Cushman, Pauline, 1833-1893

Alternative names
Birth 1833-06-10
Death 1893-12-02

Biographical notes:

Pauline Cushman, born Harriet Wood, entered the U.S. secret service following a Midwestern acting career. After the death of her husband, Charles C. Dickinson, Pauline left her two children with her in-laws to go on the Louisville stage. In April 1863, Cushman was recruited as an army detective by Col. Orlando H. Moore, the provost marshal there. In June 1863, Cushman was sent behind Confederate lines by Army Chief of Police William Truesdail in Nashville to gain information on Confederate General Braxton Bragg's forces; she gathered information on Confederate dispositions and sketched fortifications. She was betrayed by a local smuggler and taken to Bragg's headquarters where her sketches were discovered. After a court martial conviction, Cushman was sentenced to hang. Cushman was rescued when Union forces retook the town. In the following years, Cushman toured performing recitations of her army service and war escapades, and acted in a variety of plays. On December 2, 1893, Pauline Cushman Fryer died in San Francisco, at age sixty. Circa 1910, her body was reinterred in the Officer's Circle in the Presidio National Park cemetery.

From the description of Pauline Cushman scrapbook, 1863-1869, 1893. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 213373982


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  • Women entertainers
  • Spies
  • Women spies


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  • United States (as recorded)