Saturday, December 28, 2013

Welcome 2014

Hello Readers,
We hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and holidays and that you are ready for the New Year and 2014. It is coming, ready or not! Just want you to know I will be away for a few days starting tomorrow but hope to return the end of this week to start the new year right with regular blogs once again!
Another biggie will be if Auburn can win the National Championship on January 6th against a very formidable opponent, Florida State University. Regardless of the outcome, it is amazing that Auburn is in the BCS title bowl game.
2014 will also begin the sesquicentennial of the fourth year of the War Between the States. Things are beginning to unravel rather quickly for the South.  We will recount those battles right here so stay tuned.
We will also report on upcoming activities at the First White House of the Confederacy. There will be busy days ahead! I will take up where I leave off in a few days. Please stay with me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Signing At the First White House January 16, 2014

The First White House of the Confederacy is pleased to announce an upcoming book signing by historian and author David P. Bridges, historian and professor at the university of Richmond in Virginia..
This will be Thursday, January 16, 4:00 - 6:00 pm when David will discuss "What makes an Alabama hero today vs. during the Civil War?"
David's book is "The  Broken Circle" and is a dramatic historical novel about his great, great uncle Dr. James Breathed, a Maryland doctor who chose to fight with the Confederate Army to preserves the Southern way of life.
Alabama's hero, General John Pelham, who is in the Alabama Hall of Fame, was Dr. Breathed's commander and best friend. Please come to the book signing if you are in the vicinity, and if not, order the book on

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ezekial Moses, Confederate Soldier and Sculptor

Reading through an album of our trip to Virginia Battlefields a photo of a very imposing statue caught my eye. It is called "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" and stands on the campus of Virginia Military Institute The sculpture was done by Moses Ezekiel, a graduate of the Institute, who later became a world renown sculptor, and who donated the statue to the school.
 You may remember the story: in 1864, a Union army under Franz Sigel moved through the Shenandoah Valley intending to capture Lynchburg, an important supply hub. Confederate Commander John C. Breckinridge assembled a makeshift army to stop Sigel. Desperately needing more men, Breckinridge contacted VMI Superintendent Francis H. Smith, asking to  have the VMI cadet corps join him as a reserve troop.
The 258 cadets, including Ezekiel practically ran the 81 miles to join Breckinridge near the town of New Market. During the battle, when Breckinridge's line wavered, the Confederate commander in desperation ordered the cadets to join the fight, saying "Put the boys in, and may God forgive me."
When the battle was over the Confederates had won, but at the cost of 10 cadets dead or mortally wounded, and 47 others wounded. Among the mortally wounded was Ezekiel's roommate, who died two days later in Ezekiel's arms. Moses Ezekiel never forgot that frightful experience.
And this may be of special interest to you: The Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery was also done by Moses Ezekiel. Carved around the base of this Memorial are these words from the book of Isaiah in the Holy Bible, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Blog Book Coming Soon

Hello Dear Readers,
I mentioned this in my  August 5, 2013 blog, but I want you to know that with the help of my good friend and author of the Miss Budge books, Daphne Simpkins, we are nearly ready to publish our Blog Book.
It is shaping up to be a book about  some of my blogs that have been written since I began in August of 2010.
The blogs will be in three sections: one about Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Family; second about the War and all things Confederate: and third about The First White House, the celebrations there and the struggle for its survival.
I will keep you posted on when it will be available. In the meantime don't forget to check the First White House website at and our Facebook page and please keep reading our blog and tell others about it. We appreciate your interest and encouragement.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things You May Not Know About the Alabama State Capitol Grounds

Alabama became a State in 1819 and the first permanent capitol was at Cahawba (near Selma) but as the area was prone to flooding the capitol was moved to Tuscaloosa in 1826. Montgomery became the capital in 1846 and the present Capitol building was completed in 1851 after the first building  burned two years earlier.
As Alvin Benn, writer for the Montgomery Advertiser said in an article titled "Capitol grounds a dazzling outdoor museum" June 9, 2013, "Alabama's Capitol is a marvelous museum inside and out".
Benn mentioned the brass star at the top of the front steps where Jefferson Davis took the oath as the Provisional President of the Confederacy, as well as the orange roses planted in the rose garden in honor of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King.
Several statues are on the Capitol grounds including one to  James Marion Sims and one honoring John Allen Wyeth. "Who are they" one might ask?  Wyeth founded a medical school in New York and Sims was known as the Father of Modern Gynecology. There is also a very impressive statue of President Jefferson Davis.
The most impressive structure on the Capitol grounds is the Confederate Monument which took 12 years to build and was completed in 1898. Jefferson Davis came to dedicate  the cornerstone in 1886 three years before he died.

There is also a Liberty Bell replica which was put there in 1976 in honor of the bicentennial of our nation, and an Avenue of Flags which includes the flags of all 50 states as well as a stone or rock from each state. The flags are on the South side, facing the First White House of the Confederacy, so if you are visiting the Alabama State Capitol, be sure and stop in at the First White House! You will be warmly greeted.

As a personal aside,the Robert Henry Tile Company installed the beautiful marble steps in front of the Capitol. My father, Robert F. Henry, Sr., owned the business at the time, and Henry Tile Company is now owned and run by my brother, Robert Henry, Jr. and his two sons and daughter, my nephews and niece.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Numbers of Vistors to The First White House and The Blog

Have you wondered how many visitors we have at the First White House of the Confederacy annually? Over 25,000 from almost every state in the Union and from many foreign countries.
 Through the end of October this year we have actually had 13,259  plus from Alabama, 10,196 from other States, and 1568 from outside the U.S.
Most of these tourists spend at least two nights in our Capitol City of Montgomery, and eat at downtown restaurants, bringing cash flow into the community. They shop at gift shops too, including ours. Our visitors buy such things as T shirts, books, children's toys, and  almost anything with "First White House"  on it.

Here is an update on our blog: since August of 2010 we have had 63,464 people visit our blog, with 2127 last month. The largest number of readers has been from the U.S. but we have had large numbers of blog readers from Austria, Russia, France, Germany, UK, Sweden, Poland, China and Turkey.

The three most read blogs have been "Who Really Designed the First Confederate Flag?" "Jefferson Davis Descendants" and "Miss Budge-Another Real Southern Lady".

I want to invite all of you who have already visited the First White House to come again and see the new items that have been added. Someone is always there  ready to welcome you back!!! Ditto with the Blog!!!


