Confederate President Jefferson Davis occupied an anxious home in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. A steady leak of information dripped from the highest ranks of the Confederacy to the Union. Davis was wary of a mole in his house, but had no idea how to stop the flow of information. Little did he know, a Union spy found her way into deepest parts of the Confederate White House as part of an abolitionist woman’s spy ring.
These women, Elizabeth “Crazy Bet” Van Lew and Mary Bowser, a freed slave who posed as a Davis’s servant, worked together to bring down the political fixtures of the South from the inside out.
Spies were common on both sides of the Civil War. Van Lew organized a spy ring in the heart of the Confederacy and Bowser, with her photographic memory and incredible acting skills, was able to relay critical intelligence to Van Lew, which would then make its way to the Union.
Spying on the most elite members of the Confederacy required the deception of more than just the enemy. In order to keep from exposing themselves, the women needed to fool society around them. They opted to be
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