When living a lie is the right thing to do
The Confederate capital in the height of the Civil War: no place for a Union loyalist. But just the place for a spy.
Her father a slaveholder, her suitor a Confederate officer, and she an abolitionist, Sophie Kent must walk a tightrope of deception in her efforts to end slavery. As suspicion in Richmond rises, Sophie’s espionage becomes more and more dangerous. If her courage will carry her through, what will be lost along the way—her true love, her father, her life?
Spy of Richmond is a work of fiction inspired by first-person accounts of Union loyalists and Confederates living in Richmond during the Civil War. This is the fourth and last book in the series Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War, which offers an inside look at women’s contributions during times of war. For more information about the series, visit heroinesbehindthelines.com.
About the Author
JOCELYN GREEN is an award-winning author who inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she authored Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and co-authored The 5 Love Languages Military Edition with Dr. Gary Chapman. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on American's home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration. The books in the Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War series have been honored with gold and silver medals from the Military Writer's Society of America. Wedded to War was a Christy Award finalist in two categories. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America.Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.
Read an Excerpt
Spy of Richmond
By JOCELYN GREEN, Pam Pugh
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2015 Jocelyn Green
All rights reserved.
Oakwood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia Thursday, September 24, 1863
Tell no one how it ended. Please," Sophie murmured to Daphne, her gaze flicking over the precious few mourners receding from the graveside. A sticky breeze whispered through her black net veil as she bowed her head, praying she did not look as relieved as she felt to finally lay the past to rest. A thin ribbon of scar tissue itched beneath her wristband.
Questions swimming in their eyes, neighbors paid their respects to Sophie and took their leave until only the household staff and the family lawyer remained.
"My deepest condolences, Miss Kent." Mr. Whittaker doffed his hat and smoothed his grey hair back from his brow. "You have sent word to your father, of course."
She hadn't. Part of her wanted to tell her father every detail, to make sure he knew how much his wife and daughter had both suffered. She wanted to heap guilt upon him for joining the army and leaving home just when home became unbearable. It was easier to serve the Confederacy, she supposed, than to stay and serve what was left of his family.
"He receives mail at the prison camp?" Whittaker prodded.
"He does." He also gets cold, I imagine, and weak, and sick. He is forty-seven years old. What if I tell him about Mother and—it kills him? Sophie balled her black-edged handkerchief in her hand. "Thank you for being here. If I might have a moment of your time, there is a matter I wish to discuss with you."
"Regarding your mother s property, I presume," said Whittaker.
Sun flashed on spectacles as Otto Fischer, the Kents' German immigrant steward, looked up. If the slaves had heard, however, none of them showed any sign of it.
"I have the documents with me." His tone was hushed as he glanced at the fresh mound of earth. "Shall we?"
While Daphne waited, Mr. Whittaker and Sophie put a respectful distance between themselves and the grave.
"Now, the only 'property' Mother personally owned, was Daphne," Sophie began. "When my father purchased her four years ago, she was to be my mother's maid, and freed upon Mother's death. My father said he'd secured this with you." He had also stipulated that Daphne not be informed of the arrangement, lest she have motive to end Eleanor's life herself.
Sophie's breath suspended while Whittaker slipped an envelope from inside his jacket. Then his frown sent dread trickling down her spine.
"Did Mr. Kent not inform you of the change?" He unsheathed the document. "The ownership of the property has been transferred."
Sophie blinked, unable to process the word. "Transferred?"
"Bequeathed. To you."
She gasped. "There must be some mistake. I don't own slaves."
"You do now, my dear."
"You don't already have a maid, do you?" he continued. "It isn't fitting for a twenty-three-year-old woman to be without one. Besides, you know how folks would talk."
"No!" She reined in her voice. "No. I free her. I manumit her myself."
"I'm afraid that has not been left to your discretion. There is a codicil on the will. You may not sell or free her. She is to be yours for life. Daphne will be freed upon your death."
