Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mrs. Davis's New York Bedroom Furniture

When Mrs. Davis died in the Majestic Hotel in NYC a group of four pieces of furniture from her room was sent to the First White House under the direction of her daughter, Margaret.

These include first,  a simple walnut bed in which Mrs. Davis died. Second, an oak bureau with two long drawers and two short ones, standing on modified cabriolet legs. Wishbone supports hold the horizontal oval dressing mirror. The mirror has a carved crest and a beveled glass.

The third piece was an oak folding bed of unusual form. The bed fits into a paneled case which looks like a large desk or bureau when closed. This folding bed was used by Winnie Davis, who slept in the room with her mother before her premature death in 1898. (and you thought pullman beds were new!)

The fourth piece is an oak wardrobe with Gothic arches in the doors and a projected molded cornice and bracket feet, made in a style very similar to that of wardrobes of the 1850's. This example however is factory-made and of oak, which places it strongly within the design idiom of the turn of the century.

Another item of great interest in this room is a curved brick from the wall of the well of the FWH where it was originally built on Bibb Street. This well probably dated from the first construction by William Sayre in the 1830's and the brick in it was made by slaves.

More about the rooms in the First White House in my next blog. Come see us!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Observatiions on Memorial Day

Those of us who were "born and bred in the Brier patch" remember that once upon a time, the South did not celebrate the last Monday in May as "Memorial day"  but April 26, which is considered Confederate Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War

So we now "celebrate" both days. It is true that "Memorial Day" has re-invented itself as a "day to celebrate all wars" but the fact remains that "Memorial Day" (last Monday in May) was begun as a celebration of the Northern soldiers that died in the War for Northern Aggression.

Not only so, but it was patterned on Confederate Memorial Day. Hello! So I can go to the beach, or eat barbecue or simply stay home and rest the last Monday in May, but I do not forget what it started out as. Will you? 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Confederate Marker

 This week the Confederate Marker that marks where the old Confederate Government building stood  was  returned to its former location. It had been taken down when the construction for the Renaissance Hotel was begun six years ago.
The marker was originally paid for by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and installed in 1979 to show where the offices of the Confederate government stood. When it was taken down city officials promised it would be put back at the site.

I am very pleased to see that this has been done, as it is the right thing to do. I am sure the SCV is very happy to see it back as well. There is a large Confederate Battle flag on one side and that is always cause for controversy but that side has been placed to the back. I plan to get down to see it today!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Capitol of the Confederacy

On the fateful night of April 2nd, 1865, the same on which General Ewell evacuated the defenses of the capital and General Lee withdrew from Petersburg, Jefferson Davis left Richmond and reached  Danville, VA the next morning, April 3rd. Thus this thriving community of some 5,000 people became the last capital of the Confederate States of America.

The plan was for Lee and Davis to meet in Danville and make a new defensive line there, but it never materialized. On  April 10th news of Lee's surrender forced  Davis and his entourage to flee southward  We know of his subsequent meeting up with his wife Varina, and then his capture and imprisonment.

And what of Danville? During the war, the town had been transformed into a quartermaster's depot, rail center, hospital station for Confederate wounded and a prison camp. 1,314 prisoners died and lie interred in the Danville national Cemetery.

According to an article I read, the Confederate flag has long since been lowered from the library building in Danville, but a small "last flag of the Confederacy" still flutters over a little shrine at the corner of the lawn. At least that was true in 1997. I wonder if it is still there, marking history?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pictures on Facebook

We have some pictures of our 2011 Sesquicentennial Reception on our facebook page if you would like to look at them. Our facebook is "The First White House of the Confederacy" or you can go to our website which is www.firstwhitehouse.org and click on the link to facebook at the upper left hand corner. We would love to have you view these.

As you can tell, a great time was had by all!!! Thanks for sticking with me readers, as I have not blogged for a while, having been out of town,etc. Speaking of "sticking" did you know two stamps on the Civil War are available at the Post Office?

These depict the firing on Fort Sumter and the Battle of Bull Run (we call that First Manassas!). These come in sheets of 12 and have a "yankefied" version of why the war started. The Fort Sumter and Bull Run stamps are the first in a series commemorating the 150th anniversary of The War. They are, and I quote, "part of efforts across the country that will pay tribute to the American experience during the tumultuous years from 1861 to 1865."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sesquicentennial Fundraiser Huge Success

Last evening was the First White House Sesquicentennial Fundraiser Reception with William C. Davis (Jack) and his wife attending from Blacksburg, VA. I am happy to report the event was a huge success in every way!

We had a great crowd. The flowers were lovely, the food and refreshments were delicious, and Jack made a fine talk which we all enjoyed so much. It was great to have them in Montgomery and to get to know them. Jack also spoke at noon at the Dept of Archives and History and that talk should be on line on the ADAH if you want to hear it. It was about the formation of the Confederacy here in Montgomery.The talk he made to us was a challange to work on our family history, to read, to write, to discover, and to appreciate what hisorians actually have to go through to write a book!!!  Jack gave us alot to think about and challanged us to take advantage of the new social media tools that we have available at our fingertips (literally)  for research and learning.

The Church of the Ascension was a beautiful venue. It was so special to be there. All the ladies of the White House Association worked very hard to make it an evening to enjoy and to rememember, so that our guests would look forward to the next event that we sponsor.

The Lord was gracious as always and provided us with perfect weather so we could have refreshments on the patio before going into Ascension hall for food and the talk.We should have some photos on our website within the next few days.

 Just want to let you know too, I will be out of town until Sunday, so I will not be writing again until then. Have a great weekend each and all!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden and Terroism Civil War Style

We were so glad to read that the terrorist and murderer of thousands, Osama bin Laden has been taken out by our brave U.S. Navy Seals. Congratulations!

