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Pauline Cushman, the celebrated Union spy and scout of the Army of the Cumberland.

Among the wild and dashing exploits which have signalized the recent war-rivalling in heroic and dramatic interest the most famous achievements of the earlier days of chivalry-few are more striking or picturesque than the simple narrative of facts which we are about to relate. [101]

Miss Pauline Cushman, or “MajorCushman, as she is, by right, most generally called, was born in the city of New Orleans, on the 10th day of June, 1833, her father being a Spaniard, a native of Madrid, and a prosperous merchant of the Crescent city, and her mother a French woman of excellent social position and attainments. In course of time, her father met with losses which followed one another in rapid succession, and unable to stay the tide of adversity, after a brave but unavailing struggle, he abandoned his enterprises in New Orleans, and removed with his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan. This town was at that time little more than a frontier settlement, and opening an establishment for the purposes of trade with the neighboring Indians, he soon found himself in active and successful business. Pauline, meanwhile, the only girl in a family of six brothers, had arrived at the age of ten years, and was growing in beauty and intelligence. The circumstances which surrounded her domestic life, however, somewhat clouded the joy of the young girl's earlier years. Her father's rigid nature and strong passions ill matched with her mother's gentle and retiring temperament, and she was therefore sometimes compelled to witness scenes of domestic discord, which made home far less desirable than it should have been. Fortunately, however, her natural inclinations led her mostly to indulge in out-door sports, and she was thus enabled to disperse in the sun shine of forgetfulness the oppressive gloom which too frequently clouded their little home circle. And, more than that, amid the plains, the varied scenes of frontier life, and the wild companions that surrounded her in her new western home, she insensibly laid the foundation [102] of that physical strength and beauty, and that courageous spirit, which has since distinguished her every action. In her father's store, little Pauline became acquainted with the most noted “braves” of the neighboring Indian tribes, and by her kindly attentions to their wants, and her many innocent, childish ways, completely gained their confidence and good-will, as was manifested by the poetic appellation, “Laughing breeze,” which they bestowed upon her. As time passed, she grew up as straight as an arrow, and beautiful as a prairie rose. None could use the rifle more dexterously than she; none could excel her-whether coursing the broad plains, mounted on the back of a half-tamed steed, without saddle or bridle, or stemming the fierce mountain currents in her light canoe-while few among the dusky natives of the region could wing an arrow with greater certainty than this pale-faced maiden. But gradually civilization in his westward march reached and revolutionized the frontier town where she dwelt. And with the novelties and luxuries, the inventions and improvements, which came from the far eastern cities — from New York, Philadelphia, etc.-came also wonderful reports of the fascinations and delights of life to be found there. Exaggerated by distance, and by her own bright imagination, which pictured all things couleur de rose, these glowing descriptions awakened in Pauline's breast the most intense desire to see and participate in their realities. And, ere long, we find her in New York, waiting for an opportunity to take her first step in the real life of which, on the far off prairies, she had so often dreamed. The opportunity was nearer than she thought, for soon she fell in with Mr. Thomas Placide, manager [103] of the New Orleans “Varieties,” who, struck by her handsome face and figure, at once proposed that she should enter into an engagement with him, and appear at his theatre. She accepted the proposition, and, in due time, made her debut upon the boards of the “Varieties,” inspiring in the hearts of the impressible people of New Orleans an admiration which partook of the nature of a furor. Gifted with rare natural gifts of mind and body, she soon became widely known as one of the first of American actresses. It was not, however, until the spring of March, 1863, that Miss Cushman exchanged the role of the actress for the real acting of a noble and patriot woman, risking her life in solemn and terrible earnestness for her country's good.