Or hers. Sophie's throat burned as she turned to look at Daphne. Though it was illegal for both of them, Sophie had taught her how to read and write for this day, so she'd be equipped for freedom. "She's thirty-six years old and has never lived according to her own wishes."
Mr. Whittaker held up his hand to stop her. "There is wisdom in this, Miss Kent. I know of your abolitionist leanings, and for your sake, I keep quiet about them." He sighed. "Couldn't be helped, I suppose, with your mother being from the North, and you going to school in Philadelphia. But you are no longer a child. It's time to leave childish thoughts behind you, and accept that this is the way things are. It is the way things should be."
She shook her head. But her lips refused to move.
"Accept this, my dear. It's what your parents wanted. Your father wrote you this letter to help explain. Again, my deepest regrets on your loss." His message delivered, he tipped his hat to her and left. By degrees, she absorbed the news, as her black mourning dress absorbed the sun.
Nearby, warping lids of unburied green pine coffins popped loose, cracking through the air like gunshots, exposing the dead from Chimborazo Hospital to the glaring light of day. Sophie pressed her handkerchief to her nose and returned to Daphne without the news she had longed to bring. Nothing had changed, after all. Daphne was a slave before Eleanor Kents death, and she was a slave still. My slave. Sophie's chest squeezed. Are the sins of my father now mine?
* * *
Alone in her bed chamber, Sophie's hands shook like linden leaves. Her father's words blurred on the page. The Negro's happiest condition is that of bondage. Your mother and I could not punish Daphne with freedom. Since when had Eleanor Kent believed that slaves should not be freed? It smacked of deception. Eleanor most likely had no idea her will had been changed.
The rest of the letter was a repeat of his farewell speech. He was sorry if his absence caused her pain, but after Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, the war brazenly attacked slavery in a way it hadn't before. But slavery is God-ordained, he'd said, and without it, the South cannot survive. This was why he'd decided to fight. So that white Southerners could keep Negroes in bondage.
White Southerners like me. Her friends in Philadelphia would never believe it. If Harrison could see me now ...
A sigh slipped from her. With Eleanor's body now removed from the house, Sophie withdrew the black crepe draping her mirror. The bright green eyes in the face that stared back at her were wiped of their former bright, inquisitive look. There was no sign in that reflection that its owner had once been the favorite child of her parents, and as protected from unpleasantness as any Southern girl could be. Those lips, which had been slow to speak but quick to smile, now lay flat. The face in the mirror was symmetrical but blank, vacant, so like her mother's at the end, it chilled her. Make a difference, her mother had told her years ago. You'll find a way.
Sophie thought she had. But her father had cut her writing career short, and now it was too late. To even hint at the opinions she had formerly published as John Thornton would be her ticket to Castle Thunder, the prison for political enemies, deserters, and citizens suspected of treason. I have no voice at all. She had failed her mother, and she had failed herself.
Sweeping out onto her second-story balcony, Sophie watched a flock of geese recede into the blue-and-gold edged sky, then let her gaze drift down Church Hill. From her house at the corner of Twenty-seventh and Franklin Streets, the James River was a gilded, wrinkled ribbon. Though Confederate ship masts at Rocketts Landing and the Navy Yard bristled along the banks, Sophie s mind's eye saw the Delaware River instead, and the island within it teeming with men. Since the stunning Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, her father was one of them. Still he controlled her, even from inside a Federal prison camp.
As she gripped the balustrade, her mourning gown stark against the weathered white railings, Sophie mourned indeed. The war had killed her mother and taken her father. Nearly every family in her neighborhood had a husband, father, brother, or son in the army. The widow Madeline Blair, the only neighbor who had called on the Kents since the war started, had sent three of her four sons. Two of them had already been killed.
