The William T. Sutherlin home in Danville, scene of Jefferson Davis' extended April 1865 visit, is now the home of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. It is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
The occasion of Mr. Davis's funeral recalls most vividly to the old residents of Danville the sad and exciting times when the President of the Confederacy and his cabinet spent a few days in Danville, the last capital of the Confederate government.
Mr. Davis and his cabinet came to Danville early in April, 1865, and made their headquarters at the residence of Major W. T. Sutherlin. There they remained for three days, and the last proclamation of Mr. Davis was written on a table which still stands in the hall of Major Sutherlin's house and is, of course, the most highly honored piece of furniture in the house.
I had a chat last night with Mrs. Sutherlin concerning the stay of Mr. Davis in her house, and every little incident is still fresh in her memory. Said she:
When Mr. Davis had been at our house for three days he said that he could not impose on our hospitality longer, and made arrangements to establish his headquarters at the old Benedict house, on Wilson street. I told him that he might take his cabinet to any place he pleased, but as for himself he must be our guest so long as he remained in the city, and he yielded to the request. He remained here five days after that time, and was, of course, in a most anxious frame of mind, but was always pleasant and agreeable. One morning he and Mr. Sutherlin went down town and soon return in an excited manner, and I knew something had happened. I met them at the door, and Mr. Davis told me almost in a whisper that Lee had surrendered and that he must leave town as soon as possible.
Making a few hurried arrangements, he offered his hand to me to say good-by, and I asked him the question: “Mr. Davis, have you any funds other than Confederate money?” and he replied in the negative. “Then,” said I, offering him a bag of gold containing a thousand dollars, “take this from me.” I offered the money without having consulted Mr. Sutherlin, but I knew it would be all right with him.
Mr. Davis took my hand and the tears streamed down his face. “No,” said he, “I cannot take your money. You and your husband are young and will need your money, while I am an old man, and,” adding after a pause, “I don't reckon I shall need anything very long.”
He then put his hand in his pocket and took out a little gold pencil which he asked me to keep for his sake, and I have the little memento now.
She then showed the little gift to myself and others in the room and sad she had never used it, but had always preserved it as a sacred gift.
“When Mr. Davis had said good-by,” continued Mrs. Sutherlin, “he hurried to the train and left town as soon as possible.”
“Did Mr. Davis think the war was then ended?” I asked.
“Not at all,” she replied. “One day at the table I said to him: ‘Mr. Davis, would Lee's surrender end the war?’ and he replied: ‘By no means. We'll fight it out to the Mississippi river.’ And so said all his officers. I told them they were simply whistling to keep their courage up, but they said they meant what they said.”
His Capture depicts Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina at the moment that they are taken into custody by the Fourth Michigan Cavalry near Irwinsville, Georgia, in the early morning on May 10, 1865.
Confederate Home Cooking
Cooking for the Cause
Home Front Regiment 1861-1865: Women Fighting from the Hearth
Civil War Plants & Herbs
Confederate Camp Cooking
Civil War Celebrations
Union Army Camp Cooking
Yanks, Rebels, Rats, & Rations
Northern Ladies' Civil War Recipes
This webpage is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House B&B, Chatham, Virginia.