Pauline Cushman


Pauline Cushman was a Union spy. Born in New Orleans, Pauline's family later relocated to Michigan. At the age of eighteen, she traveled to New York City to become a stage actress. Pauline would again travel to New Orleans where she performed in a theater, met and married her husband, Charles Dickinson. When the Civil War broke out, Dickinson joined the Union army as a musician, and died of dysentery in 1862. Returning to the stage, Pauline was performing at Louisville, Kentucky when approached by Union officers proposing she become a spy. Thereafter, Pauline traveled to Nashville, Tennessee where she perfected her cover. Moving behind the Confederate lines of Bragg's army, she gathered valuable information. Eventually, she was detained for question, escaped and recaptured by General John Hunt Morgan. Sentenced to hang for her activities, she awaited her fate in prison where her health deteriorated. When the Confederates evacuated Shelbyville, Tennessee they left the sick Pauline behind. Too well known to be of any service to the Union, and now called "The Spy of the Cumberland," Pauline eventually moved out West to California. In her declining years, suffering from various ailments, she became addicted to alcohol and morphine. At the age of 60, she was found dead in a lodging house in San Fransisco, dying from a self-induced overdose of morphine. She is buried in the officers' section of Golden Gate Cemetery at the Presidio. 

Birth Location: 
New Orleans, Louisiana
Birth Date: 
June 20 1833
Death Location: 
San Francisco, California
Death Date: 
December 2 1893