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Female Spies for the Union

Women Spies of the Civil War


Pauline Cushman, Sarah Emma Edmonds, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Van Lew, Mary Edwards Walker, Mary Elizabeth Bowser and more: here are some of the many women who spied during the American Civil War, helping the cause of the Union and the North with their information.  See also: Female Spies for the Confederacy

Pauline Cushman:
An actress, Cushman got her start as a Union spy when she was offered money to toast Jefferson Davis. Later caught with incriminating papers, she was saved just three days before her hanging.

Sarah Emma Edmonds:
She disguised herself as a man to serve in the Union Army, and sometimes "disguised" herself as a woman -- or as a black man -- to spy on the Confederate troops. After her identity was exposed, she served as a nurse with the Union.

Harriet Tubman:
Better known for her 19-20 trips into the South to free slaves, Tubman also served with the Union Army in South Carolina, organizing a spy network and even leading raids and spy expeditions.

Elizabeth Van Lew:
An abolitionist living in Richmond, she helped bring food and clothing to Union prisoners and smuggled out information. She also placed a spy in the home of Jefferson Davis.

Mary Edwards Walker:
Known for her unconventional dress - she often wore trousers and a man's coat - this pioneer physician worked for the Union Army as a nurse and spy while she waited for an official commission as a surgeon.

Mary Elizabeth Bowser:
She served as a maid in the Confederate White House -- and, ignored while important conversations were held, she passed along important information from those conversations and from papers she found.

More: Other women who spied for the Union include Sarah Thompson.


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