ROSE O’NEALE GREENHOW, CONFEDERATE SPY
By Mary Charlotte Crook
In the last half of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth century, a catholic family named O’Neale lived in Montomery county. The O’Neale men were planters, but one of the O’Neale daughters, Rose, described as "the most persuasive woman in Washington, with a taste for politics and a talent for intrigue,"1 became a celebrated spy for the Confederacy in the early part of the Civil War.
The first O’Neale to live in what was to become Montgomery County was william O’Neale who patented a 100 acre tract of land called "The Wheel of Fortune" in October 1747,2 this tract was southeast of the present city of
1 Margaret Leech, Reville in Washington, 1860-1865 (New York, NY and London: Harper & Brothers, 1941), p. 94.
2 Maryland Land Records, Book BT & BY 3, p. 174
Rockville. William and his wife Eleanor Ball had a large family. One of their sons, Lawrence, became active in politics and amassed large land holdings in Montgomery County and also in Frederick and Washington Counties and in the area that was to become Allegany and Garrett Counties. Lawrence O'Neale was sheriff of Frederick County in 1774 and served in the House of Delegates as a representative from Montgomery County from 1780 to 1796 and as a judge of the Orphans Court. Lawrence O'Neale and his wife Henrietta Neill had four children — Henry, John, Mary Ann, and Eleanor. Before 1800, the family probably lived on a tract of land called "Token of Love" near William O'Neale's property. By 1809, they were living in the Poolesville area.3
Son John, familiarly known as Jack, was a fun-loving Irishman who was apparently a big tease. Legend says he once came home appearing to be greatly agitated and told the family he had committed murder. They were terribly shocked; some cried, others prayed. But Jack soon relieved their concern by telling them he had only killed a toad.4
On January 1,1810, John O'Neale married Eliza Henrietta Hamilton in Prince George's County.5 John and Eliza lived on a tract of land called "Conclusion" which had been purchased by Lawrence O'Neale in 1804 and which was "situated on the waters of Seneca Creek."6 By 1818, the couple had five daughters — Susannah Henrietta, Eleanora Elizabeth, Mary Rosetta, Mary Ann, and John Eliza.7 In later records the girls used the names Susan, Ellen, Rose, Mary Ann, and Eliza. Both the Lawrence O'Neale and John O'Neale families were parishioners of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Barnesville.
The fun-loving, sports-loving Jack O'Neale enjoyed fox hunting, horse racing, and cock fighting. Usually he took his negro servant Jake with him to sporting events. One of Jake's functions apparently was to entertain Jack's friends for Jake was an acrobat and could perform many athletic tricks normally seen only in a circus. On their return from one of these events, through some unknown reason, Jake struck his master and knocked him insensible from his horse. The frightened boy hastened home and told his mother what had happened. She, thinking to smother the matter, advised him to go back'and finish his master on the theory that "dead men tell no tales." But murder will out. Jake was arrested, tried, and convicted; he was later hung at Rockville.9
How Eliza Henrietta coped with raising five little girls under the age of 10 we do not know. John O'Neale's will named Francis Jamison, his sister Eleanor's husband, as guardian of his children.9 Eliza also probably received support from John's mother and maiden sister Mary Ann who lived near Poolesville.
When Rose was in her early teens, she and her older sisters went to live with their Aunt Maria, their mother's sister. Aunt Maria, Mrs. Henry V. Hill, ran the fashionable Capitol Hill boarding house. The building which was Mrs. Hill's boarding house had a short but significant existence, especially to Rose. The building was built in 1814 on the southeast corner of First and A Streets N.E. to house the Congress after the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. In December 1819, the Capitol building had been sufficiently restored to be used by the Congress again. The temporary quarters next housed the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia for four years; the building was then
3 Jane C. Swine, "Maryland and Montgomery County in the Evolution of the United States Constitution," The Montgomery County Story, Vol. 30. No. 2, May 1987, p. 12.
