Rose Greenhow, Confederate Spy, Victim of Drowning
On October 1, 1864, Rose O’Neal Greenhow died while trying to run the blockade into the port of Wilmington.
The Washington, D.C. socialite and spy had been in Europe trying to win support for the Confederacy from England and France. While she found a great deal of sympathy there, neither nation would officially sanction the Southern government.
Greenhow, who had been imprisoned in 1861 by the federal government for spying, was on her way home to Richmond in 1864 on board the blockade runner, Condor, when it was pursued by a blockader. Although the Condor was within the protective reach of the guns at Fort Fisher, Greenhow did not know that and was afraid of recapture by federal authorities, so she insisted on being put into a small boat to make for shore. She was the only woman aboard and the only one who drowned when the small boat capsized.
At the time of her death $2,500 in gold, which she had received from the sale of a book about her imprisonment that had been published in London, was found in her clothes. Greenhow’s body was carried to Fort Fisher and from there to Wilmington where a full military funeral was conducted. She was buried at Oakdale Cemetery.
Other related resources:
- Fort Fisher State Historic Site
- The Civil War in Coastal North Carolina in N.C. Historical Publications
- Rebel Rose, a feature on Greenhow from the official blog of N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
- Images of the Civil War from the State Archives
- The Civil War on NCpedia
- The North Civil War Experience from N.C. Historic Sites
- North Carolina and the Civil War from the N.C. Museum of History
- The North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee
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