Virginia “Ginnie” and Charlotte “Lottie”Moon were sisters and their story is one of amazement and fascination. They were sisters who were brazen and clever enough to spy for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. And they actually got away with it. They were daughters of a physician who were born in Virginia but would later move to live in Ohio, when they were young children.
Lottie was romanced by Ambrose Burnside, who lived in Indiana, while she was growing up. There is a tale about these two, that she played the “runaway bride” and left him at the altar. It is interesting to note that he would play a significant part of the Moon sisters lives later on. It is said that the sisters had many men vying for their attention and that Lottie would later settle down with a man named Jim Clark, who would later become Judge Clark.
Ginnie would be sent to live with the couple after she rebelled at going to Oxford Female College. The Clark family was for the South as was the sisters. Judge Clark was an active member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, which was something like a Confederate underground. It was not unusual to see couriers coming to the Clark household to deliver messages. Lottie would volunteer to carry messages and this would be the beginning of a lifelong career as a Confederate spy. One of her disguises would be an old woman and she would be able to do her job without suspicion. She had received some information that was to go to General Kirby Smith so she was to meet up with Colonel Thomas Scott, so he would be able to deliver the papers. She would use her talents as an actress to help her get out of any problems or jams that she would encounter with the Union. After that success, she would go on to carry more messages and whatever was needed to help the South. Canadian sympathizers for the South were interested in her and invited to Toronto.
Lottie was able to get some forged papers that gave her claim to be a British subject so she could make her way to Washington and was able to talk her way past Union soldiers and head to Virginia, claiming it was for her health. She would deliver what she had and then make her way to Ohio. While, Lottie was immersed in her work, her mother and sister were immersed in helping those soldiers that were injured as the Yankees got closer to the cotton capital. Ginnie would also help in passing along messages and supplies. She often would be as bold as anyone by going through Union lines with a story concocted. She volunteered for a mission when she learned some valuable information was needed to get to the Knights of the Golden Circle. Her mother went with her, since relatives would not be suspect since they had relatives where they were heading. They were at risk since the North suspected that they were spies.
The two made the journey without incident and gathered what was needed to make their return. This time they were under suspicion and was almost apprehended. Ginny was able to do what was necessary to get them time and she was able to hide the information that they had obtained. The two women were later searched and even though they did not find any evidence, they did find some stuff that gave the Union officers the right to put them under “house arrest”. Ginny asked for General Burnside and the next day her request was granted.
Lottie Moon showed up and tried to get them released, but was unsuccessful. She was also placed under house arrest since he saw through her disguise. However nothing was ever done to the Moon sisters even though they had did a lot for the South. They dropped the charges even though Ginny had to report to the Union and was soon told to leave the Union area.
It would be after the war that Ginny would return to Memphis and Lottie would become a journalist, after heading back home. Ginny would move around the country, restless, and she would end up in Hollywood, where she would have some parts in some movies. Later, she would head to New York and live in Greenwich Village where she would live until her death at eighty-one.
The Moon sisters led a life of danger and adventure but they did for their love of the South and what they believed in. They were the most successful women spies in the history of the war.