J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Biloxi”

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 13)

Today is the final day of Confederate Heritage/History Month, as well as Women’s History Month. Likewise, this post is the last one in my series about Confederate Women. The last installation of this series is about the most famous Confederate woman of all, President Jefferson Davis’ wife.

Varina Davis

Varina Howell Davis 

     The namesake of my UDC chapter is one of the most famous women of the Confederacy. Yet, she didn’t wish to be. 

     Varina Banks Howell was born on May 7, 1826 at her family’s plantation, the Briars, near Natchez, Mississippi. She was one of eight surviving children. Her parents were a unique pair, in that her father was a Yankee from New Jersey, and her mother, a Southern Belle, was the daughter of a wealthy planter. Because of that, the First Lady of the Confederacy was an irony, referring to herself as a “half-breed.” Varina’s father managed to provide for his family, but prosperity was intermittent, as he squandered his wife’s inheritance and made poor investment decisions. 

     Varina was not considered attractive by nineteenth century standards: she was tall, thin, and had an olive complexion. She was very well educated, however, and learned to play the piano beautifully. She was able to attend Madame Greenland’s School in Philadelphia, but the money soon ran out, so she returned home to complete her education with a private tutor. She established the reputation of being highly intelligent but outspoken, which was frowned upon in Victorian society.  

     Seven years later, when Varina was seventeen, she was invited to spend the Christmas season with an old family friend, “Uncle Joe” Davis, at his plantation, the Hurricane. While there, she met his much younger brother, Jefferson. It was the first time she had met any of Joseph’s extended family, and although Jefferson was immediately smitten with her, Varina was reluctant. She wrote to her mother: 

He impresses me as a remarkable kind of man, but of uncertain temper, and has a way of taking for granted that everybody agrees with him when he expresses an opinion, which offends me; yet he is most agreeable and has a peculiarly sweet voice and a winning manner of asserting himself. The fact is, he is the kind of person I should expect to rescue one from a mad dog at any risk, but to insist upon a stoical indifference to the fright afterward. 

     After Varina returned home, Jefferson asked her parents’ permission to court her, but Varina’s mother objected. She was concerned that Jefferson was far too old for her daughter (eighteen years her senior), that he was still in love with his deceased wife, Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of President Zachary Taylor), that he was too devoted to his relatives (his older brother, Joseph, raised him after their father died and financially supported him), and that his political views were different (he was a member of the new Democratic Party, but Varina’s family were Whigs). She eventually gave in, and the two were engaged. An enormous wedding was scheduled to take place at the Hurricane, but just before the event happened, the wedding was cancelled. Varina fell ill, and out of concern, Jefferson frequented her home. The two managed to reconcile, and were wed on February 26, 1845 at the Briars with only a small group of the bride’s family in attendance. Their honeymoon was spent visiting Jefferson’s aged mother and the grave of his deceased wife. 

     The newlyweds set up housekeeping in a two-room cottage on the Brierfield plantation, which was adjacent to the Hurricane. Trouble soon appeared in the form of Jefferson’s widowed sister and her seven children, who moved in without Varina’s approval or consent. Her own family’s financial reliance on them was also an embarrassment to her. Addition problems arose when Jefferson left to campaign for Congress and serve in the Mexican War, leaving Varina to deal with domineering Joseph herself.  

Jefferson was elected to the Senate, so he and Varina moved to Washington, where she thrived. She adored the city and was intrigued by politics. As her husband rose in his political career, she rose in Washington elite society, becoming one of the city’s youngest and most popular hostesses. But when the Civil War broke out, Jefferson resigned his Senate seat, and the two returned to the South. It wasn’t long before Jefferson learned that he had been selected as the new president of the Confederacy. This dismayed Varina deeply, for she knew that her husband didn’t want the job, and that the South would most likely lose the war. However, she dutifully supported him. 

     During the first two years as First Lady, she held extravagant parties. Her friend, Mary Boykin Chesnut, enjoyed and admired her, but others weren’t so supportive. Varina received criticism for being over-extravagant, for not being extravagant enough, for playing favorites, for meddling in politics where she didn’t belong, and for influencing her husband’s decisions. Despite the reticule, she supported the troops by knitting clothing for them, donating rugs for blankets, making shoes from scraps, and visiting wounded Yankee and Confederate soldiers in the hospitals, but she resisted her husband’s insistence to become a volunteer nurse.  

