Monday, December 31, 2012

Continuing the 150th Anniversary of The WAR

Happy New Year tomorrow, as we look forward to a great 2013 for everyone, and for the continuation of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States.
During the next few days we will recap the major events of 1862 and look toward the historic commemoration of the tumultuous 1863. 
I hate to revisit so many of the battles, because of all the waste in human lives on both sides as well as steady decimation of the Confederacy. But there is much to write about and I look forward to sharing it with you. Thanks for your faithfulness in reading our blog!  You are such an encouragment to me!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas On December 26, 2012

A Merry Christmas to all our readers, one day late. I hope your Christmas was as happy as ours was and that you were with friends and family and enjoyed commemorating the birth of our Saviour as much as we did.
I was going to write more today, but instead went to see Les Mis and it lasted much too long but was a great movie, just as good as the Stage Play. Of course the "war part" was senseless just as all wars are, just as "Our War" was, tragic and seemingly as  unavoidable as it was.
More in the New Year! Until then, keep the Faith, faithful readers. I will return soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas at the Confederate White House

As our thoughts turn toward December 25th, you may wonder what went on at Christmas during the Confederacy. In this era of "plenty" we can't help but wonder how they "made do"  in the war-racked South.
There is a six page article about Christmas in the Confederate White House on the web, taken from the New York World Magazine, Sunday, December 13, 1896, written by Mrs. Jefferson (Varina) Davis. The newspaper clippings are included among the Jefferson Davis papers at Rice University.
 Among the many items they lacked were raisins for mince pie, which was a "must", so the housewives of Richmond saved other fruits to substitute. Brandy was $ 100.00 a bottle but this was somehow forthcoming. Suet was found and cider likewise...but the most important thing of all was the  eggnog. Eggs and liquors simply  had to be procured, without which the servants would have considered Christmas a total failure.
How did they do it without Wal-mart and Publix? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trace Adkins and the Confederate Flag Flap

An article in Montgomery Advertiser on December 1, 2012 caught my attention. It was about Trace Adkins, Country Music Artist and Singer. He was performing at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony wearing an earpiece decorated like a (gasp) Confederate Battle Flag.
That would not bother me or you now would it? When he was criticized for it he said: "As a proud American I object to oppression of any kind.  To me, the battle flag represents remembrance of my Southern lineage—I am a descendant of Confederate soldiers who followed that flag into battle. I advocate for the preservation of America's battlefields and honest conversation about our Country's history. To those who view the flag as a symbol of racism, that was not my message and I did not intend offense."
Trace, YOU ROCK!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gift Shop at the First White House

We have an  awesome gift selection at the First White House of the Confederacy here in Montgomery. Our area is small but well stocked. We have a gold Christmas ornament of the First White House for $ 10.00 and lots of other trinkets and stocking stuffers.
We also have a nice array of books to sell. If you are in the area please stop by and see if there is some little something you would like to take home with you.
If you are out of town, we can mail whatever you want to purchase., key chains, magnets, booklets on the First White House, small flags of the Confederate States, shot glasses and other things of interest.
The proceeds go toward the upkeep of the relics in our wonderful Museum Home. President and Mrs. Davis would approve!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comparing Dolley Madison and Varina Davis

I read an article about Dolley Madison, wife of the 4th President of the United States, James Monroe, and I was struck by the similarities between her and Varina Howell Davis, wife of  Jefferson Davis,  President of the Confederate States of America.
Dolley and Varina both experienced  tragedy in their lives. Dolley lost multiple family members to alcoholism, epidemics, accidents at sea and even one to murder. Varina lost four sons and one daughter, and lived through the War and the aftermath with the courage of her convictions.
They both married men 17 years older than themselves, men who were very intelligent but introspective. Likewise,  these women seemed polar opposites of their mates -  exuberant, gregarious and vivacious.
Both made excellent First Ladies, opening their "White Houses" to the best social and political minds of the day. Dolley's gatherings earned the sobriquet, "squeezes" because so many people would cram into the home of the President. Varina entertained grandly, both at the First White House in Montgomery and later in Richmond.  
They both faced danger courageously, Dolley, when the White House burned and she rescued many of the valuable papers, silverware and the portrait of George Washington; Varina, in the face of the   fall of the Confederacy and  subsequent imprisonment of her husband and aftermath, when they, like most in the post-war South, had gambled everything on the Confederacy and lost all. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Thanks

I am sure our Confederate Ancestors and others gave thanks every day that they were alive, and were not slaughtered in battle. Today (acutally tomorrow) we give special thanks as a nation, one nation under God. It made me think of one of my favorite praise songs, "Give Thanks". It goes like this:

Give Thanks 
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"
Give thanks

Deep South Cookery - Can You Say Rebel Yell?

I came across a little paperback Cookbook among my deceased parents' treasure trove of memorabilia.  It is called Deep South Cookery and Potables, by Margueritte M. Wright, and published by - yes it was none other than - Rebel Yell Publishers !!! I thought I would see if it was still available, and I found one copy on 
It begins "The recipes in these pages have one thing in common: they are all strictly Southern, just as the Bourbon that brings them to you - Rebel Yell."  The back cover says it all: "If you're a Southerner, this is your whiskey" (picture of bottle) and below: "Sold only below the Mason-Dixon Line". 
Since it was published 44 years ago  I guess its OK to share one of the recipes, giving full credit to Ms. Wright, so here goes, for the holidays: "Civil War Hot Toddy: Ingredients - 1 cube of sugar, 1 jigger Rebel Yell Bourbon, hot water, piece of cinnamon and twist of lemon peel. Directions - Dissolve sugar in a bit of hot water; add Rebel Yell Bourbon, then fill glass with hot water. Add stick of cinnamon and twist of lemon peel".  
Reminds me of this slogan: Sure I cook with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Little Story About The Old South

Everyone likes a good story, don't they? I heard one yesterday that could have only happened in our beloved Dixie.. It seems a Yankee had been visiting in rural Alabama and the hosts had really "put on the dawg" for him, as we like to say.

When he got home he wrote a nice thank you note and he mentioned that he especially liked the "hottuns". Mystified, they could not imagine what he was talking about, until the next mealtime when the biscuits were passed.

Sure enough, as  the bread was passed the hostess said, "here, have a hot one."  Mystery solved - the Yankee translated "hot one" into "hottun," which is exactly how it sounded. Only in the South folks!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Historic Marker At The Confederate Post Office

I heard Montgomery Alabama  is #3 in having the most historic markers of any city our size. And a new one is going to be unveiled on November 29th, 2012 at noon by the Montgomery Area Stamp Club. It is at the site of the Confederate Postmaster General's Office at the corner of Washington Avenue and Perry Street.
 The Post Office Department of the Confederate States of America was established on February 21, 1861 in Montgomery by the Provisional Confederate Government. John H. Reagan was appointed Postmaster General of the CSA.
In May 1861 Reagan stated he would officially assume control of the postal service of the Confederacy on June 1. The U.S. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair responded by ordering the cessation of U.S. mail service throughout the South on May 31.  Reagan did a good job but was hampered by all the problems of War, including blockades, lack of money, shortages of stamps, and interruptions in mail services.
The resumption of federal mail in the south took place gradually after the war came to an end but by November 1, 1866 3234 post offices out of 8,902 were returned to federal control in the south.
Reagan was arrested after the war but was pardoned and eventually became Federal chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads in the U.S. Congress.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confederate Music, "Notes I Still Hear"

The Cradle of the Confederacy Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Montgomery Alabama,  has published a CD and songbook of Confederate Music. It is titled very appropriately, "Notes I Still Hear"and was written and published by the music book committee, Sue Jaworowski and Mae Manning. Lovely Leslie Kirk's photo is on the front of the CD.
The CD, is  by Phillip Davis and "Tiffy" MacIntosh, and has 20 songs from the period. The songbook includes the lyrics and music and  a description of each song. For example, the State song of Alabama titled "Alabama" was written by Julia Tutwiler, who  thought the people of Alabama needed inspiration after the War. She wrote this song for that purpose in 1868 or 1869 as a gift to the people of Alabama.
I learned it by heart as a little girl in school. The first stanza goes "Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee, From thy Southern shores where groweth By the sea thy orange tree. To the Northern vale where floweth Deep and blue thy Tennessee - Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee"! Our UDC chapter sings it along with Dixie, How Firm A Foundation and the Star S[angled Banner to begin each meeting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lets Look Around

I was trying to look at the First White House through the eyes of a tourist. One of the most beautiful rooms in the House is Mrs. Davis's bedroom. In it is a beautiful pine wardrobe, made by slaves and used by the Davises at Beauvoir (where he retired after the War, in Biloxi, Miss).

