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 Rebecca M <I>Wright</I> Bonsal

Rebecca M Wright Bonsal

Winchester, Winchester City, Virginia, USA
Death 15 May 1914 (aged 76)
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Plot Section O, Lot 47, Site 2
Memorial ID 26751379 · View Source
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Educator, Loyalist and Spy for the Union Army.


REBECCA. M. WRIGHT, daughter of Amos M. and Rachel Wright, was born near Winchester, Va., January 31, 1838. She is connected by birth with the Society of Friends, as were her ancestry for many generations. Her parents were members of Fairfax Quarterly Meeting, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland, Yearly Meeting. Her father died August 27, 1865, and is buried in the Friends' burying grounds attached to Ridge Meet­ing, Virginia. Her mother died June 21, 1874, in Rice County, Kansas, while visiting her daughter, and was there laid to rest in private burial-grounds. Miss Wright enjoyed the advantages of a fair education, obtained in the schools at Winchester, Va., and, at the age of fifteen years, was employed as a teacher. At sixteen she declined further employment in this calling, and took a year's course of study at the Friends' School in Loudon County, Va., taught by Samuel M. Janney. For three years prior to the war she taught a private school under the care of the Friends at Hopewell Meeting, Va. Subsequently she was assistant teacher in a private school of eighty pupils, but her pronounced Union sentiments, during the early days of the rebellion, were distasteful to the management and the popular feeling of the community. She therefore withdrew from the institution, and opened a private school in Winchester. Her sentiments were well known ; she taught the children of loyal parents, and never lost faith in the Union cause, or refused to aid the friends of the National government and its armies in the many and memorable struggles for the possession of the Shenan­doah Valley.

Miss Wright was appointed to a position of honor in the Treasury Department at Washington in the year 1868, in recog­nition of her distinguished service to the country. She subse­quently married William Carpenter Bonsal. She still retains her position, and at present resides at the National Capital.

T. W. B.

* * *

HAGERSTOWN, MD., July 9, 1883.

During the latter part of the summer of 1864, when General Sheridan, in command of the Middle Division of the Army, with headquar­ters at Harper's Ferry, was desirous of obtaining reliable information as to the Confederate forces around Winchester, Va., upon which he was anxious to begin offensive operations, but he was deterred by the reports of Early's great strength. He was in a dilemma as to the means by which he could obtain such information, until Gen. George Crook, in one of the conferences, chanced to mention that there was a lady in Winchester, named Rebecca Wright, who had been expelled from her position as school teacher, because of her well-known loyalty to the Union.

LETTER TO Rebecca M. Wright

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 7, 1867.


You are not probably aware of how great a service you rendered the Union cause by the information you sent me by the colored man a few days before the battle of Opequau, on Sept. 19, 1864.

It was upon this information the battle was fought and probably won. The colored man gave the note, rolled up in tinfoil, to the scout who awaited him at Millwood. The colored man had carried it in his mouth to that point and delivered it to the scout, who brought it to me. By this note I became aware of the true condi­tion of affairs inside the enemy's line and gave directions for the attack. I will always remember this courageous and patriotic action of yours with gratitude, and beg you to accept this watch and chain, which I send you by Gen. J. W. Forsyth, as a memento of Sept. 19, 1864.

I am your obedient servant,



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  • Created by: Rob Olson
  • Added: 11 May 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 26751379
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rebecca M Wright Bonsal (31 Jan 1838–15 May 1914), Find A Grave Memorial no. 26751379, citing Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Rob Olson (contributor 46965053) .