
returning thence, with all the necessary papers
and passes in his possession, was arrested this
side of Harper's Ferry. Confined in nondescript
guard-houses, in jails, and dragged about like a
convicted felon, he was finally lodged in the Carroll
Prison at Washington, and from thence taken to
Fort Delaware. After suffering two months'
confinement, he was unconditionally released, and
sailed for Europe on the 8th February. She will
not be in want or distress when he arrives in
London. For what he was arrested and confined
is to him yet a mystery.
"The intimation to Mrs. Hardinge that the
publication of her work would endanger the life
of her husband was not without foundation, as
there are officials high in power at Washington
of whom she knows more than is generally known,
and who will be shown up in their true light and
colours in her book. They fear the truth."
It is pleasant to add, that the moment Belle
Boyd's necessities became known in London the
most generous offers of assistance were literally
showered upon her by ladies and gentlemen of
the highest and best classes in England. And
here I cannot refrain from saying that, after
several years of observation and experience, I
cannot but regard the real nobility of England
as the noblest and most hospitable people in the
world. The Southern planters rank - or, alas!
did rank - next.
But this is a digression. Let us glance a
moment at Belle Boyd in prison, sketched by
other hands than her own.
In the month of August, 1862, the editor of the
"Iowa Herald," D. A. Mahony, Esq., a strong
Anti-Black Republican, but an able and eloquent
supporter of the Constitution and the Union, was
taken from his bed, and, without arraignment or
trial, and without even being informed of "the
things whereof he was accused," hurried away to
Washington, and thrust into the "Old Capitol
Prisons." What he saw and suffered there he has
already told the world, in words that ought to
burn and brand for ever his lawless and infamous
The following extracts from Mr. Mahony's
journal, published by Carleton, of New York,
give us characteristic glimpses of Belle Boyd
in prison: -
"Among the prisoners in the Old Capitol when
I reached there was the somewhat famous Belle
Boyd, to whom has been attributed the defeat of
General Banks, in the Shenandoah Valley, by
Stonewall Jackson. Belle, as she is familiarly
called by all the prisoners, and affectionately so by
the Confederates, was arrested and imprisoned
as a spy....
"The first intimation some of us new-comers in
the Old Capitol had of the fact of there being a
lady in that place was the hearing of "Maryland,
my Maryland," sung the first night of our
incarceration, in what we could not be mistaken
was a woman's voice. On inquiry, we were informed
that it was Belle Boyd. Some of us had never
heard of the lady before; and we were all
inquiring about her. Who was she? where was
she from? and what did she do?....
"Belle was put in solitary confinement, but
allowed to have her room-door open, and to sit
outside of it in a hall or stair-landing in the
evening. Whenever she availed herself of this
privilege, as she frequently did, the greatest
curiosity was manifested by the victims of despotism
to see her. Her room being on the second story,
those who occupied the third story were civilians
"But we must not lose sight of Belle Boyd. I
heard her voice, my first night in prison, singing
'Maryland, my Maryland,' the first time I had
ever heard the Southern song. The words, stirring
enough to Southern hearts, were enunciated by
her with such peculiar expression as to touch even
sensibilities which did not sympathize with the
cause which inspired the song. It was difficult
to listen unmoved to this lady, throwing her whole
soul, as it were, into the expression of the
sentiments of devotion to the South, defiance to
the North, and affectionately confident appeals
to Maryland, which form the burden of that
celebrated song. The pathos her voice, her
apparently forlorn condition, and, at those
times when her soul seemed absorbed in the
thoughts she was uttering in song, her melancholy
manner, affected all who heard her, not only with
compassion for her, but with an interest in her
which came near, on several occasions, bringing
about a conflict between the prisoners and the
"Fronting on the same hall or stair-landing on
which Belle Boyd's room-door opened, were three
other rooms, all filled to their capacity with
prisoners, mostly Confederate officers. Several
of these were personally acquainted with Belle,
as she was most of the time, and by nearly every
one, called. In the evenings these prisoners were
permitted to crowd inside of their room-doors,
whence they could see and sometimes exchange
a word with Belle. When this liberty was not
allowed, she contrived to procure a large marble,
around which she would tie a note, written on
tissue-paper, and, when the guard turned his back
to patrol his beat in the hall, she would roll
the marble into one of the open doors
of the Confederate prisoners' rooms. When the
contents were read and noted a missive would be
written in reply, and the marble, similarly
burdened as it came, would be rolled back to Belle.
Thus was a correspondence established and kept up
between Belle and her fellow-prisoners, till a more
convenient and effective mode was discovered.
This occurred soon after some of us were transferred
from room No. 13 to No. 10.
"One day Mr. Sheward and I were rummaging in
an old, dirty, doorless closet in No. 10, when
we discovered an opening in the floor, and,
looking down, perceived the light in the room
below, which happened to be that occupied by Belle
Boyd. Here was a discovery! No sooner was it made,
than we set to writing a note, which was tied
to a thread and dropped down through the
discovered aperture. It happened to be seen by
Belle, who soon returned the compliment.
Thenceforth a regular mail passed through the
floor in No. 10; and though Lieutenant Miller
and Superintendent Wood prided themselves on
being well informed of every occurrence which
took place in prison contrary to the rules, with
all their vigilance, aided by the presence, as they
admitted, of a detective in every room of the
prison, except that of Belle Boyd, they never
discovered this through-the-floor mail. It would
not be the least interesting chapter in the history
of the Old Capitol to give in it these letters of
Belle Boyd. But the time is not yet."
These last words of Mahony remind me of the
fact that Belle Boyd, the "rebel spy," is in
possession of a vast amount of information
implicating certain high officials at Washington,
both in public and private scandals, which she
deems it imprudent at present to publish. "The
time is not yet."
"Belle usually commenced her evening
entertainment," writes Mahony, "with 'Maryland.' "
Up to this time this patriotic and spirit-stirring
song, written by young Randall, of Baltimore,
must be regarded as the "Marseillaise" of the
South. As it is as yet but little known in
England, I will here quote it entire -
AS SUNG BY BELLE BOYD IN PRISON.
"The despot's heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Hark to a wandering son's appeal,
My Mother State, to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Remember Carroll's sacred trust,
Remember Howard's warlike thrust,
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Come! 'tis the red dawn of the day,
Come with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold's spirit for the fray,
With Watson's blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe, and dashing May,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Dear mother! burst the tyrant's chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain:
Sic semper, 'tis her proud refrain,
That baffles minions back amain.
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come to thine own heroic throng,
That stalks with Liberty along,
And gives a new Key to thy song,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"I see the blush upon thy cheek,
And thou wert ever bravely meek,
But, lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek:
Potomac calls to Chesapeake.
Maryland! my Maryland!
"Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the shot, the blade, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! my Maryland!
"I hear the distant thunder hum,
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb.
Hurrah! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes, she lives; she'll come, she'll come!
Maryland! my Maryland!"
"The singing of this song," says Mahony,
"often brought Belle in collision with the guard
who passed to and fro in front of her room door.
It was, of course, provoking; but was such a
place a proper one in which to imprison a female,
and especially one who, whatever may have been
her offence, was in the estimation of the world,
Many a patriotic lady of Baltimore has been
arrested by Federal officers for singing the
patriotic song of "Maryland." But what will the
English reader say when he learns the following
fact? At one of the most celebrated eating,
drinking, and singing saloons in London, the
classical resort of authors, actors, poets, and
wits, for these hundred years at least, the famous
band of boys, who sing better than any choir outside
the Sistine chapel in Rome, after having got "the
words and air of 'Maryland' by heart," are not
allowed to sing it, for fear of giving offence!
OFFENCE TO WHOM? It might possibly "offend"somebody were they to chant the "Marseillaise."
To return again to our caged bird: -
"Belle was allowed to go in the yard on
Sundays, when there was preaching there. On
these occasions she wore a small Confederate
flag in her bosom. No sooner would her presence
be known to the Confederate prisoners, than they
manifested towards her every mark of respect
which persons in their situation could bestow.
Most of them doffed their hats as she approached
them, and she, with a grace and dignity that might
be envied by a queen, extended her hand to them
as she moved along to her designated position in
a corner near the preacher. We Northern prisoners
of State envied the Confederates who enjoyed
the acquaintance of Belle Boyd, and who secured
from her such glances of sympathy as can only
glow from a woman's eyes.
"Belle's situation was a peculiarly trying one.
If she kept her room, a solitary prisoner, her
health, and probably her mind, would become
affected by the confinement and solitude; and
if she indulged herself by sitting outside her
room door, she became exposed to the gaze of
more than a hundred prisoners, nearly all of
them strangers to her, and many of them her
enemies by the laws of war. Nor was this all.
She could not help hearing the comments made
on her, and the opinions expressed of her, by
passers-by; some of them complimentary and
flattering, it is true, but oftentimes couched in
expressions which were not what she should hear.
The guards, too, were sometimes rude to her both
by word and action. One time, especially, one
of the guards presented his bayoneted musket at
her in a threatening manner. She, brave and
unterrified, dared the craven-hearted fellow to
put his threat into execution. It was well for
him that he did not, for he would have been torn
into pieces before it could be known to the prison
authorities what had happened.
"Belle was subjected to another worse annoyance
and indignity than even this. Her room fronted on
A Street, and, as usual with all the prisoners
whose rooms had windows opening towards the street,
Belle would sit at her window sometimes, and look
abroad upon the houses, streets, and people of the
city named after Washington. It happened frequently
that troops were moving to and fro, and it was on
such occasions especially that Belle, prompted by
that curiosity which seems to be a law of nature
in mankind, would look through her barred window
at the soldiers. No sooner would they perceive her
than they indulged in coarse jests, vulgar expressions,
and the vilest slang of the brothel, made still
more coarse, vulgar, and indecent by the throwing
off of the little restraint which civilized society
places upon the most abandoned prostitutes and
"Did the officers of the troops passing by
permit the soldiers to thus insult a female,
and subject themselves to such scornful and
contemptuous reproof? the reader will be apt
to inquire. Yes; and participated with the
soldiers in uttering the most vulgar language
and indecent allusions to the imprisoned woman;
and that, too, without having the remotest idea
of who she was, or of what she was accused. It
was enough for them that she was a defenceless
woman, to insult and outrage her by such language
as they would not dare to apply in the public streets
to an abandoned woman who had her liberty. And
these men were going forth to fight the battles of
the Union! They had just parted with mothers,
wives, and sisters. It would seem that, in doing
so, they turned their backs upon the virtues which
give beauty to woman and dignity to man....
"At the general exchange of prisoners which
took place in September Belle Boyd was sent to
Richmond. As soon as it became known in the
'Old Capitol' that she was about to leave, there
was not one, Federalist or Confederate, prisoner
of state, officer of the 'Old Capitol,' as well
as prisoner of war, who did not feel that he was
about to part with one for whom he had, at least,
a great personal regard. With many it was more
than mere regard.
"Every inmate of the 'Old Capitol' tried to
procure some token of remembrance from Belle,
and there was scarcely one who did not bestow
on her some mark of regard, esteem, or affection,
as their sentiments and feelings influenced them
severally, and as the means of their disposal
afforded them an opportunity to manifest their
sensibility. While every man who had any delicacy
of feeling for the apparently forlorn prisoner
rejoiced at her release from such a loathsome
place, and from being subjected, as she
continually was, to insult and contumely, there
was not a gentleman in 'Old Capitol' whose
emotions did not overcome him as he saw her
leave the place for home."
Thus kindly and warmly writes the veteran
editor of the "Iowa Herald," one of the victims
of Seward's "little bell," for whose imprisonment
and release the "Powers" at Washington, "clothed
with a little brief authority," have given
no reason or explanation. But was not Mr.
Mahony "guilty" of being the Democratic nominee
A somewhat more poetic picture of "La Belle
Rebelle" is given by the accomplished author of
"Guy Livingstone," in his "Border and Bastille,"
written while tasting the sweets of Federal
tyranny in that same "Old Capitol" Prison: -
"Through the bars of a second-story window
that fronted each turn of my tramp, I saw - this:
a slight figure, in the freshest summer-toilette
of cool pink muslin; close braids of dark hair
shading clear pale cheeks; eyes that were made
to sparkle, though the look in them was very sad;
and the languid bowing down of the small head told
of something worse than weariness.
"Truly a pretty picture, though framed in such
a rude setting; but almost startling, at first, as
the apparition of the fair witch in the forest to
"No need to ask what her crime had been:
aid and abetment of the South suggested itself
before you detected the ensign of the South
that the démoiselle still wore undauntedly -
a pearl solitaire, fashioned as a Single Star.
I may not deny that my gloomy 'constitutional'
seemed thenceforward a shade or two less dreary;
but, though community of suffering does much
to abridge ceremony, it was some days before
I interchanged with the fair captive any sign
beyond the mechanical lifting of my cap, when
I entered and left her presence, duly acknowledged
from above. One evening I chanced to be loitering
almost under the window. A low, significant cough
made me look up; I saw the flash of a gold bracelet,
and the wave of a white hand; and there
fill at my feet a fragrant, pearly rose-bud,
nestling in fresh green leaves. My thanks were,
perforce, confined to a gesture and a dozen hurried
words; but I would the prison-beauty could
believe that fair Jane Beaufort's rose was not
more prized than hers, though the first was a
love-token to a king, the last only a graceful gift
to an unlucky stranger. I suppose that most men,
whose past is not utterly barren of romance, are
weak enough to keep some withered flowers till
they have lived memory down; and I pretend not
to be wiser than my fellows. Other fragrant
messengers followed in their season; but if ever
I 'win hame to my ain countrie,' I make mine avow
to enshrine that first rose-bud in my reliquaire
with all honour and solemnity, there to abide till
one of us shall be dust."
With this explanatory introduction, I have
now only to commend "La Belle Rebelle" to the
kindly sympathies of her readers - not as an
authoress (to this she makes no pretensions);
nor as a partisan soldier, although as such she
has done good service in the cause; nor even
as a freed bird from the "Old Capitol" cage; but
simply as a woman - a warm-hearted, impulsive,
heroic woman of the South, who, maddened by
the wrongs and cruelties inflicted upon her people,
and exalted, by the love she bore them, above the
common cares and considerations of life, dashed
into the field, bearing more than a woman's part
in her country's struggle for liberty.
Like the flashing of the plume in the helmet
of Navarre, the glancing of the Confederate
ensign, when waved by a woman's hand, has never
failed to fire the soldier's heart to "lofty deeds
and daring high;" and on more than a hundred
Southern battle-fields that proud banner, consecrated
by prayers and kisses, baptized in tears and
blood, has been greeted by the closing eyes of
its dying defenders as the oriflamme of victory.
Though lost for the moment in clouds and darkness,
prophetic Hope, the last solace of the unfortunate,
still waits and watches for its re-appearance as
the harbinger of Southern liberty and independence: -
the battle to the strong
Is not given,
While the Judge of Right and Wrong
Sits in heaven!
And the God of David still
Guides the pebble with his will.
There are giants yet to kill,
Since the above was
written the Southern
people have suffered a heavy calamity in the
assassination of the President of the United
States. Not that Mr. Lincoln was their friend: on
the contrary, every man and woman in the South,
and every child born within the last four years,
regarded him as the official head and personal
embodiment of all their enemies. But, by the
removal of the Commander-in-Chief of the great
army and navy with which they were contending,
a far more vindictive and unrelenting man is
invested with the supreme power of the nation.
Abraham Lincoln, -with all his faults and
fanaticism, his angularities of character and
vulgarities of manner, had a sunny side to his
nature; and there is every reason to believe that,
with his idol Union once nominally restored, he
would have adopted an indulgent, humane policy
towards the brave and vanquished South, believing,
with the great poet, that -
"Earthly power cloth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice."
The suspicion which has
been officially and
wickedly thrown upon an honourable and heroic
people, touching "the deep damnation of his taking
off," is sufficiently answered by the universal regret
expressed throughout the Confederacy at President
Lincoln's death, the public denunciation of his
murderer, and the horror everywhere felt at the
idea of being "ruled with a rod of iron" by such
an unprincipled demagogue as Andrew Johnson!
It is usual in cases of murder to look for the
criminal among those who expect to be benefited
by the crime. In the death of Lincoln his immediate
successor in office alone receives "the benefit of
While deploring the event which places the reins
of power in the hands of one as unfit to control
the destinies of a great nation as was the reckless
youth to guide the chariot of the Sun, there can
be no injustice in alluding to the fact that the
Northern Powers and the Northern Press have much
to answer for on the head of assassination. I have
yet to learn that the written programme of Colonel
Dahlgren, which designed the burning of Richmond,
the ravaging of its women, and the murder of
President Davis and all his cabinet, has ever
been disavowed or denounced by the Washington
Government, or by the newspapers that support
it. Philosophy and religion alike teach us that,
while crime only belongs to the
act, the sin of
murder consists in the intent.
In the light of this
judgment, faint in comparison with that "awful
light" yet to be thrown, not only upon all human
actions, but upon "the very thoughts and intents
of the heart," both North and South, friend and
foe, rebel and loyalist, the victim and the victor,
the living and the dead, must all be tried and
sentenced by ONE who "judgeth not as man judgeth."
In the meantime, let us pray, and hope, and
labour for liberty, love, and peace.
Home - Glimpse at Washington City.
MY English readers, who love their own
hearths and homes so dearly, will pardon an
exile if she commences the narrative of her
adventures with a brief reminiscence of her
far-distant birthplace -
"Loved to the last, whatever intervenes
Between us and our childhood's sympathy,
Which still reverts to what first caught the eye."
There is, perhaps, no tract of country in
the world more lovely than the Valley of the
Shenandoah. There is, or rather I should say,
there was, no prettier or more peaceful little
village than Martinsburg, where I was born, in
All those charms with which the fancy of
Goldsmith invested the Irish hamlet in the
days of its prosperity were realized in
my native village. Alas! Martinsburg has met
a more cruel fate than that of "sweet Auburn."
The one, at least, still lives in song, and
will continue to be a household word as long
as the English language shall be spoken: the
other was destined to be the first and fairest
offering upon the altar of Confederate freedom;
but no poet has arisen from her ruins to
perpetuate her name.
While America was yet at peace within
itself, while the States were yet united,
many very beautiful residences were erected
in the vicinity of Martinsburg, which may be
said to have attained some degree of importance
as a town when the large machinery buildings
were raised, at a vast outlay, by the Baltimore
and Ohio Railway Company. They were not
destined to repay those who designed them.
While they were yet in course of construction
their doom was silently, but rapidly approaching.
They were destroyed, as the only means of
averting their capture by the advancing Yankees,
by that undaunted hero, that true apostle of
Freedom, "Stonewall" Jackson.
Reader, I must once again revert to my
home, which was so soon to be the prey of
Imagine a bright warm sun shining upon
a pretty two-storied house, the walls of
which are completely hidden by roses
and honeysuckle in most luxuriant bloom.
At a short distance in front of it flows a
broad, clear, rapid stream: around it the
silver maples wave their graceful branches
in the perfume-laden air of the South.
Even at this distance of time and space,
as I write in my dull London lodging, I can
hardly restrain my tears when I recall the
sweet scene of my early days, such as it was
before the unsparing hand of a ruthless enemy
had defaced its loveliness. I frequently indulge
in a fond soliloquy, and say, or rather think,
"Do my English readers ever bestow a thought
upon that cruel fate which has overtaken so many
of their lineal descendants, whose only crime
has been that love of freedom which the Pilgrim
Fathers could not leave behind them when they left
their island home? Do they bestow any pity, any
sympathy, upon us homeless, ruined, exiled
Confederates? Do they ever pause to reflect what
would be their own feelings if, far and wide
throughout their country, the ancestral hall,
the farmer's homestead, and the labourer's cot
were giving shelter to the licentious soldiers
of an invader or crackling in incendiary flames?
With what emotions would the citizens of London
watch the camp-fires of a besieging army?
" 'Say with what eye along the distant down
Would flying burghers mark the blazing town -
How view the column of ascending flames
Shake his red shadow o'er the startled Thames.' "
Much has lately been
written of the comfort
of our Southern homesteads; and now, though so
many of them are things of the past, while those
that remain are no longer what they were, I may
safely say that not even English homes were more
comfortable, in the true sense of the word,
than ours; while, for hospitality, we have
never been surpassed.
I passed my childhood as all happy children
usually do, petted and caressed by a father
and mother, loving and beloved by my brothers
and sisters. The peculiarly sad circumstances
that attended my father's death will be found
recorded at a future page. Where my mother is
hiding her head I know not: doubtless she is
equally ignorant of my fate. My brothers and
sisters are dispersed God knows where.
But to return to my narrative. I believe I shall
not be contradicted in affirming, that nowhere
could be found more pleasant society than that
of Virginia. In this respect the neighbourhood of
Martinsburg; was remarkably fortunate, populated
as it was by some of the best and most
respectable families of "the Old Dominion" -
respectable, I mean, both in reputation and
in point of antiquity - descendants of such
ancestors as the Fairfaxes and Warringtons,
upon whom Mr. Thackeray has lately conferred
According to the custom of my country, I
was sent at twelve years of age to Mount
Washington College, of which Mr. Staley, of
whom I cherish a most grateful recollection,
was then principal. At sixteen my education
was supposed to be completed, and I made
my entrée into the world in Washington City
with all the high hopes and thoughtless joy
natural to my time of life. I did not then
dream how soon my youth was to be "blasted
with a curse" - the worst that can befall
man or woman - the curse of civil war.
Washington is so well known to English
people that I need not pause to describe
the city, its gaities and pleasures. In the
winter of 1860-1, when I made my first
acquaintance with it, the season was
pre-eminently brilliant. The Senate and
Congress halls were nightly dignified by
the presence of our ablest orators and
statesmen; the salons of the wealthy and the
talented were filled to overflowing; the
theatres were crowded to excess, and for
the last time for many years to come the
daughters of the North and the South
commingled in sisterly love and friendship.
I am inclined to think that at the time
of which I speak the city of Washington
must have very nearly resembled that of
Paris during those few years which
immediately preceded 1789, while the
elements of a stupendous revolution were
yet hidden beneath a tranquil and deceitful
surface. Like the Parisians of that memorable
epoch, we were wilfully or fatally
blind to the signs of the times; we ate and drank,
we dined and danced, we went in and came
out, we married and were given in marriage,
without a thought of the volcano that was
seething beneath our feet.
Who can predict what will be the end and
issue of our revolution, when we consider
that the effects of that which burst forth
seventy-five years ago, wrapped all Europe in
flames, and hurled kings from their thrones,
are even now but partially developed? How many
thousands of our sons have fallen in battle,
against oppressors who would not confess that
our freedom was beyond their power! How many
hapless women and children have perished
miserably, or been driven forth to beg their
bread in foreign countries, before enemies
who with heavy hands have sought to rivet
our chains - enemies who could not discern
the truth of the Irish orator's memorable
axiom, and acknowledge that the genius of
Liberty is universal and irresistible!
