Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Black Camp Servants as foragers in the Army of Northern Virginia

   That's a big-sounding title for a post on my long-running blog, don't you think? When I submitted my proposal to Savas Beatie for "Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia," I included an appendix on the role of African-Americans in camp. I'm still hopeful that I can gather enough material to turn this into a whole chapter.  Overall, the historiography seems to be slim on the subject (if I am missing something, please drop me a line and let me know).  Even Glatthar's General Lee's Army only hints at the role of camp servants in relationship to food, devoting a small chapter to "Blacks and the Army."
Camp Servant in Union Army. 

   An early-war portrait goes like this: every Confederate soldier who arrived in camp carried a shotgun, wielded a bowie knife, and had a manservant to facilitate his every need. That was, of course, far from the truth. The majority of Southerners did not own slaves, and an even fewer percentage of men who were serving in the army owned slaves. While the Confederate army apparently never kept a count of camp servants, there were probably thousands of them.

   Many, especially in the officer's corps, considered a camp servant as an essential element.  Being an officer taxed the limits of many men. They were taking care of the wants and needs of one hundred men, while also trying to learn their own positions. There was little time to attend to their own wants and needs. This was especially true when it came to food, and more than just food, the acquisition of foodstuffs. Captain Ujanirtus Allen (21st Georgia Infantry) wrote home in August 1862, "The fact is I have lived very hard for several months. If I had one [servant] he could get many things in the country." (1) Captain John M. Vermillion (48th Virginia Infantry) echoed Allen: "We need a great many things in camp we haven't got... I would like very much to have a servant to look up provisions and cook for me..."(2)

   Many of the servants did just that: they roamed the countryside looking for items to supplement the cook pot. At times they made it back home. Jed Hotchkiss, of Stonewall Jackson's staff, wrote in April 1863 that his servant William had just returned from home, bearing a box of provisions. (3) Robert E. Lee wrote in the latter half of the war of several times when his mess steward, Bryan, made trips from Richmond to Orange Court House or from Petersburg to Richmond. (4) William Dorsey Pender, then colonel of the 6th North Carolina State Troops, wrote to his family that when Harris came to the army, he wanted him to bring a box of sweet potatoes. (5) Camp servants, since they were not officially Confederate soldiers, could come and go. They had an enormous sense of mobility. Their masters, or employers, simply wrote them out a pass and sent them on their way. A soldier had to have a pass signed by numerous higher-ups. Only so many were granted at a time for the soldiers. Often, these camp servants were sent away with money to buy provisions. They held a certain level of trust for those who owned or employed them.

   Some men brought slaves from home to serve as cooks. Others hired slaves or free men of color and brought them from home, while a third group hired slaves or free men of color from the surrounding neighborhoods where they were stationed. Col. James K. Edmondson, 27th Virginia Infantry, wrote home in November 1861 of a servant he had hired: "I presume you did not know that I had gotten a servant. I sent a requisition to Lexington before I left Centreville for a free boy to cook for me..." (6)  

    Edmondson goes on to describe his living arrangements. While we might assume that the three or four camp servants might room and board together, not so witht Edmondson: "...I have gotten myself one of these little straight up and down tents, just large enough for myself and servant to stay in--his bed is on one side and mine on the other and in the middle I have a large oven of hot coals which keeps the tent very comfortable..." (7)

   Unless I am missing something, no one has ever really explored this topic. Jamie Amanda Martinez in Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South, focuses on enslaved peoples who were hired or impressed to work in Government facilities or on fortifications. Glatthaar, in General Lee's Army, focuses on "Blacks and the Army" (his chapter heading), instead of Blacks in the Army.  (Confession: I've not read Woodward's Marching Masters yet.) Even James E. Brewer, who wrote The Confederate Negro: Virginia's Craftsmen and Military Laborers, 1861-1865, devotes little space to the role of camp servants. Brewer laments the loss of the records of the Commissary General of Subsistence Office, devoured by the fire of April 2-3, 1865. But even Brewer was more focused on the Confederate government's use of Black Americans, and less on the soldiers/servants in the field. Maybe, in time, we can flesh out more of this story.

