Born on May 4, 1844 in Martinsburg, Virginia, Belle (as she was called) came from a typical Southern family. Her father, Ben, was a store merchant and grocer. Unfortunately, several brothers died before the Civil War. Later, Belle's father joined the Virginia Cavalry and she was left with her sister Mary Jane, age 10, her brother Bill, age 4, her mother and grandmother. Between the ages of 12 and 16 she attended the Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore, Maryland.
Soon after the start of the Civil War she began organizing parties to visit the troops. At that time she also shot and killed a Union soldier who had pushed her mother. She was acquitted of the crime and shortly thereafter became a courier for Generals Beauregarde and Jackson. She carried information, delivered medical supplies and confiscated weapons. Belle made a few heroic rides through battle fields in order to get her "secrets" across the lines to the South.
During the war she was imprisoned three times. In 1862 she was imprisoned in old Carroll Prison in Washington, D.C. for one month.
In 1864 she left for England carrying information for the confederates. There she married a Union naval officer.
This gutsy woman died in 1900 in her home in Kilbourne City, Wisconsin (now known as Wisconsin Dells). She is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery there.
Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved
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