The story of Jeff Davis capture in a dress, is like the story of Robert E Lee’s slave ledgers. Both “stories” are absolutely true.
It’s not so much an indictment of Lee or Davis — no one is perfect. They are long gone anyway. At least Davis had actual men with actual guns after him — shooting!
The real issue I hope to address, is the goofy bullshit we now accept as “history” which contradicts the actual documents and evidence at the time. Why –and how — do we endlessly repeat bullshit, then even teach that, with great “authority” as “history.
But first, learn the nature of bullshit itself. It’s in our news, we all know that, but something like that is intrinsic in “history” too — especially the history of Southern leaders in the Civil War.
Varina letter, and his nephew’s journal, are about as good of evidence as you could get — because they are trying to spare Davis embarrassment. They are not trying to defame or expose him as a coward.
Inadvertently, however, they both exposed the basic fact — Davis indeed dressed like a woman.
Davis, however, would claim to be not just in his normal clothing, Davis claimed then, and for the rest of his life, he was the hero of the moment.
Why won’t southern “scholars” just admit Davis had a “bad day” or explain it as a mistake — however they want to frame it? Because the entire Southern claims of honor bravery and kindness are shown as goofy if you know the story of Davis flight from Richmond. And the “dress story” is at the heart of that flight. They can’t admit it, or the whole sorry Southern hustle about Davis falls apart.
You can’t have myths, unless you have people you glorify — and that is the case of Southern honor. Nearly every book, article, or speech about the honorable South, is by necessity delivered in bullshit package of Lee, and or Davis.
What if Lee was a cruel man? A man who wrote sexually explicit letters to women for decades – apparently several women? What if he had girls tortured — and torture is the right word? What if his slave ledgers showed he paid far higher prices for certain girls, and paid bounty hunters for luckless free blacks they had kidnapped in the North, illegally?
|Varina told the Union soldiers Davis was her mother.
According to who?
LEAVE HER ALONE “IT’S MY MOTHER”
Who can blame a man from running as shots are fired? Even if he was a coward that moment, is it fair to judge him as bullets were flying? Wouldn’t we all run?
In a dress,leaving his children to their own danger and he ran- so what? Everyone has a right to flee, to stay alive. Davis of course denied he ran a single foot, but of course he did.
His own soldiers and wife admitted he ran, and several of them admitted he wore layers of female garments. His wife was very clear that she had him put on three separate female garments, and that he ran. Davis said he had one garment on, by mistake. She writes about three garments, on purpose, that would have taken 10-15 minutes for him to put on, unless he was used to putting on women’s clothes.
So any idea that suddenly Davis threw on the wrong shoulder wrap — and went out side, to stand there and not run, is just outright distortion by Davis.
Varina Davis even told the Blairs she shouted out “Its my mother”. Well, she wrote it herself. Her sister also told the soldiers Davis was their mother.
But since Davis, together with Robert E Lee, are shown as the personification of honor, bravery and kindness, it is fair to show his cowardice. Not to embarrass him, so much as to point out the goofy distortions by “Southern” historians who know better.
Remember, they KNOW better.
Varina’s letter covers it all, in one of the most amazing letters written during the Civil War. It was about much much more than the dress. His “misappropriation” of the gold, his urging others to fight to the death while he grabbed as much gold as he could and ran, and his pathetic cowardice in the field speak loudly about not just Davis, but Southern “scholarship” about all things Confderate.
|“But for the interposition of my person between his and the guns
[Davis] would have been shot”
THE REAL COWARDS ARE HIS BIOGRAPHERS
At least Davis had men shooting at him. He was about shot that day, moments from it, until his wife wrote that she jumped to his defense and told the soldiers he was her MOTHER!
But the “historians” like Shelby Foote, William C Davis, and Felicity Allen are not being shot at. Their cowardice is unnecessary. Davis had reason to hide — his life. They do not have reason to hide the truth.
They all know about Varina’s letter, and the Confederate soldier who also stated Davis was in woman’s clothing and was running away. They know Varina’s letter better than I do, and I have parts of it memorized.
But Foote, Davis, Allen and other Davis “experts” refuse to even mention her letter! To read their books, you would never know she wrote an 18 page letter, all about the capture. Instead, Foot, Davis and Allen give you the impress — like Jeff Davis gave the impression he was a woman — that it was a “newspaper thing”. Those mean old Yankee papers exaggerated the facts.
You would not even know — because they don’t want you to know — that soldiers there, on BOTH SIDES, said Davis was in a dress. There was Confederate soldier who admitted it too, see below. And his wife gave a very long description of the female garments — 3 of them. But Foote, Allen and Davis aren’t about to even bring that up. They are hiding just like Davis hid. Running just like Davis did.
Why? No one is shooting at them? There is no danger. It’s been 150 years. Davis had a gun pointed to his head at one point, literally. What do Foote, WC Davis and Allen have pointed at their head?
It is not a “gotcha” thing — a badly picked example. This is very much all Lee and Davis “scholarship” is done. The entire bent of every sentence, every paragraph, is that Lee or Davis, or whoever they write about, is brave beyond comprehension, gentleman without equal, kind, noble — blah blah blah.
Whenever anything shows either Davis or Lee as cowards, cruel, manipulative or inept apologist go into hyperdrive to deny EVERYTHING, regardless of how clear the evidence is to the contrary. Which would be okay — if they stayed anywhere near the truth. Why not admit the obvious — that his wife ratted him out, because essentially she did, to the Blairs. They don’t even MENTION her letter! She was there, she was captured too, she wrote extensively about it — detail after detail after detail. What the hell else could they get that’s MORE important than that?
When Varina ever says anything positive about her husband — these experts are all over that. They are writing a prayer to Davis (or Lee, or whatever Confederate they are worshiping at the moment).
Remember, Davis biographers know all this — they know every detail of every soldier’s report, and they KNOW what Davis said about it.
Davis claimed he just stood there, in his manly clothes, with just one errant female garment.
Davis said he just STOOD there — why? Because he knows his children were there and bullets were flying, and to admit he ran, leaving them behind as bullets wizzed by, was an act of profound cowardice. A man who runs leaving his children as bullets fly, is not the kind of guy brave enough to admit he ran.
But run he did. In telling of Davis running away, WC Davis (no relation) points out, absurdly, that Davis though “twice the age” of the soldiers could easily defeat them one on one he was a man of such stregnth. He tried to praise Davis in the very sentence he admits he was running away — and Davis was about 110 lbs, six 2, always sick, he was a weak man physically, not strong at all. Nevertheless, WC Davis praises him for his valor and strenght, neither of which existed, WHILE writing about Davis running away.
WC Davis had to write that paragraph ten or twelve times, Im sure, to get it just right. To remove any hint of cowardice, to give eactly the wrong impression. And remember, he KNOWS what Varina wrote. He KNOWS that Davis denied running at all!
Varina said she “pleaded” with Davis to put on the THREE garments — a dressing gown, a shoulder wrap, and a head scarf — her scarf, her shoulder wrap, and apparently her dressing gown. Three garments. Three distinct female garments that she PLEADED him him to put on. Not one quick garment he threw on by mistake in a mere second.
It would take Davis 10-20 minutes to even put on the clothes Varina said she pleaded with him to put on! He could no more throw those on as he exited a tent in a mere second, than he could fly. And Foote, Allen, WC Davis — every Davis lackey — knows that.
Why not just admit the truth — frame it that he had a bad day, that he is human. Or don’t mention it at all, if you can’t handle it. But they insist Davis was brave honorable and in his how clothes.
Varina’s biographers have no trouble saying she said Davis was her mother. Davis biographers have NEVER ever ever written those words “I said it was my mother” — because there is no way to admit that, and still pretend Davis was dressed in his own clothes, but one errant shoulder wrap.
Even a Confederate soldier — who was there — said Davis wore a disguise, and implied his wife’s “distress”: induced Davis to “adopt” the disquise.
But mostly, it’s the 18 page letter from Varina Davis that refutes Davis own sorry excuse, that the “biographers” have to know. Varina’s biographers have no trouble admitting it..
Foote, WC Davis, and later, Felicity Allen, don’t even mention Varina’s letter, you think they never heard of her letter ?
They can’t deal with Varina’s letter — even though she is trying to defend him.
How do Shelby Foote and WC Davis try to portray Davis as hero, given what they know? They pretend she didnt even write a letter. They pretend JT Wood did not admit Davis wore a dress. They even pretend the soldiers did not say it in their reports. Their biographies don’t give a clue she even wrote one.
Read Foote and WC Davis. They try to pass this off as a “newspaper” thing, where “Northern newspapers” ran with exaggerated stories. No mention of Varina’s letter. NO mention of JT Woods admission. No mention of the Union soldiers reports.
That’s cowardly of Foote and Davis.
Biographies of Lee and Davis drip with adoration so much so, that if you set the book down, you have to worry that some will spill out.
It is so clear, once you know what Varina said about her husband that day, that he had on a dress, her dress. And he ran like a coward — and he likely had misappropriated the gold that private citizens had donated to charity.
Why not just admit it? Varina Davis’s biographers have no problem mentioning “I SAID ITS MY MOTHER” — in her letter to the Blairs. Clearly Davis biographers know of her letter, every detail of it is fascinating — she wrote 18 pages. She was like a defense witness rambling on and on, while the defense attorney is waving his hands frantically for her to SHUT UP. Detail after detail after detail. She is trying to defend Davis to the Blairs, of course, but she had no clue what Davis himself would say, nor what his defense attorneys (his biographers) would say.
