Did Varina Davis intend to expose Jeff Davis's creepy cowardice?

ANOTHER MARK CURRAN 


"INTERESTING THINGS"  BLOG


After Jeff Davis and his wife were captured in April of 1865, Varina Davis wrote to her friends the Blairs for help.  


Varina  told the Blairs to destroy the letter, in the letter itself.  They did not do so. 

Fifty years later the children donated the letter to the Library of Congress.
               
No -- Varina did not intend to embarrass Davis whatsoever. Quite the opposite, she not only protected them with her body the day they were captured, she did little else but try to protect is reputation afterwards.

Varina wrote that letter to her dear friends, who supported her after her capture, and lived with them after her capture. 

But the details in her letter show Davis running away, dressed in women's clothing.  "I said it was my mother"  is the line that makes clear what other sentences may be vague about. 
Varina Davis wrote the letter and it survives to this day.... in the Library of Congress.  You can go see it, or you can see it here.


"I said it was my mother."

When Jeff Davis was captured the first reports stated he was caught in his wife's dress.

Indeed he was -- though he spent the rest of his life, said one historian, trying to disprove that. 

Yet the "dress" part of it is the least cowardly part.   So what if he wore a dress -- he life was in danger.  He could have been shot, by accident or otherwise, if he was tried to flee, in his normal clothing.

Most men would gladly adorn a woman's garment to stay alive. That was  not the issue.

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The first soldier to see Davis said -- per reports -"There goes a man in women's clothes".    Davis wore manly spurs,  was the give away.  Women did not wear manly spurs.

A soldier on horse quickly stopped Lee and demanded to know who he (she) was. 

Davis refused to identify himself, refused to speak.  He just stood there -- and his wife, Varina, ran to him.  That is according to her letter. She ran to him and held him.

At that point Varina told he soldier that Davis was "my mother".

Those were her words, as she told of the event, in her own letter. 

It's important to note -- Varina's letter largely substantiated every basic point by the Union soldiers.  And visa versa.


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"FORCE YOUR ASSAILANTS TO KILL YOU"

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Davis told her to get herself killed, rather than be taken alive.   That's from her own book -- not someone else quoting  her, that is what she wrote in her own book.






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Why get yourself killed? 

Davis told the crowd -- and his wife -- at the time, that  "for a Davis to be captured would bring shame upon the South." 


Davis told  his wife to get herself killed as they were about to leave Richmond.   It was apparently something of a speech Davis delivered in front of this crowd, to impress them how brave he was.  

The implication was that he too, of course, would force them to kill him.  

This is not conjecture.  She wrote about this in her own book.  Others filled in the details about "shame"  if a Davis were captured. 

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WHO MADE DAVIS DRESS?


A side issue --  Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave woman who bought her own freedom from extra work as a master dressmaker, worked for both LIncoln and the Davis family as dressmaker.  In her autobiography she wrote that she actually identify her stitching in a dress supposedly taken from Davis after capture.

Of course  Keckley did not claim to know if Davis wore that dress the day of his capture.  But as to the dress shown, yes, that was her work. 

Varina Davis letter, however, removes all reasonable doubt - Davis was dressed as woman.  She described three different garments that made him appear as a woman, even to people standing just feet from him.

It was no "errant shawl"  as some would say later.  Three layers of clothes, and he completely covered his face.

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If not for that sentence 

--  I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER

If not for that sentence, you could, if you were just silly,  insist Varina's letter proved he did not wear a dress and run away when his family was in danger.

But that one sentence -- "I said it was my mother" makes it manifestly clear he was dressed as a woman.   There is much more to validate he was dressed as her mother. but that sentence is one that lights up the other information from other sources. 

Southern apologist -- even Jeff Davis fawning admirers -- well know that letter and her words in it.  Which is exactly why they don't mention it, ever, in any honest way.

Usually Southern apologist just pretend Varina did not write her letter or book.

What letter?  What book?
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This article is as much about the "historians" who have covered for Jeff Davis. Yes, Davis was a coward, but he did have men after him with guns, and he would have been shot if the tried to fight them.

No such danger was ever present to the "historians" like Shelby Foote, who spent a lifetime making sure anyone who read  his material had a clue about things like Jeff Davis boasts of killing to enslave blacks in the North, and a dozen other things, including Davis's cowardice.


