Sarah Van Lew/spy-nurse


Elizabeth Van Lew was a prominent member of Richmond, Virginia, society. She was 43-years-old land lived with her widowed mother in a three-story mansion in the Confederate capital. Van Lew took pride in her heritage, but passionately opposed slavery and secession. Elizabeth’s wealthy neighbors celebrated many Confederate victories, however she quietly focused on helping the Union. For four years, she sent intelligence to Union officers, provided food and medicine to prisoners of war and helped plan their escapes, and run her own network of spies. She was the most successful Federal spy of the war.  These accomplishments cost Van Lew not only her family fortune but also her place as a member of Richmond’s social elite.

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