The remaining furniture is similar to that used by mrs. Davis at Brierfield Plantation, where they lived prior to the War, in Warren county, Miss.

The beautiful mahongany tester bed came from The Tavern in Worhtington, Mass. General Lafayette slept in it the night of June 13, 1825, on his way to the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument where he spoke. On the bed is a Cravat Crazy Quilt.  There is a mahogany desk with secret compatments. The secret compartments were necessary as banks were few and far between and people  needed a place to safely hide their valuables.

There is also a wig dresser in this room. so called because there were shelves to place the wigs.

At the foot of the bed is a slipper sofa, sometimes called a midwife sofa

On Veterans Day We Remember Our Brave Confederate Soldiers

On Veterans Day we honor all who have served our country, but  our thoughts quite naturally turn to our brave Confederate Soldiers, so many of whom gave their lives for the cause in which they believed. 90% of them, historians tell us, did not own slaves, so that was not why they were fighting. They fought for their beloved South land.
History is written by victors; thus, the history of the War has been painted with the slavery brush, but there was so much more to it than that, states rights, tariffs, and the fact that by virtue of the U.S. Constitution, states that no longer wanted to be in the union had the right to leave.
Alas, people believe "the lie", proving that if someone repeats something enough, others think it is fact. How unfortunate that our brave young men are no longer cherished and presented as heroes, but are often shunned and treated as villains, (and street names change). But some of us still remember, and in our hearts we are grateful to be descended from those who were willing to give all for what they believed was right.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Young Confederate Hero and Spy, David O. Dodd

 David O. Dodd is remembered in his home state of Arkansas as a seventeen year old teenager who chose to hang as a spy,  rather than betray his comrades. When a friend shared information about him, I was amazed, because like so many of our unsung  warriors, I had never heard of him.
In Little Rock, Arkansas though, he is known as a sort of a folk hero. An article by Jeannie Nuss of the Associated Press, says that he was detained after Union soldiers found encoded notes on him about their troop locations. Dodd was convicted of spying and sentenced to death, when he, according to legend, refused an offer to walk free in exchange for the name of the person who gave him the information.
Critics think he should not be honored because he was fighting a war to defend the institution of slavery. Others counter with the fact that to commemorate Dodd is not about honoring slavery, but about remembering the past.
I guess that discussion will go on until the Lord comes back again!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Women's Fashions During the Civil War

The women during the Civil War had to keep things going at home while the men were away fighting, and they had to go to great lengths sometimes to do this.I am sure that all of you are familiar with Scarlett O'Hara and her "hi jinks". Who could ever forget the beautiful gowns she wore, prior to and after the War?
Ah the styles. We bow to them today, but at least we don't have to worry about the hoop skirts, the corsets and the evening gowns that  kept the men at a distance most of the time! There was always the danger of fire too so they had to beware standing too close to the hearth.
The feemale nurses during the war did not wear hoops under their dresses for safety reasons and for hospital regulations, according to wikipedia.
All the women wore corsets however - ugh, I am glad I did not live back then. The term "loose women" comes from the allusion to "loosening one's stays" (or corsets), indicating a lack of morality. Sarah Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book,  considered a women's clothing to be: "an effective indication of her morality, and the corset was a requisite part of that appearance."
Remember how bedraggled poor Scarlett looked by the time she got her entourage back to Tara? No hoop skirts for her then, and I feel sure she had likely ditched the corset as well, when she declared she would "never be hungry again"!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Ode to the Confedserate Dead" by Allen Tate

Are you familiar with  the poet, Allen Tate? He was one of the group at Vanderbilt University that wrote about loving the South and taking a stand for it They called themselves "The Fugitives'. He was also a contemporary of Hemingway and others in Paris in the 1920's.
He wrote "Ode to the Confederate Dead" during the 30's. If you love poetry and you love reading about the brave Confederate Soldiers, please take the time to google and read this poem. Here is one stanza to whet your appetite:
"Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick and fast
You will curse the setting sun.
Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm..."
We don't take the time to read much poetry anymore. We are too busy with our cell phones, our I-Pads and our computers, all the things that are supposed to save us so much time. Time to do what, I sometimes wonder?

"Forrest Gump" Coming To Speak

Great news! Winston Groom, the author of Forrest Gump, has graciously accepted our invitation to be our speaker at our Reception Fundraiser on May 2, 2013.
He will be speaking about his latest book, Shiloh, 1862. The battle of Shiloh was so very important because with the loss of 25,000 men, it set the stage for things to come. , Both North and South  had begun to realize that they had, in his words, "unleashed a vast monstrosity which would drench the country with blood for years to come."
Groom has also written another book about the War Between the States: Shrouds of Glory -  From Atlanta to Nashville: The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War, about John Bell Hood's last attempt to vanquish the Union on the western front during the final months of the War.
He has dedicated that book to his great-grandfather, Fremont Sterling Thrower who was in the 56th Alabama Cavalry, CSA. We are very excited about his coming to Montgomery to be our  special guest. Please mark your calendars to attend!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lewis Armistead, Confederate General, Killed at Gettysburg

General Lewis Armistead was a colorful character and a professional soldier, who told Winfield Scott Hancock when he left the Union army to fight for the Confederacy: "you can never know what this has cost me".
He fought as a Brigade Commander  at Seven Pines, then under Lee in the Seven Days Battles, (where he was chosen to spearhead the assault on Malvern Hill), and at Second Bull Run.  He also fought at Antietam and Fredericksburg.
In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead's brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863. The next day, he led his men toward the center of the Union line  during Pickett's Charge. Wikipedia says: "He led from the front, waving his hat from the tip of his saber". He reached the stone wall at the top of the hill, which served as the charge's objective.
His Brigade got further in the charge than any other, to what is called the "High Water Mark" but it was quickly overwhelmed by the Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times, but none of these wounds were believed to be fatal. He found out his friend Hancock had also been wounded.  This scene is shown in Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels.
Sadly, Armistead died two days later, at the Union field hospital. His death was deemed "not from his wounds directly, but from secondary fever and prostration".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Update on GunBoat Quilt at First White House

Some time ago I told you that our historic Gunboat Quilt has been conserved and is on display at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Mass as a part of their Sesquicentennial exhibition called "Homefront & Battlefield".

The exhibit will travel to three additional venues:  the New York Historical Society in New York City,  April - August 2014; the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, September, 2014 - January 2015; and the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, Feb 2015 - June 2015.

We are very excited that the ATHM wants to continue to show our quilt from the First White House of the Confederacy. To quote their curator, "it is both very attractive, and has a great story to tell about the work done by so many women on the home front in the South".