Exciting News About the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has notified its members that the Museum is joining forces with the American Civil War Center at the Historic Tredegar Iron Works site to make Richmond the "foremost Civil War destination in the United States."
The $30 million project will result in the construction of a brand new museum building at the Tredegar Iron Works site.
The largest priority of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has always been the protection of its incredible collection, which includes artifacts belonging to Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee and many others. The new museum will provide better storage for the collection, improved displays and a larger and better venue for hosting educational programs.
 The Second White House in Richmond, located next door to the Museum of the Confederacy, will be celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018. It will continue to operate as normal, as will the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox.
We are so happy for the Museum of the Confederacy and the American Civil War Center. Congratulations to you and especially to Waite Rawls III, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking At The First White House With New Eyes

Whenever  I have the privilege of showing guests around the First White House I tend to see our wonderful House Museum, in which Jefferson Davis and his family lived anew through the eyes of our visitors.
Today it was a gentleman who specializes in furniture restoration and custom woodwork.  This Huntsville visitor was interested in a number of our pieces, in particular the bookcases made by Doran that are in the President's Study which he studied at length.  
This guest was also interested in a number of other pieces of furniture, notably an armoire, also called a wardrobe, in President Davis's bedroom that the President had used at Beauvoir and which probably had been made in either New York City or Philadelphia and shipped to the southern market.
Another piece the gentleman particularly liked was a magnificent walnut Gothic Revival Bookcase, circa 1845, probably made in the Brooklyn, NY workshop of Thomas Brooks and is in our Second Parlor. Gothic Revival furniture is exceedingly rare and sought for on the antique market.
An English Teapoy, William IV, circa 1835 also caught the eye of our visitor today. Teapoys were one of the loveliest forms of early-nineteenth-century English furniture, taking the place of tabletop tea caddies. It was a delightful afternoon for us to share our treasures with this accomplished young man and his father who was visiting him from Virginia.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Silver Dipper Joins Water Cooler at First White House

Back in the 1930's a large Silver Water Cooler was presented to the Collection of the First White House of the Confederacy by Miss Otis Cox of Connecticut. Miss Cox was the daughter of Jesse J. Cox, a popular captain of a steamboat on the Alabama River in antebellum times, to whom the water color had belonged. 
According to family tradition given by Miss Cox, the water cooler was in the Cox plantation residence when the Federal troops known as Wilson's Raiders came past, on their way from Selma to Montgomery in the last days of the war in 1865. The water cooler was supposedly taken with other family silver and buried for safekeeping. The cooler is a highly unusual and imposing piece, and has graced the dining room of the First White house in Montgomery for some eighty years.
Now, in 2013, a great-grandson of Captain Cox who resides in New Jersey, has generously donated a fine American coin silver Water Dipper, which was originally used with the water cooler. The Cox Dipper was surely chosen to match the decorative elements of the water cooler. It is engraved with grapes and grape leafage, whereas that on the cooler is the same but executed in Repoussee work in high relief. They belong together, as Forrest Gump would say, "like peas and carrots". We are so excited to have the Dipper as a wonderful addition to our Relics.
The Dipper appears to date from the 1850s, as does the cooler. The Dipper also has the name Jesse J Cox written on it. Captain Cox is  thought to have died in 1869. His son,  Jesse James Cox, Jr.,  died in Baton Rouge in 1879 from yellow fever.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Acquisitions at First White House

Two historic Bisque Figures were recently donated to the First White House of the Confederacy by a lovely Birmingham lady who is descended from Sophie Gilmer Bibb. The figures belonged to Mrs. Bibb, who was a significant leader of the Confederate Ladies of Montgomery during the Civil War.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis was a guest in the Bibb home on Molton Street in downtown Montgomery often, the last time being in 1886 when he was in Montgomery for the dedication of the Confederate Memorial Monument on the capitol grounds.
The figures are of a boy with a dog, 13" tall and a girl with a kitten, 14" tall. The "children" are of German origin and date about 1850-60 and would have been in place in the Bibb parlor during the War.
We plan to exhibit them in the Nursery upstairs, where they will enthrall not only little ones, but adults as well. What a wonderful addition to our Collection they are. Thanks so much to our generous donor, who gave these in memory of Sophie Bibb, her great-great-great grandmother, as well as in memory of other family members.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Civil War Timeline, Novesmber 1863

It is hard to believe 1863 almost over. The Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States will continue though, until May, 1865. I thought it might be interesting to look back at the chronology for early November of 1863 and I was surprised to see what took place.
On November 2, 1863 President Lincoln was invited to make a few remarks at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. I suppose we all learned that brief speech  in school, better known as the "Gettysburg Address".
On November 4, Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered James Longstreet to Knoxville, Tenn. General Longstreet was the last of the generals that complained to Jefferson Davis about General Bragg. Bragg seemed universally disliked!
November 6 was the Battle of Droop Mountain, West VA., where US General William Averill defeated Confederate General John Echols, and on November 7 two battles were fought in Virginia, the Battle of Rappahannock Station and the Battle of Kelly's Ford. These two battles were the result of Federal General George Meade advancing on the Army of Northern Virginia.
Fort Sumter, South Carolina was once again attached by heavy shelling on November 7, and this would last until November 10. The siege of Charleston, SC began on November 8 when Confederate General Braxton Bragg appointed Major General John Breckinridge to command Harvey Hill's corps.
On November 11, 1863 Union General Benjamin Butler returned to active duty, commanding the US Army forces of Virginia and North Carolina. All this was a pretty active start to the month of November, 1863, 150 years ago this month!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Civil War Exhibit in Atlanta

I am just back from Atlanta, GA where I had the pleasure of visiting an excellent Civil War Exhibit at the Atlanta History Center in the Buckhead area near the famed Swan House. The exhibit, titled Turning Point: The American Civil War,  located in the 9200 square foot DuBose Gallery is one of the nations largest and most complete Civil War exhibitions.
To my amazement the collection includes over 1500 Union and Confederate artifacts, including cannons, uniforms, flags and many weapons, all in top notch condition. 
Highlights include the Confederate flag that flew over Atlanta at the time of the surrender; a Union supply wagon used by Sherman's army, and a sword belonging to Confederate General Patrick Cleburne.

Cleburne was an Irish American soldier who served in the Confederate army and rose to the rank of Major General. Killed at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864 he was last seen advancing on foot toward the enemy with his sword raised after his horse had been shot out from under him.

When his body was found his boots, sword watch and anything else of value had been taken. I wonder how the museum got his sword? I suppose it was donated by the descendants of whoever might have confiscated it from the battlefield.

The final section of the museum exhibition explores how the Civil War continues its impact on us today. I highly recommend a visit to this museum, and don't forget the Cyclorama, depicting the Battle of Atlanta is also a must-see in this charming capitol city. 


Monday, November 4, 2013

New Acquisitions at the First White House

All faithful blog readers know that the First White House recently acquired a beautiful silver bowl at auction that was given to Varina Davis in 1887 by the citizens of Macon, Georgia.
We have also recently been given a wonderful pair of German hand painted bisque statues given by a generous lady who lives in Birmingham but grew up in Montgomery, and who donated these in memory of her grandmother, and her great-great grandmother and her great-great-great grandmother Sophie Gilmer Bibb. Sophie Bibb lived during the War Between the States and was responsible for so much of what was done by the ladies of Alabama after the war to keep the memory of our brave soldiers alive.
The statues are 14" high and one is of a little boy holding a puppy; the other is a little girl holding a kitten. They are so beguiling and will be placed in the nursery where they will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. We are so indebted!
The second acquisition  is a lovely sterling silver dipper, that is a companion to our silver water cooler that is in the dining room in the First White House. Both the water cooler and the dipper belonged to Captain Jesse J. Cox, popular steamboat captain on the Alabama river, before and during the War.
This generous donation has been made by the great grandson of Jesse Cox, whose grandfather was Arthur Cox, Jesse Cox's son. Arthur Cox was born in 1860 and left the South in the later part of the nineteenth century.
It is reported that the water cooler and dipper were buried right before the Union soldiers came through and burned Captain Cox's home to the ground. We are so pleased to have this lovely piece.
We are so pleased to have these wonderful new additions at the First White House of the Confederacy. Come and see them!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Rice University Papers of Jefferson Davis

The Papers of Jefferson Davis, with editor Lynda L. Crist have been compiled by and are stored at Rice University, Houston, Texas. From these, I pulled a very interesting time line on the life of Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederate States of America.
There are some things I had not known, for instance that Jefferson Davis accepted the nomination for Mississippi governor and resigned his U.S. Senate seat in 1851 to run.
Other items of interest regarding the life of this famous icon of the South. Davis was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal faith at St. Paul's Church in Richmond, May 6, 1862, approximately one year after the start of the War Between the States.
 Released from prison in 1867,  Davis became a vestryman at St. Lazarus Episcopal Church in Memphis in 1870,  having moved to that city in 1869 to take the position of President of the Carolina Life Insurance Company.
Son Billy died of diphtheria at his parents' home in Memphis in 1872, the third son to die. Samuel had died at age 2 in 1854, and Joe had died in an accident in Richmond in 1864. Later Jeff Jr. was to die in Memphis of yellow fever in 1878. Youngest daughter Winnie died September 18, 1898 of malarial gastritis while visiting Rhode Island.
The oldest daughter Margaret married Joel Addison Hayes, Jr. at the St. Lazarus Episcopal Church in Memphis on New Year's day of 1876. Margaret and Joel's first child, Jefferson Davis Hayes was born March 22, 1877 but died of cholera at his parent's home in June of the same year. Margaret and Joel had four more children, Varina Davis Hayes in 1879, Lucy White Hayes, in 1882, Jefferson Addison Hayes in 1884 and William Davis Hayes in 1889.
The President died in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6, 1889 and was temporarily buried in New Orleans on December 11. His final burial was in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia in 1893, after a 21-gun salute. Seventy-five thousand people witnessed the procession to the cemetery.
On October 17, 1978 U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a bill to restore citizenship to Jefferson Davis which passed the U.S. Congress without a dissenting vote.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bookcases by Thomas Doron At First White House

 In the President's Study at the First White House we have a number of very important and significant pieces of furniture, not the leas of which is an  extraordinary pair of rare southern-made mahogany library bookcases, thought to have been made by Thomas S. Doron,  a well-known mid 19th century cabinetmaker, who lived and worked in Montgomery during the 1850s. Doron  (1821-1886) served in the Confederate army. and is buried at Oakwood cemetery 
  One of the bookcase has its original six shelves and is filled with books. In the other. the shelves have been removed to accommodate the display of the original Irish drawn lace curtains of Mrs. Jefferson Davis. On one is  a plaque identifying the pieces as having been used by Thomas Hill Watts when Governor of Alabama and a member of Jefferson Davis's cabinet.

How do we know the two bookcases were made by Thomas Doron? Interestingly, a corner cupboard appeared in Franklin, Tennessee, in May 2000, bearing the signed label of "Thomas S. Doron, Montgomery, Ala., July 1852." The discovery of this important signed piece became a touchstone for further attributions, according to Edward Pattillo, Montgomery  Antiques and Fine Arts Consultant. The signed cupboard is now in the Burritt Museum in Huntsville. A similar corner cupboard with a Montgomery history was found in a significant collection in Marion, Alabama, and a third corner cupboard is at the Landmarks Foundation in Montgomery.
All these have similar characteristics with our bookcases, which led Mr. Pattillo to the opinion that they too were made by Doron. Do come and visit us at the First White House in Montgomery, and be sure to take note of the two bookcases in the President's Study. 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Unique Education of Jefferson Davis

The First White House of the Confederacy contains many books and pamphlets, one of which caught my interest "The Early Life of Jefferson Davis" by Walter L. Fleming, published by the University Bulletin of Louisiana State University, June 1917, reprinted by Charles Estell Baker, D.D., of Birmingham AL in 1993.
Mr. Fleming writes that though Samuel Davis's father was not wealthy, the youngest son (of ten children) was given better educational advantages than the others, and better than most boys of the southwest were given. The family had settled outside of Woodville, Mississippi. His first schooling took place in a log cabin school house in the woods, a mile from his home.
 Even though Jefferson was only seven year old in the summer of 1815, his father sent him to Kentucky to a school at the college of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic institution, near Springfield, KY where he boarded for two years. Can you imagine sending your seven year old child off and not being able to see him or her for two whole years, much less talk on the phone or email them? Obviously his mother was not there when his father made the decision  to send him off!!!
 Fleming writes that in 1818 young Jefferson Davis, home from KY, was sent to Jefferson college at Washington in Adams County, Miss.  At the end of the year Davis returned home once again, and then entered  Wilkinson county academy, which had just been organized, with John A. Shaw of Boston as principal. Davis considered Shaw the best teacher he ever had. Jefferson remained at the county academy until he prepared to enter college.
Fleming writes: "In September  1821, Jefferson Davis, then in his fourteenth year, was sent again to Kentucky to complete his education in Transylvania University at Lexington."

 The young man studied there for three years, and this was followed by four years at West Point, the U.S. Military Academy. Fleming comments, "Up to this time (when he entered West Point),  Jefferson Davis had about as little southern experience and training as it was possible for a southern boy to have. And now was to follow a four-year period of training at West Point, still further removed from southern influences."
I imagine this helped him in many ways, especially when he entered politics and spent so many years in Washington, serving in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the years as Secretary of War under Franklin Peirce, 1852-1856.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jefferson Davis's Last Visit To Mcon, Georgia

In Varina Davis' wonderful Two Volume biography on the life of her husband titled "Jefferson Davis, A Memoir by His Wife" we read in the second volume about the Davises last trip to Macon, Georgia. I was extremely interested in this account since we had just bought the silver bowl that the citizens of Macon had presented to Mrs. Davis on that occasion on November 25, 1887.
Here is what Varina writes: "...our whole family were urged to be present at the yearly agricultural fair at Macon...The enthusiasm baffled description, and on Veterans' Day, as it rained steadily, they were to march to Colonel Johnson's house to greet Mr. Davis; but they were too impatient to pursue the circuitous carriage route, but jumped over the fence and came running, and shouting all the way to greet their old chief; the tattered battle flags were borne in the strong hands that saved them twenty years before from capture, and with tender words 'they called him worthy to be loved,' who looked his last at them through eyes shining with a pride in them too great for words; but the strong, braves heart that had not quailed under danger, imprisonment, and vilification, sunk under the weight of his people's love, and he was stricken with heart failure."
Mrs.. Davis goes on to say that after days of suffering and imminent danger his physician ordered him back to Beauvoir (their retirement home at Biloxi, Mississippi) where he was to remain quiet for the future. She ends this part of her story as follows "Never defeated man had such a following, and never had people a leader who so loved them." The President died two years later.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Orphan Brigade of Kentucky

The Orphan Brigade was the nickname of the First Kentucky Brigade, a group of military units from Kentucky who fought for the Confederacy during the War Between the States.
 Major General John C. Breckinridge, former Vice President of the United States, was the brigade's original commander. When Breckinridge was promoted to division command he was succeeded by Brig. Gen. Roger W. Hanson, who fell at the Battle of Stones River.Tennessee on January 2, 1863.
The name came when the brigade suffered heavy casualties during the battle. In the aftermath Confederate General Braxton Bragg supposedly rode among the survivors crying out repeatedly "My poor Orphans! My poor Orphans". This information was according to Brigade historian Porter Thompson in his 1868 history of the Unit. 
The name probably came because the State of Kentucky stayed neutral during the war, so these men who fought for the Confederacy were viewed as orphans. Interestingly, Kentucky was represented by a star in the flags of both the United States and the Confederate States of America.
The Orphan Brigade lost another fine commander at the Battle of Chickamauga, Tenn. on Sept. 20, 1863 when Brig. Gen.  Benjamin Hardin Helm was mortally wounded when he was shot in the chest by a sharpshooter from the 15th Kentucky Union infantry. Helm was the brother-in law of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Union President, Abraham Lincoln.
Edwin Porter Thompson who wrote the "History of the First Kentucky Brigade" and the "History of the Orphan Brigade"  tells that the Brigade served throughout the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and then opposed Union Commander General William T. Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea". The Orphan Brigade ended the war fighting in South Carolina in late April 1865 and surrendered at Washington, Georgia on May 6-7, 1865.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jefferson Davis's Early Life and Forbearers

"The Early Life of Jefferson Davis "is a booklet I found at the First White House. It was written by Walter L. Fleming, published by the University Bulletin at Louisiana State University, June, 1917, and reprinted by Charles Estell Baker, D.D. in Birmingham, Alabama in 1993.  How I would love to get copies to sell at the First White House gift shop, as it is well written and well documented.
Fleming mentions several traditions in regard to the ancestors of Jefferson Davis, but the most satisfying one was put forth by William Whitsitt, in his book "Genealogy of Jefferson Davis and of Samuel Davies," in 1910. Whitsitt traces the ancestors of the President back to "John Davis of Pencader Hundred in the County of New Castle upon Delaware Turner, and Anne Davis his wife."
John Davis was thought to have been a Welsh immigrant, who signed his name with an x mark.  Evan Davis, his son, according to Whitsitt, was born in Philadelphia about 1702. Evan Davis went to the Welch Neck settlement on the Peedee river in South Carolina, and married a Mrs. Williams, whose maiden name was Emory. Their son, Samuel Emory Davis was the father of Jefferson Davis. Fleming writes "...we can be certain only of these facts: that Evan Davis was born in Philadelphia; that in middle age he went into the southwest to South Carolina and later to Georgia and that he left one son, Samuel Emory Davis, the father of Jefferson Davis." 
Samuel Davis, Jefferson's father, fought in the Revolutionary War, returned home and married Jane Cook. Jefferson was the youngest of their ten children. Jefferson said in his memoirs, about his mother: "She was of Scotch-Irish descent and was noted for her beauty and sprightliness of mind. My father...was unusually handsome and...a man of wonderful physical ability."
Dr. Fleming writes that Samuel and Jane were earnest Bible students, who were members of the Baptist church and that they named all but one of their sons from names in the Bible. Jefferson was named for Thomas Jefferson. Fleming writes about the Davises: "they were good, sound Americans of the border, of the class that has given this country its best citizens and leaders."  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Civil War Carte de Visites

The carte de visite was a small photograph, (2.5" x 3.5") mounted on a card,  patented in Paris by photographer Andre Disderi in 1854. They became very popular in Europe and then America, especially during the War Between the States, when soldiers and their friends and families could send them to one another in small envelopes 
We have a number of them in an album in the relic room at the First White House of the Confederacy, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee, John Breckenridge, John Bell Hood, James J. Pettigrew, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert Hoke, and John Hunt Morgan.
A second album includes Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy,  Robert Toombs, General Leroy Pope Walker, Secretary of War, Mallory, Sec. of Navy, Reagan, Postmaster General and a number of Generals, including Albert Sidney Johnston who was killed at Shiloh and General Polk who was killed during J. E. Johnston's Atlanta campaign.
By the early 1870's I read on the internet that the cartes de visite were supplanted by cabinet cards which were a bit larger (4.5" x 6.5") and these remained popular into the early 20th century when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera and home photography became the rage. I remember my Mother had a brownie camera for years and years and I have albums upon albums of shots she took with that little camera.
One of our prize carte de visite at the First White House is one of Jefferson Davis greatly enhanced in value because it was taken  by the celebrated photographer, Matthew Brady.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

George Washington Custis Lee

Last time I blogged about the four daughters of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee. Today I want to share about George Washington Custis Lee, the eldest child of the Lee's. Known as Custis, this eldest son was born September 16, 1832 at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Custis was educated at  numerous boarding schools to prepare him to follow in his father's footsteps. He entered West Point at the age of seventeen and graduated first in his class of forty-six in 1854.
Lee served in the U.S. Army until the spring of 1861 when Virginia seceded from the Union. At that time he resigned from the U.S. Army and was given a commission as Captain in the Confederate army. In August of 1861, Lee became aide-de-camp to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, when he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

In 1863 Lee was promoted to Brigadier General. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee was given command of the troops in Richmond, Va. He did so well that he was given command of Richmond's eastern defenses at Chaffin's Bluff, where he remained for the next few months and in 1864 was promoted to Major General.
 Three days before Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, Custis was captured at Sayler's Creek. I suppose with the end of the War, he was released as were other prisoners and sent home.
 In late 1865 Lee became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. He stayed there until the death of his father, at which time he was chosen as the ninth president of Washington and Lee university. He served between 1871 and 1897.
In 1877 Custis Lee sued to regain Arlington House, the Custis-Lee family home. Lee's case was decided in his favor and he won both the house and the 1100 acres which had become Arlington cemetery.  In 1883 Lee sold Arlington House to the United States Government for $150,000. I did not know that. I had always assumed that the Government had confiscated the house and grounds and had never returned them. That makes me feel better!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Lee Girls of Arlington

Mary Anna Randolph Custis and famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee married in 1831 at her family home, Arlington House, in Virginia.  Mary Anna was the only surviving child of George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington's step-grandson, and adopted son, and founder of Arlington House. Her mother was Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis.
Robert E. Lee was the son of Henry "Light Horse Harry"  Lee and his mother was Anne Hill Carter Lee. Mary Anna and Robert had seven children together, 3 sons and 4 daughters. Shortly after the birth of their first son, the Custises invited the Lee's to come and live in Arlington House, so the children grew up in the Custis home.

When the war came, Robert and their sons were called to service in Virginia. Mary Anna and her daughters had to evacuate Arlington House in May of 1861, never to live there again.

Mary, the second child and oldest daughter outlived all her siblings. None of the Lee girls ever married. Anne, the second daughter,  died young. Her father was very attached to her and her death at age 23 was a great grief to him.

Agnes was the third of the daughters. As a child she kept a journal which was later published, titled "Growing Up in the 1850's: The Journal of Agnes Lee", edited by Mary Custis Lee deButts.  Considered her mother's favorite, Agnes died at the age of 32 from typhoid fever, almost exactly 3 years after her father's death, and her death was followed by that of her mother, 21 days later.

The youngest daughter and youngest child was Mildred. She too was very close to her father, and also to her brother Rob, her childhood companion. She traveled widely but seemed very lonely after her father's death. She died at age 60 in New Orleans.

All four girls along with their parents are interred in the Lee Chapel and Museum in Lexington, on the campus of Washington and Lee University. They lived through the deprivations of the war but knew the love of their parents and siblings, as well as that of  the people of the South who idolized their father, Robert E. Lee.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Confederate Victory At Harpers Ferry

Since this is September, I thought I would mention an important Confederate victory that took place September 12-15, 1862, the Battle of Harpers Ferry, which took place in and around the town of Harpers Ferry, Maryland. This battle was part of the Maryland Campaign of the War Between the States.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee was in Maryland, being pursued by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Northern Army of the Potomac, outnumbering Lee two to one. Lee chose the risky strategy of dividing his army, sending one portion to attack Harpers Ferry under the command of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Union commander, Col. Dixon S. Miles insisted on keeping most of his troops near the town of Harpers Ferry, rather than on the surrounding heights, so he played right into Jackson's hand, enabling the Confederate General to attack from three directions and overwhelm the Yankees. When Union Col. Miles realized the situation was hopeless he raised the white flag of surrender, but before Miles could surrender personally, he was mortally wounded.
The National Park Services says the Union army surrendered 12,700 men that day, the largest surrender of Federal forces in the war.
Wikipedia quotes Stephen Sears in his book, "Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam. Sears writes as follows:  "Jackson sent off a courier to Lee with the news. 'Through God's blessing, Harpers Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered.' As he rode into town...Union soldiers lined the roadside, eager for a look at the famous Stonewall. One of them observed Jackson's dirty, seedy uniform and remarked, 'Boys, he isn't much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't have been caught in this trap.' By early afternoon, Jackson received an urgent message from General Lee:
'Get your troops to Sharpsburg as quickly as possible.' Jackson left A.P. Hill at Harpers Ferry to manage the parole of Federal prisoners and began marching to join the Battle of Antietam."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rsecent Activities for the First White House of the Confederacy

We are always trying to make improvements to the First White House, both outside and inside. The State of Alabama, which owns the building, in recent months has had the house pressure washed on the outside, as well as the driveway. The front porch and steps have been repainted and new pine straw has been added to the grounds. It all looks quite lovely.
Regarding the artifacts inside the house, which the White House of Alabama by legislative action is responsible, the following has been done:
1. Gunboat Quilt and Baby Quilt have been conserved.
2. Kirk & Son Castellated Repoussee Coin Silver bowl, given to  Mrs. Jefferson Davis by the citizens of Macon, Georgia, and auctioned recently by Heritage Auction House of Dallas, TX, has been acquired.
3. 1850's Gasolier, matching the one in our Second Parlor, has been acquired.
By way of explanation, the Gunboat Quilt is away at an exhibit called Home Front and Battlefield. It will be returned in July, 2015.
The Baby Quilt has been returned and is hanging in the upstairs hall, just outside the nursery.
The unveiling of the silver bowl was held Sept 10, with the generous help of two of the three couples who made very generous donations toward the purchase of it, Mr. & Mrs. Philip Davis and Mr. & Mrs. Price McLemore, all of Montgomery. We were very sorry the other couple, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Bowers of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida were unable to attend. We hope they will visit soon so we can show them the bowl.
 The 1850's Gasolier was given to us by Mrs. Robert Thorington, in memory of her late husband, Mr. Robert Thorington. Both this one and its mate need conservation. We are currently in the process of raising funds toward this project. If anyone would like to donate, it can be done easily through our pay pal account on our website,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thes Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana

Mary Jackson, Historian General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, has written an article about the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana in the August 2013 issue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy magazine, titled Pleasant Hill, The Victory Was Theirs. The small town of Pleasant Hill is located inside the southeast corner of DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, and on April 9, 1864 the Union forces were on the march. The battle of Mansfield, LA had just ended the day before in a victory for the Confederates.
Terror soon arrived in the small town of Pleasant Hill as the women were told to gather their children and valuables and flee because the Yankees were coming. The battle took place between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. and Ms. Jackson describes the aftermath as follows: "The injured and dead on both sides were numerous. That evening when the battle ended, Union troops hurriedly left, leaving their dead and wounded on the battlefield...It was not until the next day on April 10 that a small contingent of Union soldiers returned to bury their dead and doctors were also sent to care for their  injured."
Ms. Jackson said  that the battle was a result of Union forces trying to gain control of the Red River area of Northwest, Louisiana, and the Confederates seeking to keep them from it. After the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hills, the Federals retreated, ending its march through that part of LA.  She writes, "Truly the Confederates held their ground, and in the end 'Victory was theirs'!"
When I read this I was ashamed that I had never heard of either of these battles, where many lives were lost on both sides, as well as much suffering and deprivation for the women and children of the area. Sadly, I imagine there are many such battles that we have never heard of.
Confederate troops fighting at Pleasant Hill were mainly from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas. The Union side mostly  had men from Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Iowa. The first weekend in April people from all over gather for the Annual Reenactment of the Battle of Pleasant Hill.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Generals in the Confederacy

Robert E. Lee was the best known of the general officers in the Confederate Army.  Like many others, he was a former officer from the U.S. Army prior to the Civil War. Interestingly, Lee chose to wear the insignia of a Confederate colonel throughout the war. All the Confederacy's military forces answered to their President, Jefferson Davis, commander-in-chief of the Army, Navy and Marines of the Confederate States.
 According to Wikipedia, on May 16, 1861, legislation was passed which stated: "That the five general officers provided by existing laws for the Confederate States shall have the rank and denomination of 'general' instead of 'brigadier-general', which shall be the highest military grade known to the Confederate States..."
In September, 1862 , when lieutenant generals were authorized, the Confederate Army had four grades of general officers: brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general and (full) general. These positions were nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
By the war's end the Confederacy had at least 383 men who held the rank of Brigadier general, and 88 Major generals. There were 18 Lieutenant generals.
 Originally, the five officers in the South appointed to the rank of General (Full general) were Samuel Cooper,  Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and P. G. T. Beauregard, with their seniority in that order. Braxton Bragg was appointed a general when Albert Sidney Johnston died in combat, and Kirby Smith was appointed general to command the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Photograph Brings The Past Into Focus

When you go to the second floor in the First White House of the Confederacy, the first room on the right is one we call "Mrs. Davis' New York bedroom." It is so named because much of the furniture in it came from the Majestic hotel in which Varina was living when she passed away and, fortunately, Mrs. Davis' daughter Margaret instructed the hotel that it be sent  to us.
There are a number of important items in this room, and one of these is a lovely portrait photograph, circa 1895, showing Mrs. Margaret Davis Hayes and Miss Winnie Davis seated at a tea table. Margaret was the oldest child of President and Mrs. Davis, and Winnie, the youngest. In between Margaret and Winnie four sons were born to the Davises, but sadly, none survived to adulthood. 
What makes the photo of Margaret and Winnie so special to us is because in our "New York bedroom" we have a set of a wicker table with two companion chairs that were used by Mrs. Davis and Winnie for taking tea in the afternoons in their hotel room.
These are not the same table and chairs that are in the photograph, but in our minds eye we can almost see the scene  of Mother Varina and Daughter Winnie taking tea on Varina's moss rose china, whenever we look at the attractive portrait photograph of Margaret and Winnie together doing just that.
It reminds me of all the wonderful treasurers that the First White House holds, and how a visit to the First White House, or to any House museum, brings these wonderful historical people into the present time in a way that transcends time and place. If you haven't visited us lately, please do plan a trip to see us soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Story of the Confederate Camel

Did you know there was a "Confederate Camel", a mascot of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment during the War Between the States? I had never heard of him, although I did know about Jefferson Davis' Texas Camel Experiment when he was Secretary of War in 1855, and perhaps this camel was left over from that and somehow got to Mississippi prior to 1861.

At any rate, the delightful story of Old Douglas, the Confederate Camel, is told by Celeste T. Young  in the August 2013 issue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine. Douglas, the camel, became not only a mascot but a beast of burden, toting and fetching equipment for the 43rd Regiment.

Young tells of how on a forced march to Iuka, Mississippi, on the day before the battle,  the camel's wide gait startled the horses and caused a stampede. Even though casualties were heavy on both sides, this was a tale never forgotten by the survivors, and was retold over and over.

The article goes on to tell how, sadly, Douglas was struck with Yankee lead as he stood safely behind Confederate lines during the Siege of Vicksburg. According to legend, Ms. Young says, after Douglas was killed, his remains were carved up and eaten, possibly by starving Confederates.

There is a marker to Douglas in Vicksburg, Mississippi's Cedar Hill Cemetery. Apparently he is a legend in the annals of Mississippi confederate history.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cavalry Or Infantry, Which Prevailed During Civil War Battles?

 I have written before about a book titled  Attach And Die, by Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson, with a subtitle hard to resist: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage.
Today I was surprised  to learn from the chapter about The Cavalry  that most of the time when cavalry charged infantry the results were disastrous for the horsemen. To support this theory the author says "Rifled firepower enabled infantry to break up cavalry charges long before the riders could reach the infantry's lines." That makes a lot of sense when one thinks about it.
 One of numerous cases in point the author makes, was at Gaines' Mill in Hanover County, Virginia  June 27, 1862, (the third of the Seven Day Battles). This was when the Confederate brigade of John Bell Hood broke through the Federal front, and the Union cavalry in response made a charge, resulting in the loss of 60% of the riders, or 150 out of 250 on horseback.
Another well-known charge of cavalry against infantry was made by the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville against Stonewall Jackson's Confederate soldiers. McWhiney says: "The regiment made a saber charge, riding in column formation, but was broken apart by Confederate rifle fire".
The author then quotes a Union cavalryman, John I. Collins who rode in the charge, and later said:  "We struck it (the Confederate infantry) as a wave strikes a stately ship; the ship is staggered, maybe thrown on her beam ends, but the wave is dashed into spray, and the ship sails on as before." 
Cavalry v/s Cavalry was one thing, but  Cavalry v/s Infantry, based on what I read from this book, gives the advantage to the guy on foot, when before I always thought it was safer to be on a horse!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 18 Marks 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga

The Civil War Trust is an organization which exists to raise funds to save Civil War battlefields. In their August newsletter on line, I read some interesting facts about the Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 18-20, 1863, 150 years ago next month.
 The major players in this battle were General Braxton Bragg of the Confederacy, against Union Major General  William Rosecrans.
The tide of the battle turned on an amazing blunder on the part of the Union command.  Rosecrans, believing a gap existed in his line, ordered Brig. Gen. Thomas Wood's division to fill the gap. Wood knew the order was a mistake, as there was actually no gap in the Federal line, but moving his division would instead create one. Unfortunately, Gen. Wood had been berated twice already for not following orders, so he did as he was told, even though he knew it was going to be a devastating move on the part of the Union force.

 And indeed, this did open up a hole for the Confederates, and Gen. Longstreet's men bulled their way through the gap that Wood had inadvertently created. The article says: "...Union resistance at the southern end of the battlefield evaporated as Federal troops, including Rosecrans himself, were pushed off the field".

Thanks to this error on the part of Rosecrans, Bragg's victorious Confederates now occupied the heights surrounding Chattanooga, blocking Federal supply lines. But Bragg committed a huge error too, I think, because he failed to pursue Rosecrans. Thus,
 fighting would resume less than two months later in the battle for Chattanooga, and  it would not be a pretty outcome for the Confederates. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Could Any Good Thing Come Out of the Practice of Slavery?

When I typed in  " Antebellum Slavery" an article came up titled "Conditions of Antebellum Slavery" by PBS, that is the Public Broadcasting System, with the heading Resource Bank. There was no author listed, but the topic was people and events, 1830-1860. Now, to my question: Could any good thing come out of slavery?

On the surface an unequivocal no, the horror of it being self evident. The PBS article certainly listed the obvious, all that was wrong about slavery,  but the last paragraph in the article caught my attention, and I quote:

"Many slaves turned to religion for inspiration and solace". It went on to say that some practiced African religions, but others practiced Christianity, even though they rejected the type of Christianity their masters practiced, because it justified slavery.

The article went on to say: "...they (the slaves) spoke of the New Testament promises of the day of reckoning and of justice and a better life after death, as well as the Old Testament story of Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt."

I recall many black spirituals (songs) which I learned as a child,  that brought those themes out so well, don't you?

 And  many of us in our day, turn to religion for what we need, just as did the  black slaves on the plantations. The article ends "The religion of enslaved African Americans helped them resist the degradation of bondage." We are all under the bondage of sin and that is why we need a Savior to redeem us. Certainly there is a case to make that the slaves of 1860 set an example for us today.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Its Not The Heat, Its The Humidity

On hot summer days we often say   "its not the heat, its the humidity", but at least we can escape to the comfort of our air conditioned homes, cars and offices. I remember as a child, growing up in Montgomery, Alabama in pre-air condition days. It  was very hot during the day, but we were used to it, so thought little about it. At night, in our house at least, the breeze from  an attic fan kept the bedrooms cool. As the name implies, this was a large fan, located in the attic, and turned on by an electric switch, mostly at night. Its job was to keep us relatively cool while we slept.
The heat and humidity of the South in the mid- nineteenth century created health problems for all who lived there, but was far worse for the plantation slaves than for the whites, for obvious reasons: unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition and hard labor, all of which made the slaves subject to illness and disease  more than the whites. Making matters worse, the slaves often had to work even though sick.

 It is common knowledge that  the Confederate Uniforms were made of wool. I cannot imagine how unbearable it must have been to wear a wool jacket and trousers during hot summer months   when the temperatures soared and there was often a scarcity of water, Gettysburg being a case in point.

We have had a pleasant summer this year, but we certainly count our good fortune that we  no longer have to face our summers in the deep south without the convenience of air conditioning. Do some of you out there remember as I do, the growing up years without it?



Friday, August 23, 2013

Vestiges of Belle--dom

The antebellum period, Latin for "before the war", in America is sometimes thought of as the time after the American Revolution and before the Civil War. Others have marked it as between the war of 1812 and the 1861 period, according to Wikipedia. 
 Plantation life for so long now has been characterized by Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone with the Wind, and I bet even if you didn't read the book, you have probably seen the movie.
  Scarlett O'Hara was and always will be the quintessential Southern Belle. If you have seen the movie, how could  you ever forget the barbecue at Twin Oaks, or the poignant scene after Scarlett returns and vows she will "never be hungry again"?
What is your favorite scene from Gone With The Wind? Please take the time to comment, and which is your favorite character and why -  Rhett, Ashley, Melanie, Scarlett, Mammy or Prissy?
I thought once about having an antebellum gown made, but decided it would be way too uncomfortable, plus, how could you ever get close enough to the dining room table to eat? So I will remain a "closet" Southern Belle and save the "drapes" for another occasion!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The United Daughters of the Confederacy Display in The First White House

Did you know the United Daughters of the Confederacy have a Display Case in the Relic Room at the First White House of the Confederacy? It is full of interesting memorabilia with a variety of items.
 As one might expect, there is a fine collection of Confederate veterans' medals and ribbons. There is also a framed Confederate States of America Loan certificate with payment coupons dated 1861; and a United Daughters of the Confederacy gavel, made of oak and inlaid with bullets found at the battlefield of Chickamauga.

 You can see a typewritten letter from Governor Bibb Graves accepting the Sophie Bibb chapter's offer to place a statue of Jefferson Davis in the Rotunda of the Alabama State Capitol. I don't know if that ever happened, but there is one on the Capitol grounds. A poignant  letter from a wounded Confederate soldier is in the grouping, but the date and writer are unknown.

Something else of great interest is an exceptionally rare drawing done by a wounded soldier in the hospital in Montgomery, Alabama, lettered: Camp before Vicksburg  March 6th, 1863  Colonel G. Taggert's Quart's.
There is a silk Confederate flag, noted as "carried during the War Between the States". It was probably carried by a Montgomery company, at least on parade, as it shows no evidence of battle wounds. These flags are highly valued.
This case adds a great deal to the Relic Room and we are so happy that the Sophie Bibb Chapter wanted to do this. Sadly, this Chapter disbanded a few years ago, but the Cradle of the Confederacy Chapter now owns the Collection in case # 9.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Historic Scenes in Early 1861 in Montgomery

Hanging in our upstairs hallway in the First White House of the Confederacy is a group of four framed wood engravings of historic scenes of Montgomery, Alabama, at the time of the formation of the Confederate States of America. These four wood engravings are from periodicals of the period. They are:
A view of Market Street, Montgomery, Alabama, with the True Blues marching toward the Capitol. (This was the Montgomery militia)
A view of the Exchange Hotel, Montgomery, with Jefferson Davis addressing the public from the balcony.
A view of the Senate Chamber with Mr. Cobb presiding. This view shows the famed Senate Chairs, one of which is in the First White House Collection.
A view of the Alabama State Capitol on the day of Secession.
Going up the steps there is a lithograph of the Inauguration of President Davis in Montgomery, 1861, published in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1887, by Horn. This lithograph was issued a generation after the fall of the Confederacy, but was copied from wood engravings of the actual scene which ha been published contemporaneously.
All of these were a gift from Arthur Cook.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wonderful New Addition to our First White House Library

A gentleman has presented us with a book titled The Jewish Confederates by Robert N. Rosen, and I am eager to read it.
 The book "jacket" explains that until this book, the number of Jewish Confederates that participated in the War Between the States  has largely been unknown.  I quote from the jacket: "Rosen reveals the remarkable breadth of Southern Jewry's participation in the war and the strength of Jewish commitment to the Confederate cause."
 We read on: "Rosen finds that although many members of the established, prominent Jewish communities of Charleston, Richmond, and Savannah volunteered for battle, the majority of Jewish Confederates were recent immigrants from the German states, Central Europe, Poland, Hungary, and Russia... few owned slaves and many had left Europe to escape warfare."

And in summary: "Demonstrating that Jews participated in every imaginable aspect of battle - and home front- life, Rosen relates the experiences of officers and enlisted men, businessmen and shopkeepers, politicians and peddlers, nurses and seamstresses, rabbis and doctors."
This sounds like a fascinating study. It is published by the University of South Carolina Press. Rosen, the author, was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is now a practicing attorney.

Thank you, kind and thoughtful donor! Unfortunately I do not have your address so I cannot write you personally.

Friday, August 9, 2013

"The Plantation World of Jefferson Davis"

Hello all you Jefferson Davis devotees out there, wouldn't you like to take a tour of "The Plantation World of Jefferson Davis"?  I know I would, and here is our chance.

The Thirty-Sixth Annual Antiques Forum of Natchez, MS is sponsoring a three day symposium November 7-9th in Natchez.  Thursday, November 7 is a day-long excursion visiting historic properties in Woodville, MS (the early home of Jefferson Davis) and related sites in Natchez.
The Tour ends with cocktails at The Briars, which is the Classical Greek Revival Home in which Jefferson and Varina Davis were married, also in Natchez.  The Briars is now a Bed & Breakfast.
On Friday, November 8, the morning includes the following speakers and subjects: Daniel Brooks, Director, Retired, of Arlington House in Birmingham, Alabama, "Memories from the Home Front"; Jefferson Mansell, Historian, Natchez National Historical Park "Now Occupied for Public Use: Yankees in the Great Houses of Natchez 1863-1865"; Elizabeth M. Boggess, Ph.D., Archeologist and Social Historian, Natchez "The Clifton Story: An American Art Collection under Occupation".The afternoon consists of Touring five houses located within the boundaries of Union Fort McPherson.
Saturday, November 9 consists of several additional speakers including Dean Knight from the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, and Bertram Hayes-Davis from Beauvoir.
Where does the First White House of the Confederacy come in? Not to worry, it will be  adequately covered by Daniel Brooks, in his remarks as the first speaker on Friday.! He has been to the First White House, taken pictures and garnered history about the things in the House that were either brought by Mrs. Davis or were in the House when the Davises lived in the House.
For more information go to

Monday, August 5, 2013

Conserving Our Gasoliers in the First W hite House

I mentioned awhile back that the First White House of the Confederacy was the most fortunate recipient of a beautiful gasolier, the mate to the one that hangs in the Second Parlor. And for any who don't know, these magnificent hanging light fixtures are called gasoliers because gas was used to light them.

Our plans are to have both conserved, and the new one will have to be cut down to match the first one. The two probably hung in one of the grand old homes of Montgomery, which has long sine been torn down. I am glad the gasoliers have survived.

I will keep you posted. This is going to be a major undertaking and will take some fundraising efforts.  In the end though, we will have matching gasoliers in the First and Second Parlors for generations of people to enjoy for years to come, and it will be well worth the effort.

Exciting News About Blogging

Exciting news to share - I am working on combining some of my blogs into a "Blog Book" that we will have available to sell either on line or at our Gift shop at the First White House.

A friend of mine, an author and College Professor is helping me and she has spent a lot of hours refining what I have written.

I hope that the final results will prove of interest to readers. W will definitely keep you posted!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Immortal 600

Karen Stokes
Best Price $11.68
or Buy New $17.21

 A friend shared a story about the 600 Confederate  Prisoners of War that the Union army in South Carolina used as shields against Confederate troops. 
"The Immortal  600"was a special group of Confederate prisoner incarcerated at Fort Pulaski, South Carolina during the fall and winter of 1864-65. They had been brought from Fort Delaware to Federally occupied Morris Island, S.C. to  be used as human shields. They remained in an open 1.5 acre pen under the shelling of friendly Confederate artillery fire for 45 days.
 Then they were removed to Fort Pulaski and for 42 days were kept on starvation rations. Three had died at Morris Island, 13 died at Ft. Pulaski and 5 later died at Hilton Head Island, S. C.  The remaining prisoners were returned for Fort Delaware.
I suspect this was done in retaliation for the conditions of the Union prisoners held at Andersonville, Georgia and Salisbury, North Carolina.  By that time in the War, General U.S. Grant had declared there would no longer be "prisoner exchanges".