Though Rosetta is a fictional character in I Shall Be Near To You, some of the people she encounters as an enlisted soldier are not. When Rosetta guards Rose O'Neale Greenhow in the Old Capital Prison, we are given some insights into a fascinating, historical figure.
Born in Maryland in 1817, Greenhow was an ardent secessionist. She was also a vibrant socialite in Washington D.C. before the Civil War broke out. A widow and renowned hostess, Greenhow was able to move between various social groups, placing her in a unique position for spying. Information she passed to Confederate General P.T. Beauregard helped him win Bull Run. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, credited Greenhow with this victory.
She was arrested by the Union army and imprisoned first at home and then in the Old Capital Prison in Washington. Greenhow continued to spy while in jail, transporting messages in unlikely ways — sometimes by tucking them in the bun of a woman's hair.
President Davis sent her to Britain to work as an unofficial emissary to build support for the southern cause. She found much sympathy for the South in Europe, particularly among the nobility. She was received at the court of Emperor Napoleon III and granted an audience with him at the Tuileries. Her memoir, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule in Washington, was published during this time and became a bestseller.
On the voyage home in 1864, her ship ran aground off the coast of North Carolina. She insisted that she be taken ashore on a small boat. The boat began to take on water and Greenhow drowned. Stories circulated that she was weighed down by the gold sovereigns she carried from the sale of her book. Greenhow was buried with Confederate military honors in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Picture of Rose O'Neal Greenhow from Duke University Libraries
This article was originally published in February 2014, and has been updated for the
September 2014 paperback release.
Click here to go to this issue.
This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.
Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.