under construction  -- another Mark Curran history blog.  


Varina Davis letter about Jefferson Davis

Varina wrote about Davis running away in female clothing (she would not candidly call it her dress).

She tried to convince the soldiers that Jeff Davis was her MOTHER.

She was his wife. 

The dress was not so creepy - but telling his wife (yes he did) to get herself killed was creepy.

Why didn't we know of this before?  It's been clear since 1906 to anyone who bothered to read it. 

Jeff Davis  told his wife  to get herself killed.

Then he ran away in her dress. 
Yes, really. 


Most people have no clue....

Ten days after Jefferson Davis was caught in 1865,  Varina Davis was under house arrest in a hotel in Washington DC. That is when she wrote this letter....

It was a 20 page letter -- apparently only these pages survive.

Turns out, Jefferson Davis told his wife to get herself killed.  He also ran away in her dress.

Not sorta. Not kinda. Unlike the spin by Southern apologists, Davis's female garments were NOT  some "errant garment".

Davis had three layers of female clothing, Varina described each one.  Even then she did not bluntly say "It was my dress, okay?" 

She described head to boot garments -- and at one point in her letter, said essentially, paraphrasing here "Well what if he had put on all women's attire ".

Besides the three articles of clothing, she also describes Davis running away, quite on his own, and how she went to help him when the Union soldiers stopped him.  The soldiers demanded --in crude oaths -- that he identify himself or they will blow his brains out. 

Varina spoke up at that point.   She said it was her MOTHER.

Let me repeat that -- she said he was her mother.  That is from her letter, describing what she told the soldiers.  She and her sister both told the soldiers, as Davis stood there  with Varina holding him -- that he was their mother.

At which time a Union soldier just reached over, and pulled back the woman's head covering, to reveal the very well known face and scraggly beard of Jefferson Davis.

She is my MOTHER.

If she had not written that sentence..

Varina  wrote a letter to her friend, the Blairs.  In it, she described how she and Jefferson Davis were captured, and their treatment by the Union soldiers.   She was not trying to expose his cowardice, but she did. 

If she had not written that sentence you could (an many people have tried regardless) claim Davis was just wearing one errant garment, over his shoulders.  Not so much.

Davis was wearing three layers of female clothing, that completely covered his face too, that  clearly he was trying to pass as a female. 



Davis told his wife -- get this -- to get herself killed. 

Let me repeat that. He told her to get herself killed.

For a Davis taken prisoner would bring "shame upon the South" he said at the time, according to witnesses.  Varina did not put that part in her book, but she did at least include that he told her to get herself killed.



The Union soldiers reported Davis was caught in his wife's dress as he was running away. He had left her and the children behind, as bullets flew in the air. 

He ran only for his own safety.  And he wore a dress, head to foot covered in female clothing.

His manly spurs (see below)  gave him away.  Men did not wear fancy male boots and spurs. That was in the soldier's reports, and they detailed his dress, a dark female dress.  He was allowed to change out of the dress, and almost comically, Varina put on the dress Davis just took off.  

Most likely Varina put that dress on to prevent the Union soldiers from taking it as a souvenir. 



You can dismiss the soldiers as liars if you want to -- ironically the "historians" who defend Davis never even mention the Union soldiers reports.   T

Instead, over and over, Southern apologist (or those who believe them) just claim it was a "newspaper" thing.   Not even close. Southern newspaper reporter was the first to get the story of the dress to a telegraph operator.

It was not a "Northern newspaper" thing at all, though of course the covered the story. You would not report the capture of the enemy leader?   Were they supposed to not report what the soldiers reported, and the Southern reporter wrote?

Plus, the Union soldiers reports are very much factually  in line with Varina's facts.  So it is preposterous for those Union soldiers to be lying.  She would have had to lie the same lies they did. 

So there is a reason -- a very good reason -- Southern apologist dare not tell you even the existence of Southern Union reports, and show you Varina's complete letter.  Instead, if they even mention Varina wrote a letter, they quote from it in a disingenuous way (they distort).

To defend the Southern apologist, there is no way they are going to let their leader be shown as a creepy  coward on this matter.  



We know bullets flew in the air because Davis own nephew wrote that Davis was in a woman's dress (he gave no details) as the bullets flew,  and apologized for his role in the cowardice.  The Union soldiers had, minutes before finding Davis camp, stumbled upon each other in, and exchanged shots with their own soldiers.

And the shooting is what Davis claimed got him out of the tent, where upon (according to his story) he bravely defended his children.

Varina's letter is important because she confirms, essentially, what the Union soldiers wrote. Davis was running away, he had on her clothes (not just the dress, but three layers of female clothing). And no, Davis defended absolutely no one.

Varina confirms she grabbed him, she kept him safe, she told the soldiers to leave her mother alone.




Davis was going to go down fighting,  but  his "proximity" to his children made him suddenly care for their safety. He would not endanger them.

Which of course was nonsense. He had very much endangered them by this entire war, from his war ultimatums before the war, to continuing the war after it was long since apparent to his own generals that 90% desertion rates (yes, they had 90% desertion rates) meant the war was over.


(everyone but me, fight on).

Essentially Davis position was this.  Everyone fight on, even his wife. Everyone but me.

 Davis would say Trump like absurdities.  Such as after the war, his speech where he claimed he had "sacrificed more than anyone"  for the "principles we believe it".

Sacrificed more.  Than. Anyone. 

The man who ran away in his wife's dress sacrificed more than anyone.  He did not even pause to protect his wife and children.



Varina Davis did all she could to save Davis -- she held him to her when he was in danger, and after that, did all she could to protect him from embarrassment.

But Varina would never ever say he acted bravely that day.

She never would say such a  thing. In the next 50 years of her life, in her own book even, she would never say he acted bravely. 

When she came to the part in her book about his capture, she just stopped at that point. As if she had written something, but then just cut that part out.  We w



We do know it, and have known it since the day it happened.  But Southern leaders then (Davis "team" if you will) put out affidavits and other statements claiming he was just wearing an "errant garment" he put on by mistake, and the "newspaper" turned that into a slander.

Davis never claimed an errant garment.  Weird.

Most people today have no clue that Davis was even caught in one female garment, much less three.

If they ever hear about it all all, they hear that "Northern newspapers"  concocted the story to slander an honorable and brave man. Those mean newspapers exaggerated the facts.

Nothing -- really, nothing could be further from the truth.

And nothing proves that quit like his wife's own amazing letter about it. 


From  her amazing letter... it's been in Library of Congress for over 110 years.    Including the part about "I said it was my mother" 

Her letter's authenticity is not in doubt. She had no intention of telling the public these things -- she even wrote, in the letter itself, to destroy the letter or it might cause him embarrassment.

The Blairs kept the letter. 


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

 The full letter- - the nephew's journal -- and the Union soldiers report have essentially the same story, written from different perspectives.   Wood's journal admitted Davis tried to escape, and in a disguise -- the disguise of a woman. 


Davis told his wife to fight to the death in a bit of bragado.  He was running away from Richmond -- after he and Lee had both promised never to do so.  They were literally waiting for the gold to be collected from the treasury -- some of it collected from the wounded soldiers who crowded the city.

Let me repeat this -- its as a BFD at the time. Davis had his men grab the gold collected for purchasing supplies for the injured.  That's not as horrible as it sounds, because Davis assumed the Union soldiers would be there soon and get it anyway. 

Varina left that part out of her book, because she was not trying to shame him.   In her book she just spoke of Davis telling her to get her self killed.  Make them kill you, he told her.

For a Davis to be captured would bring shame upon the South.

Now you see why Davis had to spend the rest of life worried his whole fake persona, his whole fake set of "principles" would be exposed. From his actual actions,  he was not a man of principle. He made up stories of his heroism, and was convincing.  But he was the opposite of a hero, and he knew that. 