Political Contest -Commencement of the Great
Struggle in America - Secession of the Southern
States - We hear of the Fall of Fort Sumter -
Call for Troops - The Stars and Bars - Volunteers
- Enlistment of my Father - Patriotism of
the Southern Women - Harper's Ferry - Visit
to Camp - Picnics, Balls, &c., &c.
THE gaities of Washington, to which I
alluded in my first chapter, were soon
eclipsed by the clouds that gathered in
the political horizon.
The contest for the presidentship was
over and the men of the South could no
longer hide it from themselves that
the issue of the struggle must determine
The secession of the Southern States,
individually or in the aggregate, was the
certain consequence of Mr. Lincoln's election.
His accession to a power supreme and almost
unparalleled was an unequivocal declaration,
by the merchants of New England, that they
had resolved to exclude the landed proprietors
of the South from all participation in the
legislation of their common country.
I will not attempt to defend the institution
of slavery, the very name of which is
abhorred in England; but it will be
admitted that the emancipation of the
negro was not the object of Northern
ambition; that is, of the faction which
grasps exclusive power in contempt of
general rights. Slavery, like all other
imperfect forms of society, will have its
day; but the time for its final extinction
in the Confederate States of America has
not yet arrived. Can it be urged that a race
which prefers servitude to freedom has
reached that adolescent period of existence
which fits it for the latter condition?
Meanwhile, which stands in the better position,
the helot of the South, or the "free" negro
of the North - the willing slave of a
Confederate master, or the reluctant victim
of Federal conscription?
And here I must take leave to ask a question
of two great authors, both formerly advocates of
an instantaneous abolition of slavery. Is the ghost
of Uncle Tom laid? Has the slave dreamed his last
dream? Will Mrs. H. B. Stowe and Mr. Longfellow
admit that in either instance the hero owes his
reputation for martyrdom to a creative genius and
to an exquisite fancy? or will they still contend
that the negro slave of the Confederate
States is, physically and morally, a real
object of commiseration?
The first champion of freedom - I speak
advisedly, and in defiance of a seeming
paradox - was South Carolina. She was a
slave-holding State, but she flung down the
gauntlet in the name and for the cause of
liberty. Her bold example was soon followed.
State after State seceded, and the Union was
dissolved. It was now that we heard of the
fall of Fort Sumter and Mr. Lincoln's demand
upon the State of Virginia. He called upon her
to furnish her quota of 76,000 recruits, to engage
in battle with her sister States. He sowed the
dragon's teeth, and he soon reaped the only
harvest that could spring from such seed.
Virginia promptly answered to the call,
and produced the required soldiers; but
they did not rally under the Stars and
Stripes. It was to the Stars and Bars, the
emblem of the South, that Mr. Lincoln's
Virginian soldiers tendered the oath of
military allegiance. The flag of the once
loved, but now dishonoured Union was
lowered, and the colours of the
Confederacy were raised in its place.
Since that memorable epoch those
colours have been baptized with the blood
of thousands, to whose death in a cause so
righteous the honour and reverence that
wait upon martyrdom have been justly
"Oh, if there be in this earthly sphere
A boon, an offering Heaven holds dear,
It is the libation that Liberty draws
From the heart that bleeds and breaks in her cause."
The enthusiasm of the
adequate to the occasion. Old men with
gray hairs and stooping forms, young boys
just able to shoulder a musket, strong and
weak, rich and poor, rallied round our
new standard, actuated by a stern sense
of duty, and eager for death or victory.
It was at this exciting crisis that I returned
to Martinsburg; and, oh! what a striking
contrast my native village presented to the
scenes I had just left behind me at
Washington! My winter had been cheered by
every kind of amusement and every form
of pleasure: my summer was about to be
darkened by constant anxiety and
My father was one of the first to volunteer.
He was offered that grade in the army
to which his social position entitled him;
but, like many of our Virginian gentlemen,
he preferred to enlist in the ranks, thereby
leaving the pay and emoluments of an
officer's commission to some other, whose
means were not so ample,
and whose family might be straitened in
his absence from home, an absence that
must of course interfere with his
avocation or profession.
The 2nd Virginian was the regiment to
which my father attached himself. It was
armed and equipped by means of a
subscription raised by myself and other
ladies of the Valley. On the colours were
inscribed these words, so full of pathos
and inspiration: -
"Our God, our country, and our women."
The corps was commanded
Nadenbush, and belonged to that section
of the Southern army afterwards known
as "the Stonewall Brigade." "The Stonewall
Brigade!" - the very name now bears with
it traditions of surpassing glory; and I
seize this opportunity of assuring English
readers that it is with pride we Confederates
acknowledge that our heroes caught their
inspiration from the example of their English
ancestors. When our descendants shall read
the story of General Jackson and his men,
they will be insensibly attracted to those
earlier pages of history which record the
exploits of Wellington's Light Division.
My father's regiment was hardly formed
when it was ordered to Harper's Ferry; for the
sacred soil of Virginia was threatened with
invasion, and it was thought possible to make
a stand at this lovely spot, to see which is
"worth a voyage across the Atlantic." At the
outbreak of the war Harper's Ferry could
boast of one of the largest and best arsenals
in America, and of a magnificent bridge,
which latter, spanning the broad stream of
the Potomac, connected Maryland with
Virginia. Both arsenal and bridge were
blown up in July, 1861, by the Confederate
forces, when the Federals, pressing upon
them in overwhelming numbers, compelled a
My home had now become desolate and
lonely: the excitement caused by our exertions
to equip our father for the field had ceased,
and the reaction of feeling had set in. A
general sadness and depression prevailed
throughout our household. My mother's face
began to wear an anxious, careworn expression.
Our nights were not passed in sleep, but in
thinking painfully of the loved one who was
exposed to the dangers and privations of war.
My mother, the daughter of an old officer,
was left an orphan when very young; she had
married my father just as she entered upon
her sixteenth year; and now, almost for the
first time, they were parted, under
circumstances which made the separation
bitter indeed. For myself, I endeavoured to
while away the long hours of those sunnier
days by the aid of my books, and in making
up different kinds of portable provisions
for the use of my father, to whom I knew
they would, in his novel position, be a
But, notwithstanding all the restrictions
I laid upon myself, and all the self-control
I endeavoured to exert, I soon found these
employments too tame and monotonous to
satisfy my temperament, and I made up my
mind to pay a visit to the camp, coûte qui
coûte. I had no difficulty in prevailing
upon some of my friends to accompany me
in an expedition to head-quarters. Like
myself, they had friends and relations to
whom they felt their occasional presence
would be a source of encouragement and
solace; and we all knew that such a goodly
company as we formed could return safely
to Martinsburg at almost any hour of the
day or night.
The camp at Harper's Ferry was at this
time an animated scene. Officers and men
were as gay and joyous as though no bloody
strife awaited them The ladies, married and
single, in the society of husbands, brothers,
sons, and lovers, cast their cares to the
winds, and seemed, one and all, resolved
that, whatever calamity the future might
have in store for them, it should not mar
the transient pleasures of the hour. Since
then I have had occasion to observe that
such a state of feeling is not unnatural
or unusual in the minds of men standing,
as it were, on the brink of a precipice,
or walking, as it were, over the surface
of a mine. "Perils commonly ask to be paid
in pleasures," and the payment is doubly
sweet when it is taken in anticipation of
I fear that at this time many fond vows
were exchanged and many true hearts
pledged between the girls of the
neighbourhood and the occupants of the
camp; but it may be pardoned to beauty and
innocence if they are not insensible to the
virtues of courage and patriotism.
A true woman always loves a real
soldier. In the earliest ages poets and
philosophers foretold that the Goddess of
Love and Beauty would ever move in the
same orbit and in close conjunction with
the God of Battles, and the experience of
ages has confirmed the judgment of
antiquity. Alas! the loves of Harper's Ferry
were in but too many instances buried in
a bloody grave. The soldier who plighted
his faith to his ladye-love was not tried
in a long probation, but canonized by an
early death. War will exact its victims of
both sexes, and claims the hearts of
women no less than the bodies of men.
To return from this digression. Our
insouciance was not of long duration. The
advance of a Federal army was reported;
and General Jackson, with a force
amounting to 5000 men, marched out to
reconnoitre, and, if possible, to check
their aggressive movement. Our people
encamped at "Falling Waters," a romantic
spot, eight miles from Martinsburg and
four from Williamsport; for at this point
of the river, it was rumoured, the Yankees
had resolved to force a passage.
It was early in the morning of the 3rd July
that we "gude folks" of dear Martinsburg
were startled by the roar of artillery and
the rattle of musketry; and the intelligence
was presently circulated that the
Yankees were advancing upon us in force,
under the command of Generals Patterson
and Cadwallader. It turned out, however,
that, at the moment of which I speak, their
advanced guard only was in motion; but the
skirmish between our people and the enemy
was sustained during nearly five hours. On
both sides some fell, and, besides the
casualties of the Federals in killed and
wounded, we took about fifty of them prisoners.
About ten o'clock General Jackson's
army, in admirable array, marched through
Martinsburg. They were in full retreat,
their object being to effect a junction with
the main body, under General J. E. Johnston,
who had evacuated Harper's Ferry, and was
falling back, by way of Charlestown, upon
Jackson's retreat was covered by a few
horsemen under the gallant Colonel Ashby;
and scarcely were these latter disengaged
from the streets of the town, when the
shrill notes of the fife and the roll of the
drum announced the approach of a Federal
army, which proved to be 25,000 strong.
It was to us a sad, but an imposing sight.
On they came (their colours streaming to
the breeze, their bayonets glittering in the
sunlight) with all the "pomp and circumstance
of glorious war." We could see from afar the
dancing plumes of the cavalry -
"the glittering files,
O'er whose gay trappings stern Bellona smiles;"
we could before long
hear the rumbling of
the gun-carriages, and, worse than this, the
hellish shouts with which the infuriated and
undisciplined soldiers poured into the town.
At the time of their entry I was in the
hospital, with my negro maid and some
ladies of my acquaintance, in attendance
upon two of our Southern soldiers, who had
been stricken down with fever and were lying
side by side. These were the sole tenants of
the hospital: all the others had been borne
off by the retreating army.
I was standing close by the side of one
of these poor men, who was just then
ranting in a violent fit of delirium, when I
was startled by the sound of heavy footsteps
behind me; and, turning round, I confronted
a captain of Federal infantry, accompanied
by two private soldiers. He held in his hand
a Federal flag, which he proceeded to wave
over the bed of the sick men, at the same
time calling them " - rebels."
I immediately said, with all the scorn I
could convey into my looks, "Sir, these
men are as helpless as babies, and have,
as you may see, no power to reply to your
"And pray," said he, "who may you be,
I did not deign to reply; but my negro
maid answered him, "A rebel lady."
Hereupon he turned upon his heel and
retired, with the courteous remark that "I
was a - independent one, at all events."
I hope my readers will pardon my
quoting his exact words: without such
strict accuracy I should fail to do justice
to his gallantry.
Notwithstanding this interruption to our
"woman's mission," the ladies to whom I
have before alluded and myself were not
discouraged; and before long we contrived
to get our patients moved to more
comfortable quarters. They were taken
away on litters; and, while they were in
this defenseless condition, a condition
which would have awakened the sympathy
and secured the protection of a brave
enemy, the Federal soldiers crowded
round and threatened to bayonet them.
Their gesticulations and language grew
so violent, their countenances, inflamed by
drink and hatred, were so frightful, that I
nerved myself to seek out an officer and
appeal to his sense of military honour,
even if the voice of mercy were silent in
his breast. Let me do him the justice to say,
he restrained his turbulent men from further
molestation, and I had the unspeakable
satisfaction of conveying my sick men to
a place of safety. The satisfaction was
immeasurable; for I never for one
moment forgot that insults such as I
had just seen offered to defenceless men
might at any moment be heaped upon my own
Fourth of July - The Yankee Flag is hoisted
in Martinsburg - Great Excitement - My first
Adventure- An Article of War is read to me -
Miss Sophia B.'s Walk.
THE morning of the 4th of July dawned
I need hardly say, for it is well known,
that the Anniversary of the Declaration of
Independence has, in each succeeding year
from that of its birth, been hailed with
triumphant acclamations by a nation still
too young to moderate its transports and lend
its ear to the voice of reason rather than
to the impulse of passion.
The Yankees were in undisputed possession
of Martinsburg; the village was at their
mercy, and consequently entitled to their
forbearance; and it would at least have been
more dignified in them had they been content
to enjoy their almost bloodless conquest with
moderation; but, whatever might have been
the intentions of the officers, they had not the
inclination, or they lacked the authority, to
control the turbulence of their men.
The severance of the North from the South
had now become in feeling so complete, that
we Martinsburg girls saw the Union flag
streaming from the windows of the houses with
emotions akin to those with which the ladies
of England would gaze upon the tricolour of
France or the eagle of Russia floating above
the keep of Windsor Castle. Those hateful
strains of "Yankee Doodle" resounded in every
street, with an accompaniment of cheers,
shouts, and imprecations.
Whisky now began to flow freely; for, amid
the motley crowd of Americans, Dutchmen, and
other nations, the Irish element predominated.
The sprigs of shillelahs were soon at work,
and the "sons of Erin" proved that they could
use their sticks with no less effect in an
American town than at an Irish fair. They set
at defiance the authority of those among their
officers who vainly interposed to quell the
tumult and restrain the lawless violence that
was offered to defenceless citizens and women.
The doors of our houses were dashed in;
our rooms were forcibly entered by soldiers
who might literally be termed "mad drunk,"
for I can think of no other expression
so applicable to their condition. Glass
and fragile property of all kinds was
wantonly destroyed. They found our homes
scenes of comfort, in some cases even of
luxury; they left them mere wrecks, utterly
despoiled and mutilated. Shots were fired
through the windows; chairs and tables were
hurled into the street.
In some instances a trembling lady would
make a timid appeal to that honour which
should be the attribute of every soldier, or,
with streaming eyes and passionate accents,
plead for some cherished object - the portrait,
probably, of a dead father, or the miniature
her lover placed in her hand when he left her
to fight for his freedom and hers - upon which
many a secret kiss had been pressed, many a
silent tear had fallen, before which many an
earnest prayer had been breathed.
To such supplications the reply was
invariably a volley of blasphemous curses
and horrid imprecations. Words from which
the mind recoils with horror, which no man
with one spark of feeling would utter in the
presence even of the most abandoned
woman, were shouted in the ears of innocent,
shrinking girls; and the soldiers of the
Union showed a malignant, a fiendish delight
in destroying the effigies of enemies whom
they had not yet dared to meet upon equal
terms in an open field of battle.
Surely it is not strange that cruelties
such as I have attempted to describe have
exasperated our women no less than our men,
and inspired them with sterner feelings than
those which inflame the bosoms of ladies who
know nothing of invasion but its name, who have
never at their own firesides shuddered at the
oaths and threats of a robber disguised in the
garb of a soldier.
Shall I be ashamed to confess that I
recall without one shadow of remorse the
act by which I saved my mother from
insult, perhaps from death - that the blood
I then shed has left no stain on my soul,
imposed no burden upon my conscience?
The encounter to which I refer was
brought about as follows: - A party of
soldiers, conspicuous, even on that day,
for violence, broke into our house and
commenced their depredations; this
occupation, however, they presently
discontinued, for the purpose of hunting
for "rebel flags," with which they had been
informed my room was decorated. Fortunately
for us, although without my orders, my negro
maid promptly rushed upstairs, tore down the
obnoxious emblem, and, before our enemies
could get possession of it, burned it.
They had brought with them a large
Federal flag, which they were now
preparing to hoist over our roof in token
of our submission to their authority; but
to this my mother would not consent.
Stepping forward with a firm step, she
said, very quietly, but resolutely, "Men,
every member of my household will die
before that flag shall be raised over us."
Upon this, one of the soldiers, thrusting
himself forward, addressed my mother and
myself in language as offensive as it is
possible to conceive. I could stand it no
longer; my indignation was roused beyond
control; my blood was literally boiling in
my veins; I drew out my pistol
* and shot
him. He was carried away mortally wounded,
and soon after expired.
Our persecutors now left the house, and
* All our male relatives being with the army,
we ladies were obliged to go armed in order
to protect ourselves as best we might from
insult and outrage.
we were in hopes we had got rid of them,
when one of the servants, rushing in, cried
"Oh, misses, missus, dere gwine to burn
de house down; dere pilin' de stuff ag'in
it! Oh, if massa were back!"
The prospect of being burned alive
naturally terrified us, and, as a last
resource, I contrived to get a message
conveyed to the Federal officer in command.
He exerted himself with effect, and had
the incendiaries arrested before they could
execute their horrible purpose.
In the meantime it had been reported at
head-quarters that I had shot a Yankee
soldier, and great was the indignation at
first felt and expressed against me. Soon,
however, the commanding officer, with
several of his staff, called at our house to
investigate the affair. He examined the
witnesses, and inquired into all the
circumstances with strict impartiality, and
finally said I had "done perfectly right."
He immediately sent for a guard to
head-quarters, where the élite of the army was
stationed and a tolerable state of discipline
Sentries were now placed around the
house, and Federal officers called every
day to inquire if we had any complaint to
make of their behaviour. It was in this way
that I became acquainted with so many of
them; an acquaintance "the rebel spy" did
not fail to turn to account on more than
When the news reached the Confederate
camp at Darksville, seven miles from
Martinsburg, on the Valley Road, that I
had shot a Yankee soldier in self-defence,
together with the false report that for so
doing I had been thrown into the town gaol,
the soldiers with one accord volunteered
to storm the prison and rescue me, or die
to a man in the attempt. It is with pride
and gratitude that I record this proof of
their esteem and respect for what I had
done. It is with no less pleasure I reflect
that their devotion was not put to the test,
and that no blood was shed on my account.
And now, for seven consecutive days,
General Jo. Johnston sent in a flag of
truce offering battle to General Patterson:
this challenge Patterson persistently
declined. I am not so ignorant of warfare
as not to know that strategic reasons justify
the most daring general in refusing battle
whenever and wherever he pleases.
"If thou art a great soldier, come and
fight." "If thou art a great soldier, make
me come and fight."
But, though the Federal commander
had a perfect right to choose his own
battle-field, he had, in my opinion, no
right to couple his refusal of the challenge
with a threat that, as soon as Johnston
should think fit to make an aggressive
movement, he would at once shell
Martinsburg, which sheltered the
non-combatants, the women and the
children, the sick and the infirm.
Meanwhile, my residence within the Federal
lines, and my acquaintance with so many of
the officers, the origin of which I have
already mentioned, enabled me to gain much
important information as to the position and
designs of the enemy. Whatever I heard I
regularly and carefully committed to paper,
and whenever an opportunity offered I sent
my secret despatch by a trusty messenger to
General J. E. B. Stuart, or some brave officer
in command of the Confederate troops.
Through accident or by treachery one of
these missives fell into the Yankees' hands.
It was not written in cipher, and, moreover,
my handwriting was identified. I was
immediately summoned to appear before some
colonel, whose name I have forgotten; but I
remember it was Captain Gwyne who escorted
me to head-quarters. There I was alternately
threatened and reprimanded, and finally the
following "Article of War" was read to me in
a most emphatic manner' and with the caution
that it would be carried out in the spirit and
the letter: -
"ARTICLE OF WAR.
"Whoever shall give food, ammunition,
information to, or aid * and abet the
enemies of the United States Government
* I had been confiscating and concealing
their pistols and swords on every possible
occasion, and many an officer, looking
about everywhere for his missing weapons,
little dreamed who it was that had taken
them, or that they had been smuggled away
to the Confederate camp, and were actually in
the hands of their enemies, to be used against
in any manner whatever, shall suffer
death, or whatever penalty the honourable
members of the Court-martial shall see fit
I was not frightened, for I felt within
me the spirit of the Douglas, from whom I
am descended. I listened quietly to the
recital of the doom which was to be my
reward for adhering to the traditions of
my youth and the cause of my country, made
a low bow, and, with a sarcastic "Thank you,
gentlemen of the Jury," I departed; not in
peace, however, for my little "rebel"
heart was on fire, and I indulged in
thoughts and plans of vengeance.
From this hour I was a "suspect," and
all the mischief done to the Federal cause
was laid to my charge; and it is with
unfeigned joy and true pride I confess that the
suspicions of the enemy were far from being
On one occasion a friend of mine, Miss
Sophia B-, of Martinsburg, a lovely girl,
slipped away with a lettre de cachet, walked
seven miles to the camp of Stonewall Jackson,
and handed him important information, which
was productive of much good. She, like myself,
had brothers enrolled in that band of heroes.
Battle of Manassas - Establishment of a Hospital
at Front Royal (Virginia) - A Runaway Excursion
- Capture of Federal Officers.
THROUGHOUT the North the utmost
confidence was felt that the subjugation of
the rebels would be rapid and complete.
"Ninety days!" "On, on to Richmond!" was
the cry; but the shout was changed to a
wail, on Manassas plains, where the first
great battle of the war was fought.
The action was precipitated by Patterson's
attempt to prevent Johnston from
erecting a junction with Beauregard at
Manassas. In this he failed, and the result
of the movements and countermovements
was the battle of "Bull Run."
* This great
Confederate victory has become an
historical fact; I shall therefore pass it by
in silence, and proceed to the narrative of
my own personal adventures.
At the time in question I was at Front
Royal (Virginia), on a visit to my uncle
and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. S-. I wish it were
in my power to give my readers some faint
idea of this picturesque village,
* Here it was that the Stonewall Brigade acquired
its name. The fire was very hot, and the -th
South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, thrown
into confusion, wavered, and was upon the
point of breaking.
"Steady, men, steady," shouted Colonel Bartow,
in a loud voice. "Look at General Jackson's
brigade: they stand firm and immovable as a
stone wall." The -th, animated by the voice
and gesture of their gallant commander, and
by the example of Jackson's men, rallied; and
Colonel Bartow, taking advantage of the
enthusiasm he had kindled, led his regiment
at once to the charge, when he fell covered
with wounds and honour.
which nestles in the bosom of the
surrounding mountains, and reminds one
of a young bird in its nest. A rivulet,
which sometimes steals round the obstacles
to its course, sometimes bounds over them
with headlong leap, at last finds its way to
the valley beneath, and glides by the village
in peace and beauty.
The scene is far beyond my powers of
description. It is worthy of the pencil of
Salvator Rosa, or the pen of the author of
"Gertrude of Wyoning," and I only wish the
great landscape-painter had been given to
our age and had wandered to the hills and
valleys of Virginia.
