Lottie Moon, The Spy

Lottie Moon, The Spy
Virginia Union University
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Lottie Moon, Confederate Spy
Born Charlotte and Virginia, the Moon sisters were from Virginia, the daughters of a doctor. In the 1830s, the family moved to Oxford, Ohio, in the southwestern corner of the state. One of Lottie’s suitors was a young man from nearby Indiana named Ambrose Burnside, and sources say that she jilted him at the altar. She finally settled down with Jim Clark, who soon became a judge.

After Dr. Moon’s death, Mrs. Moon enrolled Ginnie in the Oxford Female College and moved to Memphis. One of the teachers criticized Ginnie for her Confederate leanings. She dropped out of school and went to live with Lottie and Jim, who were also pro-Southern. When the Civil War began, Lottie was 31 years old, Ginnie only 16. Their two brothers promptly enlisted in the Confederate army.

Southwestern Ohio had a small but vocal group of Confederate sympathizers. Judge Clark became active in the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Confederate spy ring. Its operatives sometimes visited the Clarks when they were carrying secret messages back and forth. On one occasion, a courier arrived with important dispatches for Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in Kentucky.

Lottie volunteered to carry the messages, her first act as a Confederate spy. She disguised herself as an old woman, and headed for Lexington, Kentucky, by boat. She delivered her dispatches to a Rebel officer, and then threw off her costume. Using her acting talents, she tearfully enlisted the aid of a Union general, who helped her return home by train.

By this time, Ginnie had moved to Memphis with her mother. They wrapped bandages and nursed wounded soldiers, as the Yankees got closer to Memphis. In June of 1862, the Union took over the city. Ginnie soon began her own spying activities, carrying messages and supplies to the Rebels, boldly passing through Union lines on the pretext of meeting a beau.

In 1863,Ginnie and her mother carried messages to the Knights of the Golden Circle, pretending they were only visiting Lottie and Jim. But the Yankees knew that women were being used as Confederate spies. The Moons were preparing to return to Memphis from Cincinnati by boat, but at the last minute an officer entered their cabin with orders to search them. As Ginnie explained the situation in her memoir: "There was a slit in my skirt and in my petticoat I had a Colt revolver. I put my hand in and took it out., backed to the door and leveled it at him across the washstand. If you make a move to touch me, I’ll kill you, so help me God!" Her tactics did no good, but she pulled the message she carried from her bosom, "dipped it in the water pitcher and in three lumps swallowed it."

In the provost marshal’s office, Union officers searched Ginnie’s trunks. Inside one of them, they found a very heavy quilt. They ripped it open and found that it was filled with opium, quinine, and morphine, medicines that were badly needed in the Confederate Army. What happened next is in dispute, but apparently a Federal officer pushed Ginnie’s hoop skirts aside so he could close the door, and noticed that her skirts were also quilted. The officer called for a housekeeper, who searched the spy and found more drugs quilted into her skirts, on her person, and in a large bustle in the back of her dress.

The Moons were taken to a hotel, where they were put under house arrest. Ginnie immediately requested to see her "friend," Union General Ambrose Burnside, the same Ambrose Burnside who had courted Lottie all those years ago. He was the new commander of the Union Department of the Ohio in Cincinnati, and was busily prosecuting Confederate sympathizers in the area. He issued an order that anyone showing Southern leanings were to be tried for treason and that anyone caught helping the Rebels would receive the death penalty.

The following morning, General Burnside sent word that he would see Ginnie. Holding out both hands, Burnside said, "My child, what have you done this for?" "Done what?" she asked. "Tried to go South without coming to me for a pass. They wouldn’t have dared stop you." Since General Burnside was so understanding, the other officers sought to gain Ginnie’s favor. "I was asked down to the parlors every evening to meet some of the staff officers," she wrote. "The Yankee women in the parlor looked very indignant to see these officers being so polite to a Secesh woman."

The Lottie Moon House, located at 220 East High Street in Oxford, Ohio, was completed in 1831. It was not named Lottie Moon House, but rather adopted the name after being inhabited by the Moon family in 1839. The nineteenth century architecture is a simple design enhanced by a one story wooden porch that spans most of the entire front of the home.

The Lottie Moon House is part of the historic neighborhood that surrounds Miami University. The home was built as a residence, but after Lottie Moon became famous for being a Confederate spy during the American Civil War, the home was deemed of historic importance, and it was donated to Miami University to be a part of their campus.

Cynthia Charlotte Moon, known as Lottie, was a young girl when her family moved into the residency at 220 East High Street. Lottie became famous as a Confederate spy. She rode the battle lines in the South in President Abraham Lincoln’s personal carriage. Lottie was disguised as "Lady Hull", a rheumatic English invalid. She pretended to be asleep while President Lincoln and Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, discussed upcoming strategies. The two Union men believed that they were taking Lady Hull to the South for a warm springs treatment for her sickness. Stanton offered ,000 for the capture of Lottie Moon after realizing Lady Hull was Lottie Moon.

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