She was, at that time, playing at Mozart Hall, or “Wood's theatre,” in Louisville, Ky., then the headquarters of the rebel sympathizers of the southwest; and, although under Union rule, these gentry had become so emboldened, from long continued success, as to almost set the Federal authorities at defiance. At the house where Miss Cushman boarded, she was unavoidably thrown into the company of many of these disloyal persons; and among her acquaintances she numbered two paroled rebel officers, Colonel Spear, and Captain J. H. Blincoe, whom, apart from all political considerations, she had admitted to a certain degree of friendship. She was at that time acting the part of Plutella, in the “Seven sisters,” and every one who has seen this widely popular play, will remember that Plutella has to assume, during the course of the piece, many characters-at one time a dashing Zouave officer, at another, a fine gentleman of fashion, and in this last character is supposed to [104] drink wine with a friend. One afternoon, while receiving a call from these two rebel officers, and talking over the play, they suddenly proposed to her to “drink a Southern toast in the evening, and see what effect it will have upon the audience.” In surprise, she exclaimed, “But I should be locked up in jail, if I were to attempt any thing of that kind.” They, however, scouted the idea, and finally offered her three hundred dollars in greenbacks, if she would do it. Stifling her indignation at the base proposal, she pretended to assent, and asked merely for a little time to think it over. The gentlemen left to prepare matters for the expected surprise; but no sooner were they fairly out of sight, than with cheeks burning and eyes flashing, the actress proceeded to the office of Colonel Moore, the United States Provost-Marshal, with whom she had a slight acquaintance, and to whom she related the whole affair. He quietly and kindly heard her story, and then, thanking her for her confidence, coolly advised her to carry out the programme of her rebel advisers, and drink the toast, as proposed, at the theatre that evening. Her amazement at this may be better imagined than described; but the colonel finally overcame her scruples, giving her to understand that she could render her country a true service by following his advice, and promising that he would himself be present at the theatre. “Fear not,” he said; “it is for a deeper reason than you think, that I beg you to do this thing. Good may come of it, to your country, that you know not of.” To the view of her duty, as thus presented, she patriotically yielded her assent, and returned to her lodgings to prepare for the new role which she was to act, and to get ready for [105] the momentous event of the evening. It was enough for her to know that good to her country was to flow from her apparently treasonable act, and that some design, of which she was yet unconscious, was concealed t beneath it. The afternoon was well improved by her rebel friends in publishing abroad in the “secesh” circles of the city, that something rich was to come off that evening at the theatre. It seemed to our heroine that the afternoon would never wear away; and yet, as the hour approached, her heart beat fast at the thought that the momentous moment was hastening on. At last the hour arrived for her to set out to the theatre. No sooner had she stepped within the building, than she saw that it was literally packed. Not even standing room was to be had for love or money. Every rebel sympathizer in town had heard of it, and all were there. The time approached for the play to begin. The musicians in the orchestra tuned their big fiddles in their usual mysterious manner. Ushers began to call out the numbers of seats, and to slam the doors in their wonted style. The “call-boy” flew here and there, and at last, in obedience to the prompter's bell, the curtain began to rise, discovering Mr. Pluto at breakfast, within the shades of Hades. There was, however, a veritable Pluto to burst upon them, that they wot not of. This was coming. In the meantime, the jokes and mirth of the “Seven sisters” were more than ordinarily relished. It may have been that those in the secret were so delighted at the prospect of seeing the Federal authorities thus wantonly insulted, that they greeted every thing with rapture, and that this became contagious among the good Union people of the house, who .f course, were ignorant of the [106] joke. At length the critical moment arrived, and advancing in her theatrical costume to the foot lights, our heroine, goblet in hand, gave, in a clear, ringing voice, the following toast:

Here's to Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy. May the South always maintain her honor and her rights!

Miss Cushman had prepared herself for a fearful outbreak of popular opinion, but for a moment even the hearts of the audience seemed to stop beating. Then, however, it burst forth, and such a scene followed as beggars description. The good Union portion of the audience had set, at first, spell-bound and horrified by the fearful treason thus outspoken, while the “secesh” were frozen with the audacity of the act, though conscious that it was to occur. But then came the mingled storm of applause and condemnation. Fierce and tumultuous it raged, until it seemed as though it would never stop. Nor was the scene behind the scenes less intense. The manager, rushing up to our heroine, demanded, in his most tragic tone, “what she meant by such conduct;” while the rest of the professional gentlemen and ladies avoided her as though she had suddenly been stricken with some fearfully contagious disease. The brave girl, however, had her cue, and boldly avowed that she “wasn't afraid of the whole Yankee crew, and would do it again.” In short, she carried out her part so well, that no one doubted for a moment that she was a most virulent secessionist. Before she had left the theatre, the guards arrived to arrest her; but-out of respect to Mr. Wood, the proprietor of the theatre — they were deterred from actually executing their errand, [107] and it was arranged that she should report at headquarters at ten o'clock the next morning. There she was welcomed in the private office in the kindest manner, and earnestly thanked by Colonel Moore, and his superior, General Boyle, for the capital manner in which she had carried out the pseudo-treasonable plan. She was now enlightened as to the design of the United States officers, who informed her that she must enter the secret service of the government. They also advised her to moderate her “secesh” proclivities in public, as if she had received a severe reprimand from General Boyle; but, in private, to abuse the government, and say all the harm she could about it; by which means she would inspire confidence among the disaffected, and would be of incalculable use to the national cause. Promising a ready and strict compliance with these requests, she returned to her lodgings, where she found a note awaiting her from the management of the theatre, discharging her from her engagement there.

Thrown afresh, as it were, upon the world, Miss Cushman now found herself in a most peculiar and embarrassing position. Shunned by her former friends as bearing the brand of disloyalty-slighted-jeered at-flung by the force of her own act upon the sympathies and companionship of a cowardly crew of rebel sympathizers, from whose treason her very nature revolted, her situation was one of peculiar hardship and disagreeableness. She was sustained, however, by the thought that she was sacrificing her own prospects and feelings for her country's good. The work before her was full of danger, excitement, and importance. Louisville, at this time, was undermined by disloyal sentiments and treasonable [108] plots. Every expedient that human and disloyal ingenuity could devise to annoy and harass the loyal Union people of that section, or to cripple the power and operations of the government, was resorted to with malignant delight-even by wealthy and well known citizens of Louisville. Many of these plots Miss Cushman was the means of bringing to light and to punishment; and, in so doing; had to assume various disguises, mingling with every class of people, from the cut-throats of the low groggeries to the best circles of “secesh” society. Her most dangerous service, however, was scouting in search of guerrillas, to accomplish which, she was frequently compelled to don male attire and to remain in the saddle all night; and many and varied were the strange adventures which she met with. But her coolness, her energy, and patriotism carried her successfully through these experiences, and God's special providence seemed always to be with her. The most important service, however, which she rendered her country while in Louisville, was the detection of her landlady in the act of mixing up poison in the coffee of a number of sick and wounded Union soldiers, who had been quartered upon her. She managed to play the “sympathizer” until she had gained a full knowledge of the plan, and then secretly informed the United States authorities, by whom the poor soldiers were removed in time from the fate which awaited them, and the fiend-woman was treated to her deserved punishment.