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Two things to remember about Varina's letter

1) She wrote it to save Davis embarrassment -- not to expose his cowardice

2) The details in her letter match nearly perfectly what Union soldiers reported at the time

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Varina never would admit candidly that Davis wore a dress.  She did admit she tried to pass him off as her mother.  She described three layers of female clothing.   She writes that Davis ran, the Union soldiers stopped him, and that she ran to his aid.  

She even wrote that if Davis had put on "full women's" attire, that did not matter. 

Later Varina actually lived with the Blairs, and their children grew up knowing full well Davis had run away in a dress.  Apparently it was an open secret in Blair house. The Blair  donated her letter (the part that survived) to Library of Congress in 1910, after her death.

According to her letter, one Union soldier vowed to blow Jeff Davis head off if he did not identify himself- - that is when Varina went to her husband's aid,   and protected him.   She held him to her -- she wrote - told the soldier to leave her mother alone.   Shoot me, she told the soldiers, if you need to shoot someone.

The Union reports confirmed all that.

Varina's  sister tried to tell the soldiers to leave their mother alone, too - until a Union soldier simply pulled Jeff Davis female hood back, to reveal who everyone instantly knew was Davis. 

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MORE THAN HER LETTER

It was not just her letter,  because there is also the journal from Jeff Davis's nephew that was there, and the Union soldier's reports.  

But Varina she had another bombshell about Jeff Davis, after his death in 1889.

This is from Varina's book published 1890.   It's not some "Yankee" historian who wrote this.  It's Varina Davis.

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NEWSPAPER THING?

For the next 160 years, and even today, "historians"  will tell you with smug assurance that this "dress story"  was a Northern  "newspaper thing."

Nonsense -plenty of evidence shows Davis wore a dress, including his wife's letter, his nephew's journal, and reports by Union soldiers.

As for newspapers,  the first reporters to get the story were reporters in GEORGIA -- and some Southern papers reported it.



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"If I were armed, you would not be living to ask the question" 

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DAVIS CLAIMED TO BE A  BAD ASS.... 

Once Davis was in Fort Monroe, he described  his capture to his own friends.. he revised a few "details".

Davis insisted to his friend that he was brave, even eager to kill the first Union soldier.   Never mind that Davis was running away and his wife protected him, when he was caught.


According to Davis himself, when the Union soldier asked him his name, he told the soldier he would not be alive to ask that question, if he had been armed.  



Absurd on its face--Davis told the soldier nothing at first, per his wife and the soldier's report -- he said nothing.

According to Varina, he just stood there -- she held him, and he just stood there.  She pulled him to her chest, and told the soldiers to "leave her mother alone".

Those soldiers who saw Davis held by his wife -- pretending to be her mother - later described it as pathetic.

So no, Davis was not a bad ass.

Later,  yes, after Davis was in handcuffs and in his normal clothing, Davis decided to play tough guy by insulting the soldiers.

Lucky for him, they ignored him, and after a while he shut up.

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Over 150 years ago, Varina wrote that letter.

Maybe it's time we read the letter?

And she wrote her own book over 100 years ago.

Maybe it's time we read the letter, too. 

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HE PROTECTED NO ONE
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Two groups of Union soldiers had approached Davis camp. They did not know the other group was near.  

As a result one group shot at the other Union group.  They reasonably assumed that Confederates were firing at them.

No Union soldier shot at, or even toward Davis, but they did notice a "man in woman's dress" running away as the firing started.

A Union soldier on horseback caught the person running, and demanded they identify themself.

The Union soldier -- according to Varina -- promised to shoot that person in the head if they did not identify themselves. That is in her letter.

That is when, according to her letter, Varina ran to Davis, held him to her,  and told the soldiers Davis was her mother.

Varina told the soldier to shoot her -- Varina -- but to leave her mother alone.   That is what she wrote, and what the Union soldiers reported, too. 

Strange indeed for the soldiers to lie, and for Varina to repeat the Union soldiers lie or distortion.  Actually, "historians"  almost never mention the soldiers reports,  they dismiss the story as absurd.  Why should they read those reports?

