The exploits of woman who spied for the Confederates

By Rosita Smith
Palo Verde Valley Library

She was born into an influential, slave-holding, Southern family. She moved, as a young woman, to Washington, D.C. where she established herself as one of the capital’s most charming and influential socialites, an intimate of John C. Calhoun, James Buchanan and Dolley Madison.

She married well, bore eight children, and buried five. At the height of the Gold Rush she accompanied her husband, Robert, to San Francisco.

After her husband died in a tragic accident, she returned to Washington and became a legendary beauty and lover, notorious for her daring – and numerous -love affairs.

She was Rose Greenhow – a unique woman – trodding where no woman had trod before.

"I am a Southern woman, born with revolutionary blood in my veins," declared Rose, and at the outbreak of the Civil War, she proved her conviction by risking everything to become a spy for the Confederacy.

Rose supplied deadly accurate intelligence written in a fascinating code to General Pierce G. T. Beauregard.

Her message turned the tide in the first Battle of Bull Run. But her spying eventually led to her arrest by Allan Pinkerton and imprisonment with her young daughter.

Indomitable, Rose regained her freedom and, as the war reached a crisis, journeyed to Europe to plead the Confederate cause at the royal courts of England and France.

Author Ann Blackman, drawing on newly discovered diaries and a rich trove of contemporary accounts has, in her new book Wild Rose, fashioned a thrilling, intimate narrative that reads like a novel.

Finally, Rose O’Neal Greenhow gets her due as a power player in American history.

Relive the Civil War through the exploits of this Southern patriot, who dazzled Washington and Europe long before women were supposed to behave so boldly.

The Palo Verde Valley Library has a large section dealing with the Civil War, both from the Confederate and the Union points of view.

Learning as much as we can about the history and personal sacrifices of our forbearers, enables us to appreciate from where we came and how far we have come.

Wild Rose is available at the Palo Verde Valley Library and can be found on the library’s new-book biography shelf.

The Palo Verde Valley Library is located at 125 W Chanslorway in Blythe.

copyright © 2006, Palo Verde Valley Times

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