103. Gadzooks! La Belle Rebelle

belleboyd21“As soon as the coast was clear I crossed the court-yard and made the best of my way to my own room, and took down in cipher every-thing I heard which seemed to me of any importance.”

Thus writes Belle Boyd, nicknamed La Belle Rebelle, a 17-year-old Confederate spy during the Civil War. Belle’s exploits began when she shot and killed a drunken Union soldier to defend her mother and their home. After being cleared of any wrongdoing, she found herself among Union soldiers and in a position to listen in on their military plans. Her coded reports were soon in the hands of Confederate leaders, including General Stonewall Jackson.

In one particularly harrowing incident, Belle had to scramble across a battlefield through a hail of bullets and shells to deliver her report. Roused by the sight of a young woman miraculously running into their midst, the Confederate soldiers charged and won the day.

Belle was arrested for spying several times and, ironically, ended up marrying a Union officer who had been her captor. They moved to England and, after he died, she began a career on the English stage. Her autobiography, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, was published in 1866.

One Response to 103. Gadzooks! La Belle Rebelle

  1. Patrick Merrell says:

    Yes, I know this has the flimsiest of connections to puzzles (writing ciphers), but did you notice that if you remove the last letter from each of her names you get BELL BOY? I suppose those discarded letters are the bellboy’s name.

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