Rose O'Neal Greehow
O’Neal Greenhow was born in 1817. Her nickname was “Wild Rose”, and by
the time of the Civil War, she was fully educated, a widow, and had a
daughter named Rose Greenhow. Greenhow was a strong supporter of the
Confederacy and wanted her home state, Maryland, to secede. Greenhow was an
intelligent woman who was capable of doing anything she put her mind to.
Greenhow was recruited as a spy by Captain Thomas Jordan. Even before
the fist battle had happened, Greenhow had assembled a complete spy ring.
She had spies in the War Department, Navy Department, Adjutant General’s
Office, and the Senate Military Affairs Committee. Greenhow was even smart
enough to put agents in the Provost Marshal’s Office, which was the office
that was in charge of catching spies. Greenhow often used her body to get
information she wanted; she would almost do anything to get information
about the Union. Greenhow was
eager to complete any task that was given to her to the best her ability.
Her fist mission was to retrieve what the Union had planed for the
battle of Bull Run. By the summer of 1861, the Union army had 35,000 troops
in Washington D.C. The CSA had 22,000 troops, and the Union had 18,000
troops in Harper’s Ferry compared to the 10,000 troops the CSA had.
Greenhow had an affair with the Senior of Military of Affairs to retrieve
the information on the battle of Bull Run.
As soon as Greenhow retrieved the information she gave it to one of
her co spies named Bettie Duvall. While dressed as a farmer, Duvall crossed
the Union lines with the message in her hair. She gave the message to
General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. The message told General Beauregard that the
Union troops in Washington D.C. were going to advance, and the troops in
Harper’s Ferry were going to move south. Beauregard took his troops at
Harper’s Ferry and combined them with his troops in Washington. Doing this
raised the chances of winning this battle because now the Union had 35,0000
compared to the 32,000 troops the Confederacy had. The Confederacy won the
battle of Bull Run because of Rose O’Neal Greenhow’s efforts to help the
Confederacy win the war.
Allan Pinkerton, the head of the Union’s Secret Service, became
suspicious of Greenhow. He discovered that she was a Spy for the CSA and was
getting valuable information about the Union’s battle plans. Instead of
putting Greenhow in jail, Pinkerton put her on house arrest. This was a big
mistake by Pinkerton because all of his agents were men, which meant that
Greenhow would have to be left alone while she was getting dressed and
bathing. Another mistake Pinkerton made was that he did not put her
twelve-year daughter on house arrest, but after he found her talking to her
mom’s spies, she too was put on house arrest. Rose O’Neal Greenhow was
allowed to entertain; a lot of the time the people she entertained were her
agents. One of the agents that came over to her house had brought her a
military map and plans to be smuggled to the Confederacy generals. Because
of Pinkerton’s many mistakes, Greenhow was much more successful than she
should have been.
Early in 1862 Greenhow and her daughter were sent to the Old Capitol
Prison. Amazingly Greenhow was still able to run a spy ring from there.
Greenhow was successful because, as a woman, she was allowed visitors. The
visitors obviously were her co spies and brought her information. She would
then pass messages to her other co spies by tying little messages to rubber
balls that her daughter would “accidentally” throw out the window. The
confederacy used Greenhow and her daughter as propaganda by saying that
Greenhow was jailed with her innocent little daughter. The Union eventually
let her out for a prisoner trade.
sent Greenhow to Europe to persuade England to join the CSA in the war. On
October 1st 1864, she was on her way back to the Confederacy.
While crossing the ocean, the CSS Condor was stopped by a Union ship. To
avoid capture by the Union, Greenhow went on a Lifeboat. In the stormy
weather their boat capsized, and because Greenhow was holding two thousand
dollars in gold, her body sunk to the bottom of the Ocean. Two days later
her body washed ashore, and a Confederate soldier found the body and stole
all the gold. When he found out that he had stolen the gold from Rose
O’Neal Greenhow, he gave it all back. She was buried with honors in
Washington D.C. Each year her grave is decorated on Confederate Memorial