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Rose O'Neal Greenhow
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During the Civil War, a number of women were arrested for intelligence work on behalf of the Confederacy, but none achieved the celebrity of Rose O'Neal Greenhow. Her story is filled with intrigue, love, and tragedy.
As a teenager, Rose O'Neal traveled with her sister to Washington, D.C., where they resided with an aunt who maintained a boardinghouse in the Old Capitol building (later, ironically, to become the Old Capitol Prison). There the beautiful young sisters had the opportunity to associate with many of their aunt's male borders, many of whom were up-and-coming politicians. In this setting, Rose developed a taste for living an active social life and rubbed shoulders with people in power. At the age of 26, she married 43-year-old Dr. Robert Greenhow, a Virginian, who was both wealthy and socially well placed.
By the time she was in her mid-thirties, Rose was the mother of four daughters and living in the nation's Capital. Surrounded by the many advantages that her prestigious husband could offer her, Greenhow became well-known for her beauty, her manners, her gift for intrigue, and her determination to accomplish whatever she set her heart upon. In 1850, Greenhow and her husband left Washington and traveled west due to the promise of greater financial gains. Instead, an injury led to the early death of Dr. Greenhow in San Francisco. Rose returned to Washington and gained a reputation as a woman to be reckoned with, thanks to her ability to btain favors, influence members of Congress, and advance her friends' careers.
As 1860 arrived and sectional tensions increased, Greenhow openly revealed herself to be a staunch supporter of the Confederacy and as the war began, she immediately became an activist for the rebels. She developed a close association "with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jordan (alias Thomas John Rayford) of Virginia, a former quartermaster in the United States Army who was in the process of developing an elaborate Confederate spy network in the federal Capital." From Jordan, Greenhow learned the use of a 26-symbol cipher, and "began to exploit her connections with the prominent Unionists for the purpose of eliciting information that she then transmitted in code to relevant figures in the Confederacy." Over time, Greenhow and Jordan enlisted the regular help of various others, forming an extensive spy ring that included both men and women.
Greenhow became best known for her spy work that gave the Confederate army the edge in its first major confrontation with Union soldiers at the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861 as evidenced by the following quote:
An 1863 letter written by General P.G.T. Beauregard %u2013 second in command of the Confederate army's ranking officer, General Joseph E. Johnston, in the summer of 1861 %u2013 confirms that on July 10, Greenhow sent an attractive young woman named Betty Duvall to Beauregard's post at Fairfax Court House, just a few miles from Bull Run, bearing %u2013 tightly wound in her chignon a message concerning Union commander Irvin McDowell's preparation to advance on the Confederacy six days later. General Milledge L. Bonham of South Carolina received the message and transmitted it directly to Beauregard, who notified President Davis and then immediately began preparations to undermine McDowell's advance. On the sixteenth, Greenhow communicated a second time with Beauregard, who was now encamped with the army near Bull Run. With the help of George Donellan, a former Interior Department clerk, Greenhow sent Beauregard an encoded dispatch containing the news that, as Beauregard later wrote, "the enemy %u2013 55,000 strong, I believe %u2013 would positively commence that day his advance from Arlington Heights and Alexandria on to Manassas (near Bull Run), via Fairfax Courthouse and Centerville."
This news Beauregard also forwarded by telegraph to President Davis, who ordered General Johnston, stationed 50 miles away, to bring his troops into the area as reinforcements. While awaiting Johnston's arrival, Beauregard shifted his own troops to meet the advancing federals, and on July 21, the Union suffered a stunning and humiliating defeat. The following day Greenhow received from Thomas Jordan an expression of Jefferson Davis's gratitude for her loyal service.
Greenhow continued to transmit intelligence information to the Confederate army. Soon, as a result, her activities led Federal officials to become suspicious. By late July 1861, Allan Pinkerton, the head of the newly formed secret service organization for the federal government ordered close surveillance of the Greenhow home.
The following month, Pinkerton placed Greenhow under house arrest and stationed guards inside the house. Although Greenhow was able to destroy a number of papers, enough was uncovered to incriminate her and heap suspicion upon some prominent Unionist figures that came under her influence. One of these was the powerful senator from Massachusetts, Henry Wilson, who seems to have been one of Greenhow's primary sources and perhaps even her lover. "(Many interpreters of Greenhow's papers believe that Senator Wilson was the author of a stack of love letters found in her home)."
"Word spread quickly that federal agents had captured a major figure in Confederate espionage, and a woman," and "on August 26, both the New York Times and the New York Herald smugly reported Greenhow's arrest." Greenhow remained under house arrest with her youngest daughter, "Little Rose," until she was transferred with her daughter to the Old Capitol Prison, January 18, 1862. For five months, she and her daughter remained at the Old Capitol Prison, now prisoners in the same spot where as a teenager Greenhow had acquired her first taste of social life in Washington. However, even her imprisonment did not deter her from continuing to provide information to Southern loyalists. This prompted Federal authorities to banish her south, where they presumed she could do less harm. On June 2, the New York Times recorded her release and removal under close custody.
Traveling to the Confederate Capital, Greenhow enjoyed praise from various dignitaries to include President Davis and General Beauregard. From that point on, as a last effort, she assumed the "role of blockade runner, in connection with which she traveled to England and France." "There she socialized, tried to drum up foreign support for the Confederacy, and produced her memoir, My Imprisonment, and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington, a work that brought the loyalty and good sense of a number of important Union men into question." After some time, Greenhow yearned to return to America where she owned property. With this in mind, and with two thousand dollars in gold in her possession, Greenhow boarded a blockade-runner, the Condor, bound for North Carolina in September 1864.
As fate would have it, tragedy befell Greenhow; therefore, returning to America brought an end to her intriguing story. The still beautiful Rose failed to make it home to the Confederacy. Spied by a Union gunboat in the waters just off the coast near Wilmington, North Carolina, the Condor raced ahead up the Cape Fear River hoping to avoid confrontation. Instead, the Condor ran aground on a sandbar. "Desperate to escape, Greenhow demanded that she be allowed to board a lifeboat, although the weather was ominous." Against the captain's wishes and advice, Greenhow and two other passengers attempted to make it to shore. "Their lifeboat capsized in the rough water, and within moments, Greenhow, weighed down by her cache of gold, drowned." After her body was recovered the following day, she was laid out in state in a hospital chapel in Wilmington with a Confederate flag for a shroud. She was buried on October 1, 1864.
(Source: All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies; Leonard, Elizabeth D; 1999)
NOTE: Robert Greenhow: His obituary is in the Daily Alta California.) died March 1854 (Source: REBEL ROSE, LIFE OF ROSE O'NEAL GREENHOW, CONFEDERATE SPY by Ishbel Ross, Page 44, In Feb; 1854 Rose had gone back to Wash. for a visit and to deliver Rose. Robert remained in San Francisco and was walking down the street on a plank sidewalk. He slipped off a plank and fell six feet down an embankment to the street below, hurting his leg. Within days his leg became paralyzed and six weeks after the fall he died. He did not tell Rose about his injury because he did not want her making the trip to back to San Francisco so soon after childbirth, and because he didn't think his injury was that serious.).