IT'S MY MOTHER

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HER GOAL WAS TO PROTECT DAVIS REPUTATION

Make no mistake about it, Varina tried to spare Davis any embarrassment.   She essentially takes the blame for Davis wearing the dress, though she stops just short of saying candidly it was her dress.
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DAVIS EFFORTS TO PROVE
HE WORE MANLY CLOTHES

 In fact, Davis  had a picture taken (really) to prove what he wore at his capture -- he claimed these were the exact clothes  he wore. 

 Do you see a head to foot dressing gown there?


Varina wrote that Davis "lost his hat" so he wore her shawl over his head. She said this to make some excuse for the three layers of female clothing he had on.

 Davis claimed he was wearing his hat, and of course,  his manly clothes. 

We show the Union officers report in full below, but here he writes about Davis clothes, at capture, and after he changed....
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 EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT  

"I reported to Col. Pritchard the capture of Jeff. Davis in his attempt to escape from the camp in female attire, and that I had put him under guard.....

...... In the meantime Mr. Davis put on his male attire - a suit of gray - and came out of his tent.... he refused my request for his name, and I was obliged to receive it from his wife, who spoke up proudly, in answer to my repeated question.    "His name is Jefferson Davis, sir.""

Do you see the soldier's exact words?  "In the meantime, Mr.  Davis put on his male attire."

The full report is attached below. 

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NEPHEW REPORTED DAVIS DRESSED AS WOMAN.,.

While Davis did get people to write -- later -- that he was wearing his own clothing and was brave, remember this. At the time, his own wife and nephew wrote differently. 

It was not just his own wife -- in writing -- that shows Jeff Davis in women's clothes.  See Davis nephew's journal -- he apologized for his role in dressing Davis in women's attire.




Jeff Davis nephew wrote about his uncle too, and apologized for helping Davis attempt a disguise dressed as a female.

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COMMITTED NO SUBTERFUGE 

Others like Shelby Foote are clever -- they rightly claim Varina wrote Davis "committed no subterfuge" and "adopted no disguise".

She did write those words.

But then Varina wrote more words and described the subterfuge, described the disguise.
But Foote does not reveal that Varina then goes on for paragraphs describing the disguise and or mention that she did it, "so that no one would recognize him".


And of course, that whole  "I said it was my mother" thing.

Foote decided not to mention that.   Ever.

Foote didn't mention the nephew's report. Ever

Foote didn't even mention the Union soldier's report.

Foote didn't mention that Varina's sister ALSO told the soldiers Davis was her mother. Ever.

Gee, I wonder why Foote didn't mention so much?

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Almost 50 years later, she writes her book....

Nor did Varina write in her book, almost 60 years later,  by mistake.

 There, in her book about Davis, she could on any page simply say one time that Davis wore no disguise, and was brave that day.  Just five or ten words would do it.  She had that power.

As you will see, she wrote about the escape from Richmond, in an almost moment by moment narrative.  

When she came up to the point of his capture --- she just stops that chapter.  

A few words "Davis wore his own clothes, and was brave."  would be sufficient, if she wanted.    Many wives would cover that way for their husband.

Varina would not go that far.   That is a tribute to her  honesty. 

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BLAIR CHILDREN 

When Varina Davis wrote to her friends the Blairs for help after she and Davis were captured,  she had no idea that Davis would claim to be heroic, or that her letter would be made public after her death.

Nor could she imagine that the Blairs would save the letter - she told them to destroy it, in the letter itself.

Finally, she could not imagine the Blair children, then very young,  would later donate the letter to library of Congress.



The Blair children donated the letter, and other memorabilia, to the library of Congress in 1910.  It is there now, and you can read it, there in person, or online here. 

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THREE GARMENTS 

It's important to know Varina went into detail about three garments,  and they were garments that made him look like a female, except for his boots and spurs.

If Davis wore his own clothes, there would be no need whatsoever to even mention his clothes, much less describe them. 

The boots and spurs, which women did not wear (at least that manly  high class fashion of spurs). Davis did wear them

SHE PUT ON THAT DRESS

In fact, from "truth is stranger than fiction" department, when Davis and his wife emerged from the tent after he changed out of female attire- - Varina had on the very dress Davis just took off, obviously for safe keeping.

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DAVIS HISTORY OF URGING OTHERS

Davis  had repeatedly urged, and ordered, his generals to attack,  even when it was beyond foolhardy, like at Atlanta when Sherman pushed the Confederates.

