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The remarkable true story of the woman who sheltered Confederate soldiers and gathered intelligence—and the secret book given to her by J. E. B. Stuart.
As the Civil War raged, Confederate brigadier general J. E. B. Stuart entrusted a secret album to Laura Ratcliffe, a young girl in Fairfax County, “as a token of his high appreciation of her patriotism, admiration of her virtues, and pledge of his lasting esteem.”
A devoted Southerner, Laura provided a safe haven for Rebel forces, along with intelligence gathered from passing Union soldiers. Ratcliffe’s book contains four poems and forty undated signatures: twenty-six of Confederate officers and soldiers and fourteen of loyal Confederate civilians. In A Southern Spy in Northern Virginia, Charles V. Mauro uncovers the mystery behind this album, identifying who the soldiers were and when they could have signed its pages. The result is a fascinating look at the covert lives and relationships of civilians and soldiers during the war, kept hidden until now.