Confederate States of America

Nancy hart CSA Spy

CSA Third National Flag

North Carolina State Flag    A young girl

Nancy Hart was born in 1846, in Raleigh, North Carolina.  When she was an infant, she moved to Tazewell, Virginia.  Her mother was first cousin to Andrew Johnson. Her mother lived in the home with him as a child.  Nancy had an older sister, Mary who married William Price.  Nancy never learned to read or write.  Nancy was of Scotch-Irish descent.  Nancy was an expert rider.  In 1853, Nancy and her family moved in with Nancy's sister Mary and her husband William.  In the next six years Nancy virtually lived in the wilderness in Roane County.  During these years she became a "dead eye" shot with a rifle.  Other records indicate Nancy Hart was born in July 1843 in VA. (Census record 1900, Webster Co., WVA)

On October 16, 1861, Nancy was to move in with her sister and brother-in-law.  It was getting time for Nancy to come, when about dusk a part of Union Soldiers rode into the yard.  They told William that he had to make a speech in the town of Spencer, then next day in favor of the Union and they had come to escort him into town that night.  While William was getting ready, the Union Soldier's poked about as if searching for someone.  They found Mary propped up in bed with several pillows and a large bolster behind her back.  They apologized profusely for invading the bedroom and left.  Nancy breathed easier from inside the bolster-cover where she had taken refuge.

William Price never got to Spencer, he was found three days later, shot in the back near another farm on the road to Spencer.  The hatred Nancy had for the Union Soldiers blazed anew.

Nancy's next door neighbor's the Kelly's had two son's join the Confederate Army.  The Kelly's threw a big going away party, which Nancy attended.  While the party was going on, Union Soldiers marched past the house in the moonlight.  The music stopped, she threw her hands over her head and shouted "HURRAH FOR JEFF DAVIS" .  Four rifles flashed and four minie balls struck the front stoop, one of then lodged in the door facing Nancy.  Three nights later she saddled up and rode away and her career as a Confederate Spy began.

Nancy begins her career as a spy


Nancy Hart, Confederate Spy
Confederate Spy

First National Flag, CSA

Virginia FlagScout Guide SpyWest Virginia flag

Nancy, joined the Moccasin Rangers-they were pro-southern guerrillas until 1862.  Nancy served as a Confederate scout, guide and spy.  She carried messages between the Southern Armies traveling alone by night and slept during the day. Nancy also was an "underground" worker.  She saved the lives of many wounded Confederate Soldiers hiding them with sympathizers and often nursing them to health again.  Nancy served as a guide for "REBEL" detachments.  She peddled eggs and veggies to Yankee's - to spy on them.  She hung around isolated Federal outposts in the mountains, to report their strength, population and vulnerability to General Jackson.  Nancy led Jackson's Cavalry on several raids against Union Troops.

In the summer of 1862, the  wrathful Federals offered a large reward for Nancy with the order of her arrest.  Nancy was twenty years old when she was captured by the Yankees.  Lt. Col. Starr of the 9th West Virginia captured Nancy at a log cabin, while she was crushing corn.  A young female friend was also captured with her.  Nancy was jailed in the upstairs portion of a dilapidated house with soldiers quartered down stairs and a sentry guarding her in the room, at all times.  Guards constantly patrolled the building on every side.

Marion H. Kerner, was a War Between the States telegrapher, he has accounts  of Nancy while she was in prison.  Kerner, talked to Lt. Col. Starr about Nancy and her friend being imprisoned in a dilapidated old building, which formally served as a jail.  After Kerner, convinced Starr, he transferred them.  Kerner supplied them with sewing material and illustrated papers.  Kerner stated that Nancy was untutored and uncultured.  The Yankees wanted a picture of Nancy, so they dressed her in Yankee clothing and took her picture.  Nancy was very shy of the camera, she did not like her picture taken.

Nancy Kills a Guard
Nancy tells her version on another page


Nancy gained the trust of one of her guards.  She was able to get his weapon from him and she shot him dead.  Nancy then dived headlong out the open window into a clump of tall jimson weeds.  She took Lt. Col. Starr's horse, and rode bare back.  She was clinging low to the horse's neck, Indian fashion.  About a week later at 4:00 o'clock in the morning, July 25, 1862, Nancy returned to Summersville with 200 of Jackson's Cavalry led by Major R. Augustus or Col. George Patton's 22nd Virginia Infantry.  Nancy was still riding Lt. Col. Starr's horse.  They raided the town, setting fire to three houses, including the commissary store house, destroyed two wagons, and took eight mules and twelve horses, as well as several prisoners, including Lt. Co. Starr.