     Jefferson and Varina lost one of their children in the spring of 1864 when he fell from a second-story window of the White House of the Confederacy. A few weeks later, Varina gave birth to a daughter, and nicknamed her Winnie, who later became known as the “Daughter of the Confederacy.” Varina also rescued a young slave boy named Jim Limber, and took him in as her own. In early 1865, Jefferson ordered her to flee Richmond with their children. She financed the trip by selling everything they owned, which came to $8,000 in gold. The family was reunited in Georgia, but Jefferson was soon captured and sent to Fort Monroe prison, where he remained for two years. In the meantime, Varina was prohibited from leaving Georgia. Jim Limber was taken from her, never to be heard of again. After a freed slave threatened one of her children with a gun, Varina sent them to Canada with her mother, and petitioned relentlessly for Jefferson’s release. Finally, he was freed, but he was sickly and frail. 

     The family traveled to Canada and Europe for several years. Jefferson was never convicted of war crimes, but was never able to make a go of any financial endeavors, either. High strung Varina suffered from a nervous breakdown in 1876. While she recovered in Europe and their children studied abroad, Jefferson returned home. He established an insurance company in Memphis, but the business went belly up. He sought the companionship of the wife of a fellow inmate, but the press leaked the news, and Varina, of course, was enraged. Somehow, the two managed to reconcile again, probably because they lost two of their sons (bringing the total to four lost sons). 

     An old friend, Sarah Dorsey, invited Jefferson to live with her at her beachfront home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi. He accepted, thinking that the sea air would do his ailments good, and Varina later joined him. Before Mrs. Dorsey died, she bequeathed Beauvoir to them. Jefferson proceeded to write his memoirs. He died in 1889 while visiting a friend in New Orleans. Varina sold his memoirs the following year, but the book was a failure. She remained at Beauvoir for another year before she sold it to the state of Mississippi for $10,000 to be used as a Confederate veterans’ home, stipulating that it be preserved as “a perpetual memorial sacred to the memory of Jefferson Davis” and the Confederate cause. 

     Once again, Varina received criticism when she moved to New York City to accept a job as a journalist for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Herald, and took her daughter, Winnie, with her. She befriended Julia Dent Grant, the widow of President and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Southerners were shocked and offended by her moving to New York and becoming friends with the wife of a dreaded enemy. Not only that, Varina attended a reception and socialized with Booker T. Washington, treating him, to the Southerner’s dismay, like he was an equal. She declined offers to return to the South, and even turned down a residence offered to her in Richmond. On many occasions, she attended both Union and Confederate veterans’ reunions. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

     Varina’s heart was broken when Winnie passed away in 1898. Following a bout with double pneumonia, she too died on October 16, 1906 in her apartment overlooking Central Park. She was eighty years old, and was survived by only one of her six children (a daughter), and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Following a funeral procession through the streets of New York City, her body was returned to Richmond and laid to rest beside Jefferson and Winnie in Hollywood Cemetery. 

     One of Varina’s last remaining prized possessions, her diamond and emerald wedding ring, was housed in the museum at Beauvoir, but when Hurricane Katrina hit, the ring was lost. Amazingly, it was discovered on the grounds a few months later, and returned to its rightful place at Beauvoir. 

Advertisements

Beauvoir asks New Orleans for Jefferson Davis statue

4549211929_87013d9835_b

Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, has renewed its appeal to the city of New Orleans to send Davis’ statue to Biloxi.

On April 12, the Board of Directors at Beauvoir sent a letter to a New Orleans task force charged with deciding what to do with confederate statues removed last year. Beauvoir is appealing to the city’s newly elected Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

New Orleans removed the Jefferson Davis statue amid national controversy surrounding Confederate symbols. Beauvoir wants the statue on it’s property and hopes the Crescent City agrees to let it be shipped to the Mississippi Coast.

The board says Beauvoir would be an appropriate place for the statue.

7440783576_29b8edde40_b

Beauvoir is sending it’s 3rd letter to New Orleans to ask for the Jefferson Davis statue, which was removed from the Crescent City last year.

“I think we would all love for that to happen. This is where it should be. If the residents of the city of New Orleans don’t want it, in the city of New Orleans, then this is the logical place for it to be. That is our mission statement to educate people about the life and times of Jefferson Davis and the confederate soldier,” said Museum Director Jay Peterson.

