"If Varina Davis had a clue her letter to the Blairs would expose Jeff Davis's creepy cowardice.....

.....she never would have written it.

               "I said it was my mother"

 Newspapers, even some in the South, reported on Jeff Davis cowardice.  Davis then organized a campaign, for the rest of his life, to smear such newspaper reports.

He was protecting his children, he wore his manly clothes.  He was going to kill the first Union soldier than approached, but the "proximity"  of his children prevented him.  He would not endanger them, but for that, he would have gone down fighting.

His 25 year efforts at smearing the newspapers would have worked -- certainly many "historians"  have stupidly repeated as fact his version of events.

But Varina wrote that letter. Maybe it's time we read the letter?


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.

In fact, she told the Blairs to destroy the letter.   They did not.  Eight pages, of the 21 she wrote, survived.

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, or online here. 

Varina's letter is by no means the only documented evidence that he wore his wife's clothing and ran away, and was no where near the children.  Yet, her letter, in which she is clearly actively protecting him from shame, is invaluable, can not be replaced by all other documents.

Varina's letter -- to an astonishing degree- - mirrors in all basic facts to the Union soldier's reports. 

Strange indeed, if the Union soldiers all lied and were in collusion to portray Davis as a  coward, would have their reports so closely overlap her letter at the time.


Sadly -- no matter what "History Channel"   and even experts like Shelby Foote tell you (he of Ken Burns Civil War fame) repeating myths do not make them true.

Of course History Channel is not deliberately distorting anything-  which almost makes it worse.

 Sincerely repeating myths or incomplete facts to the point they essentially give the  opposite impression of truth is more damaging to the truth than if they actually lied by design.

This is from Varina's book written after Davis died....she did not try to embarrass him here, either. 

Varina Davis book...    Jefferson Davis told her to get herself killed. 

Davis did wear a dress, his wife's dress, and he did run away as his wife and children were in danger.

But that is  not even the most creepy thing he did.

Davis first told his wife to get  herself killed, rather than be taken prisoner.   For a "Davis to be taken prisoner"  said Davis, "would bring shame upon the South"

Davis naturally did not like to be caught in a position of cowardice--as one Davis biographer noted, Davis spent the rest of life trying to prove he was heroic that day and that defended his children.

Davis did more than that.

 Even while the dead were still being buried, the injured still grievously wounded, Davis insisted that he "sacrificed more than anyone"  for the "Southern cause". 



History Channel claimed (as did many others) that Jefferson Davis was the victim of a "Northern newspaper" smear alleging falsely that he was a coward. 

Davis pushed that slogan, and it stuck.

Even though it was SOUTHERN reporters that first reported the story of his cowardice, not Northern.

But he who orchestrates well, longest, and loudest usually prevails, so now, almost uniformly, those who bother to reference Davis cowardice insist it was a "newspaper exaggeration".


When you see the whole story -- documented by Jeff Davis own wife, nephew, and numerous Union soldiers at the time, if anything, Northern papers did not get the full story of Davis cowardice at the time.

It was worse than even the newspapers reported.

The newspapers at the time  had no clue, for example, that Davis told his wife to "get herself killed."    

Newspapers had no clue that Davis nephew inadvertently validated the Union soldier's reports, too, and wrote he was sorry he took part Davis dressing as a woman.

Newspapers had no clue Varina, Davis's wife,  wrote a letter to the Blairs.  

Varina does not give that context in her book, she just wrote that he told her to get herself killed. 

Others gave the context of Davis saying "It would bring shame upon the South".

No wonder Davis and his friends -- and Southern apologists -- to this day will do anything to gloss or obfuscate this.

Yet Varina, and her nephew,  actually validated the Union soldiers reports.   The Union soldiers reported essentially the same thing Varina and the nephew wrote.

Yet when you read "historians" like Shelby Foote, and others, they simply do not mention Union soldiers reports,  and also, avoid like the plague what Varina wrote about "I said it was my mother".

Varina was rushed, apparently, as she wrote her letter and sent it off because she contradicts herself at times, for example she writes that if Davis did dress as a woman, it was "of no cavil".   Not a big deal.  

She writes that he "wore no disguise" but then explains why he was dressed in disguise.  If anything, she tries to take the blame for putting every article of clothing on him. 

She was not out to trash Davis in her letter to Blairs.  But the facts she relates -- he was running, he looked like a woman -- that she told the soldiers Davis was her mother  -- are clear contradictions to Davis story of an errant garment, and that he stood there protecting his children. 

Of no "cavil"  she said, if he had worn "full women's attire".   Very interesting wiggle room, there.   Davis did not have on "full women's attire"  because he wore  his own very stylish boots and spurs -- in fact, that is what gave him away immediately, the boots.

Of no cavil?  Davis told his wife, in public,  to get herself killed- -then he runs away in her dress, would seem to most rational people a big deal. Of some "cavil",

And it was not just in his capture.


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

Davis replaced Johnston,  with Hood, who immediately attacked a much stronger Sherman, and got his men decimated.


To show you how stupid it was for Davis to order Johnson to attack, just look at Jeff Davis own speech in Macon of 1864.

Davis was very aware -- see his Macon speech -- by the time Davis ordered Johnson to attack, and then made fun of Johnson for not being more aggressive, and fired him.

Davis sent Hood attack,  Hood seemed gleeful to send soldiers against huge odds.  Already, by the time Davis told Johnson to attack,  Davis knew 2/3 of his soldiers had already deserted.

See for yourself.  

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


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.

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

While reading these newspapers, books, speeches, and documents, I kept finding the most amazing things --  like Southern War Ultimatums of both 1856, and 1861.  Just one tiny example.....Jeff Davis cowardice was another. 