At another time, personating the somewhat notorious George N. Sanders, purporting to have just returned from Europe with highly important despatches, concorning [109] the recognition of the Confederacy, etc., and also a certain Captain Denver, alias Conklin, Miss Cushman most successfully “gammoned” some of the leading secessionists of Louisville, especially a Mrs. Ford, and placed a very effectual embargo on a large amount of quinine, morphine, and other medicines, which were in transit to the rebel army.

In course of time, Mr. J. R. Allen, of the new theatre of Nashville, Tenn., arrived at Louisville, engaged in looking up a good company of actors, and meeting with Mr. Wood of the Louisville theatre, was recommended to secure Miss Cushman. “She is a good looking woman, and an accomplished actress, but she will talk ‘secesh.’ If you can only keep her out of the provost-marshal's hands, you will make a good thing, for she will be popular at once,” said Mr. Wood. So the proposition was made to Pauline, and, after advising with the military authorities, under whose guidance she was acting, she determined to accept it. Of course, in order to maintain her assumed part, the authorities had to refuse her a “pass,” and her only way, therefore, to get out of Louisville, was to “run the blockade.” Proceeding, at the appointed time, to the cars, she got a “secesh” gentleman, going to Nashville, to attend to her trunk; then she requested leave of the guard, at the door of the car, to speak to a friend inside, “only for one minute.” Her woman's face prevailed, he let her pass, and she took pains to stay within the car. When the officer of the guard came around to inspect the passes, she had a “made up story” all ready, at the same time showing her order from Mr. Allen to report herself immediately at his theatre. He hesitated, but her pleasing [110] face and a few womanly tears carried the point, and our heroine was soon on her way to Nashville, at that time the base of operations of the glorious Army of the Southwest.

On her arrival at Nashville, she met with a warm reception from “Secessia,” who were brimful of congratulations at her escape from the Federal power at Louisville, and of exultation at her having got away from that place without even securing a “pass” or taking the oath of allegiance. In her character of actress she soon became exceedingly popular, but her stay at the theatre was a short one; for, on her return from rehearsal one day, she found a summons from Colonel Truesdail, the chief of the army police of Nashville. On entering his office, she was received by him politely but distantly, as due to a stranger; but, no sooner had he dismissed his clerks, than his whole manner changed to one of cordiality. After complimenting her for her previous important services to the country, he informed her that he had selected her for a duty that would not only require the greatest discretion, constancy, and quickness of perception which she could command, but which was one of extraordinary peril — an undertaking which might end in glory, or in an ignominious death by the bullet, or by the rope! At these words she involuntarily shrank back, but yet she answered in a firm tone:

Colonel Truesdail, hundreds, aye, thousands of our noble soldiers, each one of greater service to our country than my poor self, have gladly given up their lives in her cause. Should I hesitate to do as much? No; I will do all that a woman should do, and all that a man dare do, for my country and the Union!


Charmed with the noble heroism which breathed in these words, the colonel proceeded to reveal the service for which she was to be detailed, and to give her the necessary instructions. The duty which was required of her, was to secretly visit the rebel General Bragg's headquarters, an enterprise at that time of the greatest importance, and one upon which the whole fate of the Union cause seemed to depend. First, she was to be sent out of the lines, in company with many other rebel women who were being sent South, in obedience to a late order of General Mitchell. To this very natural reason, she added another, i. e., that she had a brother, A. A. Cushman, who was a colonel somewhere in the rebel army, and a professed anxiety to find him afforded a very clever ostensible reason for her travelling from headquarters to headquarters, and from place to place through the South. She was then instructed to make no confidants; not to talk too much; to make the same answers to all parties, and never to deviate from the story, when once framed. The search for her brother was to be the free and confessed object of her travels, and under this pretence she was to visit the rebel armies at Columbia, Shelbyville, Wartrace, Tullahoma, and Manchester. She was to make no direct inquiries of officers or others concerning the strength of the Confederate forces, movements, supplies, etc., but, in accepting the offers to ride and other attention which her personal attractions would probably secure her from officers, she was to keep her eyes open, and note every thing of importance which she might see. In the hospitals, she was to make such observations as she could, concerning the medical and hospital supplies, the [112] number of sick and wounded soldiers, etc. But she was especially advised not, on any account, to make any memorandum or tracings of any kind; only keeping a brief memoranda of the houses at which she stopped, amount of bill, and date, which being so customary as not to excite suspicion, would yet serve to refresh the memory on certain points. The Oath of Fidelity to the United States was then solemnly administered to Miss Cushman; the gallant colonel presented to her a handsome “six-shooter,” and on a glorious May morning, under the pretended surveillance of an officer, she was conveyed beyond the lines as a disloyal woman. Arrived at a point some three miles distant from Nashville, out of sight of any human habitation, the carriage stopped, and Miss Cushman found awaiting her a fine bay horse, fully caparisoned, which she mounted, and bidding farewell to her military escort, she galloped gayly down the Hardin pike, followed by the good wishes of the few who knew her real character and purpose.

