Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last Meeting of the Confederate Government

Over the past couple of weeks, as I have been out speaking about the various Confederate capitals, the question frequently arises about other sites in South Carolina and Georgia. It is my argument that once Jefferson Davis rode out of Charlotte, the Confederate government ceased to exist. The final important decision made by Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet was to accept the terms worked out by Joe Johnston and William T. Sherman.

I want to look specifically at the monument in Washington, Georgia, dedicated in 1938. On that monument is a list of names of men present, meeting with Davis, when Davis dissolved the Confederate government. I mean no disrespect to my family and friends in Georgia, but not everyone carved on this monument was present at the Washington meeting.

The names carved on this rock are:
Jefferson Davis, President
John H. Reagan, Postmaster General
Stephen P. Mallory, Secretary of Navy
John C. Breckenridge, Secretary of War
M. H. Clark, acting Secretary of the Treasury
Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General
C. E. Thorburn, Naval Purchasing agent
Braxton Bragg, Military Advisor
I. M. St. John , Commissary General
A. R. Lawton, Quartermaster General
Burton Harrison, Private Secretary
J. T. Wood, Aide-de-camp
Francis Lubbock, Aide-de-Camp
William P. Johnston, Aide-de-Camp

This meeting took place on May 4, 1865. Breckenridge and Reagan were still at the Savannah River, paying off the Confederate Cavalry escort. Also with Breckenridge and Reagan were Micajah Clark, A. R. Lawton, Isaac M. St. John. Reagan would not catch up to Davis until after Davis had left Washington. Breckenridge never rejoined Davis. William C. Davis's biography of Breckenridge also hints that Bragg was with Breckinridge at this time. However, McWhineny and Hallock, in Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, write that Bragg was with Davis in Washington, leaving the president's party the next day.

Clint Johnson writes in Pursuit: The Chase, Capture, Persecution and Surprising Release of Jefferson Davis, that Mallory left before the meeting was called, joining with Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall, and heading toward Atlanta.

Samuel Cooper, also on the monument as having been at the meeting on May 4 in Washington, Georgia, never left Charlotte. Cooper received his parole in the Queen City.

So of the above list, we know that Davis was there, maybe Bragg, and Thorton, Harrison, Wood, Lubbock, and Johnston. This is a far cry from the fourteen listed above. 

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