To this romantic retreat my uncle and
aunt had fled, as deer fly for safety to
the hills. They had resided in Washington,
but their Southern sympathies were too
strong and too openly expressed to allow
of their remaining unmolested in
the Northern capital. They left a magnificent
house, replete with handsome furniture,
a prey to the Yankees, who converted it into
Orders now came from the battle-field of
Bull Run to the effect that the General in
command had fixed upon Front Royal for the
site of an extensive hospital, for the
wounded Confederate soldiers. Every one in
the village and the neighbourhood showed
the greatest alacrity - I should say,
enthusiasm - in preparing, in the shortest
possible time, all that our suffering heroes
could require. I bore my part, and before
long was duly installed one of the "matrons."
My office was a very laborious one, and
my duties were painful in the extreme;
but then, as always, I allowed but one
thought to keep possession of my mind -
the thought that I was doing all a woman
could do in her country's cause. The motto
of my father's regiment was engraven on
my heart, and I trust that I have always
shown by my actions that I understood its
After six or eight weeks spent in incessant
nursing, I was forced to return to my home
at Martinsburg, in order to recruit my health,
which had suffered severely; and I leave my
readers to imagine with what joy I heard my
dear mother's praises of actions which she,
in her fond affection, styled heroic.
In October my mother and myself resolved
upon a short visit to my father at Manassas.
We stayed at a large house, situated in the
very centre of the camp. This tenement was
then the temporary abode of several other
ladies, wives and daughters of officers.
During this period I had frequently the
honour of acting the part of courier between
General Beauregard, General Jackson, and their
This was a happy time, but it did not
last long; and, after a few weeks spent as
above described, my mother and I returned to
Martinsburg. The winter passed very quietly,
and brought me but a single adventure worth
I was riding out one evening with two
young officers, * one a cousin and the
other a friend, when my horse, a young and
high-spirited creature, took fright, and ran
away with me. Notwithstanding all my efforts,
I failed to stop him until he had carried me
within the Federal lines, a goal to which my
companions could not venture to follow me.
* My English readers may deem it strange
a young girl should ride alone with young gentlemen,
but the practice is not in America considered
a breach of decorum.
I felt rather uncomfortable, not knowing
exactly how to act; but I soon made up my
mind that, for this once, at all events,
valour would be the better part of discretion,
if not prudence itself; so, riding straight up
to the officer in command of the picket, I said -
"I beg your pardon - you must know that
I have been taking a ride with some of my
friends; my horse ran away with me, and has
carried me within your lines. I am your
captive, but I beg you will permit me to
"We are exceedingly proud of our beautiful
captive," replied one of the officers, with a
bow, "but of course we cannot think of
detaining you." Then, after a moment's pause,
he added -
"May we have the honour of escorting
you beyond our lines and restoring you
to the custody of your friends? I suppose
there is no fear of those cowardly rebels
taking us prisoners?"
"I had scarcely hoped," I replied, "for
such an honour. I thought you would
probably have given me a pass; but, since
you are so kind as to offer your services
in person, I cannot do otherwise than accept
them. Have no fear, gentlemen, of the 'cowardly
They little thought how those words,
"cowardly rebels," rankled in my heart.
Off we started; and imagine their blank
looks when, soon after they had escorted
me beyond their lines, my Confederate
friends, who had been anxiously waiting
for me, rode out from their ambush and
joined the party. All four looked surprised
and embarrassed. I broke the general
silence, by saying, with a laugh, to the
Confederates, "Here are two prisoners
that I have brought you."
Then, turning to the Federal officers, I
"Here are two of the 'cowardly rebels'
whom you hoped there was no danger of
They looked doubtfully and inquiringly
at me, and, after a short pause, exclaimed
almost simultaneously -
"And who, pray, is the lady?"
"Belle Boyd, at your service," I replied.
"Good God! the rebel spy!"
"So be it, since your journals have honoured
me with that title."
After this short colloquy we escorted
them, without any attempt at resistance on
their part, to head-quarters, and related all
the circumstances of the adventure to the
officer in command, who ordered them to be
The Yankees reproached us bitterly with
our treachery; but when it is considered
that their release followed their capture
within an hour, that they had in the first
instance stigmatized the rebels, when none
were near, as cowards, that they had
immediately afterwards yielded without a
blow to an equal number of these self-same
cowards, I think my readers will admit
their spirit of bravado well merited a
slight humiliation. Let us hope they have
profited by the lesson. I consoled myself
that "all was fair in love and war."
Although Bull Run had been fought, and
I had witnessed the outrages of July 4th at
Martinsburg, we had hardly yet realized
the horrors of war, or, to speak more
correctly, we did not allow ourselves to
believe in their continuance. We hoped
that enough had been done to pave the way
for reconciliation. Winter set in and
closed the campaign, and, with a cessation
of active hostilities, our apprehensions
for the future were forgotten in our
enjoyment of the present.
It was only when spring returned, and
brought with it no sign of a dove from the
ark, that we realized how far the waters of
the deluge were from subsiding. Balls and
sleighs, mirth and laughter, vanished with
the last snows of winter; and it was with
sad and sickening hearts we saw Colonel
Ashby and his cavalry evacuate the town.
But a very few years since, Henry,
afterwards Colonel Ashby, was one of those
young men whose characters have been so
often imagined by writers of romance, but
are so rarely met with in real life. He
united in himself all those qualifications
which justly recommend their possessor to
the love of the one sex and to the esteem
of the other. At once tender and respectful,
manly and accomplished, animated and
handsome, he won without an effort the
hearts of women. Brave and good-humoured,
he combined simplicity with talents of the
highest order. He entertained a strict sense
of honour, and never forgot what was due
to himself; and he was ever wont to forget
an injury, and even to pardon an insult,
upon the first overture of the offender.
Endowed with such qualities, it is not
surprising he was a universal favourite;
and, indeed, it was commonly said the
spirit of Admirable Crichton had revisited
the world in the person of Henry Ashby.
Such a man was sure to be among the
first to draw his sword in the cause of
At an early period of the war he was
appointed to the command of a regiment
of cavalry, in which capacity he displays
an unusual degree of vigilance and alacrity
in the arduous service of outpost duty.
On one occasion his regiment was drawn
up at some distance from a railroad which
passed directly across his front. On the
farther side was broken ground, well
calculated to conceal a large body of men.
Colonel Ashby, therefore, ordered out a
small party to reconnoitre, putting them
under command of his younger brother,
between whom and himself there subsisted
an affection warm, genuine, almost romantic.
Unfortunately "Dick Ashby's" impetuosity
overlaid his judgment, and, exceeding the
instructions he had received from his brother,
he passed some distance beyond the railway,
and suddenly found himself in presence of a
large body of the enemy.
He retreated in admirable order; but the
Yankees pressed hard upon him, and he and
his little band were overtaken upon the railroad.
Here a fatal accident befell poor Dick Ashby.
His horse stumbled and fell at one of the cuts. *
In this defenseless condition he was set upon
without mercy, without even quarter being
offered, by five Yankees at once.
In spite of these odds, and the
disadvantage at which he was taken, he
sold his life so dearly that his five assailants
were all killed or wounded. By this time
Colonel Ashby, leading on his regiment at
a gallop, had reached the scene of action,
* These cuts are large drains, or rather
tunnels, cut transversely through the lines
of American railways, at short intervals.
They serve to carry off such a rush of water
as would otherwise inundate the line after a
heavy fall of rain or the overflow of a river.
They are of course covered, and the trains
pass over them.
and, the contest being now pretty equal,
the Federals soon fled, and were pursued as
far as the nature of the ground would permit.
The victors then returned to the railway, and
hastily dug a shallow grave, into which all
that remained of Dick Ashby was consigned.
Colonel Ashby dismounted, and, kneeling
by the mutilated body, gently disengaged the
sword from his dead brother's hand; then,
breaking it into pieces, he cast them into the
grave, and on that solemn spot vowed to avenge
his brother's murder and to consecrate the
remainder of his life to the service of his
This vow he faithfully kept. His character
underwent a change as instantaneous and
enduring as that of Colonel Gardiner.
All his gaiety and high spirits forsook
him. In society he was rarely heard to
speak, never seen to smile, and, after a
brief, but glorious career, he fell in an unequal
and desperate struggle, cheering on his
men with his dying breath.
"The bravest are the tenderest:
The gentle are the daring."
I shall conclude this chapter with another
short episode, which proves how suddenly
national disorders discover the hidden force
of individual character.
Miss D., at the outbreak of the war, was
a lovely, fragile-looking girl of nineteen,
remarkable for the sweetness of her temper
and the gentleness of her disposition.
A few days before the battle of Bull Run
a country market-cart stopped in the
Confederate lines, at the door of General
Bonham's tent. A peasant-girl alighted from
the cart and begged for an immediate interview
with the General.
It was granted.
"General Bonham, I believe?" said the
young lady, in tones which betrayed her
superiority to the disguise she had assumed.
Then, tearing down her long, black hair, she
took from its folds a note, small, damp, and
crumpled; but it was by acting upon this
informal despatch that General Beauregard
won the victory of Bull Run.
Miss D. had passed through the whole of the
Federal army. I dare not now publish her name;
but, if ever these pages meet her eye, she
will not fail to recognize her own portrait, nor
will she be displeased to find that her exiled
countrywoman cherishes the remembrance
of her intrepidity and devotion.
Advance of the Federal Army - I leave Home
with my Father - Battle of Kearnstown - I
am Arrested and carried Prisoner to Baltimore
- Released and sent to Martinsburg - I attempt
to go South to Richmond - Shields' Army at
Front Royal - Incidents, &c., &c.
WITH the first genial days of spring the
Federal troops broke up their winter quarters,
and advanced again upon the devastated village
of Martinsburg, which had been held during the
winter by the Confederates. Martinsburg, situated
as it was on the border of the State, was
incessantly a bone of contention, and its capture
and recapture were of frequent recurrence.
My father, who had been at home on
sick-leave for several weeks, was now able to
resume his military duties, and he decided
upon removing me farther south, as our
home was in constant peril, and I had
gained a notoriety which would hardly
recommend me to the favourable notice of
the Federals in the event of their shortly
reoccupying Martinsburg, which seemed
only too probable.
Accordingly I was again sent to Front
Royal, there to remain until our home should
once more be secure.
A few days after my arrival at Front
Royal a battle was fought close by, at
Kearnstown. The Confederates, vastly
overmatched in numbers, were forced to
retreat, and Front Royal became the prize
of the conquerors. Thus, to use a homely
adage, "out of the frying-pan into the fire"
had been my fate.
Upon the approach of the enemy my
uncle and aunt, taking with them one
daughter, quitted home with the intention
of reaching Richmond, leaving their other
daughter, Alice S-, a beautiful girl about my
own age, our grandmamma, Mrs. Glynn and
myself, to take charge of the house and
servants, and act in all contingencies
to the best of our ability.
When I found that the Confederate
forces were retreating so far down the
Valley, and reflected that my father was
with them, I became very anxious to return
to my mother; and, as no tie of duty
bound me to Front Royal, I resolved upon
the attempt at all hazards.
I started in company with my maid, and
had got safely without adventure of any kind
as far as Winchester, when some unknown
enemy or some malicious neutral
denounced me to the authorities as a
Before, however, this act of hostility or
malice had been perpetrated, I had taken the
precaution of procuring a pass from General
Shields; and I fondly hoped that this would,
under all circumstances, secure me from
molestation and arrest; for I was not aware
that, while I was in the very act of receiving
my bill of "moral health," an order was
being issued by the Provost-Marshal which
forbade me to leave the town.
When the hour which I had fixed for my
departure arrived I stepped into the railway-
cars, and was congratulating myself with
the thought that I should ere long be at
home once more, and in the society of
those I loved, when a Federal officer,
Captain Bannon, appeared. He was in charge
of some Confederate prisoners, who, under
his command, were en route to the
I was more surprised than pleased when,
handing over the prisoners to a subordinate,
he walked straight up to me, and said -
"Is this Miss Belle Boyd?"
"I am the Assistant-Provost, and I regret
to say orders have been issued for your
detention, and it is my duty to inform you
that you cannot proceed until your case has
been investigated; so you will, if you please,
get out, as the train is on the point of
"Sir," I replied, presenting him General
Shields' pass, "here is a pass which I beg you
will examine. You will find that it authorizes
my maid and myself to pass on any road to
He reflected for some time, and at last
"Well, I scarcely know how to act in your
case. Orders have been issued for your
arrest, and yet you have a pass from the
General allowing you to return home.
However, I shall take the responsibility
upon my shoulders, convey you with the
other prisoners to Baltimore, and hand you
over to General Dix."
I played my rôle of submission as
gracefully as I could; for where resistance is
impossible it is still left to the vanquished
to yield with dignity.
The train by which we travelled was the
first that had been run through from Wheeling
to Baltimore since the damage done to the
permanent way by the Confederates had been
We had not proceeded far when I
observed an old friend of mine, Mr. M.,
of Baltimore, a gentleman whose sympathies
were strongly enlisted on the side of the
South. At my request he took a seat beside
me, and, after we had conversed for some
time upon indifferent topics, he told me in
a whisper that he had a small Confederate
flag concealed about his person.
"Manage to give it me," I said: "I am
already a prisoner; besides, free or in
chains, I shall always glory in the possession
of the emblem."
Mr. M. watched his opportunity, and, when
all eyes were turned from us, he stealthily
and quickly drew the little flag from his
bosom and placed it in my hand.
We had eluded the vigilance of the
officer under whose surveillance I was
travelling; and I leave my readers to
imagine his surprise when I drew it forth
from my pocket, and, with a laugh, waved it
over our heads with a gesture of triumph.
It was a daring action, but my captivity
had, I think, superadded the courage of
despair to the hardihood I had already
acquired in my country's service.
The first emotions of the Federal
officer and his men were those of
indignation; but better feelings succeeded,
and they allowed it was an excellent joke
that a convoy of Confederate prisoners
should be brought in under a Confederate
flag, and that flag raised by a lady.
Upon our arrival at Baltimore I was
taken to the Eutaw House, one of the
largest and best hotels in the city, where,
I must in justice say, I was treated with
all possible courtesy and consideration,
and permission to see my friends was at
once and spontaneously granted.
As soon as it was known that I was in
Baltimore, a prisoner and alone, I was
visited not merely by my personal friends,
but by those who knew me by reputation
only; for Baltimore is Confederate to its
I remained a prisoner in the Eutaw
House about a week; at the expiration of
which time General Dix, the officer in
command, having heard nothing against me,
decided to send me home. I arrived safely
at Martinsburg, which was now occupied
in force by the Federal troops.
Here I was placed under a strict
surveillance, and forbidden to leave the town.
I was incessantly watched and persecuted;
and at last the restrictions imposed upon
me became so irksome and vexatious that
my mother resolved to intercede with
Major Walker, the Provost-Marshal, on my
behalf. The result of this intercession was
that he granted us both a pass, by way of
Winchester, to Front Royal, with a view
to my being sent on to join my relations
Upon arriving at Winchester we had much
difficulty in getting permission to proceed;
for General Shields had just occupied Front
Royal, and had prohibited all intercourse
between that place and Winchester. However,
Lieutenant-Colonel Fillebrowne, of the 10th
Maine Regiment, who was acting as Provost-
Marshal, at length relented, and allowed us
to go on our way.
It was almost twilight when we arrived at
the Shenandoah River. We found that the
bridges had been destroyed, and no means
of transport left but a ferry-boat, which
the Yankees monopolized for their own
Here we should have been subjected to
much inconvenience and delay, had it not
been for the courtesy and kindness of
Captain Everhart, through whose intervention
we were enabled to cross at once.
It was quite dark when we reached the
village, and, to our great surprise, we
found the family domiciled in a little
cottage in the courtyard, the residence
having been appropriated by General Shields
and his staff.
However, we were glad enough to find
ourselves at our journey's end, and to sit
down to a comfortable dinner, for which
fatigue and a long fast had sharpened our
appetite. As soon as we had satisfied our
hunger I sent in my card to General Shields,
who promptly returned my missive in person.
He was an Irishman, and endowed with all
those graces of manner for which the better
class of his countrymen are justly famous,
nor was he devoid of the humour for which
they are no less notorious.
To my application for leave to pass
instanter through his lines, en route for
Richmond, he replied that old Jackson's
army was so demoralized that he dared not
trust me to their tender mercies, but that
they would be annihilated within a few days,
and after such a desirable consummation I
might wander whither I would.
This of course was mere badinage on his
part; but I am convinced he felt confident
of immediate and complete success, or he
would not have allowed some expressions to
escape him which I turned to account. In short,
he was completely off his guard, and forgot
that a woman can sometimes listen and remember.
General Shields introduced me to the
officers of his staff, two of whom were
young Irishmen; and to one of these,
Captain K., I am indebted for some very
remarkable effusions, some withered
flowers, and last, not least, for a great
deal of very important information, which
was carefully transmitted to my countrymen.
I must avow the flowers and the poetry were
comparatively valueless in my eyes; but let
Captain K. be consoled: these were days of
war, not of love, and there are still other
ladies in the world besides the "rebel
The night before the departure of General
Shields, who was about, as he informed us,
to "whip" Jackson, a council of war was
held in what had formerly been my aunt's
drawing-room. Immediately above this
was a bedchamber, containing a closet,
through the floor of which I observed a
hole had been bored, whether with a view
to espionage or not I have never been able
to ascertain. It occurred to me, however,
that I might turn the discovery to account;
and, as soon as the council of war had
assembled, I stole softly up-stairs, and,
lying down the floor of the closet, applied
my ear to the hole, and found, to my great
joy, I could distinctly hear the conversation
that was passing below.
The council prolonged their discussion for
some hours; but I remained motionless and
silent until the proceedings were brought to
a conclusion, at one o'clock in the morning.
As soon as the coast was clear I crossed the
courtyard, and made the best of my way to
my own room, and took down in cypher
everything, I had heard which seemed to
me of any importance.
I felt convinced that to rouse a servant,
or make any disturbance at that hour,
would excite the suspicions of the Federals
by whom I was surrounded; accordingly I went
straight to the stables myself, saddled
my horse, and galloped away in the direction
of the mountains.
Fortunately I had about me some passes
which I had from time to time procured for
Confederate soldiers returning south, and which,
owing to various circumstances, had never
been put in requisition. They now, however,
proved invaluable; for I was twice brought
to a standstill by the challenge of the Federal
sentries, and who would inevitably have put
a period to my adventurous career had they
not been beguiled by my false passport.
Once clear of the chain of sentries, I dashed
on unquestioned across fields and along
roads, through fens and marshes, until, after
a scamper of about fifteen miles, I found
myself at the door of Mr. M. s house. All
was still and quiet: not a light was to be
seen. I did not lose a moment in springing
from my horse; and, running up the steps,
I knocked at the door with such vehemence
that the house re-echoed with the sound.
It was not until I had repeated my summons,
at intervals of a few seconds, for some
time, that I heard the response, "Who is
there?" given in a sharp voice from a window
"It is I."
"But who are you? What is your name?"
"Belle Boyd. I have important intelligence
to communicate to Colonel Ashby: is he here?"
"No; but wait a minute: I will come down."
The door was opened, and Mrs. M. drew me in,
and exclaimed, in a tone of astonishment -
"My dear, where did you come from? and
how on earth did you get here?"
"Oh, I forced the sentries," I replied,
"and here I am; but I have no time to tell
the how, and the why, and the wherefore. I
must see Colonel Ashby without the loss
of a minute: tell me where he is to be
Upon hearing that his party was a quarter
of a mile farther up the wood, I turned to
depart in search of them, and was in the very
act of remounting when a door on my right
was thrown open, and revealed Colonel Ashby
himself, who could not conceal his surprise
at seeing me standing before him.
"Good God! Miss Belle, is this you? Where
did you come from? Have you dropped from
the clouds? or am I dreaming?"
I first convinced him he was wide awake,
and that my presence was substantial and
of the earth - not a visionary emanation
from the world of spirits - then, without
farther circumlocution, I proceeded to narrate
all I had overheard in the closet, of which
I have before made mention. I gave him
the cypher, and started on my return.
I arrived safely at my aunt's house, after
a two hours' ride, in the course of which I
"ran the blockade" of a sleeping sentry, who
awoke to the sound of my horse's hoofs just
in time to see me disappear round an abrupt
turning, which shielded me from the bullet he
was about to send after me. Upon getting home,
I unsaddled my horse and "turned in" - if I
may be permitted the expression, which is
certainly expressive rather than refined -
just as Aurora, springing from the rosy bed
of Tithonus, began her pursuit of the flying
hour; in plain English, just as day began to
A few days afterwards General Shields
marched south, laying a trap, as he supposed,
to catch "poor old Jackson and his
demoralized army," leaving behind him,
to occupy Front Royal, one squadron of
cavalry, one field battery, and the 1st
Maryland Regiment of Infantry, under
command of Colonel Kenly; Major Tyndale,
of Philadelphia, being appointed Provost-
My mother returned home, and it was
arranged that I should remain with my
grandmother until an opportunity of
travelling south in safety should present
itself. Within a few days after my mother's
departure, my cousin Alice and I applied
to Major Tyndale for a pass to Winchester.
He at first declined to comply with our
request, but afterwards relented, and
promised to let us have the necessary
passport on the following day. Accordingly,
next morning, May 21st, my cousin
one of the servants and myself were up
betimes, and equipped for the journey,
the carriage was at the door, but no
passes made their appearance; and when
we sent to inquire for the Major we were
informed he had gone "out on a scout,"
and would probably not be back until late
at night. We were, of course, in great
perplexity, when, to our relief, Lieutenant
H., belonging to the squadron of cavalry
stationed in the village, made his
appearance and asked what was the matter.
I explained our case and said -
"Now, Lieutenant H., I know you have
permission to go to Winchester, and you
profess to be a great friend of mine: prove
it by assisting me out of this dilemma, and
pass us through the pickets."
This I knew he could easily manage, as
they were furnished from his own troop.
After a few moments' hesitation,
Lieutenant H. consented, little thinking of
the consequences that were to ensue. He
mounted the box, my cousin, myself, and
the servant got inside, and off we set.
Shortly before we got to Winchester,
Lieutenant H. got down from his seat
with the intention of walking the rest
of the way, as he had some business at
the camp, which was close to the town.
Finding we could not return the same
day, we agreed to remain all night with
Early next morning a gentleman of
high social position came to the house
at which we were staying, and handed me
two packages of letters, with these words: -
"Miss Boyd, will you take these letters
and send them through the lines to the
Confederate army? This package," he
added, pointing to one of them, "is of
great importance: the other is trifling
in comparison. This also," he went on to
say, pointing to what appeared to be a
little note, "is a very important paper:
try to send it carefully and safely to
Jackson, or some other responsible
Confederate officer. Do you understand?"