4 Handwritten manuscript of a paper presented by a Dr. Wootton to the Historical Society of Frederick County, Montgomery County Historical Society Library, undated. (Dr. Wootton was probably Dr. William Turner Wootton a native of Montgomery County who later lived in Frederick County.)
5 Helen W. Brown, Index of Marriage Licenses. Prince George's County, Maryland 1777-1886 (1971), p. 98.
6 Montgomery County Land Records, Book M, p. 166.
7 Montgomery County Judgment Record, Book 1823-1825, p. 227.
9 Wootton, op. cit.
9 Montgomery County Wills, Book L, p. 85.
converted into a boarding house.10 Because of its proximity to the Capitol, the boarding house was patronized by many members of Congress and those who came to the city during sessions of Congress. One of its most famous patrons was John C. Calhoun who was to shape Rose's political philosophy.
Mrs. Hill supervised her nieces' education — both in the classroom and in the social graces. The politicians who gathered at Mrs. Hill's talked politics freely with the vivacious O'Neale girls, who brightened their lonely existence far from home and family. In addition to dinner-table conversations, Rose often went to the Capitol building to listen to debates in the Senate and to Chief Justice John Marshall in the Supreme Court chambers then in the basement of the Capitol building.1'
How long the girls stayed at Mrs. Hill's is not known. Perhaps they spent the summers at home with their mother. Both Susan and Ellen were married in Montgomery County, and, although she was married in the District of Columbia, Rose was identified as being from Montgomery County.'2 in January 1830, Susan O'Neale married James Peter, son of David Peter and grandson of Robert Peter, first mayor of Georgetown.13 It was said that, in sport, she and Peter dressed up in rags and ran off to get married.14 James Peter died a few years later, and Susan then married Col. John A.B. Leonard in December 1839.15 The Leonards lived in the Medley District of Montgomery County where John was a farmer.
However it was through the marriage of her sister Ellen that Rose was to enter into the social orbit of Dolly Madison. Ellen had married James M. Cutts, a nephew of Dolly Madison, In December 1833.16 Ellen and her children were favorites of Dolly Madison, and Rose was welcomed at Dolly's parties with warmth. It was through these connections that Rose met her future husband, Robert Greenhow. They were married in the District of Columbia on May 26.1835, by the Rev. Mr. Matthews.'7
Robert Greenhow was born in Virginia in 1800. He graduated from William and Mary College in 1816 and then studied medicine at Columbia University in New York and at Edinburgh University. After working in hospitals in London and Paris, he studied law at the Sorbonne and became proficient in languages. When he returned to the United States in 1825, he started a medical practice in New York but also took a great interest in writing and lecturing. Among his acquaintances in New York were Daniel Webster and Edward Livingston. It was through Livingston, who later became Secretary of State in Andrew Jackson's cabinet, that Robert became, in 1828, a translator, librarian, and interpreter in the State Department, a position he was to hold for the next 20 years.'8
After their marriage Robert and Rose lived in a house on F Street. Robert traveled extensively in connection with his job, and his devotion to his wife is evident in his diary. Many of his trips were to explore undeveloped areas of the west. His linguistic ability permitted him to study the journals of early explorers in the languages in which they
'° Harold H. Burton and Thomas E. Waggman, "The Story of the Place Where First and A Streets Met at What Is Now the Site of the Supreme Court Building," Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington. D.C., 1951-1952. pp. 143-145.
" Ishbel Ross, Rebel Rose (St. Simons Island, GA: Mockingbird Books, Inc., 1954), pp. 4-6.
12 George A. Martin, "Vital Statistics from the National Intelligencer, 1835," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 1, March 1973, p. 51.
13 Janet Thompson Manuel, Marriage Licenses, Montgomery County. Maryland 1798-1898 (Silver Spring, MD: Family Line Publications, 1987), p. 239.
