Belle Boyd House

Belle Boyd House (HM1755)

Location: Martinsburg, WV 25401 Berkeley County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 27.576', W 77° 57.708'

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Home of a Spy

— Antietam Campaign —

Isabelle "Belle" Boyd, the Confederate spy, lived here during part of her childhood. The ten-year-old and her family moved here in 1853 and left in 1858 for a dwelling (no longer standing) on South Queen Street. According to Boyd, when Union Gen. Robert Patterson's army occupied Martinsburg in July 1861, she escaped prosecution aftershe shotdead a soldier who invaded the Queen Street house and insulted her mother, Mary Glen Boyd.

In the spring of 1862, Belle Boyd paid a visit to her Aunt Fanny Stewart in Front Royal, Virginia.There, on May 22, Boyd first gained fame as a spy. When Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and hisarmy approached the town, whichwas occupied by a small Federal Garrison, Boyd walked several milesto find him and report Union troop numbers and dispositions. Federal authorities later imprisoned Boydtwice for "communicating with the enemy" then released her. In December 1863, she sailed for England on a blockade runner, bearing diplomatic letters from ConfederatePresident Jefferson Davis. When the ship was captured, Boyd persuadedthe Federal naval officer in chargeto let her go and later married him.

Her flamboyant personality, scandalous behavior (by the standards of "well-bred" Southern society), reckless courage, and undeniable charm made her a naturalfor the stage, where she recounted her exploits. In 1865, she published Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, blurring the lines between fact and legend. Married three times and the mother of four, she died on June 11,1900 in Kilbourne, Wisconsin.

(Sidebar) Benjamin R. Boyd, Belle's father, built this Greek Revival-style house in 1853. When it was threatened with demolition in August, 1992, the Berkeley County Historical Society rescued it. The Society operates the Belle Boyd House as a museum and learning center open to the public.
HM NumberHM1755
Series This marker is part of the West Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 1:36am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 245177 N 4371968
Decimal Degrees39.45960000, -77.96180000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 27.576', W 77° 57.708'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 27' 34.56" N, 77° 57' 42.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)304, 540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 126 E Race St, Martinsburg WV 25401, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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