The close of her first day's journey brought her to the Big Harpeth river, the bridge across which had been so injured by the rebels that it was impossible for any one to cross it, and in following a side path which seemed to lead to a ford, Miss Cushman came upon a nice looking dwelling house, where she stopped to inquire about the road. From the inmates she found that it would be impossible to cross at present, at least without help; and accordingly, the sympathies of the woman of the house having been fully enlisted by the story of the cruel treatment received by Miss Cushman from the Federal authorities of Nashville, she was allowed to spend the [113] night there. In the morning, her host, Milam by name, who carried on a considerable business in smuggling goods and supplies out of Nashville for the benefit of his rebel friends across the river, purchased her horse and equipments, giving her confederate funds therefore and hired her a buggy and driver under whose care she set forth in the direction of Columbia. Through dreary woods and terrible roads and a drenching rain they pursued their way, finally arriving at her destination, where she was, fortunately for her strength, compelled to wait, for three days, the re-opening of the railroad to Shelbyville, which had been destroyed by the Union troops. While here, she met with much sympathy from the rebels, to whom she appeared in the character of an abused woman, seeking for her brother, an officer in the army; and she also had to pass the scrutiny of more experienced judges-officers, and others high in official rank. But she bore the test, and in turn made the most suspicious her most useful tools. Columbia proved a rich field to our heroine, who made many friends and accumulated much valuable acquaintance while there. Soon she went to Shelbyville, from whence she found, much to her annoyance, that Bragg had removed his headquarters-and where she could not ascertain. But, ever alive to any opportunity that offered of doing good to her country, she acquired some valuable information which more than compensated her for the frustration of her original object in visiting Shelbyville. It chanced that she learned that at the same hotel table where she dined there sat a young officer of engineers, who was engaged in drawing important plans for the rebel government. She immediately conceived the plan of [114] obtaining these plans, at whatever risk to herself, and to get back to the Federal lines, which she thought could be easily effected, and in time to be of the utmost service to her country. As an excuse for wishing to return to the Federal lines, she would represent that having been hurriedly sent out of Nashville by the Federal officers, she had been compelled to leave all her theatrical wardrobe behind her in her flight, and now she was desirous of recovering it, so that she might be able to accept some engagement at some of the theatres throughout the country, and earn enough money to enable her to pursue her journey in search of her brother. Luckily, as if to further her plans, about this time, she received the offer of an engagement from the manager of the Richmond theatre, which of course tallied exactly with her scheme. Her next move was to get acquainted with the young engineer officer, which was soon effected by a letter of safeguard given her by one of her Shelbyville friends, Major Boone; and soon, with her pretty woman's ways, she had won his entire confidence so completely, that he even offered to give her letters of introduction to General Bragg. Calling upon him at his office, she was warmly welcomed, and finally excusing himself whilst he retired to an adjoining room to write the promised letters of introduction, Miss Cushman found herself alone in the room with the much coveted plans and drawings. In the few moments which elapsed during his absence from the room, she contrived to slip the plans into her bosom, and when he returned, she received from him the letters and left him as unsuspecting and as pleasant as ever-unconscious of his loss. Shortly after she left Shelbyville on her way to [115] Nashville; and, during a short halt, at a place called Wartrace, she undertook a scouting enterprise with the view of communicating valuable information to some of the roving bands of Union cavalry, who were almost daily engaged in skirmishing with the rebel cavalry. In carrying out this plan, her first requisite was, of course, a man's suit of clothes, and to get these she now set her wits to work. At the same hotel where she was stopping was a young man of about seventeen years of age, whose clothes she thought would just fit her, but how to get them was the question. With only the knowledge that he slept in the upper story of the house, but provokingly ignorant of which room he occupied, she resolved to “scout” around in the dark, and, “hit or miss,” make a desperate attempt to secure the clothes.

