1863: Harriet Tubman

Covert Spy Behind Enemy Lines

Harriet Tubman was already risking her life to rescue slaves on the Underground Railroad. Why not add warring armies into the mix? During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists worked with the Union Army to help slaves travel to the North once they came behind Union lines. Tubman also volunteered to help the Union Army gather intelligence behind Confederate enemy lines. Dressed as a field hand, she led scouting and spying missions to identify and map the locations of Confederate mines, supply areas, and troops. Tubman delivered the information to Union Col. James Montgomery, commander of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, to support military operational planning. In June 1863, Harriet Tubman and Col. Montgomery led the raid at Combahee Ferry using her intelligence information to navigate around the Confederate mines placed in the Combahee river. The mission successfully rescued more than 700 slaves from the plantations along the river.

Read more about Harriet Tubman on CIA's website.