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Visitors to the First White House from Scotland

Two distinguished gentlemen, both Councilmen from central Scotland, visited the First White House of the Confederacy recently.Their connection to the First White House was through an iron foundry, Smith and Wellstood, which until lately was in Falkirk Council,  represented by one of our visitors, an area between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Smith part of the foundry name came from it being founded by James Smith, a well known supporter of the Confederacy in Britain, and the brother of Colonel Robert A. Smith, CSA, who was killed at Munfordville in 1862.
President Jefferson Davis visited James Smith at his home, on his trip to the UK after the War, in recognition of his brother's services and loyalty to the cause.  Toward the end of his life, James Smith visited the President at Beauvoir. How nice to know about this great friendship.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of Col. Smith's death, the two Councilmen resolved to visit places associated with him, in Munfordville, Montgomery and Jackson, Miss. It is a grand tribute to a gallant son of Scotland, who gave his life for the cause in which he believed, and to remember the friendship between a man who provided generations of employment in that area of Scotland, and  Jefferson Davis.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Jefferson Davis Highway

I was traveling through Georgia last week, going from Montgomery to St. Simons Island and highway markers along the way designated the road as Jefferson Davis Highway. When I got home I looked it up on wikipedia and it stated the following
"The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was a planned transcontinental highway in the U.S. in the 1910s and 1920s that began in Washington D.C., and extended south and west to San Diego, CA. It was named for Jefferson Davis, who, in addition to being the first and only President of the Confederate States of America was also a U.S. Congressman and Secretary of War".
It never really existed as planned, but parts of it are scattered across the country, and  a portion of it is still in Georgia, where I drove on it last week, State Road 32, near Irwinville, where he was captured.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Richard Wilmer, Confederate Bishop

Richard Hooker Wilmer, only Episcopal Clergyman to serve as a Bishop in the Confederate States of America, was the ancestor of a gentleman who visited the First White House of the Confederacy recently. He told me he would send me a copy of an article on this distinguished gentleman, and I was so pleased to receive it.
In the article it says that Wilmer was as devoted to the principle of the right to throw off the yoke of an oppressive government as had been  his grandfather, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
He guided the Confederacy spiritually and with great practicality, both during the War and afterwards during reconstruction. You will find this book on his life fascinating, I feel sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Civil War Battle of Antietam 150 Years Ago This Week

The Battle of Antietam, September 1862 near Sharpsburg, Maryland was the bloodiest single-day battle of the War, with 23,000 casualties on both sides.
Emboldened by the success of Second Manassas, Lee decided to take the war into enemy territory. Jefferson Davis and others believed the prospect of foreign recognition would increase if they could have a victory in enemy territory. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Lee and the Army of Virginia  had two Corps, one under Longstreet and the other under Jackson,  Cavalry under JEBC Stuart, and Artillery under Pendleton.. McClellan, and the Union Army of the Potomac  had the following Corps: Hooker, Sumner, Fitz John Porter, Franklin, Burnside and Mansfield, and  Cavalry under Pleasonton. 
The carnage was incredible. The fighting in the Cornfield was unimaginable and the Bloody Lane was filled with bodies by the time it was over. The Battle was a tactical draw, but it was considered a turning point of the War and a victory for Lincoln, as it ended Lee's first invasion of the North.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Facts About Furnishings in The First Whie House of the Confederacy

We have a number of important pieces in the First White House. Two are especially appropriate, a historic Senate Desk, and a "gondola" armchair, in that they were used by the Confederate Senate during the period that the Alabama State Capitol was the Capitol of the Confederate States of America. These two pieces were used for copying the reproductions that are now used in the capitol building since the early 1990 restorations
The chair President Davis used while imprisoned after the war is in the second parlor, as is the  family Bible that was taken from Brierfield during the war and returned years later by his brother. We also have the table on which he wrote his history of the Confederacy, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. This table was at Beauvoir and was given to the First White House by Mrs. Davis.
We also have in her bedroom a tester bed that had been used by General Lafayette in 1825. The President's bedroom is furnished with his custom-made bed as well.
Tomorrow I will tell you about some of the furniture that is original to the House or that was in the House when the Davis family lived there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why the First White House of the Confederacy Was Moved

I am sure if you are a regular blog reader, which we hope you are, that you know the First White House was moved from the corner of Lee and Bibb streets downtown to its present location, 644 Washington Avenue, across from the Capitol in 1921. But do you know why it was moved?
Simple answer: The owner of the "then-derelict boardinghouse" did not want to sell the land, so the White House Association simply bought the House, and had the structure dismantled and moved ten blocks. The iron fence that originally surrounded the house was discovered in LaGrange, GA, and returned to the house in 1946.
The original location is currently a skate board park, but I believe the lot has been sold to a developer, so it will possibly not remain as it is today very long. The White House Association had an historic marker placed on the grounds in April of this year, 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confederate Flag Made of Tiffany Glass - An "AHA" Moment

The Brick Church on Well's Hill in Petersburg Va known as the Historic Blandford Church has the only known Confederate flag made out of Tiffany glass in  it's transom window.
How did that come about? The Ladies Memorial Association was organized in 1866. Their original mission was the recovery of Confederate soldiers (30,000), who were left dead on the battlefields during the ten-month siege of Petersburg, and their internment in a Christian burial.
 In 1901 the LMA received the authority from the City of Petersburg to convert the Old Blandford Church into a Confederate Memorial and Chapel. The ladies commissioned fifteen windows to be created by the Tiffany Studios. Blandford Church is one of seven buildings in the country exclusively ornamented with Tiffany windows. And the Confederate Battle flag is the only known Confederate flag found in any of Tiffany's works.
A celebration will be held there this Sunday, September 9th, to celebrate the Centennial installation of the windows. Google the church to see pictures of the windows, especially the one with the flag. You will find them amazing and beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jefferson Davis Wrote About The Right of the South To Secede

 I wrote recently about an article in the History of the Confederate Memorial Associations of the South. The article is called Oration on the Life and Service of Jefferson Davis by Charles E. Fenner of New Orleans. It was published in 1903.
Fenner writes about the right to secede: "He (Jefferson Davis) formulated the whole argument in his 'Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government'...I pronounce it one of the most powerful and masterly legal and constitutional arguments of which I have any knowledge in the English language".
Fenner goes on:"It has never been answered, and it is unanswerable. it was intended and it serves as a complete vindication of the right of the Southern States to withdraw from the federal union, to terminate the compact which they had made with their sister States and to reassume the powers which had been delegated to the federal government as a common agent."
He says it would be a service to all the people of this country if  it (the section on the right to secede)were published by itself in a small volume or pamphlet so that people could have read it and have understood the grounds and motives on which the Southern States acted when they seceded from the Union. That was in 1903. It is even more true today when people don't have a clue.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Exciting Happenings With The First Confederate White House Blog

Want to know a secret? Well, if I tell, it won't be a secret anymore...but here goes. We are making a "Blog Book". Next question - what is a blog book? Answer - its a book that we are putting together of our most interesting (we hope) and informative blogs.

Since we have written over 450 blogs since we started, this is a wee bit daunting, but I think it is going to turn out nicely, and should be lots of fun. Who knows, we might even print it and sell at the First White House Souvenir shop, aka our Gift Shop.

Would you like to have one?  I think that can be arranged (for a small fee). I will let you know when it is finished. My "sources" say that we need around 33,000 words. We have almost half of that. Right now we have around 15 topics but several of these will be consolidated as we go along.

Since its football season, there should be lots of time to work on this, and I promise it will be easy reading for all of us when the product is finished.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jefferson Davis - What You May Not Know

Jefferson Davis was a well-known figure long before he became President of the Confederate States of America. He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as a member of Congress from Mississippi, first in the House and later in the Senate. He was a war hero in the Mexican War and was wounded in the Battle of Buena Vista.

I have read very little on the subject of the Mexican War, but one of the books sounds intriguing: The Battle of Buena Vista; With the Army of Occupation for One Month by James Henry Carleton.

Davis was appointed Secretary of War by President Franklin Pierce and is considered by some historians as the best to hold that office. After serving he returned to the Senate but resigned his seat after Miss. seceded from the Union.  He was in his rose garden when he received the telegram that he had been elected Provisional President of the Confederate States of America Provisional Government.