I don't guess we can compare this personification of evil with Sherman, but at the same time Sherman was a brutal and ruthless man.  Here is an account of a few of his histrionics and the havoc he created, and I quote from Wikepedia:

"Like Grant, Sherman was convinced that the Confederacy's strategic, economic, and psychological ability to wage further war needed to be definitively crushed if the fighting were to end. Therefore, he believed that the North had to conduct its campaign as a war of conquest and employ scorched earth tactics to break the backbone of the rebellion, which he called "hard war".

Sherman's advance through Georgia and South Carolina was characterized by widespread destruction of civilian supplies and infrastructure. Although looting was officially forbidden, historians disagree on how well this regulation was enforced.[93] The speed and efficiency of the destruction by Sherman's army was remarkable. The practice of bending rails around trees, leaving behind what came to be known as Sherman's neckties, made repairs difficult. Accusations that civilians were targeted and war crimes were committed on the march have made Sherman a controversial figure to this day, particularly in the South.
1868 engraving by Alexander Hay Ritchie depicting the March to the Sea
The damage done by Sherman was almost entirely limited to the destruction of property. Though exact figures are not available, the loss of civilian life appears to have been very small.[94] Consuming supplies, wrecking infrastructure, and undermining morale were Sherman's stated goals, and several of his Southern contemporaries noted this and commented on it. For instance, Alabama-born Major Henry Hitchcock, who served in Sherman's staff, declared that "it is a terrible thing to consume and destroy the sustenance of thousands of people", but if the scorched earth strategy served "to paralyze their husbands and fathers who are fighting ... it is mercy in the end."[95]

The severity of the destructive acts by Union troops was significantly greater in South Carolina than in Georgia or North Carolina. This appears to have been a consequence of the animosity among both Union soldiers and officers to the state that they regarded as the "cockpit of secession".[96] One of the most serious accusations against Sherman was that he allowed his troops to burn the city of Columbia.

 In 1867, Gen. O.O. Howard, commander of Sherman's 15th Corps, reportedly said, "It is useless to deny that our troops burnt Columbia, for I saw them in the act." [97] However, Sherman himself stated that "[i]f I had made up my mind to burn Columbia I would have burnt it with no more feeling than I would a common prairie dog village; but I did not do it ..."[98] Sherman's official report on the burning placed the blame on Confederate Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton III, who Sherman said had ordered the burning of cotton in the streets. In his memoirs, Sherman said, "In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina..."

All this to point out that the people of the South consider Sherman an evil man. Wasn't it he who said "War is Hell"?

First White House Sesquicentennial Reception Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening at 5:30 the First White House will welcome guests for our Sesquicentennial Fundraiser and Reception at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 315 Clanton Avenue.

We will serve wine and refreshments and then enjoy hearing William C. Davis, special guest speaker.

 Mr. Davis is a native of Independence, Missouri, who was educated in northern California, then spent twenty years in editorial management in the magazine and book publishing industry, before leaving in 1990 to spend the next ten years working as a writer and consultant. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books in the fields of Civil War and Southern history, as well as numerous documentary screenplays. He was the on-camera senior consultant for 52 episodes of the Arts & Entertainment Network/History Channel series "Civil War Journal," as well as a number of other productions on commercial and Public Television, as well as for the BBC abroad, and has acted as historical consultant for several television and film productions, including "The Blue and the Gray," "George Washington," and "The Perfect Tribute."

He is Professor of History and Director of Programs of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. We will have three of his books for sale, Look Away: A History of the Confederate States of America; The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf: and Rogue Republic; How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest War In American History.

We hope many of you will be able to join us tomorrow evening for this wonderful event!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Anchuca, Standing Proud During the Siege of Vicksburg

Anchuca, historic mansion and inn, now a Bed and Breakfast,  was lived in by Joseph Emory Davis, patriarchal brother to Confederate President Jefferson Davis after his plantation "Hurricane" was burned by the Yankees.

Anchuca is a Choctaw Indian word meaning "happy home" and is one of the most significant antebellum homes in Vicksburg, Miss. This impressive Greek Revival landmark represents the first columned mansion in Vicksburg.

Standing proud through the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 the house was put into service providing shelter for those who suffered severely through the War. Joseph Davis lived there until his death in Sept of 1870. Jefferson was reunited with his brother at the home in January 1869.

The town's legend testifies that during this stay Jefferson Davis spoke to friends and neighbors from Anchuca's front balcony, marking this site for many historians and Southerners as one of the last public addresses to the people of Vicksburg by Jefferson Davis.

I understand from a friend who has stayed there that it is a wonderful B & B and has a great breakfast!!! The grits are among the best he has ever eaten, he says. I can't wait to visit!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Became of The Davis Family Houses?

Yesterday I mentioned "Locust Grove", the house in which Jefferson Davis' sister lived, near St. Francisville, LA, where Sarah Knox Taylor Davis died.

 Two other houses that I did not mention, also came into the story of Jefferson and Knox. The first was "Hurricane Plantation", the home of Joe Davis, Jefferson's brother, where Knox and Jefferson planned to remain until their own home was ready. Hurricane was an enchanting place, with the main house standing on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi river and surrounded by acres of gardens. Joe had given Jefferson land and Jefferson worked hard clearing the land, and he and Knox spent many happy hours planning their house, which they had already named "Brierfield."

Knox wrote her mother of her happiness. No wonder Jefferson was so heartbroken at losing her.

And what became of the houses? "Locust Grove" where Knox died, was torn down many years ago. "Hurricane" was burned by the Federal troops during the War. and "Brierfield", which Davis eventually built as Knox and he had planned, was destroyed by fire in 1931.