The Last Ditch – or: The Adoption of a New Rebel Uniform

luinrina

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
1,333
Location
Germany
#1
The Last Ditch of the Chivalry.jpg

Latest news! - "Cowardly behavior of the Head of Southern Chivalry." - "Jeff. Davis' Disguise." - "Capture in a woman's dress."


On May 10, 1865 the 4th Michigan Cavalry landed the big coup – they caught the Confederate president Jefferson Davis at Irwinville, Georgia. Their reward? $100,000 in gold.

After Lee's and Johnston's surrenders in April, victory was a foregone conclusion. But with the ringleader (so to speak) still on the loose, the rebellion was far from over – until one morning newspapers across the North reported on "The Finishing Blow" to the rebellion.

Jeff Davis capture_news headlines.jpg


What's worse than your flight being frustrated? Being caught in a woman's clothes.

Jeff Davis captured_newspaper 1a.jpg

SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN, Massachusetts, May 15, 1865

Jeff Davis captured_newspaper 2aa.jpg

Jeff Davis captured_newspaper 2b.jpg

Jeff Davis captured_newspaper 2c.jpg

The Liberator, Massachusetts, 19 May 1865


Mrs. Davis argued:

I pleaded with him to let me throw over him a large waterproof wrap which had often served him in sickness during the summer season for a dressing gown and which I hoped might so cover his person that in the grey of the morning he would not be recognized. As he strode off I threw over his head a little black shawl which was around my own shoulders, saying that he could not find his hat and after he started sent my colored woman after him with a bucket for water hoping that he would pass unobserved.
From Varina Banks Howell Davis to Francis Preston Blair, Savannah, Ga., June 6, 1865. In Blair, Gist. Annals of Silver Spring, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 21 (1918), p. 172.

Varina valiantly defended her husband's attire at the moment of capture, but people love sensational press – and rumors fly faster than the wind.

Davis' capture provided plenty of fodder for humorists, and soon enough, caricatures of the ex-Rebels' president in a frilly bonnet and voluminous petticoats spread like wildfire through the media.

Jeff Davis as woman 2.jpg
Jeff Davis as woman 3.jpg
Jeff Davis as woman 1.jpg


Hoop Skirts & Southern Chivalry.jpg


Jeff's Last Skedaddle.jpg


CdVs, cartoons, litographs... Northern imagination knew no bounds. My personal favorite:

The Confederacy in Petticoats.jpg


The above is just a small collection; a lot more slumbers in the width of the internet for those daring to seek them out.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,411
#4
Its unfair to Davis of course. It makes an interesting bookend with the loads of cartoons mocking Lincoln arriving in Washington early, and reportedly in disguise, images that bore little relationship with reality, and that had the unfortunate consequence that Lincoln ignored his personal security.

Its a symbolic reversal of fortune. The humorless, dignified Davis was greatly admired when he took office, "the man and the hour have met," while the bumpkin Lincoln seemed unequal to the challenge. Lincolns stature grew, while Davis, buffeted by constant criticism and the declining fortunes of the Confederacy, is reduced to a joke and scapegoat.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top