"I do, and will obey your orders
promptly and implicitly," I replied.
As soon as the gentleman had left me I
concealed the most important documents
about the person of my negro servant, as
I knew that "intelligent contrabands" -
ladies and gentlemen of colour - were
"non-suspects," and had carte blanche to do
what they pleased, and to go where they
liked, without hindrance or molestation on
the part of the Yankee authorities. The
less important package I placed in a little
basket, and unguardedly wrote upon
the back of it the words, "Kindness of
The small note upon which so much
stress had been laid I resolved to carry
with my own hands; and, knowing Colonel
Fillebrowne was never displeased by a
little flattery and a few delicate
attentions, I went to the florist and chose
a very handsome bouquet, which I sent to
him with my compliments, and with a
request that he would be so kind as to
permit me to return to Front Royal. *
The Colonel's answer was in accordance
with the politeness of his nature. He
* My readers must bear in mind that, in
time of war, it is almost impossible to travel
the slightest distance without a pass signed
by some official. On one Occasion, when a
picket was stationed between our farm-yard
and the dairy, the dairy-maid was not allowed
to milk the cows without a pass signed by the
officer of the day. This was a decided nuisance,
and I hit upon the following plan to get rid of
it. I wrote the following pass and got it duly
signed: "These cows have permission to pass to
and from the yard and dairy for the purpose of
being milked twice a day, until further orders."
This pass I pasted between the horns of one of
the cows; and I was gratified to find it had the
desired effect, for they were not again stopped
on their harmless errand; and whenever my pass
came off the head of the cow I took care to
replace it by another in the same style.
thanked the "dear lady for so sweet a
compliment," and enclosed the much-coveted
pass. Lieutenant H., having finished his
business at the camp, rejoined our party,
and we all set out on our return. Nothing
happened until we reached the picket-lines,
when two repulsive-looking fellows, who
proved to be detectives, rode up, one on
each side of the carriage.
"We have orders to arrest you," said
one of them, looking in at the window,
and addressing himself to me.
"For what?" I asked.
"Upon suspicion of having letters," he
replied; then, turning to the coachman, he
ordered him to drive back forthwith to
Colonel Beale's head-quarters. Upon
arriving there we were desired to get out
and walk into the office.
My cousin trembled like a poor bird
caught in a snare; and, to tell the truth,
I felt very much discomposed myself,
although I did not for a moment lose my
presence of mind, upon the preservation
of which I well knew our only hopes
rested. The negress, almost paralyzed by
fear, followed my cousin and myself, and
it was in this order we were ushered into
the awful presence of our inquisitor and
The first question asked was, had I
any letters. I knew that if I said No, our
persons would be immediately searched,
and my falsehood detected; I therefore
drew out from the bottom of the basket
the package I had placed there, and which,
it will be remembered, was of minor
importance, and handed it, with a bow, to
"What!" exclaimed he, in an angry tone -
"what is this? 'Kindness of Lieutenant
H.'! what does this mean? Is this all you
"Look for yourself," I replied, turning
the basket upside down, and emptying its
contents upon the floor.
"As to this scribbling on the letter," I
continued, "it means nothing; it was a
thoughtless act of mine. I assure you
Lieutenant H. knew nothing about the letter,
or that it was in my possession."
The Lieutenant turned very pale, for it
suddenly occurred to him that he had in his
pocket a little package which I had asked
him to carry for me.
He immediately drew it out and threw it
upon the table, when, to his consternation,
and to the surprise of the Colonel, it was
found to be inscribed with the very identical
words - "Kindness of Lieutenant H." - which
had already excited the suspicions of the
This made matters worse; and when the
package, upon being opened, disclosed
a copy of that decidedly rebel newspaper
"The Maryland News-sheet," the Colonel
entertained no further doubt of Lieutenant
H.'s complicity and guilt.
It was in vain I asserted his innocence,
and repeated again and again that it was
impossible he could know that a folded packet
contained an obnoxious journal, and that it
was highly improbable, to say the least of it,
he could be an accomplice in my possession of
"What is that you have in your hand?"
was the only reply to my remonstrances
and expostulations on behalf of the unfortunate
officer I had so unintentionally betrayed.
"What - this little scrap of paper? You
can have it if you wish: it is nothing.
Here it is;" and I approached nearer to
him, with the seeming intention of placing
it in his hand; but I had taken the resolution
of following the example set by Harvey
Birch, in Cooper's well-known novel of "The
Spy," in the event of my being positively
commanded to "stand and deliver."
Fortunately, however, for me, the
Colonel's wrath was diverted from the
guilty to the guiltless: he was so incensed
with Lieutenant H. that he forgot the very
existence of Belle Boyd, and the precious
note was left in my possession.
We were then and there dismissed,
Colonel Beale contenting himself with giving
a hurried order to the effect that I was to
be closely watched. He then proceeded to
the investigation of Lieutenant H.'s case.
Bare suspicion was the worst that could
be urged against him, yet, upon this
doubtful evidence, or rather in the absence
of anything like evidence, a court-martial,
composed of officers of the Federal army,
dismissed him from the service.
Some time after the adventure I have
just related the secret of our arrest
A servant had observed the gentleman to
whom I have alluded give me the letter in
my friend's house at Winchester. He gave
information, and the result was, a telegram
was sent to Major Tyndale, who was already
incensed against me for having slipped
through the pickets and got to Winchester
without his pass. He communicated at once
with Colonel Beale, and our arrest followed
as I have described.
Had it not been for the curious manner
in which Lieutenant H. was involved in the
affair, and in which that unoffending
officer was so unjustly treated, very much
to my regret, I should not have escaped so
My Prisoner - Battle of 23rd May - My Share
in the Action - The Federals Fire upon me -
The Little Note once more - The Confederates
are Victorious - Letter from General Stonewall
AMONG the Federals who then occupied
Front Royal was one Mr. Clark, a reporter
to the "New York Herald," and, although
an Irishman, by no means a gentleman.
He was domiciled at head-quarters,
which were established, as I have before
mentioned, at my aunt's residence; and
thus it was that I saw him daily, for we
could not possibly get into the street without
crossing the court-yard and passing
through the hall way.
This Mr. Clark endeavoured upon
several occasions to intrude his society
upon me; and, although I told him plainly
his advances were extremely distasteful,
he persevered so far that I was forced
more than once to bolt the door of the
room in which my cousin and myself were
seated, in his face.
These rebuffs he never forgave, and
from an intrusive friend he became an
inveterate enemy. It is to him I am
indebted for the first violent, undisguised
abuse with which my name was coupled in
any Federal journal; but I must do the
editors of the Yankee newspapers the justice
to admit they were not slow to follow the
example set them by Mr. Clark. They seemed
to think that to insult an innocent young
girl was to prove their manhood
and evince their patriotism. I think my
English readers will neither admire their
taste nor applaud their spirit.
On the evening of the 23rd May I was sitting
at the window of our room, reading to my
grandmother and cousin, when one of the
servants rushed in, and shouted, or rather
"Oh, Miss Belle, I t'inks de revels am
a-comin', for de Yankees are a-makin' orful
fuss in de street."
I immediately sprang from my seat and
went to the door, and I then found that the
servant's report was true. The streets were
thronged with Yankee soldiers, hurrying about
in every direction in the greatest confusion.
I asked a Federal officer, who just then
happened to be passing by, what was the
matter. He answered that the Confederates
were approaching the town in force, under
Generals Jackson and Ewell, that they had
surprised and captured the outside pickets,
and had actually advanced within a mile of
the town, without the attack being even
"Now," he added, "we are endeavouring to
get the ordnance and the quartermaster's
stores out of their reach."
"But what will you do, "I asked, "with the
stores in the large depot?"
"Burn them, of course!"
"But suppose the rebels come upon you too
"Then we will fight as long as we can by any
possibility show a front, and in the event of
defeat make good our retreat upon Winchester,
burning the bridges as soon as we cross them,
and finally effect a junction with General
I parted with the Federal officer, and,
returning to the house, I began to walk
quietly up-stairs, when suddenly I heard
the report of a rifle, and almost at the
same moment I encountered Mr. Clark,
who, in his rapid descent from his room,
very nearly knocked me down.
"Great heavens! what is the matter?" he
ejaculated, as soon as he had regained his
breath, which the concussion and flight
had deprived him of.
"Nothing to speak of," said I; "only the
rebels are coming, and you had best
prepare yourself for a visit to Libby
He answered not a word, but rushed back
to his room and commenced compressing into
as small a compass as possible all the
manuscripts upon which he so much plumed
himself, and upon which he relied for fame
and credit with the illustrious journal to
which he was contributor. It was his
intention to collect and secure
these inestimable treasures, and then to
I immediately went for my opera-glasses,
and, on my way to the balcony in front of
the house, from which position I intended
to reconnoitre, I was obliged to pass
Mr. Clark's door. It was open, but the
key was on the outside. The temptation of
making a Yankee prisoner was too strong
to be resisted, and, yielding to the impulse,
I quietly locked in the "Special
Correspondent" of the "New York Herald."
After this feat I hurried to the balcony,
and, by the aid of my glasses, descried the
* This American
cant term is exactly rendered
into English by the phrase "to hook it." Slang
is now so well understood that I apprehend few
of my readers require to be told that "to hook
it" signifies to make off, to run away. Our
Transatlantic expression can boast, I believe,
of the earlier derivation. The meaning of
, the root of which is skeda, was,
I am told, understood in that early age in
which were recorded the wrath of Achilles
and the patriotism of Hector.
advance guard of the Confederates at the
distance of about three-quarters of a mile,
marching rapidly upon the town.
To add to my anxiety, my father, who
was at that time upon General Garnett's
staff, was with them. My heart beat
alternately with hope and fear. I was not
ignorant of the trap the Yankees had set
for my friends. I was in possession of
much important information, which if I
could only contrive to convey to General
Jackson, I knew our victory would be
secure. Without it I had every reason to
anticipate defeat and disaster.
The intelligence I was in possession of
instructed me that General Banks was at
Strasbourg with four thousand men, that
the small force at Winchester could be
readily reinforced by General White, who
was at Harper's Ferry, and that Generals
Shields and Geary were a short distance
below Front Royal, while Fremont was
beyond the Valley; further, and this was
the vital point, that it had been decided
all these separate divisions should
co-operate against General Jackson.
I again went down to the door, and this
time I observed, standing about in groups,
several men who had always professed
attachment to the cause of the South. I
demanded if there was one among them
who would venture to carry to General
Jackson the information I possessed.
They all with one accord said, "No, no.
I did not stop to reflect. My heart,
though beating fast, was not appalled. I
put on a white sun-bonnet, and started at a
run down the street, which was thronged
with Federal officers and men. I soon
cleared the town and gained the open
fields, which I traversed with unabated
speed, hoping to escape observation until
such time as I could make good my way to
the Confederate line, which was still rapidly
I had on a dark blue
dress, * with a little
fancy white apron over it; and this contrast
of colours, being visible at a great distance,
made me far more conspicuous than was just
then agreeable. The skirmishing between the
outposts was sharp. The main forces of the
opposing armies were disposed as follows: -
The Federals had placed their artillery upon
a lofty eminence, which commanded the road
by which the Confederates were advancing.
Their infantry occupied in force the hospital
buildings, which were of great size, and
sheltered by which they kept up an incessant
* This dress was afterwards cut up into two
shirts for two wounded Confederate soldiers.
The Confederates were in line directly
in front of the hospital, into which their
artillerymen were throwing shells with deadly
precision; for the Yankees had taken this as a
shelter, and were firing upon the Confederate
troops from the windows.
At this moment the Federal pickets, who
were rapidly falling back, perceived me still
running as fast as I was able, and immediately
fired upon me.
My escape was most providential; for,
although I was not hit, the rifle-balls flew
thick and fast about me, and more than one
struck the ground so near my feet as to
throw the dust in my eyes. Nor was this all:
the Federals in the hospital seeing in what
direction the shots of their pickets were
aimed, followed the example and also
opened fire upon me.
Upon this occasion my life was spared
by what seemed to me then, and seems
still, little short of a miracle; for, besides
the numerous bullets that whistled by my
ears, several actually pierced different
parts of my clothing, but not one reached
my body. Besides all this, I was exposed
to a cross fire from the Federal and
Confederate artillery, whose shot and
shell flew whistling and hissing over my
At length a Federal shell struck the
ground within twenty yards of my feet;
and the explosion, of course, sent the
fragments flying, in every direction
around me. I had, however, just time to
throw myself flat upon the ground before
the deadly engine burst; and again
Providence spared my life.
Springing up when the danger was
passed, I pursued my career, still under a
heavy fire. I shall never run again as I
ran on that, to me, memorable day. Hope,
fear, the love of life, and the
determination to serve my country to the
last, conspired to fill my heart with more
than feminine courage, and to lend
preternatural strength and swiftness to my
limbs. I often marvel and even shudder
when I reflect how I cleared the fields and
bounded over the fences with the agility
of a deer.
As I neared our line I waved my bonnet
to our soldiers, to intimate that they
should press forward, upon which one
regiment, the 1st Maryland "rebel"
Infantry, and Hay's Louisiana Brigade, gave
me a loud cheer, and, without waiting for
further orders, dashed upon the town at a
They did not then know who I was, and
they were naturally surprised to see a woman
on the battle-field, and on a spot, too,
where the fire was so hot. Their shouts
of approbation and triumph rang in my ears
for many a day afterwards, and I still hear
them not unfrequently in my dreams.
At this juncture the main body of the
Confederates was hidden from my view
by a slight elevation which intervened
between me and them. My heart almost
ceased to beat within me; for the dreadful
thought arose in my mind that our force
must be too weak to be any match for the
Federals, and that the gallant men who had
just been applauding me were rushing upon
a certain and fruitless death. I accused
myself of having urged them to their fate;
and now, quite overcome by fatigue and by
the feelings which tormented me, I sank
upon my knees and offered a short but
earnest prayer to God.
Then I felt as if my supplication was
answered, and that I was inspired with
fresh spirits and a new life. Not only
despair, but fear also forsook me; and I
had again no thought but how to fulfill the
mission I had already pursued so far.
I arose from my kneeling posture, and
had proceeded but a short distance, when,
to my unspeakable, indescribable joy, I
caught sight of the main body fast
approaching; and soon an old friend and
connection of mine, Major Harry Douglas,
rode up, and, recognising me, cried out,
while he seized my hand -
"Good God, Belle, you here! what is it?"
"Oh, Harry," I gasped out, "give me
time to recover my breath."
For some seconds I could say no more;
but, as soon as I had sufficiently recovered
myself, I produced the "little note," and
told him all, urging him to hurry on the
cavalry, with orders to them to seize the
bridges before the retreating Federals
should have time to destroy them.
He instantly galloped off to report to
General Jackson, who immediately rode
forward, and asked me if I would have an
escort and a horse wherewith to return to
the village. I thanked him, and said, "No; I
would go as I came;" and then, acting
upon the information I had been spared to
convey, the Confederates gained a most
Though the depot building had been
fired, and was burning, our cavalry reached
the bridges barely in time to save them
from destruction: the retreating Federals
had just crossed, and were actually upon
the point of lighting the slow match
which, communicating with the bursting
charge, would have riven the arches in
pieces. So hasty was their retreat that
they left all their killed and wounded in
Although we lost many of our best and
bravest - among others the gallant Captain
Sheetes, of Ashby's cavalry, who fell
leading a brilliant and successful charge
upon the Federal infantry - the day was
ours; and I had the heartfelt satisfaction to
know that it was in consequence of the
information I had conveyed at such risk
to myself General Jackson made the flank
movement which led to such fortunate
And here let me pause a moment to do
justice to the memory of a brave enemy,
Colonel Kenly, who commanded the
Federals, and who fought at their head
with the courage of desperation, until he
fell mortally wounded.
The Confederates, following up theirs
victory crossed the river by the still standing
bridges, and pushed on by the road which
led to Winchester.
General Banks was startled from his
lair at Strasbourg, and, leaving everything
but his own head and a handful of cavalry
behind him, with the Victorious Confederates
in hot pursuit, rushed through Winchester
and Martinsburg, and finally crossed the
river at Williamsport, Maryland; and it is
said that he and his command have never
stopped running since.
During this hasty flight General Banks
halted for a few minutes to take breath in
the main street of Martinsburg. Upon the
side-walk were standing many children
and young girls, among whom was my little
One of these girls, recognising General
Banks aide-de-camp, walked up to him and
"Captain, how long are you going to
"Until Gabriel blows his horn," replied
To this mistimed vaunt my sister quietly
rejoined, looking full in his face as she
"Ah, Captain, if you were to hear
Jackson's horn just outside the town, you
would not wait for Gabriel's."
Nor did they wait; for the echo of the
Confederate General's bugles had little
less terror for them than the sound of the
When I first returned from the
battlefield, tired, or, to say the truth,
utterly enervated and exhausted, the
Confederates were filing through the town,
and the enthusiastic hurrahs with which they
greeted me did more than anything else
could have done to revive my drooping
spirits and restore my failing powers.
The dead and wounded were now being
brought in, and our house soon became a
Notwithstanding my fatigue, I contrived to
render some assistance in dressing the wounds
and alleviating the sufferings of our poor
soldiers, who consoled themselves in their
agonies with the reflection that they had done
their duty nobly, and that their pangs were not
embittered by the sting and remorse with which
defeat always torments a true soldier.
Among the dead who were brought next
day to our house for interment were Captains
Sheetes, Baxter, and Thaxter, all of Ashby's
cavalry, and Major Davis, of Louisiana.
To my great joy my father came safer out of
the battle, with but a very slight wound in
All the Federals left in Front Royal
were captured; among them my particular
friend Mr. Clark, who, upon endeavouring to
leave his room unseen during the confusion,
found himself locked in.
I afterwards heard an amusing account of the
manner in which he extricated himself by letting
himself down from the window; this, however,
was unfortunately a work of time, and the delay
was the cause of his capture. He was being
escorted a prisoner down the street, when,
catching sight of me as I stood upon the
door-step, he shouted out -
"I'll make you rue this: it's your doing that I
am a prisoner here."
During the battle, and while Colonel
Fillebrowne was preparing to remove his
effects from Winchester, a gentleman of
high social position and Southern
proclivities stepped into his office and said,
"Colonel, how on earth did you get into
such a trap? Did you know nothing of
the advance of the Confederates?" Colonel
Fillebrowne turned, and, pointing to the
bouquet I had sent him only a day or two
before, he said, "That bouquet did all
the mischief: the donor of that gift is
responsible for all this misfortune."
I could not but be aware that I had been
of some service to my country; and I had
the further satisfaction of feeling that
neither a desire of fame nor notoriety had
been my motive for enacting the role I did
in this sad drama. I was not prepared,
however, for that recognition of my
services which was received on the very
day they were rendered, and which I here
"May 23rd, 1862.
"MISS BELLE BOYD,
"I thank you, for myself and for the army, for the
immense service that you have rendered your country
"Hastily, I am your Friend,
"T. J. JACKSON, C.S.A."
This short note, which was written
at Mr. Richards' house, very near Front
Royal, was brought to me by a courier, and
I am free to confess I value it far beyond
anything I possess in the world.
The object General Jackson had in view
was too important to admit of his leaving
behind him an adequate force for the
protection of Front Royal; one regiment,
the 12th Georgia Infantry, was all that
could be spared; and thus Front Royal was
retaken by the Federals just one week
after its brilliant capture by our troops.
During our short possession of the
town there was, among the prisoners taken
in the pursuit beyond the river and sent
back into our custody, a woman who
represented herself to be the wife of a
soldier belonging to the Michigan cavalry.
She was handed over to me, and I
furnished her with clothing, and did all that
lay in my power to make her comfortable
Upon the arrival of the Federals, under
General Geary, most of the 12th Georgia were
taken prisoners, together with all the sick and
The woman of whom I have just spoken
was of course liberated, and the first use
she made of her freedom was to report me to
General Kimball as a most dangerous rebel,
and a malignant enemy to the Federal
The General immediately placed me
under arrest, and surrounded our house
with sentries, so that to escape was actually
impossible. Within a few hours, however,
after my incarceration General Shields
arrived, and, being senior in the service
to General Kimball, naturally superseded
him in the command of the army. He at
once released me, and I thank him for his
urbanity and kindness.
Rumours soon reached us to the effect that
the Confederate army was retreating up the
Valley, and once more all this portion of the
country fell into the hands of the Yankees.
Tone of the Northern Press towards me - General
Banks refuses to pass me south - How I procure
Passes - The two Confederate Soldiers - I write
to "Stonewall Jackson" - Novel method of conveying
Information - My Letter is Intercepted - I am
warned to depart south without delay - I prepare
THE Northern journals vied with one another
in publishing the most extravagant and
improbable accounts of my exploits, as
they were pleased to term them, on the
battle-field of the 23rd May.
One ascribed to "Belle Boyd" the
honour of having directed the fire of the
Confederate artillery throughout the action;
another represented her as having, by the force
of her genius, sustained the wavering counsels
of the Southern generals; while a third described
her as having, sword in hand, led on the whole
of the attacking line to the capture of Front
Royal; but as I believe that the veracity of
the Yankee press is pretty well known and
appreciated, I shall give no more extracts
from their eloquent pages.
At the conclusion of the last chapter I
mentioned that General Shields released me
front the arrest under which General Kimball
had placed me, upon the report of the
ungrateful ci-devant prisoner; and, after a
short time, finding no further persecution
was resorted to, I thought the opportunity
favourable for making an attempt to get
Meanwhile General Banks had returned.
and encamped close to the town, making
my aunt's house his head-quarters.
It was to him, therefore, I applied for
permission to depart.
"Where do you wish to go?" he asked.
"To Louisiana, where my aunt resides."
"But what will Virginia do without you?"
"What do you mean, General?"
"We always miss our bravest and most
illustrious, and how can your native State do
I laughingly thanked him for the compliment,
and he conversed with the utmost good nature
and pleasantry upon the part that I had
taken in his recent defeat. Though a rabid
Abolitionist, the General was certainly one
of the most affable gentlemen I have ever met.
Several weeks passed by in peace and
quiet, unmarked by any incident worthy of
record, and at the expiration of this period
Front Royal was again evacuated by the
Federal troops, with the exception of the
3rd Delaware Infantry, which corps was left
in garrison. Their colonel was a very large,
coarse man, with the manners and appearance
of a butcher rather than of an officer.
