Stage Actress and Union Spy
Born Harriet Wood on June 10, 1833 in Grand Rapids, MI.
Acress, Widow, Mother
At seventeen she ran away to New York to become an actress. She landed some small parts and caught the attention of a theater owner from New Orleans. He hired her on the spot and took her back to New Orleans. There she met a musician, they married, had two children as they lived with his parents in Ohio. Sent off to war, her husband died of an illness. She left her children with relatives and returned to acting.
In 1862, Pauline Cushman was a struggling actress employed in a Louisville playhouse. In a play that required her character to give a toast, she was dared on one occasion to toast Jefferson Davis. She agreed, but gained the permission of the federal provost marshal first. Perceived now as a self-proclaimed Southern sympathizer, Cushman was expelled from the theater. In 1863, a new opportunity presented itself, the chance to spy for the Union. In lace and petticoats, she became a camp follower of the Confederate army in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Her allure and beauty aids her in obtaining information that is be of value to the federal army. She is currently working from Kentucky. She is able to move through the country, unnoticed, by dressing as a man and wearing a bulky uniform.
As you enter another room with Mr. Pinkerton, you notice the furnishings are more in keeping with a parlor.
In the far corner - gazing out the window, is a beautiful young woman with dark hair, wearing a fashionable long dark dress. Mr. Pinkerton says, "Miss Cushman?" The woman turns her head to look at the two of you.
She nods her head and provides a small smile for you as you enter the room in which she stands. Mr. Pinkerton introduces you by name and then adds, "Miss Cushman, this is one of the detectives who will be working on this case. I'd like the three of us to discuss at some length the urgent case before us." Silently, the three of you take seats within a conversation circle formed by a parlor-like arrangement of three chairs and a settee - all with cushions.
Ms. Cushman takes her seat first, assuming the central position on the narrow "courting" settee. Before beginning to speak, she takes in a deep breath, looks to her lap as she folds her hands in front of her, and then looks at you. She speaks is a clear and confident voice.
"Good morning, Detective," Miss Cushman says to you. "My name is Pauline Cushman. I am a stage actress, and I am also a spy."
Pinkerton is looking at you to observe your reaction. You present a slight smile and a nod of your head toward Miss Cushman, as a gesture of your respect.
"Now what I am about to tell you is very sensitive and I only share it with you so early in our acquaintance because of the President's faith in Mr. Pinkerton - and Mr. Pinkerton's obvious faith in you."
Drastic Actions Plotted Edit
Miss Cushman pauses for a moment, then continues. "Let me tell you why I am here - why we are here. As you know, the Confederates have lost many battles recently. My sources are confederate officers who seek my favor and they tell me that since this past March, the Confederate Government has viewed General Grant's appointment as Commander of all Union Armies as a doom to General Lee. Richmond has decided that drastic action is required - and by drastic action, they mean action against the United States beyond the field of honor. We believe such desperate action may include the burning of our cities, the kidnapping or even murder of our leaders, and perhaps even mortal danger for the President himself."
Again, Miss Cushman pauses to allow you to digest what you are hearing from her. Sensing you are ready to hear more, she continues. "Now, I can share with you what I heard from one of my Confederate sources just one week ago, and this is what what brought me to the War Department, and upon its urging, to Mr. Pinkerton and you.
Conferderate Secret ServiceEdit
Pinkerton, seated in a chair near Miss Chapman, raises his hand slightly to indicate he is about to interject a few words. He speaks. "We are told that there exists now a Confederate Secret Service - a service not unlike our own Secret Service in many respects. We are told Jefferson Davis is not directly involved in this plot but that he is aware of his secret service and he may or may not be aware of its inner workings. Nonetheless, we believe Davis has authorized extraordinary methods and he is aware that the inner workings of the Confederate Secret Service are in motion. Through our own spies, we know Confederate agents are living and working in various northern cities - in Washington City and New York City, especially. The Confederate Secret Service believes the best way to beat the Union is to terrorize the North into peace by fostering revolution. We know that many secret meetings were held recently - in Toronto, Canada, for example - to formulate their master plan.
Southern Sympathizers in the NorthEdit
"Detective, various chapters of the Northern Copperheads, identifying themselves at times as Knights of the Golden Circle, the Order of American Knights, and the Sons of Liberty, have formulated a common plan over long distance. We already know portions of the plan through our sources who pose as loyal members of these groups. We know that getting messages back and forth between the North and South is becoming increasingly difficult. Spies and blockade runners are still employed to transmit messages from one of these "orders" to another. However, it is becoming more the case that even personal ads in newspapers are specially coded and printed with a notation "New York papers please copy." Such messages are almost always reprinted by at least the New York Daily News that filthy Southern Sympathizing newspaper.