It would not be human nature if folks did not put out the most flattering picture possible about their  "heroes".   We all do it, every nation, every group.   But Southern apologist have taken their worship of Lee and Davis to a entirely different level. Both men, in turns out, were personal cowards, surprisingly.  Both men were cruel to the slaves (yes, Lee had slaves and was cruel to them).

Essentially we need to start over about both men. 

Like Lee supposedly (with all his officers) regularly knelt during battle as bombs blew up around them.  That particular piece of nonsense is not taught, but the SAME author who made up that lie, made up less silly lies, and we teach those as gospel. 

This time, use facts, not repeat myths others made up.

Link about Lee's slave ledgers 


Davis cowardice presents a special problem.   

When you know the complete story of Jeff Davis cowardice --you will know why the South  can not bear to allow him to be shown as being that level of a coward.  Davis repeatedly urged others (even his wife!) to die fighting. 

Again and again in the war, he ordered his generals to attack.  He replaced Johnston in Atlanta, with Hood. Hood attacked a much stronger force, which decimated the already desertion plagued troops.  Davis knew -- and spoke about -- the massive desertion rates, in his Macon Speech. 



Davis public instructions to his wife,  to get herself killed rather than surrender, was actually a boast that he would do that.   They were in Richmond, waiting to flee. A small crowd surrounded them.  They were waiting for the gold Davis ordered gathered up -- another issue. 

If you admit Davis ran away in a dress, the "canard" about Davis grabbing all the gold he could, even from the Confederate Treasury, would get the same exposure.  He did take all the gold he could grab-- from the Treasury, and more, much of this money was collected for the wounded men, confederate soldiers, who were all over Richmond, and Davis deserted them, too.

In other words, Davis flight from Richmond is profoundly despicable, and drastically different than the myth of his uncommon valor.  More about this below. 

Davis ordered all the gold they could find - much of it gathered for medical supplies-- to be brought to HIM. (Yes, he did).  It was not his gold, and taking it, then giving it away as he did to the soldiers to protect him (that's what happened to the gold, the soldiers got it, that went with him) why let that fall into the hands of the Union Army?

  It was not the worst thing he did, but he did infuriate General Johnston and others by taking this gold meant for supplies for the wounded.   It was not supposed to go to Davis personally, for his safety, but that's where it apparently went, though it's possible the Union soldiers took it, as some suggested 



Since Lincoln was such a bad ass ----

How awful, then, if Davis is caught (as he was) running away, not protecting his wife or children, and worse, telling his wife to die.

Can anyone imagine Lincoln running away -- in a dress or not?

In fact, Lincoln stood at Fort Monroe nine months earlier, watching a Confederate assault on the Fort.  A man standing next to Lincoln was shot, dying instantly.  Lincoln  did not flinch, did not even duck or hide. And he certainly did not put his wife's dress on, tell her to get herself killed, and run away.

You can't can't admit Davis did what he did, given all he had urged others to do -- including his own wife.  You might as well admit the entire Southern horrors were real, not made up (They were real).  Those horrors include , killing to spread slavery, torture of slaves, selling children, rapes, selling your own flesh and blood into slavery.  


Although we hear little or nothing about this today - one historian described Davis, for the rest of his life, being "obsessed" to prove he was not cowardly that day. And that "historian"  was a Davis apologist.  

Davis had people sign statements, and give affidavits, that he was wearing his own clothes and was bravely protecting his children.  Of course he was no where near those children.

But the spin worked-- most people who even know about the "dress story"  claim it was a "Northern newspaper thing".   

Nonsense, it was a SOUTHERN reporter who first got the story and put in on the telegraph, the internet of the day.  That's how the North first heard of it - from a SOUTHERN reporter!


Nearly universally "historians"  will claim the same warmed over BS- - that Davis had on his wife's "Ratigan" or "shoulder wrap" by mistake. He grabbed the wrong garment on his rush to confront the soldiers coming near his tent.

Odd -- because Davis himself never, ever, ever claimed he had on her garment, by mistake or otherwise.   He wore three garments, female garments,  and Varina describes each one. 