So after a series of adventures in the dark, which succeeded only in arousing nearly all the inmates of the several rooms on the corridor, our discomfited heroine, beating a hasty retreat from the discovery which now seemed inevitable, desperately tried the handle of a small door near at hand. To her great joy it yielded, and slipping hastily in, she found herself in a low, poorly-furnished chamber — in which lay sleeping the very man whose clothes she had been seeking. Luckily, the uproar in the hall had not awakened him, and waiting till all was quiet again, she grabbed the clothes and sped silently to her own room. Hastily dressing herself in the stolen suit, she crept softly down-stairs, past the sleeping negro boy in the hall, out to the stables, and there she speedily saddled one of the best horses which he could find, and pushed her way out of the town. [116] Into the woods she rode, and finally, when some three miles out of Wartrace, came suddenly upon a guerilla encampment, and was busily engaged in playing the eavesdropper to their camp-fire conversation when she unluckily stepped upon a brittle branch which snapped under her feet. Instantly they took the alarm, and she scarcely had time to mount her horse before they were in full chase after her. Gradually they gained upon her, when suddenly she found herself approaching, at full speed, a precipitous rock, at the foot of which meandered a small stream. It was impossible to check the headlong speed of her horse, and her pursuers were close upon her; so, shutting her eyes, and striking the spurs deep into the animals flanks, she plunged down the mountain side. Her pursuers did not dare to follow, but standing at the top of the bluff, contented themselves with winging their pistol bullets after her. Suddenly; just as she hoped that she was fairly escaped, one of her pursuers discovered a bridle path, and the chase recommenced. Pushing hastily into the woods which lined the creek, she endeavored to regain the road to Wartrace, for she was now threatened with two dilemmas; if daylight overtook her before she could get back to the hotel, her theft of the clothes and horse would be discovered; and if taken by her pursuers she would inevitably be take] to Wartrace, it being the nearest town. On she rode, at full speed, until she found herself gaining upon the rebel riders, and suddenly came upon a wounded Union cavalryman, scarce able to sit upon his horse, from the effects of a wound received while scouting, a few hours before. She at first mistook him for a “reb,” but ascertaining the truth, a plan of escape flashed through [117] her brain, and she quickly revealed to him her sex and name, and asked his aid. The brave fellow had heard of the “Woman scout of the Cumberland,” and, faint and wounded as he was, gladly and bravely offered to carry out her plan at the risk of his life. Firing her --pistol into the air, she instructed the soldier to say to the pursuing party, who would inevitably be drawn thither by the report, that he had been met and shot by a “reb.” She told him that he could not expect, from his wounds, to escape capture, and advised him to stir himself around so as to make his wound bleed afresh. He obeyed, and let himself fall off his horse, while Miss Cushman gave the animal a sharp blow which sent him flying down the road. When the rebel horsemen galloped up to the spot, they found the soldier lying at the foot of a tree, bleeding freely, and in a state of unconsciousness from his sudden fall, while over him bent our heroine, pistol in hand. To their surprised and hurried query who she was, she promptly replied: “am a farmer's son, over near Wartrace, and I surrender to you; but I have shot your best fellow, here, and only wish I had shot more of ye.” To their astonished looks and questions as to what he meant, she.replied in the same bitter vein; “I mean just what I say. I am only sorry that I didn't kill more of you darned Yankees, that comes down here and runs all our niggers off!” Completely misled by her skilful acting, the rebels now saw that the boy had mistaken them for Yankees; and on questioning the Yankee soldier, who was gradually recovering from his faintness, the brave fellow, true to instructions, designated the “farmer's boy,” as the one who had shot him, “because he was a Yankee.” It now [118] became evident to the “rebs” that each party had mistaken the other for “Yanks ;” but for further precaution, Pauline was ordered to accompany them, and the wounded soldier was placed on a horse, and the party took up their march to Wartrace. This was a programme not at all agreeable to her, and as they rode along through the darkness of the forest, she conceived the idea of creating a “scare,” hoping to avail herself of the confusion to get off and make her escape to Wartrace before daylight should make it too late to escape detection as a thief. So as they were passing through a narrow gorge of the road, thickly overshadowed by tall forest trees, --a nice place for an ambush-she managed to fall behind the party and become hidden by a bend in the road. Then taking out her revolver, she fired five shots in rapid succession. As she expected, her rebel companions were startled. Supposing themselves ambushed by Federal cavalry, fear lent a thousand terrors to their minds, and their imaginations gave new echoes to the reports of the pistol. Away they went, pell-mell, and laughing heartily at the success of her “scare,” Miss Cushman rapidly galloped to Wartrace, where she luckily succeeded in comfortably housing her steed and in returning the borrowed clothes, without detection-and, in due time, answered the summons of the breakfast bell, as rosy and fresh-faced, and as innocent in look and manner, as if the night had been spent comfortably in her bed.