Letter to Francis Corbin, June 9, 1860
Washington, D.C. From Rose Greenhow to Francis Corbin. Letter of introduction for the Reverend Bishop Kipp, who was the Episcopal Bishop of California. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
My dear Mr. Corbin
Permit me to recall myself to your recollection, and at the same time introduce to your acquaintance the Right Rev Bishop Kipp Episcopal Bishop of Cal. who is going to Europe for a short tour accompanied by his son. In departing from my rule in the matter of introducing persons. I am sure you will think with me that is in this case is more honored in the breach, than the observance. The Bishop is a man of great cultivation and apart from his high social position
at home, has seen life under very advantageous circumstances both in England and on the Continent.
It will add to my very pleasant souvenir of the past to know that I have been the medium of introducing and making acquainted two persons whose esteem and good will I value so much.
With my most sincere and affectionate regards,
R O N Greenhow
Letter to the Hon. Wm. H. Seward, November 17, 1861
Washington, D.C. From Rose Greenhow to William H. Seward, Secretary of the State. Newsclipping of a letter to Seward, obtained by the Richmond Whig, and subsequently published in the newspaper as a true copy of the origin al. The letter details her imprisonment and offers an impassioned protest of the current state of government. (M.J. Solomon Scrapbook, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
The Richmond Whig obtained, through the instrumentality of one of Seward's confidential agents, the following letter, addressed by a brave and noble woman to Lincoln's Vizier. We are given to understand that the perusal of it was not without visable effect upon the crafty Secretary. The twitchings of the musles, and his agitated manner betrayed, not perhaps any compunction, but a sense of personal insecurity at the hands of the avenging nemesis. This letter of Mrs. Greenhow is the most graphic sketch yet given to the world, of the cruel and dastardly tyranny which the Yankee Government has established at Washington. The incarceration and torture of helpless women, and the outrages heaped upon them, as detailed in this letter, will shock many natures, and stamp the Lincoln dynasty everywhere with undying infamy. The letter tells its own tale, and may be relied on as a true copy of the original, in the hands of Wm. H. Seward:
Washington, Nov. 17th, 1861,
398 Sixteenth Street.
To the Hon. Wm. H. Seward,
Secretary of State:
Sir - For nearly three months I have been confined, a close prisoner, shut out from air and exercise, and denied all communication with family and friends.
"Patience is said to be a great virture," and I have practised it to my utmost capacity of endurance.
I am told, sir, that upon your ipse dixit, the fate of citizens depends, and that the sign manual of the ministers of Louis the Fourteenth and Fifteenth was not more potential in their day, than that of the Secretary of State in 1861.
I therefore most respectfully submit, that on Friday, August 23d, without warrant or other show of authority, I was arrested by the Detective Police, and my house taken in charge by them; that all my private letters, and my papers of a life time, were read and examined by them; that every law of decency was violated in the search of my house and person, and the surveilance over me.
We read in history, that the poor Maria Antoinette had a paper torn from her bosom by lawless hands, and that even a change of linen had to be effected in sight of her brutal captors. It is my sad experience to record even more revolting outrages than that, for during the first days of my imprisonment, whatever necessity forced me to seek my chamber, a detective stood sentinel at the open door. And thus for a period of seven days, I, with my little child, was placed absolutely at the mercy of men without character or responsibility; that during the first evening, a portion of these men became brutally drunk, and boasted in my hearing of the "nice times" they expected to have with the female prisoners; and that rude violence was used towards a colored servant girl during that evening, the extent of which I have not been able to learn. For any show of decorum afterwards was practiced toward me, I was indebted to the detective called Capt. Dennis.
In the careful analysis of my papers I deny the existence of a line I had not a perfect right to have written, or to have received. Freedom of speech and of opinion is the birthright of Americans, guaranteed to us by our Charter of Liberty, the Constitution of the United States. I have exercised my perogative, and have openly avowed my sentiments. During the political struggle, I opposed your Republican party with every instinct of self-preservation. I believed your success a virtual nullification of the Constitution, and that it would entail upon us the direful consequences which have ensued. These sentiments have doubtless been found recorded among my papers, and I hold them as rather a proud record of my sagacity.
I must be permitted to quote from a letter of yours, in regard to Russell of the London Times, which you conclude with these admirable words: "Individual errors of opinion may be tolerated, as long as good sense is left to combat them." By way of illustrating theory and practice, here am I, a prisoner in sight of the Executive Mansion, in sight of the Capitol where the proud statesmen of our land have sung their paeans to the blessings of our free institutions. Comment is idle. Freedom of thought, every right pertaining to the citizen has been suspended by what, I suppose, the President calls a "military necessity." A blow has been struck, by this total disregard of all civil rights, against the present system of Government, far greater in its effects than the severance of the Southern States. Our people have been taught to contemn the supremacy of the law, to which all have hitherto bowed, and to look to the military power for protection against its decrees. A military spirit has been developed, which will only be subordinate to a Military Dictatorship. Read history, and you will find, that the causes which bring about a revolution rarely predominate at its close, and no people have ever returned to the point from which they started. Even should the Southern State be subdued and forced back into the Union (which I regard as impossible, with a full knowledge of their resources,) a different form of Government will be found needful to meet the new developments of national character. There is no class of society, no branch of industry, which this change has not reached, and the dull, plodding, methodical habits of the poor can never be resumed.
You have held me, sir, to man's accountability, and I thereore claim the right to speak on subjects usually considered beyound a woman's ken, and which you may class as "errors of opinion." I offer no excuse for this long digression, as a three months' imprisonment , without formula of law, gives me authority for occupying even the precious moments of a Secretary of State.
My object is to call your attention to the fact: that during this long imprisonment, I am yet ignorant of the causes of my arrest; that my house has been seized and converted into a prison by the Government; that the valuable furniture it contained has been abused and destroyed; that during some periods of my imprisonment I have sufferend greatly for want of proper and sufficient food. Also, I have to complain that, more recently, a woman of bad character, recognized as having been seen on the streets of Chicago as such, by several of the guard, calling herself Mrs. Onderdonk, was placed here in my house, in a room adjoining mine.
In making this exposition, I have no object of appeal to your sympathies, if the justice of my complaint, and a decent regard for the world's opinion, do not move you, I should but waste your time to claim your attention on any other score.
I may, however, recall to your mind, that but a little while since you were quite as much proscribed by public sentiment here, for the opinions and principles you held, as I am now for mine.
I could easily have escaped arrest, having had timely warning. I thought it impossible that your statesmanship might present such a proclamation of weakness to the world, as even the fragment of a once great Government turning its arms against the breasts of women and children. You have the power, sir, and may still further abuse it. You may prostrate the physical strength, by confinement in close rooms and insufficient food--you may subject me to harsher, ruder treatment than I have already received, but you cannot imprison the soul. Every cause worthy of success has had its martyrs. The words of the heroine Corday are applicable here: "C'est la crime qui fait la honte, et non pas l'echafaud." My sufferings will afford a significant lesson to the women of the South, that sex or condition is no bulwark against the surging billows of the "irrepressible conflict."
The "iron heel of power" may keep down, but it cannot crush out, the spirit of resistance in a people armed for the defence of their rights; and I tell you now, sir, that you are standing over a crater, whose smothered fires in a moment may burst forth.