In a delicious bit of irony, Varina told the Blairs in the letter, twice, to destroy the letter. They did not. But in their lifetime, they never revealed what was in it. Fifty years later, their children, however, released the letter along with hundreds of other “memoriablia” the family had collected over 100 years, going back to George Washington days.
At least Davis had reason to run, people with guns were really chasing him. A union soldier had his gun on Davis, and was screaming oaths for him to identify himself, or he would be killed. Varina writes that he would have been shot — see above.
She literally ran between him and the soldier — in an act of bravery that Davis apologist simply can’t admit.
That pretty much summarizes Davis relationship with his amazing wife, by the way, then, and always. She was always defending him. And he never appreciated it. She likely saved his life — if her report is true, and the soldiers report is true. Varina and the Union soldier’s report match up remarkably well as to the facts, though both have their own view point, and their own agenda in the telling of it. But factually, the most important thing Varina did, is to verify, without knowing it, the Union reports.
First of all, Davis denies he ran anywhere –at all. He claimed he just stood there by the tent. He claims he would have killed the soldiers on the horse, but out of concern for his wife, he relented. That was Davis story– he was the hero, and so heroic, he did not do what he wanted to do, kill the soldier with his bare hands, but to safeguard his wife — blah blah.
And Davis had every reason to deny deny deny the dress and coward reports.
But Davis apoligists today have no one chasing them. There is no gun pointed at them. There is no shame to them by telling the truth. Why not do so? Or, simply skip over that part of the capture, as some Davis biographers do. Generally, Davis apologist who clearly worship the guy, try to play this whole cowardice thing off as a “shoulder wrap” issue, or as they like to say “Ratigan” that he threw on by mistake. Then, the evil newspapers blew that report of an errant “shoulder wrap” into a convoluted goofy story about a hoop skirt and bonnet and Davis running.
It was not a newspaper thing. Yes, of course the newspapers ran with it, but the Union soldiers reports — then and for the rest of their lives — were very clear. Davis wore a DRESS. They made him take off the dress, and wait till you see what Varina Davis did with that dress!
Because to admit the truth about that cowardice is admit Davis himself was nothing like they pretend overall.
Study the style and cadence of Davis – and Lee — biographers. Every sentence, every paragraph, is a tribute to their wisdom, bravery and Christianity. They can’t get their head around Davis running away in a woman’s dress like a punk ass coward. . As you will see, the dress story involved dramatically more than the dress and even the capture.
All kinds of drawings showd Davis in dress, most of them exaggerated.
He really was in a dress. If anything the drawings don’t reflect his actual cowardice.
But Davis biographers have deceptively — and knowingly — misled their readers. William C Davis, for example, offhandly dismisses the story as a “newspaper” thing. Newspapers heard of the details and “exaggerated” them.
Sorry — but Varina, his own wife, didn’t even see a newspaper when she wrote the letter to the Blairs, and she was there. She tries to take the blame for his female garments,. saying she “pleaded with him” to put them on. Every single Davis biographer has to know that — her letter is quite clear about that. And they know she told the soldier that Davis was her mother.
Funny how they leave that out. Cowardly more that comical — they simply ignore his wife’s own clear language about basic aspects of t heir capture. Was she trying to defame Davis? No, she was trying to protect him, to the Blairs, by claiming it was her idea.
Davis — importantly — not only denied he had any female garment on at all (just his wife’s shawl, which he claimed to put on by mistake) Davis claimed he was just standing there, as the soldiers rode in. He heard shots, and threw on the shawl by mistake, and just stood there. One garment, by mistake, I just stood there, is the basic position Davis himself too.
No wonder Davis apologists ignore not just his own goofy fabrications — Davis own words were refuted by everyone else — but they pretend Varina didn’t write her letter. Rarely do Davis apologist give over one sentence to this part of the capture — and even then, they charaterize it as a “newspaper” thing.
Wrong. It was a report thing too — the soldiers clear reports show Davis was in a DRESS — and that they had Davis change out of the dress. Davis apologist of course read through those soldiers reports. You can too — see below.
That’s right, the soldiers reports — many pages long — describe the dreess, but how they had Davis take the dress off. There is no wiggle room. It was a dress. D R E S S . And they had Davis remove it. In a stunning detail, the soldiers report that his wife put the dress on, that Davis just took off! You heard right, the soldier’s reports show that Varina and Davis, when they emerged from the tent, where they sent him to change, had both changed clothes. He had his manly clothes on, she had the dress he had taken off — it was her dress. They assumed, correctly no doubt, that Varina did not want them taking that dress as a souvenir.
Those same Davis apologist — who simply avoid all those details, still somehow grasp on to different stories of what the soldiers returned to the War Department. When Stanton heard news by telegraph of Davis capture, he also heard about the dress. He telegraphed back to bring the dress too. It is likely that the soldiers returned other garments — not the actual dress, but they did return some dress. Clearly lthey were not going to disrobe her, in fact, Varina had many nice things to say about the officer in charge, who took control of the situation and escorted the Davis’s on their long trip back to Washington. I have studied this as much as anyone, and it’s not clear what happened to the actual dress. But if you know enough to know the details of the transportation of the dress — as Davis apologist clearly do — then you also know that the soldiers reported Davis took the dress off, and she put it on.
So they KNOW that. They know Davis wife said “It’s my mother”. They know Varina’s letter six ways to Sunday. And they just don’t go near it. It has far too much truth in it.
Gee — wonder why the Davis apologist try to frame it as a “newspaper” issue. Well, for the same reason they don’t mention Varina’s letter. They don’t want you looking at the soldiers reports, and they don’t want you looking at Varina’s letter. It’s easier to dismiss this as “a newspaper” thing.
Of course the newspapers picked it up. No kidding. Some showed extremly goof dresses, full dancing dresses — the hoop skirt, the They know Varina Davis wrote a letter- – and amazing letter, that all but paints Davis as a coward, though she is trying to excuse him of his sins, and paint a positive picture of Davis. The very fact Varina’s letter defends Davis is pretty good indication of her agenda. Still, Varina would have no idea what “spin” Davis and his defenders would put on the story.
The letter, importantly, was not even made public for 50 years. She asked the Blairs to destroy the letter, twice, in the letter itself.
The capture of Jeff Davis, if Lincoln had not been killed, would probably have been the defining moment of US history in that dime period. One of the saddest ironies of LIncoln’s assination is that the story of Davis’s cowardice was pushed off the front page and today, few people are even aware it was ever an issue.
It is not just about the dress Davis wore, as you will see. That’s not even important, except as a way to see who is lying their asses off.
Even “objective” (Northern) historians try hard not to shame Davis too much, explaining his capture in gentle terms, devoting maybe one sentence to his garments, and suggesting it was a “newspaper exaggeration”: issue. They ignore the clear reports from Union soldiers, that were quite specific about the dress, and even reported they had Davis take the dress off. But the biographers don’t even mention that, they act like it was a “newspaper thing”.
The Union soldiers wrote long reports at the time — and then later, even more explanations. Yes, they might be lying, that’s true. So the newspapers were exaggerating, and the soldiers were lying. Fine.
But hold on — Varina Davis wrote a very long letter about the capture, to the Blairs, a few days after their capture. She is like that defense witness on the stand, going on much much too long, with the defense attorny trying frantically to get her attention to SHUT UP. She doesn’t shut up. She is trying to explain away the dress in the letter — trying to take the blame for it mostly — but she goes on and on.; And on.
She gives specifics, details, and in EVERY BASIC FACT she validates the soldiers reports.
Can you imagine Lincoln leaving his children as shots rang out?
Can you imagine Eisenhower running , l eaving his children behind as Nazi soldiers fired weapons?
Never mind anything else. And there is PLENTY of other aspects of Davis actions that are dispicable — but leaving your children as shots are fired, dress or no — is unforgivable. And remember, Davis and Lee and all the Southern leaders are shown as stunningly brave, honorable, etc.
He was in a dress — his’ wife’s dress.. But that’s not the point. His cowardice was astonishing, and not just because he ran away from his children in their time of battle — four year old and a 10 year old, who lay on the ground in fear as Daddy runs away in a dress.
His cowardice was from Richmond on — and some say, much earlier. Davis urged others to fight to the death, he gave vile speeches where he claimed — falsely – -that “so many mothers have written me” offering their young sons, after their older sons had died it battle, that “I could not tell them all”. . See his Macon speech, for example, we will put that below. So Davis is urging others to die, praising women who supposedly offer him their sons. This guy was, let’s be blunt, a fucking ass wipe.
Meanwhile — Davis is taking the gold, and running. He could have stayed in Richmond as he promised, and as he urged others to do, to the death. But as he was urging others to fight on- literally at the same time — he was running. And dressed as a woman. And with gold he misappropriated. That is what the facts show. And no, not kinda. One or the other is true.
In most disputes about what happened, the easy way out is to say, well, it’s partly this and partly that, let’s split it down the middle. That’s fine if you are decorating a kitchen. But facts matter. What are the facts. Did Davis wear a dress or not?: Did he run from his children while shots were fired, or not. You can have your opinion, but facts, are facts.
Davis is defended by Southern apologist, and this dress story is a good insight. Remember — Davis apologist KNOW about Varina’s letter. At least Davis had guns in the area — Davis was running for his life.
