Running away in a dress was the least of it --







Another Mark Curran -- no bullshit blog.

What do you think of  a man who tells his wife to "make your assailants kill you"   so that your capture "does not shame the South" -- -then runs away in her dress.

Yes, this sounds like it HAS to be made up. It's not.  Varina's Davis (wife of Jefferson Davis) own writing show what Southern apologist have dared not -- and they hoped you did not notice.

We noticed.    It was not just her letter -- it was her book, Jeff Davis's nephew's journal, and the reports by Union officers, who confirmed Varina's letter to Blairs.

Varina's book :

 Jeff Davis ran away in a dress, and told his wife to pretend he was her mother. M O T H E R.

But that is just part of a far more goofy/ amazing story about the cowardice of Jeff Davis.  


Varina and her sister both told the soldiers that the person running away in a dress was their MOTHER. That's according to  HER letter. 

Actually THIS is probalby closer to it -- since his face was completely covered, when he looked down.  His spurs gave him away. Women did not wear spurs. 

The point is not the clothes -- it's how he told his wife to get herself killed, left  his children in danger, yet claimed to be heroic. 


Davis nephew, who was also there, admitted Davis ran away, dressed as female.


Union soldiers reports were much the same, in every important detail, to Varina's letter.

Varina even wrote, in effect, well so what if had on "full women's attire"   he did so because he so loved the South.  

The Blair family -- she wrote her letter to the Blairs -- thereafter always spoke openly that Jeff Davis did indeed have a dress on when captured.   Their children donated Varina's letter to library of Congress, along with other memorabilia, after her death.

If she knew that, of course, she would never have written that letter.

Another time "" got it so wrong, but they were so damn sure of themselves, repeating bullshit.

Varina's letter -- to the Blairs -- went into detail.  She was asking Blairs for financial and social help, which they gave. 

She was not trying to shame Davis, she was trying to minimize his embarrassment.   If she had not included that sentence about "I said it was my mother,"  Davis apologist could explain much of it away. 

But those details are in her letter, and "I said it was my mother".  So no Davis apologist or biographer has dared put that letter in, nor do they tell anything honest about it.  Gee, I wonder why

Varina told the Blairs to destroy the letter -- clearly, they did not.  She even told them that she protected Davis, that she held Davis while that swearing Union soldier was about to shoot him. 

The Union soldier was about to shoot Davis if he did not identify himself, when, according to the above letter, Varina jumped in front of Davis and incredibly, dared the soldier to shoot her (Variana).

That's right -- Varina saved Davis, according to Varina's letter, though her emphasis is on that oath swearing mean Union soldier, not on her bravery. -- in case you think those guys have a clue what they are talking about -- just went by what Jeff Davis said.  That he was not wearing a dress, and he was brave.

In fact, inexplicably claims that Davis and his wife both claimed he was sick and wore some shawl of hers, because he was sick!

Where the hell did they get that?   I loved their added twist "especially Varina" -- they are pulling poo out of thin air, as they do often.   They may have got that impression, but original documents show quite the opposite. does this kind of thing frequently, by the way, they repeat BS, and are emphatic aboutit.     If they were honest, they would say "We read this -- and we hope it's true, but we really don't know from original sources."



Importantly, the Union soldiers reported exactly the same thing -- that she jumped in front of Davis when Davis was running away in a dress, and she dared the Union soldier to shoot her -- Varina! didn't seem to care or know about that, either.

Every Union soldier there respected Varina Davis for the rest of their lives, because she was fearless.  She actually did jump in front of a soldier with a loaded gun, and put her life in jeopardy, to save his life.

Davis would claim he saved his children's life.  No -- he did nothing of the sort, according to anyone who was there. 


 But according to Davis -- and some of his apologists -- he was the hero. He saved his children.   He only surrendered because his dear children were standing there, and would have been killed if Davis had killed the first soldier, as he intended to.