The Davis statue and three others were taken down after New Orleans decided the confederate era monuments were offensive and divisive. This is the third letter Beauvoir has sent to New Orleans, the first since Mayor Cantrell appointed a committee to study what to do with the statues.

Beauvoir believes the statue is more than just a monument to the President of the Confederacy. “It’s a piece of artwork that was done during the early part of the 20th century. It needs to be preserved and it needs to be brought here so people can appreciate it,” Peterson said.

In the letter, the Beauvoir Board writes that the monument will be given a place of prominence on the 52 acre property and be well protected. Beauvoir plans to enlist the help of the state to pay the costs and accept responsibility for the transfer of the Davis statue.

“Once approved by the Board of Directors and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Beauvoir will assume all responsibility for the monument. This will include transportation of the monument from its current place of storage to our grounds,” according to Peterson.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell says she will consider the Monument Task Force’s recommendations. Meanwhile, the group Take them Down NOLA is opposed to sending the Davis statue to Beauvoir.

http://www.wlox.com/story/38240756/beauvoir-asks-new-orleans-for-jefferson-davis-statue

(Courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans, June 2018 ed. v. 42 issue #6, and WLOX, Biloxi, MS, David Elliott, News Anchor.)

The Eradication of Southern History in New Orleans (And the Disrespect of Biloxi)

New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments, appeals court rules

This week has been a very interesting one for the city of New Orleans, as well as for everyone who has been observing what has been taking place. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his city council decided to attack historical monuments in the city, primarily those erected in honor of Confederate heroes. Under the cover of night, city workers dismantled the Liberty Place monument. Landrieu vows to remove three others of Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and General P.G.T. Beauregard. This is insane to me, because President Davis died in New Orleans, and General Beauregard lived there after the war. Landrieu’s reasons for removing the monuments seem to be generic at best.

Civil-war-monument1

“The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile…and most importantly……choose a better future.”

I don’t see how this displays diversity if the mayor offends historians and descendants of Confederate soldiers. On the contrary.

New-Orleans-Confedera_12152015_43_0

Landrieu has been vague about how the city received funding to remove the four statues. “We have enough funding to take down all four monuments,” is all the mayor says as an explanation. He also hasn’t said when the other three monuments will be taken down, so several pro-monument groups have been holding vigil. Apparently, the public has been restricted from giving input into this decision of eradication. The situation is very disconcerting, because it could lead to more destruction of American history in the future.

18891902-mmmain

Meanwhile, in Biloxi, the mayor has decided not to fly the Mississippi state flag because he’s afraid it could offend tourists. I find this utterly ridiculous and offensive. If someone is offended by the state flag, they will avoid the state all together. However, I don’t see anyone avoiding the state because of the flag. Apparently, Mayor Gilich even offended some of the city council members with his idea. You can contact city council members to voice your opinion.

George Lawrence, Ward 1
P.O. Box 429, Biloxi, MS 39533
Email: glawrence@biloxi.ms.us Cell: 228-547-5811 Fax: 228-435-9715

Felix Gines, Ward 2
268 Ebony Lane, Biloxi, MS 39530
Email: fgines@biloxi.ms.us Cell: 228-547-5815

Dixie Newman, Ward 3
P.O. Box 429, Biloxi, MS 39533
Email: dnewman@biloxi.ms.us Web: councilwomandixienewmanward3.com Cell: 228-547-5851

Robert L. Deming III, Ward 4
P.O. Box 429, Biloxi, MS 39533
Email: rldeming3@biloxi.ms.us Cell: 228-547-1611

Paul A. Tisdale, Ward 5
ptisdale@biloxi.ms.us
2561 Brighton Circle, Biloxi, MS 39531
Email: ptisdale@biloxi.ms.us Web: tisdaleforbiloxi.com, Cell: 228-297-6800

Kenny Glavan, Ward 6
827 Eagle Eyrie Drive, Biloxi, MS 39532
Email: kglavan@biloxi.ms.us Phone: 228-396-1080 Cell: 228-860-6886

David Fayard, Ward 7
P.O. Box 429, Biloxi, MS 39533
Email: dfayard@biloxi.ms.us Office: 228-392-9046 Cell: 228-547-5816

City Council Office
Email: citycouncil@biloxi.ms.us Phone: (228) 435-6257 Fax: (228) 435-6187

Office of the Mayor
Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich
P.O. Box 429, Biloxi, MS 39533
Email: mayor@biloxi.ms.us Voice: (228) 435-6254 Fax: (228) 435-6129

A Sad Day in NOLA

img-Two-groups-voice-opinions-on-removal-of-Confederate-monuments-in-New-Orleans

A federal judge ruled last week that four monuments related to the Confederacy will be removed in New Orleans. The mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said he was “pleased” with the ruling. No time frame was given as to when the monuments would be removed, but Landrieu said they would be stored in a city-owned facility until they find a permanent home: most likely a privately-owned park. The monuments targeted are of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, and Liberty Place. The mayor refused to send the monuments to Beauvoir, the post-Civil War home of Jefferson Davis, in Biloxi, Mississippi.

US District Judge Carl Barbier denied to issue an injunction that would have prevented the mayor from removing the monuments. After the New Orleans City Council vote, with only one council member voting to keep the monuments in place, the city received a federal lawsuit from several preservationist groups: the Monumental Task Committee (MTC), Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130. These four groups all cited that because the MTC has kept up the monument spaces for decades with no charge to taxpayers, they should have a say in the monuments’ fate.

NOLA

Landrieu has been the biggest instigator in removing the monuments after receiving funds from an anonymous donor. Last year, he worked to insure that the monuments would be removed no matter what, and the reason given was because, all of a sudden, they have become a “public nuisance.”

Walter Isaacson, Wynton Marsalis, Flozell Daniels and Carol Bebelle have all be vocal about their support for removing monuments in the city and have all been appointed to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.

Now that this has happened, I have to wonder how much longer other landmarks in NOLA will be safe. How long before they destroy General Beauregard’s home? Or the house where Jefferson Davis died? Or the Confederate Museum? I suppose they’ll re-name them all, along with Confederacy-related street names, just to avoid offending someone. What about the scores of people offended by their actions? Doesn’t that count for anything? You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but trying to eradicate history is nothing less than shameful.

http://thehayride.com/2016/01/breaking-lee-circle-and-other-new-orleans-monuments-will-officially-be-removed-federal-judge-rules/

(Special thanks to Jim Huffman.)

The Birthday of a President

 dec7davis

Today is the birthday of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. He was born in Christian County, Kentucky, not far from where Abraham Lincoln was born one year later. The tenth youngest child of a plantation owner, Davis rose to become one of the most celebrated, and yet controversial, American statesmen.

His illustrious career began with the military, where he served as an officer. He was elected to the House of Representatives and later to Congress, married twice, and had six children, but only one survived to adulthood. He saw much pain and sadness in his lifetime, but still maintained his firm belief in the Confederate cause. Following the War Between the States, he became somewhat of a recluse, penning his memoirs at Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi. After his death at age 81, his wife, Varina, had his body moved to Richmond, where it remains today.

Bertram Hayes-Davis, who is the great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis, frequently tours the country speaking on behalf of his infamous ancestor. Sadly, he has encountered obstacles in regard to having Jefferson Davis receive the honor he so greatly deserves. In fact, there is talk about removing his statue from the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. Instead of dismissing Jefferson Davis as being politically incorrect, we should honor him for the sacrifices he made for his country and what he believed to be right. Let us celebrate him as a true patriot and the American icon that he was.

Hurricane Revisited

On the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, another hurricane, Isaac, is storming onto the gulf shore and zeroing in on New Orleans. What was predicted to be a 100-year occurrence happened way too soon. Fortunately, the storm isn’t playing out to be as severe as Katrina was.

Some relevant Civil War sites that could be in danger include Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi. When Katrina hit, the main house withstood the storm, but many outbuildings and gardens washed away.

Image

There are several significant sites in New Orleans, including the Beauregard-Keys house, located at 1113 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. Another important structure related to the War Between the States is located at 1134 First Street in the Garden District. It was once owned by Judge Charles Fenner, who was a friend of the only President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. On December 6, 1889, while visiting Judge Fenner, Davis passed away in his home.

Image

Image

Regardless of the historical treasures that are threatened, many families who endured severe hardship seven years ago are faced with the same dilemma. Please pray for their safety and deliverance during this crucial weekend.

Post Navigation