Rose Greenhow dies - HISTORY
Year
1864

Rose Greenhow dies

Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft runs her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England.

At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O’Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her deceased husband was wealthy and well connected in the capital, and Greenhow used her influence to aid the Southern cause. Working with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jordan, she established an elaborate spy network in Washington. The effectiveness of the operation was soon demonstrated when Greenhow received information concerning the movements of General Irvin McDowell’s army shortly before the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. A female courier carried messages from Greenhow to Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard at his Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters. Beauregard later testified that because of the gained intelligence, he requested extra troops from General Joseph Johnston’s nearby command, helping the Confederates score a dramatic victory against the Yankees in the first major battle of the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Greenhow a letter of appreciation the day after the battle.

Federal authorities soon learned of the security leaks, and the trail led to Greenhow’s residence. She was placed under house arrest, and other suspected female spies were soon arrested and joined her there. The house, nicknamed “Fort Greenhow,” still managed to produce information for the Rebels. When her good friend, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, visited Greenhow, he carelessly provided important intelligence that Greenhow slipped to her operatives. After five months, she and her youngest daughter, “Little Rose,” were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. She was incarcerated until June 1862, when she went into exile in the South.

Greenhow and Little Rose spent the next two years in England. Greenhow penned a memoir titled My Imprisonment and traveled to England and France, drumming up support for the Southern cause. She then decided to return to the Confederacy to contribute more directly to the war effort. Greenhow and her daughter were on board the British blockade-runner Condor when it was intercepted by the U.S.S. Niphon off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The Yankee ship ran Condor aground near Forth Fischer. Greenhow was carrying Confederate dispatches and $2,000 in gold. Insisting that she be taken ashore, she boarded a small lifeboat that overturned in the rough surf. The weight of the gold pulled her under, and her body washed ashore the next morning. Greenhow was given a hero’s funeral and buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina, her body wrapped in the Confederate flag.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Franco heads Spain

During the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco is named head of the rebel Nationalist government in Spain. It would take more than two years for Franco to defeat the Republicans in the civil war and become ruler of all of Spain. He subsequently served as dictator until ...read more

Suharto crushes Indonesian coup

A communist coup against Indonesian President Sukarno is crushed by General Mohammed Suharto, the Indonesian army chief of staff. In the aftermath, Suharto moved to replace Sukarno and launched a purge of Indonesian communists that resulted in thousands of deaths. In 1967, ...read more

Lawrence of Arabia captures Damascus

A combined Arab and British force captures Damascus from the Turks during World War I, completing the liberation of Arabia. An instrumental commander in the Allied campaign was T.E. Lawrence, a legendary British soldier known as Lawrence of Arabia.Lawrence, an Oxford-educated ...read more

Terrorists strike again in Bali

On this day in 2005, suicide bombers strike three restaurants in two tourist areas on the Indonesian island of Bali, a popular resort area. The bombings killed 22 people, including the bombers, and injured more than 50 others. This was the second suicide-bombing incident to rock ...read more

Yosemite National Park established

On this day in 1890, an act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park, home of such natural wonders as Half Dome and the giant sequoia trees. Environmental trailblazer John Muir (1838-1914) and his colleagues campaigned for the congressional action, which was signed into law by ...read more

Roger Maris breaks home-run record

On October 1, 1961, New York Yankee Roger Maris becomes the first-ever major-league baseball player to hit more than 60 home runs in a single season. The great Babe Ruth set the record in 1927; Maris and his teammate Mickey Mantle spent 1961 trying to break it. After hitting 54 ...read more

Jimmy Carter is born

On this day in 1924, future President James Earl Carter is born in Plains, Georgia. Carter, who preferred to be called “Jimmy,” was the son of a peanut farmer and was the first president to be born in a hospital. Carter was raised a devoted Southern Baptist and graduated from the ...read more

Congress creates Yosemite National Park

On this day in 1890, the United States Congress decrees that about 1,500 square miles of public land in the California Sierra Nevada will be preserved forever as Yosemite National Park.Once the home to Indians whose battle cry Yo-che-ma-te (“some among them are killers”) gave the ...read more

Earthquake rocks Southern California

An earthquake in Whittier, California, kills 6 people and injures 100 more on this day in 1987. The quake was the largest to hit Southern California since 1971, but not nearly as damaging as the Northridge quake that would devastate parts of Los Angeles seven years later.Whittier ...read more

A 12-year-old girl is kidnapped

Polly Klaas is abducted at knifepoint by an intruder in her Petaluma, California, home during a slumber party with two friends. Despite a massive manhunt and national attention, there was no sign of the missing 12-year-old or her abductor for two months.Eventually, investigators ...read more