College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Dr. John Neff Helps Shine Light on Confederate Spy Belle Edmondson

The cloak and dagger life of a spy will always thrill and draw us to learn more about their escapade. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Ole Miss Treasures spotlights Confederate spy, Belle Edmondson.

In this video, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Civil War Research Dr. John Neff discuss Belle’s contribution to the Confederacy. Though she kept a diary to record her exploits, she did not have her diary published after the war as some women did.  Dr. Neff says this is why her name is not as familiar as other spies during her time.

Belle was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, and during the Civil War, her family owned a farm in Shelby County, south of Memphis, Tennessee.  In 1862 the farm was located in “no man’s land” between the Union forces occupying Memphis, and the Confederate lines south of the farm.  It was in this area Belle “worked.” She smuggled medicine, amputation tools, and information to families about their soldiers. She was known well enough by the Union forces, that Union General Stephen Hurlburt issued a warrant for her arrest.

She died at age 33 and is buried with her parents in Memphis.

(some information above comes from