1 Allen and Bohannon, "Campaigning with 'Old Stonewall'," 145
2 Chapla, 48th Virginia, 9
3 Hotchkiss, Make me a Map of the Valley, 134.
4 Dowdey and Manarin, The Wartime Papers of R.E. Lee, 679; Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee, 348. Walter Taylor writes that Bryan was Benard Lynch, born in Ireland. See General Lee, 221.
5 Hassler, One of Lee's Best Men, 122.
6 Turner, My Dear Emma, 69.
7 Turner, My Dear Emma, 69.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Robert E. Lee's cook(s)

William Mack Lee
Atlanta Constitution October 7, 1919
(probably not R. E. Lee's cook)

   In the world of Confederate history, the story of Robert E. Lee's cooks is fairly well known. William Mack Lee claimed in a short biographical sketch to have been the "body servant" and cook for Lee from 1861 to 1865. The small booklet contains the story of Nellie, the laying hen that Lee kept around headquarters  to provide a daily egg for the General's consumption. Charged with cooking a meal for not only Lee, but Jackson, A.P. Hill, D.H. Hill, Hampton, Longstreet, Pickett and others, and not having anything sufficient for the meal, William fixed Nellie. It was the only time that Lee, according to William, scolded his cook. (You can read the account here.) Of course, if you have read the account, then you have also realized it has a lot of problems. Many believe that Mack Lee's account is a fabrication.  

    Robert E. Lee's first cook appears to be a man by the name of Meredith. Meredith was undoubtedly an enslaved man working at the White House plantation in June 1861, when he first appears in a letter from the General to Mary Lee. Lee had Meredith with him at Sewell's Mountain, and then Meredith followed to the east coast in December. On February 8, Lee, writing from Savannah, tells Mary that he has left Meredith at the headquarters at Coosawhatchie. But the reason is unknown. (Dowdey and Manarin, The Wartime Papers of R.E. Lee, 112, hereafter cited Wartime Papers.) The last time Meredith appears in Lee's letters is on February 23, 1862, when Lee writes that Meredith is well. (Wartime Papers,  118) 

   It is unclear just how long Meredith continues to cook for General Lee. However, Lee apparently has a new cook by February 1863. On that day, he writes Mary that "I have George as cook now." But something has changed: Lee is no longer a slave owner. He also writes, "I give him & Perry each 8.20 per month." (Perry has been with Lee as a body servant since the beginning of the war.) (Wartime Papers, 402) According to the terms of the will of his father-in-law George Washington Parke Custis, all the slaves at various properties owned by Custis, like Arlington and White House, were to be freed within five years. On January 2, 1863, Lee recorded the deed of manumission in Richmond, freeing not only the Custis slaves, but also the family of Nancy Ruffin, whom Lee had inherited from his mother in 1835, as well. Since Lee was now a non-slave owner, he did what so many others likewise did: he hired someone to take care of his cooking.

   Lee apparently never mentions George again in the surviving letters. A month later, Lee writes that Bryan [Lynch] has arrived. (Wartime Papers, 412) Bryan seems to fill the role of Lee's "steward" for the rest of the war. It is Bryan that divides a box sent to Lee and Colonel Corley in December 1863. (Wartime Papers, 632) In December 1864, Lee writes to Mary that Bryan is distressed over a missing "saddle of mutton." (Wartime Papers, 879)
Lee's Camp Chest
Museum of the Confederacy

   In A. L. Long's Memoirs of Robert E. Lee (1886), Bryan appears again. Long recalls that several of Lee's staff saw a demijohn being carried into Lee's tent. "The general well knew that several of his staff enjoyed a glass of wine, or even something stronger," Long wrote. At noon, Lee emerged and asked if they would like "a glass of something?" Bryan, "the steward of the mess," was sent by Lee "to carry the demijohn to the mess-tent and arrange the cups of the gentlemen." It was only after the liquid was poured that the staff discovered it was buttermilk. (240)

   It appears that it was Long who first broke the story of Lee's laying hen. Bryan was the one who had charge of the hen, a hen that accompanied Lee on the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaign. And according to Long, it was Bryan who killed and cooked the hen in the winter of 1864 "when the General had a distinguished visitor" for dinner. (242) 

   No one, including Lee or his staff, ever seems to have mentioned William Mack Lee. Was William Mack Lee lying, or stretching the truth? Possibly. He certainly used the accounts of cooking for Lee to his benefit and for the benefit of others, raising money for building Black churches. After 1900, Mack Lee was a frequent guest on the Veterans reunion circuit, telling of his adventures as General Lee's cook.