It is your boast, that thirty-three bristling fortifications now surround Washington. The fortifications of Paris did not protect Louis Phillippe when his hour had come.
In conclusion, I respectfully ask your attention to this protest, and have the honor to be, &c., (Signed)
Rose O. N. Greenhow
Newsclipping, November 29, 1861
News clipping (source unknown) which describes "Fort Greenough," the brick building in which Rose Greenhow was imprisioned for 3 months. (M.J. Solomon Scrapbook, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
Secession Women in Custody
"Fort Greenough" as they call it, where the secession women are shut up, is an ordinary brick house of three stories, on sixteenth street, between K and I. As I strolled slowly by I could see very little indications of its prison character. A lazy sentinel was standing in front of it, to be sure, but he held his musket like an umbrella and was busy chatting with some gossiping friend. There was a chair before the front of the door, but the door was closed, the lower windows looked uncommonly dirty, and there were no bars at all. The women are restricted to the second floor, and as I passed some of them were visible.
In the yard beside the house there is a tall round tent, and soldiers' blankets and accoutrements hang on the fences and the clothesline, while idle looking men in uniform loiter about the premises as if they felt they had a right to be there. It must be rather tedious to have been shut up there as long as Mrs. Greenough has been -- some three months, I believe. She has never, during all that time, been allowed to go out, even for a short distance, and a request which she sent to the President some time ago to be allowed to go to church was refused. She is said to be an accomplished and fascinating woman, and one of the officers who was on duty out here is reported to have betrayed a degree of sympathy towards her which unfitted him for the charge.
Letter to Alexander Boteler, June 19, 1863
Richmond, Va. From Rose Greenhow to Alexander Boteler. Letter gives details of Greenhow's movements and thanks Boteler for his kindness and friendship.
My good and kind friend - You will I am sure be glad to know that all things prospered here according to my wishes I saw the President this morning and he affords me every facility and and in carrying out my mischief. I shall leave here on Tuesday or Wednesday. Tuesday certainly as the [illegible name of ship] upon which I will go will sail the latter part of the week on Friday from Wilmington to Bermuda. Once I shall take out as much cotton as I can. I shall be very much engaged for the
remainder of my sojourn here in geting ready. I sincerely wish you were here to aid me in some other matters. I know how selfish this wish must appear, when I know how your heart has ached to get to your dear family--you have been so kind to me that I feel as if your family were almost old friends. Pray make them like me for it will bring great pleasure when I return to know them.
I will write again when I leave here and
also from Wilmington for I have the vanity to suppose that you will take an interest in my movements.
I cannot tell you my friend how highly I appreciate your friendship and offer you my heartfelt congratulations on being [illegible] and true enjoyment of this society [illegible] to you.
Believe me always your true friend
Rose O'Neal Greenhow
PS - I hope you will be able to read this as it is written under high pressure.
Honb A Boteler
Letter to Jefferson Davis, July 16, 1863
Wilmington, N.C. From Rose Greenhow to Jefferson Davis. Letter describes her recent meeting with General Robert E. Lee in Richmond.Included are detailed descriptions of battles fought and to be fought as well as the "temper and spirit of the people" involved. The last page of this letter is missing. (Jefferson Davis Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
Charleston July 16th 
To The President
My dear Sir
I arrived here yesterday (Wednesday) at noon after rather a fatiguing travel from Richmond, not stoping by the wayside long enough to wash my face.
The only thing to mark the journey was the excitement and anxiety manifested by all classes to hear the news from Richmond, and especially from Lee's army, and many a sigh of releif was uttered. When when I spoke of his calm confident tone. I endeavored also to empress upon every one your conviction as to the necessity of reinforcing the army by the most rigorous means.
Just as I left Richmond news of the fall of Fort Hudson had been received which was confirmed by the intelligence of the wayside. On reaching Wilmington the situation of Charleston became the engrossing subject of conversation and of interest, which was not diminshed by the accounts received from time to time by passengers who got on the
principle portion of whom were from Charleston or the vacinity. Doubt and anxiety as to the result was the general tone of the people, and occasionally severe animadversions upon the conduct of the military affairs, especially instancing the supineness, in the construction of the defenses. These I mention--nor [do] I attach importance to criticism of this nature but rather to show you the temper & spirit of the people. Soon after getting with the territory of S.C. hand bills were distributed along the route setting forth the imminent peril of Charleston and calling upon the people for 3000 negro's to work on the defenses. On nearing the city the booming of the heavy guns was distinctly heard, and I feared that the attack had been going on with but little intermission for several days. I omitted to mention also that the cars coming were laden with cotton and in many instances carriages & horses also being sent to the interior, showing the sense of insecurity which very generally prevailes.
upon what slight grounds panics are often based, I did not even give due credit to these indications as to the actual state of affairs but put aside my letter until I could obtain a better insight into them. --And I now resume my letter, feeling that I can confidently state the result, and only wish that I could honestly make a more cheering exposition. The impression here that Charleston is in great danger is sustained by the opinion of the Military Authorities. I saw Genrl. Beauregard who came to call upon me, and had a very long conversation with him, and he is deeply impressed with the gravity of the position. He says that three months since he called upon the planters to send him 2000 negro's to work upon the fortifications at Morris Island and other points and that he could only get one hundred, and that they would not listen to his representations as to the threatened danger. That he considered the late successes against the Yankee Iron Clads, as a grave misfortune, as the
people in despite of his protests to the contrary have been lulled into a fatal security--That the Yankees are in force upon a position of Morris Island from which it will be impossible to dislodge them, as they are protected by the sea and marsh on one side and by their Iron Clads on the other that we must eventually abandon the portion of the Island which they now occupy, but that he is erecting works on James Island which will command those works, which he will destroy and render it impossible for them to reconstruct. He says the fall of Charleston now depends upon his ability to carry out his plans. He proposes and has commenced (for yestery 1500 negro's came in and today the balance of the requision) a line of fortifications which will completely envelope Morris Island and surround them as he says "by a line of fire" in this form [small diagram of rebel forces at Morris Island] but to effect this heavy guns and mortars are necessary, and without them Charleston must fall. He told me that he was making out a report to be sent
to the War Dept--and made use of the remark that the "Yankees had started [to] march upon us-" I said how is that Gen. with your great sagacity? He sayed that they had built a tower of some 80 feet upon some hill, which completely overlooked Charleston and his position and thus so soon as they found that he had sent off a portion of his forces south they commenced re-inforcing believing him weaker than he even was--that if he had had the force in the first instance when they landed on Morris Island he could have prevented it. Many say that he could have done it and should do so yet, even now that his loss will be heavy. The skirmishing continues active on both sides. They enemys shells being principally directed to Fort Wagner--I am told just now by a reliable party that the enemy has commenced throwing up works in the middle of the Island and have commenced to dig and that Fort Wagner is greatly endangered thereby. Beauregard is at Morris Island and other points Superintending and directing. He told me that he had plenty of men for the present, and thus only needed the heavy guns & mortars have talked with a number of men of high military position as also prominent Citizens, and altho they blamed Beauregard in the first instance for inactivity in not fortifying the known weak point of Charleston, and that he should have allowed himself to be taken at a disadvantage. All now concur in believing that every effort will be made to defend and save the City--her fate stands trembling in the ballance. Beauregard says that he made a requisition for heavy guns some months since and sent Maj. Blanding in to Richmond with the Sec. of War--But that they will be no time now. Riply is severely sensured by many as having been too busy with his cotton speculations--until very recently to think of fortifications, also that a point of etiquette between some corps have left his defenses in this deplorable state of weakness. I tell you this as I think it right that you should know all that is said; and that it is not idle street gossip but comes to me from men in high position. At the same time I know you to be too wise to be unduly influenced by the best
