Hundreds of women spied during the Civil War, but as far as we know, only one gathered intelligence inside the house of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.
Mary Elizabeth Bowser, born enslaved to the prominent Van Lew family in Richmond, Virgina, worked with one of the Union Army's most intricate spy rings. It was operated by a shrewd Richmond society woman pretending to have lost her mind, so as to escape suspicion among the city's pro-slavery upper crust.
Elizabeth “Crazy Bet” Van Lew started unofficially spying for the North while bringing food and medicine to Union prisoners housed in Richmond, passing notes and helping the men with plans to escape.
As Elizabeth Van Lew expanded her espionage, she saw great possibilities for Mary Browser.
We know only the basic outlines of Mary Browser's life. There are no photographs of her, but...
Now, for my long-promised story about my visit to the site of the Ancient Greek Oracle of Delphi. Before I left on my vacation to Greece, I told friends I would be visiting the oracle and jokingly asked what wisdom they would like me to seek for them.
For are we not much the same as people who lived 10,000 years ago? We have some dilemma, some question or uncertainty that we long to resolve. And wouldn't it be great, if there was someone we could ask who had the wisdom to give us a definitive answer?
Over the centuries many have turned to religious faith for certainty. And in fact, scholars believe Delphi probably originated as a sacred site to worship the Goddess of Earth, Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life back in, oh, about 1600 BCE!
It was profoundly moving to walk the paths of a place that has been sacred ground for 36 centuries. The wisdom I heard there is sobering and also, freeing. And as relevant today as in ancient times.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers in the blog comments, by email or social media.