Davis  actually went on a speaking tour, and trashed his own leading man General Johnston,  for not attacking Sherman.

You should read that speech.

Johnson, however, was doing a masterful job, keeping Sherman busy and as far as he could, away from Atlanta.


Image result
 Davis fired his best General
because he would not foolishly get the Army destroyed.


  Sherman had cut off his own supply, and if Johnson and his army could avoid being destroyed, Sherman could not last as long, because Johnson was on home ground, supported by the locals.


Davis fired Johnson anyway, after trashing him in public speeches, and replaced him with Hood.  

Hood almost immediately attacked a much stronger Sherman.Hood got his men decimated, and now Atlanta was easier to occupy, not harder. Desertions grew worse.

John Breckenridge, Davis "Secretary or War" and others, like General Johnson, was well aware that 2/3 of the rebel soldiers had deserted already, in 1864.  

Davis knew it, too, because he said so in Macon -- and newspapers in Richmond echoed the same horror -- widespread desertions.

And because of Davis stupid Macon speech, Sherman found out about it!

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2/3 ALREADY DESERTED




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Strange, don't you think?  When you get more facts,  the myth of honorable principled Confederate leaders gets more and more silly.


Davis came through it all fine. Not a scratch on his head.  Others lay dead.  

Even that did not bother Davis, he later gave a speech how he, more than anyone else, sacrificed "for the South". 

Let that sink in.  Hundreds of thousands dead,  more wounded, in a war he boasted about at first, and helped cause by sending killers to Kansas in 1856.  

Yet he gave public speech boasting of how much he sacrificed.  For add flare, he would also claim he "worked for 20 years"  to avoid blood shed.  

Which would be news to the killers he hired, via David Rice Atchison, to invade Kansas, terrorize and kill there, from 1856 on. 

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READING SOUTHERN NEWSPAPERS
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Why I make these blogs.....

I am not a historian,  my degree is in political science.   I am 66 years old, I live in central Illinois. 

My avocation, my passion,  is reading Southern newspapers, Southern speeches, Southern documents, Southern books, from before  -- before -- the US Civil War.   I started that hobby about 10 years ago.

I was quite unaware what I would find.  I was just reading for interest, out of curiosity.  I still assumed my education on Civil War was solid, if not extensive. I passed all the courses, I read many of the books most people read about our Civil War - such as books by Bruce Catton, James McPherson, Shelby Foote. 

Was I in for a rude surprise. 

My name is Mark Curran.  Here I am in China, learning Tai Chi, near Hong Kong. 





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 WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE 

  OF  "I said it was my mother"? 

We need to reiterate that Varina never blurted out, or wrote "Yes he wore my dress".  In fact she wrote "He wore no disguise"

She is "all over the map" about Davis garments, but "I said it was my mother"  clears up any reasonable confusion.


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AMAZING 

  Entire books have been written about the capture of Jeff Davis,  almost every one claim he wore a "ratigan" by mistake. 

Newspaper thing -- that's usually what you hear from  experts.  This was a "newspaper" thing -- nothing to see here. 

So why not show the Union reports?

Why now show  Varina's full letter?

Why not show the nephews journal?

Do they even know ?


Greg Bradsher, for example, went into mind numbing detail about letters from the public to library of Congress in the 1940's about Jeff Davis and the "dress story" .  


Bradsher decided it was clear Davis just had on a woman's shawl by mistake. 


 Not one word about Varina "I said it was my mother".. 

      Not one word about his nephews journal.
       Not one word about the Union soldiers reports.  

      WTF?  You call that national archives level "expertise"?  

Apparently "archivist" is another word for  "well if Jeff Davis said so, who am I to doubt that"?  

That is essentially the bottom line for men like Shelby Foote, and this archivist at library of Congress.  Davis said he had on one garment by mistake.

Case closed.


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WHAT WOULD LINCOLN DO?

Why the South, even 150 years later, can not admit Davis was a coward....



This is the real reason Southern apologist can't just say, yeah, he ran away in her dress.  So what?


They can't say that because Lincoln .

No one in their right mind would think Lincoln would do such a thing, run away while his children were in danger.  

The fact Davis was dressed as a woman (which he certainly was) pales into insignificance when you know he ran away in his wife's dress while she and the children were in danger.

