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Archive for the ‘Rose Greenhow’ Category

Camp 5 miles of Richmond,Va., June, 8th 1862

My dear Wife

I hope by this you have had the pleasure of seeing Jake all fresh from the battle.  I can write but little as my mind is pretty well taken up with pickets, abates, roads, rations, and such small sanitary details.  My Brigade is on advance duty and I consequently have but little time to think of outside matters, but always time to think of, if not to write to, you.  The enemy kicked up some shims this morning as if they wished to make an attack upon our front, but Col.[S.D.] Lee with some of his shell soon put them to flight, but with what loss we cannot tell.  Our people found on the ground after they had left, 10 or 12 dead and one wounded.

I hope to get off this duty tomorrow when I shall have time to rest and write and fix up generally.  Here I sleep with boots and all on.  I did not tell you that I was indebted I believe to Gen. Whiting for my promotion.  He took advantage of the first opportunity to press my promotion upon the President.  He is going to try to have Stephen Lee made Brigadier.  So I fear Mrs. Lee, nee Sheppard, will be as big a lady as your ladyship.  I hope you have not put on the airs you threaten me with.  And honey, what about the velvet cloak, can you not wait awhile longer?  Money is very scarce and debts are heavy.  Please let me off with such an expensive one.

We have heard by Flag of Truce that Gen. Pettigrew is not dead.  He is said to be severely wounded but out of danger.  Cols. Lightfoot and [J.O.] Long both of the 22nd N.C. of this Brigade are reported as prisoners and well.

Mrs. [Rose] Greenhow—the celebrated [Southern agent]—came to City Point below Richmond by flag of truce on Sunday, June 1st and she states that the loss of the enemy Saturday was very heavy and that they lost two Generals of Division killed.  You will hear that our Army lost 10, 000 and all that sort of thing, do not believe a word of it.  We did not have 1000 killed in the whole affair.  5000 will more than cover the loss—as officially reported, but a great number were put down as missing, who had run back to Richmond, and it was remarkable that the wounds were very slight.  Mostly in the limbs and but few, very few, of those who had to be amputated.  Gen. Whiting told me that from what had been heard, the enemy lost two or three to our one.  I give you the above to show what exaggerated reports get out.

I am very sorry Darling that things should have turned out so you cannot feel towards David as you did.  I know he was not actuated by any mean or ungentlemanly motives and he is to me a devoted and kind brother.  I know him to be a high minded, generous man.  He said when here the other day that they never heard from you except through me, meaning I suppose rarely heard.  He said it in a sad way.  The whole thing seems to have been unfortunate.  It has caused me many unhappy moments to think that my wife, the dearest object on earth, and my most beloved relative are never to get on well together, for entertaining the opinion of him that you do, the less you have to do with each other the better.  But I will drop this unpleasant subject.  I do not desire to draw you out upon it.

I hope you like Mr. Stuart, and have had your likeness taken so as to send it to me.  Today is Sunday and how I wish this horrible war was over so we could be about this hour returning from some village church with our boys in the door waiting to welcome us.  May God grant us yet such earthly happiness and in the world to come life everlasting.  Give my love to all and to the young lads a kiss apiece.

Your devoted Husband

Sources: William Hassler, ed., One of Lee’s Best Men: The Civil War Letters of General William Dorsey Pender (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). William Dorsey Pender papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/p/Pender,William_Dorsey.html

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Raleigh Register, September 18, 1861

How the Female Prisoners at Washington are Treated.