Another biography on the life of this famous man that you may wish to read is: "Jefferson Davis, American" by William J. Cooper.

Civil War Battles Fought in Alabama

There were seven Battles fought in Alabama, very few compared with other Southern States. Virgina, as we know had the most fought, with 122. We were most fortunate to be as far away from most major Campaigns as we were. Tennessee fought 38 and Georgia 27.  Another thing, all of ours were in 1863 and following, none during the first two years of the war.
The seven, in alphabetical order, were: Athens, in North Alabama, in 1864. Union victory;
Day's Gap, at Sand Mountain in Cullman County, 1863, Union victory;
Decatur, part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, 1864, John Bell Hood. Union victory; 
Fort Blakely in Baldwin County, Mobile Campaign, 1865, Union victory;
Mobile Bay, 1864, fall of Fort Morgan, Union victory;
Selma, Wilson's Raid, 1865, not even Forrest could prevent this from being a Union victory. Selma burned;
Spanish Fort, 1865, part of the Mobile Campaign, also a Union victory. UGH. Not looking too good for the home team here. In fact, it looks like a runaway for the bad guys.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Varina Davis The Perfect Wife for Jefferson

There is a book about Jonathan Edwards titled "Marriage to a Difficult Man:". This might well be said of Jefferson Davis, but as one author put it, Jefferson was married to the "noble and gifted woman who clung to him, not only as a faithful wife, but as his 'guide, philosopher and friend' through all the vicissitudes of his checkered career-who shared and sympathized in all his ambition and triumphs-who, in his hour of calamity...stood heroically by him."
I am glad to see Varina receiving the credit due her. An article in the History of the Confederate Memorial Associations of the South pointed out how she clamored for justice and fiercely defied and resisted the torrent of unmerited denunciation and abuse who was poured upon his defenseless head.
 The article goes on to say: "true in death as she had been in life, she devoted long and laborious years of her desolate widowhood to the writing of that memoir of her husband which stands as an exhaustive and triumphant vindication of his memory, and will survive as one of the most valuable contributions which has yet been made to the history of a momentous era".

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jefferson Davis and His Brother Joe Were Kindred Spirits

I have been reading an article about Joe Davis and Jefferson. Joe was twenty years older and was himself, a very remarkable man. Some have even said that he was (gasp) superior to Jefferson in his own intellectual powers.

Lets just say they were two congenial spirits, thrown together in rustic seclusion, and that they enjoyed the benefits which the plantation life of that day afforded, in eager and systematic intellect, culture and training. They read everything and they discussed everything.

One writer said: "Their constant exchange of ideas and expressions on every variety of subjects enlarged and precised their knowledge, and the frequent clashes of their minds in debate fixed the clearness and certainty of their convictions".

From this background, Jefferson Davis emerged, a trained intellectual athlete, with the muscles of his mind perfectly developed and thoroughly fit for service to his country. He gave his best both to the United States and to the Confederate States of America. Joe helped make him the man he became.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What's in the Relic Room at the First White House of the Confederacy?

We have written about the Relic Room at the First White House in Montgomery before, but I want to tell you more about it. In it we have eleven cases, ranging from those containing clothes and personal belongings of Jefferson, Varina, and daughter Margaret Davis, to a case containing Billy Davis Hayes' Yacht clock and a historic portable desk which belonged to President Davis.
We recently filled case # 11. In it are two albums of Carte de Visite photographs, including most of the important Confederate Generals, as well as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens and other notable men. Also in this case is a framed check on the Union and Planters Bank in Memphis, signed by Jefferson Davis, Aug 28, 1872, and a Southern Cross of Honor.
Boys, young and old, will enjoy seeing an iron Bayonet from the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia as well as a small pistol. There is also a personal Calling card of Jefferson Davis's in post war days, and a stock certificate made out to Winnie Davis - 13 shares of the Davis Land Company.
I hope we have whetted your appetite for your next visit to the First White House. Please plan to spend some time in the Relic Room. I think you will be glad you did.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Things You Need to Know About The First White House of the Confederacy

Did you know the First White House was moved in 1921? It was taken apart in 3 sections and brought to present location by wagon.
Did you know that admission is free and the tours are self-guided?
Did you know we are open on Saturdays?
Did you know everything in the House (with a couple of minor exceptions) either belonged to the Davis family, is original to the House or is of the 1860 period?
Did you know a generous family named Westcott gave us the furniture for one of the rooms upstairs?
Did you know we have a gift shop?
Did you know we are handicap accessible for the downstairs?
Did you know Mrs. Davis gave us the furniture for President Davis's bedroom after he died?
Did you know we have many letters from Varina and the President and also daughter Margaret?
Did you know our first Regent, Mrs. Phelan Beale had a son who was married to Jackie Kennedy's aunt of "Gray Gardens" fame?
Did you know we want you to sign up to be a regular reader of this blog?
Did you also know we want you to visit the First White House whenever you are in Montgomery?
If you said yes to all of these questions, did you know we also  want you to look at our facebook page and our website???!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Union General John Pope Suffered Defeat At Second Manassas

I was talking with a friend recently about how close the South came to winning the war in so many instances. One of those important sucesses came at Second Manassas on August 29-30, 1862 (150 years ago next week).
The Confederate General was none other than Robert E. Lee, and it was a battle culminating an offensive campaign waged by the Army of Northern Virginia against the Union General Pope's Army of Virginia. It was a battle of much larger scale and numbers than First Manassas, but fought on the same ground.
It was also Longstreet and Jackson who were formidable in their effort to devastate Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps. The Union left flank was crushed. According to Wikipedia, "only an effective Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster. Pope's retreat was nonetheless precipitous". Wish I had been there to see it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Happened on August 22, 1862?

I think you will find this article from the Internet very interesting as to what happened on August 22, 1862 (150 years ago today)
Friday Aug. 22 1862

Three days ago Horace Greely, writing in his New York Tribune, had published his classic “Prayer of Twenty Million”, imploring Abraham Lincoln to make the abolition of slavery the main aim of the current war. Today Lincoln responded with a statement so clear even a newspaperman should have understood it: “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution.. ...If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
Guess the victors write the history books. How many people know Lincoln said this?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Confederate Flags Conserved at Alabama Archives

There is an article in the summer 2012 edition of the ADAH news abut restoring the Confederate battle flags. Because for years the Civil War battle flags were improperly stored or displayed, Bob Bradley, Chief Curator of Archives knew something must be done to save them.
 Bob says: "Together, these agents of deterioration had done more damage to the flags than four years of war". The flag conservation project was begun in 1989 with a twofold aim. One to properly store and document the flags, and secondly to conserve them.

Amazingly, now, more than 20 years later, each of the 90 flags in housed in a climate-controlled room where they are stored in special cabinets. In addition, all of the flags have been documented. If you are interested, you can view the provenance of each of them on the Archives' web site. Eighteen have been conserved and two more are currently undergoing conservation.

As with our Gunboat Quilt, technological advances in textile conservation have increased greatly in recent years. So has the price tag; some of the flags cost more than $25,000. to restore. For more information, go to and read all about it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nathan Bedford Forrest Compared To Nazi General Von Manstein

 Josh Moon has written an article in the August 19 edition of the Montgomery Advertiser "Forrest's legacy tarnished beyond repair". In it he compares Forrest to WWII German Erich Von Manstein, one of Hitler's finest and savviest generals.

Moon says: "The two had something rather important in common. They fought for the wrong side. Not the losing side, the wrong side....We don't erect monuments of people who do the wrong thing...A memorial implies honor. And Forrest and the rest of the South had very little..."  That really makes my blood boil, does it yours?

Naturally, Moon beats the slavery drum throughout the article. Of course slavery was wrong. No thinking person could say or think or feel any other way. But it doesn't mean that the only reason the South went to war was because of slavery., nor does it mean the North and Lincoln went to war for the noble idea to free the slaves.  Remember Lincoln did not issue the emancipation proclamation until he saw the north was in grave danger of losing. And he is on the record as saying he didn't care whether the slaves were free or not, before the war.

