Jefferson Davis, Unconquerable Heart

By Felicity Allen | Go to book overview

XV
The Year of Our Lord 1863

For President Jeff Davis, 1863 began bad, stymieing Bragg's victory at Murfreesboro and raising a tempest in his army. The Richmond weather kept pace. It snowed from January to April. In February it was ten below; the James River froze. The anniversary of Davis's inauguration and Washington's birth was “the ugliest day I ever saw, ” J. B. Jones told his diary. Wind howled “furiously, ” snow was “nearly a foot deep, and the weather very cold.” All this did not bode well for the president's chronic neuralgia and bronchitis. And indeed, he told Clement Clay on March 10 that “ill health has prevented” earlier reply to a letter. That may be why Judah Benjamin signed his proclamation on February 27 naming March 27 as a day of fasting and prayer, proper to “a people who acknowledge the supremacy of the living God”: “Prostrate yourselves in humble supplications to Him, ” with “devout thankfulness for signal victories, ” and with “prayer to Almighty God that he will … scatter our enemies [and] set at naught their evil designs.” 1

Colonel Gorgas excused his armorers, saying laborare est orare [to workis to pray], but Davis went to St. Paul's for the service. Maybe he tookMary Chesnut with him. She tells how the Davises would pickher up to go to church. Once she told the president, as he walked her home, how she wished she had grandchildren (the Chesnuts were childless), so she could give them her prayer bookand tell how he carried it for her. She and James had rooms across from the White House now, and two Preston girls visiting. Even in crowded quarters, Mary entertained. At one of her parties, Davis came in quietly alone. Wigfall's daughters stayed seated and turned their backs on him. Someone whispered, “The Wigfalls are trying to snub Jeff Davis!” Mary rushed over to repair the slight, while others “stood up to receive the head of the Confederacy.” As for her: “I was proud to receive him in my house—for himself, Jeff

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Jefferson Davis, Unconquerable Heart
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Editorial Note xix
  • Jefferson Davis - Unconquerable Heart *
  • I - Capture 1
  • II - Home 31
  • III - School 45
  • IV - Army 57
  • V - Marriage 83
  • VI - Plantation and Politics 111
  • VII - Fame 137
  • VIII - United States Senator 159
  • IX - Victory in Defeat 184
  • X - War Department Days 202
  • XI - Struggles for Health and the South 225
  • XII - President 266
  • XIII - The Chief Executive 292
  • XIV - Commander in Chief 317
  • XV - The Year of Our Lord 1863 344
  • XVI - Double-Quick Downhill 372
  • XVII - Prisoners 412
  • XVIII - An Unseen Hand 434
  • XIX - Varina 461
  • XX - Sad Wandering 488
  • XXI - The Cause 511
  • XXII - The Hero 534
  • XXIII - Afterward 560
  • Appendix A - J. E. Johnston to J. Davis, on Rank 577
  • Appendix B - Proclamations by Davis for Days of Prayer 582
  • Appendix C - Devotional Material Used by Davis in Prison 584
  • Preface to the Notes 587
  • Notes 593
  • Select Bibliography 733
  • Index 761
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