Holy shit.  It was not once, or twice, or even five times.  I was continually surprised at what I found, in SOUTHERN newspapers, SOUTHERN speeches, SOUTHERN letters, SOUTHERN books.

Did my history teachers read these things?   Did Eric Foner?  Did Bruce Catton?  Did 100 others see these amazing things -- like Lee's torture of slave girls, like Jeff Davis cowardice, like Southern War Ultimatums.


Southern WAR ULTIMATUMS -- by the South's leaders.  WTF?

 I was a political science major, but loved the history courses more than poly sci, and I never heard of Southern War Ultimatums, yet here there were -- loud, proud, and very central to US history.   Southern newspapers bragging of their War Ultimatums.

War Ultimatums to SPREAD slavery by force.   Jeff Davis himself boasting of going to war to SPREAD slavery into the North.

Not someone else claiming it later -- I am talking about SOUTHERN papers, SOUTHERN leaders, at the damn time, boasting of shit you think can not possibly be real

Not mentioned in US text books. Hardly mentioned, or not mentioned,  in the narrative of "historians" like James McPherson,  Eric Foner,  Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote, and many others.  Yet these men are where most of us got our information. 

Jeff Davis cowardice (yes, he was a personal coward, and more than once) is just an omission.   But more than omission, in this example, "historians"  like McPherson and Shelby Foote seem to go the extra mile to knowingly mislead (yes, really, as you will see) the public about Southern leaders.  

Why?  Why on earth just not show what the Southern leaders did, as shown by clear (yes clear) and unambiguous evidence?



 Davis told others, including soldiers, to fight to the death.   That may be part of a political leader's job, but Davis did this even after it was sheer folly, even murder, to order his men to their death.

For example, Davis humiliated and fired generals who did not do as he said, to attack a far superior and entrenched foe,   such as his orders to Johnston for attacks on Sherman.  Per Jeff Davis own speech before the attacks, 2/3 of the soldiers had already deserted,  they were simply gone. Davis wanted the remaining third to attack -- when they had been outnumbered even before the desertions.

Remember that,

 Johnston did not blatantly refuse, he did the best he could without getting the remaining 1/3 of his men (those who had not already deserted) killed.   Davis, in utter disgust Johnston, derided him publically in speeches, and fired him,  then put  Hood in charge.




To learn about Jeff Davis admitting that, already, 2/3 of his soldiers had deserted, and yet he wanted the remaining men to attack anyway, see his Macon Georgia speech, in the summer of 1864....

Hood promptly obeyed the orders -- sent the men to attack, and they were decimated.   Essentially, from that point on, the war was over, it was more vile to fight on.    Davis kept ordering others to attack, attack, attack, and told his wife to force the assailants to kill her, as her book makes clear. 

Johnston had done a masterful job -- Hood just ordered the men to their deaths.  And Hood only did so, because he was ordered to do so. 

To understand how creepy Davis was -- not only do you have to know his history of cowardice, but his insistence on others to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

On top of that, Davis ran away -- as his children and wife were in danger.

Of course "historians" who praise Davis know all this, but read them closely, especially Shelby Foote. Foote will simply omit much about Davis, such as  his cowardice.   Stunning how wonderful you can make Southern leaders seem, if you simply omit the basic facts.


In fact, Varina, as you will see, ran to protect Davis.  She told the soldiers -- as she mentioned in her own handwritten letter --to shoot her (Varina) if they must shoot someone, but leave her mother alone.

That's not some crazy story.  That is what Varina Davis wrote in a letter to the Blairs. And historians favorable to Davis have done all they could not to mention it, or draw  your attention to it.

Gee,  I wonder why? 


THIS IS NOT AN INDICTMENT AGAINST JEFF DAVIS -- his life was in danger.   He could have been shot (as he told his wife to get shot, rather than be captured).  Of course he did not have to tell his wife to die, or order his soldiers to attack and many needlessly die.... but as far as running to save his own life, he was obeying an instinct to survive.

But this  is an indictment of the "scholars"  who have stupidly or fraudulently defended Davis and men like him.   


Scholars and experts for generations have told us Jefferson Davis was a man of principle -- each scholar essentially repeated Jeff Davis own glorious words about himself. 

Repeating Jeff Davis own myths about himself, over and over, through generations.   Shame on the "scholars"  who could have, and should have, checked the facts that were, with a small amount of honest effort, available to any college sophomore history student, from 1890 on, just by reading Jeff Davis's own wife's letter and book.

The short story  -- Davis said he was brave that day, and defended his children.   According to Davis, he only allowed himself to be taken alive to save his children, who, he said, were nearby -- if he fought back, he children would likely be killed.    

He allowed himself the indignity and shame of being taken alive -- for their sake.    The absurd story by Davis himself, entirely false, is the basic story "scholars"  give us.

Some "scholars"  are just stupid about it.  Others don't seem to care.    But almost all these "scholars" have posited the demonstrably false lie for Jeff Davis, no matter if they meant to, or  not.  The idea that he ran like a coward dressed in his wife's clothes was absurd. A malicious slander by "Northern papers" .

His own biographers would hardly give the "story"  any attention whatsoever.   They (seemed) to quote his own wife's letter that made it clear -- Davis wore no disguise, he committed "no subterfuge".

But what about her full letter?  What about her book?   What about Davis's own nephew's journal?





A "newspaper  thing" is the dismissive cliche "scholars"  use to minimize words about this "slander".    Typically,  they don't even mention the issue till far back in a book, and then in a sentence or two. So of course they don't mention Varina's letter, at least in any honest way.

Nor do they mention that Union soldiers wrote reports.   The less ink they spend on the topic, the better. 

Most of the Davis biographies are  so flattering  it would be absurd if they admitted -- even to themselves --that Davis told his wife to get herself killed, ran like a coward when his children were in danger, and wore her dress.  That simply would not jibe with the "adorational" slant in the rest of the book. 