While Sophie had been ensconced in her home tending Eleanor, the war had turned her beloved, provincial Richmond into an overcrowded metropolis. The city was bursting with both living and dead, the way unburied corpses burst their coffins. Danger lapped at Richmond so often the tocsin in Capitol Square sounded with the regularity of a grandfather clock. The stakes could not be higher, and yet Sophie had barely even been a spectator, so entrenched had she been with Eleanor.
Marching footsteps grew louder, and Sophie turned toward the dipping sun. Dusty columns of soldiers—hundreds of them, maybe thousands—tramped toward her on Franklin Street. They wore blue. Prisoners from the dazzling Rebel victory at Chickamauga, no doubt. On either side of the street, windows opened, and women and children leaned out to watch. As the prisoners came closer, the jeers that followed them grew louder, too.
Well, you've come to Richmond at last, now where's your arms?
Oh, is these the kind of brutes that has come down here to kill our noble sons?
"Miss Sophie?" Daphnes rich voice drifted out to the balcony. "You hungry for supper? You need anything?"
Sophie beckoned her out on the porch with her. "I need these prisoners to be soldiers again." Her words tasted of treason. "And so do you."
Daphne cocked her eyebrow. "You sound just like your mama, God rest her."
Her throat burned. She wanted Daphne to be free, along with the rest of the Kent slaves. But, "My father says you're to be my maidservant now."
She bowed. "I'm grateful to stay."
Sophie nodded, mustering her own gratitude that at least her father had not decided to sell Daphne outright. Still, "Do you ever imagine living your life for yourself?"
A short laugh popped from Daphne's lips. "Now what good could come of such a notion? It ain't fitting to dwell on what can't be."
"Look." Sophie pointed at the prisoners now snaking south and east. Some of them may have fought against her father. But they also fought against slavery. "Those men don't think it 'can't be.' If the North wins, you're free. Immediately and forever. If the South wins, slavery will go on just as it has for centuries."
Daphne's shoulders squared. "Well, then. Let the white men fight. Ain't nothing we can do about it."
But as Sophie watched the prisoners pack into the waterfront warehouse that was now Libby Prison, she wondered if Daphne was wrong.CHAPTER 2
Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia Friday, September 25, 1863
I want to help. Surely you agree with me that a Christian nation such as ours should exhibit charity to those who cannot help themselves ..." Head down, Sophie Kent weaved between clusters of people strolling through Capitol Square and quietly rehearsed her speech. Gravel crunched beneath her feet on the cobblestone-lined walkways dissecting the grassy lawn.
Stopping on the west side of the George Washington statue s granite pedestal, she shielded her eyes to gaze upon the bronze form of the nations first president astride his horse. Behind him, the massive white columns of the classical Virginia Capitol gleamed in the morning sun. "The wounded Confederate have nurses enough," she practiced aloud, as if she were addressing the statue before her. "I want only to serve where the need is greatest ... Surely you'd, understand, Mr. President," she added, musing that though Washington was a Virginian and a revolutionary, he was also the founding father of the United States and would certainly wish for its preservation.
"Look! That's Eleanor Kent's daughter!" The whisper froze Sophie in place. "Did you see her talking to herself just now ?"
"Or is she talking to Mr. Washington?"
"Either way, she's going the way of her mother!"
A chill swept over Sophie as she fought for composure. She had hoped she had buried the past last week at Oakwood Cemetery. But wagging tongues were slow to stop.
Sophie turned just as Madeline Blair looped her arm around Sophie's waist. "Don't you listen to any of that talk now, dear. It's all nonsense." Madeline darted a sharp gaze over her shoulder, and the whispers fell silent.
"Thank you," Sophie breathed. "How are you, Mrs. Blair?"
"Happy to see you out and about, that's for sure. Fresh air is always an excellent choice." She smiled, and kindness filled her hazel eyes.
"Have you heard from Asher lately?" At age twenty-seven, he was the eldest brother and had been the man of the house since his father had died several years ago. The middle boys, Thomas and Solomon, had both been killed at Antietam, a year ago.
