Tuesday, August 28, 2012


During the Civil War, there was a woman named Emeline Pigott, and she lived in North Carolina.  Right before the war started, she and her parents moved to a farm at Crab Point, on the North Carolina coast.  At that time, Ms. Pigott was 25 years old.

Right across the creek from the farm were the soldiers of the 26th North Carolina, and it was their job to guard the coast and make sure the Yankees didn't come there.  Ms. Pigott decided she should help the troops in any way she could, so she became a nurse for the ones that were sick or wounded.  Sometimes she even brought them to her house to nurse them.  Another thing she did was she went around to the counties that were close by, and she collected lots of stuff the soldiers needed, such as food, clothes, medicine, and mail.  Then she put these things in hollow logs or trees, for the soldiers to come and get.

Pretty soon, Ms. Pigott was also acting as a spy for the Confederates.  She would invite Union soldiers to her house for dinners or parties, and she would try to find out what their plans were.  Then she reported this information to the rebel troops.  Also she took them any information that she got from fishermen who sold fish to the Yankee Navy.

The way that Ms. Pigott smuggled a lot of stuff through the Union lines was she hid it in really big pockets under her hoop skirts.  By the time she loaded up all the mail and reports and everything else into her pockets, she was sometimes carrying 30 pounds of weight.  Of course, there is a lot of space under a hoop skirt to hide things, but it seems like it would be hard to walk in any normal way with 30 pounds of secret stuff under there.

One time General Pierre Gustave T. Beauregard was waiting for Ms. Pigott to bring him some important information about what the Union troops were up to.  When she arrived at his camp, she had a fat little dog with her.  The general petted the dog while Ms. Pigott told him what a hard time she had sneaking the report through enemy lines because she had been thoroughly searched.  Then she asked to borrow his knife, and he was shocked when she stabbed her little dog in the side!  But the dog did not even yelp.  He just kept wagging his tail.  Ms. Pigott cut away the dog's skin, and it turned out to be a fake outer coat of fur.  The report was hidden under there, and it was safely delivered to General Beauregard.

In early 1862, the rebel soldiers left the coast and moved up the river to the town of New Bern.  On March 14, 1862, the Battle of New Bern was fought, and the Union won.  The townspeople had already left, and the Confederate troops retreated 40 miles inland by train.  Emeline Pigott went with the soldiers on the last train, so that she could nurse the wounded.

Ms. Pigott and a soldier named Stokes McRae fell in love, and they decided they would get married when the war was over.  But sadly, Mr. McRae got killed at Gettysburg in July 1863.  After that, Emeline Pigott worked even harder for the rebel cause.  She and her brother-in-law, Rufus Bell, kept delivering supplies to Confederate troops.  In 1865, they were stopped on the road to Beaufort by Union soldiers.  The soldiers were gentlemen, so they sent for a woman to search Ms. Pigott.  While she was waiting to be searched, she managed to eat some of the papers she was carrying and shred others.  But she still had a lot of stuff in the pockets under her hoop skirt.

The very buggy that Emeline Pigott and Rudy Bell
were in when they were stopped by Union soldiers.
Because of this, Ms. Pigott was sent to prison and given the death penalty.  But after two months, she was released.  No one knows why they let her out, but the soldiers who guarded her said she was a lot of trouble.  Even after she got out of jail, the Union soldiers keep watching and harassing her.

After the war, Ms. Pigott went back to live at the family farm, and she never married.  She loved to tell stories about all her adventures during the war, but she never told anyone how she managed to get out of jail.  She died when she was 80 years old, on May 26, 1916, and she was buried in the family cemetery.

1 comment: