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Not only was this fascinating lady a Confederate spy, she also was the honorary aide-de-camp to Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart.

  Antonia Ford

By John T. Marck

Throughout the Civil War, many of the spies were slaves who were desperate for the North to win, and thus secure their freedom. These slaves, both men and women, risked their lives passing information on to the Union army. In addition to the slaves, there was also a great deal of spying being done by well-to-do white women. Women spying for either the North or the South used their large hoop skirts to hide weapons, secret documents and other contraband, as well as other means.

Antonia Ford was a Confederate spy who was described as a "decidedly good-looking woman with pleasing, insinuating manners." Born in Fairfax Court House, Virginia in 1838, Antonia was able as a spy to obtain valuable information from Union officers who were staying at her father's home. She also was a courier for Rose Greenhow.

After helping the Confederacy with critical information, she was given the following commendation by Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. It read:

"Know ye, that reposing special confidence in the patriotism, fidelity and ability of Miss Antonia Ford, I, James E.B. Stuart, by virtue of the power vested in me, as Brigadier General in the Provisional Army of the C.S.A., do hereby appoint and commission her my honorary aide de camp to work as such from this date. She will be obeyed, respected and admired by the lovers of a noble nature."

Throughout her duties as a spy, she would frequently report Union activities to Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby. In March 1863, when Mosby kidnapped Union General Edwin H. Stoughton at Fairfax Court House, Antonia was investigated and found guilty of providing information to Mosby that led to the kidnapping. Ford was arrested and confined to the Old Capitol Prison. Colonel Mosby always continued to maintain that Ford played no part whatsoever in the kidnapping of General Stoughton. Said Mosby, "She was as innocent as Abraham Lincoln."

While in Prison, a Union lieutenant named Willard fell in love with her. Through his relationship with her, he convinced her to sign a loyalty oath to the Union, and arranged for her release. While in prison her health had deteriorated greatly from the poor diet and treatment, and in 1871, she died at the young age of thirty-three. Southerners have always continued to assert that the North killed her due to this poor, inhumane treatment.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.