Antonia Ford

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Antonia Ford (Willard)
Personal
Date & Place of Birth July 23, 1838 at Fairfax Court House, Virginia
Parents Edward Randolph Ford and Julia F. Ford
Religion Not Available
Spouse Joseph Willard, married March 10, 1864
Children 3, only one, Joseph Edward Willard, survived infancy
Date & Place of Death February 14, 1871 in Washington, D.C. from illness
Place of Burial Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Education Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute in Buckingham, Virginia


Union Secret Service chief Lafayette C. Baker described Confederate spy Antonia Ford as a “decidedly good-looking woman with pleasing, insinuating manners.” From her home near Fairfax Court House, halfway between Washington D.C., and Manassas VA, the Southern vixen not only acted as a courier for noted spy Rose Greenhow, but was able to gather valuable information on her own from lovestruck Union officers quartered in her father’s home.

After she had passed a particularly critical bit of intelligence to Confederate cavalry Gen Jeb Stuart, that gallant trooper gave Ford the following whimsical commendation: “Know ye, that reposing special confidence in the patriotism, fidelity and ability of Miss Antonia Ford, I James E. B. Stuart, by virtue of the power vested in me, as Brigadier General in the Provisional Army of the CSA, do hereby appoint and commission her my honorary aide de camp to work as such from this date. She will be obeyed, respected, and admired by all the lovers of a noble nature”.

Following the kidnaping of Union Gen Edwin H. Stoughton from the Union-occupied Fairfax Court House by Southern partisan leader Col. John S. Mosby in March 1863, Baker became convinced there was a Southern Spy operating in the area ans dispatched one of his female spies to investigate. The Northern spy befriended Ford, who made the mistake of showing off the commendation she received from Stuart. A few days later Ford was arrested and jailed in Washington’s Old Capital Prison.

A Union lieutenant by the name of Willard, who had fallen in love with Ford as Fairfax, had himself transferred to duty in Washington. After several months the lieutenant convinced Ford to sign a loyalty oath and arranged her release from jail; then her married her. The poor treatment and diet Ford received while in prison, however, has caused her health to deteriorate, ans she died at the age of 33, just 5 years after the end of the war.