Voyagers! Real to Reel: Flirty Civil War Spies
The episode "How the Rebs Took Lincoln" starts in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. The Voyagers inadvertently disrupt a runaway slave capture when they land atop a Confederate army posse and knock them off their horses. After losing a fight, Bogg and Jeffrey get marched to a Yankee Prison camp. At the entrance waits a beautiful Southern Belle. She's furious that the soldiers slacked in their duties while guarding the most important prisoner in history.
Leave it to Jeffrey to figure out why it's a red light. Lincoln should be giving his famous Gettysburg address on this date, not sitting helplessly in a prison tent. The angry woman is Civil War Spy Jane Phillips and she had orchestrated this bold kidnapping. She's adamant to help get George B. McClellan into the White House.
In real history, Spies of all stripes ran amuck during the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln's life was threatened throughout his political career. At times he enlisted the aid of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. Kate Warne, a dynamic female Agent, was made Pinkerton's Head of the Union Intelligence Service (A Forerunner to the Secret Service.) She set up bodyguards and helped sneak Lincoln and his family in and out of cities while he was on the Campaign Trail. Kate Warne was on the "Green light" side of history, and if Voyagers! hadn't been canceled I would've loved an episode with the Pinkerton Detective Agency! They accomplished much and had exciting, history-making exploits.
But the South boasted their own notorious females spies. While researching the Pinkertons, I came across the story of "Maria" Belle Boyd and realized she was probably the main inspiration for the Voyagers! character Jane Phillips.
Belle joined the spy world at the young age of 17 after shooting and killing a rowdy, drunk Union Soldier she claimed addressed her and her mother "…in language as offensive as it is possible to conceive." She was investigated but exonerated, and told by the Commanding Officer she had done "…perfectly right." Belle was daring, often visiting the Union camps and flirting with the officers to act as a courier and to retrieve secret information. Flirtation was her strong point.
"Without being beautiful she is very attractive...quite tall...a superb figure...and dressed with much taste."
Years later, amid arrests, motherhood, and failed marriages, Belle gave lectures about her exploits and wrote her exaggerated memoirs. She called herself The "Cleopatra of the Secession” and the media dubbed her "La Belle Rebelle," "the Siren of the Shenandoah," "the Rebel Joan of Arc," and "Amazon of Secessia."
On the show, the Voyagers have an Oliver Twist adventure with Charles Dickens in Victorian England, then return to Washington DC, 1863 before Lincoln's kidnapping. Jane Phillips uses her flirtations on Bogg at the White House gala, believing him to be a replacement for the sneaky Lieutenant who was to help her reroute Lincoln's carriage to the Prison Camp.
Bogg reluctantly goes through with the scheme but eventually strong-arms a gun away from Jane. A fight atop the runaway carriage ensues with the soldier from the red-light time zone and Jeffrey manages to leap down and stop the horses. Lincoln is saved and goes on to make his inspiring Gettysburg Address.
If you want to learn more about Belle Boyd, The Pinkertons, and the Civil War, take a Voyage down to your public Library. It's all in books!
For further reading online: