Jefferson Davis, Unconquerable Heart

By Felicity Allen | Go to book overview

XXI
The Cause

“The loss of each child left him the more bleak, ” thought a kinswoman, “the suffering more incised.” When Mary Custis Lee died, Davis wrote to Custis, “A bitter experience has taught me how vain are the words of consolation in such sorrow as yours … the loss is ours, the gain is hers.” Weighed down with his own sorrow, Davis had to bear through the next months the collapse of the Carolina company, much of the time alone. Varina, “suffering from a latent nervous affection, ” even before Billy's death, tookWinnie and Mary Ahearn to Canada in the summer of 1873, for cool air and the benefit of change. 1

The other children were in Lexington, Virginia, with Preston Johnston. In August, Davis went to see them, sending Varina en route “some sprigs of grass” from little Joe's grave in Richmond. He found Maggie “quite happy” in the midst of Dobbin's large family, and Jeff Jr. enrolled in Virginia Military Institute. He pronounced this only son left of his four “improved by his military dress and training.” Proudly he spoke of “Jefferson 'a wearing of the gray.'” 2

Dobbin held the chair of History and English Literature at the college that had been renamed Washington and Lee. Custis Lee had succeeded his father as president. Dobbin had taken the previous year off to begin writing a biography of his own father, Albert Sidney Johnston, and resigned the next year in order to finish it. Confederates were beginning to feel the importance of presenting their side of things, to combat onesided accounts being published in the North. 3

Some had early seen the need. Father Abram Ryan in 1865 raised a weekly Banner of the South at Augusta, Georgia, and printed in it his poems, “The Conquered Banner” and “The Sword of Lee.” In Charlotte, North Carolina, Gen. D. H. Hill had gathered material from 1866 to 1869 into his periodical The Land We Love. Baltimore held two fiery 511

-511-

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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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