    It would be great if we had more information on each of these men, Meredith, George, and Bryan, and even William Mack Lee, and their lives and on the roles they played around the stewpot and mess table.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Not that "hegemonic": Washington County, TN

   Johnson City, Tennessee, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. There will be a wide variety of activities and events, and the Johnson City Press is coming out with some great articles! However, Brandon Paykamian's November 16 piece "Unionists in East Tennessee and beyond: the myth of Confederate hegemony in the South," disingenuously leads readers down a well-worn path that misses some very important steps. You can read the entire article here.

   Paykamian asserts that "Confederate hegemony during the Civil War is a historical revisionist myth." Just when did this myth begin? Jefferson Davis certainly knew that not everyone living in the South was a part of one big, happy family. He engaged in spirited correspondence with North Carolina's Zebulon B. Vance regarding the habeas corpus actions of Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson; the election of 1863 ushered in several peace candidates into the Confederate Congress; and the September 29, 1864, letter from South Carolina Representative William W. Boyce claimed the President had created a "centralized military despotism" over constitution, state, and individual. Those are just a few examples. That's not to say that the North was also united in its prosecution of the war. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the first days of the war, authorizing military commanders to arrest those suspected of disloyalty between Washington, D.C., and New York City. At one time, one third of the general assembly in Maryland was under arrest. Historians do not know exactly how many people Lincoln's administration arrested during the war, but estimates vary from just over 13,000 to as many as 38,000 people.  "Copperheads" in the North were, in some areas, quite numerous and outspoken in their opposition to the war and to the Union and, of course, draft riots like the famous New York violence speak to the complexity of the period.

Washington County from an 1865 map. 
   The idea that there were those in the South who were not supportive of the Confederate cause was evident early on in the historiography of the time period. Edward Pollard, writing in The Lost Cause in 1867, mentions "a certain Union party in some of the States of the Confederacy," and then comes down hard Governor Brown of Georgia. Joseph Denny, Story of the Confederate States (1898) and Henry Eaton, History of the Southern Confederacy (1966) both make mention of Southern Unionists. (This conversation could go on and on.) While there are undoubtedly some writers who gloss over the discord throughout the South during the war years, everyone understands that the South was not uniform in its support of the Confederacy, just as Northerners were also complex and diverse. 
   Paykamian continues: "During the Civil War, Washington County was a Union stronghold, much like other regions of Central Appalachia, where plantations were few and far between in comparison to the rest of the state." Wait... he just wrote about the "the myth of Confederate hegemony." Are we going to now lump all plantation owners, i.e., slave owners, as a hegemonous group fighting against the Union? That's problematic because there was a sizable chunk of Southern slave owners who fought against the Confederacy. Andrew Johnson owned slaves, as did T. A. R. Nelson and David Bell. In Washington County, Thomas Reeves, Federal recruiter, owned slaves. In fact, of all those counties in far eastern Tennessee, Washington County contained the most slaves: 1,268.

   "Washington County, in particular, was home to just as many — if not more — Unionists as it was to Confederates," Paykamian writes. And that may be true. But to my knowledge, no one has ever actually tried to count the number of Union and Confederate soldiers from Washington County. Washington County had a sizable pro-Confederate population. When the first Tennessee vote regarding secession was held on February 8, 1861, Washington County men cast 891 votes for secession, while 1,353 voted against. Research has shown that Lincoln's call for troops in April 1861 pushed many lukewarm Unionists over the edge and into the ranks of the Southern Confederacy. Company B, 19th Tennessee Infantry, Companies G and I, 29th Tennessee Infantry, and Company K, 63rd Tennessee Infantry were all made up of men from Washington County. There are probably others.