People like Moon cannot be reasoned with so don't bother with the letters to the editor. Just remember he is there to sell newspapers. He should stick to the /Sports column in my opinion.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

War Between the States Anniversary Celebrations Being Held

In today's Montgomery Advertiser there is an article from AP writer Emily Wagster Pettus, titled "For Mississippi, Civil War's anniversary brings angst".

In the first place it was not the Civil War. There was nothing civil about it. It is rightly called WBTS or The War for Northern Aggression as I have said before. The article also mentions the fact that the Miss State flag bears the  Confederate Battle emblem. Well so what! Its their right after all, isn't it?

It goes on to say that a marker commemorating the 11th Miss Infantry is being dedicated this weekend in Sharpsburg, Md. where 119 members were killed in what the Yankees called the battle of  "Antietam". Interesting to us is that one of the speakers is Bertram Hayes-Davis.

The article goes on to say that the state is taking a "decidedly low-key and scholarly approach to commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War".Couldn't the same could be said for Alabama and the rest of the Southern states?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts In the Civil War

I have mentioned several times that our Gunboat Quilt was selected to be in the aforementioned exhibit at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA from June 30-Nov 25, 2012.

In the process, we have had our quilt conserved and it now is greatly enhanced. The curators at the Museum have been wonderful to work with and the exhibit sounds fabulous.According to their information, "each object represents a deeply moving and insightful personal story, from the noose reportedly used to hang abolitionist John Brown to the quilt stitched by an Illinois mother using the uniforms of her two sons, one fighting in Confederate gray and the other in Union blue".

An accompanying book has been written and it is first-class. It mentions that the women used their "needles as daggers" with the "same commitmentand fury as did their men on the battlefields". The women of Alabama had the quilts raffled off to raise money to buy a gunboat. The cost of the gunboat was $ 80,000.

Mary Chesnut, so proud of the $2000.00 she and her friends raised for the cause found out that the boats were unwieldy and unmaneuverable. She confided sadly to her diary "oh, that we had give our thousand dollars to the hospital and not to the gunboat"!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bertram Hayes Davis Introduced as New Director of Beauvoir

           Exiciting news from Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis's retirement home on Miss. Gulf Coast. See below!!! As you know Bert Hayes-Davis is a great friend of the First White House. We are so thrilled that he will be much closer to Montgomery and is going to be the Execuitve Director of Beauvoir. more on this tomorrow... See Below:  

Greetings from Beauvoir

Please scroll down to see all of our updates!
Beauvoir gets new Executive Director!
At the July 11, 2012 press conference at Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, Rick Forte, Chairman of the Combined Boards of Beauvoir, introduces the new Executive Director of Beauvoir, Bert Hayes-Davis and his wife, Carol. Bert Hayes-Davis is the great, great grandson of President Jefferson Davis.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Salute Fired Over Grave of Varina Davis

I have been blogging about Varina Davis, Jefferson Davis's second wife and mother of their six children, when today I read an article that was in the Richmond newspaper about her funeral, from Oct 19, 1906.

I knew she was buried with honors. The article reads: "as the casket was lowered into the grave the Richmond  Howisters fired a salutes. Near the grave of her husband, Mrs. Davis's body lies in a quiet, secluded part of the cemetery, nearly hidden by the great trees. To the right and to the left, lie long lines of those who fell in the Confederate armies."

The article names the members of the Davis family who came with the body from New York, including Mr and Mrs. J. Addison Hayes, the latter being the only remaining daughter of Mrs. Davis, and their son, Jefferson H. Davis, whose name was changed to that of his grandfather by act of the Legislature. Other family members listed were "Miss Hayes and Dr. and Mrs. Webb".

Services were held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church at 3:00, conducted by Rev. Robert Forsyth. An escort from the New York camp of Confederate Veterans was there as well as the President of the New York chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

As I have mentioned before, I have visited the grave site and it is a very peaceful place. Rest well, President and Mrs. Davis, and "well done".  You both deserve to "rest from your labors".

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Varina and Jefferson Davis's Marriage

I found it quite interesting that on their honeymoon, the newlyweds visited the grave of his first wife! I wonder how Varina felt about that? They also went to see his aged mother, Jane Davis.

When they returned home, they took up residence at Brierfield, his 100 acre plantation that had been given him by his brother, Joseph. It wasn't long before one of Jefferson's sister's and her children moved in with them. No wonder Varina was so happy to move to Washington, when he was elected to the US House of Representatives!

Varina, from all reports, loved Washington, and thrived there. Jefferson took a leave though, to serve in the Mexican-American War, where he was wounded and came home a hero. They soon went back to Washington, when he was appointed to fill a Senate seat and this was an especially happy time, because after seven childless years, a son was born in 1852. More of their life together tomorrow...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Varina and Jefferson Davis, The Courtship

When Varina met Jefferson, he was a 35 year old widower and she was 17. She had accepted an invitation to spend the Christmas season at Hurricane, Joseph Davis's plantation near Vicksburg. During her stay, she met her host's younger brother Jefferson, who had a reputation as a recluse since the death of his first wife, Sarah Knox "Knoxie" Taylor.

 In addition to the age problem (18 years), he was a Democrat, and she was a Whig. In spite of these differences, Varina was almost instantly attracted to this older man, writing her mother: "I do not know whether this Mr. Jefferson Davis is young or old. He looks both at times, but I believe he is old, for from what I hear he is only two years younger than you are". (the rumor was correct).

In her memoirs, Varina said her mother's greatest concerns were Davis's excessive devotion to his living relatives, especially his brother Joseph, who had largely raised him after their father's death and upon whom he was financially dependent; and to Jefferson's near worship of the memory of his deceased first wife (concerns that in private correspondence, Varina would later concede were entirely correct).

Nevertheless, the Howells ultimately consented to the courtship, and the couple did marry! More about that tomorrow....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jefferson Davis's Christian Testimony

Since today is Sunday, The "Lord's Day", it seems appropriate to write something about Jefferson Davis and his Christian convictions. I read an article on the Internet about him by Michael T. Griffith, that spoke about the depth of  his religious faith.

Griffith said Davis grew up studying the Bible, and that he often quoted from it. We know from other things we have read, that Davis attended church regularly. While the family was in Montgomery, they worshiped at St. John's Episcopal Church, a few blocks from the First White House. You can still sit in the "Jefferson Davis pew" today.

He and his pastor in Richmond, Rev. Charles Minnigerode, were very close friends. Griffith says in his article that Minnigerode "who knew more of Davis's 'inner life' than perhaps any other man, said Davis was 'always pure' and that his 'whole being' loathed 'impure thought' or 'anything low or corrupting'."

When I read about  him, I think of how he was tried in the crucible of War, and came out as fine gold. I just know from reading about his life, that this was a godly man of prayer, and that the Lord sustained him through all his many trials. What a wonderful thought that we will meet him in Heaven and really get to know him! What a privilege that will be.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The War Between The States - "Civil" or Not?

How can a war be civil? Good question, because civil means courteous, and is not very courteous to try to kill another person before they can kill you! By definition though, a Civil War is is struggle between "fellow citizens", as in The English Civil War (1642-1651).

Our "Civil War" is one of several names used for the bloodshed that occurred in the Eastern and Southern United States from 1861-1865.  We Southerners call it "The War Between the States" because that's what it was. It was not "the Civil War" because it was not an internal conflict. It was a war between one country (the United States of America) and another country (the Confederate States of America).

Northern writers refer to it as a civil war because they did note recognize that the South had the right to secede.They, of course were dead wrong. Jefferson Davis was never brought to trial because it was feared that it would have been proven that the South had the right by the Constitution to secede.