At least Davis did  have people chasing him -- and they would have shot him if he resisted or fought back.   What do the "historians" have to fear for simply telling the full story? 

Varina Davis told us what happened, in a letter that still exists.  You can see it yourself if you go to the Library of Congress and ask to see it!  

This might save you some time.   Here is what they have. 

Actually the first newspapers to run the "Davis in dress" story was from a Southern reporter, not Northern.   

This is not even the  most important information about Jeff Davis......

Think you know what Jeff Davis was up to in the Civil War?

This explains it -- he was boasting of it.  



Davis killing to spread slavery North and West -- as he bragged about at the time -- is much more important than his cowardice. 


 It was never Varina's intention to embarrass her husband, in fact she told the Blairs, in the letter, to destroy the letter, or it may latter embarrass him.   But they did not destroy it, and fifty years later, the children donated that letter, and other memorabilia, to the Library of Congress.

Varina tried her best in the letter to take the blame for Davis garments, and in some sentences she did absolved him of cowardice.

But the facts she related -- that he ran away,  that she ran to him and protected him from the Union soldiers, that she told the soldiers he was her mother  --  not only verify the soldier's reports of Davis in her dress,  but she went further that the soldiers did in some of the details. 




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.


You can, if you like, dismiss Jeff Davis own wife and nephew-- Varina never would bluntly say it was her dress. So there IS wiggle room, if she had not written -- I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER.

Her sentence "I said it was my mother"  removes legitimate doubt   because it confirms the Union soldiers reports and newspaper accounts.

Would Varina write "I said it was my mother"  -- and defend Davis physically based on the ruse that he was her mother -- if he were in his own attire? 

At the moment Varina was actually holding Davis -- according to her and verified by Union reports -- Davis looked enough like a woman that Varina and her sister said it was her mother.

The soldiers could be sure who it was, or what gender.   They assumed it was a male, because the person wore manly boots and spurs, but otherwise was, ankle to to the top of the head, covered in woman's garments.

That is -- until a soldier just reached over, and pulled his hood off.


Varina's  sister and Varina BOTH told the soldiers he was her mother, and both pleaded with them to leave "her alone".    Her sister left no known letter,  but Varina did.  And the soldiers reported both women told them Davis was their mother.

If the union soldiers were lying (no one claims they were -- typically "historians"  who defend Davis don't dare tell you the Union soldiers filed reports)  it's inconceivable they would lie by saying much the same thing Varina did about Davis female garments, his actions, and his cowardice.


It's true, Varina never exactly said "Yes he wore my dress."  

Varina was all over the map about his garments in her letter, and even took the blame for the garments. And she suggested if if he had on "full woman's attire"--- it was not important!

If Davis had on his own clothing,  except for an 'errant" shoulder wrap, it would have been simple for her to indicate that.   Varina never -- ever -- would back Davis up on that point,  she was always coy, and evasive.

The overwhelming, and best, evidence to us, from Varina's letter, to the nephew's journal, to the Union soldier's reports and later public statements, makes it nearly absurd to claim Davis was not doing what his own wife wrote he was doing -- running away in clothing arranged, even when he was up close, to look like a woman.

Davis was not protecting his wife, or children. He was running away for his own safety as bullets flew.  Davis had to have been dressed in that attire overnight,  you do not throw on women's clothing in a few seconds as bullets are flying in the air.  Davis left the tent immediately, he said, when he heard the shots. 


As Varina told the soldiers Jeff Davis was her mother -- remember, that her account in her letter -- a Union soldier just reached over, and pulled the head covering off....It was Davis.

The Union officers all wrote reports of the chapter.  

If Davis had been brave, had only his normal clothing on,  why on earth would Varina not say so, then or later, unequivocally?

Varina wrote at length about her husbands garments -- why do that if they were his normal clothes?   She was as focused on what he wore, in her letter,  as about what he did -- run away.

Very odd that Varina would spend so much time and space writing about his garments, if they were his normal garments as he said.



  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"

So why on earth did she write "I said it was my mother".

Well, because she wrote page after page,  with much intensity, about his three layers of female clothing.   The "I said it was my mother"  clears up any reasonable confusion.

She even mentions she pu two of the items on him so "he would not be recognized". 

She writes some fairly incoherent lines essentially saying, well if he HAD wore "full women's attire"  it was "of no cavil" -- not a big deal.  (The word "cavil" is virtually never used now, and rarely used then).

"Too confusing" excuse....

If she had not written "I said it was my mother"  it would be possible to claim, as some have claimed, that "it  is too confusing to know for certain".  

But there is so much to confirm he wore female garments, and told her to get herself killed, and did not protect his wife or children, that it's not confusing. 

Strange indeed, if the Union soldiers, in their reports, happened to lie along the same lines as Varina Davis.   Tellingly, those "historians" who dismiss the "dress story" never mention the Union officers reports, never mention "I said it was my mother"  and never mention the nephews journal apologizing for helping Davis efforts at disguise.

Why won't they mention these things?  Because there is no way to mention them, and still insist Davis wore manly clothing. He did not. And no way to portray Davis as brave- - he was not. He was cowardly.

If you read carefully the "historians"  like Shelby Foote who show Varina's quote "He wore no disguise" -- they never, ever, ever show the full quotes,  and avoid like the plague "I said it was my mother".

And avoid like the same plague the nephews journal. 

And they don't even mention the Union soldiers reports. 

Gee, I wonder why?

It's almost as if Shelby had read her letter, and decided not to tell you her full comments-- or even point you in the direction of - the letter, his nephew's journal, or the Union soldiers reports.