founded gossip, without more substantial grounds. But of one thing be assured that every body is wide awake just now--and no one ignorant of the danger to the Palmetto City--which, by the way, takes its name from their being but one tree of that discription visible. Gen. Bonham is here in active Co-operation with Beauregard. Clingman's Brigade made the attack night before last and behaved very well--so far we have repulsed them every where --but alas their overwhelming numbers are not sensible even of heavy loss--our own loss always very slight. The Yankee guns are of greatly improved range. Their guns larger and ther Iron Clads far more formidable than at first[.] Some of their shells pass over Fort Sumpter. The attack is evidently in earnest and made with more method and determination, and with greatly improved practice. Dalgreen is in command of this naval and who was in Fort Sumpter at the bombardment at first and knows ever crook and inlet of the approaches around Charleston. Gen. Bonham who has been with him for a long time this evening says the plan now followed is strictly
the one which this man described at that time as the one by which Charleston could be taken. Bonham thinks that an undue panic prevails altho it will be hard work to save his plan since he saw this exposed position some months since--I asked in Heaven's name why did you not as Gov. of the State point it out. "He said he did not like to interfere with the military--that "there had been like to have been some ill feeling between him and Gen. Beauregard brought about by Gordon on account of the laborers which he could by law have no authority to compell. He also told me that there had been some ill feeling between you and him, but that after he was elected Gov. he had sent you word that from this time it was forgotten and that he would co-operate with you in all things & he spoke with great solicitude of your health, and when I told him that you had had only an attack to which any one was liable and was not quite well he exclaimed, "thank God for that, for I am free to say that his loss would be the greatest calamity which could befall us--for what would Stevens be in a crisis like this"--It is with deep gratification that hear this universal sentiment even from those who consider themselves bitterly agrieved by you--Gov. Bonham asked me if I thought that you would intrust the affairs of the Navy to Mallory at this crisis. I replied that it was my impression that you would, save in its minor details, intrust the affairs of no one of the departments to any head however able that you were too fully possessed of the responsibilities of your position to allow them to be desided by other than your own judgement, even tho your physical health was all unequal to such an amount of labor. He said you gave him great satisfaction--He is a wonderful man, but can he stand it?
News reached here this morning that Johnson still near Jackson altho fighting was going on--Vizitelli of the London News who has been down there has just left me and given me some very interesting details of that region--He says that heavy responsibility rests somewhere for the fall of Vickburg--and he gives me all that he gathers, altho under the seal of confidence as I told him I should tell you.
He says the universal crie is that had the Commissariat done his duty and properly provisioned the place that the greatest military move of modern times would have been accomplished--but that instead of buying beef, bacon, & corn &c when offer[ed] at the most ridiculously low prices offered and urged upon him he had said he knew what was needed and refused? I then asked is any blame attached to Pemberton? No not after the place was invested? He did all that mortal man could do? That before the surrender his garrison had been five days on quarter rations and five days on mule meat which was then exhausted--he summoned his officers and men and put it to them whether they should cut their way out--he himself favored this--but it was found upon examination that not one out of 100 of his garrison were able to march the eight miles even without equipments of any kind so exhausted were they from starvation--hence the surrender. He says had they been able to have held out twenty days that Grants army would have been precisely in the position of Vicksburg--as Johnson, Smith, and others were surrounding the avenues of
his supplies. That then Johnson resolved to pull back his advance of Grant--and that the falling back from the Big Black was without example in the world that he had been in Solferino and all the wars of Europe and never saw its equal that not a drop of water is to be found in the whole route traversed, and that he saw eight men within a space of thirty feet fall down from want of water--that he looks upon Grants Campaign in the region as over unless he can carry tanks [?] which is impossible--He says that Johnson made as much as possible out of the position and cannot be driven from Jackson--This mans account inspired me r[e]ally with great hope--and he thinks that the tighter we are pressed the better our chance of recognition--He says that the European world will never allow the reconstruction of the American Union--that their sympathies are naturally with the Anglo-Saxon race who are represented in the South that they will say let them alone they can accomplish their destiny with[out] us--but the moment they found that the chances are that we are likely to be overcome by that Northern race--that moment will they rise up to prevent it. He thinks our people unduly depressed now by the events at Vicksburg &-- and is writing a series of articles (incog.)on the subject one of which for the Courier he has submitted to me. He says he is very glad that I am going to England as he knows I will be useful, and gives me some very good letters [word torn out] Beauregard thinks that he can save Charleston if allowed to carry out his plan (--altho the Yankee Generals says he will dine in Charleston at the Miles House on Sunday)--and drive the enemy hence--in which case he is exceedingly anxious to join the army of Gen. Lee for he says "my affections and feelings are there"--and that he had great respect and admiration for Lee--I suggested that there would be no position of sufficient grade to which he could be assigned. He said he would accept any position in which you would consider that his services could be useful for his only wish was to end the war and return to his home, that he was tired engineering and longed for active service (I told him that at one time rumor had assigned him
to the commmand of Jackson's Corps). He said he would have gladly accepted it, as any other in which you would think him useful, that did not disgrace him. I told him of course that could never be attempted as you were too just and too proud to do an act of injustice &. He replied that he was sure of it--the Iron Clads have been coming nearer all day, and now are firing at Sumpter and Wagner and Moultrie which are returning the compliment a new Yankee batterie has just been unmasked--I have just returned from St. Stevens tower where I had a good view, and the shells are flying thick and fast and their gun boats are blackening the waters--altho they have not yet got in reach of our torpedoes all the vessels which come into the harbor are seized by Beauregard and torpedoes attached. It is impossible to run the blockade from here--as there are no vessels--Mr. Tranholm has just called upon me and told me of the impossibility of getting out from this port and tells me that there are a number of Gov. vessels now at Wilmington and advises me to go from there so I have once more my kind friend to trouble you--will you cause the necessary directions
to be sent me here so that I may be enabled to go from Wilmington and together with the permit to ship cotton for my expenses, and if it be not possible to ship the whole amount required by any one vessel can be distributed amongst the number so as to enable me to take the necessary amount--Mr. Trenholm, told me that he had dispersed of his vessels, and also that he had just agreed to sell a vessel now at Wilmington to the Gov.--he advises what I have asked above [and] promises me all aid in his power. I am to dine with him on Monday--I shall remain here until Wednesday or Thursday and shall hope to get a letter from you--which I can frame as an heirloom for my children also--I hope to get the letters I have asked be forwarded here.
I will continue to write to you but will promise not again to inflict such a long letter as I consider by this I have cleared away the rubbish and can now have an unobstructed view of the whole situation--and the conversation is more and more strongly impressed that Charleston at this moment should
not be in this straight.
