AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

Union

Women

Included here:

1. Pauline Cushman

2. Emma Edmonds (alias "Frank Thompson")

3. Harriet Tubman

4. Sarah Wakeman (alias "Lyons Wakeman")

5. Elizabeth Van Lew and Mary E. Bowser, click HERE.

6. General

1. Pauline Cushman

Cushman was an actress who spied for the Union secret service and military intelligence in Louisville and Nashville. On a mission behind Confederate lines, she was captured and sentenced to death, but was left behind when Bragg's forces withdrew from Shelbyville, Tennessee. O'Toole, Encyclopedia, pp. 151-152.

Sarmiento, F.L. Life of Pauline Cushman, the Celebrated Union Spy and Scout: Comprising Her Early History; Her Entry into the Secret Service of the Army of the Cumberland, and Exciting Adventure with the Rebel Chieftains and Others While Within the Enemy's Lines; Together with Her Capture and Sentence to Death by General Bragg and Final Rescue by the Union Army under General Rosecrans. Philadelphia, PA: John E. Potter & Co., [1865].

2. Emma Edmonds (alias "Frank Thompson")

Sarah Emma Edmonds (1841-1898) was traveling in male disguise as a book salesman ("Frank Thompson") when she enlisted in the Union Army in May 1861. Her memoirs, The Female Spy of the Union Army..., include the claim that she was recruited as a spy by Gen. George B. McClellan and carried out eleven secret missions during the war. "[C]rucial internal evidence [in the memoirs] ... suggests the tale was totally untrue. While it is barely plausible that McClellan might have personally recruited a spy..., it is doubtful" that he would have done so absent involvement by his secret service chief, Allan Pinkerton, or Pinkerton agents. "Edmonds makes no reference to Pinkerton ... or to any of the other Pinkerton agents who served in McClellan's secret service.... Edmonds's claim to have been Private 'Frank Thompson' is valid, however, for Congress awarded her a pension in 1886, and she was admitted to the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans association, as its only woman member." O'Toole, Encyclopedia, p. 175.

Edmonds was inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1988. See Military Intelligence 24, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1998): 54.

Dannett, Sylvia G.L. She Rode with Generals: The True and Incredible Story of Sarah Emma Seelye, Alias Franklin Thompson. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1960.

Edmonds, S. Emma E. The Female Spy of the Union Army: The Thrilling Adventures, Experiences, and Escapes of a Woman, as Nurse, Spy, and Scout, in Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields. Boston: De Wolfe, Fiske & Co., 1864.

Petersen gives as: Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: The Adventures and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields. Hartford, CT: W.S. Williams, 1865.

Fladeland, Betty. "New Light on Sarah Emma Edmonds, Alias Frank Thompson." Michigan History 48, no. 4 (Dec. 1963). [Fishel]

Gansler, Laura Leedy. The Mysterious Private Thompson: The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds. New York: Free Press, 2005.

DKR, AFIO WIN 24-05 (27 Jun. 2005), says that the author "has told Sarah's story well and with a sound knowledge of the Civil War."

Hall, Richard. Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War. New York: Paragon House, 1993.

Surveillant 3.2/3: "Of particular interest is his account of Private Franklin Thompson [Sarah Emma Edmonds] who served as a spy and orderly for the North, and as a nurse."

Holt, Patricia L. "Emma Edmonds." Military History 5, no. 1 (1988): 8, 64-66.

Lammers, Pat, and Amy Boyce. "Alias Franklin Thompson: A Female in the Ranks." Civil War Times Illustrated 22, no. 9 (1984): 24-31.

Stevens, Bryna. Frank Thompson, Her Life and Times: A Civil War Story. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Surveillant 2.4: This is the biography of a woman -- S. Emma E. Edmonds -- "who, disguised as a man, moved behind Confederate lines to spy for the Union during the Civil War."

3. Harriet Tubman

Allen. Thomas B. Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union during the Civil War. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2006.

The reviewer in NIPQ 23.1 (Jan. 2007), found this book, written for school-age children, "enjoyable and learned things he never before knew." The author "has gone back into archives and put together a fascinating story which provides information previously missing -- or covered only superficially -- in almost all histories of the Civil War."

Humez, Jean M. Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.

Although Tubman is best known for her work with the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War, Peake, Studies 49.1 (2005), notes that she "also served as a Union scout or spy in South Carolina through most of the war.... It is not clear just how she came to serve the Union Army in the Sea Islands off South Carolina and Georgia, but records show that she was working out of Beaufort, South Carolina, in May 1862. Union troops mounted expeditions from the Islands and Tubman did the preliminary scouting. Her most famous operation was the Combahee River Raid in which she commanded a group of scouts with results that led to the capture of 800 slaves from their southern owners."

4. Sarah Wakeman (alias "Lyons Wakeman")

Burgess, Lauren Cook, ed. An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman. 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1862-1864. Pasadena, MD: The Minerva Center, 1994. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Surveillant 4.4/5 notes that these are the letters of a young woman who enlisted in the Union army under an assumed name and male identity. "Several letters from Wakeman discuss women who served as rebel spies. This is an important look at women agents in the Civil War."

6. General

Caravantes, Peggy. Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War. Greenboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds, 2002.

Funkhouser, Darlene. Women of the Civil War: Soldiers, Spies, and Nurses. Wever, IA: Quixote Press, 2005.

Leonard, Elizabeth D. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

Markle, Donald E. Spies and Spy Masters of the Civil War. New York: Hippocrene, 1994. 1995 [pb]. Rev. & exp. ed. New York: Hippocrene, 2004.

According to Surveillant 3.4/5, this is "one of the most comprehensive treatments of Civil War spies..., covering the entire history of the war and the espionage activities by both Union and Confederate spies." Surveillant 4.4/5 adds that Markle gives "special focus" to women spies, and includes an appendix listing 432 Civil War spies. Acknowledging the 2004 edition, Kruh, Cryptologia 30.3 (Jul.-Sep. 2006), notes that the author has added several new chapters to this "comprehensive guide" to Civil War espionage on both sides.

Winkler, H. Donald. Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2010.

The reviewer for Publishers Weekly (via Amazon.com) calls this a "breezy overview of 36 women who spied for the Confederacy and the Union."

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