14 Wootton. op. cit.
15 Manuel, op.cit.. p. 247.
16 Ibid., p. 239.
17 Martin, op.cit., p. 51. 1a Ross, op.cit., pp. 10-11.
were written. He was a prolific writer; his best known work was his scholarly "History of Oregon and California." Rose was an avid student. She accompanied him on some of his trips and assisted him in his research.19-aa
Rose was wife and mother— housekeeper and hostess. Not only did she know and entertain political figures of the time but also, because of Robert's position, visiting diplomats and other foreigners. During the two decades after her marriage Rose bore four daughters — Florence, Gertrude, Leila, and Rose. Rose did not allow motherhood to interrupt her social life. She continued to attend social functions, sit in the Senate gallery, and become more and more involved in politics.21
Rose's friendship with John C. Calhoun continued after her marriage. Rose and Robert visited the Calhouns at Fort Hi!!, their home in South Carolina, and Mrs. Calhoun was happy to have her husband enjoy the hospitality of the young Greenhows during the long months he spent in Washington while the Senate was in session. During 1841, Robert Greennow even left his job for awhile to promote Calhoun's candidacy for the presidency. It was one of Rose's greatest disappointments in life that this strong champion of states rights never achieved that dream. When Calhoun died in 1850 at Mrs. Hill's boarding house, Rose was at his side; his death was to her a challenge to carry on his political principles.22
Two months after Calhoun's death the Greenhows were in Mexico City. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed at the end of the Mexican War in 1848, Mexico acknowledged the annexation of Texas and ceded the disputed Texas territory, i.e., New Mexico and California, to the United States. Because of his background Robert was dispatched to conduct a study to validate land claims in California. Rose was soon immersed in the social life of the diplomatic set. One of the people she met was Jos6 Y. Limantour, a Frenchman who had lived in Mexico for more than 20 years. Limantour claimed title to vast land holdings in the area that was to become the city of San Francisco. As a result of this friendship, Robert decided to return to the law and take charge of Limantour's land claims, claims which later proved to be fraudulent. Robert and Rose moved to the newly chartered city of San Francisco in October 1850 where Robert opened a law office."
By the summer of 1852, Rose was again in the east; her fourth child, little Rose, was born the following winter. She was still in the east in the spring of 1854 when she learned of Robert's death. He had fallen off a plank walk and down an embankment and injured his left leg. Apparently he did not realize the seriousness of the injury since he did not send for Rose. At the time of Robert's death, daughter Florence was a young belle, Leila was in school, and Gertrude was a teenager but in poor health. Rose left the baby with her sister Ellen Cutts and set out for California. There she gathered Robert's belongings and, as a result of a suit against the city of San Francisco, was awarded $10,000 for Robert's death. On returning to Washington she sold the family home and later bought a smaller house at 398 Sixteenth Street directly opposite St. John's Episcopal Church.24
During her years in Washington, Rose was to know nine presidents but none as well as she knew James Buchanan. While he was Minister to England during President Pierce's administration, he and Rose corresponded with regularity on current political affairs. After his return to the United States in 1856, Rose worked diligently in promoting him for the presidency. She even traveled again to California to enhance his candidacy there. Rose was jubilant over Buchanan's election, and during his presidency (1857-1861) her political influence reached its peak. Their relationship
19 Ibid.. pp. 12-13.
20 Leech, op.cit., p. 441.
21 Ross, op.cit., p. 14.
22 Ibid., p. 17,19. 26-27.
23 Ibid.. pp. 29-31,33.
24 Ibid., pp. 36. 39-40. 42.
was friendly rather than romantic; they walked together publically and, contrary to custom, Buchanan visited her in her home.25
In spite of the growing tensions between the North and the South, heightened by the Dred Scott decision, the continuing debate over the admission of the territory of Kansas, and John Brown's raid on the United States arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Rose Greenhow continued to entertain both Northern and Southern friends. One person with whom she developed a close association was Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, a strong opponent of slavery. How romantic this relationship was is a matter of conjecture. Love notes to Rose written in the winter of 1860-1861 and signed only with the letter H are believed by many to have been written by Henry Wilson. Other men of influence whose friendship Rose may have encouraged for her own purposes were William Henry Seward, Senator from New York, Colonel Erasmus D. Keyes, General Wintield Scott's military secretary, and Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon.26
At the Democratic Convention of 1860, Stephen A. Douglas seemed the probable candidate for the presidential nomination. Douglas, as the Democratic leader of the free states and a rival of President Buchanan, was no favorite of Rose even though he had married her niece, Rose Adele Cutts, known as Addie to her family- Rose Greenhow urged Senator Lane to run against him. When the Democratic party could not agree on either man, the party split, thus paving the way for the election of Abraham Lincoln, The northern Democrats nominated Douglas, and, at a separate convention John Cabell Breckenridge was nominated for the presidency with Joseph Lane as his running mate. Had the Breckenridge/Lane ticket won the election, Rose Greenhow would have enjoyed another four years in the White House limelight.27
By the time Lincoln was inaugurated, South Carolina had seceded from the Union, Jefferson Davis had left the Senate when his home state of Mississippi seceded, and war was imminent. As distressing as these events were, Rose suffered her own private grief when her daughter Gertrude died in March 1861 after a long illness. Rose's personal distress was compounded by philosophical differences within her own family. Although Rose had grown cool to her niece Addie since Addie's marriage to Stephen Douglas, the Douglases' enthusiastic support of Lincoln was especially irritating. Addie's brother, James Madison Cutts, Jr., joined the First Rhode Island Volunteers, and Rose's own son-in-law, Treadwell W. Moore, asked for her influence in obtaining a commission as a colonel in a volunteer Ohio regiment. Moore, a native of Ohio, had married Florence Greenhow in California in 1857; at that time he was a captain stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. Moore had prospered financially In the mining business, and, although he was fond of his mother-in-law, he did not hide his strong support for the Union. In fact Florence wrote to her mother that Moore "believes that all Southerners should be hanged."28 In spite of their differences. Rose tried to get Moore the commission he had wanted, but her influence had waned and the Moores remained at Fort Churchill, Utah, far removed from the conflict.
While her influence may have waned in some quarters, Rose was more than ready to use her wiles in the cause of the South, Within weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Thomas Jordan had enlisted Rose as a member of his spy ring. Rose's invitations continued to attract Cabinet members and senators, military officers and government clerks to her home where they talked freely in her presence and responded to her interest in Union affairs. Before Jordan, a native of Virginia and a graduate of the United States Military Academy, left the Union army to become colonel and assistant adjutant-general in Confederate General Pierre Gestate Touting Beauregard's army, he provided Rose with a cipher and instructed her to address her communications to Thomas J. Rayford, an alias he had adopted for himsetf.29
