Saturday, December 31, 2011

So, Have a Happy New Year With Jeff Davis Punch

I have printed this before with the permission given by Jefferson Davis's great-great grandson, Bertram Hayes-Davis.It is supposed to have been invented by Winnie for her father's birthday in later years.
3/4 cup lemon juice
1-3/4 lbs sugar dissolved in water
6 bottles (4/5) claret
1 bottle light rum
1 bottle - dry sherry
1/2 bottle - brandy
3 bottles (1 qt) ginger ale
3 bottles (1 qt) soda
Float with sliced cucumber & oranges & ice. Dilute to taste 0 serves 100 approx. punch cups.
Note: looks like  a pretty potent potable to me! Be careful. I take no responsibility!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stewardship Report on The First White House Collection

Yesterday I outlined some of the events that the Association put on to mark our the beginning of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States in 2011. Today I want to talk about some of the work that has been done in the House, some by the State of Alabama and some by the Association.

The State has been most attentive in every area that they have been asked to help with. There is a constant need for walls and ceilings to be "repaired" as paint and plaster continue to rain down upon us. They have manfully taken up the task of seeing that this is done. Likewise the heating and air condition problems. We are grateful!

The Association has  had the gasoliers conserved and moved to places of prominence. We have sold the reproductions so that just about all items in the house are of the 1860 period or earlier. The furniture has also been conserved and polished so that everything sparkles. We have moved furniture here and there in an effort to make the rooms more pleasing to the eye and to have the finest pieces show up to their advantage.

We have had the historic, original iron fence repaired. We have also had a lovely iron bench made, thanks to the generosity of the Merry Weeders Garden Club. We are looking forward to 2012 and new challenges and goals set and hopefully accomplished!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recapping 2011 Year For The "Jeff Davis" House in Montgomery

In preparing for the end of the year I thought it would be fun to recap 2011 Sesquicentennial events in which the First White House of the Confederacy participated:

 January 19 – celebrated our annual Robert E. Lee birthday party with Bill Rambo, speaker.

February 16 – co-sponsored event with the Dept. of Archives & History, commemorating the evening Jefferson Davis came to Montgomery and Yancey made his famous “man & the hour have met” speech. Dr. Ralph Draughon of Auburn presented the speech by Yancey.

March 8 – our FWH annual spring luncheon, with guest speaker Judge Mark Anderson

May 6 – our Sesquicentennial fundraiser with William C. Davis, speaker

June 3 – celebrated Jefferson Davis’s birthday with Senator Dick Brewbaker, speaker
October 27 – we had our annual fall meeting

On January 19, 2012 at 11:00 am. we will again meet to celebrate Robert E. Lee's Birthday with Bob Bradley, Chief Curator for the Alabama Archives and History Dept. as our speaker. We look forward to this event.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Varina Writes About Their Last Christmas In Richmond

This article by Varina Davis on their last Christmas at the  White House  was reprinted in the Washington Times today. I have quoted parts of it before, and we have it in its entirety in our files.It was first published in the New York World in 1896 and has been republished many times since.

She says: “Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President's wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all been weighed and issued, and the playtime of the family began, but like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky came the information that the orphans at the Episcopalian home had been promised a Christmas tree and the toys, candy and cakes must be provided, as well as one pretty prize for the most orderly girl among the orphans."

“The kind-hearted confectioner was interviewed by our committee of managers, and he promised a certain amount of his simpler kinds of candy, which he sold easily a dollar and a half a pound, but he drew the line at cornucopias to hold it, or sugared fruits to hang on the tree, and all the other vestiges of Christmas creations which had lain on his hands for years.”
Varina and Jefferson Davis, 1845
Toys for the Orphans
“The ladies dispersed in anxious squads of toy-hunters, and each one turned over the store of her children's treasures for a contribution to the orphans' tree. My little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure: eyeless dolls, three-legged horses, tops with the upper peg broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone silent and all the ruck of children's toys that gather in a nursery closet."

“Some small feathered chickens and parrots which nodded their heads in obedience to a weight beneath them were furnished with new tail feathers, lambs minus much of their wool were supplied with a cotton wool substitute, rag dolls were plumped out and recovered with clean cloth, and the young ladies painted their fat faces in bright colors and furnished them with beads for eyes.”

