First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War

By Joan E. Cashin | Go to book overview

5
NO MATTER WHAT DANGER
THERE WAS

ON APRIL 14, the day after Fort Sumter surrendered to the Confederates, Varina Davis was returning to Mont gomery from Brierfield, where she had gone to fetch more of the family's belongings. Whatever thoughts she had about the attack or the Union commander at Sumter, Robert Anderson, with whom she had been on friendly terms in Washington, she kept to herself at the time. President Lincoln called for volunteers to put down the rebellion, four states from the Upper South left the Union, and preparations for war commenced in earnest. Three of Varina's brothers joined the Confederate armed services: Becket after some hesitation resigned from the Marines and became a lieutenant in the Southern navy, Jeffy D. became a midshipman in the Navy, and William served as a second lieutenant in the Louisiana infantry before resigning in 1862 to become an agent for the Commissary Department. Her father eventually landed a job as a Confederate naval agent in New Orleans. Many of her cousins from the Sprague and Kempe families and more than a dozen of her kinfolk from the Davis family joined the Confederate military. Her vagabond brother Joseph evidently did not serve in uniform.1

After Fort Sumter, Varina Davis seems to have tried harder to become a Confederate patriot. When she received an embroidery box from some young women in Petersburg, she wrote a gracious letter of thanks and congratulated Virginia on joining the Confederacy, not-

-107-

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First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Half Breed 9
  • 2: This Mr. Davis 31
  • 3: Flattered and Courted 54
  • 4: First Lady 80
  • 5: No Matter What Danger There Was 107
  • 6: Holocausts of Herself 128
  • 7: Run with the Rest 152
  • 8: Threadbare Great Folks 171
  • 9: Topic of the Day 190
  • 10: Crowd of Sorrows 209
  • 11: Fascinating Failures 227
  • 12: The Girdled Tree 245
  • 13: Delectable City 264
  • 14: Like Martha 283
  • 15: At Peace 306
  • Abbrevations 314
  • Notes 315
  • A Note on Sources 393
  • Acknowledgments 395
  • Index 397
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