Walker, Georgiana

Rose met Georgiana on her trip to Europe while stopping over on the Island of Bermuda. Georgiana was the wife of Major Norman S. Walker, CSA, a Confederate agent stationed in Bermuda. Georgiana and Rose hit it off and became close friends. They corresponded frequently and Georgiana often mentioned Rose in her journal. They seemed to have quite a bit in common. Both were compelled to help their husbands along in their careers, both kept journals, entertained lavishly and had a huge circle of confederate associates.
Georgiana relates her first impression of Rose on May 20th, 1863, saying, “Mrs. Greenhow passed through on her way to Europe. She said her mission was diplomatic & then [sic] she was going abroad to publish her Book. She is a handsome woman, intelligent & in some respects well cultivated.”

On December 2nd, 1863 Georgiana tells her diary, “On Thursday the 17th the English mail arrived, and to our great joy two other steamers are signalled. How our hearts rejoice at the prospect of news from Dixie! It has been several weeks since we have heard, & since then, painful rumors have reached us from the North. The mail from England brings no special news. That clever French Emperor does not seem to have had his usual success in regard to his ‘Congress of Sovereigns’. I rec’d a letter from Mrs. Greenhow. She has been wonderfully well received in England & her book is pronounced a ‘success.’ I do not wonder at that, for she is a very clever woman, & has the ability to show those Yankees up in their true character. She says a smart thing in her letter. She writes, ‘I consider the cultivation of my good looks, a duty which I owe to my country!’ She needs no cultivation of beauty, for providence has blessed her with plenty of that. She is one of the most beautiful women I ever saw. She knows this & like a sensible woman, does not pretend to think the contrary.".

On March 2nd, 1864 Georgiana relates the following, “The English mail arrived. I recd a letter from Mrs Greenhow, & various ‘good things of this life’ from my friend Scott in Halifax. Mrs G. is much delighted with her visit to Paris, & considers her mission to have been a successful one. She had an audience of the Emperor, & was treated with marked attention. She says she advocated our cause warmly & earnestly, & left not one point uncovered; that the Emperor recd her as one directly from the President; & bade her tell the President that his sympathy was all with him, & that he should do all in his power to aid him. The Empress says, ‘His Majesty is not averse to interviews with beautiful escaped prisoners’. I have since heard that Mrs. Greenhow had attended a Ball at the Tuilleries, & had supped in the room & perhaps at the table with their Majesties. Capt Maury, (the Com’dors cousin) told me this.”

That same day she added the following in her diary, “Today I recd another letter from Mrs. Greenhow, one which was overlooked by Capt Maury. She had dined with [Thomas] Carlyle, & was greatly pleased with her interview. He asked her for descriptions of some [of] America's distinguished men, & seemed greatly amused at her charcoal sketch of Abraham the rail splitter. She then described our President, upon which Carlyle re-marked, ‘God made the situation for the man’. I can not subscribe to this, though the speech may be very Carylian. I believe the reverse. I cannot reconcile with my ideas of Infinite Justice that God should allow such a convulsion of a whole Nation, the so many thousands of lives, & the breaking of so many hearts; the desolation of so many homes;-this terrible carnage, & horrific war, that one man might live & be great! But I can & do believe that God raised this man to take us through these times, & I believe that under Providence we shall pass through safely & come out a great Nation, purified through suffering!"

In July, 1864 the Walkers visited London and Georgiana noted in her journal that, “We had telegraphed or written Mr. Soutter from Falmouth to get us rooms… We found that he had obtained them, at 34 Sackville St., where we found handsome apartments, & remained one week… The first familiar face we saw was that of Mrs. Greenhow, who happened to have apartments in the same house. She has certainly had the entree to the very highest society. The Lords & Ladies & Duchesses are her constant visitors, & her invitations to dinner parties & balls are innumerable. She is to dine with Lady Palmerston soon, & has gone thro the rounds of most of the others. We found Mrs. Greenhow a good guide to the places we wanted to find in London.”

Her last diary entry pertaining to Rose came on November 4th, 1864, while the Walkers were aboard the Europa, in the Halifax Harbour, when she wrote, “Mr. Hall, (H.W. Hall of the Wilmington Daily Journal) Mr Alexandre (Gustave Alexander was a confederate clerk in Halifax) & Mr. Weir (Benjamin Weir was an unofficial confederate emissary at Halifax) came on board to meet us & the first news we had was the frightful tidings of Mrs. Greenhow's death. My thought flew at once to the poor little orphan at the ‘Sacre Coeur’ in Paris, now bereft of Father, Mother, Friends, truly on the cold charities of the world. Mrs. Greenhow went in on the … ‘Conda,’ which left Halifax for Wilmington, about the first of Oct. The vessel was chased & beached, & so terrified was Mrs. Greenhow at the idea of again falling into the hands of the Yankees, that she disregarded the advice of the Capt & insisted on taking to one of the little boats. She unwisely attempted to save some gold which she had, by securing it about her person,-the boat capsized & she sank never to rise.”

After the war the Walkers remained in Europe for awhile and resided at Royal Leamington Spa, a small Warwickshire town known as “a popular place with Rebels.” In February 1866 the Walkers left Leamington and moved to London and from there to Liverpool, where Norman Walker started a cotton importing business with his father-in-law, Thomas Gholson.

The Walkers returned to America in 1878, living first in Richmond, Virginia, then at Staten Island, New York. Georgiana Walker died there in 1904 and Norman Walker in 1913. How long the other Confederates remained in Leamington is uncertain, but many left in 1868, when a general amnesty removed any remaining obstacles for confederates abroad wanting to return home.

Georgiana boasts in her journal how, on a sightseeing trip to London in December 1865, she was mistaken for a Yankee by one of the English guests. When she pointed out his mistake, he hastened to say that he had always sympathized with the South, causing her to observe bitterly that this "sympathy" had only ever existed in the imagination of the people. Another guest was puzzled as to her nationality. She had, she said, no country and therefore no nationality: "I am a Virginian. . . ".

This sounds remarkably like something Rose would have said had she survived the war, and aptly illustrates the bond the two confederates shared.

The Private Journal of Georgiana Gholson Walker, 1862-1865 - with selections from the post war years, 1865-1876
Copyright, 1963, by Gerald S. Walker
Edited by Dwight Franklin Henderson
Confederate Publishing Company, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1963
(Number 25 in the Series of Confederate Centennial Studies)
Note: LIMITED EDITION: Only four hundred and fifty copies of this book have been printed, after which the type was destroyed.