On the other hand, Major McEnnis and
Lieutenant Preston, who officiated severally
as Provost and Assistant-Provost Marshal, were
upon all occasions not only courteous, but kind,
the natural consequence of which behaviour
was that they were both highly respected and
esteemed by us "rebels."
In the court-yard of the General's
head-quarters, and at a few yards only from our
cottage, they had pitched a flag tent, which
served the purposes of their office, and here
it was that all passes for the South were
granted or refused, as the case might be.
How many of these were procured upon false
pretences and transferred to recruits on their
way to join the Southern army, or by whom this
ingenious ruse was practiced, I shall not here
I was one morning sitting in the
drawing-room, when I noticed two men, dressed
as Confederate soldiers, standing near the
Provost-Marshal's tent. At my request my
grandmother sent for the Major, who
obeyed her summons without loss of time.
We asked him who the men were. He told
us they were paroled Confederate soldiers
procuring passes to go south. We then asked
if they might be permitted to dine with us,
and received a ready assent. In the meantime
they had disappeared, but one of them shortly
reappearing, I accosted him thus: -
"Won't you dine with us? the Major
says you may."
"With pleasure, if you dine shortly I have
only two or three hours allowed me to get
beyond the pickets."
"Poor fellow!" said I; "but I am glad that
you will soon be free. Won't you take a letter
from me to General Jackson?"
Upon his assenting to this request, I went
off towards my own room to write my despatch;
but, as I was passing by the kitchen door,
one of the servants stopped me suddenly,
and exclaimed -
"Miss Belle! who's dat man yose a-talkin' to?"
"I know no more about him than that he is a
paroled rebel soldier going South."
"Miss Belle, dat man ain't no rebel: I seen
him 'mong de Yankees in de street. If he
is got Secesh clothes on, he ain't no
Secesh. Can't fool Betsy dat way. Dat
man's a spy - dat man's a spy. Please God,
I, however, entertained a different
opinion from that of the negro woman, so
I persevered in my intention, and wrote a
long friendly letter to General Jackson.
At the same time I introduced a great deal
of valuable information concerning the
Yankees, the state of their army, their
movements and doings, and matters of a
Disregarding the warning voice of my
sable Cassandra, I fancied the man was
true and might be safely trusted; so as
soon as dinner was finished I called him
aside and confided the letter to him,
with these words: -
"Will you promise me faithfully, upon
the honour of a soldier, to take the
utmost care of this, and deliver it safe to
General Jackson? They tell me you are a
spy, but I do not believe it."
He, of course, denied the soft
impeachment, and swore, by all the host
of heaven, to execute my commission
with fidelity and despatch.
Reader, conceive my feelings when,
shortly after this man's departure, one of
the officers came in and informed me
that he was a spy, and was on his way to
the Confederate Lines at Harrisburg.
I immediately set about to rectify my
unfortunate error, and, after some
reflection, I decided upon the following
I sat down and wrote Major Harry Gilmore,
of the Confederate cavalry, a few lines,
giving an accurate account of the man's
personal appearance, and explaining the
motive and circumstances of his journey
south, and by what means I had been
entrapped into trusting him with at letter
for General Jackson. This note I
despatched by a conveyance to which we
rebels had given the name of "the
The locomotive on this railway was an old
negro, and the mail-car was an enormous
silver watch from which the works had
been extracted. I sent off my train, with
orders that if, in passing the pickets, any
one should inquire the time of day, the
answer must be that the imposing looking
timepiece was out of order and had ceased
to mark the hours and minutes.
Our friend the spy, however, went
neither to Harrisburg nor to General
Jackson, but made his way straight to the
Federal General Siegel and gave him my
letter. The General, in his turn, forwarded
it to Stanton, the Secretary-at-War, who,
I make no doubt, still retains it in his
The fate of the spy, like that of so
many of his fraternity, was tragic. He
was soon after detected in the pursuit of
his calling on the Rappahannock, and
hanged. My readers, perhaps, may think I
ought to congratulate myself upon having
hitherto escaped a similar fate.
Shortly after this adventure an officer
came and told me that further misconduct
on my part might bring down upon me the
severest punishment, and hinted that the
Yankees, once thoroughly incensed,
would not hesitate at the perpetration of
Entertaining these views, he
recommended my immediate departure;
and this kind advice meeting with the
approval of my grandmother, I gave my
consent, and immediately my maid had
orders to prepare for a journey to
Richmond. It was on a Tuesday that the
officer promised to get a pass, and we
were to be sent through the lines on the
next ensuing Thursday. But Fate had
I am Arrested by order of Mr. Stanton, Federal
Secretary of War - My Boom and Trunks are closely
Searched- Yankee disregard for the rights of Personal
Property - My Departure for Washington - My
Escort - I arrive at General White's Head-quarters
IT was on a lovely Wednesday evening
that our firm and valued friend Lieutenant
Preston, my cousin Alice, and myself
were standing on the balcony, watching
the last rays of the setting sun as it sank
behind the western hills.
Our conversation turned upon the
divided and unhappy state of our country. We
recalled the peaceful scenes and joyous days of
the past, which were so painfully contrasted
by the present, and we were forced to agree
that we had nothing to expect from the future
but a continuance, if not an augmentation, of
In such gloomy forebodings, and in the
interchange of apprehensions and regrets, we
passed some time, and the twilight was fast
deepening into gloom when we heard the sound
of horses' hoofs; and, straining our eyes through
the darkness, we discerned a large body of
cavalry approaching the house.
I immediately conceived the idea that
it was a scouting-party on their way to
the mountains with the design of surprising
Major Harry Gilmore's cavalry, and feared
that their enterprise would prove
successful unless the Confederate officer should
leave timely notice of his danger. I ran at
once to my room and wrote a hasty note, in
which I communicated my suspicions to Major
Gilmore, and warned him to be on his guard.
This note I transmitted in the manner I
have described in a previous chapter, by
my "underground railway." After this feat I
retired to bed, and slept quietly, undisturbed
by any dream or vision of my approaching
Next morning I rose early, and soon
after breakfast I went to the cottage door,
where I daily spent much of my time,
watching the movements of the persons
who, for various purposes, frequented
head-quarters. I had not been long at my post
when I observed several Yankee soldiers
go into the coach-house. They immediately
proceeded to drag out the carriage,
and pull it up at the door of head-quarters,
where they put to the horses.
There was nothing very extraordinary
in all this; but in these anxious days the
minds of all were in a perpetual state of
tension, and a slight incident was
sufficient to cause alarm.
This may account for the strange
feeling that came over me - an
irrepressible desire to ascertain who was
to be the occupant of the carriage, which
was on the point of starting for a
destination of which I was ignorant.
I walked out upon the balcony; and,
looking up and down the street, I saw that
it was thronged with cavalry, the men
dismounted, lounging about, and
conversing with each other, in groups of
twos and threes, evidently waiting for the
expected order to mount.
While I stood looking at this scene, not
without interest and curiosity, one of the
servants came to me and said -
"Miss Belle, de Provo' wishes to see
you in de drawing-room, and dere's two
oder men wid him."
I immediately went down-stairs, and,
upon entering the room, I found the
Major, whose face wore an expression of
excitement and nervousness. There were,
as the servant had said, two other men in
the room with him: one, a tall, fine-looking
man, was introduced to me by the
name and title of Major Sherman, of the
12th Illinois Cavalry; the other was low
in stature, coarse in appearance, with
a mean, vile expression of countenance,
and a grizzly beard, which, it was evident,
had not made the acquaintance of water or
a comb for weeks at least. His small,
restless eyes glanced here and there,
with an expression of incessant
watchfulness and suspicion. All his
features were repulsive in the extreme,
denoting a mixture of cowardice, ferocity,
and cunning. In a word, his mien was
unmistakably that of a finished villain, who
was capable of perpetrating any act,
however atrocious, when stimulated by the
promise of a reward in money.
This man was a good type of his order:
he was one of Secretary Stanton's minions
- a detective belonging to, and employed
and paid by, that honourable branch of
Mr. Lincoln's Government, the Secret
I had not been in the room more than
a few moments when Major McEnnis
turned to me and said -
"Miss Boyd, Major Sherman has
come to arrest you."
"Impossible! For what?" I cried.
Major Sherman here interposed, and,
speaking in a very kind manner, assured
me that, although the duty he had to
perform was painful to his feelings, he
was, nevertheless, forced to execute the
orders of the Secretary of War, Mr.
Stanton; and, as he finished speaking, the
detective produced from his pocket the
document, which I transcribe as nearly as I
can recollect: -
"SIR, - YOU will
proceed immediately to
Front Royal, Virginia, and arrest, if found
there, Miss Belle Boyd, and bring her at
once to Washington.
"I am, respectfully,
"Your obedient Servant,
"E. M. STANTON."
Such was the curt order that made me
a prisoner; and, as remonstrance would have
been idle and resistance vain, nothing was
left for me but quiet, unconditional
The detective then informed me that it
was his duty to examine all my luggage.
To this I could not do otherwise than
assent, and only begged that a few minutes
might be granted, to enable my servant to
prepare my room, which was in great
confusion, and that I might also be
permitted to retire. I made this request to
the detective, for it had not escaped my
notice that Major Sherman was acting a
subordinate part, and was virtually at the
disposal and under the orders of the
As no answer was returned to my
question, I took it for granted I had tacit
permission to withdraw; but my disgust
was great when, turning round upon the
stairs, I saw my persecutor silently
following at my heels.
I stopped short, and said -
"Sir, will not you wait until I see if my
room is in a suitable condition for you to
The reply was characteristic, though not
"No, yer don't: I'm agoin' with yer.
Yer got some papers yer want to get rid
on;" and, with these words, he pushed
violently past me, and hastily entered my
My clothes were first seized, and
searched with the utmost scrutiny. My
dresses were examined closely, and, after
being turned inside out, and distorted
into all sorts of fantastic shapes, were
flung in a pile upon the floor, much to
the horror and amazement of my maid, who
had employed a great part of the previous
night in packing them safely and neatly,
and who was at a loss to understand the
meaning of such treatment, which appeared
to her, naturally enough, so strange and
My under-clothing next underwent an
ordeal precisely similar to that which my
upper garments had passed through;
and, finally, my desk and portfolio were
discovered; but here very fortunately my
devoted servant came to the rescue with
the promptitude and courage of a
She well knew the value I attached to
the contents of my portfolio, and made
a shrewd guess as to how far they would
compromise me with my captor and his
employers. Acting upon a sudden impulse,
she made a swoop upon the repository of
the greatest part of the evidence that
could be adduced against me; and, rushing
at headlong speed down-stairs, she
gained the kitchen in time to burn all
the papers it contained. But some
important papers were, unfortunately,
in my writing-desk, and these fell into
the possession of the detective who also,
much to my regret, made prize of a
handsome pistol, with belt and
equipments complete, which had been
presented to me on the 4th July,
by a Federal officer on the staff,
as a token, he was pleased to say, of his
admiration of the spirit I had shown in
defence of my mother and my home.
It had always been my hope to have
some day an opportunity of begging General
Stonewall Jackson's acceptance of a
present made to me, under very trying
circumstances, by a gallant and generous
enemy; but this could not be done. The
pistol now occupies a conspicuous place in
the War Department at Washington, and is
entered in the catalogue of spoils in the
following words: -
"A trophy captured from the celebrated
rebel Belle Boyd."
Not contented with the seizure of my
own papers, the emissary of Mr. Stanton
proceeded to break open the private
escritoire of my uncle, who was a lawyer, and
who had left it in my room for safekeeping
during his absence from Front Royal.
The detective, bundling up the
law-papers with mine, bade me, in the
roughest manner, and in the most
offensive language, be prepared to start
within half an hour.
I asked permission to be indulged with
the attendance of my maid; but this
request was refused, with imprecations,
and she was only allowed to pack one
trunk with apparel absolutely necessary to
comfort, if not to decency. Brief time was
granted for the packing; and, before many
minutes, my solitary trunk was strapped to
the back of the carriage.
I then nerved myself, and, walking into
the drawing-room, announced, in firm,
unbroken accents, that I was ready to start.
I preserved my composure unshaken;
although it was a hard trial to me to see
my grandmother and cousin weeping
piteously, and beseeching Major Sherman,
in the most moving terms, to spare me.
Their supplications were vain; and the
detective, stepping up close to my side,
ordered me to get into the carriage
Then came the final parting, bitter
enough, God knows; for I was being
dragged from those to whom I was endeared
by the associations of my happy youth, no
less than by the ties of nature, and
consigned to the safe-keeping of a man
whose countenance alone would have
immediately convicted him of any crime of
which he might anywhere have been accused.
My negro maid clasped her arms round my
knees, and passionately implored permission
to attend me. She was torn from me, and I
was hurried into the carriage without any
opportunity of further expostulation on the
part of myself or my relations.
The news of my arrest had spread quickly,
and the streets were by this time filled
with soldiers and citizens of the town. As
I stepped into the carriage, which for
aught I knew was my funeral car, I cast
a rapid but comprehensive glance upon
the crowd collected to witness my departure
and the demeanour I should sustain under
such a trial.
Upon many, nay, most of the faces that
met my gaze, sorrow and sympathy were
written in unmistakable characters; but there
were, nevertheless, some looks the expression
of which was that of exultation and malignant
I knew how closely I was watched by friend
and foe, and I resolved neither to make myself
an object of derision to the one, nor of pity
to the other. Though my heart was throbbing,
my eyes were dry; not a muscle of my face
quivered; no outward sign betrayed the
convicting emotions that raged within.
I could not guess what fate was in store
for me, but I felt that, if I might judge
of the clemency of my captors by the bearing
of their delegate, it would be the part of
wisdom to steel my mind against the worst
that could ensue.
I was seated in the back of the carriage,
and just as we started my evil genius
mounted the driver's seat. In his hand he
clutched a tin case which held the papers
he had taken from my room, and, as he
turned his ugly features round from time
to time to scrutinize my looks, my
imagination pictured him to me as the ill
omened incarnation of Satan himself. I
could not help associating him with the
idea of Edgar Poe's raven, and asking
myself if the fancy of the poet was to be
realized in my case, and the
companionship of the bird was to cease
only with my life.
That these were the visions of a
disturbed mind I am now quite willing to
allow; but if my readers will bear in mind
that I was young; that I had just been
torn from my friends; that a long captivity
appeared certain, and death not improbable;
that while either fate was in abeyance I
was in the custody of a man whose
character was clearly adapted to his odious
calling, - they will not be surprised that
during a few hours my reason tottered,
and "horrible imaginings" got the better
of my fortitude.
My escort consisted of 450 cavalry, the
officer in command of whom observed all
the regular precautions prescribed by
military law for a march through an
enemy's country. In addition to the
ordinary advance and rear guards, fifty
scouts were detached in skirmishing order
to protect our right from surprise, and an
equal number to guard our left; and in this
order we advanced until about half our
march was performed, and we reached an
eminence which commanded a view of the
country for several miles round.
Here, at a dreary spot, the cavalcade
was brought to a halt. Field-glasses and
signal whistles were brought into requisition,
and many other, to me, mysterious forms
were gone through.
I had not yet shaken off my terrors, and
I now resolved to collect my thoughts, and
devote what I believed to be my last
moments to prayer; for I could not then
penetrate the motives which actuated the,
to me, strange behaviour of my escort, and
I fully and firmly believed I should soon
be dragged from the carriage and hanged
from a bough of the maple-tree the leaves
of which were rustling over the carriage.
I afterwards ascertained that it was from
fear of a rescue by Ashby's cavalry the that
the precautions which alarmed me so much
were taken; and I make no doubt but that
gallant Confederate, had he known of my
situation, would have brought me off, or
perished in the attempt.
After a long pause the word "Forward"
was given, and our march was resumed at
In due course we gained the outskirts
of Winchester, and were met by the
remainder of the regiment by which I was
escorted. The whole, amounting to 550
sabres, some in front, some in rear of the
carriage, marched in solemn procession
down the main street of the town; and I
believe the citizens, who rushed to the
windows and doors, at first supposed
that the carriage which conveyed my
small but living person was the funeral car
of a general officer bearing the warrior to
his place of interment.
It was about six o'clock in the evening
when I was brought to General White's
head-quarters, which were fixed about
a quarter of a mile beyond the town.
I was immediately ordered to alight,
and without a minute's delay I was ushered
into his presence.
He received me with a graceful bow, and
bade me welcome with marked courtesy.
I returned his salutation with as
much ease as I could assume, and asked
what he intended doing with me.
"To-morrow," replied he, "I shall send
you on to the commanding officer at
Martinsburg. He can best inform you what
is to be done with you. You will rest here
after your journey, for the night."
"But surely," I interceded, "you
will at least allow me to remain with
my friends in the village until the
"No, no," he rejoined, rather pettishly;
"I cannot consent to that. It would
take a whole regiment to guard you; for,
though the rebel cavalry should not enter
the town to attempt your rescue, I make
no doubt that the citizens themselves
would try it."
"But surely," I then pleaded, "you do
not mean that I am to sleep here,
defenceless and alone in a tent, at the
mercy of your brigade? I never yet slept
in a tent when I was present with our
army, and how can I endure such a
penance in the camp of my enemies?"
"My own tent," replied the General,
with a low bow, "has been properly
prepared for the reception of a lady.
Whenever you wish to retire you can
follow your inclinations; and you may rest
assured you shall sleep in perfect
Supper was then brought in; and it did
not escape my notice that the table was
decorated with a dazzling display of rich
silver plate, which I more than suspected
had formerly been the property of some of
our dear old Virginian families; and the
thought that the rightful owners were at
that moment miserable outcasts, probably
in want of the bread my Federal lords
despised, effectually destroyed any
appetite my sufferings might have left me.
I said not a word until supper was
finished; then, rising quietly from my
camp-stool, I begged permission to retire
to the tent which I had been informed was
to be my dormitory.
The General rang a small bell, which
was quickly answered by an "intelligent
contraband," bearing two very massive
silver candlesticks, which, like the spoons
and forks, were doubtless the spoils of my
native province, probably once the
property of an intimate friend.
"Show this lady to the tent that has
been prepared for her reception;" and
these words with the accompaniment of a
bow, were all I had in exchange for the
prayers and blessings I had been
accustomed to carry with me to my bed.
No sooner had I entered the tent than
the negro left me to sleep or to my own
For some time I listened to the tramp
of the sentries as they paced to and
fro outside; then I tried to distract
my thoughts and forget my grief in
attempting to guess how many Yankee
soldiers were told off to guard a single
Confederate girl. But all would not do:
for the time being I was conquered in
body and spirit; my burden seemed
heavier than I could bear. I sat down
upon my camp-stool, and pressed my
hands upon my aching brow, and before
long the fatigue and anxiety I had
undergone stood me in stead, and I fell
A false Alarm - Arrival at Martinsburg - My Mother
and Family visit me - Departure for Washington -
My Reception at the Dépôt - The "Old Capitol" -
My Prison Room - My Treatment - Interview with the
Chief of Detectives - Offers of Liberty - My Reply
- A Pleasing Reminiscence of my Captivity.
ABOUT half-past three the following
morning I was suddenly aroused from my
comfortless slumbers by the beating of
the long roll, and by the reports of several
muskets fired in quick succession. Officers
half dressed sprang to arms, rushed to their
horses, and rode off to the outposts. Meanwhile,
I had lighted my candle, my heart
beating high with hope; for I persuaded
myself that the alarm was caused by an
attempt on the part of the Confederates
to effect my rescue. I sat down anxiously
awaiting the result, when one of the
officers, who was rushing to the front,
stopped opposite my tent and shouted,
or rather roared out -
"Put out that light: it is some signal to
the rebels. Do you hear me?"
I of course obeyed the mandate, and a
few minutes afterwards I heard the retreat
beat; upon which one of the sentries
explained the meaning of what had
happened, and how it came to pass that the
camp had been thrown into such a state of
confusion. It appeared that an obtuse cow
had strayed from a neighbouring field, and,
not understanding the challenge of the
sentry, had disregarded the order to
halt, although twice repeated. Hereupon
the sentry, who could not make out the
outline of the cow in the darkness, fired,
and the other sentries on his right and left,
taking the hint, fired also, though at what
they aimed it would be difficult to say.
However, fire they did at random, as is
the custom of undisciplined troops
everywhere, and thus all my hopes of a
rescue were extinguished by a cow.
Dawn was hardly breaking when I was
ordered to get ready once more, as I was
to be taken directly to Martinsburg.
My preparations were soon made,
and with two hundred for my escort I set
forward. At eight o'clock we came to a
halt at a small farm-house standing by the
road-side. Here breakfast had been
prepared, and I was informed the refreshment
was at my disposal. No sooner was
my appetite satisfied - a consummation
which was easy and rapid - than we
resumed our journey to Martinsburg, at
which bourne I arrived about one in the
afternoon, tired and exhausted with the
fatigue and anxiety I had undergone.
Major Sherman, compassionating
my forlorn condition, very kindly stayed
behind the cavalcade and prevailed upon
his wife to accompany me to the camp,
which was pitched at a short distance on
the north side of the town.
I was forthwith conducted to the tent of
the commanding officer. My head was now
almost bursting with pain; and I implored
him to have me taken to my home, which
was close by in a suburb of the village,
there to rest and refresh myself for a few
hours, as I understood I was to start for
Washington at two o'clock next morning.
I make no doubt my petition would have
been granted had not the detective here
interposed and informed the Federal
Colonel that Mr. Secretary Stanton would
probably take exception to such an
indulgence, which would give me an
opportunity of holding communication
with persons inimical to the United States
After putting this "spoke in my wheel,"
so to speak, my amiable custodian went
himself to my home and ransacked all my
father's private papers, under pretence of
hunting for "communications" from myself
to my mother. Fortunately, however, he
found none, and his unwelcome visit was
not crowned with the success he had
To return to myself.
I was sitting on the camp-stool in my
tent, gazing listlessly about me, when my
attention was suddenly attracted to a carriage
which was driving into the encampment.
It stopped, and a lady rapidly alighted. She
was dressed in deep mourning; a thick veil
entirely concealed her face, but I recognized
her at once, in spite of her disguise.
The feverish intelligence which
accompanies danger and suffering was
superadded to that natural instinct which,
though no one can explain, all have
experienced, and I felt, for I could not
see, that the visitor was my mother.
I sprang from my seat, and rushed into her
arms with a cry of joy I had no power to
"My poor, dear child!" she said, or rather
gasped, and then sank fainting at my feet.
They carried her into the tent, and the
first use she made of restored consciousness
was to implore the Colonel, in the most
moving terms, to allow her to carry me
home. She begged him to trust the evidence
of his own senses, and to read in my haggard
looks the bodily prostration to which I was
reduced, no less than the mental anguish which
was consuming me; and in very truth the iron
had entered into my soul, and my sufferings
were almost greater than I could bear.