25 Ibid.. pp. 43, 50-51.
26 Ibid., pp. 65, 67, 71, 73.
27 Ibid., pp. 74-75.
28 Ibid., pp. 48, 53, 86-88, 92. 94.
His recognition of her unique talents and aptitude for espionage paid great dividend for the South in a short time. Her first message to Genera! Beauregard in early July 1861 warned that a Federal advance was planned for the middle of the month. The message was delivered by a Maryland girl, Betty Duvall, who crossed Chain Bridge in a farm cart dressed as a farm girl. Once in Virginia she changed into riding attire, borrowed a horse, and rode off to Fairfax County Courthouse where her message was turned over to General Milledge Luke Bonham to be rushed to General Beauregard. Rose had coded the message and then sewed it into a small black silk bag which the girl had tucked into her roll of glossy black hair. Thus Beauregard had time to deploy his men in the most advantageous positions along the banks of Bull Run. Jordan then sent a Confederate soldier back to Rose for more information. By that time Rose had been able to obtain a copy of Union General Irwin McDowell's orders and thus knew the number of troops at his command and the route he planned to follow. With that knowledge Beauregard telegraphed for additional troops. When Rose sent a third message advising of a Federal plan to cut the Manassas Gap Railroad, the Confederate armies were well-prepared and well-positioned for the Union attack."-31
Rose was not in Washington when word of the intense fighting and heavy Union losses was first received. She had taken Leila to New York to board a ship for the first leg of her journey to join the Moores in Utah, a safer place than Washington for a member of Rose's family. The first word she heard in New York was that the North was winning, but by the time she reached Philadelphia fear was reflected in many faces. When she reached home, Washington was in chaos. "Black Monday had dawned with its toll of dead and wounded, its demoralized soldiers, its wrecked equipment, its shaken people, moving through thick clouds of alarm."3a A message from Jordan awaited her: "Our President and our General direct me to thank you. We rely upon you for further information. The Confederacy owes you a debt.'133
Immediately after the Battle of Manassas Confederate prisoners were marched through the streets of Washington to the Old Capitol on First Street—the very building where Rose had lived when it was Mrs. Hill's boarding house. The building had now been chosen as a place of imprisonment. As they went, soldiers and citizens assailed them with rocks and mud.34 However the prisoners soon found that they had some friends in Washington. With support from some of her friends such as John Breckenridge and Mrs. Philip Phillips, Rose ascertained the needs of the prisoners and provided them with food, clothing, and bedding. Soon thereafter an order was issued excluding all visitors from the prison; Mrs. Greenhow was specifically named in the order.35
As she reveled in her joy at the Union defeat, Rose went immediately to the Capitol to observe the distress of her friends on the hill. She showed little discretion one day when she spoke out in the Senate gallery and provoked an argument with a young officer sitting behind her.36 However, when she was seeking information she was more discrete, flattering young officers into revealing information which she immediately communicated to the Confederate command. Jordan kept sending new agents and couriers to Rose, and her home became a center of intrigue. Visitors came and went at all hours of the day and night — generals, senators, and diplomats as well as the young officers. Other Southern ladies were also enticing information from guests in their parlors.
The success of Jordan's spy ring and the inability of many Southern ladies to refrain from bragging about their share in the rebel victory moved the War Department to action. The Department became convinced that Mrs. Greenhow was supplying the Confederacy with information. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the famous detective agency
30 Leech, op.cit., pp. 95-96.
31 Ross, op.cit., pp. 99-101.
32 Ibid.. pp. 102-103.
34 Ibid., pp. 108-109.
35 Leech, op.cit., p. 106.
36 Ross, op.cit.. pp. 103, 107-108.
in Chicago, was called upon to organize a secret service department under Assistant Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott. Pinkerton was ordered to keep watch on Mrs. Greenhow's house. One stormy evening in August 1861, Pinkerton and two of his detectives closed in. He stood on their shoulders to open a window and turn the slats of the Venetian blinds so he could peer in the house. The room was empty, but soon they heard footsteps and hid under the front stoop as a man entered Rose's house. Peering again through the window Pinkerton recognized the visitor as an infantry captain in the regular army. The pelting rain made it difficult to hear their conversation, but Pinkerton saw the man give Rose a map which the pair then looked over together. When the man left, Pinkerton trailed him — still in his stocking feet since he had taken his shoes off to stand on the shoulders of his men. Because of the weather Pinkerton had been forced to follow the man so closely that, when the officer slipped into a building, Pinkerton was suddenly face-to-face with a sentry. Pinkerton was detained but managed to find a guard willing to take a message to Secretary Scott early the next morning. When Scott met a soaked and still-shoeless Pinkerton in his office later that morning, they both burst out laughing.37
But the activities of Rose Greennow were no laughing matter. The captain's subsequent arrest proved that he had been in communication with the enemy. When Rose ceased to hear from the captain and a Georgetown friend relayed word to her that she was on a list of dangerous persons, Rose became aware she was being watched. However Rose does not seem to have considered fleeing. In fact she and her friends Lily Mackall found enjoyment in being followed. Rose later wrote that she and Lily liked to turn suddenly in the street and, if their followers turned also, they found it amusing to "follow those who we fancied were giving us an undue share of attention.'138
By late August Pinkerton decided to take action before Rose evaded them. One day Rose had been out walking with a diplomat. After they parted and Rose observed detectives following her, she passed one of her agents and whispered to him that the men were probably going to arrest her. As she entered her house, Pinkerton and his men entered with her and arrested her. The men searched her wardrobe and drawers, her papers and her books, in fact even fragments of paper in the fireplace. The search revealed much incriminating evidence — now preserved in the National Archives. Pinkerton had hoped that anyone on the street who observed the men entering Rose's house would not be suspicious- However, little Rose, who had remained in Washington with her mother, slipped outdoors, climbed a tree, and chanted "Mother's been arrested!'139
The authorities took over Rose's house and confined her, her daughter, her maid Lucy Fitzgerald, and her friend Lily Mackall (who had moved into the house to live with Rose) to a single room. Later another room was allotted to the maid and child, and Rose was allowed to use her library, However the Federal agents were wise enough to keep Rose out of any room with a window on the street. Numerous other women were soon confined in "Greenhow Prison.1140
About this time Rose developed a great interest in needlework. Although her guards inspected the balls of yam when they came into the house, little did they realize that Rose's finished handwork carried messages in a "vocabulary of colors." Rose was also allowed to correspond freely, the authorities thinking that she would use the chance to send letters in code. Instead Rose wrote at such length that only those for whom the letters were intended could find the message in the verbiage. Through these and other means Rose was able to continue sending information to the Confederacy while she was confined in her home.41
John Bakeless, Spies of the Confederacy (Philadelphia. PA and New York, NY: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1970), pp. 35-38. Ibid., p. 41
37 John Bakeless, Spies 3fl &/rf.,p.41 33 Ibid.. p. 46.
40 Ibid., pp. 50, 56.
41 Ibid., pp. 52-53.
On November 17, 1861, Rose wrote to Secretary of State Seward reviewing her arrest and treatment, especially the invasion of her privacy. Her letter was printed in Richmond and New York newspapers. The government was angered at the exposure of the secrets of their prison, but some of the men who had known Rose well were equally angered at her treatment. Although this publicity brought sympathy from her family (Ellen Cutts and her daughter Addie Douglas visited shortly before Christmas), it also brought sterner action from the government.42 On the afternoon of January 18,1862, Mrs. Greenhow was given two hours to get ready to move. She and little Rose were taken to Old Capitol Prison under military guard. There she was searched in the very same room in which she had sat with Calhoun when he died.43
At the Old Capitol Prison Rose was confined in a room in a brick extension to the rear which faced the prison yard. She was not allowed to approach the barred windows or leave the room even for exercise.44 The food was poor, and little Rose refused to eat it. Life in prison was boring. Rose had nothing to read and could not sleep. Little Rose came down with the measles, and Rose herself felt ill.
Rose did not hesitate to take up her pen to complain about the conditions and about the prison authorities. She was adamant in refusing to allow Surgeon W.D. Stewart, a man she detested from previous encounters, to attend little Rose- Whereas she had once enjoyed being a celebrity, she was now perturbed at being made a spectacle:
Sightseers, some of whom were willing to pay $10 for the opportunity, passed by her ever-open door to gape at the "indomitable rebel."45
In spite of the conditions and their impact on her health, Rose's spirit was never broken. She managed to find ways to create excitement even in prison. In the course of time her desk, her sewing machine, and some books were brought to her, and she was allowed some outdoor exercise in the prison yard. She used the sewing machine to make a Confederate flag. One day while Rose was in the prison yard the Superintendent's produce cart was driven into the yard by a man who was a friend of Rose. He offered her a ride: she and other women prisoners jumped in. As the cart was driven around and around the yard, Rose called out "I'm off for Dixie," creating pandemonium. On another occasion she lit a candle supposedly to find something in her trunk. A guard yelled to her to put out the light. Instead she found all the candles she could and lit them — to the consternation of the guards who feared she was sending a signal,46
In March 1862, Rose was summoned to appear before the United States Commissioners for the Trial of State Prisoners- The hearing was held by Major General John Adams Dix, a man Rose had known for many years and for whom she had respect. His fellow commissioner was Judge Edward Pierrepont. Rose immediately took the initiative at what she considered a mock trial. She replied sarcastically to their questions and in turn asked almost as many questions as they did. The investigation failed to uncover her sources of information. She protested that she was at home in mourning for her deceased daughter prior to the Battle of Manassas. How could she have any information unless it was brought to her? Was she responsible for what others told her? Could they really expect a woman to keep a secret? It was obvious that Rose's political opinions had not changed so Pierrepont realized it was useless to ask her to take an oath of allegiance or give a parole not to aid the enemy, conditions other prisoners had agreed to accept,47-48