Wearn this from Varina Davis own book  and Union reports --Davis told her to get herself killed. Let me repeat that, Varina was supposed to die rather than be taken alive.

"Should a Davis surrender, it would bring shame upon the South" is the kind of smack Davis said when telling his wife to get herself killed according to witnesses. And they were impressed with Davis bravery  -- the clear message at the time, to the crowd assembled, was that Davis himself would go down fighting.

Uh, not so much.


This article is as much about the willingness of "historians" to distort, even profoundly, the actions and character of Confederate heroes. 

Some "historians" like Shelby Foote well know Varina wrote, in her letter and book. He chose, as you will see, to be deceptive about it. 

Who can blame him?  Foote was a Davis devotee his entire life. 

This is another Mark Curran  post.

"Not my fault you didn't know this."

Me in China, wondering how goofy  history might be

all over the world.  By the way, I found in Chinese public libraries and book stores a wide variety of history books, from different viewpoints, for example,  some pro Mao, some against.   USA history text books about the Confederacy are horribly incomplete.  No mention of Southern War Ultimatums, no mention of Southern leaders many and repeated boast they were killing to spread slavery for GOD, just two examples. 


Waiting for the gold....

"Force your assailants to kill you"  Jeff Davis told his own wife, as they waited for the GOLD.

What Gold?   The Gold Davis had gathered up,  for himself and his escape, that was collected for medical supplies. 

Yes, much of the gold Davis took was collected by the public -- for medical supplies.  It's true, if he did not take it, someone else would, so he took it.

Davis made this amazing speech -- he told his wife to get herself killed rather than surrender, as they waited for that very gold.

If Varina -- or any Davis - surrendered, Davis said dramatically,  as if he would get himself killed to, go down fighting -- it would shame upon the South.


But when Davis himself came close to danger,, he ran away in his wife's dress.  He did not protect her, nor their children.

He would later claim he only let himself be captured BECAUSE he was protecting his children. 


Few men in history uttered such words, but Jeff Davis said them loudly and in front of an audience.  Yes, he did.
He acted as if  he would go down fighting too, said others at the time. 


Varina omitted that detail,  that Davis said this while he was giving that impromptu speech for the public to hear, that she should go down fighting. He was actually telling those who could hear that he would do the same.


What did Varina say in her book about what Jeff Davis wore the day of capture?

Varina wrote about their flight from Richmond in exceeding detail -- page by page, almost hour by hour. Fascinating reading, actually.

So, in her book, how does she handle that moment when she and Davis are captured?

Will she back up Davis own claim of bravery?

Will she say he did not wear a dress, that he was in his normal clothing, as he said?

Will she say he protected the children -- or ran away?


She just skipped that.  She went right up to the moment of capture, then ---- nothing. She goes on to the next chapter. 

She could have said he wore his own clothes. One sentence, 10 words would  have done it.  Easy.

She could have said he was brave. She could have said he protected the children.

She didn't say a word, not one word, to back Davis up about his supposed bravery, his manly clothes, etc,

Yet in life -- she was asked many times by visitors, did Jeff Davis wear a dress?  

Do you know what she said to such questions?

She would smile, and say "Mr. Davis never wore a hoop skirt". 

Cute --right?  

 Everyone would laugh politely.  No one accused him of wearing a formal dancing garment or hoop skirt.   She was telling the truth -- he never wore a hoop skirt. 



The Blair children, however, when they got older and donated the letters to Library of Congress, were very matter of fact.  It was clear by the speech one of the son's gave about Varina's letter that, that yes of course Davis wore a dress.

That's a big deal, because the Blairs are the family Varina asked for help (that's why she wrote the letter).   And the Blair family gave her help and lodging.

She lived with the Blairs for a time. 

So, no doubt, she had many discussions with them, and gave them more details that in her letter.

Nor do these "experts"  show or refer to the reports by Union officers, who then, and for the rest of their lives, were very clear.  Davis was in a dress and running away, and was dressed as a woman -- in his wife's dress.

Amazing what you can do just by omitting basic facts. 



  Entire books have been written about the capture of Jeff Davis,  each claim he wore a "ratigan" by mistake.  Several just quote Davis  himself, as if his denial is proof he did no such thing, that he was brave,  and this was all a "newspaper" thing.

So why not show the Union reports?

Why now show -- instead of misquote -- Varina's full letter.

Why not show the nephews journal?

Greg Bradsher, for example, went into mind numbing detail about letters by the public to library of Congress, written requesting  information in 1940's. 

 Not one word about Varina's letter where she wrote "I said it was my mother".

But Bradsher posited that Davis said he just had on a woman's shawl by mistake, so no problem here.  Apparently "archivist" is another word for  "well if Jeff Davis said so, who am I to doubt that"?


"I have sacrificed more"   Jefferson Davis

Davis also said he "had given more, sacrificed more" than anyone else in the South, for "the cause". 

  As he said that, men were still being buried in the South, injured during the Civil War.  

Men Davis himself had ordered into battle, lay dead.  He was fine, he ran away in his wife's dress.  But Davis had no trouble giving Trump like praise to himself.

 Davis said he sacrificed more than they did -- so Bradsher must believe that too.

And Bradsher must disbelieve his wife's letter about "I said it was my mother".

Do you think Bradsher might take a glance at Varina's  letter?  How about the Union soldiers reports? Too much to ask.

 Maybe look at her book?


How do we know it was his wife's dress?

Because when the Union soldiers allowed him to get back in his "manly clothes,"   Varina emerged from the tent (she helped him dress) she had on that exact dress. The dress Davis took off, Varina put on -- almost certainly so the Union officers did not take it as souvenir. 


 Mark Curran blog -- yes blog.  Blame my editor, she is supposed to get this into a dot.com   Contact me  anytime, by comment section below.   This is a picture of me screwing up Tai Chi in China.

