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Women Of The Cival War

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Women Spies

Rose O' Neal Greenhow, 1817-1864

Rose O' Neal GreenHow was born in Montgomery County Maryland in 1817. "Wild Rose", as she was called from a young age, as a leader in Washington society, a passionate secessionist, and one of the most renowned spies in the Cival War.

Among Rose O' Neal's accomplishments was the ten-word 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.

She was imprisoned for her efforts first in her own home and then in the Old Capital Prison. Despite her confinement, Greenhow continued getting messages to the Confederacy by means of cryptic notes which traveled in unlikely places such as the inside of a woman's bun of hair. After her second prison term, she was exiled to the Confederate states where she was received warmly by President Jefferson Davis.

Her next mission was to tour Britain and France as a propagandist for the Confederate cause. Two months after her arrival in London, her memoirs were published and enjoyed a wide sale throughout the British Isles. In Europe, Greenhow found a strong sympathy for the South, especially among the ruling classes.

During the course of her travels she hobnobbed with many members of the nobility. She was received at the court of Queen Victoria and became engaged to the Second Earl Granville. In Paris, she was received into the court of Napoleon III and was granted an audience with the Emperor at the Tuileries.

In 1864, after a year abroad, she boarded the Condor, a British blockade-runner which was to take her home. Just before reaching her destination, the vessel ran aground at the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina. In order to avoid the Union gunboat that pursued her ship, Rose fled in rowboat, but never made it to shore. Her little boat capsized and she was dragged down by the weight of the gold she received in royalties for her book.

In October 1864, Rose was buried with full military honors in the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington. Her coffin was wrapped in the Confederate flag and carried by Confederate troops. The marker for her grave, a marble cross, bears the epitaph, "Mrs. Rose O'N. Greenhow, a bearer of dispatchs to the Confederate Government."

Emeline Pigott, 1836-1916

Emeline Pigott was born and raise in Harlowe Township of Carteret Country NC. When she was 25, she moved with her parents to a farm at Crab Point on the North Carolina coast, just across the creek from where the soldiers of the 26th North Carolina were stationed to defend the coast. The sensitive and compassionate woman took it upon herself to help the troops in many ways. She tended to the sick and wounded soldiers, even bringing some home to nurse. Working throughout three counties, Pigott collected mail along with food, clothing, medicine, and other needed items, and left the goods in designated hollow trees and logs for the Confederates to collect.

Pigott also was brave enough to gather intelligence for the Confederates. By entertaining Union soldiers she gleaned some information, and while she was distracting the enemy, her brother-in-law Rufus Bell dispensed food from her pantry to hungry Rebel soldiers. Local fishermen also gathered information about Union boats' cargoes and destinations as they sold the Yankees fish. They then reported to Pigott, who carried the valuable information hidden in big pockets under her hoop skirt. With mail and other items combined, Pigott sometimes carried as much as 30 pounds of hidden goods. The 26th North Carolina left for Virginia and Pigott tended to the wounded in New Bern NC. In 1862 she left on the last train out with wounded before the Yankees occupied the town. She fled to Kingston and then to Concord with wounded before returning home.

With the Northerners occupying the area, Pigott came under suspicion in early 1864. One day, while she and Bell were on their rounds, they were arrested ans sent to jail. While officials were looking for someone to search the lady, Pigott ate some incriminating information and shredded some mail, but many items were found beneath her skirt, and she was imprisoned in a New Bern residence. Though she faced the death penalty, she was inexplicably released until the end of the war.

Women Nurses

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, 1821-1912

American humanitarian and founder of the American Red Cross.

Barton was born in Oxford, Massachusetts, in 1821, and educated at home, chiefly by her two brothers and two sisters. She was a teacher at first and the founder of various free schools in New Jersey. In 1854 she became a clerk in the Patent Office, Washington, D.C., but resigned at the start of the American Civil War (1861-1865) to work as a volunteer, distributing supplies to wounded soldiers. After the war she supervised a systematic search for missing soldiers. Barton eventually received a Congressional appropriation to run what was known as the Missing Soldiers Office and became the first woman to head a government bureau. Barton tracked down information on nearly 22,000 soldiers before the office was closed in 1868.

Between 1869 and 1873 Barton lived in Europe, where she helped establish hospitals during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and was honored with Germany's Iron Cross for outstanding military service. Through Barton's efforts the American Red Cross Society was formed in 1881; she served as the first president of the organization until 1904. In 1884 she represented the United States at the Red Cross Conference and at the International Peace Convention in Geneva. She was responsible for the introduction at this convention of the "American amendment," which established that the Red Cross was to serve victims of peacetime disasters as well as victims of war.

She superintended relief work in the yellow-fever pestilence in Florida (1887); in the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood (1889) in the Russian famine (1891) among the Armenians (1896) in the Spanish-American War (1898) and in the South African War (1899-1902). The last work that she personally directed was the relief of victims of the flood at Galveston, Texas, in 1900.




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