Mr. Pinkerton nearly spits out the last three words. He glances at Miss Cushman, who maintains her soft repose, hands folded on her lap. She politely nods, glancing at Mr. Pinkerton.
Mr. Pinkerton hands you a newspaper. It is a recent edition of the Richmond Whig.
"Sometimes intelligence means reading the enemy's newspapers, says Pinkerton, "and that means those from the South as well as those from the North."
Pinkerton waits a moment for you to scan the circled personal ads in the paper before you. Then he continues. "It appears to be an incredible scheme. We believe New York City may be their target and their plot may be thus." He stands up and walks a few paces over to a large "black board" positioned directly across the room from the setee.
Pinkerton takes a piece of chalk and writes the word "fires" in large letters on the board's left.
"One group is to be responsible for setting off a series of fires as a diversion"
He then draws three squares on the other side of the blackboard. "While these diversionary fires are going on, another group is to seize Federal buildings and municipal offices."
Next, as if to form a triangle design, he writes in between the word "fires" and the three boxes, and toward the top of the black board, the word "police."
"Still another group is to take control of the police department."
He then writes at the board's center-bottom, the word "prisoners."
"And yet another group is to free prisoners from prison camps and city jails.
Without a word, he draws a large "X" in the middle of the board. He walks back to his chair, takes his seat as you gaze at what he has chalked out on the black board. A moment of silence is given to allow you to take in the image and its meaning. When you look back at Pinkerton, he meets your glance with a stare.
New York CityEdit
"We believe their goal is a Confederate flag flying over New York City - a city with a mayor who publicly called for that city to secede from the United States. A city with a mayor who actually proposed New York City join the rebellion and form an independent city. A city that has never given more than 35% of its votes for President Lincoln. They want New York City. And such a revolt within and by the largest city in the North would surely be a coup for the Confederacy!" Pinkerton strikes the palm of his hand to the arm rest of his chair for emphasis as he utters the name of his enemy.
Miss Chapman speaks again. "About the time the plot was finalized, Richmond learned from its spies that Washington was beginning to obtain bits and pieces of the plan to capture the North. My sources tell me Richmond has decided everything but the date. It is to go forward. There will be no more messages sent by runners. It is further decided, I am told, that for two reasons carrying out the plot should wait."
She pauses for dramatic effect, looks to Pinkerton, and then to you. "One reason is to "lay low" - to give Washington the impression that the plot has died."
She pauses again. "The second reason is to wait until the most opportune time to best capture the North off guard."
"Perhaps after another Union victory," Pinkerton offers. "Since Southern newspapers can still freely travel to Canada, we know Southern sympathizers in these Northern groups are instructed to keep reading the Richmond newspaper for an editorial advising that a 'Northern city' should be burned in retaliation. Naturally, they would hope the same editorial would appear in papers such as the New York Daily Times thereafter. At that time, then, they want their sympathizers to congregate and put the plot in motion."
As Mr. Pinkerton and Miss Chapman rise, you stand as well. Courteous farewells are given. Miss Chapman takes her leave through a "back door" from the parlor and Pinkerton walks you out the door and back into the main office of the Agency.
"So, there you have it, Detective," Pinkerton exclaims, as he pats you on your shoulder. "This is what we know and this is what we will send you out with as you find out more and capture these Confederate agents where they are - before they get a chance to set those fires. Finally, remember these, my clear instructions for you.
- Do not wast time, but take the time it requires to solve this case and prevent damage to property, innocent life, and the Union. Every hour counts. remember, we expect the Confederates to make their move after the next military victory for the Union. And that can happen at any time.
- Here is $100. Use it wisely and remember to pick up your next installment of $100 exactly one month from now - if it takes you that long.
- Remember to read the Northern and Southern newspapers as you can. Both we as well as the Confederates will be placing messages in the personal ads. This will be how we communicate with you. And this will be how the Confederate Secret Service will be communicating with its agents and sympathizers as well."
- Use your head. Always be on the look-out for clues and for every opportunity to gain the advantage with information."
With those final words, Pinkerton hands you an envelope filled with $100 in bank notes and shakes your hand. He opens the front door of the Agency and nods his head for you to step outside into the streets of Washington, DC.