Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Southern Spy in Northern Virginia

A Southern Spy in Northern Virginia By Charles V. Mauro

As the Civil War raged, Confederate Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart entrusted a secret album to Laura Ratcliffe, a young girl in Fairfax County, Virginia, “as a token of his high appreciation of her patriotism, admiration of her virtues, and pledge of his lasting esteem.” A devoted Southerner, Laura provided a safe haven for Rebel forces, along with intelligence gathered from passing Union soldiers. Ratcliffe's album contained four poems and forty undated signatures: twenty-six of Confederate officers and soldiers and fourteen of loyal Confederate civilians.

A Southern Spy in Northern Virginia uncovers the mystery behind this album, identifying who the soldiers were and when they could have signed its pages. The result is a fascinating look at the covert lives and relationships of civilians and soldiers during the war.

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