Voyagers! Real to Reel: The Flirty Civil War Spy


The episode “How the Rebs Took Lincoln” starts in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863, amid the Civil War. The Voyagers inadvertently disrupt a runaway slave capture when they land atop a Confederate army posse and knock them off their horses. After losing a fight, Bogg and Jeffrey get captured and marched to a Yankee Prison camp. At the entrance waits a beautiful Southern Belle. She’s furious that the soldiers slacked in their duties while guarding the most important prisoner in history.

A handsome portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Civil War Photographer Matthew Brady. {1863}

Leave it to Jeffrey to figure out why it’s a red light. Lincoln should be giving his famous Gettysburg address on this date, not sitting helplessly in a prison tent. The angry woman is Civil War Spy Jane Phillips, who orchestrated this bold kidnapping. She’s adamant about helping get George B. McClellan into the White House.


Historically, Spies of all stripes ran amuck during the Civil War while threatening Abraham Lincoln’s life throughout his political career. At times he enlisted the aid of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. A dynamic female Agent, Kate Warne became Pinkerton’s Head of the Union Intelligence Service (A Forerunner to the Secret Service.) She’s known as America’s first female Detective.


Kate set up bodyguards and helped sneak Lincoln and his family in and out of cities while on the Campaign Trail. For Kate Warne, it could be said she was on the “Green light” side of history. If Voyagers (1982) hadn’t been canceled, I would’ve loved an episode featuring the Pinkerton Detective Agency! They accomplished much and reportedly took part in exciting, history-making exploits.

The Confederates hate Bogg’s “Yankee” sweat on their fine uniforms.

But the South also boasted notorious female spies. While researching the Pinkertons, I came across the story of “Maria” Belle Boyd. I realized she was likely an inspiration for the Voyagers! (1982) character Jane Phillips.


Belle joined the Civil War spy world at the young age of 17 after shooting and killing a rowdy, drunk Union Soldier she claimed addressed her and her mother “…in language as offensive as it is possible to conceive.” The Commanding Officer investigated Belle but acquitted her, saying she had done “…perfectly right.” Belle was daring, often visiting the Union camps and flirting with the officers; meanwhile, she acted as a courier and retrieved secret information. Flirtation was her strong point.

“Without being beautiful, she is very attractive…quite tall…a superb figure…and dressed with much taste.”


Years later, amid arrests, motherhood, and failed marriages, Belle lectured about her exploits and wrote her exaggerated memoirs. She called herself the “Cleopatra of the Secession.” The media thereafter dubbed her “La Belle Rebelle,” “the Siren of the Shenandoah,” “The Rebel Joan of Arc,” and “Amazon of Secessia.”


On the show, the Voyagers have an Oliver Twist adventure with Charles Dickens in Victorian England. Eventually, they returned to Washington, DC, in 1863 before Lincoln’s kidnapping. Jane Phillips uses her flirtations with Bogg at the White House gala. She believed Bogg to be a replacement for the sneaky Lieutenant hired to help her reroute Lincoln’s carriage to the Prison Camp. 


Bogg reluctantly goes through with the scheme but eventually strong-arms a gun away from Jane.


A fight atop the runaway carriage ensues with the soldier from the red-light time zone. Jeffrey leaps down and stops the horses; meanwhile, Bogg rescues Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. All ends well when Lincoln makes his inspiring Gettysburg Address.


To learn more about Maria Belle Boyd, The Pinkertons, and the Civil War, take a voyage down to your public library. It’s all in books!

For further Online reading:

“Maria” Belle Boyd’s Biography

Lady Pinkertons

Matthew Brady Civil War Photography

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