West Virginia FlagNancy and Joshua

Nancy married Joshua Douglas, former Ranger, he enlisted in the CSA.  Josh Douglas, was dying of his wounds, and Nancy nursed him back to  health.  After the war he returned to the area, found Nancy and married her.  After the war Nancy and Josh settled in Greenbrier County.  They spent the rest of their lives there.  Nancy and Josh had two sons, George and Kennos.  

Nancy's last public appearance was shortly before her death.  It was at the Courthouse in Lewisberg, to testify in behalf of her son Kennos, who was charged with killing Tom Reed at a dance in Trout Valley.

Nancy Hart Douglas died in 1902.  She is buried in Mannings Knob in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.  Her grave is in the cemetery where the Mannings family buried their slaves.  At the foot of the hill stood the Mannings plantation.

West Virginia State FlagWest Virginia,
Guide to the Mountain State

What the guide has to say about Nancy Hart!


Seat of Nicholas County, was founded  here on Peters Creek in 1824.

NANCY HART, noted Confederate Spy, led a surprise attach on the town July 1861.   The sweetheart of Perry Connolly, a Confederate guerrilla fighter, Nancy (called Peggy  by soldiers of both armies) was a tall, lithe, black-eyed beauty, just 20 years of age,  when she led the attack in which Captain Starr and a Union force were captured and  most of the  town burned.  Captured, she was charged with espionage and lodged in
the Summersville jail, where her striking beauty and bright roving eyes kept captors in continual turmoil as they vacillated between duty and desire.  Connally was killed at  Welch Glade and Union forces gained control of the county around Summersville,  making Nancy's escape  impossible and her execution apparently certain.  Her  guards allowed her to roam the jail at will and to walk in the courtyard with a soldier  on warm evenings.  One evening, it is said, the guard succumbed to  her charms
and allowed her to examine his pistol; she used it to kill
him on the spot and then  escaped to Confederate territory.  After Lee's surrender she returned to marry  Joshua Douglas and live in Nicholas County.

**The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. Volume Ten and Eleven.  West Virginia,
A Guide to the Mountain State.
Edited and Published by Jim Comstock.  Richwood,
West Virginia, 1974.  Page 396 and 397.

Genealogy of Nancy Hart
Nancy Hart was the daughter of John and Rebecca Hart, he was a farmer in the 1860 Census.
Her brothers and sisters as listed in the 1850 Census of Washington County Virginia were:Jane age 20, Adaline age 18, Mary age 13, Henry age 11, John age 9, Nancy age 7, Joseph age 1/12 months.

In the 1900 Census of  Webster County, Glade District Joshua and Nancy Douglas are listed with sons George (age 30), Keenos (age 33), Daughter in law, Hailey (age 23), and Clayton Brown, Step grandson (age 2.) This census states Nancy was born July 1843 and born in VA.  Her headstone states she died in 1902.

Joshua Douglas died October 25, 1907 in Richwood, West Virginia.  He is buried in Richwood Cemetery, Richwood, Nicholas County, West Virginia. 
There is a story that Joshua had gone to Richwood to sell a team of oxen, had a stroke, went to a friends house in Richwood.  Nancy Douglas and her grand-daughter Myrtle Mae Douglas Hollingsworth, rode on a horse from Spring Creek to Richwood where they found Joshua unconscious.  He died there and is buried in Richwood.  Per Del Hart this story was told by Myrtle.

Jim Taylor with picture of his Great Aunt Nancy Hart
Jim Taylor holding picture of his Great Aunt, Nancy Hart

Click Here For Much More Information About Nancy

Do you have information about Nancy Hart? Contact:Kathy

You have any questions or comments about this page? Contact the:Webmaster

Reference Material:
  • Nancy Hart, Confederate Spy, by Dale Payne
  • Spies! Women in the "Civil War", by Penny Colman
  • "Civil War" Heroines, by Jill Canon
  • Nancy Hart, Confederate Scout and Spy, by Mrs Roy A. Gilkeson,
  •      President West Virginia UDC
  • Blue & Gray Roses of Intrique, by Rebecca D. Larson
  • Daughters of the Cause; Women of the "Civil War", by Robert P. Broadwater

[ More About Nancy Hart ] [Top Of Page]    

[ Check Here For More Of Our Sites ]

Modified 3 December 2011