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Pauline was immediately fired from the production—but instantly welcomed into Louisville Secesh circles. She was ready to spy. Truesdail proposed that Pauline become a camp follower and report back on the state of Confederate defenses in central Tennessee. He made sure that Pauline knew the danger involved; if caught, she could well be executed. Pauline accepted the challenge, and contrived a cover story: she would enter Confederate-held territory seeking her brother, a Rebel officer.

The beautiful Pauline was soon conquering the hearts of Southern officers. Pauline was apparently able to move back and forth between Louisville and Confederate camps in Tennessee and Kentucky, and still act on stage. Truesdail told Pauline to commit all she saw to memory, and not write any notes or drawings. Perhaps from overconfidence, Pauline ignored this directive, and drew detailed pictures of Confederate fortifications at Tullahoma, Tennessee, and Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Female Spies for the Union

She tucked all these documents in her boots. In late May , Pauline tried to return to Union lines, but aroused suspicion and was arrested. A search quickly revealed her incriminating documents. Bragg questioned Pauline, and was unmoved by her feminine wiles. The evidence clear, Bragg had Pauline held in Shelbyville and tried before a military court. The court proceedings took ten days, and an increasingly desperate Pauline became ill from stress.

Her health and spirits declined further when the court found her guilty and sentenced her to death. While genuinely ill, Pauline used her acting experience to make herself look much worse off than she actually was.

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The Confederates postponed her execution until her condition improved. The Union advance forced the Rebels to abandon Shelbyville on June 27, With more important matters at hand, the Confederates pulled out, leaving Pauline behind at the home of a civilian doctor. She was rescued by the advancing Federals just three days before her scheduled execution. With her cover blown, Pauline's short career as a spy was over.

Garfield and commended by President Abraham Lincoln. Soon, Pauline was touring the country giving lectures on her exploits as a spy. Now known as Miss Major Pauline Cushman and dressed in the uniform of an army major, she told paying audiences exaggerated stories of her adventures. Showman P. While Pauline played various venues in the North in , the war was still on, and Belle Boyd had one last assignment as an agent for the South. In , despite an increasingly grim picture on the battlefield, the Confederacy still hoped for recognition as an independent country by both England and France.

From Richmond, Belle traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina, there to board a steamship and attempt to run the Union blockade that was slowly strangling the South.

On May 8, after waiting several weeks for a prospective blockade runner, Belle stepped onto the steamer Greyhound , commanded by Captain George Bier. Just hours after leaving Wilmington, the Greyhound came under fire from the Union ship Connecticut and was forced to surrender.


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That same night, Hardinge led Belle on deck and recited poetry to her. The next night, he asked her to marry him. Belle demurred, telling Hardinge she would give him an answer soon. It was truly a tour de force by Belle, tagged the Cleopatra of the Secesh in Northern newspapers. By , both of our spies were no longer spying, Pauline of course having completed her stint in mid But their lives saw further parallels. In , both Belle and Pauline had their stories told in books. Belle was first with Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison , published in two volumes in England and as a single volume two months later in the United States.

As would be expected, reviews of Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison were benign in the South and rather less so in the North. Again from the New Orleans Times , this time July 30, With the war ended, Pauline continued performing, teaming for two years with an Irish comedian, James M. One of their first engagements was at the Washington Theatre, advertised in the May 24, , Daily National Republican :. At this time, the Washington Theatre had been open for only three weeks. Meanwhile, Belle Boyd was studying stagecraft in England, where she was living with husband Samuel Hardinge and their newborn daughter.

Later that year, Belle divorced Hardinge, and returned to the United States with her daughter. Belle resumed her new career as actress, appearing in a variety of roles. Not surprisingly, she was well received in the South, as seen in this September 27, , Memphis Daily Avalanche review:.

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In , Belle married John Swainston Hammond, a man she had known for all of one month. A son, born in , died in infancy. At about this time, Belle withdrew from acting. Another son and two daughters were born in the years that followed. Belle was forty, High only twenty-four. High encouraged Belle to return to the stage, and she did so in with a new show called The Perils of a Spy. With interest in her lagging in the East, Pauline moved to California in That same year, she married August Fichtner; he died in less than a year, leaving Pauline widowed for the second time.

Pauline married a third time in , her new husband being Jeremiah Fryer. They lived in Arizona Territory and ran a hotel. Sometime in the s they adopted a daughter, but she died not long thereafter. Alone, she moved about, ending up in San Francisco working as a seamstress. She suffered increasingly from arthritis and rheumatism, and became addicted to pain medication. In what was likely a suicide, Pauline Cushman died from a narcotic overdose during the night of December , , at the age of sixty.

Both women were attractive, and by and large had their way with men. Both voluntarily undertook difficult and dangerous undercover assignments to contribute to their respective sides. Both were caught and held prisoner, Belle multiple times. Pauline, an experienced actress, returned to the stage after her spying ended; Belle took up thespian arts herself once the war was over. Both women were married three times, with their relationships often turbulent. But the efforts of Belle and Pauline, Rose and Elizabeth, and many other courageous, patriotic women of both North and South are not forgotten.

Researchers can mine the rich content of the Archive of Americana to help keep it so. Roberts spent a month in in Charleston, South Carolina, and returned home with a newfound interest in the American Civil War. Bruce has studied, collected, and written extensively about nineteenth-century advertising cards for more than three decades. This online publication explores diverse aspects of digital historical collections and provides insight into web-based resources, including the Archive of Americana and Archive of International Studies.

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Google Tag Manager. Yet she has remained little known outside intelligence circles and her agency career suffered from prejudice and misunderstanding until she retired in Born to a wealthy banking family in , Hall lost her left leg after a hunting accident at the age of 27 and thereafter was dependent on a wooden prosthetic she named Cuthbert.

Despite her raft of languages and extensive knowledge of Europe her dreams of becoming an ambassador had been repeatedly thwarted by State Department prejudice against women — only six out of staffers in the Foreign Service at that time were female and one of her several attempts to join them was hampered when her exam papers were mysteriously mislaid — as well as the disabled. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, although himself reliant on a wheelchair, rejected lobbying from powerful family friends to overturn a bar on amputees from joining the diplomatic service.

So, as war loomed in , she resigned in disgust from her clerk role at the American legation in the Baltic state of Estonia to embark on what would become a Homeric tale of adventure, action and seemingly unfathomable courage. Long before the U. Yet this was merely an apprenticeship. When Hall was demobilized after France capitulated, she decided to travel to London to offer her services to the British war effort. SOE top brass were not keen on employing women, especially foreign ones, and were specifically barred from sending them into enemy territory.