Chad Smith sent a message to the members of Dixie Outfitters.
December 5, 2010
Subject: President Jefferson Davis- December 6, 1889- 121 Years Later–
The Christmas Season of 1889, was a time of sadness in Dixie. Hundreds of thousands of people came to remember and pay their last respects to Jefferson Davis in the crescent city of New Orleans.
On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died at the home of a friend. Do our young people who who Davis was?
Jefferson Davis graduated from West Point Military Academy, served valiantly in the War with Mexico, was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, elected US Senator from Mississippi and was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. Davis also wrote the book, "Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government" at his last home in Mississippi.
Jefferson Davis, and wife Varina, found great contentment and peace at "Beauvoir" their beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast Home. This is where he wished to die when his time came but it was not to be.
In November 1889, Varina attended to their home as Davis left for Brierfield Plantation to take care of family business. As he traveled through New Orleans Davis was exposed to a cold-rain that caused him a severe cold and bronchitis that was further complicated by Malaria.
Milo Copper, a former servant of the Davis family, upon hearing of Davis’ illness, made the long trip from Florida to New Orleans to be near Davis’ side. As Cooper entered Davis’ sick room, he burst into tears and fell on his knees and prayed that God would spare the life of Jefferson Davis and bless the family.
Jefferson Davis died between 12:30AM and 1:00AM on December 6, 1889. The news of his death hit the front page of many Southern newspapers. The praises and tributes read similar to that of a New Orleans paper that read,
"Throughout the South are Lamentations and tears; in every country on the globe where there are lovers of liberty there is mourning; wherever there are men who love heroic patriotism, dauntless resolution, fortitude or intellectual power, there is an sincere sorrowing. The beloved of our land, the unfaltering upholder of constitutional liberty, the typical hero and sage, is no more; the fearless heart that beats with sympathy for all mankind is stilled forever, a great light is gone—-Jefferson Davis is dead!"
The body of Jefferson Davis laid in state at the city hall of New Orleans, Louisiana from midnight, December 6, 1889, to December 11th. The United States and Confederate flags hung from above and in the city hall that was covered with many flowers.
The church bells toiled as over 80,000 people lined the streets of New Orleans to pay their respects to a Southern legend. All schools and businesses were closed that day.
Those men who comprised the honor Guard for the procession to Metairie Cemetery included: the Army of Northern Virginia Association, the Army of Tennessee and the Washington Artillery. Metairie Cemetery would be a temporary burial place for Davis as he was moved in 1893, by funeral train to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
The sad part of this story is that the United States War Department did not recognize Davis and the US flag was not flown at half-mast. The US flag was flown at half mast in the South. Jefferson Davis was the only former Secretary of War that was not given the respect and honor by the United States Government.
On December 6, 1889, the Christmas Season in New Orleans was saddened when Jefferson Davis died of unknown causes at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was one of the largest ever staged in the South.
The body of Jefferson Davis laid in state at the city hall of New Orleans from midnight on December 6th to the 11th. He was dressed in Confederate gray and flowers adorned the city hall. Confederate flags and the Union flag were hung from above. Thousands of mourners came from out of town to join the residents of New Orleans to pay their respects to the man who once was the South’s beloved leader. The men saluted their former leader and the women bowed their heads in prayer. Tears filled the eyes of young people who were born at the time Jefferson Davis was president of the Confederacy. The church bells rang throughout the city. On December 11, 1889, twenty thousand people lined the streets of New Orleans as the body of Jefferson Davis was taken, by funeral carriage, to Metairie Cemetery in the crescent city. The funeral procession included those who wore the gray during the War Between the States. All flags flew at half mast. It is sad that the War Department of the United States did not lower the United States flag in his honor. Jefferson Davis was the only former Secretary of War who had ever been denied the honor.
On December 11, 1889, twenty thousand people lined the streets of New Orleans as the body of Jefferson Davis was taken, by funeral carriage, to Metairie Cemetery in the crescent city. The funeral procession included those who wore the gray during the War Between the States. All flags flew at half mast.
Eighteen months after his death and temporary burial in New Orleans Metaire Cemetery, Davis’s widow, Varina, decided the final burial place was to be Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery considered the National Cemetery of the Confederacy. His remains, were removed from the vault in New Orleans and placed on a flag-draped caisson escorted by honor guards composed of his old soldiers to Memorial Hall, where he lay in state. The next day, as thousands of people silently watched from the sidewalks and balconies, the caisson bore his body to a waiting funeral train. On the way, bonfires beside the tracks lit up ranks of Davis’s old soldiers standing at attention beside stacked arms. In Richmond, Gray haired veterans escorted him to the Virginia statehouse where thousands filed past in respect before interment.