LINCOLN SHOT AT THREE TIMES

Those who study LIncoln know he was actually shot at twice during the Civil War, not counting the bullet in his brain at Ford's theater. 


So he was shot at a total of three times.


 The first bullet was one that went through Lincoln's  hat near the "Soldiers Home"  as Lincoln was riding to from the White House.   

The other bullet killed the man standing next to him at Fort Monroe as Confederate forces tried a last assault on the US Capital.

Lincoln did not even flinch, either time. He did not even duck. He stood watching the enemy.  


And he wore his own clothes.


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So how would Davis look, if you admitted Davis ran away in his wife's dress, after he told her to get herself killed.

You can't do that. You can't admit Davis was a coward who told his wife -- and others-- to get themselves killed, as he ran away in her dress.

You just can't do it.

So they didn't do it.

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Davis revolver and spurs.

The fancy boots and spurs gave him away.
Women did not wear spurs or boots like his. 

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 This information has been readily  available since 1906.   How many decades do you need? 



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COLONEL PRITCHARD UNITED STATES ARMY

This is from the report to the Secretary of War, by  Col Pritchard, who was there at the capture, and was there after Davis took the dress off, and his wife put the dress on that he -- Davis had just taken off.

You can't make this up. Varina Davis put on the dress Jeff Davis had on minutes before -- no doubt so the soldiers would not steal it for a souvenir .





This is from a North Carolina paper...


This North Carolina paper has Varina and Davis in the the tent, at same time, before capture.  According to this report, Varina was next to Davis,  as they emerged from the tent, both trying to convince the soldiers Davis was her mother.

That's not accurate,  typical error in detail, because Davis was running away, as we know from Varina herself, and the soldiers.    But it shows that Davis was wearing a  dress and Varina was trying to convince them he was her mother, which is the basic fact of the matter. 

Varina's letter -- and she should know better than second hand reports -- has Davis running away, and the Union soldiers reported Davis was running away. Varina would know better, and she said she ran to help him, held him, and told the soldiers "It's my mother".


This bit of comedy was in a North Carolina paper, too.   So not, it was not a "Northern newspaper" thing.   It was much more, and documented  well  by Varina and the nephew themselves. 



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HATING VARINA 150 YEARS LATER

Why some in the South -- SEEM to hate Varina, to this day.


One interesting thing I noticed while researching Varina Davis, was the loathing, just beneath the surface, for her TODAY  by some in Virginia.


Keep in mind Varina was very loyal to Davis -- saved his life, protected him from everyone, and while she wrote that letter, she had no idea it would be saved and published.


In fact, in public Varina was as eager and resolute to protect Davis physically and save his reputation as it is possible to be. 


  Remember, she did all she could for Davis.  All her life since marrying him.  She was stunningly devoted to him.  Yet see the loathing for her here....


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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF VIRGINIA 



They  trash her --- even if what they wrote was accurate, which it is not, it is baffling that an "encyclopedia" would do this to anyone. 


They called her, essentially, unattractive and a woman after Davis for his wealth. "Manifestly unsuited for her role".


Her background, her education, her family, her looks -- she was ill suited on every possible front.  They bent over backwards to describe her as greedy, ugly, and as someone who went after Davis for his money or power.


Not just their words,  their tone and personal cruelty to Varina is amazing, given the supposed "academic nature " of their publication.





They claimed she was homely, and suggested she lured a lonely Davis into marriage. 



They also claimed she "lived in the North" --- FUN FACT  --- She lived in the North with Davis -- apparently they count DC as North. And though she lived with Davis in the North (DC) that's all it took for them to trash her. Where she lived!

After the war she went North to New York, yes,  But that was 30 years later.  After his death, and after she looked after him for almost 50 years.

Eventually she declared what many people declared, those living in the South when she did (most of her life) was the worst part of  her life.

No kidding, she lived on a slave plantation and with Jeff Davis. And she went through a Civil War. 

She only live in NYC after Davis died, when she was old.   


Varina e did make friends with people in the North, after Davis died.   How was she manifestly "ill suited" to be first lady, by things that happened 50 years LATER,  and in her old age?



But that's  how these guys work.  


They seem to claim this because she wrote to Northern relatives.  