Doll House Production
“But the tug of war was how to get something with which to decorate the orphans' tree. Our manservant, Robert Brown, was much interested and offered to make the prize toy. He contemplated a ‘sure enough house, with four rooms.’ His part in the domestic service was delegated to another and he gave himself over in silence and solitude to the labors of the architect."

“My sister painted mantel shelves, door panels, pictures and frames for the walls, and finished with black grates in which there blazed a roaring fire, which was pronounced marvelously realistic. We all made furniture of twigs and pasteboard, and my mother made pillows, mattresses, sheets and pillow cases for the two little bedrooms."

“Christmas Eve a number of young people were invited to come and string apples and popcorn for the trees; a neighbor very deft in domestic arts had tiny candle moulds [sic] made and furnished all the candles for the tree. However, the puzzle and triumph of all was the construction of a large number of cornucopias. At last someone suggested a conical block of wood, about which the drawing paper could be wound and pasted. In a little book shop, a number of small, highly colored pictures cut out and ready to apply were unearthed, and our old confectioner friend, Mr. Piazzi, consented, with a broad smile, to give ‘all the love verses the young people wanted to roll with the candy.’"

Merriment on Christmas Eve to Work
“About twenty young men and girls gathered around small tables in one of the drawing rooms of the mansion and the cornucopias were begun. The men wrapped the squares of candy, first reading the ‘sentiments’ printed upon them, such as ‘Roses are red, violets blue, sugar's sweet and so are you, ‘If you love me as I love you, no knife can cut our love in two.’ The fresh young faces, wreathed in smiles, nodded attention to the reading, while with their small deft hands they ginned the cornucopias and pasted on the pictures."

“Where were the silk tops to come from? Trunks of old things were turned out and snippings of silk and even woolen of bright colors were found to close the tops, and some of the young people twisted sewing silk into cords with which to draw the bags up. The beauty of those home-made things astonished us all, for they looked quite ‘custom-made,’ but when the ‘sure enough house’ was revealed to our longing gaze the young people clapped their approbation, while Robert, whose sense of dignity did not permit him to smile, stood the impersonation of successful artist and bowed his thanks for our approval."
Confederate White House, 1864
“Then the coveted eggnog was passed around in tiny glass cups and pronounced good. Crisp home-made ginger snaps and snowy lady cake completed the refreshments of Christmas Eve. The children allowed to sit up and be noisy in their way as an indulgence took a sip of eggnog out of my cup, and the eldest boy confided to his father: 'Now I just know this is Christmas.' In most of the houses in Richmond these same scenes were enacted, certainly in every one of the homes of the managers of the Episcopalian Orphanage. A bowl of eggnog was sent to the servants, and a part of everything they coveted of the dainties.”

Makeshift Toys for the Children and Adult Gifts
“At last quiet settled on the household and the older members of the family began to stuff stockings with molasses candy, red apples, an orange, small whips plaited by the family with high-colored crackers, worsted reins knitted at home, paper dolls, teetotums [sic] made of large horn bottoms and a match which could spin indefinitely, balls of worsted rags wound hard and covered with old kid gloves, a pair of pretty woolen gloves for each, either cut of cloth and embroidered on the back or knitted by some deft hand out of home-spun wool."

“For the President there were a pair of chamois-skin riding gauntlets exquisitely embroidered on the back with his monogram in red and white silk, made, as the giver wrote, under the guns of Fortress Monroe late at night for fear of discovery. There was a hemstitched linen handkerchief, with a little sketch in indelible ink in one corner; the children had written him little letters, their grandmother having held their hands, the burthen [sic] of which compositions was how they loved their dear father.
"For one of the inmates of the home, who was greatly loved but whose irritable temper was his prominent failing, there was a pretty cravat, the ends of which were embroidered, as was the fashion of the day. The pattern chosen was simple and on it was pinned a card with the word ‘amiable’ to complete the sentence. One of the [missing] received a present of an illuminated copy of Solomon's proverbs found in the same old store from which the pictures came. He studied it for some time and announced: ‘I have changed my opinion of Solomon, he uttered such unnecessary platitudes -- now why should he have said 'The foolishness of a fool is his folly?’"