One Davis apologist has an entire spiel about Davis having to be talked out of killing the first soldier, though he deeply wanted to. Bullshit. Davis ran for 20 seconds, he was caught by the Union officer -- on a  horse. Davis was not trying to save anyone, but himself, or kill anyone. He was trying to get away, and to hell with his wife and children.

Nonsense -- Davis was no where near his children. He had left them behind, and was running away.  Davis was saved -- by his wife.  And he was wearing her dress. 

Varina did not characterize it so badly for Davis -- she was always trying to build him up.   Others who saw Davis publically tell his wife to get her self killed, were more blunt.  Davis told her to get herself killed, and the implication was, the whole family should die rather than be taken captive, he included

Being taken alive "would bring shame on the South".

Yes, he told his wife this in public, ironically, while waiting for all the gold he could get in Richmond, before his departure.  Apparently he was putting on a show of bravado for the people around them.

Why would surrender alive bring shame?  Because Davis had urged others to die for the cause,  long after it was clear the South had lost, long after 90% of the Confederate soldiers had gone home or refused to fight.  Davis was still urging attacks, talking smack, firing generals who would not attack (Joe Johnston, especially).

Even his wife should sacrifice her life rather than shame the South.  But him?

Uh -- not so much.

Running away in a dress was actually the smart thing to do -- and not, by itself, cowardly.

However, leaving his children in danger, telling his wife to get herself killed, while implying he would do the same, but then running away in a dress, and claim to be hero?

Varina Davis was with Davis, of course, and her letter to the Blairs is hilariously -- and purposely -- ignored by most Davis apologist.  

At best, they refer to it disingenuously, and at worse, just pretend it does not exsist.  Shelby Foote, for example, takes one sentence -- does not show the letter or refer to it, or give his reader any cite for the letter --that seems to absolve Davis of any deception.   Varina did write "he wore no disguise" -- but then she spends much of the letter detailing the disguise!   Of course, Foote knew that.  But he was not about to tell his readers -- Foote was a Davis groupie, for all intents and purposes.

 And yes, Davis biographers, like Foote, know about the letter, and her book.  They aren't stupid.   They just don't want to show the cowardly and vile things Davis did.  

Davis had THIS picture taken
to "prove" exactly what he had on.

That one sentence "I said it was my mother"  essentially confirms entirely the overall reports by Union officers, but there is much more in her letter, that also appears in Union reports.

Oddly those who dismiss the "Davis in Dress" story never even mention the Union solder's reports. Do they know about the reports? Hell yes. But they act like it was a "newspaper thing"  and Northern newspapers committed slander.

The few Davis biography books that even mention the "dress story" put it far in the back, and deep in some chapter -- a "throw away" issue, as if it's so silly, it's hardly worth mentioning.

Bullshit --first, Southern, not Northern, newspapers reported it immediately. Second, Northern newspapers did get some jokes out of it, but it was no slander, it was factual as hell.  And Varina's letter makes that very clear.

Why on earth would she write this long letter about Davis female garments if  Davis were in his own normal clothing? Obviously, he was not in his own clothing.

  Would Varina be mistaken about what she told the soldiers?  She wrote that she told them Davis was her mother, and wrote this about a week after the capture.

  This is not someone saying what she did.  Remember,  this is HER letter, she is telling the Blairs, in a way meant to spare Davis emabarrasement -- about the capture.






So no, the Union officers were not lying, not making up anything, in narrative, or details, about what Davis did. 

Varina went into much more detail about his three female garments than anyone else.  

Davis himself would claim HE was the hero,  dressed only in his own manly cothes, and he surrendered only to save the children's lives, who were nearby, according to him. 

The children were nowhere near him, when he was captured.  He had left them behind while shots were flying.

_ gets it wrong as hell -- typical....

Several people have contacted me, claiming ""  says the opposite, on this and other things.

  Let's see what they claimed--

Davis and his wife maintained he was sick and Varina lent him her shawl to keep warm?

Davis and "especially his wife"  maintained he was ill?

Those stupid shits. Where the hell does she say he was sick? NOWHERE.

Where the  hell does he say he was sick? NO where.