After studying Davis and Lee for years, and first believing everything thing said about their nobility and honor, I now realize, the apologists know all this stuff, that shows the cowardice and cruelty of men like Lee. But their status — their claim to fame — is attached to Lee and Davis’s claim to fame.
It is more the cowards alive today — his goofy apologist, and the goofy Confederate hero worshipers. Men like Lee and Davis were as cowardly, vain, and vile as others. No one is all bad, or good, nor were they. But they were both cruel men, and both acted cowardly in personal matters.
They both manipulated people with religion, they both grew rich on slaves, they were both cruel to their slaves– especially Lee, we now know from his own slave ledgers.Lee’s Cruel Whippings
Why on earth pretend — when you have overwhelming evidence to the contrary — that Davis was brave and noble when he was captured? They could say — well, he is human after all, and let it go. Or simply not mention his capture. Instead, they show Davis as not just not cowardly, but brave as Jesus .
JEFF DAVIS SAID HE JUST STOOD THERE AND WOULD HAVE KILLED THE SOLDIER
The facts are abundantly clear that Davis ran away from his children — though he claims he just stood by them, never ran a foot. One of the most amazing aspect of this “debate” is that Jeff Davis himself refused to even admit he ran, much less in a dress.
Davis apologist — cowards really — try to explain away the dress, as something that looked liked a dress. And they admit he ran — but even that, they put in heroic terms “Davis knew that, as an expert equarian, he could outride any soldier in the Union Army — therefore, due to his personal strenght, he dashed toward the horses, where he knew his weapons were”…. blah blah — all kinds of nonsense.
They never say DAVIS tells us he stood there, and would have killed the soldier but out of concern for OTHERS he relented.
And remember– they KNOW Varina’s letter. They KNOW the soldiers reports, which Varina’s letter actually validates. They KNOW all that.
But they claim Davis acted heroically. Yes, he ran, but he was running to his weapons. Every Davis biographer does that. Not one mention Varina’s letter.
Varina’s biographers do- however. They mention the “ITs my mother” letter. Essentially, Varina and her sister both implored the soldiers to leave “their mother” alone. Both of the women said he was their mother. Varina blabbed that out in her own handwriting! Not someone else. IT was not the soldiers who said she called out “ITS MY MOTHER”. It was HER — in her own letter. Do you grasp that?
The soldiers reported that the two sisters told them Davis was their mother, in a conversation after they had stopped Davis, and Varina had run to Davis, and held him. Davis was mute, he would not say a word. His wife — AT THAT MOMENT was tellilng the soldiers he was her MOTHER.
That comes from her — remember that. She writes the timing — she sets the crhonology — she ran to him, grabbed him, and said ITS MY MOTHER. Varina does not mention her sister in this paragraph.
Varina’s letter is so damning, because it is so long and deteailed. She wrote it in haste, and knew it would be trouble for Davis if it was known, so twice in the letter itself she implores the Blairs to destroy it. They did not, and 50 years later, their children released it, along with hundreds of other memorabilia. Davis himself would have shit a brick.
No matter how cowardly, devious, and cruel Southern leaders were at times, we have been told, endlessly, that were honorable, brave, and “Christian” men of uncommon valor.
The Davis-dress-coward event is a good place to start.
“I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER” wrote Varina Davis.
Her sister also told the soldiers Davis was their mother.
There is no reasonable dispute — once you know about Varina Davis letter — that Davis was running away, in a dress, while he left his children behind as Union soldiers entered camp. But the overwhelming narrative we get about Davis- like Lee — is that he was so noble, regal, and brave, that to even wonder if he ran away like a coward had to be a vile trick by nasty Union newspapers.
I believed the explanation that the “confusion” about the dress was the report of his unusual shoulder wrap – or shawl, because he accidently grabbed his wife’s shawl as the shots were fired. Mean old newspapers, took that one bit of information, and made a mountain out of a molehill. Even American Heritage and dozens of encyclopedias, use this narrative, trying to “explain away” the “confusion”.
There was no confusion. There was Davis running away in a dress. Period. Few things can be nailed down a tightly as this event – because of his wife’s amazing letter. But her letter did not surface for 50 years — a crucial fact in this story. The Southern – pro Davis side had so artfully but rgiorously constructed a narrative that they could not change it. After her letter, the problem was — do we ignore her letter, pretend it doesn’t exist, or just hope no one reads it?
The ironic thing about Varina’s letter is that she is trying so so hard in it, to defend Davis, not besmirch him. She bends over backward to put the best spin on the dress-even as possible. And there are sections of it that claim he wore no dress — but then she spends paragraphs describing the three dress-like garments, one a full neck-to-ankle dressing gown. She also said she pleaded with him to put on. But most stunningly, she wrote in the letter “I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER”.
The letter was to the Blairs — you have heard of the Blair House in Washington. Its that house to which the letter came. The were, through much of the 19th century, the best connected family in America. Varina knew exactly to whom to write– though she wrongly assumed they would destroy the letter– she told them to twice in the letter itself.
Importantly, the soldiers were firing their weapons moments before, which is proven by Davis own statement that he exited his tent when he heard gun shots. So bullets were flying. and Davis started running, leaving his children behind. He was not standing anywhere. He was running. Everyone but Davis said he was running. He would claim he was just standing there, but so many people, even his own people, said he was running, that the “running part” is now accepted even by the staunchest Davis apologists. They apparently are oblivious to the fact Davis himself would not even admit to that.
Why would Davis not admit to running? Because he knows it was a cowardly thing to do — leaving his children in harms way as bullets were flying. There is a disconnect between his apologist, who seem oblivious to the fact he left his children as shots were fired, and Davis, who was trying to cover up that major fact. Oh, he wore a dress, absolutely. But dress or no, he abandoned his own children in time of danger. And he knew it. That is why HIS story was, that he was just outside the tent.
Can you imagine Lincoln running, leaving his children to face the guns of rebel soldiers who were firing their weapons?
Can you imagine Eisenhower running from SS troops, leaving his children to their tender mercies?
Davis, of course, claims he did not run, nor did he wear any disquise or dress. According to Davis, he was STANDING there, remember that. Standing in his manly clothes — in fact, he was so obsessed with “proving” he was in his manly clothes that he had “witnesses” give elaborate moment by moment testimony — which you would believe if you didn’t know the truth. Davis even had a picture of himself taken, with what he said were his exact clothes, and put it in one of his books, Remember that too.
The only odd garment, was not clothing, he said, but a shoulder wrap, a “Ratigan”, which was his wife’s. But he only had that on a few seconds – ten or twenty seconds — and the soldier took advantage of that that to make up absurd stories.
Davis would embellish his own heroism as time when on, saying he boldly confronted the soldier, and assured him he – Davis– could kill him with a trick he learned previously, but because his wife was nearby, out of concern for her, he would do the unthinkable, and surrender.
So that’s Davis basic story. No running. No dress. I was a hero. His apologist today don’t mention his own heroic explanation, which was clearly a lie. Instead they try to give a “balanced ” view and assure us Davis was not wearing a dress They try to explain away everything as simply almost a misunderstanding, as if both the Union soldiers and Davis were saying the exact same thing, just from different viewponts.
No one lied, some historians say, Davis was manly in his own clothes, the soldiers just confused and then embellished the matter. Uh huh.
Nice try fido, too bad Varina wrote her letter. Varina tried– she tried her best – to defend Davis in her letter, as she tried to defend him in the field against the soldiers. But — she went on too long, page after page of descriptions. And details that boggle the mind — such as “I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER”
And if his wife had not written that letter — that 18 page amazing letter — you could at least say Davis version is possible.You could pretend it was just exaggeration by the soldiers — a little misunderstanding almost. But everything Davis said — Varina in one way or another obliterated.
Davis said he did not run.. Varina said he did. The soldiers said he did
Davis said he was in his normal clothes. Varina said he was not. The soldier said he was not.
Davis said he acted bravely. Varina essentially says he did not. The soldiers said he was cowardly.
It’s not that Varina agreed with everything the soldiers said — but she accidently said so many things, that his verson is impossible.
She shows Davis had on three very unusual garments — she won’t say “DRESS” but she says “DRESSING GOWN” — a full length flowing gown, the kind men don’t even wear apparently, but he did during his “fevers” And she even says at one point, well if he had a on dress, it is of “little cavil” — it does not matter, because he only did it because he so loved the South.
And she claims she “pleaded with him” to put these garments on. She tries to t and that he had on three female garments — not one — and one of them was a full bodied “dressing gown”. And in her letter, she says she jumped in front of him (her– she was at that time still trying to pass Davis off as a “her”) because the soldier was cursing and promising to shoot him (her) if he did not identify him self. Davis, she says, stood mute.
Which is essentially what the soldiers said. SHE was the tiger, she stunned the Union soldiers with her courage. As we would say today –she “got in their face” and dared them to shoot HER if they wanted to shoot someone. It was easily one of the most amazing scenes of the Civil War.
She she mentions that she jumped in front of Davis, and the soldiers say that. What did Davis say? He did not give her an iota of credit at the time. In fact, according to witnesses there, Davis blamed her for his capture.
Varian does not want to actually admit he wore a dress. But she verified so much of the soldiers reports, and she all but admits he wore a dress, that it’s pretty clear, he wore a dress. The soldiers would have to be lying their asses off — because they said they made Davis actually take off the dress, and put on his own clothes. Yes, Davis took the dress off. And you will never guess who put the dress on, that he just took off?
Varina Davis put the dress on!! It was her dress, but she put it on, apparently because she did not want the soldiers to take it as souvenir. So she confirmed their reports that he was running, she confirmed their reports that she said he was her mother, she confirmed that Davis was mute when confronted, and confirmed the part about she protected him. Try to grasp that — Varina’s letter was very close, factually, to the soldiers report. And her letter makes it impossible for Davis to be telling the truth — at all. One of them is lying. Either Varina is lying, or Davis is.
Its important to note that Varina’s letter did not appear for 50 years, when the Blair family released it along with aother memoriabila of their amazing family — from George Washington to Lincoln to Davis, all the way to the present Teddy Roosevelt, the Blair family was in the thick of it all. The “Blair House” which is the official guest house of the President, is from that family. Her letter went to the Blair house.
The Union soldiers said he was running away, in a dress, and they reported his wife and sister in law insisted he was their MOTHER, and to leave her alone. In fact, Varina says much the same thing in her amazing letter to the Blairs. She wrote “I said it was my MOTHER”
“I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER”
She also writes amazing sentences, like “I said it was my mother”. That’s right, she wrote to her good friend the Blairs that she tried to convince the Union soldiers that Davis was her mother.
M O T H E R.
She tried to explain away the gold — she did not know Davis “appropriated” the gold from funds donated for medical supplies.
She tried to protect her husband in the field — as the soldiers reported — she was the tiger, and leaped to his defense, getting in front of Davis as a soldier aimed his gun at Davis and promised to kill him. See her handwritten explanation of that scene, straight out of Hollywood.
Plus, the Union soldier said the same thing in their report. In fact, that’s the problem for Davis and those who want to pretend he was not a coward that day — Varina’s amazing letter, which no doubt she regretted sending — confirmed the Union soldiers reports of cowardice unmatched in US history, by a leading figure.
If nothing else, Southerners should value Varina Davis for her heroism that day.
So you think Confederate leaders like Robert E Lee and Jeff Davis were heroes, brave, honorable?
Yeah, we thought so too. Turns out, Lee and Davis could be — and were, cruel and cowardly at times.
This “dress” issue is about more than what Davis wore — it’s about the propaganda we have been fed for so long, most of us believe it, since we only know what we are told.
The North won the War, but the South, until now, has won the narrative about the war and what led to it.
But facts are stubborn things, as you are about to find out. As Lincoln said, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
|LEAVE HER ALONE -“ITS MY MOTHER”|
EVER HEAR THOSE NASTY RUMORS THAT JEFF DAVIS WAS A COWARD, AND RAN AWAY IN A DRESS?
WELL HIS WIFE SAID AS MUCH. AND SHE WAS THERE.
|Varina still attractive 30 years later.
She learned by then not to give too many details about the dress.She simply said “he never wore a hoop skirt:”
When Davis was captured, he wore his wife’s dress. In fact, the Union soldiers order him to take off the dress, and put on his normal clothes, which he did. While Davis — and his apologists even today – claim he simply put on his wife’s shawl by mistake. (Over the years, Davis apologist and those who refuse Davis was as Sam Houston said “Cold as snake, and ambitious as Lucifer” have had to change their excuses).
The soldiers all reported not just the dress, but the fact Davis was running away , AND that the women told them it was their mother -Varina Davis and her sister, both told them Davis was her MOTHER. Remember, not just because of what he wore, but the fact as soldiers, firing weapons moment earlier, entered his camp, Davis did not protect his children or wife. Can you imagine LIncoln running away from soldiers with guns as rebel soldiers were shooting?
Can you imagine Eisenhower leaving his children for his own safety as SS troops were firing weapons? It was not the dress alone — it was the shameless flight for his own safety as his children were in danger.
Davis did not even admit he ran! Davis said he was simply standing outside his tent, where he had gone to see what the shooting was about, and in his haste, he put on his wife’s shoulder wrap by mistake.
The story created a huge furor in the Northern papers, and if Lincoln had not been assassinated, it’s likely the “dress/coward” story would have been covered even more. But so many other things happened — Lee’s surrender, then the end of the war — the “dress/coward” story was sorta just an interesting side story.
Davis, of course, said the soldiers were lying .He simply had on the wrong shoulder wrap, he was heroic and brave and dressed in his own clothes..
The problem for Davis is, his wife, Varina Davis, wrote a letter she thought would be destroyed, telling her friends all about their capture. She was like a witness for the defense, that goes on and on and on, while the attorney waves his arms frantically to shut her up, but she doesn’t see him.
Her letter was 18 pages long — most of it was about their capture. She also expected the letter to be destroyed, because she told the Blairs TWICE in the letter to get rid of it. Had she known 50 years later the Blair children would donate it to the public, she would not have written “I said it was my mother”.
If she had simply said Davis had on his own clothes, and not admitted he ran, Davis and his apologist could get away with their story. After all, it would just be his word against the soldiers. But why would she go on and on — and on — about his clothes, explaining away this , explaining away that, if he wore his mormal clothes? Davis apoligist say this was a big to do about nothing, made up by Northern papers later.
No, it was a HUGE deal to Varina Davis right at the time. Her flight from Richmond was more dramatic and dangerous and violent than most movies– her letter told of that escape. Why would she take pages out to describe his clothes?
And she all but admits he was in her cloths — she admits he had on three different and very odd garments, a “dressing gown” — as woman’s shoulder wrap, and a woman’s scarf. He looked so much like a woman — in his garments — that she told the soldiers he was her MOTHER. And her sister, who was also there, told the soldiers he was their MOTHER.
You can see this story spun in 100 ways, but watch how Davis apologist do it –( though most of them have never read her letter, they just get their information from others) they never mention the full bodies dressing gown — or that Varina spoke of 3 female garments, not an errant shawl. Nor do they mention she
Varina tried her best she tried to show Davis as heroically as she could, she had no idea what spin Davis would put on things. In otherwords, they didn’t get their story straight.
And most of that part of the letter was about Davis female garments. Three of them. That she pleaded with — according to her — to put on. She tries to explain away the dress, as “a dressing gown” but essentially she makes it clelar that the soldiers reports of his garments were true.
|Off course it wasn’t a hoop skirt like
this. No one said it was
Why the HECK isn’t that letter spoken about — EVER. In every biography Ive read of Davis, they dismiss anything negative about Davis — and they never ever ever — ever — ever — mention Varina’s letter, at least the part about the three female garments, and her comment “I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER”
So I read the union reports too — the soldiers reported that she said he was her mother. How about that! The soldiers and Varina both say she told them Davis was her MOTHER. The soldiers reported her sister told them the same thing — leave Davis alone, “it’s” is our mother.
So Varina’s letter shows he was in women’s clothes, at least enough to look like a woman.
Davis said it was an errant shoulder wrap. And his entire narrative — of everything he ever did — was heroic. To read Davis narrative about that whole flight and capture, he was the self less hero. He would have killed the soldier — but out of concern for his wife — yada yada.
No, it was not just one shoulder wrap, as Davis said. The soldiers said th ey had to tell Davis to get out of the dress and put his regular clothes back on– and that SHE, Varina, actually put the dress on that he took off!!
So it wasn’t an issue that everyone had their own take on it.. Someone was lying their ass off.
Varina does not confirm that she put the dress on after he took it off, but it’s just the kind of crazy deal that can only happen in real life, you can’t make that up.
‘She she confirms that she told the soldiers Davis was her mother, and other details.She all but admits it was a dress. What she did with dress he took off is not the central issue anyway.
She is trying, clearly, to take the blame for whatever he wore. She tells specifically of three DIFFERENT garments he wore – that were female garments, the dressing gown was not a shoulder wrap. She said he wore a “dressing gown” and a shoulder wrap and a scarf over his head ” so he would not be recognized”.
But remember, she is trying to defend him — she says, almost comically -“he wore no disguise”. It’s comical because after she says he wore no disguise, she describes the disguise, and says she put it on him so he would not be recognized. Clearly, she didn’t edit this letter.
It was not about the dress — the dress story is sort of a key hole, a way to see into the wider picture, about the money Davis took from Richmond, (a source of mulch betterness against Davis by Confederates for the next few years) — and his overall demeanor. An insight into Davis urging others to fight to the death, while he enriched himself. He not only abandoned the people of Richmond, he took their gold, and didn’t even warn them that, supposedly, Union soldiers were close
It was NOT just the dress, he had every right to dress as Santa Claus if that helped save his life. But the narrative Davis gave, and the incredible lengths he went to later in life to prove he wore no dress — but was as heroic as ever — tell a lot about the man/ The sad truth is, Davis was probably right — he was as heroic and noble during his capture, as he was the rest of his life. It could be wrong to extrapolate of course, but watch and read Davis epic defenses, and realize, that’s how this guy said everything, explained everything. Could it be Davis was deceptive or manipulative generally?
Varina unknowingly validated the soldiers reports — though of course she never saw them — and she made it impossible for Davis’s story to be taken seriously. Had Davis just said “Nope, I had on my own clothes” and not mad himself a hero, and had he not had others write elaborate tales describing him as a hero that day, you could dismiss this as unimportant, or an interesting, maybe embarrassing moment in his life.
. If Varina is correct – and she seems to be because the soldiers and her agree on the facts — then Davis not only was in a dress, not only was a coward, but he likely did take the gold illegally, as other Southerners said at the time. And he ran from Richmond on in a cowardly fashion.