   As a sign of internal dissatisfaction with Confederate policy, Paykamian writes "In the same year of the conscription act, food riots broke out all over the south, when hordes of hungry rioters – some armed – ransacked stores and warehouses looking for anything to eat." Yes, food riots did break out, but not the same year that the Conscription Act was passed. It was passed in April 1862. The more famous food riots took place in Salisbury, North Carolina, in March 1863; Richmond, Virginia, in April 1863; and Burnsville, North Carolina, in April 1864. Despite much searching, I could find no food riots in Jonesborough or Washington County.

   Several years ago (2001), the Washington County Historical Association released a 1,290 page history of Washington County. In an era with fewer and fewer county histories being written, it is a superb book. My late friend Jim Maddox wrote the chapter on the War and Washington County. It is a great chapter. However, it would have been great to dig a little deeper into those numbers. Just how pro-Union was Washington County?

Thursday, January 10, 2019


   One of my favorite stories I have uncovered over the past 25 years of researching and writing has to do with the lowly pea. I used the story in both my first book, a history of the 37th North Carolina Troops, and in General Lee's Immortals, my history of the Branch-Lane brigade. The person who told the story was Pvt. David Dugger, Company E. He was from the mountains of western North Carolina. Being shelled by the Federals was a new experience for the Confederate soldiers below New Bern, where in March 1862, this story takes place. Dugger and another private had been sent to the rear to cook food for the men manning the front lines.

   On the return [to the company] we had about a half dozen camp kettles full of peas.  The kettles were strung on a pole, with George [Lawrance] at one end and I at the other.  We had to go through a pine grove, and while going through there, we heard our first bomb shells, and we did not know what they were, and there we stood looking and wondering what on earth they could be as they went whizzing through the air.  Presently one cut the top out of a pine, and then we found out what they were and forthwith proceeded to hug the earth without getting our arms around it.  As soon as the sound of the shell died away we gathered our pole and started to the Fort.  When we got there we had peas all over us, so that we could hardly be told from the peas. (Watauga Democrat June 18, 1891)

   Recently, I re-read Berry Benson's Civil War Book. This is one of those volumes I read decades ago, and I had forgotten that Benson had his own pea story. Benson's story comes at the end of the war. He's experienced "bomb shells" a plenty, but was captured, held prisoner, escaped, and just seen a good deal of the war. Benson and his comrades have evacuated the entrenchments around Petersburg, and are on their way to Appomattox Court House.

Cow peas
   As I ran up the low hill, the shells bursting all around, I came upon a camp fire abandoned by its maker, and upon it sat boiling a pot full of peas. The fear of getting killed was strong, I admit, but hunger was a match for it. I saw Lieut. Hasell running by and called to him to come quick. Running the barrel of my gun through the handle of the pot, I gave him the butt, took the muzzle myself, and off we went amidst the crackling of the shells, bearing to a place of safety our pot of peas. But alas for human endeavor! When we finally reached a place where we could stop, we found the peas but half done, so turned the pot over to Owens to cook while we went on to the picket line with the Sharpshooters. When i next saw the pot... there was not a pea left to tell the tale." (197)

   We here at Confederate History Headquarters had a discussion about what type of pea this might be. Several soldiers mention cow peas in their correspondence. These differ from the garden pea in that the cow pea could be dried more readily.  According to seed catalogs, a cow pea is also known as black-eyed pea, southern pea, yardlong bean, catjang, and crowder peas. There are several varieties of this staple food, which is more like a bean than a pea. The cow pea grows in "sandy soil" with low rainfall. Soldiers seemed to eat them by the bucket full any occasion they could get. Looking at Francis P. Porcher's Resources of the Southern Fields and Forest (1863), Porcher writes that "Great use is made of the varieties of the pea on the plantations... as articles of food for men and animals. The species called the cow-pea is most in use." (194) As I work on the Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia project, peas and cow peas are mentioned frequently. Only once, in the reminisces of Col. William Poague, has someone mentioned black-eyed peas. (150). It could be that different areas had different names for the same pea. Certainly, none of the black-eyed pea-eaters I know (myself included) use the name cow peas.