Yesterday M. Mincado the Spanish Consul called upon me, and I am reluctantly compelled to prolong my letter in order to give you the results of his--visit. He repeated his instructions which Mr. Tassara had formerly given him--and that he has [word torn out] been informed by him as he [wrote] me that the new Spanish Minister at Paris had been sent there for the purpose of urging the recognition--and that Mr. Tassara had instructed him had made him deem it prudent to remain quiet as he feared to fix Sewards attention--that Tassara had more recently instructed him by letter to say that there was not the slightest truth in Sewards assertion that the French Emperor no longer interested himself in Confederate affairs, as discussions were daily taking place between his minister and the Emperor on the subject--He sayed he had now to make a communication of the greatest delicacy--as he would not wittingly
impeach the integrity of Mr. Paul the French Consul at Richmond--But that immediately after his return, and after the attack at Charleston he had written a full statement of events to Mr. Tassara containing a great deal of matter and had sent those dispatches through M. Paul--but that they had never reached M. Tassara and he has subsequently informed him and that the suposition by both was that M. Paul conceived that those dispatches interested the French Gov--to know the contents--Both Mr. Tassara and himself wished this fact to reach Mr. Benjamin Moncado has subsequently been under the impression that the circular addressed to the British Consul affected the Consular relations of all others and regretted his inability to communicate with his Gov--I told him this was not so & He also said that our commisioner to Spain had not been there since the winter, and that M. Tassara thought it highly improbable that an able man should be sent there, as the Spanish people know little of any portion of North America save New York--I will not add further...
[The letter is incomplete, the final sheet apparently missing.]
Letter to Alexander Boteler, July 20, 1863
Charleston, S.C. From Rose Greenhow to Alexander Boteler. Letter describing battle activities witnessed by Greenhow in Charleston, SC. She also praises Confederate General Beauregard and mentions the permit her gave her to visit Fort Sumter. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
Charleston July 20th 
[To A.R. Boteler]
Here am I my friend en route for the old world spell bound by fearful interest here - Perhaps at no time could I have visited this city under circumstances of deeper interest. The enemy have put forth every effort to capture it - and the skill and daring of our people will be taxed to the utmost to repell the brutal hoards who are now hovering around. For the last week the enemy has been attacking our batteries - having made a lodgemont on Morris island - one end of which we hold, and upon which is planted Battery Wagner. This point commands the City, and it [is] here that all their energies have been put forth to get possession of the Battery. On Saturday they commenced a combined naval and land attack, and continued until dawn to shell this Battery. I witnessed this whole from St. Michael's tower and
it was fearfully grand - at 6 oclock they attempted to storm the Battery the attack coming from the point we hold. - Fort Sumpter then opened upon them, in anticipation of which her guns had been ranged in the morning with fearful precision The attacking party were driven off with heavy loss - but after dark it was renewed four times, and each time with fresh troops - at one time they succeeded in making a lodgemont in the works and planted their banner upon one end also holding a gun for some little time. Talliaferro here ordered the Charleston Battalion to bring down the flag and dislodge them he leading - not a man of the enemy got out alive - so they payed dearly for a momentary triumph - they were finally repulsed with great slaughter - their killed and wounded number 1500, eight hundred have already been buried our own one hundred in killed and wounded yesterday all day they were burying their dead whilst we were busy preparing
further entertainment for them. It is possible that they may get possession of Battery Wagner - but it will be deer bought and bootless triumph to them as Beauregard had prepared a little entertainment for them which will not aid their digestion
Gen Beauregard is fully equal to his great reputation and still holds his place as the great captain of the age. He has just written me a note reminding me that the battle of Saturday was fought on the anniversary of Bull Run 18th July - and has certainly added another leaf to the laurel which then bound his brow
I will direct this to Richmond as I see by the papers that the Yankees have again paid their complements to your region.
I shall go to Wilmington as it is possible that I may not be able even to run the blockade from this point - in which case you shall
hear from me - I have not had a line from you for a long time Rose is here altho severely disturbed by the mosquitoes - the weather is delightful I wish with all my heart that you were here - The day I left R. I had an opportunity of saying a kind thing for you. I [illegible] you and Hodge in speaking of the attempt to organize an opposition last winter. He expressed his deep regret that you both were defeated- said any [illegible] with an [illegible] was invincible. He said he would be very glad to assign you to Military position as he had already done Mr. Hodge - Pray take my advice and go to him without any reference to any of his aids who are all humbugs, as I have found go to him yourself and you will get just what you want - and just what you are entitled to. I am very unhappy I have just got from Beauregard a permit to visit Sumpter, altho the enemies guns within the last half hour are again roaring.
With my best regards believe me always your friend
Rose O'N Greenhow
Hon. A.A. Boteler
Letter to [unkown], July 23, 1863
Charleston, S.C. From Rose Greenhow to [unknown]. Letter about changes in Greenhow's travel plans due to recent Confederate losses as a result of Yankee bombardment of Fort Sumter, as well as continued praises for General Beauregard. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
This goes out here Sun when [illegible] here to Wilmington
July 23rd 
My dear Friend
You will doubtless be surprized at what may appear like my infirmity of purpose. But finding it impossible to get out from this port I have remained here. Eagerly looking for some lifting of the clouds which hang over us and have finally concluded to put off my trip for another month for the reason that I cannot make up my mind to leave until things look less gloomy. For even with my sanguin hopeful spirit what can I say when asked about our prospects - but thus we
are retreating every where and every where sorely pressed I have never felt so little hopeful in my life. The Yankees have attacked their plan with a determination to take it and however long we try [to] keep them in check I believe they will eventually take it. We have repulsed them with heavy loss, but they do not mind this and renewed the attack in [illegible] We cannot get at them and are obliged to meet them at their own selected places. Beauregard is all energy and resources seem to have developed by his great genius but alas he cannot make big guns and without them the city must fall. With this dread
anticipation I cannot go away. I shall go to Wilmington tomorrow. Inform them after a day or two to my friend Mrs. Alexander in Mecklinburg Co. and shall hope to hear from you and see you that is if you still retain a desire to take a little trouble to see me. I have been very kindly treated here and have seen much of Beauregard who is the most interesting person I ever saw. Grand in his simplicity indeed he is.
I mentioned you much of interest about my trip here. Which I shall be always glad to have made. I remain over today in
order to go to Fort Sumpter. The bombardment will hit her to interfere with every plan for doing so. And I have an intense desire to see that famous spot which has played such a conspicuous part in the deaded drain of death. My heart is oppressed by the atmosphere of this place [illegible] is here. I will write to you after I reach my final destination. As you will know my friend this same regard I have for you. I [illegible] that you are again obliged to [illegible] your [illegible]. With my best wishes ever,
Letter to Alexander Boteler, August 13, 1863
St. George, Bermuda. From Rose Greenhow to Alexander Boteler. Letter describing her voyage to Bermuda, further travel and spying plans, and meeting with the Reverend and Mrs. Walker, Confederate sympathizers. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
St George Bermuda
August 13th 
My Good friend
I have as you will see arrived here in despite of Yankee crusiers who gave us a close chase all the way. I was seasick of course but I am now entirely recoverd and enjoying the dolce faneanti of this seducing climate with its beauti
tropical trees and fruits.
