Although a Southerner, actress Pauline Cushman contacted the Union Army in 1863 and offered to work as a federal intelligence operative. Because of Cushman’s alluring presence, the Union quickly agreed and sent Cushman to Nashville, Tennessee. As a camp follower, she easily gathered information about enemy operations. While acting as a courier she was arrested by the Confederates and sentenced to hang. Cushman was saved from the gallows only by the unexpected arrival of Union forces. Her instant national fame ended her career in espionage.


  • Title: Pauline Cushman (1833-1897)
  • Creator: Mathew Brady
  • Physical Dimensions: Gelatin silver print (from glass plate negative), 3 1/2" x 2 1/4" (image)
  • Provenance: The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation
  • Subject Keywords: Civil War spy
  • Type: Photograph
  • Date: ca. 1865

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