Union Spies: Elizabeth Van Lew

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Spies are found all throughout the world. They are most likely looking for clues to help another person. Believe it or not, spies were sent out from the North and South during the Civil War to help provide information “behind the lines.” Spies supporting the North were called, Union Spies. This group contained both men and women. There were few slaves, but often there were patriotic people. The spies of the Civil War worked hard to give their side any small edge in winning. Elizabeth Van Lew, Pauline Cushman, Sarah Thompson, and Sarah Emma Edmonds were Union Spies that played a huge role in relaying information from the South to the North to increase the North’s chance of succeeding during the Civil War. Elizabeth Van Lew was an upper-class woman born in Richmond, Virginia. She was born into a family of slave owners. She has the reputation of one being of the most successful and daring spies during the time period of the civil war. In fact she was described as more successful than the Confederate Spy Belle Boyd. Elizabeth was well known for helping Union prisoners escape and hide from Libby Prison. There are theories that believe she hid escaped prisoners in her attic. When she was at the prison, Elizabeth got intelligence from the guards who were in Confederate lines. She was skilled in communicating with the Generals of the War. Elizabeth used former slaves to relay her information in a variety of different ways, which she would then pass on to higher authorities. [civilwarstory.com] states, “Miss Van Lew's Richmond spy network was extensive.” The author is saying Elizabeth Van Lew had various types of people in Richmond getting more information for her. She used society connections to gather facts from the Con... ... middle of paper ... ...had malaria. From June of 1863 to the end of the Civil War, Emma Edmonds was a nurse for the Union. She published memoirs in Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. The stories became very popular with over a thousand copies sold. Sarah Emma Edmonds died in 1898. The spies of the civil war worked hard and did what they could to help their side. The Union spies were not just made of the women this essay talked about. There were often men and other types of women working to gain information. The job of being a spy can be risky and tough. Most of the spies were behind their enemies lines. The overall goal of their job is to obtain knowledge of what the Confederate Army’s strategy was in order to protect the Union Army. The four spies that played a tremendous aspect during the Civil War were Elizabeth Van Lew, Pauline Cushman, Sarah Thompson, and Sarah Emma Edmonds.

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