The Dawn of Christmas
On Christmas morning the children awoke early and came in to see their toys. They were followed by the negro women, who one after another ‘caught’ us by wishing us a merry Christmas before we could say it to them, which gave them a right to a gift. Of course, there was a present for every one, small though it might be, and one who had been born and brought up at our plantation was vocal in her admiration of a gay handkerchief. As she left the room she ejaculated: ‘Lord knows mistress knows our insides; she jest got the very thing I wanted.’"

Mrs. Davis's Strange Presents
“For me there were six cakes of delicious soap, made from the grease of ham boiled for a family at Farmville, a skein of exquisitely fine gray linen thread spun at home, a pincushion of some plain brown cotton material made by some poor woman and stuffed with wool from her pet sheep, and a little baby hat plaited by the orphans and presented by the industrious little pair who sewed the straw together. They pushed each other silently to speak, and at last mutely offered the hat, and considered the kiss they gave the sleeping little one ample reward for the industry and far above the fruit with which they were laden."

“Another present was a fine, delicate little baby frock without an inch of lace or embroidery upon it, but the delicate fabric was set with fairy stitches by the dear invalid neighbor who made it, and it was very precious in my eyes. There were also a few of Swinburne's best songs bound in wall-paper and a chamois needle book left for me by young Mr. P., now succeeded to his title in England. In it was a Brobdingnagian thimble ‘for my own finger, you know,’ said the handsome, cheerful young fellow. After breakfast, at which all the family, great and small, were present, came the walk to St. Paul's Church. We did not use our carriage on Christmas or, if possible to avoid it, on Sunday. The saintly Dr. Minnegerode preached a sermon on Christian love, the introit was sung by a beautiful young society woman and the angels might have joyfully listened."

"Our chef did wonders with the turkey and roast beef, and drove the children quite out of their propriety by a spun sugar hen, life-size, on a nest full of blanc mange eggs. The mince pie and plum pudding made them feel, as one of the gentlemen laughingly remarked, 'like their jackets were buttoned,' a strong description of repletion which I have never forgotten. They waited with great impatience and evident dyspeptic symptoms for the crowning amusement of the day, 'the children's tree.' My eldest boy, a chubby little fellow of seven, came to me several times to whisper: 'Do you think I ought to give the orphans my I.D. studs?' When told no, he beamed with the delight of an approving conscience. All throughout the afternoon first one little head and then another popped in at the door to ask: 'Isn't it 8 o'clock yet?,' burning with impatience to see the 'children's tree.''

A Tree for the Children
"When at last we reached the basement of St. Paul's Church, the tree burst upon their view like the realization of Aladdin's subterranean orchard, and they were awed by its grandeur. The orphans sat mute with astonishment until the opening hymn and prayer and the last amen had been said, and then they at a signal warily and slowly gathered around the tree to receive from a lovely young girl their allotted present. The different gradations from joy to ecstasy which illuminated their faces was ‘worth two years of peaceful life’ to see."

"The President became so enthusiastic that he undertook to help in the distribution, but worked such wild confusion giving everything asked for into their outstretched hands, that we called a halt, so he contented himself with unwinding one or two tots from a network of strung popcorn in which they had become entangled and taking off all apples he could when unobserved, and presenting them to the smaller children. When at last the house was given to the ‘honor girl’ she moved her lips without emitting a sound, but held it close to her breast and went off in a corner to look and be glad without witnesses."

‘When the lights were fled, the garlands dead, and all but we departed’ we also went home to find that Gen. Lee had called in our absence, and many other people. Gen. Lee had left word that he had received a barrel of sweet potatoes for us, which had been sent to him by mistake. He did not discover the mistake until he had taken his share (a dishful) and given the rest to the soldiers! We wished it had been much more for them and him.”

“Starvation Dance Party”
“The night closed with a ‘starvation’ party,' where there were no refreshments, at a neighboring house. The rooms lighted as well as practicable, some one willing to play dance music on the piano and plenty of young men and girls comprised the entertainment. Sam Weller's soiry [sic - soiree refers to a party or reception held in the evening], consisting of boiled mutton and capers, would have been a royal feast in the Confederacy."

“The officers, who rode into town with their long cavalry boots pulled well up over their knees, but splashed up their waists, put up their horses and rushed to the places where their dress uniform suits had been left for safekeeping. They very soon emerged, however, in full toggery and entered into the pleasures of their dance with the bright-eyed girls, who many of them were fragile as fairies, but worked like peasants for their home and country."

