Union Spies: Supporting The North Essay

1174 words - 5 pages

Spies are found all throughout the world. They are most likely looking for clues to help another person. Believe it or not, spies were sent out from the North and South during the Civil War to help provide information “behind the lines.” Spies supporting the North were called, Union Spies. This group contained both men and women. There were few slaves, but often there were patriotic people. The spies of the Civil War worked hard to give their side any small edge in winning. Elizabeth Van Lew, Pauline Cushman, Sarah Thompson, and Sarah Emma Edmonds were Union Spies that played a huge role in relaying information from the South to the North to increase the North’s chance of succeeding during the Civil War.
Elizabeth Van Lew was an upper-class woman born in Richmond, Virginia (Sakany 23). She was born into a family of slave owners (Sakany 23). She has the reputation of one being of the most successful and daring spies during the time period of the civil war. In fact, she was described as more successful than the Confederate Spy Belle Boyd (Weaver americancivilwarstory.com). Elizabeth was well known for helping Union prisoners escape and hide from Libby Prison (Weaver americancivilwarstory.com). There are theories that believe she hid escaped prisoners in her attic. When she was at the prison, Elizabeth got intelligence from the guards who were in Confederate lines (Sakany 25). She was skilled in communicating with the Generals of the War. Therefore, Elizabeth used former slaves to relay her information in a variety of different ways, which she would then pass on to higher authorities. Miss Van Lew's Richmond spy network was extensive (Weaver americancivilwarstory.com). The author is explaining how Elizabeth Van Lew had various types of people in Richmond getting more information for her. She used society connections to gather facts from the Confederates (Sakany 26). The largest impact of Van Lew came when her former slave Mary Elizabeth Bowser earned a position as a dining room servant in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ household. Bowser made it easy for Van Lew to obtain information because Bowser would overhear all conversations while serving dinner (Sakany 26). Elizabeth Van Lew died in 1900 and was buried in Richmond, from where she grew up. She remains a true American Civil War hero.
Pauline Cushman was an actress born in Louisiana (Sakany 58). Because she was from the South, it would help her protect her identity and pass as a Southerner (Sakany 58). After a performance Cushman was paid to toast Jefferson Davis. This act also helped her cross enemy lines. She was a camp follower and was touring with the Confederate Army in Kentucky and Tennessee (nps.gov). Cushman’s best achievement was finding out General Braxton Bragg’s battle plans (Sakany 60). Pauline had in her possession, the battle plans, and was acting suspicious which was noticed by others (nps.gov). Before she knew it, she was caught with the...

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