Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Civil War Style Icons: The Sexy Spy

She was the sexiest traitor in American history.

Belle Boyd was a beautiful, self-obsessed 17-year-old living with her lower middle-class parents in West Virginia when the Civil War broke out.

Her father, a proud southerner, joined the armed forces, even though he was well into his 40s. Belle showed her support by decorating her bedroom with as many Confederate flags as she could get her hands on.

One night, however, a drunk Union soldier arrived at her doorstep, because he had heard the attractive teenager kept the illegal flags in her room. He tried to force his way into the house and shouted insults at her mother. Blinded by fury, Belle grabbed the nearest rifle and shot the soldier to death.

There was a trial held, and with fake tears and heart-breakingly beautiful smiles, Belle walked away from her crime with no charge.

Warily, however, the Unions decided to post a gaurd at her house, just in case she decided to strike again.

Bad move. The young Union soldier was mesmerized by the gorgeous young creature he was sent to keep an eye on. She flirted with him shamelessly, and he soon became powerless to her femenine charm and womanly figure. Drunk with love, he told the manipulative teenager important Union secrets. In her first espionage, Belle messaged those secrets directly back to the Confederate army. And she realized that even though she couldn't fight in the war with her father, she could use her hot body and pretty face to help her team win.

She began seducing every Union solder she could get her pretty, manicured hands on. She would send any information through her slave girl, who would pass it along to the Confederates.

But, she got caught. Unsure what to do with the beautiful siren, the Union commanders turned a comfortable hotel in Baltimore into her prison. Quite cozy, Belle soon had every prison guard at her beck and call. They would fluff her pillows and laugh heartily at her naughty jokes. They adored her.

One night, however, Belle hid in the closet at the hotel and overheard that the Union army was only planning to send a small fleet out to battle that day. Unable to trust anyone else with the news, Belle jumped on a horse and galloped out to the battlefield, braving enemy fire which put bullet holes in her skirt. She informed General Stonewall Jackson that the Union army was significantly smaller than normal, so his soldiers should move forward now to capture them.

Her tip worked. The general sent her a thank-you note and she was awarded a Confederate medal of honor.

A year later, however, she was caught again and locked up for real this time. Ironically, Belle fell in love with her captor, a Union officer. He helped smuggle her to England, and drunk with love, he immediately switched sides and began spying for the Confederates.

The world was captivated by not only Belle's adventures, but the passionate, twisted Civil War love story. Every detail was published in newspapers around the globe.

Unfortunately for Belle, her husband was captured by the Union, and put in prison for being a traitor. He fell incredibly ill in prison and died, leaving Belle a widow at 21. She had to sell her jewelry, clothes, and wedding presents to stay afloat in England.

She wrote several best-selling memoirs about her Civil War adventures. After the war she even had a one-woman show where she traveled around the U.S., dramatically telling details of her espionages.

She died in 1900, a not very rich, but a very self-satisfied woman.

Here is an outfit I put together, which was inspired by the vampy Belle:

Belle Boyd

What do you think of Belle's story?


Mouthwash said...

Oh wow! I need to read more about this woman! I have to admit, I have never been too interested in American history, but this gal may change that for me. What an interesting woman...and damn, she could shoot too!

Liv said...

That's an awesome story, she's fascinating! And bears a striking resemblance to Hot Lips Houlihan in that first portrait!

AnoBanO said...

Hello, fabulous post!!! Loved your blog a lot and im following you, please follow me back :)
Thank you a lot in advance!

Lala Bang said...

Very interesting! I didn't know about her,love how you wrote it.
Lala Bang

Inez said...

I'm not American and I don't know much about American History. (it was a while before I knew Pocahontas was based on history.), but I enjoyed this story. I love to hear or read stories of courageous women especially during wars.

The Grande Dame said...

Gosh. I came to your blog after reading your comments re Facebook on Mabel's blog. I intended to say I've read those studies too - stupid Facebook!
I didn't intend on getting hooked on your blog! This is a great piece. New follower! x

Pretty Affair said...

interesting post! i love stories like this. May I suggest Marchesa Casati? She is rather fascinating. x

Sherin said...

Oh wow. She seems kind of kick ass, if she wasn't spying for the Confederates!
She is someone I want to know more about.

Oh to Be a Muse said...

Another great story that is both informative and fun. I don't know how she managed to get away with so much with just her feminine charms.

Tights Lover said...

WOW. She might be the most manipulative person in history!

This was a fascinating story...although it didn't make the Union too bright...putting her up in a hotel.

I must reminded me of Austin Powers. "I will put her in an easily escapable situation...with one inept guard".

Julie @ ROJ Running said...

Very interesting. And shows how different things were back then. Also if those are her actual pictures she looks about 40 and is so insanely far from attractive it makes me wonder what was considered attractive back then for everyone to swoon over her. I'm mean. I'm sorry, but not. ( ;

Sarah said...

I had never heard of this! So interesting!

Josie said...

She had such an interesting history! I had no idea.
xo Josie

Olga said...

What a striking post. It's amazing the types of extraordinary fates that some women have against all odds.

Tanvi said...

The things I learn from you and your blog!

∞ © ∞

The Pink Flamingo said...

Wow, it's a very interesting story!! I didn't know this woman before! :)))

Couture Carrie said...

Amazing bio and look!
Loved this post!


Rachel Jensen {Da Paura ♥} said...

Wow, what an amazing story! I've never heard of her...she was quite the woman!

A BRIT GREEK said...

Fascinating stuff, she was a real charmer!
Hope alls good with you lady! Have a fun weekend!

Pretty Affair said...

I'm glad you find Marchesa Casati fascinating :) sooo looking forward to see the post about her :) please let me know when it's done! xx

Ocean Dreams said...

I love a good history story and the way you just told this was fascinating! I love how Belle managed to seduce all of her men but it's sad that her husband died. I'm surprised that she never remarried since she was so young when he died - but maybe her heroics here enough to satisfy her for the rest of her life. :)

The Dainty Dolls House said...

She's brilliant! x

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

What a spy girl! HAHAHA She was bold for back then. I loved this Jennifer. It's amazing that she did it for so long. She had better luck than her male counterparts. HAHAHA

Gary Smith said...

In 1861, at the beginning of the war, there was no West Virginia.

Anonymous said...

Francis Hamit wrote about her in his historical fiction novel "The Shenandoah Spy." And yes she did all those things. By the way, Hamit's book is a good read.

Francis Hamit said...

This cronology of Belle's career and life is off in several particulars. Rather than correct them all, I suggest you read my novel about Belle's first year in the Confederate Army and Secret Service, "The Shenandoah Spy" (ISBN 978-1-59595-902-7). It is available on Amazon. There is also an e-book edition and an audiobook.

Belle is a feminist icon because she was the first woman in American history to be commission and army officer. She was made a Captain of Scouts at the age of 18 and quickly rose to the rank of Lt. Col. She only wrote one memoir, which was published in London after she traveled there as a diplomatic courier. On the way there the blocade runner she was on was captured by the Union Navy and Lt. Samuel Hardinge was placed in charge of getting it to New York. By the time it got there he had fallen in love with Belle and proposed marriage. He was court-martialed and later followed her to London where they were married in August 1864. BY November he was at the American mission offering his services as a spy. (He was refused). Belle became an actress after the war.