“These young people are gray-haired now, but the lessons of self-denial, industry and frugality in which they became past mistresses then, have made of them the most dignified, self-reliant and tender women I have ever known -- all honor to them. So, in the interchange of the courtesies and charities of life, to which we could not add its comforts and pleasures, passed the last Christmas in the Confederate mansion.”

Soon the Davises would be forced to leave their home, as Richmond fell to the Federals and our brave soldiers could hold out no longer.

First White House Blog Update

When the end of the year rolls around I like to check the status of our blog.We have had 7,489 hits all time, and 540 last month. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

1. Descendants of Jefferson Davis  - (Jan 9, 29011) - 389 page views
2. The Man and The Hour have Met -  (Feb 10, 2011) - 139 views
3. Brierfield, Plantation Home of Jefferson Davis - (Nov 27, 2010) - 83 views
4. Little Known Facts about The War, The Davis Family, etc - (Sept 20, 2010) - 73 views
5. Doctors, Disease & Amputations in The War - (Mar 28, 2011) -  73 views
6. An Opinion About The Real Lincoln - (Mar 6, 2011) - 66 views
7. Reenactment of Inauguration Day, Feb 18, 1861 - (Oct 18, 2010) - 63
8. Young Slave Woman Whipped? Sorry, I don't think so - (March 2, 2011) - 52
9. Important Events in the Life of Jefferson Davis - (Nov 16, 2010) - 51
10. Jefferson Davis's Sword, Rifle & Walking Stock - (June 2, 2011) - 47

Thanks faithful readers. I appreciate you! We  write this to attract attention to the First White House in hopes that we will have many more visitors in the coming year! Please help us spread the word!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Plaque Honoring Jefferson Davis At St. John's Episcopal Church

I read an article on the Internet by Winston Skinner of the Times Herald in Newnan, GA., titled "St. John's Episcopal Church has plaque recalling Jefferson Davis". The plaque, of course, is because the Davis family worshiped there during the time Montgomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America and the church is commemorating the memory of this great man.

The home rented for the Davis family was only a few blocks away from St. John's. Skinner points out that the Davis family were Baptists, the Howells - Mrs. Davis's family - Episcopalians. Jefferson Davis was not a member of any church until they moved to Richmond and he was confirmed in St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Mattie Pegues Wood wrote in "The Life of St John's Parish" that the President "bowed his head a little lower" when prayers were offered for him in his official role at St. John's. Throughout its history, St. John's has offered a place of solace and peace, and I am sure that was of great benefit to President Davis.

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Appreciation Of More Comments And...A Poem About Old Houses

Thanks for the comments on the Saturday, December 17 blog. How much we appreciate those kind words of anonymous,  as well as the interesting follow-up on slavery by Richard, and  how it has affected the whole country, even down into the modern era.

Hope all our readers will read  all comments made by our thoughtful readers! And please feel free, everyone to comment. It helps us all.

I have a delightful Christmas present for you today - a poem titled Old Houses by Walter Blackstock, which is in one of the files carefully preserved by Mrs. Napier, our Honorary Regent for Life. I don't think you can read this one without thinking of our wonderful First White House of the Confederacy!

I love old houses, set among old trees,
And filled with creaking time and age-spun dust;
I hove the quiet, spacious rooms that hold
A silent history within their must,
Old furnishings are best - tall stately clocks
That tick white-whispered time, and seats of red
Deep plush and draperies of faded gold
And sunlight spilling on a rosewood bed.

New homes, rain-bright, seem ever to withhold
The magic of romance, the shell of song
Of older places; living is untried
Where shadows keep no secrets, good or wrong.

I love the dawn, the daffodil - new sun
Of day, the first warm throb of April green'
But something in my blood and tissue finds
Delight in greybeard houses, old and lean.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Comment - This Time About Stonewall Jackson and Gettysburg

We invite comments from all our readers and we hope you will go back to our Dec 4 blog "Stonewall Jackson and His Christian Principles" and read Richard's excellent comments.

It makes me so sad to think of what might have happened, had Stonewall lived (Richard says Gettysburg might have been avoided altogether),  but being a "Presbyterian" helps me to remember that God is in control of all events, and that for reasons yet unknown to us finite human creatures He did not want this Country to split into two, i.e. it was not His Will that the South win the war, as hard as that is sometimes to believe.

Of course slavery was wrong, and its abolition was a good result of a horrible bloody war,  but the north was culpable too. Our culture was locked into a system that we cannot begin to understand from today's perspective. Slavery would have and should have ended without bloodshed as had happened in almost all the other nations of the world. Greed entered in - duh, doesn't it always? When we say "its not about the money" it usually always is!

Bottom line: we weren't there and we cannot with hindsight fix anything that has already taken place. We can learn from it though, can't we? Who was it that said "if we don't study history, we are bound to repeat it"?

Richard's Comments On Dec 5 blog about Christmas During Civil War

Thanks Richard, for your comments on Christmas during the War, (blog of Dec 5th), and how the soldiers must have felt. I am sure as you suggest that they mus have wondered if they would ever spend another Christmas at home with their loved ones, especially as the war dragged on year after bloody year.

Here is a brief review of what was going on in December 1864 according to General John Napier and Cameron Freeman Napier: John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee had just been shattered at the Battle of Franklin on November 30th and at Nashville on Dec 15-16th - 12,000 casualties in two weeks. One Tennessee veteran said "Ain't we in a helluva fix, a one-eyed President, a one-legged general and a one-horse Confederacy".

Sherman had marched to the sea and wired President Lincoln he was giving him Savannah as a Christmas gift.  Just miles from Richmond the Petersburg Campaign continued after the Battle of the Crater June 23-24, 1864.  Montgomery had been threatened by Rousseau's Raiders which had wrecked the railroad in Columbus, so trenches 4 ft deep and 6 ft wide were dug around the city.

But typically Montgomery, there was a benefit at Ladies Hospital, the day after Christmas and there was a production of Richelieu, at the Montgomery Theatre, the last wartime production. As General Napier said, "The Confederacy was dying".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Traditions in the Old South

One of the many causes of the War was the difference in the kinds of people who settled in the northeast as opposed to those who settled in Virgina and the Carolinas and later went west and south.

The Puritans of New England regarded Christmas as tainted with Catholicism and the Massachusetts Bay Colony banned Christmas in 1659. Meanwhile our ancestors down in Virgina were observing Advent for four weeks before Christmas, and making preparations for family and friends and house parties that lasted for days.

Polishing silver and brass, lighting the Advent wreaths and celebrating Christmas gloriously with music and drinking and dancing and revelry during the Twelve Days of Christmas, Dec 25-Jan 6 is how these stalwart Southerners handled it. And in their migrations south and west they took their cavalier heritage and Christmas traditions with them.

In fact, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama in the 1830's became the first states in the nation to declare Christmas a legal holiday. It was not until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking for Missing Plaques

The White House Association is looking for a missing small brass plaque that was on the Old Goodyear building downtown where the Skate Board Park is today that says it is the site of the First White House of the Confederacy when Jefferson Davis lived there. It was removed when the building was torn down and no one can find it. We would love to have it. It was originally put there by the Sophie Bibb Chapter of the UDC I believe.
Also there was another plaque that was in the Old Supreme Court room in the Alabama State Capitol that says: "This plaque marked the Old Supreme Court Room (1885-1940) in which the body of President Jefferson Davis lay in state, Monday, May 29, 1893 en route from New Orleans, Louisiana to Richmond, Virginia for permanent interment. Erected by the White House Association 1970".
This plaque was taken down when the Capitol underwent restoration and no one can locate it.
If anyone knows where we could find either of these are we would love to have them.

Monday, December 5, 2011

More About Christmas During the Civil War

I read in the Civil War Women Blog that the most beloved symbol of the American family Christmas is the Christmas tree, and that it came into its own before and during the Civil War. The decorations, as you can imagine, were homemade: strings of sugared fruit, ribbon, popcorn, pine cones, colored paper, silver foil and spun-glass ornaments.

Greenery, same as today, was used to decorate mantels, windows and tables. We still do this at the First White House of the Confederacy, using magnolia, cedar, pine and holly. Cedar wreaths decorate our staircase this year.

 The pre-war Southern Christmas menu usually consisted of baked ham, turkey, oysters and winter vegetables from the root cellar: squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots and apples. Preserves, pickles and relishes, breads, pies and pudding were also used. My grandmother always served ambrosia (she called it the "nectar of the gods").

