Nancy "Rebel Hart" Douglas (Confederate scout and spy)

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Nancy "Rebel Hart" Douglas (Confederate scout and spy)'s Geni Profile

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Nancy Douglas (Hart)

Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina
Death: September 19, 1902 (55-56)
West Virginia
Place of Burial: Mannings Knobb, Nicholas County, WV
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Stephen Ira Hart and Mary Hart
Wife of Joshua Douglas
Sister of Mary Jane Spurlock

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Nancy "Rebel Hart" Douglas (Confederate scout and spy)

Nancy Hart Douglas (1846–1913) was a scout, guide, and spy for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Serving first with the Moccasin Rangers, a prosouthern guerilla group in present-day West Virginia, she later joined the Confederate Army and continued to serve as a guide and spy under General Stonewall Jackson.


Born Nancy Hart in 1846 in Raleigh, North Carolina, she and her family moved to Tazwell, Virginia, when she was an infant. Hart lived with her family in western Virginia until the outbreak of the Civil War, at which time she developed great sympathy for the Southern cause. During the early years of her life on her family's farm, she became an expert with rifles, pistols, and riding horses. She could reportedly operate a gun or handle a horse as well as a man. She eventually moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William Clay Price. William Clay Price was not a soldier, but would go and do things for the Confederate army in the evenings. One day the Union soldiers came to question him. They took him away and killed him down the road from his family. This fueled Nancy's rage and hatred toward the Union cause.

Civil War

In early 1861, after a contingent of Union troops passed through her town, Hart's sympathy for the Confederacy prompted her to leave home and join the Moccasin Rangers, led by the infamous Perry Conley. She became a valuable asset to the Rangers, serving both as a spy and a guide to the local region. Hart became so famous and such an enigma for Union forces in West Virginia that a reward was offered for her capture in 1862. Shortly thereafter, she and a female friend were captured by Union troops led by Lt. Col. Starr and taken prisoner in Summersville, West Virginia. Here, she was photographed unsmiling and unemotional, by an itinerant photographer. According to legend, Hart did not smile because of the attire she had to wear for the picture. Civil War telegrapher Marion H. Kerner, an officer who befriended Hart at the encampment, later made her story famous in the magazine, Leslie's Weekly.

That same night, Hart escaped from the Union camp on Starr's horse and joined a regiment of about 200 Confederate soldiers led by Major R. Augustus Bailey (by this time the Moccasin Rangers had disbanded). A week later, the Confederate troops overran Summersville, burning many of the public buildings and taking Lt. Col. Starr prisoner. Marion Kerner was also captured, but due to the kind treatment he had given Hart during her own imprisonment, she convinced the Confederate officers to release him. Francis Miller's 1911 "Photographic History of the Civil War" repeats the claim Hart was captured by Lt. Col. Starr of the 9th West Virginia; a photograph was taken of Hart; she killed a guard with his own gun and a week later led a Confederate unit which captured Starr and the 9th West Virginia July 25, 1862. Official Records of the Civil War mention the capture of Companies "A" and "F" of the 9th West Virginia Infantry at Summerville, West Virginia, July 25, 1862—but have no mention of an arrest/escape of a Nancy Hart in 1862. Likewise the Official W.V. Adjutant General Report on the 9th W.V. do not show any casualties for July 18–25, 1862.

After the war

After the war, Hart married the former Ranger Joshua Douglas, and they lived in Spring Creek and Richwood, West Virginia during the remainder of their lives. They had two sons. Milking cows, Nancy Hart Douglas died in 1913 and is buried on Mannings Knob near Richwood.


Nancy Hart's story has been recreated in the novel Rebel Hart by Edith Hemingway and Jacquelin Shields.


Famed Confederate Spy. Nancy was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, but grew up in Tazewell, Virginia. In October of 1861, she moved in with her sister & brother-in-law who were living in present-day Roane County, West Virginia. After Nancy's brother-in-law was murdered by Union soldiers, she had a strong hatred for the Union. While at a neighbor's party, a group of Union soldiers marched by & Nancy shouted "Hurray for Jeff Davis". Four shots were fired at her, but she was uninjured. Three days later, Nancy joined the Moccasin Rangers.

She started out as a messenger for the Southern troops, but soon took on the job of nursing wounded Confederates & hiding them with sympathizers until they recovered. During the summer of 1862, Nancy was taken prisoner by Lt. Col. Starr. She managed to steal a gun from one of the guards & shot him. Nancy then jumped out the window & escaped on one of Starr's horses.

On July 25, 1862, 200 of Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's cavalry troops, led by Major R. Augustus of Patton's 22nd Virginia Infantry, raided the town of Summersville. Nancy, still riding Starr's horse, and the Confederate forces were able to capture 8 mules, 12 horses, and several prisoners, including Lt. Col. Starr.

After the war, Nancy married Joshua Douglas, a Ranger with the Confederate Army. (bio by: Heather from VA)

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Nancy "Rebel Hart" Douglas (Confederate scout and spy)'s Timeline

Raleigh, North Carolina
September 19, 1902
Age 56
West Virginia
Manning Slave Cemetery, Mannings Knobb, Nicholas County, WV