42 Ross, op.cA. pp. 157, 159.
44 Leech, op.cst.. p. 149.
45 Ross, op.c/T. p. 170.
46 Ibid.. pp. 173-174.
47 ibid.. pp. 185-186, 189.
48 Leech, op.cit., p. 152,
The outcome of the proceedings was that Rose was ordered to be sent to the South. But several months passed, and Rose was still confined in Old Capitol Prison. She teamed that Genera! McClellan did not want to release her. In mid-May Henry Wilson, the man believed to have been her lover, came to her prison room. He claimed to have come as a member of senate committee, but he may have been trying to expedite her release. Release finally came inJune1862.49
Although Rose suffered from the estrangement from family members who were loyal to the Union, there were other family members who shared Rose's beliefs. Shortly before Rose's release the Montgomery County Sentinel reported that Mrs. Susan Leonard, wife of Col. J.A.B. Leonard and sister of Mrs. Greenhow, was arrested in the District of Columbia by the Provost Guard on May 28, 1862.50 Had Susan taken something to Rose? The following spring Leonard himself was arrested and confined in the Old Capitol Prison, accused of assisting Stuart during a raid in the fail of 1862, of harboring Confederate officers, and of drilling White's guerillas before they entered the service.51
Rose left the Old Capitol Prison wrapped in a Confederate flag which was hidden under her shawl. She, little Rose, and other female prisoners rode to Baltimore by train where they boarded a ship for Fortress Monroe, Virginia. There, on June 2,1862, they pledged not to return north of the Potomac during the hostilities. She was then transported to Richmond by train. No welcoming ceremony awaited her there, although Jefferson Davis called on her the next day.52
For the next year Rose renewed old acquaintances. She worked in the hospitals, knitted and sewed for the soldiers, and began to write her memoirs. In spite of the ominous signs such as the growing scarcity of food, there were teas, and dances, and music to lift the spirits of the soldiers. Rose undoubtedly enjoyed a return to some semblance of the social life she had once known."
By the summer of 1863, it had been decided that Rose would go to Europe to get her memoirs published in London and to try to obtain aid for the Confederacy by offering cotton in return for ships and military supplies. Rose sailed from Wilmington, North Carolina, in August accompanied by little Rose. The ship negotiated the blockade and sailed to Bermuda where Rose boarded a British man-of-war, a sign of her official status. Once in London she made arrangements for publication of her book "My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington."54
By prior arrangement Florence Moore had gone abroad to meet her mother in Paris, far from the war which had divided them. In France little Rose was placed in the Convent of the Sacred Heart. There also Rose found respite in the gaiety of Paris, and her interest in fashion was revived. She and Florence shopped together, aided by Florence's financial assets.55
Rose was received by the Emperor of France and formally presented at court. Her mission was unsuccessful, however. France had cooled to the Confederacy and backed down from aid when England declined to join France in supporting the Confederacy.56
Rose returned to England where her book was a best-seller. This success made Rose a celebrity. She was welcomed in the literary set; old friends of James Buchanan received her into their social world. She was presented
