Van Lew, Elizabeth – Civil War


This Elizabeth Van Lew mug is part of our collection of Civil War biographical mugs.  An image of Elizabeth Van Lew and a short biography are features of this history mug.

Small Mug, 11 oz.

Large Mug, 15 oz.

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Elizabeth Van Lew was a resident of Richmond, Virginia, who built and operated an extensive spy ring for the Union during the Civil War.  Her father had owned slaves who were freed after his death in 1843.  During the war she worked at Libby Prison, bringing Union prisoners food and clothing, and she aided them in escape.  Recently captured Union soldiers gave Van Lew information on Confederate troop levels and movements, which she then passed on to Union commanders.  She developed a cipher system and often smuggled messages out of Richmond in hollow eggs.  When Richmond fell in April of 1865, Van Lew was the first person to raise the U.S. flag in the city.  After the war, Grant met with her and appointed her postmaster of Richmond.

This Elizabeth Van Lew mug is part of our US Civil War series profiling participants in the War Between the States.  Thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers fought in battles such as Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.  We honor their sacrifices by telling their stories.

The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history.  The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton.  He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone.  The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.

  • Mugs are food and microwave safe.
  • To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
  • Mugs are usually shipped within 3-5 days.
  • Shipping charges are lower when buying multiple mugs.


Additional information


Small, Large


White Deco, Black Lined Deco, Black Lined & Handle Deco, Black Lined-Full Photo, Black Lined & Handle-Full Photo, All Black