But these dumb asses repeat crap they read "someplace" --  and act all authoritarian. "Especially" his wife insisted he was sick, as if they know their ass from a banana.   

Where the hell  are they getting that?

 No, she did NOT say she lent him her shawl because he was sick. 

And they completely left out her letter -- doubt they know it even exists.

Does Davis nephew say one word about him being sick to he wore some shawl? HELL NO.

So where are they getting this ?

So why -- really why -- do "experts" again and again claim emphatically Davis was not wearing a dress, blah blah.  Because that's what so called "experts" do.  Often.


Because that's what they were told.  The "history" dot com site  has some dumb ass writing crap, and they do this kind of nonsense a lot, actually.  They repeat bullshit.

Why not check her letter,  Why not check her book?

Why not check the Union reports?   

Because they think they already know. They don't  have a clue.

MUCH MORE THAN HER LETTERBut it was much more than her letter -- her book too, has important details of their capture, and tellingly, she refused there, or any time in her life, to confirm Davis  wore his manly clothes, or supposed heroism.

For the next 40 years she would never directly say, yes, he had on his normal clothing.

Instead, when asked, as she was from time to time later in life, if Jeff had on a dress, she would just say "Mr. Davis did not wear a hoop skirt".

That's a clever reply, and she knew that. No one wore a hoops skirt while travelling.  Folks would laugh, and move on.

As far as I know, no one asked her a follow up question about the dress. 




Can  you imagine Lincoln running away as his children were in danger?

Dress or no -- would Lincoln run?

Remember this: Southern apologists, those who often trash Lincoln and praise Davis, have known about Varina's letter for over 100 years.  The authenticity is not in doubt -- the Blair's own children donated her letter, along with much other memoribilia -- to library of Congress after her death.

Would IKE run?  Would Teddy Roosevelt run? 

Would JFK?

Maybe they would run - but would they leave their children in danger?  Yes, the children were in danger, because Union troops were firing their weapons in various directions,   they thought they were being shot at (actually they were shooting at each other, unknowingly).

Yet Southern apologists claim Davis was not only honorable, but "of unconquerable heart"  as one book title about him says.

By the way -- Davis himself claimed he was one of "unconquerable heart" and then his apologist repeated it.

Man, that guy had no shame, at all.  Seriously. 

under construction -- I need an editor!

Southern and Davis apologists can not  admit he ran away in wife's dress, because that's the least of the story. 






Shelby Foote --  the guy who hustled Ken Burns into absolving any Southern leader of any blame whatsoever in the "CIVIL WAR" video series -- was practically a Davis groupie.

Foote idiotically dismissed any comments against Davis this way "Anyone who saw President Davis greet his children, could not possibly think Davis was anything other than a deeply honorable man".

Seriously -- as if Foote saw Davis greet his children. 

As if that matters.

  As if Davis's support of to the torture and killings in Kansas (long before the Civil War) did not matter.  

If you don't know about Davis role in Kansas killings, his role in Southern War ultimatums, his boasting that blacks are not human beings, and much more, blame the same hustlers that told you it was  a vile slander about his capture in a dress.




When you learn all the facts -- or as many as are available -- you might find the adoration of Davis was not unique.

Lee too had his own "skeletons" in his closet, 


Southern apologist do not even show you -- or tell you -- that Union soldiers wrote reports about the chase and capture of Jeff Davis. Oh, hell yes, they did.

And Varina -- her own letter -- validates those reports.


From Union reports

Julian G. Dickinson

...........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.


So why do "historians" like McPherson and Shelby Foote pretend not to know about the dress, the cowardice, and much more?

They know it very well.  Varina's biographers had no touble writing about it.  Varina wrote in her own book-- her book about Davis!! - that he told her to get herself killed.   Do you think they missed her book about HIM? 


Davis apologist had many excuses for the dress -- none of which Davis used. Davis claimed he was heroic, in his own normal clothing, and claimed  he personally saved the children.

