19 April 2013

The Capture of Jefferson Davis

Two miles to the west of Irwinville, in what is today a dense thicket of pines, there occurred at the the close of the Civil War an incident concerning which a host of writers have produced for commercial purposes an endless amount of fiction.

...That is how Lucian Lamar Knight began his chapter on the capture of Jefferson Davis in his 1913 publication of Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends. The thicket is not quite as dense today, but you can still get a feel of how things were. And some might recall the gossip surrounding the incident, as it most certainly has continued to be passed down over the last 148 years, one of the most common bits being that Davis was captured while wearing women's clothing.

Mr. Knight refutes this in his writing by way of Mr. James H. Parker, a Federal soldier who witnessed the arrest, who stated:

"I am no admirer of Jeff Davis. I am a Yankee, full of Yankee prejudice; but I think it wicked to lie about him or even about the devil. He did not have on at the time he was taken any such garment as is worn by women. He did have over his shoulders a waterproof article of clothing, something like a Havelock. It was not in the least concealed. He wore a hat and did not carry a pail of water on his head."

Mr. Knight also cited T. H. Peabody, one of the captors of Mr. Davis, as saying that the "hoop-skirt story was purely a fabrication of newspaper reporters."

Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site
338 Jeff Davis Park Rd
Fitzgerald, GA

Photos © 2010-2013 S. Lincecum

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