An actress before the Civil War Cushman became a national heroine when she agreed to spy for the Union. Cushman was fired from her theater company and expelled from the North as part of an effort to make her look like a Southern sympathizer . She was found out and sentenced to be hanged. However, the Confederates apparently had second thoughts, and she was left in jail when they withdrew from the area allowing her to be rescued by Union forces. Cushman went through a series of personal misfortunes after the war and died essentially destitute in 1890.