Davis  never said he had on an errant garment.  Davis never said he had a fever and wore some full body garment because of that fever.  Of the assorted excuses, remember, Davis never used those!





We know it was a dress -- not a dressing gown and two other female garments by mistake -- because the union soldiers let Davis get out of his female clothing.  Repeat, They let Davis get out of his female clothing.

According to their reports -- in a simple sentence, no special attention drawn to it -- the officer's report said that when Davis and his wife went into a tent so he could change clothes, Varina came out, wearing that dress that Davis had on, a few minutes before.

Sure the Union soldiers could have made that one part up -- but why?   Their reports were matter of fact,  almost terse.

Later, other dresses -- not the one Davis had on, but dresses Varina had with her -- showed up in PT Barnum's circus in Chicago, 1865, only a few months after Davis was capatured.

 The black woman who sewed that dress, Elizabeth Keckley, viewed that dress in Chicago after the war.   She verified that the dress shown was indeed one she had sewn.   A little fact I found in her autobiography.

No - she did not identify that as the one Davis wore --she had no idea which dress he might have worn.  

In fact, I never knew about Davis "dress story"  at all, until I read Keckley's book about validating the dress at PT Barnum as one she had sewn.

Elizabeth Keckely  is easily one of the most amazing people in history -- she worked for the LIncoln's for four  years -- and worked for Jeff Davis wife.


Clint Johnson, author of Pursuit, about Davis capture, had never heard of Varina's letter, or other documentation that validate Davis being in a dress.

Until I told him.

Johnson was stunned, when I presented her  letter and other documents.

REmember, he wrote a book, got it published, went on talk shows, smugly and repeatedly cast aspersions on those who spread "slander" about Davis. 

Johnson was certain I found something that was only recently available.  After all, Davis was his hero, he read all the books about Davis this paragon of virtue.  Such bullshit.  He never heard of Varina's letter, or the nephews's letter.  

Her letter was known since 1906, when the Blair children donated Varina's letter to Library of Congress.

Plus he could have just read her book.  These "Southern apologist" have an echo chamber, and they have no clue of anything not in their echo chamber.

Clinton  Johnson finally admitted to me that yes, Davis did wear a dress, and did run away, but that was only because his wife urged him to.

Nonsense.  Davis was above all, a control freak, and would no more have let his wife talk him into a dress, and make him run away, than he would fly. 

Clinton had no clue what the "GOLD ISSUE" was either.

Davis took gold from Richmond, that was not his, and it just vanished.   No, he did not keep it, apparently he paid his entourage, and what was left over, the Union troops too.    The Union troops returned no gold to DC.

General Johnston was pissed about the gold -- because it had been collected by donation, for medical supplies.  The Confederacy had been out of money for months, gold was the only thing of value.  Davis took it!

But Johnston and others, pissed at first, let that go. The war was over. Lot of shit happened. The gold was gone.  


Clint Johnson first  insisted he had copies of telegraphs sent to all Union troop leaders in the field, telling them to carry a dress with them, and then make up  a story that Davis  was caught wearing that dress.

Such bullshit. Later, the author, Clint Johnson, admitted he had no such telegraphs. But he was sure they had to have been such telegraph messages. That's the kind of bullshit you run into with "Davis devotees". 
Can you see that telegraph?   For your immediate attention, this is Secretary of War.  All officers will find a dress, Jeff Davis size. Keep that dress with you.  When you find Davis, claim he had it on.  

Every Union soldier, by the way, spoke highly of Varina Davis the rest of their lives.  She was the lion, she was the brave one. Davis was the coward, and everyone there knew it.



Contrary to many who repeat the nonsense that "Northern papers" made up the story to defame Davis, actually Southern papers reported Davis in a dress, first, not Northern. 

Another of the many things Southern apologist accept as gospel, but are bullshit.

 Remember that if your history teacher smugly tells you this was all a "newspaper" thing.

From 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 reveals slightly different -- that Davis was running away -- and she went to him, and held him, keeping the soldiers from shooting him!  Varina's own letter is the best evidence, of course.   By the time the rumor mill got to the North Carolina paper, things got distorted, but still reported he wore his wife's dress.