Whoever runs the Virginia Encyclopedia savaged Varina in this article -- almost like a gossip or political hit piece rather than an encyclopedia.


Her skin was considered "unattractive" they said!  No, it was not, there is nothing in any letter, book, or newspaper at the time to say such a thing. These guys just made this up. 


She had very sensual skin -- Davis sure went after it. She was much younger than he was.  


She was beautiful and young, half his age, while Davis was very thin scrawny and frankly ugly. Bad skin, a horrible face.

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HOW DID THEY TREAT HOMELY WOMEN?

Robert E Lee's wife, she was homely.  Yes, she was, even when younger.  But no one dared say that about her.  Varina was very attractive -- but they wanted to trash her, so that's how they did it.


She looked rather Italian, a bit of Sophia Loren, likely, when younger. Body to die for, and obedient as a slave, to Davis.


Even if she was unattractive, which she was not,  why mention that? She was stunningly beautiful when young. 

The article said her father was "unable to support his family". What evidence do they have?   Who the hell puts this kind of hatchet job, in an encyclopedia?

I would love to be a fly on the wall at Virginia Encyclopedia. 


You can be sure these guys hate her because she exposed Jeff Davis cowardice -- in a private letter - and later in life she realized how vile the South was.  

She would later say the right side won the war. And of course she was right.

That would piss off Virginia Encyclopedia folks for about 200 years.  


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This is a report from the Union soldier to enter Davis camp, and exactly what he wrote about it.


Very interesting. 


Davis was running away, as you will see. 


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Being questioned by Col. Pritchard, he stated there had been several mounted men to the house ring the afternoon, from a camp near the village, to purchase forage and provisions, and the camp lay about a mile and a half out on the Abbeville road. Placing the freedman in advance for guide, and directing the utmost silence to be preserved in the column, we moved out on the Abbeville road. The night was rather dark, but clear and very quiet. We marched the distance of about a mile when we halted and made the necessary arrangements for the capture of the camp when light was deemed sufficient to enable us to discern its situation.




A detail of 25 men, under command of Lieut. Purinton, was sent to make a circuit of the camp and get into position on the road beyond, to station pickets, and take precautions for preventing the escape of the occupants in that direction, awaiting our advance and capture of the camp.




We rested until the first appearance of the dawn of the morning of the 10th. The order was then quietly given to mount, and placing a small force under command of Capt. Charles T. Hudson, as an advance guard, with directions to charge forward upon the camp, our column moved in support. The charge was uninterrupted by any picket of camp guards, and we speedily entered and enveloped the camp by a surprise so complete that no one seemed to have been disturbed.




The advance guard moved directly and quickly through the camp toward Lieut. Purinton's picket. Our main column halted for a minute in the road before entering the camp. On the right of the road, in line, facing a clearing or parade, stood three wall tents; beyond the clearing there was, what appeared to me to be, a swampy thicket; on our left, in the woods, at some distance from the road, was a miscellaneous collection of tents and ambulances. The extent of the camp could not, however, be distinctly seen from our position.




At this moment some of our men appeared to be straggling from the column and Col. Pritchard directed my attention to it and to the care of the camp, and as he moved forward with the column through the camp, I rode out and took a position by the roadside until the column passed me. I then rode across the parade, in front of the wall tents, on the right of the road. I saw no one about the tents and there was nothing indicating who occupied them, until, as I passed the tents d started to move into the road beyond, I saw a man partially dressed, emerging from a "shelter-tent." I at once rode up to him and inquired what force was there in camp. He looked at me seemingly bewildered. Not hearing him reply to me, I repeated the question, and while lingering for a response, I was suddenly startled by a familiar voice calling.




I turned and saw Andrew Bee, our "headquarters cook," who was standing close to the front of one of the wall tents and pointing to three persons in female attire, who, arm in arm, were moving rapidly across the clearing towards the thicket. Andrew called to me, "Adjutant, there goes a man dressed in woman's clothes."




The person indicated was quite apparent, and I rode at once toward the party, ordering them to halt, repeating the order rapidly, they seeming not to hear, or not inclined to obey, until I rode directly across their pathway, when they halted. At that moment Corporal Munger, of Company C, came riding up from the thicket, and taking a stand in the rear of the party brought his carbine to a position for firing upon the man dressed in woman's clothes, at the same time applying to him an appellation that was in vogue among the troopers as a designation of "Jeff. Davis." I ordered the corporal not to fire, there being no perceptible resistance.


