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

By Joan E. Cashin | Go to book overview

7
RUN WITH THE REST

EIGHTEEN SIXTY - FIVE began with unseasonably cold temperatures and heavy snows. Richmond was full of “people, and suffering, and crime,” as one resident described it, the sidewalk hubbub punctured by the wails of the bereaved in their houses. In the midst of this compounding misery, one of Varina's friends from Washington, Francis Preston Blair, suddenly appeared. His son Montgomery, a moderate Republican, had alienated so many Radical Republicans that he resigned from the cabinet the previous fall, but after President Lincoln's reelection, the elder Blair conceived his own plan to end the war: the Confederacy would surrender so die reconstituted United States could invade Mexico and overthrow Maximilian, the Austrian prince installed by the French government. The plan was as impractical as it was audacious, but Lincoln allowed die elder Blair to go to Richmond to discuss it, and on January 12 he arrived. Jefferson Davis agreed to a conference to discuss the possibility of ending the war.1

Francis Preston Blair dined with the Davises at the Confederate mansion, where Varina greeted him with the exclamation, “Oh you Rascal, I am overjoyed to see you.” In reply Blair supposedly gave her a kiss on the cheek. After he called her son William a “little Rebel,” Varina “wept bitterly,” with what feelings of regret or shame we can only guess. Later, when they had a quiet moment together, she asked Blair about Ulric Dahlgren's orders to kill her husband. He made a

-152-

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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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