Skip to Main Content

Belle Boyd: Topics in Chronicling America

During the American Civil War, Belle Boyd gained notoriety as a female spy for Confederate forces. This guide provides access to material related to “Belle Boyd” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Sketch of Belle Boyd on the Civil War battlefield. March 17, 1929. Evening Star (Washington, DC), Image 89. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

A vain but daring spy, Belle Boyd (1844-1900) served as a vital tool for the Confederacy. Though her treasonous acts were generally done out in the open and she was caught many times, Belle escaped harsh punishments and earned a captain’s commission in the Confederate army. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 28, 1862 Belle Boyd outwits the Union, waves her handkerchief, and saves General Stonewall Jackson’s army at Front Royal.
July 26, 1862 Belle an accomplished flirt and leader of Confederate female spies.
August 14, 1862 Belle arrested and confesses her deeds.
August 29, 1863 A year later, Belle arrested again for spying.
May 25, 1864 The blockade runner, Greyhound, caught with Belle Boyd on board.
September 8, 1864 Belle Boyd marries the Naval Lieutenant that she seduced in order to get away after captured on Greyhound.
December 10, 1864 Belle’s husband captured by Union soldiers; Belle suspected to be nearby.
March 15, 1865 Belle Boyd in poverty.
August 1865 Belle publishes her autobiography of spy exploits in England.
September 1865 Belle Boyd takes up acting; her debut is a play based on her life.
June 16, 1900 Belle Boyd dies of heart disease while on a lecture tour.