A Biography of Rose Greenhow

Note: This bio is incomplete, but is posted so others can have access to info in it's current state.

Little Rose “Rosey” Greenhow was born sometime in or around 1853 to Rosatta Maria O’Neale and Robert Greenhow.  She was to live a tragic life, as were many of her peers born 10 years prior to the worst war this nation has ever seen. She never knew her father who died while she was an infant. She lost her sister, Gertrude to disease when she was 7 or 8 years old and her mother to drowning when she was 9 or 10. Her remaining sister, and half sister, being much older than her, probably seemed more like aunts to her than sisters.

Most of what we know about Rosey is from the Civil War period when she was incarcerated with her mother, first in their home and then in the Old Capitol Prison. During the spring of 1861 Rose and her daughters, Gertrude, Liela and Rosey were living in their home on Washington Street, in Washington DC. Gertrude died in Mid March, 1861. In 1862 Florence and her husband, a West Pointer named Treadwell Moore moved from California to Utah.

Right after the Battle of Bull Run, Rose sent Leila to Utah to live with her sister, Florence on her promise that she be given a quality education. Florence begged Rose to send Rosey along also.

In My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington:, Rose O'Neale Greenhow wrote,
"Wearily and heavily now passed the days and weeks. Another plan was also adopted to reduce me to submission. My food,
which up to this time, though plain and often uneatable, had been sufficiently abundant, was now so reduced in quantity and
quality, as to be inadequate often to satisfy the cravings of hunger."

"My child, as well as myself, suffered greatly under this new infliction. I wrote to Provost-Marshal Porter, protesting against
this inhumanity, but he turned a deaf ear to my remonstrance; and my little Rose (who was allowed to play on the pavement,
under escort of a guard) was often indebted to the kind friends who sent her food whilst there, that she should not cry herself
to sleep from hunger."

When Rose and Little Rose were moved from their home to the Old Capitol Prison, Rose wrote,

 "Before entering the carriage that was to convey them to their new quarters, the prisoners took an appropriate farewell of
all their guards - Mrs. Greenhow saying to one of the soldiers, 'Good-bye, sir; I trust that in the future you may have a nobler
employment than that of guarding defenceless women.' Mrs. Greenhow then advanced to Lieutenant Sheldon, who had
charge of the prison quarters, and thanked him for the uniform courtesy and kindness he had shown her during her
confinement; while little Rose Greenhow, who, at the request of her mother, will be imprisoned with her, threw her arms
about the Lieutenant's neck and embraced him.

When Little Rose Greenhow entered the prison at Old Capitol Hill, she naively remarked to Lieutenant Wood, 'You have got one of the hardest little rebels here that you ever saw.  But,' said she, 'if you get along with me as well as Lieutenant Sheldon, you will have no trouble.'

Mrs. Greenhow then, turning to her daughter, said to her, 'Rose, you must be careful what you say here.' Rose, however, did not seem to think that the caution was at all necessary, and that she would fare well in her new quarters.

Aug. 24, 1863 Florence Greenhow Moore was in London. She met Rose there and took Little Rose to the Sacred Hearts Convent and enrolled her.

Rose developed into a handsome girl at the convent and left it at the age of 17. (1871) American friends took her home to America and the Moores, who were living in Rhode Island at the time.

There Rose fell in love with and married a young West Pointer, Lieutenant William Penn Duvall. LDS records record her marriage to William  11/30/1871, in Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island.

Duvall would enjoy a distinguished military career, serving in the Spanish-American War, in the Philippines and the First World War, summing up his illustrious career as a General with many decorations and honors. On the down side he was a severe disciplinarian, both in and out of the army and as a result he and Rose ultimately divorced after much marital discord.

After the divorce Rose appeared on the stage for a time, following which she returned to France, became deeply religious and retired from public view.

In the acknowledgments in the beginning of the book, Ishbel lists her sources, some of whom are direct descendants of Rose as

1871, Florence & husband were in Newport, Rhode Island.. American friends brought Little Rose from the Convent in England to Florence in Rhode Island. At that time Treadwell Moore was the Commandant at Newport, Rhode Island. (Catherine Clinton, Civil War Stories, page 78) It was here that she met William Penn Duvall and they "hastily" wed.

Also on page 78 we learn that Little Rose went on the stage for awhile. On a footnote (#40), we find that Belle Boyd also went on the stage for a while. Seems that the public had an avid interest in women who were associated with Civil War espionage. Catherine Clinton implies that this may have caused Little Rose some emotional problems, dredging up her dead mothers' past and displaying it to the public, night after night; and may be what resulted in her breakdown and returning to Europe and the Convent and eventually retiring altogether from public view.

I'm reading The Secret War For the Union, The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War, by Edwin C. Fishel. On page 59 he writes, " In 1852 or perhaps 1851 his wife and three daughters had returned East, a trip that in those days was measured in weeks or months. Sometime in 1853 Mrs. Greenhow gave birth to a fourth daughter. This imprecision of dates introduces the possibility that the father of the child was someone other than Robert Greenhow. The point has some importance because, if Mrs. Greenhow maintained her high social position in the face of a rather public illegitimacy, we are
that much better able to understand the brazen drive that made her the leader of a spy ring. But the records of the case, including the fourth daughter's birth certificate are so vague that not even the writers of Civil War spy stories (published as history) ever on the lookout for romance, have undertaken to solve this puzzle.
Footnote #15
Footnote # 15 reads: Ross does not say when Mrs. Greenhow left San Francisco; Her only reference on the subject is the statement "By the summer of 1852 Rose was back in the East." District of Columbia records only give the year of the child's birth. (1853)"

More to come as new info is found!