I shall leave here the middle of the coming week en route for Southampton. And when I reach this point I will tell you your impressions of matters and things. I have met with kind friends Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Walker with whom I spend
all my time are very charming and cultured people. He is certainly a most indefatigable and valuable officer to the Confederacy and by his prudence and high trust conduct him the consideration of all here, and is there by enabled to render service to the country of a magnitude that would be startling if it were prudent to
My good friend I thank you for your salutation and kind wishes towards me. I trust that I shall always be as fortunate as to retain the officers whose appreciation elevates me and my own esteem.
With my best wishes and friendship,
Rose ON Greenhow
To Col A A Boteler
Letter to Alexander Boteler, December 10, 1863
London, England. From Rose Greenhow to Alexander Boteler. Letter in quiring about previous unanswered letters to Boteler, worried that they may have been intercepted. She requests to hear news of the war from a Confederate perspective which she can use to counter Yankee accounts. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
12 Conduit Street
December 10 
To Hon. A. A. Boteler
My good friend
I suppose from your unbroken silence that you cannot have received any of my letters. I wrote to you from Bermuda and also from London on my arrival here. How anxiously I look for letters from home it would be impossible for me to tell you. All the accounts come through the Yankee press--Just now we have the news of Bragg's disastrous defeat and falling back from Lookout Mountain - with loss of 60 pieces of artillery small arms &c. and 8000 prisoners - I give a wide margin to this for the usual exageration. But the effect is most depressing. This news has brought down the Confederate loan from 60 to 31. My friend you know not the importance of sending correct information, which can be used so as to counteract the Yankee accounts. I believe that all classes here except the Abolitionists sympathize with us and are
only held back from recognizing us for fear of war with the United States. The invasion of Canady is the great bugbear. Remove this and all will flow smoothly. I am myself sanguine of the events of the next few months. The Mexican question is so intimately connected with our own that the one is a sequence of the other. I attach no importance to Lord John's hostility, he has not been as I learn more civil to the Yankee emisaries than our own. I would write you many interesting particulars but the publication of the late intercepted letters is a good warning to me to be careful. If you will get from Mr. Benjamin a cipher and use my name as the key, I can then tell you many things--your letters to me will not need the same chance as the mails going out seem to escape. Direct to Maj Walker at Bermuday and he will forward them to here - You don't know how my heart grows sick when the mail comes without letters for me, and it is important that I should have news as I have the means of placing it in proper quarters. Tomorrow morning I leave at an early hour for Paris, where I expect to have a nice time. I have been occupied for the last two days so incessantly that I have not had time to think. Your predictions have been more than fulfilled--for no stranger has ever been received more kindly than
have I, and from this time forward I'm bound to dispute the charge against the English of coldness or inhospitability. I wish I could write fully and freely but the fear of seeing myself in the NY Herald restrains my desire to tell you many things. I trust that I should be at home before the winter is over.
Meanwhile, I trust that my friends will not forget me or believe that even amidst the enjoyments of my present existance that I can for a moment be oblivious of the friends I have left behind, or of the noble devoted heroes who are engaged in the death struggle for freedom--No, my friend, it is the first and last thing thought and mingles with every impulse of my soul. God grant that the events now culminating here may be as I hope for our advantage. A crisis here I believe impending. The rates of interest 8 and 9 percent is ominous and my belief is that the pressure here will expediate the financial crisis among the Yankees.
The rumor here today is rife that Bunning has been captured and that Lee has defeated Mead. I hope for some favourable results -
Pray write to me and tell me anything about anybody. Especially if you can about my poor wounded soldier as you doubtless know that I must feel great anxiety to know. Tell Col. [illegible] that I must write a long letter to him. Also give Col. [illegible] my best regards. Tell him that my friend has written him that he never received the letter intended to him.
I repeat -- I wish that I could write you freely - but patience and forbearence is yet to be exercised, for alas we cannot realize the acts resorted to by our enemies to make apparent that our cause is hopeless nor can you know the profound ignorance which exists relative to our resources-yet I have strong hope the educated and thinking classes are all with us and the living by hard suffering will be thought.
Do not forget me and believe me with most sincere regards your friend
R O'N G --
Letter from William B [?], February 7, 1864
London. From William B [?] to Rose Greenhow. Letter with news about the latest Confederate activities as well as a request to get a message to General Stuart in Richmond. (Rose Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
3 Halkin Street
7th Febry. 
Dear Mrs. Greenhow
I am exceedingly obliged by your note, and for the Consideration and kindness shewn to Captn. Koren. I am sure that your introductions, if Captn. Hertzberg and himself ever reach your country, will be most serviceable to him. I have arranged that they will be able to procure a passage from Nassau. Blockade running from Bermuda is for the time being, I hear, partly stopped. Nassau is now the favorite starting point.
I think things are looking better for "our" side. I look forward with great hope to the Spring Campaign in Tennessee.
I hope that the Conservatives may soon kick that wretched
little scrub Lord Russell, out of power, and then we shall hold firm language to the detested Yankees-- and go in for Southern recognition.
By the way, I have got you the Foreign Minister's autograph.
If you are writing to Richmond, try and convey a message to General Stuart, from me, viz. that they are going to use his mode of slinging the sabre in a newly equipped, mounted Corps here. I was sitting next [to] one of the heads of the War Department at dinner, and speaking of Stuart's cavalry, I mentioned this "sabre attachment"--which he invented, and which so struck the fancy of [illegible] General that I was written to, and asked to come to the War office, and explain it-I should like General Stuart
to know this.
I hope you have had much much enjoyment in Paris.
My mother has been very ill and confined to her bed.
I hope you take the side of the Danes--Alas! Poor Denmark! I wish I could turn myself into 10,000 men and go and help hold the Dannewerke against those rascally Germans. The French Emperor, the cleverest [preceeding word crossed out] most clever head in Europe, has the cards completely in his hands. England whose people, are brave and daring, is made to play a mean part. I blush for my country! I hope you read Lord Derby's speech.
The O'Kane versus Lord P. Case is finished. The plaintiff withdrew the suit and he has been sent to Australia!
The "Bulbeley" scandal will
soon be in the Papers. You must look out for that. I hear that it will be très agaçant!
Give my love to Miss Rose
Accept kind regards yourself, and believe me
Dear Mrs. Greenhow.
Very sincerely yours,
Wm B -
8th Feb- I open my letter to tell you this--you will be glad to hear that the decision of the court has this morning been given in favor of the Alexandra. That is that the Governments are condemned for seizing her!