Read other Davis biographies — Felicity Allen’s epic biography is as good as any. Every page, almost every paragraph, she simple quotes Davis himself, or his close friends, as if that is proof. For example, Davis might write he love the Lord and loved his momma and love Jesus, and was brave and only cared about others. And Falicity would simply put that in as PROOF he loved the Lord, loved his momma, etch.
Of course, when describing his capture,
Davis’s own narrative of himself is always not just sort of heroic, but he paints himself in everysituation with amazing selflessness, honor, and bravery. He speaks the same way about everything as he did about his capture. There is no difference in tone, manner, or emphasis. It’s the same BS. So if Davis was lying — not just mistaken, not just writing from a different viewpoint, then it’s possible he was the louse Sam Houston, and Southern General like Johnston said he was.
Houston called Davis “Cold as a snake, and ambitious as Lucifer”:. But he and Lee are always showing in the most glowing, absurdly flattering terms. For example, Shelby Foote, who should know better, said Davis was not a horrible person at all, he was a gallant gentleman, and “anyone who saw Davis greet his beloved children would know about his heart” Books about Davis are almost as silly as the books about Lee. One biography about Davis is entitleed “Unabout it, clearly it was a dress, w hich she all but admitted. She tried to take the blame for it, saying it was her idea, and that she “pleaded with him” to put it on. She describes THREE female garments he wore.
Varina Blair had no idea her letter would ever see the light of day, other than in the hands of her good friends. She told them, in the letter itself, to destroy the letter. But they saved it, and 50 years later, their children released it with other family memorabilia.
She was not trying to “rat Davis out” — in fact, she was trying to take the blame. She tried her best to explain away the dress, saying it was a “dressing gown”. The “dressing gown” she spoke about was a full bodied — neck to ankle garment. And she described the scarf she put over his head “so he would not be recognized” and the shawl she put around his shoulders. Her letter shows three garments, all female garments, which would have taken 10 -15 minutes to put on, unless you were a female used to putting them on.
Davis said he was already dressed in his MANLY clothes, when the shots were fired, he grabbed a shoulder wrap as he leapt from the tent, to see from where the shots came — heroically – and only accidently grabbed the wrong shoulder wrap, his wife’s. The soldiers, he insisted, used that small embarrassment to make up vile lies about cowardice generally. He was no coward — he said — in fact, he told the soldier that he would kill him if his wife was not nearby, and therefore, in danger.
But Varina said Davis just stood there — mute — when the soldier came in front of him. ANd he was already running away — he did not come out of the tent moments before. The soldiers quickly caught up with Davis — who was obviously a man, because he had on a man’s set of spurs, and manly expensive riding boots. He was tall, and his wife was short, so the dress looked comical on him, though he was thin as a rail, so he could fit into it. Soldiers reported that from 100 feet away, it was clear he was a man in a woman’s dress.
Furthermore, the soldiers reported all this matter of factly, as part of a long report, one of which you can see below. Other reports from that time still exists. If the soldiers were making this up to smear him, why are the reports so matter of fact, and only a very very small part of their reports about his garments.
In fact, Varina’s letter talks about his garments 10 times as much as the soldiers do. And she would have no idea how the public would react, she never saw the soldiers reports. When she wrote her letter, the only thing she had seen was his actual capture.
This capture was gone over with stunning detail later — by Jeff Davis apologist, who did virtually everything to disprove it. In many ways, Davis was fixated on the dress story, far more than the public, who treated it as a matter of amuesement.
Varina tries to show her husband as heroic and brave — but she wrote page after page, in a hurry, and it was like a defense witness rambling on long after they should have shut up. Later, in 1890, when she wrote a book about her husband, she learned her lesson. She kept it short — two sentences. He did not wear a HOOP skirt, she said. And that was all she was going to say!
Of course, he did not wear a Hoop skirt, and no one said he did. The newspapers sometimes showed silly exaggerations – but the actual event was a spectacle anyway, but of course he did not wear a Hoop skirt, which was a big dress women wore to formal dances.
come right out and say it was HER dress, she says that it was a “dressing gown,” but she validates and confirms so much of the Union soldiers reports, that it’s clear her husband’s goofy explanation was impossible.
But the real issue wasn’t even the dress. Those are just a few garments. Davis can not be besmirched because he wanted to survive. But there is a lot cowardly about Davis — not just that day but for weeks and months prior. Literally while Davis was gathering as much gold as he could, illegally and immorally, he urged others to keep fighting. In fact, he urged mothers to keep sending their sons. But he was already getting the gold, and already planning his escape.
When push came to shove — when the soldiers entered his camp — Davis would not protect or remove his children from the line of fire. He ran away in a dress.
But even that is not what’s pathetic. For the rest of his life, Davis insisted he was the pillar of courage, not just that day, but for the entire war. You almost have to read Davis’s pathetic tales of his own heroism to appeciate what a louse he was. He had no idea Varina, his wife, wrote that letter, it did not surface till he was long dead. So until that letter, it was Jeff Davis word against the soldiers.
Davis was 100 times more focused on denying the reports of his cowardice, that the soldiers were to expose him. The Northern newspapers had fun with the issue for a while, but Lincoln’s death and the end of the war soon swamped that dress story. And most people just assumed the soldiers lied — would Davis put on a dress? An actual dress? And would he run like a coward, leaving his own children in harms way?
Can you imagine Lincoln leaving his children behind as he ran away in a dress, the children in danger? Can you see Eisenhower leaving his kids behind as SS troops burst into his headquarters? The idea is crazy. The very extremism of the soldiers report — and what it implied for Davis — seemed silly. There is just no way their factual reports were true.
|See the highlighted part? It says
“I said it was my mother”.
Still — read their reports. One is below. Very matter of factly rendition of events for days leading up to his capture. They hardly spend any time on the dress issue. It’s a dress. They even had Davis change out of the dress, and as you will see, his wife put ON the dress he took off. But that’s just a few sentences in a long report. If they were going to make up a crazy story like that, wouldn’t they focus more time on that?
Davis and his friends said it was a big conspiracy to humiliate him. If so, the soldiers were sure stupid about it. Just barely mentioning it, as one of the many factual things that happened, does not seem logical.
But the kicker came in the letter from his wife. She wrote the letter a few days after the capture, but it was not released until 1910 or so, in a group of other papers donated by the Blair family. Davis had long since gone to his just rewards. Davis had spent years insisting he never wore a dress, but more, he spent years describing his heroism and virtue. Kinda makes you wonder if Davis wasn’t a slick lying bastard his whole life.
Sam Houston, the first governor of Texas, knew Davis well. He said of Davis “He is cold as a snake, and as ambitious as Lucifer”. Lucifer — say, wasn’t he the father of all lies? I believe he was..
The dress, ironically, no pun inteded, covered up the real story of Davis cowardice, if he was a coward. Of course, only Davis knew if he was a coward. Cowardice really is in the eye of the beholder. REmember, we don’t think Davis was a coward because he ran, or wore a dress, or even if he did BOTH.
He was a coward because he left his children in harms way — AND tried to pretend for the rest of his life he was heroic. If Davis had just said, I wore no dress, fine. His claims of heroism are pathetic, because Davis was actually not just running away — he had been urging others to fight to the death, while he ran, and he took the gold. The gold was a big issue too. And Davis took it.
It was not his gold. Some of it was from the Confederate treasury, but they were pretty much broke. Other gold, horribly, came from funds collected by donation, to buy medical supplies. Allegations, proven and otherwise, of Southern politicians getting rich on the war are one of the unsung horrors of the war. And Davis taking the gold only confirmed — in many Southern’s mind — that Davis and his entourage was part of that. General Johnston –who hated Davis like most other Confederate generals –hounded Davis for that gold, or some explanation for it. Davis said he gave much of it away before he was captured, and that the Union soldiers took what was left, which may be true. He didn’t have it, and he lived on charity much of the rest of his life, until he could write books, which always made him as the hero, naturally.
MY BABY SHE WROTE ME A LETTER
Davis wife wrote a hurried 18 page letter to the Blairs,all about their flight from Richmond and capture. She focused on the capture — and Jeff Davis garments. If, as Davis said, he had on his normal clothing, but just had one errant shoulder wrap, why on earth did Varina Davis write so extensively otherwise? And why did she say — of all things — “I said, it was my MOTHER”
|” But for the interposition of my person between his and the guns [Davis] would have been shot”|
And why did she say that she jumped in front of Davis, who stood mute, so he would not be shot?
Was she making that up? Did she have the same odd dream the Union soldiers had — they wrote, essentiallyl — what she wrote, as you will see. The problem is, Davis gave an entirely different version of events, which could not possibly be true, if Varina’s letter is true. And remember — she is trying to DEFEND him, not slam him.
Oh, she is trying very hard to save her husband’s dignity. As much as possible, she defends him in her letter like she did in the field that day.
And if not for his wife’s long rambling letter, his efforts at distortion would convince almost anyone. He had the gift of gab.
Davis rendition of events puts HIM as the hero, protecting literally the people of Richmond, protecting his soldiers, or his wife and children. Trouble was, his wife. Her letter letter proved that was all nonsense. The Union soldiers were right.
terwards, where he tries to pretend he heroically faced the soldiers — is part of his overall narrative of him as supreme hero all along. Davis was urging others to fight to the death — as you will see — while he went for the gold, and then when soldiers came, he put on a dress and left his children for his own safety.