49 Ross, op.cit, pp. 197, 201.
50 Montgomery County Sentinel, May 30, 1862.
51 Ibid.. March 20,1863.
52 Ross, op.cit.. pp. 202-204,
53 Ibid.. p. 210.
55 Ibid.. pp. 216, 221-222.
56 Ibid., pp. 219-221.
at court and renewed many old associations. Her most frequent companion was Lady Georgiana Fullerton whose brother was the second Earl of Granville. Rose reportedly became engaged to Lord Granville, a recent widower.57
Although Rose was again enjoying a social life, she never ceased working for the Confederacy. She lectured, she wrote, and she worked with John Slidell and James M. Mason, the Confederate Commissioners in Europe, and with Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, Maury had organized a group of Confederate naval officers who were attempting to get ships in any way they could.58
By the summer of 1864, Rose planned a return trip to the Confederacy to make a personal report to Jefferson Davis. As she sailed from England on the Condor, a British blockade runner, she was the bearer of gold from the sale of her book and clothes for the women of the Confederacy. The ship put in at Halifax, Nova Scotia, waiting for the dark of the moon to run the blockade which awaited them. On October 1,1864, the Condor arrived off Cape Fear, North Carolina. Although sighted by a gunboat, the Condor was able to sail up the river with the pilot unaware he was being pursued. When something loomed ahead in the dark, the pilot assumed it to be a Federal gunboat and changed course. While avoiding the shadowy hulk (which was actually the wreck of an earlier blockade runner), he became grounded on a sand bar just a few hundred yards from the Confederate guns of Fort Fisher. The batteries opened fire on the Federal pursuer, the USS Niphon, which then departed. It was a stormy night, and no one on the Condor knew what was happening. Rose dressed and sought the Admiral; she beseeched him to send her ashore with the two other Confederate agents. The Admiral assured them that they were safer if they stayed on board. The men were convinced, but Rose was adamant. At last the Admiral, with great reluctance, launched a boat with the three Confederate agents and with a pilot and a crew of two. They had not gone far in the turbulent waters when a huge wave turned the boat over. The men were all saved, but Rose, weighed down by the gold coins she was carrying, drowned.59
Rose's body was found by a Confederate soldier when it was washed ashore. He also found the bag of gold coins which Rose had worn around her neck. After he thrust the coins into his pockets, he pushed her body back into the sea. (When he later learned who she was, he was plagued by guilt and returned the money.) Her body was washed ashore a second time, this time to be found by a search party. It was taken to Wilmington where she was buried in Oakdale Cemetery with full military honors. The Daughters of the Confederacy still place a wreath on her grave each Memorial Day.60
57 Ibid.. pp. 223-225.
58 Ibid., pp. 226-228.
59 Ibid.. pp. 231. 233-236.
60 Ibid., pp. 237-238.
Little Rose stayed in the convent in France until she was 17. She then travelled with American friends to the home of the Moores who were at that time in Newport, Rhode Island, where Treadwell Moore was commandant and general. Rose married Lieutenant William Penn Duvall, a graduate of West Point who later fought in the Spanish American War, in the Phillipines, and in the First World War and attained the rank of general. The marriage ended in divorce. After a brief career as an actress, Rose returned to France, became deeply religious, and dropped out of the public eye.61
61 ibid., p. 222
The impetus for this Story was supplied by Jane Sween the Librarian of the Montgomery County Historical Society, when she received Dr. Wootton’s manuscript from the Historical Society of Frederick County, Inc., in the fall of 1988. Dr. Wootton’s paper provided evidence of the relationship of Rose Greenhow to the Montgomery County O’Neale family. However, the story could not have been written without the cooperation and support of Charles and Marian Jacobs who furnished the source books, reviewed the manuscript, and provided the photograph of rose O’Neale Greenhow’s gravestone. Their help and encouragement are sincerely appreciated.
The Montomery County Historical Society
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