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1 This statement rests upon newspaper report, which I have not time to verify.
2 In support of the substantial accuracy of this narrative, I quote from the “Life of Jefferson Davis, with a Secret History of the Southern Confederacy, Gathered Behind the Scenes in Richmond,” by Edward A. Pollard, author of “The lost cause,” etc., an octavo volume bearing the imprint of the National Publishing Company, 1869:
In the morning of the 2d of April, General Lee saw his line broken at three points, at each of which a whole Federal corps had attacked, and all day long the enemy was closing on the works immediately enveloping Petersburg. But the work, decisive of the war, was done in two hours. At eleven o'clock in the morning General Lee wrote a dispatch to President Davis, at Richmond, advising him that the army could not hold its position, and that preparations should be made to evacuate the Capital at night. * * * No sound of the battle — not an echo, not a breath-had yet reached the doomed city. It was a lovely Sabbath day, and Richmond basked in its beauty and enjoyed more than usual remission from the cares of the week. （Page 487.) Ladies dressed in old finery, in which the fashions of many years were mingled, were satisfied to make a display at St. Paul's about equal to the holiday wardrobes in better days of the negroes at the African Church. At the former church worshiped Mr. Davis. He now sat stiff and alone in ‘the President's pew,’ --where no one outside his family had ever dared to intrude since Mrs. Davis had ordered the sexton to remove two ladies who had ventured there, and who, on turning their faces to the admonition to leave, delivered before the whole congregation, had proved, to the dismay and well-deserved mortification of the President's .wife, to be the daughters of General Lee. * * * In the midst of the services a man walked noisily into the church, and handed the President a slip of paper. Mr. Davis read the paper, rose and walked out of the church without agitation, but his face and manner evidently constrained. （Page 488.)Then follows a dramatic description of the tumultuous scene which took place during the day and evening in Richmond:
A scene never to be forgotten in the memories of Richmond. The night was hoarse with the roar of the great fight. But where, in this dramatic and tumultuous scene, was President Davis? When he had received news of Lee's defeat he had slunk from his pew in St. Paul's Church, and while the fountains of his government were being broken up, and the great final catastrophe had mounted the stage, the principal actor was wanting; he, the President, the leader, the historical hero, had never shown his face, had never spoken a word, was satisfied to prepare secretly a sumptuous private baggage, and to fly from Richmond — a low, unnoticed fugitive — under cover of the night. In such scenes a great leader is naturally sought for by the love and solicitude of his people; there are words of noble farewell to his countrymen; there are touching souvenirs of parting with his officers. But there were none of these in Mr. Davis' case. * * * He did not show himself to the public, as a great leader might be expected to do in such a supreme calamity; he attempted no inspiration, comfort, or advice; hid in his house, busy only with his private preparations, inquired of by no one, without any mark of public solicitude for him, without the least notice from popular sympathy or anxiety, the unhappy, degraded President of the Southern Confederacy never showed his face in the last catastrophe of his Capital until he stole on the cars that were to bear him to a place of safety, and fled from the doomed city, unmarked among the meanest of its fugitives. He left no word of tender or noble farewell for Richmond, and the last souvenir of his power was an order to burn the city that for four years had given him shelter, countenance, and hospitality. * * * There was no last council of conference. All that there was of deliberative assembly-all that remained of the once proud and loquacious government of Jefferson Davis — was to appoint the rendezvous and time for flight, the Cabinet members being instructed to meet the President at the Danville depot a little before midnight.(See pages 491 and 492; also, second paragraph on page 508.) After instituting a comparison between Jefferson Davis and Rienzi, the last of the Roman tribunes, in which he says: “They failed alike, from the same ignorance of government, the same ill distribution of obstinacies and weakness, haughty refusals in one instance and mean compliance in another, the same repulse of counselors, the same paltry intrigues of the closet and boudoir, the same contempt of fortune, presuming upon its favors as natural rights or irrevocable gifts,” Mr. Pollard goes on to add:
Rienzi, at another time, attempted to escape from his capital in the disguise of a baker. Jefferson Davis' effort to escape was perhaps not less mean in its last resources. But Rienzi did what the chief of the Southern Confederacy did not do; and at the last he was unwilling to leave his capital without at least the dignity of an adieu; without some words addressed to the people; without something of invocation not to be omitted in any extremity of despair, or to be forgotten in any haste of personal alarm. We have seen that Jefferson Davis fled from Richmond, without a word of public explanation, with none of that benediction or encouragement which a great leader is expected to impart to his people in such a catastrophe. He escaped with the ignominy of an obscure, mean fugitive, if not positively in the character of a deserter. Some explanation has been offered of his singular neglect on this occasion of those whom, in his day of power, he was accustomed, after the affectation of a fond and — paternal ruler, to call ‘his people,’ in the statement that the government at Richmond had no expectation of Lee's disaster, and was thus painfully hurried in its evacuation of the Capital.(Page 504.)
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