Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Nancy Hart

Rebel spy Nancy Hart was probably born in July 1843, probably in Tazewell County, Virginia. By 1850, Nancy and her family were living in Boone County, according to the U.S. Census, and by 1860 they had moved to Roane County.

In the early days of the Civil War, Nancy Hart assisted Perry Conley and his Moccasin Rangers in their Confederate resistance to the Union efforts to control Western Virginia. Captured in Braxton County in the fall of 1861 while in her late teens or early 20s, Hart convinced the federal troops that she was innocent. When they released her, she returned to the Confederates with much information on the movements of federal troops and their Home Guard allies. She was again captured in the summer of 1862 and held in Summersville, where she talked her young guard into letting her hold his pistol. Hart then killed him, escaped, and returned with 200 Confederate troops to capture Summersville and several of the federal officers there.

After the war ended, her husband, Joshua Douglas, returned from Confederate service, and they settled in Greenbrier County. The 1900 census shows them living in Glade District of Webster County. Nancy Hart died in 1902 and was buried at Manning Knob, in Greenbrier County near the Nicholas County line.

Written by Debra Basham