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Rose O'Neal Greenhow, 1814-1864
My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington
London: Richard Bentley, 1863.


Rose O'Neal Greenhow was born in Maryland in 1817, but little is known of her childhood. In 1835, she married a prominent doctor, Robert Greenhow. When the couple moved to Washington, Mrs. Greenhow became one of the most popular hostesses of the period, and her home served as the meeting place for several political leaders. Her husband died in 1854, but Rose continued to be an important figure in Washington, and this position allowed her to spy for the Confederacy. It is rumored that she procured northern plans for the Battle of Manassas and was thereby responsible for the overwhelming Confederate victory. She was placed under house arrest due to Union suspicions concerning her activities at the beginning of 1862, and in June of that year she was released under the provision that she stay behind Confederate lines. She then moved to Richmond. In the summer of 1863, she went to Charleston, South Carolina and hired a blockade runner to take her to Europe with letters to Confederate Commissioners there. Greenhow drowned in her attempt to return to the South in 1864, and she is buried in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Harris Henderson

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