Until now, Rose O’Neale Greenhow has been a footnote in American history. Familiar to Civil War buffs as a beautiful Washington widow who spied for the South, she was imprisoned by President Lincoln, exiled to Richmond and traveled to Europe to plead the Confederacy’s cause. Running the Union blockade on her way home, her ship ran aground, and she drowned trying to get ashore, weighed down by the gold she had raised in Europe for her beloved South. Hers was a dramatic story, but the woman herself was little known and never understood. In the first comprehensive account of Mrs. Greenhow’s life, Ann Blackman discloses there was much more to this courageous and dedicated woman who climbed to the pinnacle of Washington society, defied her captors at every turn and, almost certainly, was the first American woman to negotiate for her government on foreign soil, in her case, for the Confederacy.
In WILD ROSE, Ms. Blackman traces the exploits and growth of this ravishing and fearless Southerner who used feminine wiles to charm military secrets out of Union officials and helped change the course of the war, beginning with the Battle of Bull Run. Ms. Blackman’s research into the daily lives of Mrs. Greenhow and other Washingtonians in the days before the Civil War depicts a capital fickle to the core, driven by power and beholden to the institution of slavery. Mrs. Greenhow was a product of her time and the city where she grew up, a woman of remarkable courage and dedication who, like many of her fellow Southerners, gave her last measure of devotion for a lost cause.