Former Union Spy and Freedom Crusader, Harriet Tubman Inducted Into U.S. Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame


February 17, 2021

It’s about time.

One hundred and fifty years after her work as a Union spy, Harriet Tubman is being inducted into the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame, The Washington Post reports.


Many people know Harriet Tubman as the fearless leader, liberator, and conductor of the Underground Railroad. Born enslaved in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1821 or 1822, Araminta Ross, later known as Harriet Tubman, would become one of the most prolific and globally known symbols of freedom. In 1849, Tubman escaped up north, making her way to Philadelphia, eventually returning to the South to free hundreds of enslaved Black people. Her work eventually became known as the Underground Railroad, and she would return time after time, risking her life for her people. 

“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger,” Tubman once said. 

After the start of the Civil War, Tubman was sent by Governor Andrew of Massachusetts to South Carolina to work as a nurse for wounded Black Union soldiers. She was eventually recruited by Union Major General David Hunter as a spy and scout. She would slip in and out behind Confederate lines, gathering intelligence from enslaved people about the Confederate Army’s workings. 


Christopher Costa, executive director of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., spoke about Tubman’s work, saying, “What most Americans don’t know is down in South Carolina, she was part of a small scouting unit that collected intelligence behind enemy lines on the Confederacy. She was not only involved with spying and scouting; she almost operated like a Special Operations specialist. It is an extraordinary story.”

On June 1, 1863, Tubman led Union troops from the Sea Islands up Combahee River to raid Confederate outposts, rice plantations, destroy bridges, and cut off supply lines. Tubman led the expedition while Union gunboats gingerly navigated the waters, avoiding torpedoes with Tubman’s information. The raid allowed hundreds of enslaved Black people to flee the rice plantations, with nearly 100 Black men joining the Union and destroying Confederate control along the river and millions of dollars of Confederate property. Tubman made history as the “first woman to successfully plan and lead a military expedition during the Civil War.”

When asked why she would risk her life in this way, Tubman once said, “The good Lord has come down to deliver my people, and I must go and help Him.”


One and a half centuries after her miraculous work, she is officially being inducted into the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame.

“She worked with Col. James Montgomery, and he was a believer in guerrilla warfare. It was a mix of espionage, scouting, and reconnaissance…This was a five-foot woman, but she was tough as nails. Not only were they collecting intelligence, but they raided the Confederacy. They swarmed from the rivers and raided and torched homes and warehouses that were Confederate supply depots,” Costa told reporters. 

Over the years, there have been many tributes to Tubman’s life and legacy, including a rededicated Confederate site in her honor in Baltimore, a museum honoring her set to open in New Jersey, and a statue in her likeness located in the Maryland House. Recently, the Biden administration announced plans to speed up efforts to put her face on the $20 bill. We can never repay Ms. Tubman for her work, but we are supremely grateful. 


Thank you, Ms. Harriet Tubman, for your sacrifice. Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of The Library Of Congress

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