History Unraveled: Confederate Lady-Spy

Nancy Hart was a West Virginia woman who operated as a spy during the Civil War. Nancy, like the majority of men, women, children, and horses in our region, supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Nancy and other local Confederates believed that slavery and owning other people was an acceptable practice. While I totally disagree with the values Nancy (and the rest of the Confederacy) fought for, I can however, respect her wit, her determination, and her overall bad-assery.  The very idea of Nancy Hart being a lady-spy during the mid-1800s when women were expected to birth children, knit, and stay quiet is impressive because she tenaciously challenged the status quo throughout her lifetime. (Image above: nationalwomenshistoricalsociety.org/blog/2018/3/25/nancy-morgan-hart)

According to tradition, Nancy Hart worked closely with Confederate guerilla troops known as the Moccasin Rangers. In a two-year span she was captured not once, but twice for her spy work: fist in 1861 and again in 1862. After being captured the second time, Nancy allegedly tricked a guard out of his weapon and shot him with it to escape before returning with Confederate troops to capture Summersville. Following the war, Nancy Hart lived in the Greenbrier County area.

To learn more about the roles local women played in regional military engagements, visit Conflict & Consequences: Military History of the Greenbrier Valley at the North House Museum. The updated exhibit takes a deeper, more inclusive look at the contributions of Black Americans, Native Americans, and the women of our area. Women of the Greenbrier Valley are recognized in the exhibit for their contributions on the home front, for their role as nurses who cared for wounded soldiers, and for their direct involvement in the fighting and as spies determined to make a difference in the outcome of the war. Women are often overlooked in military history, but their involvement plays a huge supporting role in these conflicts. Visitors will see war as more than just battle maps and weaponry; they will learn about the human experience of war.

The North House Museum is located at 814 Washington Street in downtown Lewisburg and is open to visitors Monday – Saturday from 10a-4pm

– Brehana Scott, marketing manager at North House Museum in Lewisburg, WV. Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper #130. April 2021.

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