I write these blogs about original documents I find -- documents that surprise me, because I have studied history for 50 years (I am 65 now).   And I keep finding original documents -- like Varina's letter, like Southern War Ultimatums, like news about Lee's slave ledgers, and no one mentioned them before.  WTF?


The letter donated to Library of Congress 1910,  from the Blair children.  It was Varina Davis's letter to the Blairs. 



Yet we are told, over and over, even by "experts" that the whole dress story was made up  nonsense -- an exaggeration by newspapers. 

The "slander" of an honorable man.

Utter nonsense.  As Varina's letter made very clear, Davis had on layers of female clothing. She even took blame for that.


If Davis and Varina had been able to get their stories straight, of course Varina would not have diverged from it.  She would never have written the letter if she had known the Blairs would keep it, or their children would donated to the Library of Congress.

Davis He was quite clear - to the point of absurdity he was clear, he even took a picture to "prove" what he wore.

Picture Davis took of what he was wearing at time of capture. He lied, of course, as proven by his wife and nephew.




Every Union soldier present at Jeff Davis capture considered Varina Davis a woman of "uncommon courage".    And they all considered Davis a coward.

Sure, sure, the Union soldiers could have made it all up.  One "Davis expert"  told me he had proof Union officers hunting for Davis, thousands of them, were ordered to carry around a dress and claim it was his dress, when captured. He said would show me that proof, but somehow never did.

The author of this book was dumbfounded to read Varina's letter.
He thought I found something totally new.

Hardly, this was in library of Congress before he was born, and her book was published before he was born.  All easily available to him at any time. 

At first Clint Johnson relented and said, yes, yes, it's clear Davis ran away like a coward, dressed as a woman.

Then Johnson said, no, Davis was simply too manly to act cowardly.   Johnson told me he had proof -- Union officers were all ordered by "Washington"  to carry around a dress  and when Davis was captured, claim they found him wearing it.

Funny thing -- Johnson never could show that proof.   Like other Davis cult members, he was eager to distort, even lie.  He knew there was no evidence of any such Union order.   And he had already admitted Davis did wear a dress and run like a coward.

He just couldn't get his head around it.


The facts glossed over - like Jeff Davis cowardice, his war ultimatums, are all but lost to history.   Lee's torture of slave girls, purchase of kidnapped women, all but lost.

Yet there was at the time an abundance of evidence, and testimony available, to show Lee's tortures, his treason, Davis treason, etc.

Luckily there is enough evidence remaining, it should not be debatable by reasonable people.  Davis and Lee were both traitors, and both personal cowards, and both vile human beings. 

Because we did not put men like Lee and Davis on trial, none of this evidence got into court. Lee's torture of slave girls, for example, and his own cowardice, his own War Ultimatums and killing sprees before the Civil War even started, are all but forgotten, or worse, showed as heroic. 

Of fall the mistakes US made after Civil War, putting Lee and Davis on trials might have been the worst.


What is a definition of a coward, when people are eager to kill you?


Davis did have people eager to kill him, if need be.   And he would have been shot if he resisted with violence.  This was still war, the Union soldiers had already been firing- - at each other -- in the morning fog.  

Other men have been cowards in such instances.   

But none that we know of told their wives to die -- as Davis did. 

None others ran away leaving their children in danger -- as he did.

None other claimed to be heroic -- as he did.

That's being cowardly.

 Yes, he told her to DIE rather than surrender.   That's not what some mean old "Yankee"  historian said.   That is what Jeff Davis own wife wrote in her own book.  She was not quoted -- that was HER BOOK.

Can you imagine Lincoln telling his wife to die?   And running away as his children were in danger?   We know of Lincoln's bravery on several occasions, the man next to him was killed instantly as he and Lincoln stood at Fort Stephens watching a battle out front. Lincoln did not flinch. Lincoln was also shot at twice before that, on rides from White House to Soldiers Home nearby.  He did not flinch, he kept riding that same route. 

And more -- much more -- Davis had repeatedly ordered soldiers to attack, via his generals.  Attack, attack.  Very Hitler like in this,  he would order absurd attacks, and if the general hesistated or did not carry it out, Davis berated him in public (See Macon Speech) and replaced that general.

Davis insane stupidity ended up costing the South the war,  as again and again Davis pushed his generals to attack, even when faced with larger forces, dug in. 

Confederate soldiers deserted by the thousands.  By summer of 1864--  you are not told this - about 2/3 of South soldiers deserted.

How do we know?   Jeff Davis said so, confirming Richmond newspaper accounts.  Jeff Davis himself caused the desertions, ordering not only the soldier to die rather than surrender, but told his own wife to do so.

Did Jeff Davis really want his wife to die?   No. Did he really want his soldier to die? No.

But he loved to make these speeches.  Remember that -- and you will know more than most "historians".  Most of what happened in the Civil War came about because FIRST men like Davis (and others) talked tough, promised to kill, ordered men to kill, and not because they were tough guys.

But because that sounded tough. That got the crowd to pay attention.

Now you know what causes most wars.  Don't forget it. 


To understand how creepy of a coward Davis was, you need to know something:   Davis regularly urged others to die -- yes die- - for the cause of spreading slavery.  Not keeping slavery, spreading slavery, as we show elsewhere by Davis's own boasting.

Urging others to die -- including his wife.

Remember this -- Davis  urged others to die including his wife. 



In another time, another place, Davis would have made a splendid Shakespearean actor.  As Francis Blair (Varina's letter was to the Blair family) wrote, Davis could get crowds cheering for war, but off stage was entirely unlike that.

Give Davis a crowd -- as he had the day he told his wife to get herself killed- - and Davis would get them cheering.  

