The Final Surrender

May 26, 1865 (Saturday) While the surrender of Lee’s army had gone off with little trouble, and Johnston’s eventually worked out, that of Kirby Smith’s sprawling yet dwindling army west of the Mississippi was a different story. It had been coming, of course. Ever since they learned of Lee’s capitulation it was certain. There wereRead More

Jefferson Davis Finally Imprisoned

May 22, 1865 (Monday) On this date, Jefferson Davis was removed from the steamer Clyde and taken to his cell inside Fortress Monroe. Below are four accounts, including that of Davis himself, of this day. Lieut. Col. Benjamin D. Pritchard, Fourth Michigan Cavalry We remained on shipboard until the 22d instant, disposing, meanwhile, of allRead More

‘Mr. Davis Was Exceedingly Depressed’ – The Rebel President Arrives Before Hampton Roads

May 21, 1865 (Sunday) On Board Steamer Clyde, Off Fortress Monroe, May 21, 1865. Major-General Halleck, U.S. Army: Sir: I have the honor to report the following-named prisoners and persons remaining in my custody on board this steamer after having made the transfers directed in your order of the 20th instant, viz: Jeff. Davis andRead More

Trying to Tie Davis to Booth through Canada

May 16, 1865 (Tuesday) “It is very important to have the rebel War Department papers here immediately for use on the present trials,” wrote Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Henry Halleck and General John Schofield. The latter replied: “I have all the archives of the late rebel War Department, including all the army muster-rolls,Read More

‘And the Devil’s Got Yours’ – Jeff Davis’ Ride to Savannah

May 15, 1865 (Monday) It had taken most of four days for Jefferson Davis and his family, along with most associated with his party when captured, to make their way under guard to Macon, Georgia. They had arrived on the 13th and left the day following. Shortly before arriving in Macon, John Reagan, the lastRead More

‘You Dare Not Hang That Man’ – Johnson Receives a Letter Brimming With Crazy

May 14, 1865 (Sunday) “Intelligence was received this morning of the capture of Jefferson Davis in southern Georgia. I met Stanton this Sunday P.M. at Seward’s, who says Davis was taken disguised in women’s clothes. A tame and ignoble letting down of the traitor.” – Gideon Welles, Naval Secretary. As the news spread through Washington,Read More

Jeff Davis Captured!

May 10, 1865 (Wednesday) Following are five first-person accounts of the capture of Jefferson Davis. Four are from a Confederate points of view, while the last was written by the Union officer responsible for his capture. Jefferson Davis: I travelled with my family two or three days, when, believing that they were out of theRead More

The Federals About to Close in on Jefferson Davis

May 7, 1865 (Sunday) “Davis’ escort has been crowded so closely on all sides that it has been disbanded,” wrote General James Wilson to John Schofield, explaining the latest bit of rumors he had heard concerning the escape of the former Confederate President. “Three regiments have given themselves up to us here, and many othersRead More

Federals Still Unable to Find Davis

May 6, 1865 (Saturday) “One of our scouts,” wrote General James Wilson to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, “says [Jefferson] Davis left Washington [Georgia] with only six men. This I regard as probable. He can’t possibly get through the country with an escort.” Wilson, commanding troops movements from Macon, Georgia, had learned that Jefferson DavisRead More

Jeff Davis Strikes Out on His Own

May 5, 1865 (Friday) “Do not try to meet me,” wrote Varina Davis to her husband, “I dread the Yankees getting news of you so much, you are the country’s only hope, and the very best intentioned do not calculate upon a stand this side of the river. Why not cut loose from your escort,Read More