Some call it Mr. Lincoln's War. I think it best summed up by those immortal words: "The War of Northern Aggression"! What do you think?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Comment from a Website Reader

I thought you would like to read this comment that we received from the website: This person says: "I had the good fortune of visiting the FWH when I was a child. I am now 36 and remember how amazed I was at the history I was inches away from. I have since that time read everything I could get my hands on about The War Between the States. I would like to thank you for lighting that fire in me so many years ago. I now have children myself and will be looking forward to sharing you with them".

I am so glad she took the time to write and share this. It makes it all worth it, doesn't it? I feel the same way myself. I have mentioned before, the impact that my father had on me, telling me stories about Confederate battles, that he heard from his "grandpa".

 Another great influence on my life was going to the "Blue-Gray football game" as a child. I was such a southerner that I couldn't stand it when the Blue team won!!! I did not realize of course that players from both teams came from all over the United States. They just "put on" blue and gray uniforms! I hollered my heart out for the Grays every year!

And of course there is the quintessential book, Gone With the Wind, and the movie. The influence it had on me was immeasurable. Whenever I went to Atlanta on the train, I felt like I was Scarlett O'Hara leaving Tara to visit Aunt Pitty Pat. I was in love with Rhett Butler and I liked Scarlett much better than  Melanie Hamilton!!!

Comments on Lee and Longstreet

Dear Readers, I invite you to read the two excellent comments from Richard and another friend on the July 20 blog regarding Longstreet and Lee. Such insightful comments on the two Generals and the battle of Gettysburg. It reminds me of what another friend once said: "I hate to read about the War because I can't stand losing". It is very sad, when we think "what if", but for some reason, God did not want this country divided. We won't know "why" until we get to Glory, but that is one thing I plan to ask the Lord about!

At any rate, thanks to you two guys for taking the time to add such good information for all of us. Please take the time to read what they have written for our edification! And folks, please keep those comments coming. We all learn from them!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jefferson Davis, A Stellar Example to Emulate

Hudson Strode, in his biography of Jefferson Davis wrote these words: "And Mr. Davis's private life, filled with family sorrows, personal distress and disappointment at every turn, offers a stellar example of the finest national qualities for future generations of Americans to emulate".

Jefferson Davis was a "President without precedent", Professor Strode said. He formed a brand-new nation in the cauldron of a terrible war. General Fitzhugh Lee declared in 1890  "Jefferson Davis was one of the greatest men this republic has ever produced...He stood steady in his firm belief in the construction and doctrines of the Government, though the very 'lightning scorched the ground beneath his feet'...The Southern people loved him. They are prepared to protect and guard his memory from the fierce future winds of prejudice."

I am glad in this day on non-heroes, that we still have someone like Jefferson Davis to look up to. His duty was thrust upon him, and he accepted it without complaint. Someone said recently, the victors get to rewrite history. Maybe that is why Jefferson Davis has not been appreciated as he should have.  been. Nonetheless, as Strode said,  "his place in history, as the first and only President of the Confederate States of America is unique", and his character unquestionable.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Visitors to the First White House of the Confederacy

Its hard to believe 2012 is half gone.You may be curious about the number of visitors we have had at the First White House during the first six months. Here is our "head count"through June 30, 2012  -  14,598.

This is about 1000 more people  than we had this time last year. We are doing everything we can to increase the number that visit, through magazine advertising, the website (www.firstwhite and of course, word of mouth.

I am very excited that a Civil Heritage Trail is underway in Montgomery. More will be said about that  soon, as Montgomery's Downtown Business Association is working on this. It should be a huge asset for the downtown area, where there are so many Civil War and Civil Rights sites to visit. Educate, Educate, Educate! That is our main purpose..

And, for your information, if you are like me and enjoy facts and figures, here is the breakdown of visitors to FWH so far this year: 9525 from Alabama; 4627 from other states; and 446 from foreign countries. 60% of our visitors are from scheduled tours, mainly 4th grade Alabama school students, because this is when they study Alabama history.

Friday, July 20, 2012

White House Association, Keeper of the Relics in the First White House

Some of you may not know that the White House Association was established by an act of the Alabama legislature in 1901 (before there was a, gasp, IRS), and amended in 1923 and 1951.

 We are chartered with: "the management of the First White House of the Confederacy, as an institution for the cultivation of Confederate history, the preservation of Confederate relics and a reminder for all time of how pure and great were southern statesmen and southern valor."

We are also listed on page 437 in the Alabama Government Manual, Thirteenth Edition (2010) which can be read on their website.

The First White House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. It is furnished with original and period pieces from the 1850's and 1860's and includes a number of  personal items of President and Mrs. Davis.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Near Miss at the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery

No, it wasn't a tornado or a hurricane but it was a big, strong wind, I guess, because it took down a tremendous limb from our lovely, large, old oak tree in the side yard at the First White House!

I could hardly believe it. It landed between the Union street side of the House and the historic wrought iron fence (original to the House). The house did not have a scratch, and the fence only minimal damage.

Once again I realize, the Lord is looking after this wonderful, old house. How else could it have survived all it has gone through since 1835? It is such a treasure, and is there to teach the lessons of history and to help people enjoy the ambiance of the past, preserved in such a pleasing way. Thanks to Mrs. Napier and all who have gone before, for the great job they have done.

And thanks to the City of Montgmery, whose Tree Crew was out doing cleanup and hauling away tht huge limb at 6:00 am this morning. It was all over by "rush hour"! Aren't we blessed to have such a wonderful work force at the City?:  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Longstreet and Lee, The Tale of Two Generals

A biographer of General James Longstreet, Jeffry D. Wert wrote that Longstreet was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. He said: "in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side."

What happened between Longstreet and Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg? First of all, Longstreet did not get to the battlefield until late in the day on July 1. Meeting with Lee, he advocated a strategic movement around the left flank of the enemy, to secure good ground. Instead lee exclaimed, "If the enemy is there tomorrow, we must attack him."

Many historians agree that Longstreet did not aggressively pursue Lee's orders to launch an attack as early as possible the next morning. It was 4 p.m before he began his assault; competently against fierce Union resistance, but it was largely unsuccessful, with significant casualties.

That night, Longstreet failed to meet with General Lee to discuss the day's battle. This failure to communicate resulted in disaster on July 3rd.  Lee ordered Longstreet to coordinate a massive assault on the center of the Union line, employing Pickett's division and brigades from A.P. Hill's corps. Longstreet knew this assault had little chance of success. Longstreet claims to have told Lee.

Pickett's Charge suffered the heavy causalities that Longstreet anticipated. it was the decisive point in the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, and Lee ordered a retreat back to Virginia the following day.

Someone had to "take the fall". Lee was the hero and Longstreet became the scapegoat. That's my opinion. Would love to hear yours.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Happened to Jefferson Davis After the War?

On May 10, 1865 Jefferson Davis, who had evacuated Richmond April 2, was captured in Georgia with his family. Note to self: he did not cut and run to Mexico!

He began his two year imprisonment at Fortress Monroe, during which he was treated very badly. He bore this with great fortitude. He was released in 1868 and traveled in Canada, England and France.

From 1869 to 74 he served as president of a Memphis life insurance company, which unfortunately failed five years later. In 1877 he again visited England in an effort to increase trade with the3 South.

He settled at Beauvoir on Mississippi's Gulf Coast in 1878. He published his book: The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, in 1881. Sadly, he died on December 6, 1889, after in brief illness, in New Orleans. Varina was with him when he passed from this world to the next.

Generations Of Jeffferson Davis and His Parents, Samuel & Jane

Samuel Emory and Jane Cook Davis, genealogically speaking, were Generation I.

Jefferson Finis Davis (Generation II)  was the youngest son of Samuel  and Jane.

 Generation III included the four sons and two daughters of Jefferson and Varina. All four sons and the youngest daughter all died, either very young, or unmarried.