But Davis insisted to the Nth degree, in fact he seemed obsessed about proving this, that he wore only his normal clothing. Davis even posed in pictures later, to "prove"  his point, wearing what he said were the exact garments he had on when captured.

See that picture that he had taken, at the time, below. 

This is that picture....Davis was very specific. These are the clothes he wore, exactly.  Nothing more, nothing less.  These exact clothes, including the hat.
Funny - Varina tried to explain away the head covering by saying Davis lost his hat.   She said he wore "no disguise" but then inexplicably wrote she put the layers of clothing on him "so he would not be recognized". 

Varina never exactly called it candidly a dress -- she described three garments, one a "dressing gown" -- that went from his neck to his ankles.   But she equivocated and said conflicting things in her letter.  He did not wear a disguise, she wrote for example, but then details the disguise, and said he wore it so "he would not be recognized" .   

But all the equivocation in the world can't cover the fact she then wrote "I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER"

The soldiers reported the same thing - she and her sister, also present at Davis capture, both insisted to the soldiers that Jeff Davis was their mother!    Had Varina just not written that letter, people could disagree if he was dressed as a woman or not.

But who on earth would tell armed soldiers, standing less that three feet away, that Jeff Davis was their MOTHER, unless Jeff Davis was dressed head to foot, and face covered, as a woman.

In fact, Davis face could not be seen, the disguise was so draped around his face, that a Union soldier had to reach over, pull back the hood, and expose the well know face and scraggly beard of Jeff Davis. 


WELL if he  had on women's attire,  he had good reason to do so.

Varina Blair could parse words, but she did not like to outright lie.  She not only told the Blairs she told the soldiers Davis was her mother, she suggested Davis was trying to "save a country"  and if he had on "elaborate female attire as a sacrifice"  it would "have been well".   

She wrote that "had he assumed an elaborate female attire as a sacrifice to save a country" that trusted him, it had been well. 


Davis  had on very fancy male boots, with spurs.  That is what the soldiers noticed -- someone running in women's clothing, but with clearly male fashionable boots, with very fancy spurs.

Women did not wear fancy male boots with spurs.

You only wore spurs if you were going for a horse ride, and Davis was headed directly toward the horses.  He needed those spurs to go fast.

And he needed her dress for a disguise.  It was actually the smartest thing he could do for his personal escape. 

It's  not complicated.

It's not "hard to know for sure".

Just read her full letter, and Davis's nephews Journal.

Very typical of those who defend Davis is the BS that "it was just too confusing to know for sure".  Not, it was not confusing. Not when you know Varina's letter, and Davis nephew's journal, and the Union reports.

You can, if you like, pretend Varina's charge that "He committed no subterfuge"  and "wore not disguise"  is all you need to know.  She did write that, but then explained in detail what the disguise was.

She tried to take the blame for the disguise -- she did not want the Blairs to think Davis had the idea of dressing as a woman and fleeing the way he did. 

But Davis was what we now call "a control freak".     To think Varina made him put on that dress, and flee those children, and run away for his own safety, is absurd.  Davis almost certainly reunited his entourage with hers (they had split up a few days before) as they tried to escape, because wearing a disguise was the practical thing to do, and she had the dresses.

The manhunt for Davis was extraordinary -- nothing like it in US history. A 100,000 dollar reward was offered for the person responsible to catch him. The Union soldiers were closing in on him.  Sooner or later, Davis was going to be stopped by Union soldiers.  His only hope was to make them think he was a woman. It was a smart idea.  


At one point in the letter she suggested Jeff Davis did "assume an elaborate female attire as a sacrifice to save a country."  If he had done so, she wrote "it would have been well". 

Wood did not mention Davis's amazing cowardice of telling his wife to get herself killed,  Varina did that, in her own book.

A partial quote from the soldier's report on the dress. The dress Davis had on at capture was the dress Varina wore on the way back to Washington.  The soldiers had allowed Davis and his "servant" woman and Varina into a tent to get him out of the dress, and back in normal clothing.

