She walked the streets of Richmond dressed in farm woman’s clothing, singing and mumbling to herself. Soon her suspicious and condescending neighbors began referring to her as “Crazy Bet.” But she wasn’t mad; she had purpose in her doings. She wanted people to think she was insane so that they would be less likely to ask her questions and possibly discover her goal: to defeat the South and to end slavery. Elizabeth Van Lew, of Crazy Bet, was General Ulysses S. Grant’s spy in the capital city of the Confederacy.
David D. Ryan has written seven other books and numerous articles for Civil War publications. He was for 21 years a writer and photographer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He presently works as a freelance author from his Richmond home.