For some reason, Bragg's order to execute Cushman was not carried out immediately. Some sources say that she was ill, and the hanging was delayed until she recovered her health. Other sources say that a Union raid caused chaos in the Confederate camp and caused the soldiers to forget about the order. At any rate, Confederate forces evacuated the area a short time later and left Cushman behind. Union troops rescued her near Shel-byville, Tennessee.
News of Cushman's death sentence and dramatic rescue soon spread across the country. After all, she almost became the first female spy to be executed by either side in the Civil War. But all the attention meant that Cushman could not serve as a Union spy anymore. She was too well known. The Union Army made her an honorary major in recognition of her service. For the remainder of the war, she helped the Union cause by advising the army on the geographic terrain of Tennessee, which she had come to know well (good maps were difficult to find at that time).
Was this article helpful?