            A Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Exchange writes:
The “Grand Army of the North,” no longer running from Richmond, is now warring against women, and the public appetite which must be fed accepts this food.  A constant reader of your paper, I notice your moderate notice of these “female rebels,” and for the sake of truth send you the enclosed, leaving to your discretion to do with it what your judgment suggests—for mine, awed by the surrounding bayonets, dares not venture beyond the truth, and even trembles at this; but to facts.  Imagine a listener rather than an actor, relating her experience.  On Saturday at 11 A.M., Mrs. _____ entertaining her visitor, a lady friend, was surprised to see two men enter and announce to her that she was under arrest, as well as her family.  Immediately, armed men stationed themselves in her parlors, at all the doors and around the house; while four proceeded up stairs, throwing upon the sacred doors of her apartments, forcing open desks, wardrobes, drawers, boxes, tearing the bedding from the beds, searching the pockets of dresses with an activity that threatened destruction to everything.  Remonstrance was in vain, for they were told to hush, else they should have a guard placed over each of them.  Their hands were violently seized because a pocket book was detained, and the unfortunate female pushed into a room with a soldier over her.  Their soiled clothes were insulted, bringing the tears in their woman’s eyes.  Every insult in act and speech was shown to them; and when their desks and pockets had been robbed of their contents, they were all huddled into one room with armed men to guard them.

The regulars of the United States Army have been gentlemanly in their deportment.  I have long wished for some term to define a mass of vulgarity, ruffianly conduct, insults to unprotected women, and have found it in a New York detective policeman.  The prisoners have four over them; they have turned them out of their parlors, sleep and smoke on their sofas, answer the bell when their friends call.  Their cards and notes are all examined.  They illuminate the house, seated at the front window with their legs over the chairs; thrust themselves wherever the ladies meet together, (the family being large,) to hear their remarks; have examined and threatened the servants if they did not tell.  The prisoners cannot get a pitcher of water without a guard being sent with their servants; their mail is taken possession of, and their privacy intruded upon in every way.  Now, as there is a God in Heaven, have I stated exactly what this 19th century has allowed.  Isolated from all their friends, thus are they left to the vengeance of this Government.  

The charge of treasonable correspondence cannot be sustained.  No letter has ever been written to any Confederate leader; nor can proof be found to sustain this arrest.  They are entirely ignorant into whose hands they have fallen, and are as much guarded as if they were the veriest convicts on record.  

They cannot consistently ask any favors of this Government, neither do they wish to.  Their bones would rather rot in prison—forgive this strong expression—but my blood boils with an indignant strength.  No one knows of my having written this letter.  I do so on my own responsibility.     

How long these persecutions are to be continued, we cannot imagine; but the public shall know what Lincoln has inaugurated. 

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A followup on Rose Greenhow.  Catherine Edmondston has just recounted Greenhow’s imprisonment on August 23rd 1861. 

Living and moving around in the inner circles of DC society at the outbreak of war, recently widowed Rose Greenhow was an ardent secessionist.  She used her connections to filter information to Confederate leadership.  She has been credited as one of the main reasons the Confederate forces were able to achieve victory at First Manassas.  Greenhow was placed under surveillance and eventually imprisoned at Old Capital Prison in Washington.  She was later exchanged and allowed to travel South.  Unable to watch idly, Greenhow travelled to England and France to raise both awareness and funds on behalf of the Confederacy.  Upon her return to her beloved South, the blockade runner on which she was a passenger ran aground not far from Fort Fisher, North Carolina in October 1864.  With potential re-imprisonment looming should she be captured on the blockade runner by an advancing blockading Union ship, Rose demanded to be rowed ashore in a smaller boat.  The boat capsized and she was drowned.  The ladies of Wilmington gave her as fitting a burial as they could muster despite wartime shortages.  Visitors to Wilmington can see her grave, pictured here, in the city’s Oakdale Cemetery.

Sources: Rose O’Neal Greenhow papers can be found in the North Carolina State Archives and Duke University.  Several books have been written on her in addition to her own autobiography: My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington (1863) http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/greenhow/menu.html

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August review, continued

Mr Seward seized some of the ladies in Washington, imprisoned them & subjected them to the grossest indignities, Mrs Greenhow, Mrs Phillips, & her sister, our old friend Miss Martha Levy being of the number.  These last were soon liberated, but Mrs Greenhow remains now in custody.  His treatment of them comes nearer to that of the wretch Haynau to the Hungarian Ladies than aught else we ever heard or read of choking one by the throat to compel her to give up a paper which she had swallowed, keeping a sentinel always in their bed chambers, and other vile treatment.  I think I mentioned the face that medicine was pronounced Contraband – thus making war upon the sick & wounded.

 Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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