Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Visit With Rose

Yesterday, I spent six hours at the hospital with mom and was relieved by my sister at about 3pm. I decided to go in search of the grave of Rose O'Neil Greenhow here in Wilmington's beautiful Oakdale Cemetery before heading home for the evening. I called the cemetery office to inquire about the location of her grave and was told to drop by the office at 520 N. 15th Street, where I could find a map listing the location of notable people buried in Oakdale.

Rose Greenhow was a socialite in Washington, DC, during the US Civil War. She was also a Confederate spy. Stories have been passed down about her exploits at gaining access to Union Army military secrets. She was known to throw lavish gatherings in Washington, and using her wiles, she would obtain information about Union troop movements and then pass the information back to the Confederates.

Eventually, her role was discovered and Rose escaped Washington to London, England, where she worked to raise money for the Confederate war effort. She was successful at this endeavor, and in 1864 set out to return to North Carolina via Wilmington aboard a blockade runner, the steamer Condor.

On September 30, 1864, the Condor was attacked by Union ships in the blockade off the mouth of the Cape Fear River and fearing capture, Rose tied a bag of gold around her neck and boarded a lifeboat to make her way ashore off Fort Fisher. A few minutes later, a breaker swamped her boat. She was swept overboard and dragged beneath the water by the bag of gold she had procured for the Confederate cause.

A Rebel soldier found her body onshore and took the gold, but later returned it. Rose was buried in Oakdale with full Confederate Military honors not long afterward.

Her grave sits upon a knoll on the edge of the cemetery and is adorned with a small cross-shaped headstone and a number of small Confederate Stars and Bars flags that have been placed by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

(Below: A map of Oakdale Cemetery with legend. Double click on each image to enlarge it.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oakdale Cemetery website

7/27/2007 12:11:00 PM  

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