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


Varina's letter has been in Library of Congress, since 1906.

The Blair children donated it.

  Davis never could explain,  but apparently he gave the gold to many of the men with him, as pay to accompany him.  The Union soldiers probably divided up the  rest.  People think Davis was so beloved by everyone around him -- bullshit. It's impossible to tell now, but maybe Davis entourage stuck with him, because he had control of that gold. 

I hate to "defend" Davis, but leaving the gold in Richmond was not going to do anyone any good.   The Union would soon be there. 

Davis was not leaving, without the gold.



Davis urged a crowd in Macon GA, which was mostly women, to send their sons and other men back to the rebel army.

He said 2/3 of the soldiers had gone AWOL or deserted,  and that if just half came back,  the South could not lose.

Really -- Davis did that. See his Macon speech. In fact, that speeched changed the war - Sherman read of that speech, did you know that? In the newspapers, SHerman saw that speech, where Davis admited, stupidily, so many Southern men had deserted or gone AWOL, and was shaming the wives and mothers, to send them back.


Davis urged the women in the audience to be like the women that wrote him,  supposedly, offering their sons for the Confederacy after their older child died.

Davis did not just mention that in passing, he made a huge deal out of it. He said he got so many letters like that, he could NOT COUNT THEM ALL.

He claimed the General standing next to him could validate that.

Be like these women that write me, Davis was lying.   If such letters exist -- where are they?  Davis saved his correspondence, where is that?

He made it up.

Sorta reminds me of Hitler at the end, urging others to fight on, and on, he could give a shit if they died.   Davis is not the first leaders be be delusional -- look at our own history, Vietnam, Iraq, Afhanshistan.    But berating women?   With outright lies?


Shelby Foote, a Davis devotee, honored Jeff Davis as a brave man of principle -- never a word about Davis killing sprees in Kansas, never a word about Davis insistence blacks are inferior beings ordained by God to be punished, never a word about his war ultimatums to spread slavery.

And of course,  never a word about Davis cowardice. 

If you leave out his cowardice, his pushing slavery by killing,  his war ultimatums, etc etc -- yeah, if you go by what Davis himself said, he was great.

Idiotically "historians" like James McPherson does much that, just omits everything horrible about Davis, and quotes him and his close suck ups, for  how wonderful he was, in his recent book about Davis.


McPherson's recent book on Davis could have been written, by Davis himself, entirely omitting things like his killing sprees, his war ultimatums to spread slavery, his use of killers in Kansas from 1856 on, and of course, his cowardice at capture.

For some reason, even guys like McPherson refuse to write anything that will piss off any Southern apologist.  It's kinda amazing. 






 1856  Brags about killing to spread slavery against state's rights, Jefferson Davis backs him up.    The people in Kansas had no right to stop slavery, because blacks were "so inferior" they were not human beings, for the law, but property.

There is not two cents worth of difference, between how Davis explained things, than McPherson, except even McPherson would not claim Davis gave up more for the South than the dead troops.

Still,  McPherson essentially mouths Davis -- literally, at times, just repeating what Davis said, for Davis own motivations.   Why not just let Davis write the book himself?

In a way, McPherson did let Davis write the book, there is no point,  where McPherson finds fault  with Davis actions. He simply does  not mention the cowardice, the killing sprees in Kansas, the war ultimatums, etc etc.

  By the way -- Ken Burns stupidly got Foote to be his narrator and main "historian" for his Civil War Documentary.     Big mistake, Ken.



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 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.

Every thing she did --everything she said, in public, was like an obedient wife. Her two volume book on Davis is as flattering as it could possible be.

Yes, she wrote that letter to Blairs but even in it she tries to take the blame. And she told them to destroy the letter

See this article about Varina in "Encyclopedia Virginia" which essentially glorifies slave owners, specifically Davis, and Lee. But their tone and personal cruelty to Varina is amazing, given the supposed "academic" of their publication.