The Colonel politely but firmly refused to
grant my mother's prayer; and I am willing to
believe that in this refusal he was actuated
by a stern sense of duty, for his feelings so
far prevailed as to induce him to authorize
my removal to Raemer's Hotel, which is
contiguous to the station from which the trains
for Washington start. No sooner had I, a young
girl weak and ill, accompanied by my mother
and Mrs. Sherman, set foot in the hotel, than the
building was girdled by a cordon of sentries,
twenty-seven in number, in addition to
whom three were posted in the passage
leading to my room, and one more was
stationed just outside my door; and then,
with these material guarantees for my
security and good behaviour, my little
sister, my brothers, and my mother were
allowed to visit me.
It had been arranged that the detective
who arrested me should be my escort as
far as Washington; but I no loathed the
sight of this man, that I sent for Colonel
Holt, and implored him to substitute for
the odious reptile any one of his officers
who could be spared, and upon whom he
could rely for my safe conduct.
Colonel Holt kindly granted my request,
and detailed Lieutenant Steele, of the
12th Illinois Cavalry, for "escort duty."
As the time for my arrival approached
my feelings overpowered my self-control,
and, for once, I yielded to a passionate
burst of grief. Nor was I without an
excuse for my weakness. My nearest and
dearest were lamenting around me, and within
a few minutes I was to be torn from their
arms and consigned to the doubtful mercies
of strangers and enemies. My strength, too,
failed me; and, just as the fatal moment
drew near, I sank down in a stupor from
which I was suddenly and painfully awakened
by the ominous screech of the railway engine.
I nerved myself by a vigorous effort, and
within a few seconds I found myself seated
in the train. I say found myself, for I have
never been able distinctly to recall how I
reached the station - whether I walked or
was carried I know not. I was soon, however,
conscious that Lieutenant Steele was by my
side, and that Washington was my destination.
I felt grateful for the presence of an
officer to whom I might reasonably
look for protection, and the reflection that,
come what would, I had escaped the clutches of
the detective roused my drooping spirits.
Alas! this infatuation was soon dispelled,
for, upon looking about me, I was horrified to
see my "evil genius" occupying the left seat of
The image of Edgar Poe's raven arose in my
mind, and my disturbed imagination whispered
that I was doomed to the perpetual
companionship of an incarnate fiend.
It afterwards transpired that this able minion
of Mr. Stanton had telegraphed to the chief of
detectives at Washington to meet us at the
Mr. Steele, who had no idea I was to be
thrown into prison, observed that upon our
arrival at Washington I should go to
* In America a railway terminus is called a dépôt.
Willard's Hotel, and after a short rest proceed
to the office of the Secretary-at-War. This plan,
however, was by no means in accordance with
the programme drawn up by the detective. He
was one of Mr. Stanton's chosen and trusted
agents. He doubtless well knew what was in
store for me, and he did not scruple to presume
upon his position, and use very sharp words to
It was about nine o'clock in the evening when
we arrived at Washington; but, notwithstanding
the lateness of the hour, a very large concourse
of people had assembled in and about the
dépôt, in order to catch a glimpse of the
"wonderful rebel;" for the news of my arrest
had preceded my arrival.
As I stepped upon the platform the chief
of the detectives, another kindred spirit
of Mr. Stanton's, seized me roughly by
the arm, and in a gruff voice shouted
"Come on: I'll attend to you."
He was then proceeding to push me through
the crowd, when Lieutenant Steele, thrusting
himself forward, protested vehemently
against such usage, and declared that I
should not be treated in so barbarous
a manner; that I was a lady, and that my
character and position should be respected.
The torrent of abuse that was poured
upon him for thus endeavouring to take my
part was conveyed in words too horrible to
bear repetition; and at that moment I
would gladly have lain down and died, for
the thought flashed across my mind -
"My God! if this is the beginning, what
will the end be?"
Amongst the crowd I had many sympathizers;
but they dared not interfere. At
Washington might was indeed right; and
I will venture to say that the arbitrary
exercise of power by the United States
Government has cast into the shade all
that we read of the Spanish Inquisition,
and all that we hear of Russian domination
in Poland. A word of encouragement, nay,
a whisper of condolence, would have
been sufficient to introduce an imprudent
friend to that receptacle which was
awaiting me - a prison cell.
I was thrust into a carriage; and the
order, "Drive to the Old Capitol," was
promptly given; but, before it could be
obeyed, Lieutenant Steele, who had been
very unceremoniously dismissed from
further attendance upon me, stepped up
and politely begged permission to wait
upon me to prison. To a gruff refusal he
firmly rejoined -
"I am determined to see her out of
your hands, at least."
The carriage was driven at a rapid pace,
and we soon came within sight of my
future home - a vast brick building, like
all prisons, sombre, chilling, and
Its dull, damp walls look out upon the
street: its wnarrow indows are further
darkened by heavy iron stanchions,
through which the miserable inmates
may soothe their captivity by gazing upon
those who are still free, but whose
freedom hangs but by a slender thread.
Such is the calm retreat provided by
a free and enlightened community for
those of its citizens who have the
audacity to express their disapproval of
the policy adopted by the government
of the hour.
In the days of old France the victims
of royal indignation were seized under
cover of night, and buried with secrecy and
despatch in the impenetrable recesses of
the Bastille; the most jealous care, the
most unceasing vigilance, was observed,
in order that the mystery of their doom
should never be elucidated; the lettre de
cachet, which was the implement of their
destruction, was in its very nature a proof
that such acts of violence and injustice
were a source of fear and shame even to
the despot who committed them.
Many a dark deed has been perpetrated
within the old walls of the Tower of
London; its stones have more than once
been stained with the blood of the
innocent; but here, again, tortures and
death were studiously concealed, and,
when detected, amply avenged.
The autocrat of Russia does not exhibit
to the world the instruments with which
he chastises his naughty children; the
clank of Siberian chains is not heard in
any other quarter of the globe.
It has been reserved for the Government
of the United States of America, the
Apostles of Liberty, the tender-hearted
emancipators, who shudder at the bare
idea of the African's wrongs, to cast into a
dungeon in open day, without accusation
or form of trial, any one of their
fellow-countrymen and countrywomen
whom they may suspect of disaffection to
the clique which retains them in power and
One of the greatest authors, ancient or
modern, when speaking of our forefathers,
"They left their native land in search of
freedom, and found it in a desert."
Could "Nominis Umbra," wrapped in his
old veil of mystery, revisit our world,
he would be appalled to find how completely
the men of this generation have parted
with that freedom without receiving so
much as a mess of pottage in exchange for
their glorious birthright.
To return to my narrative.
Upon my arrival at the prison I was
ushered into a small office. A clerk, who
was writing at a desk, looked up for a
moment and informed me the
superintendent would attend to my
business immediately. The words were
hardly uttered when Mr. Wood entered the
room, and I was aware of the presence of
a man of middle height, powerfully built,
with brown hair, fair complexion, and
keen, bluish-gray eyes.
Mr. Wood prides himself, I believe,
upon his plebeian extraction; but I can
safely aver that beneath his rough exterior
there beats a warm and generous heart.
"And so this is the celebrated rebel
spy," said he. "I am very glad to see you, and
will endeavour to make you as comfortable
as possible; so whatever you wish for, ask for
it and you shall have it. I am glad I have so
distinguished a personage for my guest.
Come, let me show you to your room."
We traversed the hall, ascended a flight of
stairs, and found ourselves in a short, narrow
passage, up and down which a sentry paced,
and into which several doors opened. One of
these doors, No. 6, was thrown open; and
behold my prison cell!
Mr. Wood, after repeating his injunction to
me to ask for whatever I might wish, and with
the promise that he would send me a servant,
and that I should not be locked in as long
as I "behaved myself," withdrew, and left me
to my reflections.
At the moment I did not quite understand
the meaning, of the last indulgence,
but within a few minutes I was given a copy of
the rules and relations of the prison, which set
forth that if I held any communication whatever
with the other prisoners, I should be punished
by having my door locked.
There was nothing remarkable in the
shape or size of my apartment, except that
two very large windows took up nearly the
whole of one side of the wall.
Upon taking, an inventory of my effects, I
found them to be as follows: - A washing-stand,
a looking-glass, an iron bedstead, a table,
and some chairs.
From the windows I had a view of part
of Pennsylvania Avenue, and far away in
the country the residence of General Floyd,
ex-United States Secretary of War, where
I had formerly passed many happy hours.
At first I could not help indulging in
reminiscences of my last visit to Washington
and contrasting it with my present forlorn
condition; but, rousing myself from my
reverie, I bethought myself of the indulgence
promised me, and asked for a rocking-chair
and a fire; not that I require the latter, for
the room was already very warm, but I fancied a
bright blaze would make it look more cheerful.
My trunk, after being subjected to a thorough
scrutiny, was sent up to me, and, having plenty
of time at my disposal, I unpacked it leisurely.
Upon each floor of the prison were posted
sentries within sight and call of each other.
The sentry before my door was No. 6, and when
I had occasion for my servant I had to request
him to summon the corporal of the guard. My
attendant was an "intelligent contraband," who
was extremely useful to me during my enforced
residence in the Old Capitol.
I had not unpacked my trunk when dinner
was served; and here I shall do plain justice
by transcribing the bill of fare; and it will
be allowed I can claim no commiseration on
the plea of bread-and-water diet, though such
had been ordered for me by Mr. Stanton: -
BILL OF FARE.
This, with but little variety, constituted my
dinner every day until released.
- Soup -
- Beef Steak -
- Chicken -
- Boiled Corn -
- Tomatoes -
- Irish Stew -
- Potatoes -
- Bread and
- Peaches -
- Pears -
At eight o'clock Mr. Wood came to my
room, accompanied by the chief of the
detectives, who desired an interview with me
on the part of the Secretary at War.
I begged this worthy to be seated - a request
he immediately complied with; and he then
delivered the following graceful exhortation,
which I transcribe verbatim: -
"Ain't you pretty tired of your prison
a'ready? I've come to get you to make a
free confession now of what you've did
agin our cause; and, as we've got plenty
of proof agin you, you might as well
acknowledge at once."
"Sir," I replied, "I do not understand
you; and furthermore, I have nothing to say.
When you have informed me on what
grounds I have been arrested and given me
a copy of the charges preferred against
me, I will mare my statement; but I shall
not now commit myself." Thereupon the
oath of allegiance was proffered, and I
was harangued at some length upon the
enormity of my offense, and given to
understand the cause of the South was
"Say, now, won't you take the oath of
allegiance? Remember Mr. Stanton will
hear of all this. He sent me here."
To this peroration I replied -
"Tell Mr. Stanton from me, I hope that
when I commence the oath of allegiance
to the United States Government,
my tongue may cleave to the roof of my
mouth, and that, if ever I sign one line
that will show to the world that I owe the
United States Government the slightest
allegiance, I hope my arm may fall
paralysed at my side."
This speech of mine he immediately
took down in his note-book, and growing
very angry at my determination, he called
"Well, if this is your resolution, you'll
have to lay here and die; and serve you right."
"Sir," I retorted, "if it is a crime to
love the South, its cause and its President,
then I am a criminal. I am in your power.
Do with me as you please. But I fear you
not. I would rather lie down in
this prison and die than leave it owing allegiance
to such a government as yours. Now leave the
room; for so thoroughly am I disgusted with
your conduct towards me that I cannot endure
your presence longer."
Scarcely had I finished my defiance, which
I confess was spoken in a loud tone of voice,
when cheers and cries of "Bravo!" reached my
ears. Until that moment I was not aware that
the rooms on the floor with my own were
occupied; for, having kept my door shut all
day, I had had no means of noticing what was
passing around me.
My door, however, had been left open
during my interview with the detective,
consequently my neighbours, whom I afterwards
ascertained to be Confederate officers
and Englishmen, had overheard our whole
conversation, and hailed with applause the
firmness with which I had rejected Mr.
Stanton's overtures of liberty, conditional
as they were upon my renunciation of the
Confederacy and on my allegiance to the
Federal Government. And now Mr. Wood, taking
pity upon me, withdrew the detective, saying -
"Come, we had better go: the lady is tired."
Within a few minutes of their departure, I
heard a low, significant cough, and, as I
turned in the direction from whence it proceeded,
something small and white fell at my feet. I
picked it up and found that it was a minute
nut-shell basket, upon which were painted
miniature Confederate flags. Round it was
wrapped a small piece of paper, upon which
were traced a few words expressive of sympathy
with my misfortunes. I afterwards found out
that the author of this short communication was
an Englishman; and I can assure him that his
kindness was like a ray of light from heaven
breaking into the cell of a condemned prisoner.
I wrote a hasty reply, and, watching my
opportunity, threw it to him. I then lay down on
my bed in a tranquil - I had almost said a
happy - frame of mind; and I closed my first
day in a dungeon by repeating to myself more
than once -
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
A free and quiet mind can take
These for a hermitage."
My First Night in Prison - The Secret Telegraph
- An Incident in connection with President Jefferson
Davis's Portrait - I am punished for my Indiscretion
- I am permitted to walk in the Prison Yard, where I
meet with a Relation - I am informed I am to be
exchanged - Departure from Washington.
MY FIRST NIGHT IN PRISON.
THE first night in a convent forms the
subject of a melancholy, but beautiful
picture. My first night in a prison must
be painted in dark colours, unrelieved by
the radiance that plays upon the features
of the sleeping devotee, who has of her own
free will cast aside the world, exulting in the
belief that the voluntary sacrifice of youth, love,
and all the ties of nature will be more than
recompensed by an immortality of bliss.
Her dreams are of paradise: enthusiasm
comes to the aid of religion, and gives her a
foretaste of eternity.
"Her soul is gone before her dust to heaven."
Prophets, angels, and
saints people her silent
cell; a vision of glory streams in through her
narrow window; and the first night in the
convent is the night of ecstasy.
I said, at the conclusion of my last chapter,
that I was comforted by the spontaneous
proof of sympathy given by my unknown
correspondent; but my situation was too
painful to admit of real, lasting consolation.
The medicine administered was at best but
a momentary stimulant; the reaction soon
set in; and, as my fatigue gained ground, the
sense of my miserable condition prevailed
against my bodily energies.
I rose from my bed and walked to the
window. The moon was shining brightly. How I
longed that it were in my power to spring
through the iron bars that caught and scattered
her beams around the room!
The city was asleep, but to my disordered
imagination its sleep appeared feverish and
perturbed. Far away the open country, visible
in the clear night, looked the express image
of peace and repose.
"God made the country, and man made the
towns," I thought, as I contrasted the close
atmosphere of my city prison with the clear air
of the fields beyond.
What would I not have given to exchange the
sound of the sentry's measured tread for the
wild shriek of the owl and the drowsy flight of
The room which was appropriated to me had
formerly been the committee-room of the old
Hall of Congress, and had been repeatedly
tenanted by Clay, Webster, Calhoun, and
other statesmen of their age and mark.
A thousand strange fancies filled my brain,
and nearly drove me mad. The phantoms of the
past rose up before me, and I fancied I could
hear the voices of the departed orators as they
declaimed against the abuses and errors of the
day, and gave their powerful aid to the cause of
general liberty. They never dreamed that the
very walls which re-echoed the eloquence of
freedom would ere long confine the victims of
an oligarchy. Theirs was the bright day - ours
is the dark morrow, of which the evil is more
than sufficient. Those great men - for
great they unquestionably were - lacked not
the gift of prophecy, for they did not
fail to discern the little cloud, then no
bigger than a man's hand, which was gathering
in the horizon - that dark speck which was
so soon to generate a tempest far blacker than
that from which the chariot of Ahab made haste
Throughout that long dreary night I stood at
the window watching, thinking, and praying. It
seemed to me that morning would never come.
"Methought that streak of dawning grey
Would never dapple into day,
So heavily it rolled away
Before the eastern flame."
But the morning came at
last - the herald let
me hope, from a brighter world of another
morrow to us. No sooner did the first faint light
find its way through the windows, than I threw
myself again upon my bed, and almost
immediately sank into a deep sleep.
It was about nine o'clock, I believe,
when I was aroused by a loud knocking at
"What is it?" I cried, springing up.
"The officer calling the roll, to
ascertain that no one has escaped."
"You do not expect me to get through
these iron bars, do you?"
"No, indeed," was the chuckling
rejoinder; and immediately afterwards I
heard the officer's retreating footsteps as
he passed on in the execution of his duty.
Soon after the servant who had been
assigned to me came to make
preparations for breakfast; and, as my
morning meal was no less ample and
choice than my dinner of the preceding
evening, I will not detain my readers with a
second prison bill of fare.
It was but a few minutes after breakfast
when the sentry directly outside my door
I listened attentively to catch the orders
given to the relief. They were -
"You will not allow this lady to come
outside her door or talk to any of those
fellows in the room opposite; and if she
wants anything call the corporal of the
guard. Now don't let these - - rebels skear
There was no more information to be
gained for the moment; so I sat down and
amused myself with the morning papers,
which had been brought to me with my
They all contained an account of my
capture, and a summary of my career. The
subject-matter was, of course, personally
interesting, although in every instance my
motives were misconstrued, and my
character was aspersed. I must, however,
admit that many of the most bitter calumnnies
then published of me were contradicted not
many days afterwards in the very same journals
which had originally circulated them.
There was a narrow space behind the prison
which was reserved for the prisoners'
exercise - an indulgence they were granted at
stated hours. On their way to their playground
most of them had to pass my door, and in the
procession I recognised, on the second day of
my imprisonment, several of my old friends and
acquaintances who had formerly belonged to the
army of Virginia.
The tedious day wore on, and a shudder
passed over me as I recalled the hideous
thoughts which had banished sleep throughout
the previous night.
Late in the evening, when my servant came
with my tea, she told me that many
prisoners had been brought in during the day,
and that two of the newly arrived captives had
been consigned to the room adjoining mine.
By this time it had become known throughout
the length and breadth of the prison-house that
I was no other than that persecuted young lady
Acting upon this knowledge, my neighbours,
who were the friends of happier days, devised
a scheme by means of which they were enabled
to make themselves known to me.
At about eleven o'clock I sat down and
opened my Bible. I selected a chapter
the promises contained in which are
peculiarly consoling to the captive; but
I had not read more than two or three
verses when my attention was distracted
by a knock against the wall. I listened with
attention, and presently felt sure that the next
sound which reached my ears was that made
by a knife scooping out the plaster of the wall.
Within a few minutes the point of a long
case-knife was visible; and I was not slow
to co-operate with those pioneers of free
communication - the inmates of the next room.
I made use of the knife that remained on
my supper-tray; and before long the two
knives had conjointly made an aperture
large enough to admit of the transmission
of notes rolled tight and of the circumference
of a man's forefinger. The clandestine
correspondence that was thus carried on was,
on either side of the wall, a source of much
pleasure, and served to beguile many a
In the room immediately above mine,
and in which Mrs. Greenhow had been
incarcerated and suffered so much for five
long weary months, were confined some
gentlemen of Fredericsburg. They had contrived
to loosen a plank in the floor, and to make an
aperture through which the occupant of the
room beneath them might receive and return
Whenever I desired to communicate with the
prisoners whose rooms were on the opposite
side of the passage, I adopted the expedient
of wrapping my note round a marble, which I
rolled across, taking care that the sentry's
back was turned when my missive was started
on its voyage of discovery.
I have described how I established a
post between my room and the room on my
right; the same system was applied, with
equal success, to the one on the left, which
was then the abode of Major Fitzhugh, of
Stuart's staff, and Major Morse, of Ewell's.
This room, which joined with many others,
became a medium of communication with
all; and we were soon enabled to transmit
intelligence to each other throughout the
It was on the fourth morning of my
imprisomnent, as I was watching from
my door the prisoners going down to
breakfast, that a little Frenchman handed
me unobserved a half-length portrait of
Jefferson Davis. This I forthwith hung up
in my room over the mantelpiece, with this
inscription below it -
"Three cheers for Jeff. Davis and the Southern
One of the prison officials, Lieutenant
Holmes, passing by my door, caught sight
of the hostile President's likeness, and the
words with which I had decorated it. Rushing
like a madman into my room, he tore it
down with many violent oaths. "For this,"
he said, "you shall be locked in;" and he
was as good as his word, for he turned the
key in the door as he left the room.
My offense was severely punished. I was
kept a close prisoner; and so little air was
stirring in the sultry month of July that I
grew very ill and faint, and at times I
really thought I should have died from the
oppressive heat of the room; and this
misery I had to endure for several weeks.
At last Mr. Wood paid me a visit, and,
observing how pale and ill I had become
under such rigorous treatment, took pity
upon me, and gave orders that my door
should be once more left open. Soon after
I was granted the further indulgence of half
an hour's walk daily in that portion of the
prison yard which had been assigned to
ladies for exercise.
One day, whilst standing in the doorway,
my attention was attracted to an old gentleman
almost bent double with age; his long white hair
hung down to his shoulders, whilst his beard,
grey with the heavy touch of old Father Time's
fingers, reached nearly to his waist.
A feeling of pity took possession of my
soul, and I could not but help thinking as I
gazed upon him, "Poor old man! what an unfit
place for you; even I, the delicate girl, can
better stand the hardships of this dreary,
comfortless place than you." And what was
his crime? This - he was designated a traitor
to the Northern Government because he
firmly believed that the Constitution as it
was should remain unaltered. I afterwards
learnt that he was Mr. Mahony, the editor
of the Dubugue (Iowa) Crescent, and
who, when released, published a look,
"The Prisoner of State" which was, however,
suppressed by the Secretary of War,
The rules of the prison, of course, interdicted
all intercourse between the prisoners, but, alas!
I was on one occasion taken so completely by
surprise as to obey my first impulse and commit
a flagrant breach of orders.
I was walking up and down my "seven feet
by nine" promenade, when I suddenly recognized
one of my cousins, John Stephenson, a young
officer in Mosby's cavalry. So glad was I to
see him that I never thought of consequences,
but rushed up to exchange a few words with
him. The charged bayonet of the sentry soon
checked my impetuosity, and I was summarily
sent back to my room, although "playtime"
had not expired. My unfortunate cousin was
at once removed to the guardroom.
It was late one evening, and I was sitting
reading at my open door, when Mr. Wood
came down the stairs exclaiming -
"All you rebels get ready; you are going to
'Dixie' to-morrow, and Miss Belle is going with
At this joyful news all the prisoners within
hearing of the tidings of their approaching
liberation joined in three hearty cheers. For my
part, I actually screamed for joy, so suddenly
had my return to freedom been announced.
The next day all the prisoners whose turn for
exchange had come were drawn up in line in
the prison yard.