After several stirring adventures at Tullahoma, where she made a short stay, she returned to Columbia, where she remained awhile, engaged in picking up all the in. formation which it was possible to secure. Here, too, she met her friends (and lovers too, if truth were spoken), [119] Major Boone, and Captain P. A. Blackman, rebel quartermaster, the latter of whom urged her to adopt man's apparel and join the Confederate army, with the promise of a position as his aide-de-camp, and the rank of lieutenant. This flattering proposition was accepted-the enamored captain forthwith ordered a complete rebel officer's uniform, and it was agreed that so soon as she should return from her proposed trip to Nashville, she should accompany him as aide. Meanwhile, she was not slow to accept every invitation from him to ride over the neighboring country, thereby gaining that complete knowledge of camps, fortifications, and the paraphernalia of war, which was deemed essential to the new officer. It may here be noticed that Miss Cushman now departed from the strict instructions which she had received from her military superiors, not to make drawings, plans, etc., of fortifications; and at Shelbyville and Tullahoma she made careful and accurate drawings, which she concealed between the inner and outer soles of her boot. This dereliction of duty, though intended for the best, proved the ultimate cause of the troubles and miseries which afterward befell her. On her return to the house at the crossing of the Big Harpeth river, in company with the same man who had brought her over before, he induced her to cross the bridge on foot, saying that the ford was impassable, owing to late rains. She did so, and instead of following by another ford, he incontinently disappeared, leaving her with but a small moiety of her baggage, some distance from her destination, and the night rapidly approaching. Indeed it was quite dark when she reached Milam's house, where she had spent the night and sold her horse before going to Columbia. [120] Mrs. Milam, who had before been so cordial, was now evidently suspicious, and our heroine's comfort was not increased by her interview with the husband on the following morning. He informed her that her trunks which she had left at Nashville, had been seized by Colonel Truesdail, whereupon she made a great show of pretended indignation, declaring that she would go to Nashville, “if she had to walk all the way,” and get them back; and offering to buy back her horse. Unfortunately, her host, who had made her a confidant of his treasonable plans and acts when she was his guest on the occasion of her going to Columbia, as he thought, permanently, was suspicious of her sudden return, and by no means inclined to injure his own prospects, by helping her to return to Nashville, where, if false to her assumed character, he knew she would “post” the authorities concerning him. He therefore communicated with the nearest rebel scout post, and ere long she was placed under arrest, and transferred to Anderson's Mill, where she was disarmed and examined by the officer in charge. Finding that she had no “pass,” she was held as a prisoner of war, until her case could be reported to and acted upon by General Bragg. Moreover, she was not allowed to return to the house at Big Harpeth where she had left a satchel containing her rebel uniform and several articles of pressing use and value. Fortunately she had come across her horse on the road to Anderson's Mill, at the house of one De Moss, and claiming him at once, had taken possession of him, and as night closed in, she found herself again on the road, still a prisoner. About noon the next day, her guide stopped with her for refreshment at the house of a well-known physician, [121] and while there, a large body of Confederate cavalry passed, under command of the famous General Morgan. His attention being called to Miss Cushman, he detailed her guard to another special duty, and took her under his own care and watch, and she enjoyed his gallant attentions until they reached Hillsboro, where she was handed over to another scout to be taken to General Forrest's headquarters.

During the long ride which ensued she concocted another nice little scheme for escape. Knowing that General Rosecrans was much dreaded by the rebels in that part of the country, who hardly knew where they might next expect an attack from him, she knew that if she could raise the cry, “Old rosy is coming,” a general “skedaddle” would ensue, instanter. She felt sure, also, that she was not regarded as a very important political prisoner, and would probably be dropped immediately by her guards, in order to effect their own escape. Her horse, she noticed, stood still saddled in a small outhouse, and the storm which raged with much fury, was favorable to her project. Watching her opportunity, therefore, she made friends with an aged negro man about the place, and gave him a ten dollar greenback if he would, at a proper time of night, run up the road a piece, and then back again, shouting as loud as he could, “the Yankees are coming!” The old negro entered heartily into the plan, and carried it out successfully At the darkest hour of the stormy night, the whole “negro quarters” poured into the house where the guards and their prisoner were sleeping, and “the Yanks! the Yanks am a-coming!” resounded from a dozen thoroughly frightened throats. Sauve qui peut, [122] was the word, the rebels fled incontinently, and our heroine, flinging herself upon her horse, sped away on the road to Franklin. She had provided herself, somehow, with a pistol belonging to a wounded rebel soldier in a house where she had stopped; and pushing her way fearlessly along she reached and passed, with peculiar adroitness, five rebel pickets, but was finally foiled and obliged to turn back before the unswervable honesty of the last picket on the road, who would not allow her to pass him without the proper document. At a house near the road, where death had bereaved the family of an infant child, the tired girl found a refuge and shelter from storm and fatigue.

She was awakened from her sound slumbers the next morning by the unwelcome appearance of four of the rebel scouts from whom she had escaped the night before, and who had tracked her all the way from Hillsboro. Although she pretended to be glad to see them and explained her separation from them as the result of her fears of the “Yanks,” they were neither gulled nor mollified, but gruffly ordered her to accompany them back, without even taking the breakfast which her kind hostess pressed upon them. And soon she was in the saddle, and proceeding on her journey, under the care of her scouts, who evinced more than usual watchfulness over her. She was first taken to General Morgan, who received her with his wonted courteousness, and he accompanied her to General Forrest's headquarters. That celebrated chief, after a trying examination, sent her, under guard, to General Bragg. On arriving at Shelbyville, she was shown at once to the general's headquarters, which were in the heart of the camp. On entering [123] she was met by a small sized man, with small, dark gray eyes, iron gray hair and whiskers, and bronzed face. This was General Bragg. His manner was stern, but gentlemanly, and after glancing over the papers handed to him by her guide, he began:

Of what country are you a native, Miss Cushman? he asked, waving her to a chair with his hand.

