Belle Boyd was one of the Confederacy’s most notorious spies. And her 1865 memoir, Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, is full of so many outrageous stories that historians have long had difficulty knowing what to believe. Still, I find this paragraph from our entry to be extraordinary:
“Boyd was released [from prison] in December 1863, and six months later she volunteered to carry Confederate papers to England aboard the blockade runner Greyhound. The ship was stopped on May 10, 1864, but Boyd managed to escape, first to Canada, then to London, and on August 25, 1864, she married one of the Union naval officers who had seized the Greyhound, Samuel W. Hardinge. When Hardinge returned to the United States to answer charges that he had aided and abetted an enemy spy, he was jailed and, soon after his release, he apparently died. ‘The end of the Hardinge marriage and, indeed, the end of Hardinge himself are shrouded in mystery,’ [historian Drew Gilpin] Faust has noted, ‘and some have doubted Boyd’s assertion that he never rejoined her abroad.’ Others, like Roger Austen, biographer of the gay writer Charles Warren Stoddard, argue that he neither died nor returned to England. Austen has written that Hardinge instead traveled to San Francisco, where the ‘swarthily handsome’ New Yorker had an affair with Stoddard that was immortalized in the writer’s autobiographical novel, For the Pleasure of His Company (1903).”
By the way, the Hardinge character in For the Pleasure of His Company is named Foxlair. How perfect is that?