April 23

This Day in History

Civil War

Apr 23, 1865:

"Panic has seized the country," writes Davis

Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to his wife, Varina, of the desperate situating facing the Confederates.

"Panic has seized the country," he wrote to his wife in Georgia. Davis was in Charlotte, North Carolina, on his flight away from Yankee troops. It was three weeks since Davis had fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as Union troops were overrunning the trenches nearby. Davis and his government headed west to Danville, Virginia, in hopes of reestablishing offices there. When Confederate General Robert E. Lee was forced to surrender his army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, Davis and his officials traveled south in hopes of connecting with the last major Confederate army, the force of General Joseph Johnston. Johnston, then in North Carolina, was himself in dire straits, as General William T. Sherman's massive force was bearing down.

Davis continued to his wife, "The issue is one which it is very painful for me to meet. On one hand is the long night of oppression which will follow the return of our people to the 'Union'; on the other, the suffering of the women and children, and carnage among the few brave patriots who would still oppose the invader." The Davis' were reunited a few days later as the president continued to flee and continue the fight. Two weeks later, Union troops finally captured the Confederate president in northern Georgia. Davis was charged with treason, but never tried. In 1889, he died at age 81.

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