The Varina Davis Trail – A Jaunt Across S.C.
Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson Davis each left Richmond, Va. separately, as the Confederacy was collapsing. General Robert E. Lee was fighting against enormous odds, to hold Richmond, the capital of the CSA but was forced to surrender at which time they both were forced to flee. This left Richmond and the South in a state of enormous dishevel. Mrs. Davis, Varina, had left the city, by train days before the surrender, carrying many of their personal collections. Her train was bound for Charlotte, N.C. Accompanying her on this trip were Burton Harrison, Varina’s sister Margaret, and James Morgan, a soldier who was also a kinsman. Varina took Ellen Barnes and also James Limber, the boy she found on the street in 1864, apparently without giving the matter much thought. They left on the night of March 30, and when Varina’s party arrived in Charlotte a few days later, a crowd of Confederate deserters was waiting for them at the station. They “reviled” her in “shocking” language, Morgan said, and when some men tried to push their way into the car, Harrison forced them back. Eventually the throng dispersed, and the Davis party disembarked and went door to door seeking lodging until a Confederate officer prevailed upon a family to take them in. “How the mighty have fallen,” a white woman observed. (First Lady of the Confederacy by Joan E. Cashin, p. 158)
It was here, while in Charlotte, that Varina took time to rest and evaluate her trip across the hills of S.C. to her destination - Abbeville, S.C., where she hoped to meet her husband. She was escorted by a contingency of soldiers, under the guard of Confederate Navy Captain William H. Parker and the young midshipmen in his command. Mr. Parker would prove an invaluable source of help to Mrs. Davis as she traveled further south.
The Varina Davis Jaunt across S.C. is a collaborative effort, by numerous individuals-institutions, to tell an accurate account of her travels in the last few days of the Confederacy. R&R.com believes CSA First Lady Varina Davis’s dangerous trip, across the rain-soaked hills of S.C., is one well worth preserving and telling. We hope you will enjoy it as well as her husband’s Jaunt on Roots and Recall.
A WORK IN PROGRESS - 2019
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #1 – CROSSING THE CATAWBA RIVER
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #2 – CHESTER DEPOT
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #3 – WOODWARD BAPTIST CHURCH
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #4 – NINE MILE PLANTATION
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #5 - THE PETTIGRU PLANTATION
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #6 - THE TOWN OF NEWBERRY
VARINA DAVIS TRAIL STOP #7 - SHE ARRIVES IN ABBEVILLE (INCOMPLETE)