Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington
The gravestone memorial to Rose O’Neal Greenhow is a marble tablestone style marker topped with a large Greek Cross. The tablestone stands on a double marble base with the lower base being a simple, unadorned, block. The upper base is narrower with a rounded edge feature. At the foot of the grave is a 2014 stone marker with a bronze plaque in honor of Shirley Ballou and that the site is maintained by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. To the right of the Ballou plaque is a round bronze emblem for the “Order of Confederate Rose.”
Images: Front inscription | Rear inscription | 2014 plaque | 2014 Stone marker | Far-off view of the grave
Gravestone front: MRS ROSE O'N. GREENHOW / A BEARER / OF DISPATCHES / TO THE / CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT / ERECTED BY THE LADIES / MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION
Gravestone rear: DROWNED OFF / FORT FISHER, / FROM THE STEAMER / CONDOR, / WHILE ATTEMPTING TO / RUN THE BLOCKADE / SEP. 30, 1864.
2014 plaque, foot of grave: THIS GRAVESIDE WAS / LANDSCAPED AND IS / MAINTAINED BY THE / BLOCKADE RUNNER CHAPTER U.D.C. / IN MEMORY OF / SHIRLEY BALLOU
Stone marker, foot of grave: IN REMEMBRANCE / DEDICATED / SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
May 10, 1934 September 27, 2014
34.245710 , -77.933330 View in Geobrowse
Greenhow, Rose O’Neal. My Imprisonment and First Year of Abolitionist Rule at Washington (London: Richard Bentley Publisher, 1863.) From Documenting the American South, http://docsouth.unc.edu, (accessed January 16, 2020) Link
North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. "Rose Greenhow, Confederate Spy, Drowning Victim ", www.ncdcr.gov, (accessed January 16, 2020) Link
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "Seized Correspondence of Rose O'Neal Greenhow," www.archives.gov, (accessed January 16, 2020) Link
Wenger, Ansley. 2006. “Greenhow, Rose O’Neal,” NCPedia.org, (accessed July 31, 2017) Link
“Oakdale Cemetery – Grave of Rose O’Neal Greenhow,” dated 1934-5-10, courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library”, (accessed July 31, 2017) Link
“Rose O’Neal Greenhow Papers: An Online Archival Collection,” The Digital Scriptorium, Special Collections Library, Duke University, (accessed July 31, 2017) Link
“Rose O’Neal Greenhow,” Find A Grave, findagrave.com, (accessed July 31, 2017) Link
1934 Gravestone: Ladies Memorial Association. 2014 Marker: Blockade Runner Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy
The memorial was dedicated at the annual Confederate Memorial Day ceremony held at Oakdale Cemetery. Speakers were Cyrus D. Hogue, the Rev. Andrew J. Howell, Mrs. C. Wayne Spencer, Mrs. T. L. Speiden and Louis T. Moore. Musical and other groups present were the Tide Water Power Company Drum Corps, the Wilmington Light Infantry, Boys’ Brigade, Junior Choir, Spanish American Veterans, American Legion Auxiliary and local Civil War veterans. A boys’ choir organized for the event sang “Tenting Tonight.”
Rose O’Neal Greenhow, famous for her role as a Confederate spy, was born in Maryland in 1815. As a youth, she moved to Washington, D.C., to live with her aunt who ran a boarding house popular among many top politicians whom she befriended. After marriage, Rose and her husband Robert, became popular hosts and frequently welcomed the company of James Buchanan, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, William Seward, and John C. Calhoun.
She was well known for her pro-states’ rights and slavery expansionist views but maintained friendly relationships with leaders from the North. Thus when war broke out Col. Thomas Jordan and General Pierre G.T. Beauregard took advantage of her contacts and recruited her to lead a Confederate espionage ring. Greenhow’s most important contribution came in July 1861 when she provided General Beauregard with information on the movement of Union Forces towards Richmond. The information was key for securing Confederate victory at the first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). Soon identified as a spy she was placed under house arrest. When this did not stop her from continuing to pass information, O’Neal and her daughter were then transferred to the Old Capitol Prison. During her time there, she still managed to relay messages to the South. She was placed on trial in June 1862 and then banished to the south where she was welcomed as a hero.
O’Neal was sent to Great Britain and France in 1863 to raise support for the Confederacy. On her return trip a year later, her ship, the blockade-runner Condor was spotted by Union blockade ships which gave chase. While trying to escape the Condor ran aground 200 yards from Fort Fisher. Carrying dispatches for the Confederacy and $2,000 in coins Greenhow feared being captured and got in a small boat with five soldiers to row ashore. The boat capsized and the weight of her coin filled purse pulled her beneath the waters to her death while the five soldiers survived. She was buried with full military honors in Oakdale Cemetery.
The grave is located at Oakdale Cemetery, North 15th Street, Wilmington, Section D grave #18.