“‘  in profound secrecy, and deciding that, in order to secure the escape of himself and his principal officers, the Shenandoah should be ordered to cruise off the coast of Florida, to take the fugitives on board.’ These orders were sent to the rebel cruiser many days before Lee's lines were broken.” Who this “good authority” is we are left to conjecture; but General Wilson himself is responsible for the assertion that “these orders were sent,” as he does not quote even a dubious authority for that. Was ever a more daring statement given to a credulous world? Mr. Davis and his Cabinet were so extremely concerned for their personal safety that they took the one impossible way to secure it! The Shenandoah was then, and long had been, on the broad bosom of the Pacific ocean, hunted on all sides by Federal cruisers, and without a single friendly port in which to drop her anchor. Were these orders sent around the Horn, or overland from Texas? How long would it have taken them to find her and bring her to the coast of Florida? And how long would the Federal navy have permitted her to remain there waiting for “the fugitives” ? Again: The narrative deals in pure fiction, too absurd for the wildest credulity. No such orders were issued. There were no discussions in the Cabinet, no “careful and exacting preparations for escape,” and no preparations of any kind until the fall of Petersburg rendered them necessary; and then the anxiety was for the preservation of the Government, and not for the safety of its individual members. Day by day, for many months, the varying fortunes of the Confederacy were the subject of grave and anxious deliberations in the Cabinet. But never was there any plan proposed, or any suggestion made, or even a casual remark uttered, regarding the personal safety of its officers. Bad as General Wilson may think them, they were neither selfish enough nor cowardly enough for that. And as to Mr. Davis, it was well known in Richmond that his unnecessary and reckless exposure of himself was the cause of frequent and earnest remonstrances on the part of his friends. The Northern people triumphed in arms, but they can never add to the glories of that triumph by endeavoring to depreciate and degrade the men whom they found it so difficult to conquer.
Very respectfully yours, George Davis.