When Varina emerged from the tent, she had on the dress Davis took off, almost certainly so the soldiers would not grab it (as they were doing to other effects) for a souvenir. 


If you want to pretend the Union soldiers made up these facts, fine, but it's astonishing they happened to make up lies that were verified by Varina's full letter and the nephew's journal.

Varina actually wrote more details about Davis wearing female attire than the soldiers, who simply reported he was caught in a dress, and that she put on that very dress on the way back to Washington. 

Three female garments, one that went from neck to ankles. 

One of the garments  -- the dress--  Varina actually wore on the way back to Washington.  Let me repeat that, the garment Davis had on, Varina wore on the way back to Washington, according to the official reports from the soldiers. 



Varina's letter to Blairs was not a "tell all" letter. Quite the opposite, she was trying to save Davis embarrassment.   She seems to have written it very quickly, scratching out parts, and saying contradictory things in it.  She even told the Blairs to destroy the letter or it may "embarrass" her husband.  Obviously, they did not destroy it, 18 pages remain.

At one point she suggested Jeff Davis  did "assume an elaborate female attire as a sacrifice to save a country" 

But Davis was saving no one -- not even his children or wife- - as bullets flew.  He was trying to save on person -- himself.

Varina  also wrote that  it was "of no cavil (not important) if he had on "elaborate female attire" -because he was sacrificing for his country.

Together with Davis's own nephews blunt apology for helping Davis wear  women's clothes,  (see below) and the Union reports,  it's undeniable Davis wore her dress. 

 See the Union reports -- they agree  with Varina's latter, including that she called out he was her mother, and that Davis was running dressed as a woman. The soldiers actually made little to do about his dress-- they validated it was a dress, described it, and noted that Varina (hilariously) put on that exact dress on her way back to Washington (doubtless to keep it from being taken by the soldiers as a souvenir.)

If Varina had not included the amazing words "I said it was my mother"  one could -by giving every doubt to Davis story of heroism, say it was complicated and confusing.


Davis told his wife to "force your assailants to kill you" while they were in Richmond, waiting for his men to round up as much gold as possible before they fled South.   Robert E Lee had already gone, with 95% of the military who had not deserted, but Davis wanted that gold.  

The gold is yet another thing Varina mentions in her amazing letter.

Davis told his wife -- theatrically, in front of others -- that for a Davis to be captured would "bring shame upon the South."  

Though the facts showing Jeff Davis not only ran away in a dress-- and told his wife to get herself killed -- are rock solid,  stunningly "historians" dismiss such accusations as silly or made up by "Northern newspapers".



Of course the soldiers reported what Davis had on, in official reports, and for the rest of their lives.

See some below -- and why is it that those who claim the story was just made up by newspapers in the North, never even mention the Union soldiers reports, and their comments the rest of their lives?


It is not surprising -- or even unusual -- for folks to get history wrong.  Just leave out a few basic facts,  and you can make anything seem anyway you want.



 Davis survival skills -- he was a master at blaming others, causing problems, then claiming to heroically trying to "address" the hate and violence he got going (like sending over 1000 killers to Kansas in 1856).

Davis literally - not sorta, not kinda, not in a way, told his wife to get herself killed, then he ran away in her dress from danger.  That is not hyperbole, that is what happened. 

Interestingly, Davis and virtually all those calling for war and the spread of slavery by violence, survived quite nicely.  600,000 men laid dead, but those who were pumping up the hate and fear did not get a scratch on them.  



You can dismiss the Union officer's report  if you want. Interestingly those who slam the "dress story"  do not even mention those reports exist.    
But when you repeat the falsehood over and over, and over, that it was a "Northern newspaper thing"  people just believe it.  That's the problem with repeating bullshit, it turns into what people believe. 

The union soldiers  had utmost respect for Mrs. Davis -- she stood up to them and told them to shoot her, but leave "my mother"  alone.  The Union officer who accompanied her back to Washington had only flattering things to say about her until the day he died.