I am an American, sir; but of French and Spanish parentage,

she answered.

“And you were born where?” he asked.

“In the city of New Orleans.”

“Hum!” ejaculated the general, doubtingly. “How comes it, then, that — that your pronunciation has the Yankee twang?”

“ It comes, probably, from the fact that I am, professionally, an actress,” she answered promptly, “and as I am in the habit of playing Yankee characters very frequently, it may be that I've caught the” twang “by it, and show it in my ordinary conversation, as well as on the stage.”

“Hum!” growled the general again. “But what brought you down South?”

“ I was not brought, sir; I was sent,” answered Pauline, proudly.

By whom, may I ask, Miss Cushman?” “By the Federal Colonel, Truesdail.”

“And why were you sent?” inquired Bragg, with a sly look of incredulity.

“ Because I gave warm utterance to my Southern feelings, and refused to take their oath of allegiance,” replied our heroine, pretending to shed tears, “and a pretty way I'm paid for it, too.” [124]

“ Why wouldn't you take the oath?” persisted Bragg, apparently untouched by her youth and beauty in tears.

“ I had declared that I wouldn't take it, and I meant to stick to my word!” replied Pauline, stoutly.

The general studied the expression of her countenance for a moment, and then continued.

“What was the main charge that the Federals made against you?”

“I had publicly drunk to the success of the South and our Confederacy. It was on the stage of the Louisville theatre, and I did it at the request of two paroled Confederate officers, who, if they were now here, would tell you the same thing,” and our heroine related the whole occurence of the toast, etc.

“Well, what happened then?” remarked the general.

“I was at once discharged from the theatre, and went to Nashville, where I got a fresh engagement, only to be sent away in turn; for Colonel Truesdail, the chief of the Federal army police, getting wind of my Southern sentiments, and hearing of my drinking the toast wishing success to the South, immediately ordered me to leave the Federal jurisdiction, and wouldn't even allow me to take my trunk or theatrical wardrobe with me.”

The perfect coherence of her story, and her apparently calm and truthful manner was not without its effect upon the general, who after a brief pause, during which he carefully scrutinized her, resumed in a more kindly tone:

Miss Cushman, this statement of yours may be all correct, but still I should like to have you give some positive proof of your loyalty to our cause; for, as it stands, I must say it appears, at best, very doubtful.


“General,” replied Pauline, pointedly, “I have been seized and brought hither to meet charges laid against me, I presume; but assuredly not to investigate and decide my own case. You cannot be expected to believe my statement; therefore, all I can say is, to produce your charges and the evidence, and when the examination is over, I think that my loyalty to the South will shine with as bright and steady a lustre as does your own. After that, if you still doubt me, or if one suspicion still lingers in your mind, give me a place near you in battle, and you will see that Pauline Cushman will fight as bravely and faithfully as any man in your army.”

Half amused, and half convinced by this speech, the old soldier continued his searching examination, striving in every way to entrap and confuse her, and to elicit from her all the information which he could concerning the plans, movements, and operations of the Federal commanders. She, on the contrary, assumed an innocent appearance of ignorance on these points, although careful to speak the truth in whatever she did say. It was a keen contest of wit, and finally the general terminated the interview by saying, “As for yourself, Miss Cushman, I have to tell you plainly, that there are very serious charges against you, and I must give you into the custody of our provost-marshal-general, Colonel McKinstry, who is, however, a very just and humane man, and who will treat you kindly. Your subsequent fate will depend entirely upon the result of our investigation.”

Colonel McKinstry is, then, precisely the man I desire to see.; for through him will the proofs of my guiltlessness [126] of these charges appear,” rejoined Miss Cushman, boldly, “and if they are proved false, how then, general?”

“ You will be acquitted with honor,” replied he. “How, though, if I am found guilty?”

“You know the penalty inflicted upon convicted spies. If found guilty, you will be hanged,” replied the general, dryly.

Leaving Bragg, she was taken before Colonel McKinstry and there subjected to another strict examination, in which she was interrogated concerning the manner in which she became possessed of the Confederate uniform found among her effects when captured. To this she answered frankly, although, to her annoyance, it caused the instant issue of an order for the arrest of the gallant captain who had procured it for her. But, finally, the colonel produced from his desk the plans, maps, and documents which she had abstracted from the rebel engineer's table at Columbus, together with the sketches and memoranda that she had made, of various fortifications at Tullahoma, Shelbyville, Spring Hill, etc. Staggered almost to faintness by the sight of these tell-tale documents which she had placed in the soles of her gaiters, and which had been purloined from her satchel, left in the hurried flight from Hillsboro, she yet assumed a light demeanor and admitted that she made the sketches. She stoutly asserted, however, with a laugh, that they were mere fancy sketches, “gotten up with the idea of stuffing the Yankees when she should find herself among them, so that she should be permitted to recover her theatrical wardrobe.” The colonel, although surprised at her consummate and audacious acting, wag too old a [127] bird to be caught in that way, and remanded her to custody. She was taken to the house of a Mr. Morgan, near Duck river, where she was carefully guarded in a room fitted up as a dungeon, with barred windows and doubly fastened doors. Hers was now a truly distressing and apparently hopeless case. Under the long protracted suspense as to her ultimate fate, added to the great privations and fatigues which she had previously gone through, she fell seriously ill; and the discomforts of her situation-sick and helpless, surrounded by foes and strangers-can hardly be described by tongue or pen. Long, weary days she lay thus, at the very verge of death — the court-martial which had been appointed to investigate her case had not yet been able to agree upon a verdict, and imagination added its horrors to the dread reality of her situation. Ten days thus passed, with the dread of death in its most ignominious form, hanging, like the sword of Damocles, ever above her head. Finally, Captain Pedden brought to her the unwelcome news which he tenderly broke to her, that she had been found guilty and that she was condemned to be hanged as a spy.