Generation IV included the five children of Margaret Howell Davis and Joel Addison Hayes, Jr. Four of these five lived to marry and have prodigy.The fourth son, Jefferson changed his name to Hayes-Davis. Thus the Davis name continues today.

Generation V included Jefferson Hayes-Davis, Jr., Addison Hayes-Davis and Adele Hayes-Davis. Its amazing when you think about it, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Do July 4th and the Great Seal of the Confederacy Have In Common?

What do July 4 and the Great Seal of the Confederate States of America have in common?  George Washington, the father of our country.

 Google the Great Seal of the Confederacy and see the picture of it showing George Washington on horseback in the center of the seal, in the same position as the 1858 stature of him, adjacent to the Confederate Capitol in Richmond.

Washington was the model for the Confederate Government. Because he had secured American independence, the Confederates used him as the symbol for the independence of the American South, as they sought to forge a new nation.

Washington is surrounded by a wreath of wheat, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice and sugar cane, the products of the southern states. The outer band of the seal has the words"The Confederate States of America, 22 February 1862" and the national motto, Deo Vindice, meaning "Under God" or "With God as our Champion".

The date is significant because on Feb. 22, 1862 Jefferson Davis was inaugurated after the general election. Feb. 22 is also the date of George Washington's birthday. Happy 4th of July to all our readers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Heroism at Fredericksburg

There is a great article in the June/July issue of the UDC magazine about a young soldier,Richard Kirkland, whose heroism was "so profound that it was often repeated in the years after the war".

He was a twenty year old farm boy from South Carolina when he aided the enemy lying on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, as they cried out for water. He could not stand to hear their cries and was granted permission to go onto the field with his canteen (but not allowed to show a white flag).

For ninety minutes Confederate and union soldiers alike watched as he moved from soldier to soldier, giving them sips of water, until all the wounded in the area had received a drink.

 It reminds me of the story of the woman at the well, in the gospel of John, chapter 4 when she asks Jesus for a drink. Christ tells her that if she knew who He was she would have "living water that would become in her a spring of water, welling up to eternal life".

 Sadly, Richard Kirkland died a few months later in the fighting at Chickamauga. His last words were "tell my pa I died right". A bronze sculpture was erected on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, in 1965. It beautifully depicts Richard lifting the head of his enemy so he can give him a drink from a canteen..

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Things Confederate Making The News

"Things Confederate" continue to make the news. Last week in the Wall street Journal there is an article about the opening of the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox. This annex of Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy, at Appomatox  is so rich that (and I quote from the WSJ) "you may well want to plan two days here. After your first trip through the 5,000 square feet of gallery space, you'll want to turn right around and go through again, afraid that you've missed something".

Another improvement plan regarding "things Confederate" is described by Alvin Benn, in the June 27 Montgomery Advertiser, to give Confederate Circle in Selma, Alabama. 'a new look'. Confederate Circle is located near where Yankee cavalry routed outmanned Confedederate defenders under Nathan Bedford Forrest's command in the waning days of The War. Money is being raised to beef up security, and improve the area.

At the First White House of the Confederacy we witness every day the fact that people want to know about the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and the part Montgomery, Alabama played in the War. Over and over again we hear "we were just on our way from such and such to so and so, and we just wanted to stop by and see the First White House". It makes us so grateful to be a part of this history that is as "new" as it is old. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jefferson Davis' Early Years

A small book, Victory In Defeat, by Tucker Hill is available throught The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. The subtitle is Jefferson Davis and The Lost Cause. In it is a brief paragraph quoting Davis, about his early years.

Davis says: "I was born June 3, 1808 in Christian county, Ky., in that part of it which, by a subsequent division is now Todd county...My father, Sam Davis, was a native of Georgia, and served in the war of the revolution, first in the 'mounted gunman,' and afterward as captain of infantry at the siege of Savannah.

 During my infancy my father removed to Wilkinson county, Miss. After passing throught he county academy I netered Transvlvania college, Kentucky, and was advanced as far as the senior class when, at the age of 16, I was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point. 

I graduated in 1828, and then, in accordance with the custom of cadets, entred active service...After a successful campaign against the Indians, I resigned from the army, in 1835, being anxious to fulfill a long-existing engagement with a daughter (Sarah Knox) of Col. Zachary Taylor, whom I married...

Then I bedame a cotton planter (at Brierfield) in Warren county, Miss. it was my misfortune, early in my married life, to lose my wife, and for many years therafter I lived in great seclusion on the plantation in the swamps of the Mississippi."

In February, 1845, as we all know,  Davis married Varina Howell, the eighteen year-old daughter of an aristocratic Mississippi family.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ten Bloodiest Civil War Battles

Are you interested in knowing which of the battles during the War Between the States resulted in the most casualties? Some may surprise you. They are as follows:
1. Gettysburg (PA) victors, Union
2. Chickamauga (GA) victors, Confederates
3. Spotsylvania (VA) victors - inconclusive
4. Wilderness (VA) victors, Confederates
5. Chancellorsville (VA) victors, Confederates
6. Shiloh (TN) victors, Union
7. Stones River (TN) victors, Union
8. Antietam (MD) victors - inconclusive, but strategic advantage to North
9. Second Battle Bull Run (VA) victors, Confederates
10. Fort Donelson (TN) victors, Union

Each battle on this list resulted in more than 19,000 casualties, including those killed or wounded. I believe if we (the Confederacy)  had only had more men and more guns and more everything, we would have won. All we had was "cotton and courage". We should have "counted the cost" ahead of time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 5 Bloodiest Battles In History

Every victory comes at a price. I was interested in seeing how the War Between the States battles shaped up against other famous battles. And guess what? Gettysburg is the 5th bloodiest battles in history, with 46,000 casualties, 23,000 on each side, but as you know, considered by all a Union victory.. Would you like to know what the first four are? Want to take a guess? Well, here goes.

4th - The Battle of Cannae, 216 BC - Carthage vs Rome. Casualties: Carthaginians 10,000; Romans 50,000. Total casualties - 60,000.. Winner - the Carthaginians. (wow, they cleaned their plow).

3rd - First Day of the Somme, 1916 - Britain vs Germany. Causalities: British 60,000; German 8,000. Total: 68,000. Result: Indecisive (ugly)

2nd - Battle of Leipzig, 1813 - France vs Austria, Prussia and Russia. Casualties: French 30,000; Allies 54,000. Total: 84,000. Result: Coalition victory (most decisive defeat suffered by Napoleon).

Number One - Battle of Stalingrad, 1942-1943 - Nazi Germany vs Soviet Union. Casualties: Germany 841,000; Soviets 1,130,000. Total 1,971,000. Result: Soviet Victory.

That's alot of dead people, readers. War is not for sissies.

The Relic Room at the First White House of the Confederacy

The bright yellow paint of the woodwork and the black of the baseboards and mantel have been restored as they appeared when the house was built in 1835. This room contains many of the belongings of President Davis and his family which were given us by Mrs. Davis or her eldest daughter, Margaret. 

Between the front windows hangs a colored photograph of President Davis painted in 1874 by Daniel Huntingdon which hangs in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C, along with those of other U.S. Secretaries of War. It was presented by Professor Hudson Strode, who wrote the definitive biography of Jefferson Davis.

There is also a portrait of General Robert E. Lee, donated by the Lee family. Flanking the mantel are the three National Flags of the Confederacy: The Stars and Bars, the Stainless Banner and the Last National Flag which Lee surrendered at Appomattox. The Battle flag is also represented here. It was the first of many military banners.

You can see a picture of the Relic Room, along with the rest of the rooms  if you go to our website:  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Confederate Landmarks in Montgomery, Alabama

 One of the best known Confederate landmarks in Montgomery is the Alabama State Capitol,where delegates from seceding southern states convened to organize the Confederate States of America, and where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as Provisional President of the CSA.