The person in disguise was Jefferson Davis, and his companions were Mrs. Davis and her colored waiting maid. The scene thus presented was rendered pathetic by the cries of Davis' family at the tents and by the heroic conduct of Mrs. Davis, who placed her arms around the drooping head of her husband, as if to protect him from threatened peril; she made no other appeal to us.


Davis had on for disguise a black shawl drawn closely around his head and shoulders, through the folds of which I could see his gray hairs. He wore on his person a woman's long, black dress, which completely concealed his figure, excepting his spurred boot heels. The dress was undoubtedly Mrs. Davis' traveling dress, which she afterwards wore on her return march to Macon. At the time of the capture she was attired in her morning gown and a black shawl covering her head and stately form, while her waiting maid was completely attired in black.




Glancing from this party before me, and around the position, I was startled by the presence of several rebel officers who in the meantime quietly came upon the scene. The positions they had taken clearly indicated they were interested in the movement of their chief. I ordered Davis and his party to retire to their tents and then moved toward the rebel officers in question, requesting them to also retire. I was promptly obeyed.




I directed Corporal Munger to guard Mr. Davis and his party in their tents, and to take two men who came up with him for that purpose. I then rode forward to report to Col. Pritchard the episode that had taken place. In the meantime spirited firing had commenced, and the usual evidences of an engagement with an enemy appeared in the direction our column had advanced.




As I passed Davis' tent, in going to the front, Mrs. Davis called to me, and I dismounted to hear her request. She asked what we were going to do with Mr. Davis and whether herself and family would be permitted to go along with him. I informed her that I could not tell what would be done with any of them until I had reported to my commanding officer. She then very earnestly said that we must not interfere with Mr. Davis as he was a very desperate man and would hurt some of us. She further requested that I would see to certain things that she had in the wagon, and I promised to attend to that




As I moved into the road I met one of our officers from the front with something from the wagon, in the shape of a canteen of most excellent fluid, of which he freely offered me a share.


 I met Col. Pritchard just returning from an unfortunate conflict with the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, that regiment having come upon our pickets and mistaking them for an enemy, retired and formed for a battle, which forced our column to form in line and skirmish with them, in the belief that we had met a force of the enemy. 

Col. Pritchard brought the engagement to a close by dashing into the lines of the 1st Wisconsin and notifying them of the mistake.



The fact was that the 1st Wisconsin and the 4th Michigan expected to find a desperate force of the enemy; the 1st Wisconsin, however, was marching without any knowledge of the locality of the camp, and without any expectation of finding it at that time, having been in bivouac most of the night, a few miles from our picket.




I reported to Col. Pritchard the capture of Jeff. Davis in his attempt to escape from the camp in female attire, and that I had put him under guard.


 In the meantime Mr. Davis put on his male attire - a suit of gray - and came out of his tent. When he saw Col. Pritchard he shouted out some inquiry, which he followed up with the old familiar charge, "You are vandals, thieves and robbers." He evidently had worked himself into a rage, for when I went to him soon after, getting the names of the prisoners, he refused my request for his name, and I was obliged to receive it from his wife, who spoke up proudly, in answer to my repeated question, "his name is Jefferson Davis, sir."



The captured party consisted of Jefferson Davis, accompanied by Mrs. Davis and their three children; John H. Reagan, Postmaster General; Col. Johnston, A.D.C.; Col. Burton N. Harrison, Private Secretary, and Col. F.R. Lubbock, A.D.C., of Jeff. Davis' staff; Major V.R. Maurin, of the Richmond Battery of Light Artillery; Capt. George V. Moody, Mollison's Light Artillery; Lieut. Hathaway, 14th Ky. Infantry; privates W.W. Monroe and F. Messick, 14th Ky.; privates Sanders, Ingraham, Wilbury, Baker, Smith, Heath and Alliston, of the 2d Ky. Cavalry; privates J.H. Taylor and A.W. Brady, Co. E. 15th Miss., private J.W. Furley, 13th Tenn., all of the late Confederate States army, and midshipman Howell of the Confederate navy, Miss Howell, a sister of Mrs. Davis, accompanied her. There were two colored women and one colored man, servants of the Davis family. Of the three children of Mr. Davis' family, the youngest was a babe and quite a favorite in our command (once on the march I saw it handed along the line); the oldest child was a little girl about ten years of age, and the other child was a boy of about seven or eight years. There was also with the party a little colored lad about the same age as young Davis, and the two created considerable amusement for us by their wrestling exercises. Burton N. Harrison, the Private Secretary, was the gentleman of whom I sought so diligently to elicit information immediately preceding the capture.