It was a remarkable act of cowardice, which shows Sam Houston, and others, were right about Davis, when they said he was “Cold as a serpent, and as ambitious as Lucifer” Davis was for Davis, and no one else.
Davis was eviserated — IN THE SOUTH – for taking the gold from funds collected for wounded vets General Johnston, almost as well known as Lee at the time, was livid, and more or less accused Davis of theft/. He wanted Davis to account for the gold, and Davis deception about the gold is very much tied in to his deception about the dress.
To the South, the issue was not the dress, it was about the gold.
If it was just Davis putting on his wife’s dress — that’s no big deal. Everyone has a right to stay alive, and dressing as a woman was actually a pretty good idea. What tripped him up was, his spurs — the metal things on his boots — gave him away. As he ran he looked kinda goofy, too tall for the dress, and with spurs clearly visible. Women didn’t wear spurs. That’s what the soldiers said made him so obvious, even from 70 feet away.
The soldiers reported more than the dress, however. IT was his cowardice, running away from his children. Can you imagine Lincoln running as his children were in harms way — soldiers were firing their weapons moment before they entered the camp. Davis didn’t even wait for the soldiers to come in the camp, when he heard the guns, he left his children and ran for the horse some distance away.
And when he was stopped, he would not answer, but looked at the ground in sort of a pout, and his wife ran to him, threw her arms around him and tried to convince the soldiers he was HER MOTHER.
That’s right, her MOTHER. Another woman there – Varina’s sister, also yelled that the soldiers should leave their MOTHER alone.
Stunningly, Varina admitted to the Blairs in her letter, written days later, that she called out “ITS MY MOTHER..
His wife Varina essentially confirmed the Union soldier’s reports in an amazing letter, though she tries to put a different “spin” on it.
But Davis — and much of the Southern leadership, insisted this was all a huge lie. Davis was still in the tent, and came out to see what the shooting was about, but accidently had put on a woman’s shoulder wrap in the excitement. He was going to throw the soldier off his horse and kill him, but his wife would have been in danger. In fact, Davis elaborate story of his cowardly departure from Richmond, he turned into a heroic effort to save everyone around him. At every step of the way, to hear Davis tell it, he was heroic, only caring for others, only caring for his men, only caring for his wife and children.
YOu really need to know how thick Davis poured it on, in his story of his own supposed heroism, to realize how pathetic his story was.
The South, and Davis apologists, made massive efforts to “correct” this. Davis they said, spent the rest of his life regretting that he accidently put on the woman’s shoulder wrap “It would be the most fateful mistake he ever made”– as if it wasn’t his wife’s dress. It was a major factor in the rest of Davis’s life, he actually was defined by it, something like PResident Clinton would be defined by Monica Lewinski. It was that big a deal to Davis and his circle. They spent years and had all kinds people give assurances Davis wore no dress.
But they never found out — most of them — about the letter. Varina’s letter did not surface for 50 years, long after Davis was dead. But there is no question of its authenticity, nor does anyone claim there is. The letter is clearly his wifes letter, she is defending him tenaciously. But she gives so many details — she goes on and on for 18 pages, that she completely demolishes Davis story. If they had seen her letter, maybe they could have worked around it, but they had already set their story in stone.
Varina’s story so absolutely contradicts Davis’s story that if you read his version, after hers, you laugh at the absurdity of it. She ran to HIS aid, not the reverse. And her letter confirms so much of the soldiers reports, that its clear the soldiers were telling the truth, the whole time, and did not make up a single iota of it.
In fact, Varina tells things that are more damaging to Davis that the soldiers did.
It was much more than a question of his garments — they were all his wife’s garment. There was also about a half million dollars in gold that Davis took from the Confederate treasury, that infurated Southeners at the time. Davis had no permission to take that gold – much of it was donated by Richmond residents to buy medical supplies for the wounded vets. It was taken surrepticiously, and was a major issue even after the war with Generals Beauregard and Johnston — they wanted Davis to explain what he did with the money.
But even more, it was the fact that Davis was urging others to die for the caause, to give up their sons for the war — even in the last weeks, he was shaming the citiizens to keep sending their young sons to fight. It was pathetic, because virtually everyone knew it was over. But Davis was always big on OTHERS fighting — as you will see — while he gets the gold and gets to safety.
So this is a bigger issue that just if Davis put on a woman’s dress to escape. His entire narrative of that flight from Richman — his story — was exactly like his story of the capture — oh he was brabe, he ran to aid his wife, blah blah. should take all means to save their life, even if it appears cowardly to detractors.
Varina Davis own letter, written a few days after the capture, absolutely repudiates her husband’s silly story of his heroism, and essentially confirms the soldier’s reports. Ironically, Varina was trying to defend her husband’s honor, but she wrote 18 pages, obviously in a hurry, and never dreamed that letter would get out. She also had no idea what excuses Davis would use — they didn’t get their stories straight.
But Varina was confiding in her good friends, and thought it was confidential.
She asked in the letter twice for them to destroy the letter. They did not, and 50 years later, the children, who were toddlers when the letter was wrtten, released it with other memorabilia about their parents and grandparents.
YOU FIGHT TO THE DEATH — I WILL GET THE GOLD
To understand the irony of Davis in a dress — running like a coward away from protecting his children — is that Davis was urging others to fight to the death. He was livid that anyone would not continue the struggle. He ordered Lee not to surrender, he kept ordering other generals to attack, to continue the fight to the last man. He gave a series of speeches claiming women were offering their young sons — after the older sons were killed. It’s doubtful Davis had such letters, he claimed he had so many he could not tell of them all.
But Davis was imperious and pompus, and had a gift of gab. As Sam Houston said of him “He is cold as a serpent, and as ambitious as Lucifer”.
PLEASE MR DAVIS – SAVE A SPOT FOR MY LAST SON
Davis was even trying to shame women into sending more of their sons — see his Macon speech, one of the most shameless speeches of all time. Davis exaggerated a story that a woman wrote to him about losing her two older sons in the war, but asked him to please hold a spot open for her 8 year old. This is the kind of woman that will make us win the war, he said. He even said the there were so many OTHER women who had written likewise, that he did not have time to reveal all of them.
Davis went to Macon essentially to urge Southern families to send the soldiers back — Davis said 2/3 of the soldiers had gone awol or deserted, and if just half of them returned, they could not lose. And, Davis was probably right — if 1/2 of the deserters returned that would double the Confederate Army. Instead, deserters just grew worse
Davis stupidly gave specifics about numbers of Confederate soldiers, AND spoke horribly about certain Confedrate generals who he blamed for losses. Davis said 2/3 of his soldiers had gone awol or deserted. He even said “It would be improper for me to discuss soldiers in the field — but then did exactly that. The speech was heard by reporters, who telegraphed it to other Southern Cities, and that the message got into St. Louis papers, and was quickly relayed all around the North.
A fellow name Sherman read the speech — saw that the morale of the Confederate Army was horrible, that 2/3 of their soldiers had deserted, and that Davis had now sunk to going around begging them to come bac. It’s possible Davis lost the war for the South by saying such stupid things — because that led to the fall of Atlanta, which gave Lincoln the victory a few months later.
There was no such letter — Davis said General Polk knew the woman well, and could vouch for the letter. Polk would later use a similar story, but claimed HE talked to the woman, and the boy was 16,and the woman told Polk that he could soon have her son. Davis said he got the letter, and the boy was 8 there were so many such stories — of women offering their sons, that he would “grow weary” repeating them all.
No such len Davis papers, and that is exactly the kind of letter he would have kept.. In fact, no such “please take my last son” letter appears at all. Davis was always this way, and those that knew him best never trusted him. But he had that horrible gift of gab, he could justify slavery, call abolitionist the devil, and make you believe anything he wanted.
The Macon speech gives you some idea of what Davis was about — urging others to fight to the death, while in a scene almost comical if it were not so pathetic, Davis did not only run, in a dress, and then left his own children when the shooting started, he had taken all the gold he could from the Confederate treasury first.
It’s hard to get more opposite. Davis praising mothers for offering their sons — when it did not happen. And Davis runningn like a coward, leaving his own children to the mercies of men riding in with guns, and getting to his own hoped -for safety, while wearing his wife’s dress.
There simply was no length that Davis would not go to shame, humiliate, beg, plead, frighten others, for them to give the ultimate sacrifice for his supposed cause. Which might be okay — if he had done anything like that. Sam Houston called Davis “As cold as a snake, and as ambitious as Lucifer”.
She was writing fast — see her penmanship — and she was stressed. Her letter is sometimes confusing. She also says if he DID wear “full women’s attire” it was not a big deal (of no cavil ) because he did so only because he so loved the South. So she is all over the map.
Years later she would say that he wore no HOOP skirt, but like a political, said she would not answer any other questions. No HOOP skirt??? She still had no idea that her letter to the Blairs was waiting in some drawer in the Blair House, and people could read it.
No one accused him of wearing a hoop skirt, of course. She never, ever said Davis did not wear a dress. She always parsed her words. Dressing gown for dress, for example. Davis never admitted to any dressing gown. Davis only admitted to a shoulder wrap –that’s it. No dressing gown, no scarf over his head — Varina said she put her scarf on his head!
But maybe the most daming thing she writes is that SHE told the soldiers Davis was her mother.” I SAID IT WAS MY MOTHER.”
|Varina Davis thrity years later.
