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Pauline Cushman (Dictionary of American Biography)

Scholarship

Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 3: 4.

In March of the following year [1863], she was playing in The Seven Sisters at Wood’s Theatre in Louisville. At a certain point in the performance she was called on to drink a toast and was urged by certain Southern sympathizers to toast the Southern cause. Making this public avowal of sympathy on the advice of the provost-marshal, she was dismissed from the theatre. She then took an oath of allegiance to the Federal government and was commissioned as secret agent. A supposed rebel, she was subsequently expelled from Nashville, with instructions to penetrate as far South as possible, and to collect all the military information she could, but under no condition to carry notes or plans. Unfortunately, her opportunities to obtain military maps were so great that she violated her instructions. Her uneasy knowledge of the possession of these materials caused her to make an incriminating effort to escape when detained not far from Bragg’s headquarters at Tullahoma, Tenn. The papers being discovered, she was tried by a military court and sentenced to be hanged in ten days. Anxiety over her position, added to the strain of her hard journeys, brought on a temporary physical collapse. Removed from the military jail to more comfortable quarters at Shelbyville, Tenn., she was left behind when the Confederates hastily retreated from that place in June 1863. She was able to give the advancing army of Rosecrans much valuable information, but had become so well-known that further spying was impossible.
How to Cite This Page: "Pauline Cushman (Dictionary of American Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/17948.