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mdb1618 asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Rose O'Neal Greenhow?

What was her part in the civil war?

(i know she was a spy but i need specifics)

please help! :)

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Among her accomplishments was the ten-word secret message she sent to General Pierre G.T. Beauregard which ultimately caused him to win the battle of Bull Run. She spied so successfully for the Confederacy that Jefferson Davis credited her with winning the battle of Manassas.

    She was imprisoned for her efforts first in her own home and then in the Old Capital Prison. Despite her confinement, Greenhow continued getting messages to the Confederacy by means of cryptic notes which traveled in unlikely places such as the inside of a woman's bun of hair. After her second prison term, she was exiled to the Confederate states where she was received warmly by President Jefferson Davis.

    Her next mission was to tour Britain and France as a propagandist for the Confederate cause. Two months after her arrival in London, her memoirs were published and enjoyed a wide sale throughout the British Isles. In Europe, Greenhow found a strong sympathy for the South, especially among the ruling classes.

    During the course of her travels she hobnobbed with many members of the nobility. She was received at the court of Queen Victoria and became engaged to the Second Earl Granville. In Paris, she was received into the court of Napoleon III and was granted an audience with the Emperor at the Tuileries.

    In 1864, after a year abroad, she boarded the Condor, a British blockade-runner which was to take her home. Just before reaching her destination, the vessel ran aground at the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina. In order to avoid the Union gunboat that pursued her ship, Rose fled in rowboat, but never made it to shore. Her little boat capsized and she was dragged down by the weight of the gold she received in royalties for her book.

    In October 1864, Rose was buried with full military honors in the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington. Her coffin was wrapped in the Confederate flag and carried by Confederate troops. The marker for her grave, a marble cross, bears the epitaph, "Mrs. Rose O'N. Greenhow, a bearer of dispatchs to the Confederate Government."

    Born in Port Tobbaco, Maryland, as a teenager O'Neal moved from her family's Maryland farm to her aunt's fashionable boardinghouse in Washington, D.C. Personable, intelligent, and outgoing, she adapted easily to the social scene of the capital, and people in Washington's highest circles opened their doors to her. Regarded as a beautiful, ambitious, seductive woman, she disappointed an army of suitors by marrying Dr. Robert Greenhow, an influential, learned man under whose tutelage she flourished and to whom she bore 4 daughters.

    Among her friends were presidents, senators, high-ranking military officers, and less important people from all walks of life, many of whom played knowing or unknowing roles in the espionage ring she organized in 1861. One of her closest companions had been John C. Calhoun, whose political instruction sealed Rose's identification with and loyalty to Southern interests.

    A widow when war broke out, Greenhow immediately used her contacts and talents to provide Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard with information resulting in the Union rout at First Bull Run.

    Suspected of espionage and imprisoned Aug. 1861, she continued gathering and forwarding information vital to Confederate operations. News of her activities brought publicity and tremendous popularity among Southern sympathizers. After being brought to trial in spring 1862, Greenhow was deported to Richmond, where cheering crowds greeted her.

    That summer Jefferson Davis sent her to Europe as a courier. She stayed there collecting diplomatic intelligence and writing her memoirs until recalled in 1864, apparently bearing dispatches urgent to the Confederacy. Sailing on the blockade runner Condor, she reached the mouth of the Cape Fear River just outside Wilmington, N.C., when a Union ship gave chase, forcing the Condor aground on a sandbar early on the morning of 1 Oct. Greenhow, fearing capture and reimprisonment, persuaded the captain to send her and 2 companions ashore in a lifeboat, but in stormy seas the small vessel overturned. Rose drowned, dragged down by the $2,000 in gold she carried. Her body was found and identified a few days later and buried with honors in Wilmington.

    Maryland-born Rose O'Neal married the wealthy Virginian Dr. Robert Greenhow and, living in Washington, DC, became a well-known hostess in that city as she raised their four daughters. In 1850, the Greenhows moved to Mexico, then to San Francisco where Dr. Greenhow died of an injury, leaving Rose widowed.

    The widowed Rose O'Neal Greenhow moved back to Washington, DC, and resumed her role as a popular social hostess, with many political and military contacts. At the start of the Civil War, she began supplying her Confederate friends with information gleaned from her pro-Union contacts.

    One important piece of information that Greenhow passed along was the timetable for the Union Army's movements towards Manassas in 1861, which allowed General Beauregard to gather enough forces before the forces joined battle in the First Battle of Bull Run / Manassas, July 1861.

    Allan Pinkerton, head of the detective agency and of the federal government's new secret service, became suspicious of Greenhow, and had her arrested and her home searched in August. Maps and documents were found, and she was placed under house arrest. When it was discovered that she was still managing to pass information to the Confederate espionage network, she was taken to the Old Capital Prison in Washington, DC, and imprisoned with her youngest daughter, Rose. Here, again, she was able to continue to gather and pass along information.

    Finally, in May, 1862, Greenhow was sent to Richmond, where she was greeted as a heroine. She was appointed to a diplomatic mission in England and France that summer, and she published her memoirs, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington, as part of the propaganda effort to bring England into the war on the side of the Confederacy.

    Returning to America in 1864, Greenhow was on the blockade runner Condor when it was chased by a Union ship and ran aground on a sandbar at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in a storm. She asked to be put into a lifeboat, along with $2,000 in gold sovereigns that she was carrying, to avoid capture; instead, the stormy sea and the heavy load swamped the boat and she was drowned. She was given a full military funeral and buried in Wilmington, North Carolina.

    Rose O'Neal Greenhow on the web

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