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This ugly messy blog (I am terrible at this ) is not about Jeff Davis or his cowardice or his wearing his wife's dress.  

Rather it's about the inevitable impact of what happens, naturally even,  if we get part of the story.  We can sincerely believe almost anything, hate almost anyone,  if we are given part of the story. 

It matters not an iota if we -- or whoever tells us part of the story --means well or not.    A new lie is created, like a new sun up comes, as an inevitable consequences of what happened before, if and when we are given part of the story.

Most of the time that "new lie" is of no consequence.

In matters of war, slavery,  and in this case, those who pumped up the hate and fear (for political gain) that led to war, it's smart to get the full story.  
Forgive the typos and repetition and inexplicable fonts.  My editor is a bit daft. I will clean it up someday. 

  MAY 10, 1865  

The morning Jefferson Davis was captured, Union soldiers stopped the person running away.  They already suspected it was a male dressed as a woman --because of the fancy male boots and spurs, never worn by women (A picture is below)

Jeff Davis wife, Varina got between Davis and the soldiers, at the very moment they stopped him.

Varina then told the soldiers Jeff Davis "it's my mother."    

It's my mother.   Those are her words, in her letter "I said it's my mother."

Varina herself  told  the soldiers that if they must shoot someone -- shoot her (Varina). Varina told the soldiers that, and wrote that every thing in a letter to the Blairs soon after. 

 This is all in her handwritten letter. "I said it was my mother," and "I told men to shoot me "  is in her letter. This is not made up.  

This wasn't a game. Over 600,000 men already died. 

Davis could have been another death -- because the Union troops, minutes before,  were in a shooting match with each other, in the darkness and confusion of the morning. They had already seen plenty of deaths, and they were eager to stay alive the rest of the day.

 Davis was smart to protect his life -- any way he could.  There is no shame in wearing that disguise, it was a good plan -- if they were stopped a road block set up by Union soldiers.  This was no road block.


It was Jeff Davis who ran away, and his wife that got between him and danger.

And everyone there knew it -- Varina, the Union soldiers, Jeff Davis himself, and Jeff Davis's entourage.  They all knew it.  

Varina's actions were a stunning act of bravery. 

 Quite the opposite of what Jeff Davis did.  Davis  not only ran away,  but he protected no one.  Not his wife, not his children, no one. In fact, as you will see, Jeff Davis days earlier told his wife to get herself killed rather than surrender. and Varina writes that too -- in her book....  

His wife instantly gained life long respect by the Union officers there.  Davis was "pathetic" said one Union officer.   After allowed to get out of his wife's clothes, he gained his macho act and berated the soldiers as if they were lucky he did not kill the first one close to him.

Absurd - but exactly the type of macho a coward much project. 

At that moment  -immediately after Varina said to leave her mother alone -- a Union soldier reached over, pulled back the hood, to reveal the face and well known scraggly beard of Jefferson Davis.



A big conspiracy to cover up Jeff Davis cowardice by historians?  Sort of.

 Certainly by Davis, who according to his fawning biographer,  spent the rest of his life "obsessed" with proving he had been brave, only let himself be captured alive to protect his family.  To do otherwise would cause them to be in danger.

According to Davis later, he was about to force the first Union soldier off of his horse. His supporters -- already convinced he was a man of "unconquerable heart" and no choice and no reason to suspect differenty.

The authenticity of her letter and book are not in doubt. 


Per his nephew's journal.

Davis nephew, who was also there, admitted Davis ran away, dressed as female, in his private journal, and apologized for his role in it.






Most people today -- even "historians" - have long dismissed the "dress story" about Jeff Davis as thoroughly debunked myth, so debunked it is worthless to discuss.

Pulitzer Prize winning historian wrote about "the dress story" and decided that matter based on - seriously --Davis denial.   Davis was a honorable man,  it was clearly the Union soldier and "Northern papers" who distorted this.   Therefore,  Davis did not do what witnesses said, and his own wife admitted. 

 Remember that if your history teacher smugly tells you this was all a "Northern newspaper" thing. They just pull that slogan out of the air -- did not check -- and believe it with no doubt. It was a Northern newspaper thing.