So the next time you set down to a meal with cow peas (or black-eyed peas), remember for a moment David Dugger and Barry Benson, and all the other Confederate soldiers who ate these peas! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31, 2018

"Almost" Christians: Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee

   Recently, I finished reading A Frenchman, A Chaplain, A Rebel: The War Letters of Pere Louis-Hippolyle Gache, S. J. (1981). Goche was born in France and later became a Jesuit priest. He immigrated to the United States in 1847, leaving behind a region smoldering in anti-Jesuit sentiment. Gache was recruited to work at Spring Hill College near Mobile, Alabama. However, he also served in various parishes in Louisiana. When the war came, Gache was assigned as a chaplain in the 10th Louisiana Infantry, and soon found himself on the Peninsula below Richmond. After a year of service, Gache was reassigned as a hospital chaplain in Lynchburg, Virginia. (His compiled service record, listing his last name as Guache, stated he was assigned to a hospital in Danville on August 29, 1862. However, all of his subsequent letters come from Lynchburg.)

   Without going into centuries' worth of religious history, it will suffice to say that Gache had no use for Protestants. Writing in January 1862 from a camp near Yorktown, Gache described to those back at Spring Hill College his encounter with a local pastor: "The Baptist minister visits me every time I stay at the Ewells. He tries to get me to come and visit him, offering me the use of his library and, if it had not been converted into a hospital, his church. He truly treats me as a brother, but I'm not going to give him any encouragement. I take advantage of every occasion to tell him and the others of his ilk that I don't see them under any other aspect than as gentlemen, but that certainly I don't consider them as ministers of the Gospel." (95)

   In another exchange between himself and Father Philip de Carriere, Gache chides Carriere for using the term "Catholic chaplain." "And what do you mean by 'the Catholic chaplain?' Are there any other chaplains than Catholic chaplains? Is it your intention to acknowledge an ecclesiastic character on the souls of the so-called Protestant ministers? If you do, you are simply a heretic..." (155)

   The death of Stonewall Jackson obviously presented a challenge to Gache. He had recently bemoaned the death of "Four or five" young men who had died "without making any express profession of Catholicism." (162) Jackson was a member of the Presbyterian church. Gache wrote that Jackson, "in his own way... was a very good Christian. The face of this austere Presbyterian expressed all the characteristics of a devout member of that sect; yet, he was not a bigot--at least so far as I have heard. He often remarked publically that it was in God that he put his confidence, and after each victory he always ordered the chaplains under his command to offer prayers of thanksgiving." Jackson, after his wounding, and being told that he would die, "expressed sorrow for his sins. Since he was probably in good faith, one can hope that his pious sentiments must have led him to an act of perfect contrition. Surely, He who so loves to bestow mercy, must have bestowed it abundantly on this man."

    Likewise, Gache took time to write about Robert E. Lee: "General Lee is also very religious, not in an ostentatious and wordy manner, but sincerely and genuinely... The general is an Episcopalian, but at the same time he is, as are almost all of the men of his class, very favorable toward Catholics and he has the greatest esteem for them." Gache goes on to talk about the Catholic leanings of Joseph E. Johnston, former secretary of War George W. Randolph, and Varina Davis. (176-180)

   Gache's disdain for Protestants never seems to fade after the mercy he almost shows for Jackson and Lee. He talks of "dethroning a Presbyterian minister" in June 1863, a man trying to work with wounded soldiers in Lynchburg hospitals.  (190) In December 1864 he makes mention of the two Catholic and four Protestant chaplains at work in the Lynchburg hospitals. The Protestant chaplains "have filled the hospital with an assortment of sectarian books and newspapers which are used by the sisters and myself for lighting our fires..." (210) In this same December 1864 letter, he speaks of a Protestant minister who invited himself to preach to the wounded and sick men. It was apparently against post regulations to preach in the wards. The post commander, a man Gache believed was "far from being a Catholic, but who is nevertheless a man who despises all Protestant ministers," agreed to allow the Protestant chaplain the use of the courtyard at 4:40 pm on Wednesday. After starting the service at 4:45, he was interrupted by the dinner bell at 5:00 pm. All "of the congregation was at the table and the preacher was left alone, his arms outstretched and his mouth gaping, still standing on the grassy mound. You ought to have seen the dismay and astonishment of that disciple of Calvin as he picked up his books, put on his hat and walked away." (211-212)