Soldiers were stationed from the door of the
prison half-way across the street, which was
thronged by a dense crowd, brought together
by curiosity to witness the departure of the
Two hundred captives, inclusive of the
officers and myself, were then passed beyond
the prison walls, and formed in line on the
opposite side of the street.
I stepped into an open carriage, followed
by Major Fitzhugh, who had been "told off" to
convey me to Richmond.
I carried concealed about me two gold
sabre-knots, one of which was intended for General
Jackson, the other for General Joe Johnston.
As we drove off the Confederate prisoners
cheered us loudly; their acclamations were
taken up by the crowd, so that the whole street
and square resounded with applause. When we
arrived at the wharf, we were sent on board the
steamer Juanita, which lay at her moorings all
I shall conclude this chapter with two or
three prison reminiscences, which will, I
hope, give my reader some idea of the ménage
of the "Old Capitol."
On one occasion my servant had just
brought me a loaf of sugar, when it occurred
to me that the Confederate officers in the
opposite room across the passage were
in want of this very luxury. Accordingly I
asked the sentry's permission to pass it
over to them, and received from him an
unequivocal consent in these plain words -
"I have no objection."
This, I thought, was sufficient; and it
will hardly be believed that, while I was
in the very act of placing the sugar in the
hand of one of the officers, the sentry
struck my left hand with the butt-end of his
musket, and with such violence was the
blow delivered that my thumb was actually
broken. The attack was so unexpected,
and the pain so excruciating, that I could
not refrain from bursting into tears.
As soon as I could master my feelings,
I demanded of the sentry that he should
summon the corporal of the guard; and,
upon his refusing my just demand, I
stepped forward with the intention of
exercising my undoubted right in propriâ
But my tyrant was now infuriated; he
charged bayonets, and actually pinned me
to the wall by my dress, his weapon
inflicting a flesh-wound on my arm.
At this moment, fortunately for me, the
corporal of the guard came rushing up
the stairs to ascertain the cause of the
disturbance. The sentry was taken off his
post, and, unless I am grievously mistaken,
a short confinement in the guard-room
was considered sufficient punishment for
such outrageous conduct.
Not long after this adventure, my aunt
called to see me. Permission was given to
me to pass down-stairs for the purpose of
an interview with my relation, and I was
proceeding on my way, when one of the
sentries, with a volley of oaths, commanded
me to "halt."
"But I have permission to go down and
see my relation."
"Go back, or I'll break every bone in
your body;" and a bayonet was presented
to my breast.
I produced the certificate which
authorized me to pass him; and I think, from
his manner, he would have relented in his
intentions towards me, and returned to a
sense of his own duty, but he was
encouraged in his mutinous behaviour by the
cheers of a roomful of Federal deserters,
who called upon him to bayonet me. In
this predicament I was saved by Major
Moore, of the Confederate States army,
and the timely arrival of Captain Higgins
and Lieutenant Holmes, two prison
authorities, who secured me from further
This man's crime, which was neither
more nor less than open mutiny, was
visited by a slight reprimand. This
leniency was perhaps intended for a
personal compliment to me. If so, let me
assure the Yankee officers, I duly
appreciate both its force and delicacy.
Mr. Wood, the superintendent, will, I
am sure, forgive me for relating one
characteristic anecdote of him.
It was Sunday morning when he came
stalking down the passage into which my
room opened, proclaiming in the tones
and with the gestures of a town-crier -
"All you who want to hear the Word of
God preached according to 'Jeff. Davis' go
down into the yard; and all you who want
to hear it preached according to 'Abe
Lincoln' go into No. 16."
This was the way in which he separated
the goats from the sheep. I need not say
which party was considered the goats
within the walls of the Old Capitol.
Arrival at Fortress Monroe - Passage up the James
River - Arrival at Richmond - "Home again" -
Interview with General "Stonewall "Jackson -
Refugee once more - Review of the Confederate
Army under General Lee - I receive my Commission
- Flying Visit to my Home - Letter from "Stonewall"
Jackson - My Reception by the People of Knoxville -
I hear of the Death of General Jackson - Battle of
Winchester - At Home once more.
AT early dawn, the Juanita cast off from
her moorings, and late in the evening of
the same day we dropped anchor at the
mouth of the Potomac, where we passed
that night. Next day, about four a.m., we
proceeded on our way up the river, arriving
at Fortress Monroe late in the evening; and
here we were boarded by Lieutenant
Darling, of General Dix's staff. On each
side of us lay General McClellan's
transports, filled with soldiers; about half
a mile distant was the "Rip Raps" a fort
quite equal to Sumter in strength.
Notwithstanding our position, which was
exposed to the fire of this splendid fort,
our people indulged their feelings by
singing from time to time "the songs of the
sunny South," and these they interspersed
with loud cheers for Jeff. Davis.
At one time a Yankee officer on board
one of the transports, irritated evidently
by these repeated expressions of
animosity to his Government, hailed us
with the words -
"Three cheers for the Devil!"
"It is only natural you should cheer for
the advocate of your cause," was the ready
retort; "and we will cheer for ours." And so
these shouts and counter-shouts were kept
up until we got under way again, and
steamed up the muddy waters of the James
As we rounded a bend in the stream we caught
sight of the glorious flag of our country,
the Stars and bars. It was waving in the
evening breeze from a window in the house
of Mr. Aikens.
Until that well-known and beloved emblem
met my eyes again, I had but imperfectly
realized my freedom. Now it was present
and visible in its chosen symbol. If
our men had cheered before, their shouts,
when surrounded by the transports and
under the guns of the fort, were as
nothing to those with which they hailed
the emblem of "Dixie's" resolution to
uphold its independence, defend its natural
rights, and resist force with force.
At the wharf we were met by Colonel
Ould, who held the office of Commissioner
of Exchange at Richmond. He was attended
by his assistant, Mr. Watson; and it was
under the supervision and by the direction
of these gentlemen that the exchanged
soldiers were marched on shore. I passed
that night very agreeably under Mr. Aiken's
hospitable roof, and enjoyed myself
thoroughly in his society and that of his
family. Next morning Colonel Allen sent
his carriage and horses from Richmond,
to convey me at my ease into the city. I
decided, without hesitation, to drive to the
Ballard House, where, in fact, I had been
informed rooms were prepared for my
reception. My route lay close by the
encampment of the Richmond Blues; and
I confess to the mixed feeling of pride
and pleasure I derived from the high
compliment paid me by them. The
company was drawn up in review order,
and presented arms as I drove by. In the
evening I was serenaded by the city band:
in short, my reception at the hands of all
classes was flattering in the extreme.
After a sojourn of ten days at the Ballard
House, I removed to Mrs. W.'s boarding
house in Grace Street, where I enjoyed the
delightful society of many old and warm
At the period of which I speak not a
few of the notorieties of Richmond were
assembled at Mrs. W.'s excellent
establishment; among others, General and
Mrs. Joe Johnston, General Wigfall and his
family, and Mrs. C., that celebrated leader
of ton at Washington, equally and justly
renowned for her wit and charms. Her
conversation attracted round her, wherever
she appeared, crowds of admiring
listeners; and I feel sure that many of my
American readers will recognise the fair
lady to whose name I have, for obvious
reasons, placed the initial letter only.
I was engaged one evening in a desultory
conversation, when an officer who had
been one of my fellow-captives in
Washington came up to me and placed in
my hands a note and a small box. Upon
opening the latter I found that it contained
a gold watch and châtelaine, both
handsomely enamelled, and richly set with
diamonds; and upon reading the note I
discovered that the beautiful and useful
ornament was offered to my acceptance
"in token of the affection and esteem of my
fellow-prisoners in the Old Capitol."
For a few moments I could not find words
to thank their delegate, so overpowered
was I by this striking and unexpected
mark of the feelings entertained for me
by my countrymen.
I had been in Richmond but a short time,
when my father came to take me home.
The battle of Antietam had been fought,
and Martinsburg was once more in the
hands of the Confederates.
The very day after my return home I
rode out to the encampment, escorted by a
friend of my family, in order to pay a visit
to General Jackson. As I dismounted at the
door of his tent, he came out, and, gently
placing his hands upon my head, assured
me of the pleasure he felt at seeing me
once more well and free. Our interview
was of necessity short, for the demands
upon his valuable time were incessant;
but his fervent "God bless you, my child,"
will never be obliterated from my memory,
as long as Providence shall be pleased
to allow it to retain its power.
In the course of our conversation the
General kindly warned me that, in the event
of his troops being forced to retreat, it
would be expedient that I should leave
my home again, as the evacuation of
Martinsburg by the Confederates would, as
on former occasions, be rapidly followed
by its occupation by our enemies, and that
it would be unwise and unsafe for me to
expose myself to the caprice or resentment
of the Yankees, and run the risk of another
imprisonment. He added that he would
give me timely notice of his movements,
by which my plans must be regulated.
Very shortly after the interview I have
just noticed the General rode into the
village and took tea with us, and on the
very day after his visit I received from him
a message to the effect that the troops
under his command were preparing for a
retrograde movement upon Winchester,
and that he could spare me an ambulance,
by aid of which I should be enabled to
precede the retreat of the army, and thus
keep my friends between my enemies and
I must here explain that, when we had
occasion to retire from the border, we
were forced to look to the army for the
means of transportation, it being the
invariable practice of the Yankees when
they evacuated any place to take with them
every horse and mule, without the slightest
discrimination between public and private
property; and, should circumstances
compel them to lease any animal behind, it
was in these instances wantonly destroyed.
Acting upon General Jackson's advice,
I removed to Winchester; and it was there
and then that I received my commission
as Captain and honorary Aide-de-camp to
"Stonewall" Jackson; and thenceforth I
enjoyed the respect paid to an officer by
Upon the occasion of a review of the
troops in presence of Lord Hartingdon and
Colonel Leslie, and again, when General
Wilcox's division was inspected by
Generals Lee and Longstreet, I had the
honour to attend on horseback, and to be
associated with the staff officers of the
While General Wade-Hampton held
possession of Martinsburg I seized the
opportunity of paying many visits to my
home, and upon one of these expeditions I
narrowly escaped being again captured.
The party that accompanied me was
a large one; and, upon our arrival at
Martinsburg, we improvised a dance. We
were informed that the Yankees were
advancing, but we had suffered a similar
alarm to disperse us without cause more
than once before. We therefore easily
persuaded ourselves it was only the old cry
of "Wolf! wolf!" This time, however, the
warning voice was a true one; and we
were barely off when heavy skirmishing
commenced at no great distance from us -
in fact, at the very outskirts of the town.
This was the last opportunity I had of
seeing my mother for nearly a year.
The Yankees were advancing by way of
Culpepper Court-house, and our people,
leaving the valley, crossed the mountains
to intercept them.
As the small-pox was raging fearfully
at Stanton, it was, of course, dangerous
even to enter that town. Accordingly I, in
company with several officers' wives,
among whom were Mrs. G., Mrs. W., Mrs.
F., and others, avoided the pestilential
spot, and adopted a different route.
We were well in advance of the army,
but our servants were with our baggage,
which was transported in the ordnance
waggons of General W. s division. Passing
through Flint Hill - the inhabitants of
which gave me a cordial reception - I went
on to Charlottesville, where I remained
At last, feeling very anxious to rejoin
my mother, I determined to write to
General Jackson and ask his opinion upon
the step I so longed to take. I was prepared
to run almost any risk; but, at the same
time, I resolved to abide by the General's
It was pronounced in the following note,
which I transcribe verbatim, as there is a
kind of satisfaction in noting down the
words of a truly great man, however
trivial the subject that may have called
them forth: -
"Head Quarters, Army of Virginia,
"Near Culpepper Court-house,
"January 29th, 1862.
"MY DEAR CHILD,
"I received your letter asking my advice
regarding your returning to your home, which
is now in the Federal lines. As you have
asked for my advice, I can but candidly give
it. I think that it is not safe; and therefore
do not attempt it until it is, for you know
the consequences. You would doubtless be
imprisoned, and possibly might not be released
so soon again. You had better go to your relatives
in Tennessee, and there remain until you can
go with safety. God bless you.
"Truly your friend,
"T. J. Jackson."
lost no time in acting upon this sound
and friendly advice, and was soon "on the
road" once more.
Upon arriving at Knoxville I was
received with every mark of kindness and
hospitality. The second night after my
arrival I was serenaded by the band, and
the people congregated in vast numbers to
get a glimpse of the "rebel spy;" for I
had accepted the sobriquet given me by
the Yankees, and I was now known
throughout North and South by the same
After one or two appropriate airs had
been played, the people in the street took
it into their heads to call for my appearance
on the balcony. I rather dreaded the
publicity that would attend a compliance
with their wishes, and I begged General J.
to be my substitute and thank them in my
name. But they would not be satisfied
without a look at me; so I steadied my
nerves and stepped forth from the window.
Hereupon the shouts were redoubled, and
I took the opportunity of concocting a
pretty speech; but it did not please me,
and I felt morally convinced I should
break down were I to attempt anything
like an oration. So soon, therefore, as
silence was restored I addressed my
kind-hearted audience in the following words,
which contain an allusion to an expression
once made use of in public by General Joe
"Like General Joe Johnson, 'I can fight,
but I cannot make speeches.' But, my good
friends, I no less feel and appreciate the
kind compliment you have paid me this
I confess that I felt relieved when this
harangue, brief and plain as it was, was
over. It was followed by "Dixie's Land"
and "Good Night." After which national
airs the band marched off and the people
Next morning the newspapers gave
circumstantial accounts of the whole affair,
in highly complimentary language, and,
instead of being described as the "rebel
spy," I was designated "the Virginian
heroine." I now became the guest of my
relative, Judge Samuel Boyd; and pleasant
indeed was my visit to Knoxville. The city
at this period was gay and animated
beyond description. Party succeeded party,
ball followed ball, concert came upon
concert, and I took no thought of time.
When spring came round I made up
my mind to make a tour through the South,
and then return to Virginia.
I have said so much of the various
receptions which I met with at different
places that I almost fear I shall be
accused of egotism rather than given
credit for gratitude; but it should be
borne in mind that the period of which
I write had its perils and its pleasures,
its griefs and its joys, exciting enough
to justify outbreaks of feeling in a people
naturally warm-hearted and sensitive.
But, whatever criticism I expose
myself to, I cannot refrain from expressing
my warm thanks to that large body of
my countrymen whose incessant kindness
towards me made my progress through the
Southern States one long ovation. My
advent was anticipated by telegram at each
town through which I passed. Invitations of
the most hospitable and delicate nature
poured in upon me. Offers of assistance
and assurances of regard and affection were
innumerable. I accepted as many invitations
as my time would permit, and was rejoiced
at the opportunities I enjoyed of going over
the famous and productive cotton
plantations of Alabama.
After a long and delightful stay in
Montgomery, I made the best of my way to
Mobile - a city I had always wished to
see, and one which existing circumstances
made doubly interesting to all true Southern
Before arriving at the last-named port,
a rumour had reached me that General
Jackson had been wounded at the battle
of Chancellorsville, but the rumour
also affirmed that the wound was very
trifling - so slight indeed as to be of no
consequence. Conceive then the shock I
experienced when this fatal telegram was
put into my hand: -
"Battle House, Mobile, Alabama.
"MISS BELLE BOYD,
"General Jackson now lies in state at the
"T. BASSETT FRENCH,
"A.D.C. to the Governor."
And this was all. These few words were the
funeral oration of a man, who, for a rare
combination of the best and the greatest
qualities, has seldom or never been surpassed.
It is not for me to trace the career and
paint tic virtues of "Stonewall," Jackson:
that table is reserved for an abler pen;
but I may be permitted to record my
poignant grief for the loss of him who had
condescended to be my friend.
The sorrow of the South is unmitigated
When Nelson fell at the crowning victory
of Trafalgar, it was given to England to
engrave that thrilling epitaph -
"Hoste devicto requievit,"
upon the tomb of her
darling hero, whom
she justly loved and reverenced beyond all
the great sons that Providence had sent her
with so lavish a hand.
Alas! it was not General Jackson's
destiny to deliver his country; but future
ages will not measure his fame by the
shortness of his career.
"The lightning that lighteneth out of
the one part under heaven shineth unto
the other part under heaven." Yet no
sooner do men see its brightness than
And such was the glory of Jackson. It
had neither dawn nor twilight. It rose and
set in meridian splendour.
During the next thirty days - the space
of time allotted for the outward and visible
sign of a soldier's sorrow - I wore a crape
band on my left arm; then leaving Mobile
with a heavy heart, I proceeded to Charleston,
South Carolina, where I remained one day
only. I found time, however, to accept an
invitation to go on board the two gun-boats
which lay in the harbour, and from their
decks, by the aid of glasses, I could make
out nearly all the ships of the Yankee
In the evening I dined on shore with
General Beauregard and several of the
officers of his staff; and shortly after
dinner one of the officers kindly presented
me with a large supply of fresh fruit,
which was part of the cargo of a blockade-
runner which had just run in safe and sound
from Nassau. Besides the oranges, pine-apples,
and bananas, which were most acceptable,
my kind friend gave me a very handsome
parrot, which I contrived to take home with
When I made good my return to Richmond,
I learnt, on the best authority, that the
Confederate troops were making a second
advance down the valley, their object being
the re-capture of Winchester. Being now very
anxious to, get home, I followed close upon
the rear of our army, and when the attack
upon Winchester commenced I was but four
miles distant from the scene of action.
When the artillery on both sides opened
fire, the familiar sound reminded me of
my own adventures on a former battlefield,
and I resolved to be at least a spectatress
of this. I joined a wounded officer, who,
though disabled from taking an active part
in the fight, where, by his crippled condition,
he would but have hindered his men, was
yet able to accompany me some way.
Accordingly we rode together to an eminence
which commanded an uninterrupted view of the
combat. Here we sat some short time, absorbed
in the struggle that was going on beneath us.
"The broken billows of the war,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave,
Floating like foam upon the wave."
But this calm feeling
was not of long
duration. I was mounted upon a white horse,
which was quite conspicuous to the artillery-men
of a Yankee battery which had been pushed
up to within three-quarters of a mile of the
spot that we had selected for our
watch-tower. A foolish report had been
circulated through their army that in battle
I rode a white horse, and was "invariably at
General Jackson's side." Acting upon this
mistaken idea, the guns of the battery were
turned upon us.
By this time the officer of whom I have
spoken and myself had been joined by several
citizens, ladies and gentlemen, who were
attracted by curiosity and anxiety to witness
the fight. They were for the most part mounted
on emaciated horses and mules which had been
overlooked by the Yankees when they retired,
and they one and all seemed to consider me as
perfect security for themselves.
I shall never forget the stampede that
was made when a shell came suddenly
hissing and shrieking in among us. I
joined, con amore, in the general flight;
for I had seen enough of fighting to prefer
declining with honour the part of a living
target, when exposure, being quite useless,
becomes an act of madness.
The battle was not of long duration. The
terms were too equal to leave the issue long
Milroy's "skedaddle" was even more
disgraceful than that of Banks. The victorious
Confederates, led on by General Lee, pressed
hard upon the flying Yankees, of whom they
killed many, and took more prisoners. The
pursuit was not abated until the enemy were
again in Maryland.
My father, whose health had been broken by
the sevre hardships of the campaign, was at
home on leave; and I had the double pleasure
of being welcomed by both my parents to poor
Invasion of Pennsylvania - Panic in the Northern
States - General Lee issues an Order respecting
private property - Battle of Gettysburg - The
Retreat of Lee's Army - How I occupied my time
with other Ladies - I receive a call from Major
Goff - Am held a Prisoner in my own Home -
Again come to Washington a Prisoner - New
Quarters - The Carroll Prison - How Ladies and
Gentlemen were treated who recognized us in
passing the Carroll - The "Old Familiar Sound"
once more - The Bayonet - Our Mail
Communication is again established.
ELATED by their continued successes, the
Confederates, under General Lee, marched
on into Pennsylvania. A panic seized the
people of the North; for they knew of the
depredations that they had been committing
in the South, and of course could not expect
much mercy from the invading army. General
Lee, however, issued an order to the
officers under him not to allow their men
to burn, pillage, or destroy any property;
if they did, they were to be punished.
Though the hearts of the sympathizers
with the South beat high with hope, for
rumour said that Baltimore and Washington
were to be attacked, their hopes were
blighted. The battle of Gettysburg was
fought. And, oh ! how many of those brave
and noble fellows went forward proudly to
the front, eager to avenge the wrongs
the South had suffered, who had left the
beautiful shores of Virginia to defend
their native soil, found a soldier's grave!
Or, perchance, they were not even
buried, their bodies lying upon the battlefield
where they fell, with no covering save
the blue canopy of heaven, their bones left
to bleach in the sunlight, or gleaming
ghastly white in the moon's pale beams.
Martinsburg soon became one vast hospital;
for, as fast as they could be brought to the
rear, the Confederate wounded of the great
battle were sent back southward. There was
no established hospital in my native village,
it being too near the border; so that the
churches and many of the public buildings
were obliged to be used temporarily for that
purpose. My time was constantly occupied
in attending to the poor soldiers with whom
our home was filled. Mrs. Judge McM., of
Georgia, who had come to seek the dead body
of her son, having heard of his untimely end,
was also staying at my mother's.
Upon the retreat of the Southern army,
after the battle of Gettysburg, they marched
through Martinsburg, leaving the border
again in the possession of the Confederate
cavalry under General B., as General Wade-
Hampton had been severely wounded.
I had been from home so long, and my
mother and father were so anxious that I should
remain with them, that I hoped, by keeping
quiet, to be allowed to do so. My mother
was taken very ill just as the Confederates
evacuated the town, it being found that they
could no longer retain it in their possession,
and for a short time all was quiet.
My little baby-sister was but three days
old when, as I sat in my mother's room,
I heard the servants exclaim, "Oh, here
comes de Yankees trou' de town!" I went
to the window, and, looking out, saw that
a whole brigade had halted in front of my
home. In a short time two officers
approached the door, and one of them rang
the bell. My father, who had gone to meet
them, sent me word that Major Goff and
Lieutenant -- wished to see me. I descended
to the drawing-room and was introduced to
them, when the Major said -
"Miss Boyd, General Kelly commanded
me to call and see if you really had remained
at home, such a report having reached
head-quarters; but he did not credit it, so I
have come to ascertain the truth."
To this I answered -
"Major Goff, what is there so peculiarly
strange in my remaining in my own home with
my parents?" feigning perfect ignorance as I
spoke that there was any danger to be
apprehended from my so doing. He replied -
"But do you not think it rather dangerous?
Are you then really not afraid of being arrested?"
"Oh no! for I don't know why they
should do so. I am no criminal!"