The clear inference when he told his wife to get herself killed was that he too, he first, would not surrender.  "For a Davis to be taken captive would bring shame upon the South".


So Davis, his wife, and everyone who knew Davis knew that he told his wife to get herself killed, had to explain why he surrendered.    So he explained- - it was to save his children.

They were nearby, he was protecting them with his life-  and his intent was to kill the first soldier that came near, and go down fighting.

Only, as Davis, his wife, and everyone there knew well, Davis was no where near his children.  If anything Varina came to Davis personal rescue, and he protected no one.


If Varina's observations were right, the Union soldier was ready to put a bullet in Davis's head if he did not identify himself.  The Union soldiers had shot at each other, not minutes before this, and their men lay dead and dying at that moment.   They were in no mood for guessing games.   They knew Davis was a male, despite his female attire, because he wore his manly and quite expensive spurs.

Women did not wear male spurs. 

Confirms Union Reports

It is likely  Varina Davis saved her husband's life --by jumping in front of him, as she details in her letter.  Remember that, it is HER letter that clearly shows she jumped to his defense, when the Union soldier had stopped Davis, and Davis would not answer.  

She physically went to Davis, grabbed him, and held him to her -- that is what she wrote.

And she told the soldier to "shoot me if he had to shoot anyone".

Let that sink in.

Her letter exactly corresponds to the Union officer's report:  she jumped in front of Jeff Davis, then dressed as a woman,  and told the soldiers to shoot her (Varina) if they must shoot someone.

But leave her mother alone.

Only, it was not her mother.  The Union soldier simply reached over, grabbed the hood, and pulled it back, showing the scraggly face and beard of Jeff Davis.

Maybe the biggest coward in US history. 

No -- the dress was not cowardly.  But running away in his wife's dress as she and the children were in danger is cowardly-- and why Southern "apologist" will spend another 160 years running away from the facts, just as Jeff Davis ran away in her dress.


Over and over we hear the canard that Davis wore no dress.

It was all a "newspaper" thing.  Few dared to even mention Varina Davis book and letter -- but when Davis groupies like Shelby Foote mentioned Varina's letter, he cleverly took her out of context, and of course did not show or mention the full letter.

Varina DID write --"Davis wore no disguise and committed no subterfuge"    but then Varina went on for two pages about the disguise and subterfuge.

Do you think Foote did not read the full letter?

Do you think Foote did not read her book?

Do you think Foote did not know of the Union reports about Varina and Jeff Davis?

Of course he knew.  But Foote adored Davis.  Wrote that Davis was an honorable man and  "anyone who saw Jefferson Davis greet his beloved children knew what a devoted family man he was" -- paraphrased.

Davis told his wife to get herself killed. He literally did nothing to protect his children as bullets flew.

And Foote knew that!


Authors like Clint Johnson said Northern troops carried around dresses when they looked for Davis, so when they caught him, they could claim he wore woman's clothing.  Said he had telegraph messages to prove it.

Then admitted -no, he had no telegraph evidence, and he even admitted, yes, Davis wore a dress

Clint Johnson thought I found some amazing piece of history, with Varina's letter.

Shit fire -- can you read her book??

And both her book and the letter about his cowardice have been available since 1909.

Some of these "experts" clearly knew about Varina's letter -- because the quoted it out of context and quite the opposite of what she revealed overall.  So they knew - they the "I said it was my mother" part.

And they knew she wrote he was running away and she protected him.

And they knew Davis lied and was protecting no one - certainly not protecting his children.

And they knew he told her to get herself killed.

This is actually rather typical for Southern apologist.  They will twist anything ad everything to pretend Jeff Davis or Robert E Lee were honorable, or brave, or honest men,

Neither was either, 


Maybe she knew?


Varina Davis lived longer after the capture of Jefferson Davis, than she did before he was captured.

In that entire time, in her letters, her book, in many conversations, she would never back him up on his stories of bravery.

She would never say he wore his own clothes, or was near his children.

Instead she would be coy, or clever, "Mr Davis never wore a hoop dress" she would tell people who asked, and everyone would laugh.  

Everyone knew what she meant, that Davis did have on something female. No one (except some cartoons) said he had on a formal dancing dress.

Varin'a's letter to the Blairs, written a week after their capture, was clearly written in haste -- with scratched out parts, and conflicting information.  She even asked the Blairs, in the letter itself, to destroy the letter, or it may later be used to embarrass him. 

The Blairs, friends of Lincoln and the Davis's, kept the letter, and their children, many decades later, donated that letter and much other memorabilia to Library of Congress.
And Southern "historians" have known every syllable in her letter ever since. 

Go read some of their clever explanations, such as Shelby Foote. He quotes Varina very carefully, and contrary to her full statements.  He had to, he was not about to admit his hero (Foote was a Davis groupie,to be blunt) was not just a coward, but a very creepy coward.   

He was not brave.

He did not wear his own clothing.

But the clothing was not cowardly by itself.  Running away as his children were in danger -- that was cowardly.

He left his wife in danger, too.

He ran. Varina saved him.   Remember that. 


It was a "newspaper thing"  and that was all there was to it? 

Not so. In fact, everyone who tells you it was a "newspaper thing"  seem blissfully stupid that SOUTHERN newspaper first reported Davis was captured in a dress.

Did Jeff Davis tell his wife to get herself killed, rather than be taken alive?

Yes. How do we know?  

She told us.

Force your assailants to kill you?

"Force your assailants to kill you."

Who in their right mind tells their own wife to force your assailants to kill you? This is from her book -- not what someone else wrote, she is the author. She wrote it.  Just like she wrote the letter revealing his cowardice (see below) Varina wrote this book.




Varina  is one writer of Jefferson Davis's entourage who would not lie for him.   She would parse words, yes, but never lie.