"It's been sixty-three days since the last letter. The house seems awful lonesome now."
"I imagine that's so," Sophie murmured. She and Susan had grown up listening to the Blair boys scramble up their mother's garden trellises and chase each other with firecrackers. They had teased the Kent girls mercilessly with lizard tails and frogs, but eventually learned more gentlemanly ways to capture female attention. "I suppose Joel misses his brothers something fierce, as well."
Mrs. Blair pressed a crooked smile from her lips. "It's no wonder you haven't heard, considering." Her gaze skimmed Sophie's black dress. "Joey joined up, too. Left a fortnight ago."
Joey. The baby. He couldn't be more than fourteen years old.
"Oh, Mrs. Blair," Sophie whispered. "However do you manage?"
"I'm proud of my boys, Sophie. Our cause is worth the sacrifice. Independence. Isn't that what the first Revolution was all about? Breaking away from a tyrannical government? Joel's young, but he knows what he's about. Who can fault him for wanting to protect our rights and our homes?" Sniffing, she pulled a lace-edged handkerchief from her sleeve and dabbed her leaking eyes. "And who can fault me, for wearing holes in my floor with my knees?"
"May God protect him," Sophie said. Images of Joel as a chubby toddler stumbling after his brothers scrolled through her mind. "And Asher."
"And your father. I pray for him, too, dear, and you can tell him so."
Sophie nodded. "May He bring them all home."
"Amen. In the meantime, do come see me sometimes, won't you? I would dearly love some company."
Sophie promised she would visit, and they parted ways.
Drawing a steadying breath, she turned north, thoughts swaying like the hoops beneath her skirts. She was overcome by Mrs. Blair's sacrifice and genuinely concerned for her sons. All she could do for them was pray.
She could do more than that for the sons of Northern mothers. Resolutely, Sophie marched to the corner of Tenth and Broad, just outside Capitol Square. With the spire of St. Paul's Church impaling the sky behind it, the frame building serving as the provost marshal's headquarters seemed a shanty in comparison.
Once inside, she found the provost marshal and two busy clerks writing at a table. Thick waves of frosty hair crowned General John Winder's bullish head. His piercing eyes and Roman nose reminded Sophie of her father. Nervous-looking people seemed to have sprouted in his office like mushrooms, some in clumps, a few by themselves. Passport seekers, Sophie guessed. The news from Chickamauga was favorable for the South, but the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg cast long shadows of poverty and despair over the Confederate capital. Those with less hope of victory than most chose to go North.
Finally, it was her turn. Winder spared her but a glance. "Speak," he barked, glancing at his pocket watch before steepling his fingers.
Sophie sucked in her breath. "My name is Sophie Kent. I've come to request your permission to do my part in the war."
"You need no permission to sew, knit, roll bandages, donate food to the hospitals."
"If you please, sir, I'd like to help our prisoners."
"Fine. Packages may be received at the Northern prison camps, and I'm sure our boys will be glad of whatever you can spare." He waved his hand toward the door in dismissal.
"Forgive me, I haven't been clear. I want to help the prisoners among us. Libby Prison is just blocks from my home. I would like to bring the prisoners there small comforts. Food, blankets, reading material. As I have my own resources, this would not burden the government at all."
His eyebrows pinched together. "Better to use your resources for our own wounded soldiers. There are dozens of hospitals in Richmond. Chimborazo alone has three thousand patients on any given day—I'd say that's ample enough outlet for your benevolent instinct." With more than 120 buildings, the hospital complex was the largest in the South, perhaps in the North as well. In truth, it was just as close to her home as Libby was, but in the opposite direction.
Yet, "The women of Richmond are already pouring themselves out to meet those needs. But as you likely know, the gospel of Matthew says we are to love our enemies, and do good to those who persecute us. To minister to the hungry, the sick, those in prison—the least of these. Are not Yankee prisoners the very least of these?"