Davis did NOT wear a hoop skirt,she said coyly.
Was she wrong, did she dream up the “I said it was my mother” thing.? Did she just imagine she rushed to his aid, and not the other way around?
IF she dreamed it up, the Union soldiers had the same dream –because that was in their reports, too.
Varina also talks about the money — the gold. Davis was accused by many people — including General Johnston, and Edward Pollard.
Davis gathered to himself as much of the Confederate gold as he could possibly carry. Pollard insist it was gold collected from the public in the last week, when medical supplies were desperately needed, and the Confederate treasury was literally empty. Davis took it all.
In fact, Pollard wrote that Davis stayed behind Lee, until dark, precisely so he could gather the gold from various places. Varina insist the gold was properly withdrawn — and she probably thought so. Davis devotees had to eventually admit, yes, David did take the gold. But like so many things re Lee and Davis, they turn it into an act of valor. For example Felicity Allen, a Davis disciple, claimed Davis took it “for safe keeping”. But there were many in the Confederacy that were livid at Davis the rest of his, and their life. They saw Davis as something of a scoundrel — and always did think of him that way.
Idiotically, people who “study” this capture usually don’t have a clue she even wrote a letter. I know a guy who wrote a book about the capture — Clint Johnsons — and he never heard of her letter! After I showed him the letter, he admitted, okay, Davis wore a dress — but it was HER idea. That was so important to him– Davis wore a dress, but she put him up to it.
Actually, Davis was a control freak, and if he put on a dress, his wife did not talk him into it. Very likely he went to join her party precisely to dress as a woman, and put on her dress the night before.
Davis claimed he dressed quicklyl, as the shots were fired. That was why he “accidently” put on his wife’s shoulder wrap. But you can’t put on what Varina said he had on quickly — three separate garments, one of them a long full bodied “dressing gown”. Whatever he had on, he had on for at least 20 minutes.
James Swanson, who wrote the recent best seller “Bloody Crimes”” about Davis flight from Riichmond, seems equally stupid — yes stupid — about her letter. How the hell can you write a book about the capture and not even run across her letter? Swanon idiotically decides Davis did not wear a dress, because — I kid you not — he said he didn’t. Swanson looked at the soldiers reports, but decided they were making it up, because Davis would insist for the rest of his life he wore no dress. So Swanson believes him. Uh — hey, Swanson — read her letter already
Thats like proving Bill Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman, by asking him “Bill, did you have sex with her”. It’s not that Swanson could not possibly decide Davis did not wear an actual dress – though he did wear an actual dress. But to decide on the basis of “well, he said he didnt’ What the hell is it with Sawnnson?
Most people don’t know how violent the capture was -minutes before the Union soldiers entered Davis camp, they mistook other Union soldiers for Confederate soldiers, and fired upon one another, killing four of their own men. Others were wounded. When they rode into Davis camp a minute or two later, they were not playing around.
The smell of gunpowder was probably still in the air.
Did Davis defend her? HELL NO. But later — after they had Davis take the dress off — Davis did get mouthy. Once in the wagon, in handcuffs, Davis berated and scolded the soldiers and raised hell — with his mouth. He was too cowardly to do anything.
. He told the soldiers they were lucky he didn’t kill them with his bare hands — he went on and on.
When his kids and wife were in danger — he ran. Then only AFTER he was secure, did he get macho. That’s the sign of a punk ass, frankly.
WE are all taught that Davis was once a military hero — decades before the Civil War. That’s what he told everyone, anyway. But people But Davis told people he was a fearless hero in this capture too — for the rest of his life, when he spoke of this day, his narrative was that HE was the hero, HE went to his wife to protect her, He challenged the soldiers, HE would have killed them, but for the danger to his wife.
So the entire hero bullshit is in question. Davis was probably always like that. If Davis will twist his own cowardice to be heroic in 1861, it probably was not the first time.
That was Jeff Davis in a nutshell.
So you see why the South has tried to pretend like her letter did not exist?
That’s why Southern apologist dare not deal with Varina’s letter. In fact, many Davis devotees now harbor a major grudge against Varina — see below. They won’t admit why — but it’s because of this letter. They hate her.
In the online Virginia Encyclopedia — which celebrates Confederate days, they seem to loathe her. She was” unattractive”, they said — but she was actually very attractive. Who the hell calls a woman unattractive in an encyclopedia anyway.. One of the homliest women in the Confederacy was Robert E Lee’s wife, at least after the age of 40. And she was no beauty before.
But the Virginia encyclopedia would never say such a thing about her. Why trash Varina? And remember, Varina was HOT, actually.
But for extra spite, Virginia encyclopedia said she was a “mulatto” — half negro — they said, which is their ultimate insult. She was “especially ill suited” for the job of first lady. Her father, they said, was a failure. Could they trash her any more? And remember, this is an “encyclopedia”!!
Have you ever — in your life — seen an encyclopedia trash the looks and personality of a first lady? And she was a very very doting and loving wife to Davis, he was a piece of shit, but she was very very good to him for decades. He was an ugly man, extremely thin and extremely sick, often. She had to take care of him . She found out after they were married, that Davis was “old school” and if he wanted ANYTHING – from her — it was her biblical duty to supply it. She never exactly said Davis demanded her sexual obedience, but the wives of men who owned female slaves sorta knew, if I don’t give it to him, he is gonna get it out in the barn.
They implied she married Davis for his fame and money because she was poor. ANd that was written lately! The authoers of the piece of course never met her. But trashes everything possible about her..Without the slightest evidence.
They claimed Varina was under suspicion “of course” because he had lived “north” for 12 years. She lived North as Davis’s WIFE, and that was in Washington!! That’s what they mean by she lived in the NORTH!!
Its easily the biggest hatchet job I’ve ever seen in an “encyclopedia”. And the real reason they trash her — I bet — she wrote the letter about Davis cowardice.
|I told the man to shoot me if he pleased, to which he replied he “would not mind it a bit” which I readily believed|
AS DAVIS RAN -WHAT DID HE WEAR?
. Remember, Davis said he had on his normal clothes, the only odd thing was the shoulder wrap he put on in a hurry by mistake. And that shoulder wrap would not make you look like a woman.
|ONE OF THE MORE GOOFY ILLUSTRATIONS
ABOUT THE CAPTURE
But Varina in her letter described several garments that she had to plead with him to put on.
Very likely Davis himself wanted to put the dress on, she did not beg him to. Davis was always a control freak, he would not have put on her dress if he did not think of it himself.
Varina might have been disgusted that he put on her dress –but that is conjecture. And maybe it was her idea. The point is, he had on woman’s clothing and was running away as armed men rode in, and could have shot the children by mistake,
No other man in American history would leave their children to mercies of their enemies. Davis could have surrendered, or fought back.
No, he dressed up as a woman, and then ran.
The group Davis had been with the previous week were all men. And with 100,000 or so union soldiers looking for him, a group of 20 or 30 Confederate soldiers would be shot on site — the war was not over there. Actually it was a smart move to get in a smaller group, mostly women, and wear a dress, and a scarf over his head. That was his best chance to pass a Union check point — no one would expect the great Jeff Davis to be in a dress.
Another thing — pleading takes a few minutes — and so does putting on the dress. So if Varina was right, if she pleaded with him, and then helped him put on the three garments, it would have taken 10-20 minutes. You don’t throw on womens clothing quickly if you never wore them before
So it would take at least 15 minutes to plead with him, then get him out of his clothes, and into her dress. Therefore, Davis had to have on the dress and outfit BEFORE the soldiers grew near — maybe he had them on all night, which is probably the case.
But whether he put on the female garments 1 hour before or 10, he had them on. And he was running away from his children.
If what Varina reports to the Blairs is correct, Davis narrative is impossible.
Varina would not go all the way and admit it was her own dress. She said it was a “dressing gown” he wore during his fevers in the summer (he was always sick), AND her scarf over his head AND her shoulder wrap. But it was a dress. Would the soldiers tell the truth about all that, then make up something about it being a dress, instead of a “dressing gown”?
One eyewitness report said that Davis blamed his wife for his capture, and in a mean spirited way. There are conflicting reports about if Davis wore a dress or not. But Varina’s letter is the best and most extensive evidence that he wore woman’s clothing — and three separate articles of women’s clothing, and that he looked like a woman. All kinds of excuses have been made about that — but they never mention Varina’s letter! Or if they refer to her letter at all, they carefully avoid the parts about his being her mother.
1890 -TWENTY FIVE YEARS LATER– SHE LEARNED TO BE BRIEF
In 1890, in her famous book, she claims that Davis did NOT wear a “hoop skirt”. That was the extent of her denial — my husband did not wear a HOOP SKIRT and I will say nothing more about it, sums up what she says in her book. It was the truth – -he did not wear a HOOP skirt.
Some newspapers had shown Davis in a hoop skirt, to exaggerate things, as cartoons often do. Varina pointed out that no woman would even take a hoop skirt into the woods for travel, which was correct.
But in 1890, she did not deny he wore a dress — just that he did not wear a HOOP skirt.
She learned from her mistake of a long long long explanation, and kept her 1890 denial short.
Varina does not defame her husband in 1865 or 1890– in fact, just the opposite: she bends over backwards to defend his honor and paint him as brave. She defends him in writing like she defended him in person, putting her body between the soldier and Davis.
She was not trying to rat her husband out, but to give the best possible spin should could to it.