 She left out, for example, Davis repeated exhortations of soldiers and generals (and herself) to fight to the end.   

But if she wrote something, it was not a lie. 

Her entire book, two volumes, is amazing insight, once you realize she refused to lie. You simply can not get a better insight into the Confederacy as this -- she leaves out the tortures, the killing sprees, the boasting of killing to spread slavery. She probably did not even know of those things. 

But she never lied outright, that we know about. Davis, on the other hand, lied almost every time he spoke or wrote. 


Varoma could have written that Davis wore his own clothes. Very simple, a short sentence would do nicely.

She could have written that Davis acted bravely.  One adjective. 

She could have written that Davis protected the children, or her.

But she never did say such things, and she COULD have.

 She came up to the moment of capture -- and just stopped.  Simply did not describe the exact minutes of capture.


We show you the only reasonable explanation why Varina, in her book, nor in person in 40 years, backed up Davis claim of his bravery and how he wore his own clothes, and protected his children.

Varina never would lie outright for Davis.  She would parse words, she would put things in the best light for his reputation, but she never would lie. 




Varina probably did not know the Blairs kept the letter she wrote to them in 1865, but they did.  And in that letter she did reveal Davis cowardice and lies, though she did not intend to.

Varina tells the Blairs  that she told the soldiers Davis was her mother.


Jeff Davis wife's letter in Library of Congress

Contrary to what many "historians"  repeat, often smugly so, Jeff Davis reports of running away in a dress was not some "Northern newspaper"  thing.

In fact, the first newspaper to report it was from Macon Georgia,  hardly a Northern paper.

More,  Varina Davis, his own wife, wrote a letter inadvertently confirming, essentially, everything the Union soldiers reported. Yes, the Union officers wrote very detailed reports, and they reported Davis wore female clothing and was running away.

Interestingly, the Union soldiers only mentioned the dress, and his running away in a sentence or two.  

Varina wrote about his female garments in several paragraphs.   Plus, Jeff Davis own nephew, also at the capture, wrote about his disguise as a woman.

You won't get that information from those who claim Davis was dressed in some kind of "errant garment"  that the newspapers exaggerated for effect.   They probably have no clue, and are just repeating others.



Also interestingly, Davis never claimed he had on an "errant garment" like so many others.  Davis was very clear, he wore is own manly clothes, and nothing else.

In fact, Davis had his picture taken IN THOSE CLOTHES.  

As one historian said, Davis was "obsessed"  about proving he wore only his normal clothing and was protecting his children.  Davis even had his clothes bequeathed to be shown after his death, to further prove that is what he wore- - his manly clothes.

Obediently, the Museum of the Confederacy now shows Davis clothes -- the one he claimed to have worn (no, he wore his wife's dress).

Of course Varina's letter and book -- revealing Davis cowardice in her letter -- are well known to historians.    The authenticity is not in doubt whatsoever.  

Yet no  Southern "historians" or apologist mention her letter in an honest way -- nor could they.  To show her book and letter together show a "rather creepy" coward who eagerly sent others to their death, even his wife, but when he was in peril, he ran away, leaving his wife and children to their fate.

How can you admit that?   Shelby Foote, who was one of the worst people possible to help Ken Burns on Civil War documentary, was especially dishonest about anything to do with Davis, whom he worshiped.   

Sadly, for over 100 years, if anyone quotes Varina's letter, they quote her selectively, and never give you any hint she wrote very clearly that Davis was running away,  that he had on three layers of female garments, and that she told the soldiers Davis was her mother.

Varina's letter, if you quote it selectively, does say Davis wore no disguise, committed no subterfuge.....  but then she describes his disguise, even calls it a disguise, and describes his cowardly actions.

Varina was clearly hurried when she wrote the letter, frantic for the Blair's help, which she received. 


The most important part of her letter: "I said it was my mother"



Varina, upon marrying the much older Davis, adopted very belief uttered by Jeff Davis, unquestionably, it seems.

Slaves, Davis said "are the most contented laborers on earth"  and wrote that it was cruel -- yes cruel -- to blacks not to enslave them. 

Get your head around that. 

Varina's goal was always to protect Davis -- physically and his "good name".

She protected him the day of his capture, as you will see from her own words, and corroborating written evidence by others who took part in Davis capture.  Varina, according to the soldiers and her letter to Blairs, ran between Davis and the Union soldiers, and then told the soldiers Davis was her mother.

She even adds she held Davis to her, and that the soldiers demanded to know who Davis was.  Their curses were vile, she wrote, and the promised to kill Davis.

Bravery beyond measure -- 

Varina- - according to her -- told the soldier if he had to shoot someone SHOOT HER -- but leave her mother alone.

The Union soldiers confirmed that.  Every Union soldier that saw Varina do this forever respected her, and forever considered Davis a pathetic coward.

 Davis would not speak, so a Union soldier simply reached over and pulled off the head covering, which had made him look enough like a woman (along with the dress) that Davis could pass for a woman if no one pulled that head covering off.

The point is, facts  SHE revealed not only show Davis told her to get herself killed, also show Davis ran away in her dress.
If Varina has not written that letter, if she had never said or written that he wore his own clothes and was brave, that would have kept the secret.  You could have  rational dispute over whether the soldiers and newspapers and nephew all lied.

But Varina wrote the letter. 

She told the Blairs what she told the soldiers -- THATS MY MOTHER.

The soldiers said she tried to pass off Davis as her mother.  

So no, the soldiers did not lie.   Varina essentially confirmed every fact -- and went into more detail than they did -- about his female clothing.    She would never come out and say it was her dress,  but the details she did reveal were overwhelming.

He sure as hell did not have on his own clothes.