Yet all the Union soldiers at the actual capture were disgusted with Jeff Davis manner and cowardice.  

 At first, according to the soldiers, Davis acted like a child, let his wife protect him, and said nothing.

When they removed his hood, he was silent for a time -- then got "all brave" on the soldiers, once he was back in his normal clothing.    He told them they were lucky he didn't kill the first soldier than came near him.

One witness who was there heard Davis berate his wife, and blame her for his capture. Really, Davis blamed her. She just saved his life, she went on, as best she could, to save his reputation, and Davis berated her. 

He would later berate the South itself, saying he (Davis) did more than anyone, sacrificed more than anyone, for the cause.

He really never gave a damn about the men he had killed.  He was always -- always-- focused on himself.  And it worked. 


Davis shown is a shaw --
actually it was three layers of female clothing
and he was running away
and his head covering was complete
 -- had to be removed to see if he was male or female.

This is closer, but the Dress was not flared.


It's important to understand this -- Varina herself wrote that she told the soldiers that Jeff Davis was her mother. 

Varina was not trying to expose Davis as a coward, quite the reverse, just as in person, in her letter she is defending Davis, this time his honor.    Varina described THREE -- one, two, three -- garments, all female garments. And described Davis running away.


Furthermore, Davis himself never claimed any such "shawl" and insisted he wore only his normal clothing. He was so insistent about this fact, he had his picture taking showing what clothing he had on. 


Jeff Davis himself would for the rest of his life  try to convince others he was brave that day.

Southern apologist and "historians" like Shelby Foote and others, have done all they could possibly do, including omit all I am showing you here, to fool the public in the same way. 

Sadly apologist like Shelby Foote and others have backed up Davis distortions - and never, ever ever show the the full story. They could not. 

Foote is the "historian" who led Ken Burns in the documentary about the Civil War.   Burns, therefore, got a totally distorted picture of the Civil War.  He misled Burns on far more things than Davis capture, but those are for another blog. 

It matters who you get your information from.   It's always better to check original sources.

Remember -- Varina was trying to minimize Davis embarrassment.  That was her goal. She inadvertently spilled the beans, so to speak, on what Davis did and wore.  Had she known the Blairs would have kept her letter, she never would have written it.




Varina did write also, in that amazing letter, that Davis "committed no subterfuge, wore no disguise" .  It's rare that any Southern apologist will mention  her letter at all, but when they do, they mention this sentence. 

Yes, she did write that -- but in the next page and for several paragraphs, she described three layers of female clothing, and her head covering over his head "so he would not be recognized". 


You do not put on three layers of female clothing -- one went from  his neck to his ankles -- in a few seconds.  Davis not only had on the dress (Varina called it a "dressing gown")  and two other female garments by accident, either.

Yet Davis apologists insist to this day that Davis either put one garment on by accident, or put it on in haste.  Nonsense.

Furthermore, Davis himself never claimed to have on any garment by mistake!  Davis insisted to the Nth degree he had on only his normal clothing --he even posed in pictures later showing the clothes he claimed to have worn.

So whoever made up these excuses for Davis -- they should have gotten the story straight. Davis insisted he was in his normal clothings,

Remember this -- that's in her letter. Varina's letter, though written in haste and self contradictory at times, shows Davis was running away dressed as a woman.

This is that picture....

The "Museum of Confederacy"  even has the clothes, and claim that they are the clothes he  wore when captured.


Varina Davis lived another 50 years


In her amazing book about Jefferson Davis she spent over 20 pages describing their flight from Richmond, in almost minute by minute detail.

She comes right up to the moment of capture -- and then...... nothing.  

She just stops a few seconds before their capture, as if she had written the details, honestly or otherwise, and then just thrown away those pages.  A very odd and sudden end to that chapter.

She could have said  Davis was telling the truth.  Or that Davis was brave, or that Davis protected his children. 

Or that he was dressed normally.  

