Rose O'Neal Greenhow

an HMS American Cultures collaborative production

Born in 1817, Rose O'Neal Greenhow was daughter of a farmer in Maryland. At a young age her father was killed by his own slaves. Her widowed mother and four other siblings would have to take care of the farm. To lessen the load, Rose was sent to live with her aunt in Washington DC. Her aunt owned an exclusive boarding school and through there was the first way she gained higher connections to people like senators. She became close friends with John Calhoun who convinced Rose to be pro-south. Soon after, she married Dr. Robert Greenhow. After having only three living children with him, he died a little bit after. Her views on being for the south were suspected by other people who were also against the union. She was then recruited as a spy. She was very skilled in sending information that she sent crucial information that led to the south winning the battle of Bull Run and even the confederate president, Jefferson Davis, credited Rose with winning the battle of Manassas. Allen Pinkerton became suspicious about her and soon had enough evidence to imprison her. Even though she was imprisoned she was still able to send messages a most famous way by sending messages through a women's bun. She was then sent to Richmond where she was greeted with open arms. Jefferson Davis sent her on a trip to Europe to gain European supporters for the Confederate. Europeans very much liked Rose and her memoirs sold very well in England. She was even able to meet with important figures like Napoleon lll. On her way back to the confederate states is where she unfortunately died. Her boat was being followed by a union boat and to escape being imprisoned again she attempted an escape on rowboat but her boat capsized and she drowned with it since all the gold she received in Europe pulled her down.She was given a military funeral.


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