As in all wars, women are imperative in overcoming the enemy and this is also true of the U.S. Civil War in which hundreds of women were successful undercover agents.
Gender expectations that women could not be spies and that women should not be bodily searched, made it easy to infiltrate the enemy and obtain crucial information. Creative ways to fool them included putting messages in hairdos and sewing them into clothing, and hiding ammunition/weapons in food baskets or hoops of skirts. Confederate agent, Rose O’Neal Greenhowher even sent messages across the Potomac River by flashing Morse Code with her hand held fan.
A very young Maria “Belle” Boyd was known for various smuggling methods and recruiting others. She became known as ‘the Rebel spy’. She would flirt with soldiers at Union camps reporting back secrets to the Confederates. As she became known to the Union soldiers, she escaped to Canada with a Union soldier whom she later married.
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