She refused to do that.

one week after capture 

The authenticity of her letter and book are not in doubt.  No one claims she didn't write them.   Southern apologist wish she had not revealed this much.A cowardly and profoundly unprincipled man at the end, does not at all fit the romantic and false narrative commonly used for Southern leaders. 

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.


Varina's letter matches the soldier's reports to an astonishing extent -- including the part where Varina runs to Davis, puts her arms around him and protects him.  Varina said the same thing, in different words.  

If Varina was lying (why would she?) and the Union soldiers were lying -- how on earth did they both mention basically the same thing?


My name is Mark Curran.



I'm a wanna be screenwriter, and avid reader.

For several years I read, several  hours a day,  Southern newspapers, Southern documents, Southern speeches, Southern books,  1845-1861 for a screenplay I wrote.  I also read books about those documents. 

If not for his wife's letter, his nephew's journal, Davis could get away with this cowardice, and for 150 years, he did.  But it's time to tell the truth about Jeff Davis per original documents.




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

Look like three layers of female clothing to you? 

Davis revolver and spurs.

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

Dressing as a woman was actually a smart idea 

 Dressing as a woman was actually a smart idea -- the Union patrols had a 100,000 dollar reward waiting for them, if they found him.   It might have been the biggest manhunt in US history.   

As a woman, sitting in a wagon with other women, Davis had a reasonable chance of passing through a checkpoint.  

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


Not only did Jefferson Davis  run away in her dress, in her book Varina tells that Davis told her to get herself killed.

Davis running away in three layers of female clothing




 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 it in (in a tent).

But Varina had something against outright lying.  She would be clever, but not lie for Davis.


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


Did you ever heard of Davis claim slavery was a kindness?


Did you ever hear he bought beautiful boys?


Did you ever hear other Southern leaders had slave girls tortured, too, and defended it as a Godly directive, intended by God?


 Yet these are the things Southern leaders -- including Lee and Davis, actually wrote, and did. 


Click on the picture for an interesting insight to Jeff Davis and slavery. 



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.   Who knows how many other letters she wrote like that, but were never donated to Library of Congress.



You can't make this up.  Davis wife emerged from the tent, after Davis changed, with that dress on, no doubt to keep the soldiers from taking it as a souvenir. 

 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.

The newspaper had it slightly wrong -- that Davis was in the tent.   Varina's letter, which would be much more reliable, has Davis running, which matches the soldier's reports.

The point is - even Southern newspapers showed Davis was in a DRESS.  

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 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.

So why on earth -- seriously, why on earth, did Encyclopedia Virginia, trash her?    Remember, she did all she could for Davis.  She was stunningly devoted to him.  

But watch how 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. 

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!

She lived in the North with Davis -- apparently they count DC as North. 

She did live in NYC after Davis died.  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.  She lived in the NORTH.  


Varina was, to use a blunt term, HOT looking. 

Davis was over twice her age and he went after her, not the reverse. Then when married, she was as submissive as a fundamentalist.   He ruled over her, she did what he said. 


Later in life, after the war, after she was in New York, after she learned many things she had no idea about early in life living as Davis wife, she once admitted  "the right side won the civil war. 

  That apparently infuriated the encyclopedia of Virginia!

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

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 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? 

Remember, she was NOT unattractive, but they claimed she was. 

Why on earth would you do that?  Robert E Lee's wife was unattractive -- she really was.  Why not mention that?

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?


Connection between...


The same rigor - the same passion -- the same level of bs that has come out about Davis being heroic and brave,  is essentially identical to the passion and bs that came out about his "cause"

Davis cause, as you will see, until the South lost was simple.  Spread slavery into all of the West and further, into all of the US and beyond.

Had the South won -- and spread slavery as they boasted they would do,  these speeches and documents would be studied and boasted about like we study Gettysburg speech.

We will cover the South's stunning boasting about killing to spread slavery, their War Ultimatums, in another venue.   But this is a good indication of what Jeff Davis apologist do not want you to know, much like they don't want you to know about Davis telling his wife to get herself killed, then running away in her dress, and claiming to be heroic.




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.