Jefferson Davis Trail Stop #11
City Directories and History: The home of Franklin Fincher Gary became the centerpiece of Jefferson Davis’s travels on May 1, 1865. He had crossed the Saluda River at Puckett’s Ferry and proceeded to Cokesbury for the evening. General Mark W. Gary, was the owner’s son and happened to be escorting CSA President Davis on his route to Abbeville.
Davis and the party crossed the Saluda River at Puckett’s Ferry about noon on May 1 and continued on to the Gary home where they spent the night of May 1. After crossing Puckett’s Ferry, Davis passed by Simm’s Cross Roads (now Coronaca), then took the road on the right, going toward Greenville for about six miles, and then took the direct left to Cokesbury.
President Davis, his Cabinet members and the military officers accompanying the group planned to convene a council meeting while at Cokesbury, but after receiving reports of enemy cavalry so near, the President decided to leave Cokesbury early on the morning of May 2 and arrived at the home of Colonel Armistead Burt in Abbeville that afternoon. While President Davis met with brigade commanders at 4:30 PM, his aides set to work destroying a vast number of Confederate official documents. At this meeting it was agreed that the President should separate himself from the rest of the group. With only his personal staff and a small escort Davis continued on. The generals, it was agreed, would set out at 11:00 PM and move as rapidly as possible across the Savannah River into Georgia while the cavalry troops who wished to stay would fall under the command of Secretary Breckinridge, and after crossing the Savannah River would act as seemed best. Those who wished not to proceed could be discharged. It was also agreed that the silver with the group would be paid out to those soldiers present.
Jefferson Davis in S.C. by Sam Thomas, 1998 the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (See book in PDF form this page.)
The night of May 1-2: General Martin Witherspoon Gary invited Davis to spend the night with his mother, Mrs. Thomas Gary, at Cokesbury on the night of May 1. Davis crossed the Saluda at noon on Puckett’s Ferry and went to “Simm’s Cross Roads.” They continued eight miles toward Greenville to turn to the left and go to Cokesbury. The group stopped at the brick house of William A. Moore to get water. Davis gave a small coin to the baby boy named for him “Jefferson Davis Moore.” Davis spent the night of May 1-2 at the home of Mrs. Gary, an L shaped house with the protruding end on the left, the spine at the back and small columns running in the front of both sides of the L. The proximity of Union forces caused the party to leave early on May 2.
Sloan, James P. “Jefferson Davis President of the Confederacy Passed Through Joanna in Flight from Yanks.” Joanna Way, February 1957, 9-11. This article was first published in The State Magazine, January 31, 1954.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis spent the night of May 1, 1865 in the village home of Mrs. Thomas Reeder Gary. Her son, Gen. Martin W. Gary, was a member of the military escort for the fleeing Confederate leaders. (He stopped here but did not sleep. Federal troop movement was reportedly to close.)
Davis and his escort crossed Saluda River at Puckett’s ferry, came along the Barksdale Ferry road to Coronaca, then northwest to Cokesbury. Alfred Jackson Hanna in his book “Flight into Oblivion,” quotes an officer in the party who said, they “passed some very pretty houses with elegant gardens on the way into Cokesbury. Young ladies were out on the porches to bow and wave their handkerchiefs. Bouquets were given to us, and we marched gaily on.”
One stop for drinks of water was made between Stony Point and Cokesbury, at the home of William Andrew Moore III. Davis asked the name of a little boy in the yard and when told “Jefferson Davis Moore,” he gave his namesake a gold coin. Long afterward H.L. Watson asked an old Cokesbury friend if he knew the denomination of the coin. The man replied with a twinkle in his eye, “I know exactly because I won it once in a poker game, and Jeff Moore bought it back. It was a $2.50 gold piece.”
At Cokesbury General Gary was given permission to discharge the men in his command as most of them were near their homes. The Confederates left Cokesbury early on the morning of May 2 because of the reported nearness of Federal troops. They did not go far, stopping for the night at Abbeville. (Courtesy of the Greenwood County Sketchbook, p. 112 – Margaret Watson)
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