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Retreat of the Cabinet. [from the Richmond, Va., times, July 2, 1896.]

Described by President Davis' Confederate Secretary. The great Chief's noble conduct.

He cheered his faithful Adherents with words of Encouragement— little children blessed him and brought him flowers.

[This deeply interesting narrative was published on the date of the laying of the corner-stone of the monument to President Jefferson Davis, in Monroe Park, at Richmond, Va., July 2, 1896. Captain Clark has been a constant supporter, and is a life member of the Southern Historical Society, and has been meritedly highly successful in his progressive business enterprises.—Ed.]

A notable personage who comes into considerable prominence at this time is Micajah H. Clark, of Clarksville, Tenn., who served for a period as acting treasurer of the Confederate States of America, and again as confidential secretary to President Jefferson Davis. At the time of the evacuation of Richmond Mr. Clark was acting in the capacity of chief and confidential clerk of the Executive Office. Under the orders of the Confederate President, he packed up all the papers of the office, and left with Mr. Davis and his Cabinet. At Danville the departments were reopened and a temporary capitol was established there. Upon receipt of dispatches, April 10th, conveying the news of the surrender of General Lee's army, the President and Cabinet retired to Greensboro, N. C., where General Beauregard had his headquarters. The party afterwards returned to Charlotte, remaining there during the truce declared between Johnston and Sherman. At Charlotte the President gave Mr. Clark a staff appointment with military rank.

While in Richmond Mr. Clark was, like all clerks, in the Local Defence Troops. Beginning as a private in the company, he was assigned to duty in the Medical Purveyor's office. From Charlotte he went with President Davis and his party to Abbeville, S. C., where the last Cabinet meeting was held. From that place the party repaired to Washington, Ga., where the Confederate Cabinet dispersed, Hon. John H. Reagan alone remaining with the President.


Mr. Clark made Treasurer.

The treasury train caught up with the party of which Mr. Clark was a member at Washington, Ga., and the President appointed Hon. Mr. Reagan, the Postmaster-General, Acting Secretary of the Treasury, and Mr. Clark Acting Treasurer

An interesting account of the winding — up of the Treasury Department is published in Southern Historical Society Papers (vol. IX, p. 542, et seq, by Ex-Acting Treasurer C. S. A., and Confidential Clerk Executive Office, C. S. A.)

Mr. Clark's record as a Confederate is unique in some particulars. As he was on duty watching papers of the Confederate Government until December, 1865, he never gave his parole.

His commission as Acting Treasurer of the Confederacy bore the last official signature of the President of the Confederate States. The commission is now on deposit at the Confederate Museum here. All the gold and silver bonds and contents of the Treasury were turned over to the Acting Treasurer, without bond being required of him. President Davis honored Mr. Clark with two personal visits to his home at Clarksville, and on one occasion declared his high admiration for him, saying that Mr. Clark was the last man on duty and was faithful to the end.

Mr. Clark a Richmond boy.

Micajah H. Clark was a Richmond boy and was born here, as his mother was before him, who was nee Miss Caroline Virginia Harris.

His father was Dr. Micajah Clark, a distinguished physician of his generation, born in Albemarle county, the son of William Clark, who saw service in the Revolution. William Clark was the son of Micajah Clark, the son of Captain Christopher Clark, who patented many thousand acres of Crown lands, and located some of the tracts in what is now Albemarle county, near Charlottesville, in 1702-4, and was said to have been the pioneer settler of that county. This is one of the historical Clark families of Virginia, which furnished many legislators, generals and governors of States.

Micajah H. Clark was a ‘Hill-cat’ (as the uptown boys of the city were then known), and his first taste of war was in the battles between the ‘Hill-cats’ and the ‘Butcher-cats’ and ‘Basin-cats’ —a distinctive Richmond war waged with varying fortunes for more [98] than one hundred years, the ‘cats’ of all three armies finally fighting side by side in the war between the States.

New pages of history.

In response to a request made of him, that he would write some personal reminiscences of the late Chief of the Southern Cause, with whom he was so closely identified, and whose most implicit confidence he enjoyed during the last days of the Confederacy, Mr. Clark has edited, for the perusal of readers of The Times, the following absorbing story:

Partial histories of the evacuation of the Confederate Capitol have been written by many, but few sketches have been given by those who followed the civil government in its retreat South until by surrender of its chief armies it lost the power to defend the country and protect itself from capture, when natural disintegration took place, executive power ceased, and all hope of the cause was lost, except by the most sanguine.

It was my privilege to be with the President and Cabinet from the evacuation of Richmond until within a few days of the capture of himself and family, a portion of his staff, and the sole Cabinet officer remaining with him.

As the government slowly fell to pieces, as quartermaster and commissary of the party, and member of his military family, I was naturally thrown nearer and nearer to his person, until below Sandersville, Georgia, on the 6th or 7th of May, 1865, giving me my final orders, he sent me on with my train of supplies to Florida, he said: ‘abandoning for the present everything on wheels,’ and left to temporarily join and protect his family.

