Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Frying Pan area of Fairfax County, Virginia was home to dark-haired beauty and Confederate spy and messenger Laura Ratcliffe. Her home was sometimes used as headquarters by CSA Colonel John Singleton Mosby, who was called the Grey Ghost because he eluded capture so many times. On February 7, 1863, a trap was set for Mosby near Laura's home. A young Union lieutenant could not resist boasting about it to her when he came by to purchase milk: 
I know you would give Mosby any information in your possession; but, as you have no horses and the mud is too deep for women folks to walk, you can't tell him; so the next you hear of your 'pet' he will be either dead or our prisoner.
He obviously underestimated Miss Ratcliffe, who walked on foot across muddy fields to reach the home of her cousin George Coleman to ask him to warn Mosby. As luck would have it, she met Mosby along the way and was able to warn him herself. He acknowledged his great debt to her in his memoirs. 

Ratcliffe also provided continuing intelligence to the southern troops and served as banker for Mosby's Rangers by hiding money and supplies under a large rock near her home that came to be known as Mosby's Rock. Although it was obvious that her home was the center of Confederate activity, Ratcliffe was never arrested or formally charged.

Among Ratcliffe's many admirers was the famous General (James Ewell Brown) J.E.B. Stuart who presented her with a gold-embossed brown leather album in which he wrote four poems to her. The album was signed by Stuart and many other soldiers who fought with him including Mosby. She kept the album and a gold watch chain, also given to her by Stuart, among her possessions at her home, Merrybrook, where they were discovered after her death in 1923. 

Source: Civil War Women's Blog...

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