Cushman, Pauline

Cushman, Pauline, 1835–93, Union spy in the Civil War, b. New Orleans. She became an actress at 18 in New York City. In 1863 she was banished to Confederate lines as a supposed Southern sympathizer, when in reality she had already performed valuable services for Union intelligence in Louisville and Nashville. Captured with compromising papers upon her, she was taken to Gen. Braxton Bragg, court-martialed, and sentenced to be hanged. However, in the hasty departure (June, 1863) of the Confederates from Shelbyville, Tenn., she was left behind and was thus able, for the last time, to help the Union cause with information about Confederate strength and plans. Dressed in a Union uniform, she lectured afterward about her experiences. Her later life was unhappy, and she committed suicide in San Francisco.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies