Rose Greenhow

Rose Greenhow

Rose O'Neal Greenhow was born in 1817. The orphaned daughter of a prosperous plantation owner from Maryland, she went to live with her aunt in Washington.

In 1861 Thomas Jordan recruited Greenhow as a spy. She supplied useful information to Pierre T. Beauregard and the Confederate Army and claimed she contributed to the Union Army defeat at Bull Run. On 23rd August, 1861, she was arrested by Alan Pinkerton.

Unable to find evidence of her spying, Greenhow was released in June, 1861 and exiled to the South. She wrote her book, My Imprisonment, before being sent to Europe to raise money for the Confederate Army. While in England she met Queen Victoria and agreed to marry the 2nd Earl of Granville. Returning with a substantial amount of gold in 1864, Rose O'Neal Greenhow was shipwrecked and drowned at sea off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Primary Sources

(1) Rose O'Neal Greenhow, diary entry (25th March, 1862)

General Dix said: "You are charged, madam, with holding communication with the enemy in the South."

"If this were an established fact, you could not be surprised at it. I am a Southern woman, and I thank God that no drop of Yankee blood ever polluted my veins; and as all that I had ever honored or respected have been driven by ruthless despotism to seek shelter there, it would seem the most natural thing in life that I should have done so."

"How is it, madam, that you have managed to communicate in spite of the vigilance exercised over you?"

"That is my secret, sir; and, if it be any satisfaction to you to know it, I shall, in the next forty-eight hours, make a report to my government at Richmond of this rather farcical trial for reason."