Limit search to available items
Book Cover
Author Varon, Elizabeth R., 1963-

Title Southern lady, Yankee spy : the true story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union agent in the heart of the Confederacy / Elizabeth R. Varon
Published Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2003


Description 1 online resource (xi, 317 pages) : illustrations, maps, portraits
Contents "An awful responsibility": the making of a dissenter, 1818-1860 -- "My country! Oh my country!": Virginia leaves the Union -- "Our flag was gone": The war's first year -- "The bright rush of life": The making of the Richmond underground -- Bet and the "beast": Butler finds his spy -- "This precious dust": The clandestine reburial of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren -- "The smoke of battle": Grant moves on Richmond -- "A flaming altar": The fall of Richmond and its aftermath -- "A fiery ordeal": The trials of a female politician -- The myth of "Crazy Bet" -- Epilogue: Van Lew's ghost
Summary "Northern sympathizer in the Confederate capital, daring spymaster, postwar politician: Elizabeth Van Lew was one of the most remarkable figures in American history, a woman who defied the conventions of the nineteenth-century South. In Southern Lady, Yankee Spy, historian Elizabeth Varon provides a gripping, richly researched account of the woman who led what one historian called 'the most productive espionage operation of the Civil War.' Under the nose of the Confederate government, Van Lew ran a spy ring that gathered intelligence, hampered the Southern war effort, and helped scores of Union soldiers to escape from Richmond prisons. Varon describes a woman who was very much a product of her time and place, yet continually took controversial stands--from her early efforts to free her family's slaves, to her daring wartime activities and beyond. Varon's powerful biography brings Van Lew to life, showing how she used the stereotypes of the day to confound Confederate authorities (who suspected her, but could not believe a proper Southern lady could be a spy), even as she brought together Union sympathizers at all levels of society, from slaves to slaveholders. After the war, a grateful President Ulysses S. Grant named her postmaster of Richmond--a remarkable break with custom for this politically influential post. But her Unionism, Republican politics, and outspoken support of racial justice earned her a lifetime of scorn in the former Confederate capital. Even today, Elizabeth Van Lew remains a controversial figure in her beloved Richmond, remembered as the "Crazy Bet" of Lost Cause propaganda. Elizabeth Varon's account rescues her from both derision and oblivion, depicting an intelligent, resourceful, highly principled woman who remained, as she saw it, true to her country to the end"--Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes English
Print version record
Lillian Smith Book Award, 2004
Subject Van Lew, Elizabeth L., 1818-1900.
Van Lew, Elizabeth L., 1818-1900
Spies -- United States -- Biography
Secret service
Amerikaanse burgeroorlog.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Secret service.
United States
Genre/Form Biographies
Form Electronic book
ISBN 1423775732