Over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I run a monthly column about Kickass Women. This month was about Mary Bowser, Civil War spy. Bowser was born a slave and freed by the Van Lew family. She worked for Elizabeth Van Lew as a servant. Van Lew was a spymaster for the Union and she got Bowser as job as a domestic at the Confederate White House. Everyone assumed that Bowser was illiterate, and she also pretend to be not very bright. As a result, she had access to maps, letters, documents, and conversations. Not only could she read and write, but she had an eidetic memory. Van Lew considered Bowser to be the most valuable spy in her network.
You can read more about Mary Bowser here!