Another of course is the First White House of the Confederacy,  his home while he was in Montgomery; also the Winter Building on Dexter Avenue, where the telegram was sent authorizing Confederate Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard to fire on Fort Sumter.

Montgomery also boasts a Confederate Military Prison (2 Tallapoosa St), in which was housed 700 Union soldiers, most captured at Shiloh. Nearly 198 died in captivity and the survivors were moved to Tuscaloosa in Dec. 1862. It was a pretty rank place from what I have read.

The Montgomery Theatre (62 Monroe St) was opened in Oct 1860. John Wiles Booth performed there and Bryant Minstrels introduced "Dixie" there.

 The Lomax House, the Murphy House and the Rice-Semple-Haardt House have all survived, not only the war but also the razing of so many fine, old homes. Fortunately, the Teague House at 468 South Perry Street also survived. From its front portico was read the order of General James Wilson, USA, placing the Capital of the Confederacy under martial law on April 12, 1865.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A House Is Never Finished, Especially When its the First White House of the Confederacy

The First White House in Montgomery, where Jefferson Davis and his family lived is 180 years old. That's right, it was built between 1832 - 1835 by William Sayre, ancestor of Zelda Sayre, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald (by the way, "Gatsby" is coming to a motion picture near you very soon!)

The First White House has undergone four major restorations: the first in 1921 when the House was moved from the corner of Lee & Bibb Streets (where it faced east) to the corner of Washington and Union Streets (where it faces north, watching for the Yankees).

The second was in 1976 when steel beams were placed under the first and second floors, a heat pump installed, house painted inside and outside and other major improvements made.

The third was in 1994 when the hazardous lead-paint was removed, and the probable 1861 colors were uncovered by paint archaeologist, Frank Welsh. After the outside work was done, the House had to be thoroughly cleaned, inside and outside to make sure all lead paint dust had been removed.

The fourth was in 2007-2008 when the air condition and heating systems, which had not worked for four years, were removed and a new system  installed, which entailed tearing out walls, duct work, etc.

 Each of these restorations was major, with the House having to be closed for many months and the Collection moved out and stored. And guess what???? In spite of all that has been done, paint and plaster continue to fall off the ceiling and off the walls. We are indeed a "House that is Never Finished"!!! Or we might say "We are a work in progress"!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mathew Brady's Illustrated History of The Civil War

A friend recently sent me a copy of the photo of the "home of Jefferson Davis at Montgomery, Ala" that is in Mathew Brady's Illustrated History book. My curiosity led me to order the book. The photos are very interesting, but it is most unfortunate that the book is written from the Northern viewpoint.

 Most of the photographs are of Union soldiers (unless they are dead - those are the ones of the Southerners). Someone told me that Lincoln did not want photos of dead Yankees  published, in order to keep up morale in the North.

 There are some paintings in the book by H. A. Ogden, of   battle scenes  in color and they are extraordinary,(copyright, 1912 by the War Memorial Association). The numerous photographs of war scenes in the book depict the horrors of the War...and now some women want permission to go into combat! Hello - they should look at this book and think twice.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Update on FCWH Blog

I want to thank all of you for reading our blog. Our stats tell us we had 39 "page views" yesterday and 1,007 last month, and over 12,000 all time. Readers last month were from U.S, Russia, Brazil, Netherlands, Ukraine, Columbia, Germany, France, UK and Nigeria.

Currently, these are the ten most popular posts, in case you want to read them:

1. Descendants of Jefferson Davis (Jan 9, 2011)
2. The Celebration at the First White House (Jun 6, 2012)
3. Robert E. Lee's Ceremonial Sword On Display in New Museum (Mar 25, 2012)
4. Margaret Howell Davis Hayes, Daughter of Jefferson Davis (Sept 13, 2011)
5. The Gunboat Quilt (Sept 18, 2010)
6. Who Really Designed the Confederate Flag? (Mar 4, 2011)
7. Important Events in Jefferson Davis' Life (Nov 16, 2010)
8. Mrs. Davis's New York Bedroom Furniture (May 31, 2011)
9. Varina Davis and Mary Todd Lincoln (Mar 9, 2012)
10. For Every Southern Boy...and Girl, Not Limited  To Age 14 Either (Feb 17, 2012)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Confederate and Northern War Dead

 What War would you guess more U.S. military died than any other? If you said The War Between the States, you would be correct.

Here are the statistics: 1,330,057 died in 10 Major Wars through the Gulf War. Subtracting the 650,00 est.(49%), who died in the WBTS, that leaves 680,057 in all other wars.

It is shocking when you think about it. The next highest number of casualties was WWII with 407,00 dead, but the population of our country at that time was 133 million. Total population during the "Civil War" - 31.5 million.

Elements of Tragedy in the lives of Jefferson Davis & Judah Benjamin

 Judah P. Benjamin served as Attorney General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State in the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Historians have called him the "brains of the Confederacy". He was obviously Jefferson Davis's loyal confident, and Varina Davis testified in a letter that he spent ten to twelve hours a day in the office with her husband. Yet Davis hardly mentions him in his memoirs.

One of the many fascinating things about this book was the comparison of the personal lives of these two men. The author, Eli Evans says that both men were in love with "ghosts" - Davis with the memory of his first wife who died after three months of marriage, and Benjamin, with his "smoldering Creole temptress" he first encountered over English lessons in New Orleans.

Davis found another who cared for him deeply, while Benjamin endured an unhappy marriage, held together only by his wealth and his willingness to live apart from his wife and daughter.

This is a very interesting book which I wholeheartedly recommend. It gives a great deal of insight into the personalities of Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and Varina Davis.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Celebration at the First White House

As you know if you are a faithful blog reader, that Monday we celebrated the 204th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.

It was a busy and happy time, with the House bustling with people and much excitement in the air! We were all eager to hear what our accomplished speaker, Murfee Gewin had to tell us, and we were not disappointed!

Murfee brought a fresh and warm approach to the life of Jefferson Davis. It was obvious that he had given a great deal of thought to the subject matter. He reminded us that Davis' father was a Revolutionary War Veteran, and that the Revolution was still very much in the hearts and minds of the men who established the CSA. That is why George Washington is in the middle of the Great Seal of the Confederacy.

  Davis had conflicting views on secession and tried to keep the union together, but when he was not successful, this American patriot supported his beloved Mississippi and the South wholeheartedly.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jefferson Davis' 204 Birthday Today!

Today is the 204th commemoration of Jefferson Davis' birth. He was born June 3, 1808 in Fairview, Ky, and moved at an early age to Mississippi with his family. He died in New Orleans on December 6, 1889 at the age of 81.

He was temporarily buried in Metarie cemetery, but 18 months later his body was moved to Richmond where he was buried in Hollywood Cemetery, considered to be the "National Cemetery of the Confederacy".

We will celebrate his birthday tomorrow at the First White House of the Confederacy, as we do every year, with a speech by Murfee Gewin, and birthday cake, at 11:00. If you are anywhere nearby and can attend, we will be honored to have you.

This event is one of the two things we do every year. The other is to celebrate the birthday of Robert E. Lee on January 19th.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On Memorial Day Looking Back at 1862

Today we honor the brave men and women who have given their lives in all the wars since our nation was founded, and I can't help but think of the horrors of war, especially the War Between the States when so many lives were lost as our nation was torn apart.

I am looking at the commemorative stamps issued this year by the US Postal Service, honoring the battles of New Orleans and  Antietam, Here are some quotes that accompany the new stamps that seem appropriate for Memorial Day.

 "The shrieks of the wounded and dying was terrible, but they rallied and came at us again and our men again awaited until they came in range and again arose and mowed them down...but they came again." (James C. Steele, 4th North Carolina)

and another "Mr. Brady had done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along the streets, he has done something very like it." (New York Times).

 I close with this one: "Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background of countless minor scenes...and it is best they should not - the real war will never get in the books." (Walt Whitman)