"Yes, true," said he; "but you are a
rebel, and will do more harm to our cause
than half the men could do."
"But there are other rebels besides
"Yes," he answered; "but then not so
dangerous as yourself."
After a few moments' longer conversation
he withdrew, bidding us "Good morning" as
For some days we saw nothing of him,
and began to hope that I should not be further
annoyed. But, alas! my hopes were doomed
to disappointment; for scarce four days had
passed by before an order was issued for
my arrest. My mother was very ill when they
came to take me, and, fearing that if I were
removed it might prove fatal to her in her
delicate state of health, my father begged
that they would let me stay at home, at
least until she became convalescent. We
hoped thus to gain time, and, through
private influence, to procure my release
from the department at Washington. To be
just, although an avowed enemy of the
Federal cause, I will state that they
obligingly complied with this request, and
placed me on parole, but at the same time
stationed guards around the house;
watching me so strictly that I was not even
allowed to go out upon the front balcony.
It was amusing to hear the orders given
to the sentries; for instance, "that they
must not let me come near them, for I
might give them chloroform, or send a
dagger through their hearts."
This was in July; and, between my
mother's illness, the warm weather, and
my being a prisoner, I scarcely knew what
to do. Without the necessary pass no one
was allowed to go in or come out of our
house. On one occasion, desiring to take
a walk, I got a special permit from the
commanding officer, which read as follows: -
"Miss Belle Boyd has permission to walk
out for half an hour, at 5 o'clock this p.m.,
giving her word of honour that she will use
nothing which she may see or hear to the
disadvantage of the U.S. troops."
I had gone only a few blocks from home
when I was arrested and sent back, with a
guard on each side of me, their muskets
loaded. In about an hour's time I received a
note from the head-quarters of the general,
informing me, that, although on parole, "I
was not allowed to promenade freely in
Martinsburg." Vexatious and insulting to
my feelings as this was, my troubles were
not at an end.
Nearly a month passed away, during
which period I was kept in a state of
anxious suspense as to what would eventually
be my fate. At last, one day, when we
were all hoping that I should soon be at
liberty to do and act as I pleased, Major
Walker, the Provost-Marshal, called, with
a detective, and informed me that I must get
ready to go to Washington City; that the
Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, had so ordered
it; and that I was to take my departure from
home at eleven a.m. the next day.
There was no hope of escape for me,
as the house was vigilantly guarded by the
sentries. My poor mother, but just recovered
from her grave illness, became seriously
worse at the bare idea of my being again
thrown into prison. My father, who was
always so good and kind to me, determined
that I should not go unaccompanied,
trusting myself to the tender mercies of
a detective. So, next day, when the time
came for us to leave, I was attended by
my fond parent; and, after bidding a tearful
adieu to my poor mother, brothers, and
sisters, who wept bitterly, we started once
more for Washington City.
I shall pass over my dreary journey of
one hundred miles. There was little of
interest to commend it to the attention of
my readers; for they can readily imagine
the sad, tearful girl, and the father vainly
attempting to comfort her.
When I arrived in Washington, tired
and worn, I was immediately taken, not
to my former quarters, but to the Carroll
Prison. This large unpretending brick
building, situate near the Old Capitol,
was formerly used as a hotel, under the
name of Carroll Place, and belonged to a Mr.
Duff Green, a resident in the city. But,
since my first taste of prison life, it had
been converted into a receptacle for rebels,
prisoners of state, hostages, blockade-
runners, smugglers, desperadoes, spies,
criminals under sentence of death, and,
lastly, a large number of Federal officers
convicted of defrauding the Government. Many
of these last were army-contractors and
quarter-masters, of whom I shall merely
observe that they seemed to care very little
about their ultimate fate, and evidently
enjoyed the, to them, preposterous notion,
suggested in the journals of the day, that
Mr. Lincoln was Napoleonic in his idea of
punishing them for their misdeeds.
At the guarded gates of this Yankee Bastile,
I bade adieu to my father; and, once more,
iron bars shut me off from the outer
world and from all that is dear in this
life. I was conducted to what was termed
the "room for distinguished guests" - the
best room which this place boasts, except
some offices attached to the building. In
this apartment had been held, though not
for a long period of time, Miss Antonia F.,
Nannie T., with her aged mother, and many
other ladies belonging to our best families
in the South. Again my monotonous prison
routine began. It seemed to me that the
world would never go round on its axis; for
the days and nights were interminably long,
and many, many, were the hours that I spent
gazing forth through the bars of my grated
windows with an apathetic listlessness. Yet
there were times when I wished that my
soul were but free to soar away from those
who held me captive.
Friends who chanced to pass the Carroll
would frequently stop and nod in kindly
recognition of some familiar face at the
windows; unconscious that, in so doing,
they violated prison regulations. When
noticed by the sentries, these good
Samaritans were immediately "halted;" and,
if riding or driving, were often made to
dismount by the officious and impudent
corporal of the guard, and forced to enter
the bureau of the prison - there to remain
until such time as it should please their
tormentors to let them depart. Can it be
doubted that many went away with the
unalterable opinion, that a sterner
despotism than existed in the United States
was nowhere to be found? Defenceless
women were not permitted to pass unscathed,
because a drunken and brutal set, vested
with a "little brief authority," saw fit
to vent their spleen upon the weak.
A few days after my arrival at the
prison I heard the "old familiar sound" of
a grating instrument against the wall,
apparently coming from the room adjoining,
mine. Whilst engaged in watching to see the
exact portion of the wall whence it came,
I observed the plaster give way, and next
instant the point of a knife-blade was
perceptible. I immediately set to work on
my side, and soon, to my unspeakable joy,
had formed a hole enough for the passing of
Ascertaining my unfortunate neighbours
to be, beyond a doubt, "sympathizers," I
was greatly relieved; for our prison was
not without its system of espionage to trap
the incautious. These neighbours were
Messrs. Brookes, Warren, Stuart, and
Williams; and from them I learnt that
they had been here for nine months, having
been captured whilst attempting to
get South and join the Southern army.
But soon, alas! this little paper
correspondence, that enlivened, whilst it
lasted, a portion of my heavy time, was put
a stop to by Mr. Lockwood, the officer of
the keys, whose duty it was to secure our
rooms, and who was always prying about
when not otherwise engaged. Although it
was well concealed on both sides, our
impromptu post-office could not escape his
Yankee cunning; and he at once had the
gentlemen removed into the room beyond,
and the mural disturbance closed up with
Several days subsequently I learned that
I was to have a companion in a Miss Ida P.,
arrested on the charge of being a rebel
mail-carrier. I was allowed to speak with
and visit her as soon as she arrived, and
she was placed in the room that had been
occupied by the above-mentioned gentlemen.
Now, between her room and that to
which the gentlemen had been removed,
there was a door. This the workmen nailed
up, and then boarded over; but I watched
very attentively which plank was placed
over the key-hole, and pointed it out to
the new-comer. We then held a council of
war as to the best way of getting the board
off the key-hole. We tried several times,
but our combined efforts produced no effect
upon the stoutly-nailed wood-work; and, having
neither hatchet nor hammer, we were about
to give it up, when I suddenly bethought me
of the sentry outside. "Oh!" I said, "I will
manage it!" and, going to the door, I bribed
the sentinel with some oranges and apples,
and, after talking to him for some time,
asked him to "lend me his bayonet?" Pausing
an instant, he finally unfixed it from his
gun, then, with the whispered injunction
of "Be quick, miss!" handed it to me. I
ran into the room with it, and, whilst Miss
Ida watched, I endeavoured to wrench off
the obstinate board.
But, at this critical conjuncture, the
prison superintendent, Mr. Wood, came
rushing up the stairway; and I only had time to
thrust the bayonet under the camp bedstead
when he entered the room. I was frightened,
I will admit; for in a few minutes the
sentries would be relieved, and of course
the soldier would have to account for the
loss of his bayonet. We wanted to free him
from complicity in the affair; and woman's
wit came to my assistance, as it had often
I proposed that, my room being larger
than Miss Ida's, we should go in there and
sit down. Fortunately to this the superintendent
agreed. After remaining for a short time, I
said, "Oh! Miss Ida, I have forgotten my
running hastily into her room, I seized the
bayonet, wrenched off the board, and returned
the weapon to the scared sentinel.
Little did Mr. Wood imagine the part I had
just played, as he sat glaring around him
with his cat-like eyes, and boasting that
"there warn't anything going on in that
prison that he didn't know of." For several
days after this Miss Ida and I whiled away
our time by writing and receiving notes.
Miss P., however, did not remain here long,
for, having given her parole that she would
do nothing more against the Yankee Government,
she was released.
A very Romantic Way of Corresponding - The Prison
Authorities for once are at a loss - My Confederate
Flags - They wave over Washington in spite of
Yankee assertions to the contrary - I become very
ill - Mr. Stanton in an unfavourable light once
more - My Prisoner of Front Royal in her true
Character - Sentence of Court-martial is announced
to me - A Relapse of my former Illness - I am
banished - The cry of "Murder" raised round the
Corner - Incidents in my Prison Life.
ONE evening, about nine o'clock, while
seated at my window, I was singing "Take
me back to my own sunny South," when quite
a crowd of people collected on the
opposite side of the street, listening. After
I had ceased, they passed on; and I could not
help heaving a sigh as I watched their retreating
figures. What would I not have given for liberty?
Rising from my chair, I approached the gas,
lowered it, then resumed my seat, and, leaning
my head against the bars, sank into deep
I was soon startled from this reverie by
hearing something whiz by my head into the
room and strike the wall beyond. At the
moment I was alarmed; for my first impression
was that some hireling of the Yankee Government,
following the plan of Spanish countries, had
endeavoured to put an end to my life. I almost
screamed with terror; and it was some minutes
before I regained sufficient self-command to
turn on the gas, so that, if possible, I might
discover what missile had entered the room.
Glancing curiously round, I saw, to my
astonishment, that it was an arrow which had
struck the wall opposite my window; and
fastened to this arrow was a letter! I
immediately tore it open, and found that it
contained the following words: -
"Poor girl! you have the deepest sympathy
of all the best community in Washington City,
and there are many who would lay down their
lives for you, but they are powerless to act
or aid you at present. You have many very
warm friends; and we daily watch the journals
to see if there is any news of you. If you
will listen attentively to the instructions
that I give you, you will be able to correspond
with and hear from your friends outside.
"On Thursdays and Saturdays, in the evening,
just after twilight, I will come into the square
opposite the prison. When you hear some one
whistling ' 'Twas within a mile of Edinbro town,'
if alone and all is safe, lower the gas as a
signal and leave the window. I will then shoot
an arrow into your room, as I have done this
evening, with a letter attached. Do not be
alarmed, as I am a good shot.
"The manner in which you will reply to these
messages will be in this way: Procure a large
ball; open it, and place your communication
within it, written on foreign paper; then sew
it together. On Tuesdays I shall come, and you
will know of my presence by the same signal.
Then throw the ball, with as much force as you
can exert, across the street into the square, and
trust to me, I will get it.
"Do not be afraid. I am really your friend.
For a long time I was in doubt as to
the propriety or safety of replying to this
note; for I naturally reasoned that it was
some Yankee who was seeking to gain evidence
against me. But prudence at last yielded to
my womanly delight at this really romantic
way of corresponding with an unknown who
vowed he was my friend; and I decided on
It was an easy thing for me to procure
an india-rubber ball without subjecting
myself to the least suspicion; and by this
means I commenced a correspondence
which I lead no reason to regret; for,
whoever the mysterious personage may
have been, he was, without doubt,
honourable and sincere in his professions
Through him I became possessed of much
valuable information regarding the movements
of the Federals; and in this unique style
of correspondence I have again and again
received small Confederate flags, made by
the ladies of Washington City, within which
I was only too proud and happy to adorn
Little did the sentries below know of
the mischief that was brewing above their
heads; and where and how I had been
enabled to obtain Confederate flags was a
subject of much wonderment in the prison.
It is almost needless to remark that I took
care to keep the secret, though I must
acknowledge that there was rashness in
displaying the tiny Southern banners, and
danger of subjecting myself to insult from
the brutes who guarded me. But I could not
resist the temptation!
On several occasions I fastened one of
these ensigns to a broom-stick, in lieu of a
flag-staff, and then suspended it outside the
window, after which I retired to the back part
of the room, out of sight of the sentinel. In a
short time this would attract his attention -
for, when on watch, the sentinels generally
were gazing heavenwards, the only time, I
really believe, that such was the case -
and he would roar out at the top of his
voice some such command as -
"Take in that -- flag, or I'll blow
your -- brains out!"
Of course I paid no attention to this, for
I was out of danger, when the command would
generally be followed up by the report of a
musket; and I have often heard the thud of
the minié-ball as it struck the
ceiling or wall of my room. Before the sentinel
had time to re-load his piece, I would go to
the window and look out, seemingly as
unconscious as though nothing had occurred
to disturb my equanimity.
Just after this episode of the "arrow-headed"
correspondence - a green spot in my memory,
to which I revert with pleasure - I was taken
dangerously ill with typhoid fever. Can this
be wondered at, when I inform my readers
that the room in which I was confined was low
and fearfully warm, and that the air was fetid
and rank with the fumes of an ill-ventilated
In this same room Miss McDonough died
(as will be seen by referring to my husband's
journal). The poor child was under the
treatment of Doctor F., the surgeon of the
prison - the same who attended me for some
time, but under whose awkward treatment I
grew daily, nay, hourly, worse.
Nor did I begin to recover until I met with
the kind attendance of a Confederate surgeon,
who was a prisoner, like myself, but in the
Old Capitol; and it is to him that I feel
indebted for my final recovery.
Years may roll by, but my sufferings in that
prison, both mental and physical, can never be
obliterated from my memory; and to attempt to
describe them would be utterly impossible.
There I was, far from home and friends - no
soft hand to smooth my fevered brow, no gentle
woman near me, save a humble negress who
nursed me through my illness as though she
had been my own "black mammee." Relations
and friends, who had heard of my attack of
fever, as well as my immediate family,
endeavoured, time and again, to gain access
to me; but they were referred, by his own
orders, to Secretary Stanton, who, when
application was made to him for me to be
removed from the prison during my illness at
least, would remark, "No; she is a -- rebel; let
her die there!"
At the expiration of three weeks, passed
under the treatment of my new physician, I
was pronounced convalescent; and at the end
of the fourth I was able once more to walk
It was at this period of my imprisonment
that, one day, Captain Mix, of whom I shall
have occasion to speak hereafter, came
into my room and said -
"A most beautiful woman has arrived here
today, and is in the room at the further end of
the passage below you."
At the time I took no notice of the remark,
and had almost forgotten the incident,
when, one morning, whilst walking in
the passage, I saw our new inmate.
Judge of my astonishment on recognising
in her my prisoner of Front Royal, who
had requited my kindness to her when there
by informing the general that I was a bitter
enemy of the Yankees. She proved to be
alas! that I should have to write aught
derogatory to one of my own sex - not what
she had represented herself, the wife of
a soldier, but a camp-follower known as
"Miss Annie Jones." She was said to have
been insane; but how far this report is to
be credited I know not.
Shortly after she was placed here another
arrival, a Frenchwoman, came in, who was
charged with having sold her despatches to
the Confederate States authorities, enacting
the "spy" for both sides. Neither of these
women possessed that priceless jewel of
womanhood - reputation. Yet it was with such
that I was immured, though, thank Heaven!
I was not thrown into immediate contact with
My trial by court-martial had meanwhile
been progressing, under the fostering
tenderness of the Judge-Advocate, L. C.
Turner - as thoroughly unscrupulous a
partisan as the United States Government
possesses in its service.
One day Captain Mix came into the passage,
and said to Miss Annie Jones, "Prepare
yourself to go to the Lunatic Asylum to-morrow,
as it is the Secretary of War's orders." She
immediately commenced screaming hysterically,
and rushed towards the spot where I was
standing. I turned to leave, when he added,
"Oh, you need not put on airs by getting out
of the way, for you've got to go to Fitchburg
Gaol during the war. You have been sentenced
to hard labour there."
Miss Jones's screams, coupled with this
intelligence, completely unnerved me, and
I fell fainting on the floor, whence I
was conveyed to my room, only to suffer a
relapse of the fever from which I had
My father, who was in Martinsburg when
he heard of my sentence and second illness,
immediately came on to Washington, and,
after untiring exertions in my behalf,
succeeded in having the sentence commuted.
What that commutation was he did not then
know. It was "banishment to the South -
never to return north again during the war."
Among the gentlemen who were retained as
prisoners at the Carroll was Mr. Smithson,
formerly one of the wealthiest bankers in
Washington City. He was charged by the
Yankees with holding correspondence with
friends residing in the South, was arrested
by the authorities, tried by court-martial,
found guilty, and sentenced to five years'
imprisonment in the Penitentiary
at hard labour. All his property was
confiscated, and his refined and delicate
wife, with two little children, who had
been reared in the lap of luxury, were obliged
to see their residence taken from them and
made into quarters for the Yankee officers.
They were compelled to retire to a garret,
with scarcely any of the necessaries of life
whereon to support themselves.
Before leaving for the South, one of the
imprisoned Confederate officers, Colonel
--, gave me letters of introduction to the
Vice-President, the Honourable Alexander
Stephens, and to the Honourable
Bowling Baker, Chief Auditor of the
Southern Treasury Department. In both
of these letters he spoke of my untiring
devotion to the Confederacy, of the zeal
that I had shown to serve my country at
all times, and of my kindness, as far as
lay in my power, to my fellow-prisoners.
The Colonel further commended me to his
friends' "kind care and protection." These
letters were, of course, contraband; and
I intended, if I possibly could do so, to
smuggle them through to Richmond.
It was agreed that I should leave for
Fortress Monroe on the 1st day of December,
1863. My father was still in Washington,
residing with his niece; but he was so ill
that he could not visit me previous to my
One evening, whilst I was looking out of
my room door, a significant cough attracted
my attention, and, glancing in the direction
whence it proceeded - the sentry's back
being turned - I perceived a note, tightly
rolled up, thrown towards me. I picked it up
quickly, and, reading it, found that it was
from Mr. K., of Virginia, begging me to aid
himself and two friends to escape, and
also asking for money to
advance their object. I wrote, in reply,
that I would do all that lay in my power,
and, unobserved, I handed him forty dollars.
By means of my india-rubber ball I arranged
everything, and the night when the attempt
should be made was fixed.
Above Mr. K.'s room was a garret occupied
by his two friends, who intended to escape
with him; and it was so contrived that he
should get into the garret with the others
whilst returning from supper.
At one time I was afraid that this attempt
would be frustrated, for the sentry,
observing Mr. K. upon the garret staircase,
commanded him to "Halt!" adding, "You
don't belong there; so come down." Standing
in the doorway of my chamber at the
time, I quickly retorted, "Sentry, have
you been so long here and don't know
where the prisoners are quartered? Let
him pass on to his room." Taking the
hint, Mr. K. declared that he "knew what
he was about," which it was very evident
he did; and the sentinel, thinking that
he had made a mistake, allowed him to
This part of the scheme being satisfactorily
carried out, I wrote a note to the superintendent,
informing him that I was desirous of seeing him
for a few minutes. He accordingly came, and I
managed to detain him by conversing upon
various topics. Suddenly, from round the corner
of the prison that faced on the street, arose a
startling cry of "Murder! murder!" I know that
my heart beat violently, but I kept the composure
of my face as well as I was able; for this sudden
cry was the commencement of a ruse de guerre which,
if it should succeed, would liberate my
friends from thraldom.
Mr. Wood had, at the first cry of
"Murder!" rushed to one of the windows
and flung it open to see what was the
matter; and some soldiers, who were lounging
outside, waiting for their turn of sentry
duty, ran hurriedly to the spot from which
the cries proceeded. Meanwhile, those in
the room above were not idle. Removing in
haste a portion of the roof, they scrambled
out upon the eaves, descended by means of
a lightning-conductor into the street below,
and made off, sheltered by the darkness.
Of course the next morning, when the
roll was called, and the prisoners were
mustered, Mr. K. and his companions were
found to be missing. It was strongly
suspected that I had connived at their
escape, and knew more than I pretended
about the affair; but, as they could not
prove anything against me, I was not
punished. I subsequently heard, to my
great joy, that the fugitives had arrived
safely in Richmond.
Shortly after my recovery from the severe
illness which had prostrated me, I wrote
to General Martindale (commandant at that
time of the forces in and around Washington),
asking him to grant me the privilege of
walking for a while each day in the Capitol
Square. This square lies in front of the
Carroll; and I thought that a change,
however slight, from the close confinement
of my room would greatly strengthen me. To
my letter I received a gracious answer,
with permission to promenade in the square,
on condition that I gave a written promise
that, on my word of honour as a lady, I would
hold communication with no one, either by word
of mouth or by letter.
I was glad to do anything to get once
more a breath of pure air that did not
come to me through prison bars. So I
signed the promise; and every evening,
when I felt so inclined, I was permitted
to walk for half an hour, from five until
half-past, in the square, followed by a
corporal and guard with loaded muskets.
Even this limited enjoyment was not of
long duration; for, when it became known
in Washington City, through the public
Journals, that I walked in the square,
Southern sympathizers - and their name
was legion - both ladies and gentlemen,
would congregate to see me; and often,
when I passed, would they give utterance
to pitying expressions on my account.
Intelligence of this eventually reached
the ears of the authorities, through various
channels, and ultimately led to an order
from Mr. Stanton revoking the parole that
had been granted. Thus my promenade
became one of the things of the past, to
which I often reverted with regret.
On one occasion a party of young girls,
in passing me, dropped a square piece of
Bristol board that had a Confederate
battle-flag and my name worked upon it in
worsted. The corporal detected the movement,
and, before I could gain possession of this
treasonable gift, picked it up himself. He
commanded the whole group to "halt"
immediately; and, had it not been for my
earnest entreaties and supplications on
their behalf, he would have arrested the
entire party, who, terrified beyond measure
at the turn affairs had assumed, added their
appeals for mercy to mine. The corporal
happening to possess that commodity, a
heart, was merciful, and dismissed them
with a slight reprimand.
Promising to say nothing that would
implicate him should the flag ever be
discovered upon me, I succeeded in procuring
it from my guardian by a bribe of five
dollars; and I wore it concealed long after
I had left Washington for the South.
Had I been a queen, or a reigning
princess, my every movement could not
have been more faithfully chronicled at
this period of my imprisonment. My health
was bulletined for the gratification of the
public; and if I walked or was indisposed,
it was announced after the most approved
fashion by the newspapers. Thus, from
the force of circumstances, and not
through any desire of my own, I became
END OF VOL. I.
WILLIAM STEVENS, PRINTER, 37, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR.