Moon, Lottie (18 29-1895), and Moon, Ginnie (1844-1925) (Civil War, American)

Confederate spies during the American Civil War. Lottie and Ginnie Moon were the only sisters who worked as spies, couriers, and smugglers during the American Civil War, and they also played key roles in the Great Northwest Conspiracy. Drawing on their charisma and connections, they gathered information on Union movements and activities from their many suitors.

Cynthia Charlotte (Lottie) was born in Danville, Virginia, on August 10, 1829. The third child and first daughter of Dr. Robert S. Moon, and Cynthia Ann Sullivan, Lottie was independent and strong-willed. As a child, she excelled at riding, shooting, and acting, which were later manifested in her skill as a spy. She married Judge James Clark in 1849 after spurning Ambrose Burnside at the altar. Both Clarks were Copperheads (Northerners who sympathized with the Confederacy), and their home at Jones Station, Ohio, was both a supply base and respite for Confederate soldiers and spies.

In 1862 Lottie delivered a message from General Sterling Price to Colonel Edmund Kirby-Smith in Kentucky at the bequest of Walter Taylor of the Zachariah Taylor family. After her success on this first mission, she was sent to Canada where she delivered dispatches and letters to Toronto. Passing herself off as a British woman en route to mineral springs in Virginia, her uncanny ability to fake joint injury saved her from discovery on several occasions. She was finally captured by General Ambrose Burnside, who recognized her.

Lottie was a prisoner of war for three months. After the war, she wrote for the New York World and in 1870 the paper sent her to Paris as a war correspondent during the Franco-Prussian War. After returning to the United States and trying her hand at acting, she became a novelist and wrote under the pen name Charles M. Clay. She died in Philadelphia on November 20, 1895.

Virginia (Ginnie) Bethel Moon, born in Oxford, Ohio on June 22, 1844, was known for carrying a pearl-handled pistol. Expelled from Oxford Female College for shooting out the stars on the U.S. flag, she was sent home to her parents, who had moved to Memphis. While in Memphis, Ginnie attended to sick and wounded soldiers and made bandages. When Memphis fell into Union hands in 1862, Ginnie charmed the Union soldiers and passed along important details to Confederate officials.

Like her sister, Ginnie worked as a courier and delivered updates to General Nathan Forrest on his famous ride into West Tennessee. In the winter of 1863, while visiting Jackson, Mississippi, she agreed to carry a message from General Sterling Price to her brother-in-law, who lived in Jones Station, Ohio.

While heading downriver aboard the steamboat Alicia Dean, she was detained and searched in Cincinnati. Drawing her Colt revolver on Captain Rose, she threatened to report him to General Burnside. When Rose departed, Ginnie snatched the wet dispatches from her bosom and swallowed them. On her way to the Custom’s Office for questioning, a jingle in her hoopskirt gave her away. Lined with vials of morphine, opium, and camphor, all bound for Confederate hospitals, she was charged with smuggling goods into the Confederacy.

General Burnside followed her case and remanded her into her mother’s custody. A prisoner at Burnet House for three weeks, she spent several months confined at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, but she was eventually paroled to Jones Station.

After the war Ginnie was a familiar figure in Memphis. Devoting her life to work with the poor and sick, she was a heroine during the yellow fever epidemic in the early 1870s. She later moved to California to pursue interests in aviation and acting. Ginnie had a brief career as a screen actor and appeared in several movies. She settled in Greenwich Village, New York, where she died September 11, 1925.

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