91st PA: at the Old Capitol Prison
[source: Confederate Veteran 19 (1911) 526]

A FEDERAL PRISON GUARD.
BY W. C. REIFF, CARLSBAD, N. M.

During the months of March and April, 1862, as a member of the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteers, I was a sentry at the Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D. C. Mrs. Rose O. N. Greenhow was then held there as a prisoner. She occupied quarters on the third floor, and her little daughter was permitted to be with her. A little body, Harry, perhaps five or six years old, was there part of the time, and they had much freedom about the prison.

[Note: I haven't been able to identify Harry definitely, but an article in the New York Times in 1862 claimed that Mrs Morris had a six-year-old son with her. The accounts I've read claim that the same rules applied to the children as to the parents.]

On account of my youth, being then a bit over sixteen years, I was not allowed to be a guard over her door, although I had a yearning desire to see the lady spy.

One morning while I was guarding the door of a room on the second floor occupied by a Confederate officer named Lee and Lieutenant Colonel Kerrigan, of the 69th New York, the latter being under arrest for alleged misconduct at first Bull Run, a regiment with its band playing martial airs approached the prison. Little Harry ran down the stairway in front of me so he could see the troops and hear the music. The little girl called to him: "Harry, I wouldn't go out to see those nasty Yankee soldiers." But Harry's love for bright colors and music was so strong that he went on down and out.

Recently a daughter of mine ordered samples of the "Photographic History of the Civil War," gotten out by the Review of Reviews. She knew nothing of this Mrs. Greenhow. I opened the package, and the second picture was of a lady with a little girl resting her head against the lady's shoulder. I instantly recognized the little girl as the one just mentioned, recalled Mrs. Greenhow, and a glance at the reading below the picture confirmed my impression.

I would like for the VETERAN to ascertain for me whether or not the daughter and Harry are still living, and where. I heard that Mrs. Greenhow was drowned during the war while trying to go out to or in from the blockade runner.


top of document | home
revised 9 Jun 02
contact Harry Ide at hide1@unl.edu with comments or questions