And no -- no -- he did not have on an "errant ratigan"  as some claimed.  Davis himself never claimed any such ratigan.  Davis himself claimed he acted heroically and was in his own manly clothes. He was very clear, very specific.  He wore his own clothes, and only his own clothes. Not some errant ratigan.

In other words, some tried to give Davis an excuse he never claimed.  Davis claimed to be heroic, he claimed he was near his children protecting them.

He was nowhere near those children.

He was not protecting anyone.

But Varina, to her credit, would never lie.  She would parse words, yes. but she would never outright lie that we know of. 


Varina published her book after Jeff  Davis death.  The letter in which she revealed he ran away dressed in three layers of female clothing, she wrote a week after their capture. 

It was never her intention to embarrass Davis -- quite the opposite. Her intention was to protect his image as much as she could, given what he had done.  Her letter was to the Blairs in Washington.  She told the Blair's in the letter itself, to destroy the letter or it may embarrass him later.

They did not destroy the letter.

The Blair children, after their parent's death, after Varina's death, donated the letter and other memorabilia to Library of Congress in 1911.

 It apparently never occurred to her that the Blair's kept her letter, but they kept the letter.


  The Blair family always knew Davis told his wife to get herself killed and ran away in her dress.  It was not even debatable.   Varina had told them -- both in her book, her letter, and very likely in even more detail, in person.

One thing about Varina -- she could bend a story not to embarrass Davis, and of course she had her own viewpoint of everything that happened., but she never would outright lie for him.  This is what makes her book so fascinating and credible factually. 
So when Varina wrote to the Blairs that she tried to convince the soldiers that Jeff Davis was her mother -- and that she held him close to protect him after he had run away -- then you can take that to the bank.

Davis nephew's writing also confirmed Davis was dressed as a woman.   The Union soldiers confirmed in their reports Jeff Davis was dressed as a woman.   But no matter how he was dressed (he was dressed as a woman, head to ankles) he ran away leaving his wife and children in danger.

And he told his wife to get herself killed.

Yes, he did.

Yes. How do we know?  

She told us.

It's important to know the CONTEXT of both Varina's book and her letter.

Davis was running away from Richmond, after months of promising not to do exactly that. Most people don't know that Davis presented himself as heroic in almost any situation. 

He would defend Richmond. 

But when Davis ran, there was no actual threat.  There was no breech in the line.  There was a RUMOR -- not true, as it turns out.

Davis ran away on the RUMOR of a breech in the slave built earthworks.



The Union soldiers were stunned -- in fact, the mayor of Richmond had to ride out to the Union line, under white flag, and ask for the help of Union soldiers. 

Turns out, Lee ordered blacks left behind to burn several military warehouses full of supplies, as soon as  he left, so the Union could not use them.

The fires, however spread to much of the city-- bet you did not know that.   The fires Lee ordered set. 

It helps to get all the facts. 


In fact, Davis in the speech made no actual mention of the lives of the children, that we know of. 

  Should Varina surrender if it meant the children survive? We don't have any indication from anyone that he said their names in reference to this at all.  Just that she should get herself killed - because any DAVIS to surrender would bring shame upon the South.

   Interestingly, while Davis would later insist he only surrendered himself (rather than fight to the death as he claimed he wanted to), that he was protecting his children at that moment. To kill the first Union soldier would almost certainly cause the death of his children.



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

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.

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 his hat near the "Soldiers Home" 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.


In fact, the dress is the least cowardly part of it. 

The dress was not so creepy - in fact it was the only way Davis could realistically get through check points, if he dressed as a woman.  So he dressed as a woman. But telling his wife to die?

That's creepy.

Running away as your children were in danger?

Thats creepy too.

Then he ran away in her dress. 

 Jeff Davis nephew said essentially
the same thing 

This is in addition to the Union officer's reports at the time. The union reports  showed Davis as wearing a dress and running away, along with other details.   (See below).

Varina actually spent much more time, in writing, talking about Jeff Davis garments than the soldiers did.  They mentioned he wore a dress-- what color it was -- and they told how they let him change out of the dress.

When Davis and his wife came out of the tent where he was allowed to change - Varina had on the dress Davis wore minutes before!  You can't make this up.   Apparently she did not want the soldiers to grab that dress as a souvenir  


When you hear "experts"  claim this was all Northern newspaper  thing, remember this- they never tell you about the Union soldiers reports, never tell you about the nephew's journal, and never candidly show you Varina's letter.

The "dress story" was not something anyone else made up.  Varina's letter, the nephew's journal, and the Union soldiers reports all documented that Davis wore female clothing. Several layers of female clothing.




Davis shown in a shaw -- which is incorrect.

Actually it was three layers of female clothing, covering him completely, so completely Varina tried to pass him off as her mother.  The following drawing from the time is probably more like it.

Davis revolver and spurs.

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


Here is something else you never hear about -- Davis promising to send Southern troops North and put all blacks in the North "back on the slave status"  in perpetuity. 

 It was his reaction to Lincoln's Emancipation proclamation, and a fine example of Jeff Davis egomania and eagerness to send others to fight and die -- but him?  Not so much. Go on, read it. Amazing.

Davis says from now on, any free blacks, North or South, are to be "placed back on the slave status"  in perpetuity. 



"..... he told me to force the enemy to kill me" 




 This information has been readily  available since 1906. 



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.

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.

This bit of comedy was in a North Carolina paper, too. 



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....




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.

But 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,  And she declared what many people declared, the 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.

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

And she 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.

She had very sensual skin -- Davis sure went after it.  

She was beautiful and young, half his age, and he was very thin scraney and frankly ugly. Bad skin, a horrible face.

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.

 He got a young hot looking woman to do as he told her.  And she did as he told her, for the rest of his life.

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.  


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. 


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.