The history of the capture of his party and family has been written.

Danville to Greensboro.

The government was established for a week at Danville, Virginia, where the various departments were opened, and routine business taken up.

The surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia necessitated retirement to Greensboro, North Carolina. The surrender of this hitherto invincible army came with the paralyzing shock of a sudden earthquake, stoutly denied by many as a thing impossible, but [99] repeated dispatches at last left no room for doubt of the awful disaster.

Then came the breaking of some of the bonds which held the government together, and some who had followed to this point, seeing that they could be of no real service, and might be an incumbrance, sought the President to express their profound grief, and seek his advice for their own actions. These he received with his quiet dignity, advised them with warm friendship, and set them free to private life and duties.

Then I saw for the first time the man. His record as soldier, legislator, and ruler of what was for four years a powerful nation, is a part of the history of the country, North and South, and need not be touched on here.

At Greensboro, under his orders through Colonel William Preston Johnston, A. D. C., I made up a team of wagons, with supplies and ambulances for baggage, and after a short stay, took the road for Charlotte, N. C., where Cabinet meetings were held, and communication kept up with Johnston's army and others, still in the field.

When the truce between Johnston and Sherman expired, the line of march was taken up for Abbeville, S. C., and finally to Washington. Ga., where the closing scenes of the Confederate Government came on 4th May, 1865, with the winding up of the last remaining department—that of the Treasury.

Courage, fortitude, and all hope had not, however, left the head of the government, for the intention was to reach the TransMissis-sippi Department, via Florida and Cuba, and carry on the war for independence until the great river could be crossed again.

Bureaus abandoned.

All along the route the various bureaus of the departments had been abandoned, and the President left Washington, Ga., with a portion of his staff. Colonel F. R. Lubbock, A. D. C., ex-Governor of Texas; Colonel John Taylor Wood, A. D. C.; Colonel William Preston Johnston, A. D. C.; also Colonel Thorburn, a naval adjutant, Captain Given Campbell and eight scouts, my train, with its quartermaster and a small following. Hon. John H. Reagan, Postmaster-General and Acting Secretary of the Treasury, and myself caught up with the party next morning at sunrise, after traveling all night.

Up to Washington, Ga., the march had no sign of a retreat, and was made leisurely day by day. An escort of cavalry was furnished [100] at Greensboro, but it was kept generally on parallel roads. From Washington, Ga., the idea was to reach the Trans-Mississippi Department with safety, and by steady traveling, as no speed could be made.

From Danville on I saw the government, with its personnel, slowly but surely falling to pieces. Grief, sorrow, and often indignation was felt and expressed by the immediate party among themselves, but the face of the Great Chief was serene, courteous and kind always, beguiling the tedium of the weary miles with cheerful conversation, reminiscences and anecdotes—as a gracious host entertaining his guests—reviving the spirits, strengthening the hearts and courage of all who were with him.

A horseback ride from Greensboro, N. C., to far Southern Georgia was no holiday excursion, with the dusty roads, weary riding, and generally coarse fare, yet he made it one, in part, in many pleasant ways to those who rode with him, and it will never leave their living memories.

I never heard one hasty or petulant expression escape his lips, yet all knew how his proud heart was suffering, so weighted with anxieties for his beloved people, who had given the pick and flower of their families for the cause.

Admiration, love and intense personal devotion to him grew day by day, until laying down life for him would have been a willing tribute.

With all the weariness of the month's retreat, on the road were found many passing compensations. The people, though they felt and knew that the end of all their hopes was near, were true and hospitable always. Houses flew open to give what meagre cheer they held.

Touching Demonstrations.

Through the little towns we passed, the ladies (who never gave up) and the children flocked around us with flowers, eager to see, grasp the hand, and bless their President, God-speeding him on his way.

In every house which sheltered him at night he left a blessing, with cheerful words of faith that God would not desert his people, and left with his entertainers renewed fortitude and strength to meet, endure, and try to overcome the trials soon to come upon them, and with fatherly advice as to their action.

And so it was all the way to Abbeville, S. C., where the whole [101] town was thrown open to the party. And at Washington, Ga., where the bitter end was known to be reached, the welcome, though tearful, was full of love, warmth, and tenderness.

Dr.Robertson and Mrs. Robertson, who received in their hospitable home, the President and his immediate following, lavished every attention that thoughtful, loving, patriotic hearts could furnish, uncaring the consequences that might follow from an incoming Federal garrison, and speeded the going guest with prayer for his safety. This family proved the traditional elasticity of Southern homes in caring for guests.

And the end came.

And so the end came. History records the achievements of Jefferson Davis as soldier, statesman, and Chief Magistrate, but to those who saw him and knew him, in those gloomy days when the Southern Confederacy was dying the death, will say that his grand spirit rose the highest and shone the brightest, and his Christian character was more fully exemplified during hours of adversity and defeat.

And those he blessed with his presence will hand down to their children's children in unrecorded traditions, the precious and tender memories he left with them. It is my great good fortune to share this gracious legacy.

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