Grateful American® Foundation

Which Civil War hostess was tried for treason today in 1862?

March 25th

Rose_O'Neal_GreenhowMarch 25, 1862 — Civil War hostess and spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow (1814– October 1, 1864) was tried for treason today.

The renowned Confederate spy was a socialite in Washington, DC before the war. “Wild Rose” cultivated friendships with presidents, generals, senators, and high-ranking military officers, then used her connections to pass along key military information to the Confederacy at the start of the war.

In early 1861, she was given control of a pro-Southern spy network by her handler, Thomas Jordan, then a captain in the Confederate Army. She was credited by Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, with ensuring the South’s victory at the First Battle of Bull Run in late July 1861.

Captured in August, Greenhow was subject to house arrest; found to have continued her activities. After today’s espionage hearing, she was imprisoned for nearly five months before being deported. She moved to Richmond, ran a blockade, then sailed to Europe to represent the Confederacy in a diplomatic mission to France and Britain from 1863 to 1864.

In 1863, she wrote and published her memoir in London, which was popular in Britain. After her returning ship ran aground in 1864 off Wilmington, North Carolina, she drowned when her rowboat overturned as she tried to escape a Union gunboat. She was honored with a Confederate military funeral.

Words of Wisdom

But for you there would have been no Battle of Bull Run.

— Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, at the trial of Civil War hostess and spy Rose Greenhow. Known as "Wild Rose," the woman born in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1817 was a leader in Washington society. Known to be a passionate secessionist, and one of the most renowned spies in the Civil War, among her accomplishments was the secret message she sent to General Pierre G.T. Beauregard which ultimately caused him to win the battle of Bull Run. She spied so successfully for the Confederacy that Jefferson Davis credited her with winning the battle of Manassas.

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