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Spy! The Story of Civil War Spy Elizabeth Van Lew (CD) Review by Jennifer HarrisionLynn Ruehlmann
621 New Hampshire Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23508
This interesting and entertaining CD tells the true story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a woman strongly opposed to slavery, who lived in Richmond, Virginia, before and during the Civil War. This amazing woman played an important part in the Civil War as a spy for the North.
Elizabeth's anti-slavery views were solidified after watching the effects of a baby being sold and separated from its mother. The mother died from grief on the auction block. Elizabeth never forgot that encounter and dedicated her life to ending slavery, putting herself at great risk to do so.
When all of her neighbors were busy caring for Confederate soldiers, Elizabeth visited the wounded Union soldiers. From this endeavor, she began carrying notes from these wounded to their friends and family members. Eventually, this led to carrying secret messages to officers, making her a valuable spy for the Union. She brought encoded messages concealed in books and hidden in a compartment of her cooking pot. Elizabeth created a compartment in her house for hiding Union soldiers. A favorite story was how she managed to protect her horse from Confederate soldiers. My boys loved listening to how she hid her horse, Chieftain, in many creative places, including her basement, the smokehouse, and even her library.
After being taunted by little kids with the name "Crazy Bet," she decided to assume the identity of a crazy old woman to keep from raising the suspicions of any Confederate sympathizers. Her reputation was ruined, but she knew it was worth it.
The details of the story come from Elizabeth's own diary, which she buried in her back yard to keep it safe. This exciting tale is told through the eyes of her niece, adding an extra level of entertainment by allowing listeners to hear it all through the perspective of a young girl. This award-winning story is written and performed by Lynn Ruehlmann. Lynn is a gifted storyteller who brings her tales to life and keeps listeners enthralled. Samples can be heard on her website: www.cascadingstories.com.