"If we wish our cause to succeed, and believe in the Christianizing influence of our nation, certainly we must begin with charity to the unworthy. I am not speaking of military policy, but of personal, individual kindness to those already captured."
Excerpted from Spy of Richmond by JOCELYN GREEN, Pam Pugh. Copyright © 2015 Jocelyn Green. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsA Note on the City of Richmond, 9,
Act One: The Privilege to Differ, 21,
Act Two: Courting Peril, 97,
Act Three: True Hearts Grow Brave, 179,
Act Four: A Battalion of Troubles, 247,
Act Five: The Curtain Falls, 329,
The History behind the Story, 418,
Selected Bibliography, 422,
Discussion Guide, 424,
About the Author, 429,
What People are Saying About This
Spy of Richmond is meticulously researched historical fiction that shares the struggles, courage, fears, and faith of ordinary citizens who lived in extraordinary times. Jocelyn is a master at weaving historical facts into her novels so the reader is simultaneously educated and entertained. A captivating story that brings history to life.
—Jessica James, author of Noble Cause and two-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction
A spellbinding story, told with historical veracity, about loyal Unionists who risk everything for their country in the heart of the Confederacy. Once begun, Spy of Richmond is nearly impossible to put down.
—Joseph Wheelan, author of Libby Prison Breakout: The Daring Escape from the Notorious Civil War Prison
The Spy of Richmond is richly peppered with descriptions and details of Confederate Richmond as it feels the strains of the last two years of the Civil War. Tensions in the city come to life through characters, both Northern and Southern, grasping for hope and survival. Sophie’s desire to do what is right and morally humane in the face of the terrors of war is applaudable. It’s inspiring to see how one woman’s sacrifice could impact the freedom of so many.
—Karen A. Chase, Church Hill Association, Richmond, Virginia
Praise for Wedded to War (Book 1)*
*2013 Christy Award Finalist (Historical Fiction and First Novel categories)
With stirring detail and a firm grasp of the historical background, this novel totally engages the reader and shows the difficulties women encounter as they strive to serve the Union and make unconventional choices.
—Carol Kammen, editorial writer for History News and Tompkins County (N.Y.) historian
The research behind thisshines. Green’s descriptions of the first hospitals, the horrors of battlefield medicine, and the extraordinary courage and vision of the women who took on this challenge carry the whole book. For this alone it’s worth the read.
—Historical Novel Society
Praise for Widow of Gettysburg (Book 2)
With equal amounts history, romance, and mystery, Jocelyn Green writes with heart-stopping detail, crafting a story that resonates on every page. Highly recommended!
—Laura Frantz, author of Love’s ReckoningAmazing . . . Green gives a voice to the women and children of the Civil War and skillfully shares theirs struggles.
—RT Reviews, 4.5 out of 4.5 stars and named a TOP PICKJocelyn Green does a masterful job juggling the different storylines that parallel Liberty's life experiences, creating an urgent desire to continue reading from one cover to the other . . . A compelling, realistic rendition of a woman’s life during the Civil War.
—CBA Retailers+ Resources
Praise for Yankee in Atlanta (Book 3)
Green has written a rare Civil War novel that hits no false historical notes. In a cruel and violent time that divided loyalties, families, and hearts, Green’s heroines’ enduring courage, compassion, and mercy show the wellspring from which a renewed nation could emerge from the fires of war.
—Marc Wortman, PhD, author, The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta
Rarely have I read a novel that so envelops you into the excitement and intrigue of 1864 Atlanta. With passion, courage, and accuracy, Yankee in Atlanta hits the mark. A must-read for all historians and romantics alike!
—Amy Reed, curator of Exhibits and Educational Programming, Marietta Museum of History, Marietta, Georgia
Move over, Scarlett O’Hara. Yankee in Atlanta mixes grit and grace in ways that transcend stereotypes and tug at your heart. A terrific must-read.
—Jane Hampton Cook, historian and author of Pulitzer-nominated American Phoenix