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[97]

Southern Historical Society Papers.

Vol. V. Richmond, Va., March, 1878. no. 3.

The true story of the capture of Jefferson Davis.

by Major W. T. Walthall,
(Late A. A. G., Confederate Army.)
[The following article was written and ready for publication a few weeks after the appearance of that of General Wilson, which was the proximate occasion for its preparation. It was sent to the Philadelphia Times, in which General Wilson's paper had appeared, and which had agreed to publish it. In consequence, however, of protracted and unexplained delay in the fulfilment of this agreement, it was withdrawn from the office of that journal, after lying there for some months, and is now submitted to the readers of the Southern Historical Society Papers, with this explanation of the delay in its publication.]

The publication, in the Philadelphia Weekly Times of July 7th, 1877, of an article by Major-General James H. Wilson, professing to give an account of the capture of the Confederate President in 1865, has not only revived a fictitious story circulated soon after that event occurred-perhaps still current. among the vulgar, though long since refuted-but has surrounded it with a cluster of new embellishments, which had heretofore been either “unwritten history” or unimagined fiction. To which of these classes they belong, the reader may be better able to determine after an examination of the evidence which it is one of the objects of this paper to lay before him.

The key-note to the temper, as well as the truthfulness of Gen. Wilson's narrative, may be found in its first paragraph, which I quote entire:

On the first Sunday of April, 1865, while seated in St. Paul's church in Richmond, Jeffersen Davis received a telegram from


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