The situation of our heroine, mental and physical, was now deplorable in the extreme. Condemned to death upon the gallows, surrounded by foes, with her fate unknown, even to her friends, hers was indeed a position to shake the hearts of the strongest and firmest. Yet there was a small ray of hope that illumined the darkness of this dismal prospect, and that was that, as she was still confined to her bed by the deepest physical prostration, the rebels would scarcely drag her from there to the gallows; and there was a slight chance that, [128] during the brief respite thus afforded, some change of the military situation might yet afford relief to her. She well knew that Shelbyville, where she then was, was the objective point of the Union army of the Southwest, and they might reach there in time to save her from her horrid fate. Yet the chances which were thus suggested, were too slight to encourage our heroine, who had made up her mind heroically to meet her fate; and she met her fearful situation with an angelic courage and sweetness which won the love of the few friends whom she had drawn to her during her imprisonment.

Slowly and surely the Union army advanced on its glorious career, and soon Miss Cushman's guards and the Confederate army generally, began to show evident signs of evacuating Shelbyville. Finally it was decided by a council of war to retreat, and what a thrill of mingled hope and joy ran through Miss Cushman's veins as her friends announced to her that she would have to be left behind, as she was too weak to be moved. Before leaving the town, however, she was removed to a more comfortable house, and left in the hands of an excellent physician, who was Union at heart. At length it was rumored that a large body of Federals was just outside the town: then followed the battle of Shelbyville, and ere long the streets of that town echoed to the tread of the Union army and the peal of its bugles. It was a moment of supremest joy and ecstacy to the wan and feeble girl, who felt new life surging through every vein, and springing from her bed, she staggered to the open window, despite the remonstrances of her kind hostess As the blessed certainty came upon her, that the Union flag once more waved over the town, and that she was [129] safe, the fictitious strength which excitement had lent her gave way to weakness, and she sank to the floor, overcome by joy and happiness. Ere the close of that happy day, Generals Granger and Mitchell called upon her and expressed the liveliest interest in her situation; the brave soldiers heard of the noble woman whom they had thus opportunely saved from a terrible death, and, on every hand, she received the most tender and convincing tokens of the general esteem in which she was held.

At eleven o'clock the next morning, in the general's own ambulance, well stocked with all the comforts and necessaries which the generosity and courtesy of her new friends could suggest, she left Shelbyville en route to Murfreesboro. There a day and a night's rest enabled her to take the cars to Nashville; and under the care of an officer of General Granger's staff, who had himself done her the honor of attending her thus far, she began her return journey to that city. On her arrival there, she was waited upon by the most distinguished generals of the army, and by others less prominent-all of whom, however, were united in treating her with a delicate and even affectionate courtesy, which left her no comfort to be desired but the boon of absolute health. As a deserved and appropriate acknowledgment of the great services which this brave girl had rendered the Union cause, she was, through the efforts of Generals Granger and Garfield, honored with the commission and rank of a major of cavalry, with full and special permission to wear the equipment and insignia of her new rank. The ladies of Nashville, hearing of her promotion, and deeply sensible of the honor thus conferred upon one of their own sex, prepared a costly riding-habit, trimmed in military style, [130] with dainty shoulder-straps, and presented the dress to the gallant major with all the customary honors.

Amusing instance of rebel desertion.

After the recent advance of our army upon Bragg at Tullahoma, and his retreat, the Pioneer Brigade pushed on to Elk river to repair a bridge. While one of its men, a private, was bathing in the river, five of Bragg's soldiers, guns in hand, came to the bank and took aim at the swimmer, one of them shouting:

Come in here, you — Yank, out of the wet!

The Federal was quite sure that he was “done for,” and at once obeyed the order. After dressing himself, he was thus accosted:

You surrender, our prisoner, do you?

“Yes; of course I do.”

“ That's kind. Now we'll surrender to you!” And the five stacked arms before him, their spokesman adding-

“We've done with 'em, and have said to old Bragg, ‘good-by!’ Secesh is played out. Now you surround us and take us into your camp.”

This was done accordingly, and is but one of hundreds of instances of wholesale desertion coming to the knowledge of our officers during two months-July and August — in Lower Tennessee.

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