[written vertically on the left side of the page]--Show this to General Stuart
Letter to Alexander Boteler, February 17, 1864
London, England. From Rose Greenhow to Alexander Boteler. Letter complaining of lack of correspondence. Greenhow describes her meeting with the Emperor, Thomas Carlylse, and Cardinal Weisman. She also mentions her activites in Par is on behalf of the Confederacy and comments on news she has heard about the war. (Jefferson Davis Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
157 New Bond Street
London Feb 17th 
The old adage of "out of sight out of mind" seems fully carried out by my friends at home, for during my long absence few whom I expected to write to me have written a line, and I hold you up as a most flagrant instance of the direlictions of a friend on record
I am sure unless your conscience had been blunted by similar instances of - " I have left undone those things" &c you must feel very forcibly this my protest against sin of omission
I have had a very pleasant time , and accompained my wishes in some instances beyond my hopes - I have just returned from Paris where I spent two months
very pleasantly - I had the honor of an audience with the Emperor - obtained without aid from any one as indeed where no one representing us who could obtain so much upon his own account. I was treated with great distinction great kindness, and my audience in Court Circles was pronounced "une grande sucess - and altho the Emperor was lavish of expressions of admiration of our President and cause there was nothing upon which to hang the least hope of aid unless England acted simultaneously - the French people are brutal ignorant and depraved to a degree beyond description and have no appreciation of our struggle they believe it is to free the slaves and all their sympathies are really on the Yankee side. The Emperor sympathises with us but altho ruling with despotic power he is obliged to be watchful and wary as any false step would
be his ruin and he dare not take a step unless England joins him - For he is not blind to the fact that without such co-operation privateers from British Ports under Yankee flag would swarm in the Northern seas. For altho apparently an uninterested looker on no one has such interest as the Emperor of the French in the Sleiswig Holstein question - My belief is that from England alone are we to expect material aid The better classes here are universally in our favor and the debates now going on in both houses of Parliment show the strong opposition to the Gov - and but for the Danish question I believe there would be a change of ministry at once - but no new ministry wish to assume the responsibilities of this upon the question - So it is still a question of hope deferred with us. On Monday evening I spent at Mr. Carlysle - he is a warm and earnest advocate of our cause and were he this he would do anything for us - I suggested that he
write something - which he said he would take into consideration Tuesday Morning I went to see Cardinal Weisman and was deeply gratified by his earnest sympathy - I also suggested that he could do us good by some public manifestation of his views. In the afternoon of the same day I dined with Mr & Mrs Roebuck and had a very interesting conversation with him. I am to dine there on thurs and go with him afterwards to the House of Parlament-My mind since here has been continually on the stretch. how much I long to be again amongst my own people I cannot tell you - I have had every thing to gratify me as no stanger has ever been better recieved - unacknowledged unrepresented as we are. Still I long for my own home and the sight of our toil worn soldiers will be a more welcome sight that all the splendor I have witnessed - by the by I had almost forgotten to tell you that I went to the
grand state ball at the Tuileries, and was the only stranger mentioned in the description of the ball. Do not you or my other friends forget me I believe that I am useful here but I long to be at home.
With my most sincere and friendly regards
Rose O'N Greenhow
To Col A A Boteler
P S - I am glad to see that our Congress has passed all proper laws for giving efficiency to the Government - In the eyes of
of every one of whom I have seen the President is regarded as the most extrodinary man of the age. Carlysle asked me to describe him - His remark was "God has made the situation for the man." It has been a very wise thing to continue Mr Mason - as Commissioner Genrl at the same time that we relieved him from his false position as Commissioner here - His services here are indispensable not only to hold in check the hostile movements of the Yankee emisaries, but as a person who has the confidence and respect of all who sustains properly our national character - I perhaps have had better opportunity than any one else here and in France of knowing what is said, for I have mingled more freely in society and not being an agent of the Gov have heard opinions more freely. Pray write and tell me what is going on. I have sent you a copy of the book also one to Col French asking him to take out a copy right for me - Good night and good bye
R G -
Newsclipping, October 1, 1864
News clipping, presumably from the Wilmington Sentinel, Describes Greenhow's funeral complete with details of the reactions of the Wilmington townspeople and the service itself. (Alexander Robinson Boteler Papers, Special Collec tions Library, Duke University)
[Wilmington, N.C., Oct. 1, 1864]
The Late Mrs. Rose A. Greenhow
We have recorded the following letter, detailing the last rite of respect to the lady whose name is above written:
"On Saturday morning, October 1, a dispatch was received in Wilmington, by Mrs. De Prossoi, President of the Soldiers' Aid Society, stating that the body of Mrs. Greenhow had been recovered from the sea at Fort Fisher, and would be sent to town for internment. The ill-fated lady -- passenger in the Steamer Condor, which got aground in attempting to run in at New Inlet -- was drowned in trying to reach the shore in a small boat, which swamped the 'rips.'
"A hundred houses were open to receive the lady, but a meeting of the Soldiers' Aid Society being hastily convened, it was judged proper to have the funeral obsequies as public as possible, to which end the chapel attached to Hospital No. 4 was beautifully arranged, by order of the surgeon in charge, Dr. Micks, and here it was proposed the corpse should lie in state.
"On the arrival of the steamer Cape Fear, which was appointed to convey the remains to town, the ladies lined the wharf, closing round and receiving into their midst the lifeless form of her who had been so zealous, so devoted, and so self-sacrificing an adherent of the cause dearest to all their hearts. She was then carried to the chapel, where a guard of honor was stationed at the door.
"It was a solemn and imposing spectacle. The profusion of wax lights round the corpse; the quantity of choice flowers in crosses, garlands and bouquets, scattered over it; the silent mourners, sable-robed, at the head and foot; the tide of visitors, women and children with streaming eyes, and soldiers, with bent heads and hushed stares, standing by, paying the last tribute of respect to the departed heroine. On the bier, draped with a magnificent Confederate flag, lay the body, so unchanged as to look like a calm sleeper, while above rose the tall ebony crucifix, emblem of the faith she embraced in happier hours, and which, we humbly trust, was her consolation in passing through the dark waters of the river of death.
"She lay there until 2 o'clock of Sunday afternoon, when the body was removed to the Catholic Church of St. Thomas. Here the funeral oration was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Corcoran, which was a touching tribute to the heroism and patriotic devotion of the deceased, as well as a solemn warning on the uncertainty of all human projects and ambition, even though of the most laudable character.
"The coffin, which was as richly decorated as the the resources of the town admitted and still covered with the Confederate flag, was borne to Oakdale Cemetery followed by an immense funeral cortege . A beautiful spot on a grassy slope, overshadowed by wavering trees and in sight of a tranquil lake was chosen for her resting place. Rain fell in torrents during the day, but as the coffin was being lowered into the grave, the sun burst forth in the brightest majesty, and a rainbow of the most vivid colour spanned the horizon. Let us accept the omen not only for her, the quiet sleeper, who after many storms and a tumultuous and checkered life came to peace and rest at last, but also for our beloved country, over which we trust the rainbow of hope will ere long shine with brightest dyes.
"The pall-bearers were Colonel Tansill, chief of staff to General Whiting, Major Vanderhorst, J.M. Seixas. Esq., Dr. de Prossett, Dr. Micks and Dr. Medway.
"General Whitting and Captain C.B. Poindexter, representing the two services, were prevented from acting as pall-bearers, the former by reason of absence, the latter in consequence of illness.
"The ladies of the Wilmington Soldiers' Aid Society would have performed the last office for anyone coming to them under similar sad circumstances, but with how much greater respect and affection for her who endured imprisonment, sickness, losses of various kinds, and finally death itself, through devotion to the holy cause which was the very main spring and breath of her existence.
"At the last day, when the martyrs who have with their blood sealed their devotion to liberty shall stand together firm witnesses that truth is stronger than death, foremost among the shinning throng, coequal with the Rolands and Joan d'Arcs of history will appear the Confederate heroine, Rose A. Greenhow."