   It is not my purpose to reignite in this post the great schisms that have taken place over the centuries between the Catholics and Protestants. For generations, Catholics were treated with a great degree of skepticism in this country, and it was not really until the election of John F. Kennedy in 1961 that some of that skepticism began to fade. To be honest, save for the work of the Sisters of Charity, I'm really not very familiar with much of the role of the Catholic church in the South during the war. This is the first set of war-time letters that I have read from a Catholic priest. Are there others? (Yes, there are a few.) I am much more familiar with the works of Protestant chaplains such as Alexander Betts, Basil Manly, J. William Jones, and W. W. Bennett. It is interesting to note that Gache never makes mention the great revivals that swept through the Army of Northern Virginia in the winter encampments of 1862-1863 and 1863-1864. But then again, Jones, in Christ in the Camp, never makes mention of Gache or Catholic chaplains.

   Gache survived the war. He served in a number Jesuit colleges and parishes until 1904, but he never returned to the South. He died in 1907, at the age of 91, in the hospital of Saint Jean-de-Dieu, Montreal, and is buried at St. Andrew-on-Hudson near Hyde Park, New York.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Pilfering Andrew Johnson's papers

   This next project, "Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia," has me reading a great number of letters, diaries, and reminiscences. Over the next few months, I'll probably be posting many shorter stories, things that I find interesting.

   A couple of days ago, I finished reading Last Order of the Lost Cause: The Civil War Memoirs of a Jewish Family from the "Old South." It was edited by Mel Young and looks at the Moses family of Georgia, most notably Maj. Raphel Jacob Moses, commissary on Longstreet's staff for part of the war.

   Longstreet and a portion of his corps spent the winter of 1863-1864 in east Tennessee, fighting Federals, some guerillas, and hunger pains. Moses left this story in his reminiscences:

Andrew Johnson
   "On another occasion in East Tennessee we stopped at Greenville, and I had my headquarters in the Capitol law library of Andrew Johnson, afterwards President of the United States, within site of his office, by the way, was in one of the side rooms of the Tavern. We were in sight of the little shop, still standing where Andy, as the Tennesseans called him, had his Taylor shop."
   "After leaving Greenville we went to Morristown, about fifteen miles, and while there I happened to mention a heavy box in Johnson's library, which was nailed up. Fairfax immediately 'snuffed, not tyranny but whisky, in the tainted air,' and exclaimed, "By George! Moses, why didn't you tell me before we left? Old Andy was fond of his 'nips,' and I'll bet that box was full of good old rye whiskey, and I mean to have it.' He immediately got a detail of soldiers and a wagon, and had the box brought to camp. When it arrived, Fairfax's eyes glistened with anxious expectation, soon followed by despondency, as on opening the box it contained, instead of old liquor, nothing but Andy Johnson's old letters and private papers..." (116-117)

   There the narrative ends. Did they leave the papers in Morristown? Were they used to start fires? Did Johnson ever get this box of papers back?

   The closest National Park to me having a strong war-time connection is the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee. I've been over there several times, and Johnson and some of his surviving papers were important in my own book, Kirk's Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge. I've always found Johnson's life interesting. He was not liked by the Democrats or Republicans once he became president upon the death of Lincoln. But I wonder what happened to those papers, not only his papers, but the reams of things lost during the war. Those stories told by the War Department clerks of the piles of burning documents in the streets of Richmond have always bothered me, as well as the county-level documents that were destroyed when the likes of George Stoneman rode through western North Carolina in early 1865. We would all be richer, historically speaking, if there had been a little more care taken with these pieces of the past.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Unsuccessful International Escape of Jefferson Davis.