Actually Southern reporter reported it first -- he got it from the Union soldiers at the time.  A few Southern papers reported that too.  It was not "a Northern newspaper" thing.  It was an event that has overlapping documentation of what Davis wore.  And that was not  his normal clothing, though Davis literally had  his picture taken later, claiming specifically those were his exact clothings.   Historians were so stupid -- they accepted that.  Davis would not have  his picture taken and falsely claim those were the  exact garments he had on. 

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.

 It was not some farce made to slander a man of "uncommon courage."

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



 Davis was allowed to change out of the dress -- with his wife's help.

When they emerged from the tent, Varina had on the exact dress Davis had been wearing.    No doubt to keep the soldiers from taking that garment as a souvenir, which they would have.   

Of course the soldiers in the field did not demand  -- though it was obvious - to give them the dress the now wore,  after emerging from the tent with Davis.

Later, however the Union officers did get the dress from her, and sent it to the War Department.  What happened to it after that, I do not know. 

Varina Davis stayed with the Blair family for over a year -- they are the family she wrote the letter to.  It was an open secret in the house, Davis did wear the dress. 

The cowardly part was telling his wife to get herself killed, then  not protecting his own children as guns were fired.

Davis had this picture taken, above
to "prove" what he wore.

These are  clothes are on display to this day at Confederate Museum.

Varina's letter about his cowardice  is not on display.

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



Davis running away in three layers of female clothing

This is from the report to the Secretary of War, by  Col Pritchard, who was there at the capture.  He was of course there when Davis was allowed to get out of the dress, and was there when Varina emerged wearing the dress Davis just took off.  

By then, of course, Davis was in his manly clothes, as fashionable as anyone in New York would have worn.



See his wife's own book, quoting her husband.  


Davis insisted blacks were lucky to be slaves -- and that it was cruel -- cruel -- to slaves not to allow them to travel with their master to the territories.   Varina  adopted this as true. Remember this is from her own book.




Varina told the Blairs -- in the letter itself -- to destroy it, or it would be used to "embarrass" Davis.

But 50 years later, after Varina died, after Davis died, the Blair children donated boxes of papers to the Library of Congress.

This was just one letter.  

The Blair children were essentially bragging that their parents, since the time of George Washington, through the Civil War,  and up to the 20th century, were BFD family  in politics.

 And they were! Friends with Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis.  The Blairs played profoundly central roles in much of what happened in the 19th Century.

One of the Blair children, even spoke on the occasion of giving the letters to Library of Congress.    They had always known Davis wore a dress, it was an open secret in their conversations.    




 The Union reports -- remember they are very much like Varina's story,  specifically that Davis was running, and she put herself in between Davis and the man that was about to shoot him.

It was at THAT POINT she told the soldiers Davis was her mother.

And her sister told the Union soldiers Davis was their mother.

The Union soldiers already knew it was a male, and one soldier just reached over, and pulled back the hood that completely covered his face.   And, he had on a dress- his wife's dress.

Not a waterproof cloak, as some Davis apologist said.But a woman's dress.

Davis never claimed he had on a waterproof cloak. Davis usually insisted he wore his normal clothing. He got his facts messed up  occasionally confused of which story to repeat. 



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. Including the Virgina Historical Society -- to this day.

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 that letter,  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. Stacked, young, ever so obedient. 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 and "the right side won the civil war. 

  That apparently infuriated the encyclopedia of Virginia!

Well she did live in the North -- with Davis! She lived with JEFF DAVIS in DC. Naturally when VHS reported "Varina lived in the North" as an indictment,  they "forgot to mention" She was with Davis in Washington 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.

 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? I

t's not true, but even if it were, why trash her in an encyclopedia?

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

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. But she was exceedingly attactive as a  youth, at the time Davis was  hunting for a replacement wife.

The article said her father was "unable to support his family". What evidence do they have?   Probably none.  They had no difficulty lying about other things, why not through that in their rant for good measure.

Who the hell puts this kind of hatchet job, in an encyclopedia?




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 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 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.