They claimed she was homely, and suggested she lured a lonely Davis into marriage. They claimed she was "manifestly ill suited" for first lady of the South because she lived in the North!

Actually Varina was HOT.  She was, to be blunt, stacked. And she was young, and Davis was over twice her age.  He ruled over her, she did what he said. Period. 

Later in life, after the war, after she was in Washington, the civil war done, she said she was happy.   That infuriated the encyclopedia!

Well she did live in the North -- with Davis! She lived with JEFF DAVIS in DC.

For them to hate Varina -- who did nothing but dote and serve Davis like an obedient wife, and saved his life, his honor, is amazing.

Did they point out Robert E Lee's wife was homely? 

Of course not!  Lee's wife was homely as a mud fence, did you know that? But she was loaded.  She had the biggest mansion in VA.   Lee married her -- yes he did -- for the mansion and her wealth, she owned over 200 slaves.

No one berates Lee for that, but Lee's wife was homely, Varina hot.

 Yet by time these hackers get done with her,  in an encyclopedia no less, Davis is the victim, she is ugly. Why do that in an encyclopedia? It's not true, but even if it were, why trash her in an encylopedia?

These folks in VA  who adore Davis and Lee, are still haters and liars, yes, they are.

Not only was she homely, her "political loyalties" were "suspect from the beginning," said the article. Really? No, they were not.

As if it was horrible to be against Southern killing sprees, torture of slaves, sale of children.  But Varina was not anti slavery in the least, and was docile and obedient as hell. 

Varina wrote to Northern relatives? Seriously, thats the charge against her. She wrote to Northern relatives.

"Spent years in the North". By North, they mean DC, and Davis lived there too,  she went there WITH DAVIS.

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

Her skin was considered "unattractive" they said!

No she had very sensual skin -- a little bit darker than pale white, she was of Native American heritage. 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  why mention that? Because they hate her.

If you want a homely woman, check out Robert E Lee's wife, meaning no disrespect. Of course they dare not imply she was homely, but she was. 

The article claims she had "few marriage prospects".

How the hell do they know?

She was young and impressionable. She saw him as an older guy, not as a suitor, until he chased her.

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

Well, people in Virgina, who know Varina told the truth about his cowardice -- THEY do.   She only told the Blairs, she had no idea they would save the letter --- in fact, she told them to destroy the letter!

Their children donated it to library of Congress, 50 years later, after Varina and Jeff Davis were long gone.

This same "encyclopedia" does nothing but praise Davis and Robert E Lee, effusively, never mind how cowardly they were in private, nor how cruel they were as slave masters.

Varina did NOT "quickly fall in love with him" as the encyclopedia claims - she indicated to others that because of her youth, and his age, she did not even consider him a suitor. He was old enough to be her father -- and she was hot with big tits. 

And Davis was one ugly man, yes he was. Lee, on the other hand was famous for his looks, but Davis was ugly.

The writer of the article wanted you believe Varina just lusted after Davis. Bullshit.

Then the article claims Davis was too refined for her, and a hero -- Davis claims of heroism, we know what those are worth.

Really amazing to do that to the "First Lady" of the Confederacy, even if it were true, but what they said is false, and the bastards knew it.

Even the letter which rats Davis out, she is trying to protect him. She just wrote so much, so many details, that she essentially repudiated Davis own distortions --but that was not her intention. 

Had she known anyone other than the Blairs would read it, she would not have written it.

To throw that word "squaw" in there  about her, was not only false, it was malicious, and the writer at the Encyclopedia meant it to be.

Have you ever seen such an "Encyclopedia" article? I never have.

Read the full article, its really amazing.

Varina could have easily written a tell all book about her husband years later -- she was nothing but flattering to and about him. Her letter was private, and even that tried to protect Davis.



Julian G. Dickinson, Late Adjutant 4th Michigan Cavalry and Brevet Captain, USV

Original Member of the Michigan Commandery, Insignia Number 3751

Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States

Read January 8, 1889 (First Published 1899)



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 th 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 mete 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.