Brooklyn in the Civil War
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photo of Major Pauline Cushman
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Major Pauline Cushman

This photograph shows Pauline Cushman in her disguise as a soldier. Born in New Orleans, she became an actress, and then moved to New York at age 18. When the Civil War began, she worked as a spy for the Union Army. She would obtain secret papers from the Confederate Army and smuggle them to the Union. She was caught by the Confederates, and was about to be executed, when Union troops arrived in the nick of time and freed her.

During the Civil War, hundreds of women passed as men and served as soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies. Most were not discovered to be women unless they were injured and had to be treated in hospitals. Some joined the army to stay with their husbands, some out of patriotic fervor, and some were simply looking for a job. Some of these women wrote memoirs about their experiences, which provide a fascinating look into the lives of women during this time period.

To see Pauline Cushman in a typical woman's dress, see Document 70.

A brief mention of Miss Major Pauline Cushman appeared in this Brooklyn Daily Eagle article: "Miscellaneous News Items" (Nov. 30, 1868).

Other suggested Web sites:

Pauline Cushman (

Women in the Civil War (

Women Soldiers, Spies, and Vivandieres: Articles from Civil War Newspapers (

Citation - Document 71
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society

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