On this day in history July 29, 1862: Acting in orders for her arrest ordered directly from the US Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Confederate spy Marie Isabella “Belle” Boyd is arrested by Union troops and detained at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. It was the first of three arrests for this skilled spy who provided crucial information to the Confederates during the war.
Time and again she would return to her spying activities for the Confederates even volunteering to run the Union blockade off the coast of North Carolina. She would be captured by Union sailors and in a twist of fate, she would instead of being jailed, she began a courtship with the officer who arrested her: Captain Samuel Hardinge (some sources list him as a Lieutenant and Ensign among other ranks).
She would make it to London with Captain Hardinge soon to follow. They would be wed in London. The union would be short lived as upon return to America, Hardinge would be jailed and brought up on charges of aiding and abetting the enemy. He died in prison. Boyd was widowed with a young daughter from her marriage with Hardinge and remained in England to write her memoirs: “Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison.”
After the war she parlayed her fame (or infamy depending on your point of view) into an acting career. In the late 1880’s she toured the south, describing her exploits as a Confederate spy in a stage show entitled "The Perils of a Spy" and herself as "Cleopatra of the Secession.".
She died in Wisconsin in 1900.
Click the following link for The digital version of her memoirs courtesy of Documenting the American South