VARINA PUTS ON THAT DRESS
If there was a comical part of that morning, it was when Varina put the dress on, that Davis took off. This scene is so absurd, no one could make a movie about it. In fact, it’s so goofy, no one would make it up.
The soldiers told Davis to go into a nearby tent and change back into his normal clothes, after they checked the tent for weapons. They let his wife go with him, apparently because everyone knew he would need help getting out of those female clothes.
When Davis emerged from the tent in his manly cloths, Mrs Davis emerged wearing the exact dress he had on minutes before. She removed the dress she had on and put on the dress he had just worn.!!!
You can’t make that up.
SHe put on his dress — apparently so the soldiers would not take it as a souvenir, according to the soldiers. They ransacked everything else, and she bitterly complained of that for the rest of her life, even 30-40 years later, she was livid that the soldiers stole or discard so much of her personal effects.
The soldiers more or less looted the wagons, — one soldier put on Jefferson Davis’s hat, but it got too hot, so he threw it aside, and spend the rest of his life wishing he kept it.!
The solders even took the gold Davis had been hoarding, and didn’t return to the US government.
The soldiers did not demand she give the dress up, of course, since she was wearing it. In fact one officer tried to make Mrs Davis comfortable and restored order, and she spoke well of him for decades.
I am probably the only person who sees this wrinkle — its possible the soldiers just sent in a different dress, not exactly the one Davis had worn. They sent telegraphs ahead of what they found — Davis in a dress. They heard back orders to bring the dress. But Mrs Davis was wearing it!
So they might have just grabbed a different dress — the one she had on earlier, the one she took off, to put on Davis’s dress.
They sent one to Washington, so maybe they got from her at the hotel somehow. But there is no evidence or report of anyone getting the dress from her later, that I know. So it is possible the soldiers sent in was not the right dress.
Varina should have kept quiet, and got their story straight. And the soldiers should have made Davis keep the dress on, till they got in front of some cameras. Both sides made mistakes..
One interesting thing I just noticed is how mean some people even today are toward Varina. Yet she was steadfastly for her husband and did a wonderful job for him. Watch below how even today the Virginia Encyclopedia trashes her. Encyclopedias rarely take this tone — whoever wrote this apparently hated Varina – who they never met of course.
Southern Encyclopedias Hate Varina to this day!
Who ever runs the Virginia Encyclopedia savaged Varina in this article — almost like a gossip piece rather than an encyclopedia.. Notice the fact that she lived in Washington for 15 years before the Civil War is NOW — in 2012 — considered a negative thing, because she befriended anti slavery people!!
Read the full article, its really amazing. They accuse — as if its a crime — her of writing to her family. Or of being friends with people from the North. .
They even degrade her looks – Varina was actually very attractive in her youth, and even for years after. But the encyclopedia even trashes her looks.! Lee’s wife outright homely — but you will never see the Virginia Encyclopdia say a word about that.
Varina was HOT – and they claimed she was homely. They claim her father was a failure.
Whoever wrote this piece had a simmering hatred of Varina — and very likely, because of her letter.
Encyclopedias do not normally trash anyone, but this article slams her at ever possible point. She kept in contact with her “Northern kinfolk” — and was “suspect in her loyalties, of course”
See that? “OF COURSE” — they say “OF COURSE” she was a suspect! Why? Because she wrote to people in the North!
The encyclopedia implies strongly that she pursued him for his money and status. Actually Davis pursued her, cause she was smoking hot, and he was a very horny guy, and was unfaithful to her, we know for a fact, after the war. In fact he was caught with another woman, and there are letters to and from Davis — sexy letters – from/ to other women.
WHy do some in the South loath her? Probably because of the letter, and the fact that later, years after the war, when she was no longer brainwashed by the totalitarian Southern government and her dictatorial husband, she realized the South was a vile place during slavery, and that the right side won the war. She later said the right side won the war.
Varina never wrote a single sentence against Davis — her letter shows what a punk ass coward Davis was, but he wass TRYING to defend Davis. She wrote far too much, and spilled the beans, so to speak. You can bet the Virginia Encyclopedia shit their pants when they read her letter. They never mention her letter, however, and never mention that Davis was in a dress.
They also imply that she was just out for Davis’s wealth. Davis pursued her, she was half his age, he was an ugly rail thin man. And he was horny — he and Lee BOTH would write many letters to women, sexually suggestive and explict letters, after they were married. The Virginia Encyclopedia paints Lee as a saint, not as the child torturer he was.
Jeff Davis considered slaves to be animals that could talk, while Varina considered them human. Guess whose side Virginia Encyclopedia is on, even today. If you think the Civil War is over for these lunatics — you are wrong.
WHY IT MATTERS TO THE SOUTH EVEN TODAY
When Davis and Lee both fled Richmond, the South almost immediately started spinning that as bravery — but it was not. They ran on the false RUMOR of a breach in the earthworks, the slave built earth works, but there was no breach. Furthermore, there were men and equipment to fight even that.
But what most people don’t know, is that if Davis and Lee did not flee, they faced, in their mind, actual battle with THEM involved. Richmond would eventually be surrounded — the slave built earth works could not last forever — they lasted for 4 years, but Union troops were finding ways to get through and around.
Eventually Davis and Lee would have to PERSONALLY be involved in a battle. People might be shooting in their direction. It’s one thing to send 100,000 men to their death, telling them it was God’s will – but other thing to actually be in a battle yourself?
People don’t realize that neither Davis, or even Lee, was really close to any battle during the Civil War. Lee stayed well behind any battle, according to Longstreet’s book. The goofy image of Lee watching close by as battle raged is silly, he never did such a thing. Lee was not about to get invovled with his life at risk how. He said “It is our duty to survive”.
Funny, cause he thought it was the duty of others to die, and duty of others to be slaves. But his duty was to live.
Davis especially had been urging others to fight to the death – something akin to what Hitler did in his last days of the war. Davis had given speeches which when examined closely, are the rantings of a sociopath. He made up a goofy false story about a mother’s letter to him asking to hold open a spot in his Army for her 8 year old son, after her three older boys had already died. Davis was trying to shame the other women in the audience by this make believe nonsense– and it did not work, by the way. The women in the South actually were the deciding factor, they did not care to lose more of their sons and husbands in this vile war. Did Davis sympathize with them? No, he made up stories about mothers asking to keep a spot open for her 8 year old. Really a sickening spech — google it – Macon Speech, 1864.
Davis said another general could vouch for the letter — no such letter to Davis existed. The general never spoke of it. It never appeared anywhere. Yet Davis tried to use it — never mind it was made up — to shame the women there.
But compare that to what Davis would do himself. He would run. And he would run FROM his own children when it came down to nut cutting time. Some Davis apologist said that Davis was smart to get away from his children, to draw the fire his way. If that were true, Davis would have said so, his wife would have said so. Sorry, no cigar.
To make up sick stories of mothers offering their sons was shameless and vile. But it was pure Davis.
Davis was not about to follow his own advise. He was going to escape, take all the gold he could. Davis stayed in Richmond for 6 hours after Lee left, apparently to make sure he had all the gold he could collect. His wife speaks of the gold in her letter. She claimed it was appropriately collected, but of course, Davis was not going to say otherwise. Edward Pollard, Richmond newspaper editor, said much of the gold was from a collection taken for medical supplies for wounded vets, who littered the sstreets of Richmond.
The Blairs — the family friends she wrote to — spoke candidly about Davis dress, they believed implicitly he wore his wife’s dress. The Blairs spent a lot of time with Mrs Davis after her release — and if she had insisted to them in person, that he wore no dress, they would have respected that. But they spoke of Davis in a dress the rest of their lives.
In his picture, do you see the dressing gown over his body? She said he had that on too. Do you see see any wrap around his shoulders? She said she put that on him too.
IN short, she writes about three different garments that she BEGGED him to put on. It’s very likely she did not beg him to do anything. Davis was a vain, arrogant, man, he could not be talked into wearing a dress by anyone.. Nor would most wives beg their husband to put on a dress. It is reasonable to assume DAVIS himself came up with the idea of a dress, and it almost worked. Had his boots not been visible, if he had not been running away, and had his wiry hair not stuck out from his head covering, he might have made it.
But the soldiers knew instantly he was a woman — in fact, the first person to see him from some 50 yards away said — look, there goes a man in a woman’s dress. When a soldier rode his horse in front of Davis, and demanded to know who he was — he said nothing. In fact, that is when his wife ran to him, got between him and the horse. The soldiers said she pulled Davis’s sagging head to her chest and comforted him.
This report by Julian Dickson — who was the officer in charge, during the capture of Jefferson Davis. He was there, and this is his report. Mrs Davis would speak well of Dickson, in her letter, as oone of two captures that treated her with respect, while the enlisted Union soldiers offended her.
It is a long report — as you can imagine it would be. I will simply omit the first part, which just details with the days before the capture, but all that is interesting. You can find the whole report on line easily enough.
THE CAPTURE OF JEFFERSON 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 mad 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.
Detroit, Jan’y 9, 1889.
JULIAN G. DICKINSON,
Late Adj’t, 4th Mich. Cav., and Brevet Capt., U.S. Vol.
* I am indebted to Maj.-Gen. J.H. Wilson’s report to the War Dept., dated Jan 17th, 1867, for the facts relating to this information, orders and operations, preceding the capture of Davis, as published on pp. 779-780, Harper’s History of the Rebellion.