Browse Books By Category

We Are Here

map showing Applewood Books location
By author: Ferdinand L. Sarmiento
Number of Pages:  384
Dimensions:  6 X 9 Inches (US)
Original publication year:  1865
ISBN:  978-1-4290-1545-5
Series:  Civil War
Availability: In stock.

• Civil War • Women's Studies

This biography of Pauline Cushman was written in 1865 by her friend, Ferdinand Sarmiento, "prepared from her notes and memoranda." Many consider the story exaggerated, but given the nature of the secret work she was doing on behalf of the Union, the lack of corraborative information available at the time may have made her real deeds unprovable. Abraham Lincoln gave her an honorary commission, and she became known as Miss Major Cushman.

Pauline Cushman was born Harriet Wood and left her home in Michigan to go to New York City to become an actress. After an unsuccessful career, she eventually met and married Charles Dickinson and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. After the death of her husband Charles in the war and an incident a few months later in Louisville, Kentucky when, after a performance, she was paid to toast Jefferson Davis and was fired by the theater, she found a role as a spy. She was able to infiltrate the Confederate commanders and provide essential espionage back to the Union army. She was captured and sentenced to death, but three days before she was to hang she was rescued by the Union army. After the war, she experienced declining fame and fortune, married Jere Fryer and lived a life of telling and retelling her Civil War story. In 1893, she died impoverished of a drug overdose in a flophouse in San Francisco. She is buried at the Presidio in San Francisco. Her simple gravestone recognizes her contribution to the Union's victory. It is marked, "Pauline C. Fryer, Union Spy."

Bookmark and Share