Newsclipping, ca. October 1, 1864
News clipping (source unknown) obituary of Greenhow. Includes a description of her survivors, her funeral service, and the place where she is buried. (Alexander Robinson Boteler Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University)
["The Funeral of Mrs. Rose Greenhow"]
The Funeral of Mrs. Rose Greenhow -- The death by drowning of Mrs. Rose Greenhow, near Wilmington, North Carolina, last week, has been already noticed. She leaves one child, an interesting little daughter, who is in a convent school at Paris, where her mother left her upon her return to this country. Hundreds of ladies lined the wharf at Wilmington upon the approach of the steamer bearing Mrs. Greenhow's remains. The Soldiers' Aid Society took charge of the funeral which took place from the chapel of Hospital No. 4. A letter to the Sentinel, describing it, says:
"It was a solemn and imposing spectacle. The profusion of wax lights round the corpse, the quality of choice flowers, in crosses, garlands, and bouquets, scattered over it, the silent mourners, sable-robed at the head and foot; the tide of visitors, women and children, with streaming eyes, and soldiers, with bent heads and hushed steps, standing by, paying the last tribute of respect to the departed heroine. On the bier, draped with a magnificent Confederate flag, lay the body , so unchanged as to look like a calm sleeper, while above all rose the tall ebony crucifix -- emblem of the faith she embraced in happier hours, and which we humbly trust, was her consolation in passing through the dark waters of the river of death. She lay there until two o'clock of Sunday afternoon, when the body was removed to the Catholic Church of St. Thomas. Here the funeral oration was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Corcoran, which was a touching tribute to the heroism and patriotic devotion of the deceased, as well as a solemn warning, on the uncertainty of all human projects and ambition, even though of the most laudable character.
"The coffin, which was as richly decorated as the resources of the town admitted, and still covered with the Confederate flag, was borne to the Oakdale Cemetery, followed by an immense funeral cortege. A beautiful spot on a grassy slope , overshadowed by wavering trees and in sight of a tranquil lake, was chosen for her resting place. Rain fell in torrents during the day; but as the coffin was being lowered into the grave, the sun burst forth in the brightest majesty, and a rainbow of the most vivid color spanned the horizon. Let us accept the omen, not only for her, the quiet sleeper, who, after many storms and a tumultuous and checkered life, came to peace and rest at last, but also for our beloved country, over which we trust the rainbow of hope will ere long shine with brightest dyes.
"The pall bearers were Colonel Tansill, chief of staff to General Whiting; Major Vanderhorst, J.M. Seixas, Esq., Dr. de Prossett, Dr. Micks and Dr. Medway. General Whiting and Captain C. B. Poindexter, representing the two services, were prevented from acting as pallbearers, the former by reason of absence, the latter in consequence of illness."
Civil War figure left veiled diary
By ANNE BLYTHE, Staff Writer
Published: Sep 14, 2005
The handwriting and the spelling were so poor in the 19th-century diary that many of the entries had a cryptic quality to them.
Rose O'Neale Greenhow was a spy for the Confederacy whose coded intelligence during the Civil War helped turn the tide in the first Battle of Bull Run. Maybe Greenhow had used a cipher in the 128-page journal chronicling the last year of her life -- a trove of information that was tucked away in the state Office of Archives and History in Raleigh for more than century.
Ann Blackman, a writer from Washington, was determined to solve the mystery.
After Random House published Blackman's biography of Greenhow in June, the author visited the Triangle several times and spoke about how the conundrum was cracked.
With letters, several surviving voice tapes and numerous documents, Blackman had learned a lot about the woman referred to as "Rebel Rose."
Described as fearless and beautiful, Greenhow was an influential Washington hostess who moved in the same social circles as James Buchanan, Dolley Madison, James C. Calhoun and other presidents, senators and politicians. She was born into a slave-holding family and had illicit love affairs with powerful men. She was imprisoned by Lincoln for espionage and exiled to the South during the Civil War.
Two years ago, Blackman realized the diary existed and sent for a copy. But the handwriting was barely legible. What had Greenhow written? Was it in code?
Finding the answers
Only two living people knew the answer at that time. One was H.G. Jones, a retired state archivist who spends much of his time in the UNC-Chapel Hill Wilson Library stacks.
Jones, curator emeritus of the North Carolina Collection, discovered the diary in the state archives in 1965 buried in the papers of David L. Swain, a former governor and president of the University of North Carolina. It was unsigned and untitled. But the woman's bold, black script made an impression on the archivist.
"I read the first page and saw that it was a woman leaving Wilmington," Jones said. "It was 1863, and I thought it was odd that a woman would be leaving Wilmington in the middle of the Civil War."
One night Jones awoke, certain he had seen the handwriting in a published work. He went to his bookcase, retrieved his copy of Ishbel Ross's "Rebel Rose" and turned to a photograph of a page from Greenhow's address book. He compared the two scripts and recorded the following entry in his journal on Nov. 17, 1965: "I found the diary of Rebel Spy Rose O'Neil Greenhow in the archives unidentified. Apparently never used."
In the academic world of history, it was a good find -- one Jones planned to keep to himself for a while. "It was my secret because I wanted to publish it," Jones said.
But to publish the Greenhow diary would take a lot of work.
Not only would Jones have to go through the laborious process of transcribing the barely legible entries, he would need to do a lot of research for annotations that put into context her comings and goings through the palaces of Great Britain and France. Unknowingly, the last year of her life -- from the time she slipped past Union blockade runners at the height of the Civil War until her drowning at sea in 1864 off the Wilmington shore.
At a manual typewriter, Jones deciphered the European journey of Greenhow and her daughter "Little Rose."
Finally, Jones decided to share his secret with one other person -- Haskell Monroe, a Civil War specialist who agreed to provide the annotations for a jointly edited publication. In March 1972, 6 1/2 years after the discovery, Monroe wrote Jones, saying his work would be done by summer's end.
But the annotations never arrived. Three more decades passed.
Then one day, Blackman, a news reporter with Time magazine who spent many years at the Associated Press, contacted Jones. She had heard he had transcribed the diary, and she wanted to know what was in it.
Jones remained protective of his prized possession. He was worried it would be used for "historical fiction," a genre he dismisses as "fallacious."
Blackman, who had written a biography of Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, made several visits to Chapel Hill before Jones finally agreed to lend his work to her. She could not copy his transcription and was to return it when her manuscript was complete. He still planned to publish the diary.
"Finding the diary was really the news story of my book -- the news of a woman who was a well-known spy who was actually much more than that," Blackman said. "She was actually an important diplomat -- an important Confederate diplomat."
In her journal, Greenhow had provided vivid details of her fight to the bitter end for acceptance of the Confederacy. As an emissary for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, she lobbied Emperor Napoleon III in Paris and met with British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and many British aristocrats.
When Greenhow was nearly home from her European campaign, her ship ran aground while running the Union blockade. The spy for the Confederacy drowned trying to get to shore, reportedly weighed down by gold she raised in France and England for her beloved South.
A trunk of her belongings washed ashore and fell into the hands of a man who helped Swain, the former governor and UNC president, find the manuscripts he collected.
Although Blackman's book, "Wild Rose: Rose O'Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy, A True Story," reveals the essence of the diary without printing the precise contents, a mystery remains.
When did the former governor acquire the journal and why? A riddle, perhaps, for another time.