Emeline Pigot: Confederate Spy

Miss Pigot and the Jones House circa 1809 - New Bern, NC
From Bellair Plantation Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #87
"This image was taken from a 1903 New Berne (New Bern) calendar. The calendar is in our Bellair Plantation Collection. Emiline Pigot (left) was born in Harlowe Township, Carteret County, on December 15, 1836. Emiline was a spy for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. She carried contraband items in her large hoop skirts.

"General Ambrose Burnside landed on the coast of North Carolina on March 14, 1862, at the future site of Cherry Point Marine Air Corps Station’s, Officer’s Club. Miss Pigot’s fiance, private Stokes McRae, and the meager Confederate forces were forced out of New Bern and headed to Virginia. Stokes was killed at Gettysburg and she vowed to carry on his cause.Miss Pigot was caught in 1865 with contraband such as clothing, combs, boots, personal letters and important documents reporting on Union troops, and placed in prison (Jones House). Miss Pigot, a genteel Southern lady, refused to have an African American woman touch her body to search her. She ate an important document and tore up the personal letters while they tried to find someone else to search her. There are different stories as to what happened after she was caught, but she was finally released. She lived to a long life to age 82 and died on May 26, 1919.The Jones House (pictured on the right) at 231 Eden Street in New Bern was built for John Jones ca. 1809; the west wing was added ca. 1820, during the Federal period. Brothers John and Fredrick Jones both owned and operated their own turpentine distilleries. The distilleries supplied large amounts of turpentine for the use in sealing wooden hull-vessels. The house was used as a jail during the Civil War. Referred to as the 'Secesh Jail,' it is said to have housed Emiline Pigot. Tryon Palace Commission purchased the house in 1963 as its official guest house; it is also used as a gift shop for the palace."
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Elijah Pigot was born in 1725 in Northampton, Virginia and died in 1789 in Carteret County. Elijah married Sibyl (Sevil) Fulford (1738-1820).

[Their daughter Thamar Pigot (1762-1815) married Zephaniah Howland (1752-1834). One of their sons, Benjamin Tucker Howland (1778-1862) married Elizabeth Throckmorton. Their daughter Elicia married Thomas Duncan.]

Levi Pigot Sr. was the son of Elijah and Sibyl. Levi was born in 1764 in Harlowe Township, Carteret County and died 17 March 1829 in Straits, Carteret County. Levi married Margaret Whitehurst (1764-1836) in 1788. Margaret was the daughter of John Whitehurst (1736-1795) and Susannah Fulford.

Levi Pigot Jr. was born 15 March 1798 and died 22 April 1842. Levi married Elizabeth Dennis 5 July 1827. Elizabeth (1808-1889) was the daughter of Reuben Dennis and Abigail Hatsell. Reuben was the son of William Dennis; Abigail was the daugher of Armistead Hatsell. (Emeline visited the Hatsell family at their house on Orange Street and was there to watch the siege of Fort Macon from the upper porch.)

Emeline Jamison Pigot, daughter of Levi Jr. and Elizabeth Dennis, was born 15 December 1835 in Harlowe Township, Carteret County and died 26 May 1919.

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Col. Levi Whitehurst Pigot Jr. and wife Elizabeth Dennis moved from the Harlowe Township to Crab Point shortly before the Civil War. Pigot operated a large farm on Calico Creek, Morehead City, NC. It was there that daughter Emeline met and fell in love with Stokes McRae, who was part of an encampment near her parents' farm on Calico Creek. (Of note: Montford Stokes McRae was in the class of 1856 at UNC.)

Montford Stokes McRae, born about 1837, was living in Montgomery County, North Carolina, when he enlisted on 01 July 1861--Company K, North Carolina 26th Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to full sergeant on 01 May 1862 and full sergeant major 01 March 1863. Died 2 August 1863 at Gettyburg, PA.

According to family history in a Civil War forum,
"Montfort Stokes McRae, called Stokes by his friends, came from Richmond County, NC. He enlisted in Wadesboro, NC in a company known as the Pee Dee Wildcats (later Company K). He was with the 26th during their posting on the Carolina coast in Carteret County; while there he became engaged to Emeline Pigot.

"By the Battle of Gettysburg, Stokes had been promoted to sergeant major. He was wounded during the assault on the position of the Iron Brigade on McPherson's Ridge. Stokes was wounded in the leg and the bullet broke his thigh bone. He died a month after the battle in Camp Letterman, the hospital camp that remained to treat the wounded of both armies just east of the town of Gettysburg."

Sergeant Major Montford Stokes McRae, 26th North Carolina
Listed in Camp Letterman records as M. Stokes McRay, Company C; admitted to Camp Letterman after a fracture of left femur; died August 2; no records yet found about removal of remains.
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"Secrets, Supplies, and a Big Skirt"
North Carolina Museum of History

Emeline is buried in the Pigot family graveyard on the north shore of Calico Creek just off of what is now 20th Street and Emeline Place in Morehead City. The graveyard is cared for by the city, but is padlocked. Her headstone can be seen from the padlocked gate.

Pigot Family Cemetery


On April 25, 1862, it has been said that Charity Hatsell Read, along with her sixteen-year-old daughter Julia Read, stood on the south end of the upper porch of the Hatsell House, in Beaufort, to watch the shelling at Fort Macon. With them was Charity’s friend Emeline Pigot.