There was not the slightest show of any resistance on the part of any of the captured party, and they were all kindly treated by their captors. That their wagons and tents were searched thoroughly, I have no doubt. Lieut. James Vernor obtained a trophy of Davis' wardrobe, a dressing gown, which he exhibits, but whether Davis wore it as part of his garments at the capture is not known. It might possibly have been worn under his disguise.




Their horses were all taken by our men and considerable sums of money in gold were captured.


 The gold was taken, as I understood from Col. Johnston at the time, in the holsters of the rebel officers, where it had been carried for safety and convenience. Who captured the gold is somewhat of a mystery to this day
. At the camp, immediately after the capture, Col. Pritchard was informed that one of our men, a Tennessean named James H. Lynch, was possessed of most of the coin and the Colonel searched him but found none of the gold; afterwards it is well known that Lynch distributed several pieces of gold coin among his companions and gave a few pieces to some of his officers. It is certain that the coin was never equally distributed.



In preparing for the return march their horses were all returned to the prisoners, and Mr. and Mrs. Davis and family were allowed the use of the ambulances, which they occupied most of the time on our return march.




On the 12th of May, returning, we met Major Robert Burns, A.A.G. of Minty's staff, from headquarters at Macon, who brought to us President Johnson's proclamation, offering rewards for the capture of Jeff. Davis and other fugitives. The proclamation was the first intelligence we received of the assassination of our President, Abraham Lincoln, and of the reward. I have now in my possession the copy of the proclamation which was handed to me at that time. It was issued on the 2d day of May, 1865, was published to the Cavalry Corps, M.D.M. at Macon, on the 8th day of May, 1865, and reached our command, as I have said, on the 12th day of May. Mr. Davis was securely guarded during our return march. Perhaps his guard was more strict than it would have been had he not given notice that he would make his escape if possible.




Before reaching Macon, Col. Pritchard received orders to make a detail form his regiment in readiness to take his prisoners to Washington, and after we reached camp, he proceeded upon that service and conveyed Jeff. Davis to Fortress Monroe.




The Secretary of War directed Col. Pritchard at Washington to obtain the disguise worn by Jeff. Davis at his capture, and Captain Charles T. Hudson undertook to procure it from Mrs. Davis. In his account of the affair, Capt. Hudson has related in a letter to Major-General J.H. Wilson, that Mrs. Davis stated to him that she attired Mr. Davis in her own dress, and she surrendered a certain garment which Col. Pritchard afterward described in his report to the Secretary of War as a "waterproof cloak or dress." Though I did not examine the texture of the dress worn by Davis at the capture, and cannot say whether it was waterproof or not, it was beyond all question a "woman's dress," and precisely like the dress usually worn by Mrs. Davis after the capture during our march back to Macon. I am very sure that not any gentleman's garment that could be described as a waterproof cloak was found or seen in the possession of Davis at his capture, or while on the march to Macon.




Burton N. Harrison, Jeff. Davis' Private Secretary, in his paper in "The Century," November, 1886, on this subject, states that Davis was not disguised at all, and that he wore a waterproof cloak which he usually wore on the march; and by further statement seeks to discredit other witnesses present at the capture, by assuring the public only one of our troopers was present there, the one who accosted him, and that he and Mrs. Davis and that one trooper, were the only persons who saw Davis at his capture; when the fact is, that while Davis was standing in his disguise in my presence, three of our troopers saw him, besides Andrew Bee, who pointed to Davis as "a man dressed in woman's clothes;" and there was present not more than two rods from the disguised figure, Capt. Moody and within about four rods from him, Col. Lubbock and other Confederate Army officers, who doubtless saw what took place.




My record of the event was made at the time in the line of my duty, and I then correctly and officially reported the fact of his disguise to my commanding officers.