Johnston and Sherman at the Bennett Place
   On March 26, 1865, Federal general William T. Sherman met with US President Abraham Lincoln, General US Grant, and Admiral David Porter on the steamer River Queen near Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia. When Sherman asked Lincoln about what to do with Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Lincoln responded with a story: "A man once had taken the total-abstinence pledge. When visiting with a friend, he was invited to take a drink, but declined, on the score of his pledge; when his friend suggested lemonade, which was accepted. In preparing the lemonade, the friend pointed to the branch-bottle, and said the lemonade would be more palatable if he were to pour in a little brandy; when his guest said, if he could do so 'unbeknown' to him, he would not object." Sherman added "From which illustration I inferred that Mr. Lincoln wanted Davis to escape, 'unbeknown' to him." (Sherman, Memoirs, 2:324-328.)
   So Lincoln wanted Davis, and probably the Confederate cabinet, to simply disappear. To catch Davis and his cabinet would present unique problems for the Lincoln administration. If the leader of the "rebellious" Southern states was captured, indicted for treason, tried, found guilty, and executed, would this not be a driving factor for the resumption of the war? Or, if Davis was tried and found not guilty, well, that would lead to all kinds of other problems.

   Three weeks later, Sherman, back in North Carolina, had just met with his Confederate counterpart, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. They had discussed the surrender of not only the Army of Tennessee, but the civil officers as well. Sherman was in Raleigh, meeting with his top lieutenants. "We discussed all the probabilities, among which was, whether, if Johnston made a point of it, I should assent to the escape from the country of Jeff. Davis and his fugitive cabinet; and some one of my general officers, either Logan or Blair, insisted that, if asked for, we should even provide a vessel to carry them to Nassau from Charleston." (Sherman, Memoirs, 351-352).

Jefferson Davis
   Johnston does not come out and say that Sherman ever offered a ship to Davis and the cabinet to expedite their escape. Or does he? Meeting at the Bennett Farm outside Durham on April 18, Johnston writes that everything was agreed to "except that General Sherman did not consent to include Mr. Davis and the officers of his cabinet in an otherwise general amnesty. Much of the afternoon was consumed in endeavors to dispose of this part of the question in a manner that would be satisfactory both to the Government of the United States and the Southern people, as well as to the Confederate president; but at sunset no conclusion had been reached, and the conference was suspended..." (Johnston, Narrative of Military Operations, 403-404.) So what was satisfactory to the "Government of the United States"? The escape of Jefferson Davis? Neither Johnston or Sherman make mention of such an offer, and nothing appears in Davis's papers or in the Official Records that states such an offer was ever made. Yet, Sherman provides such a warning to John C. Breckenridge. Once the first set of terms were worked out, and sent to Andrew Johnson and Jefferson Davis, Sherman recalled telling Breckenridge "that he had better get away, as the feeling of our people was utterly hostile to the political element of the South, and to him especially, because he was the Vice-President of the United States, who had as such announced Mr. Lincoln, of Illinois, duly and properly elected the President of the United States, and yet that he had afterward openly rebelled and taken up arms against the Government. . . I may have also advised him that Mr. Davis too should get abroad as soon as possible." (Sherman, Memoirs, 353.)

   We know that Davis did not "get abroad" and was captured on May 10, 1865, near Irwinville, Georgia. Breckenridge did escape, making his way through Florida to Cuba, then Great Britain, and finally Cuba. Other Confederate cabinet members who fled the county include Robert Toombs, Judah P. Benjamin, and George W. Randolph (he fled in 1864). George Davis was attempting to flee when he was captured in Key West on October 18, 1865.

   Did Davis ever know that he might have escaped on a boat out of Charleston? Unlikely. Davis really didn't really seem to want to escape in the first place, holding on to the ideal of a Southern Confederacy when everyone else had already abandoned the attempt. He could have left Charlotte on April 24, when he learned of the rejection of the first set of terms between Johnston and Sherman. He could have pressed on harder when in the state of Georgia. Others, like Breckenridge and Benjamin, were able to escape successfully. But not Davis. It almost seems that Davis wanted to be captured.