Of course this bounty was no longer available during and after the war. Laughter turned to tears and festivities to gloom. The holiday most associated with family and home was a contradiction with men away fighting, some never to return. A way of life was "gone with the wind" forever, never to return.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stonewall Jackson and his Christian Principles

I wasn't able to find much written about religion during the War, except from the Northern point of view, and so I turned to one of my favorite characters, Stonewall Jackson. I found an interesting article about him on line, written by Stephen W. Sears, March 16, 1997, titled "Onward Christian Soldier".

The article is about what was then a new book on Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson, Professor at VPI. In discussing Jackson's religious faith, Robertson quotes one of Jackson's aides, James Power Smith: ''The religion of Stonewall Jackson will be the chief and most effective way into the secret spring of the character and career of this strong man.''

 Robertson tells us:"Jackson was fanatical in his Presbyterian faith, and it energized his military thought and character. Theology was the only subject he genuinely enjoyed discussing. His dispatches invariably credited an ever-kind Providence. Assigning his fate to God's hands, he acted utterly fearlessly on the battlefield -- and expected the same of everyone else in Confederate gray. Jackson's God smiled South, blessing him with the strength of Joshua to smite the Amalekites without mercy."

 Sears tells us: "Previous biographers have ignored or soft-pedaled this mercilessness in war, but Mr. Robertson underlines it as a source of Jackson's fierce battlefield leadership.

This fanatical religiosity had drawbacks. It warped Jackson's judgment of men, leading to poor appointments; it was said he preferred good Presbyterians to good soldiers. It branded him holier-than-thou, with an intolerance for others' frailties, and this spilled over onto the battlefield to generate truly senseless confrontations with his lieutenants."

 One such, with General Hill, led Hill to rage at ''that crazy old Presbyterian fool'' and seek to escape from Jackson's command. Another lieutenant, reading in a Jackson dispatch that ''God blessed our arms with victory,'' remarked irreverently, ''I suppose it is true, but we would have had no victory if we hadn't fought like the devil!''

For Civil War buffs, Mr. Robertson provides plenty of debating points about Jackson's two most-discussed campaigns -- in the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1862 and, immediately afterward, in the Seven Days battle before Richmond. Here was Stonewall Jackson at his best, then at his worst. His.partnership with Lee reached its apogee at Chancellorsville - and then ended with shocking suddenness. Lee said it best: "I do not know how to replace him".

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Music During The Civil War

Although Christmas did not become an official holiday until five years after the Civil War ended, Wikipedia tells us that Carols, hymns and seasonal songs were sung during the Christmas season, 1861-1865.

 If you enjoy Christmas music as much I do, you may be interested in the fact that some of the carols  popular during the War are still sung today. Among these are "Deck the Halls", "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", and Mendelssohn's "Hark the Herald Angels sing" (1840),

American musical contributions to the season include "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" (1850), "Jingle Bells" (1857), "We Three Kings of Orient Are" (1857) and "up on the Housetop" (1860).

 Longfellow wrote his pacifist poem, "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Bells" on Christmas Day 1864 after he herd his son had suffered severe wounds during the Mine Run Campaign. The poem was set to music by John Baptiste Calkin after 1872 and is in the established library of Christmas carols. Wikipedia says that Longfellow's carol does not include two stanzas from the original poem that focused on the war.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mrs. Jefferson Davis Writes About Christmas

/The following is from a newspaper clipping included among the Jefferson Davis papers at Rice University.It is by Varina Davis and appeared in the New York World on Sunday, December 13, 1896. She writes about Christmas in the South during the War.

She says: "For as Christmas season was ushered in under the darkest clouds, everyone felt the cataclysm which impended but the rosy, expectant faces of our little children were a constant reminder that self-sacrifice must be the personal offering of each member of the family. How to satisfy the children when nothing better could be done than the little makeshift attainable in the Confederacy was the problem of the older members of each household".

She goes on to talk about the missing ingredients for the "mince pie" which was a must for Christmas. In fact,  the children considered that at least a slice of that much-coveted dainty was their right, and the price of indigestion paid for it was a debt of honor!!!

She says that the many excited housekeepers in Richmond had preserved all the fruits attainable, (including apples from the plenteous apple trees, and these were substituted for the time-honored raisins and currants. The brandy and cider were forthcoming. Hooray, Christmas would be a success!!!