April 19, 1865: Where is Jefferson F. Davis?

I’ve always had an issue with the date offered by this plaque at the corner of 4th and Tyron Street, in Charlotte, North Carolina:

Jefferson Davis Informed of Lincoln's Death Marker

I think Jefferson F. Davis did not arrive in Charlotte until April 19, 1865, and the plaque is referencing the date of the telegram handed to Davis. Plenty of dispatches, correspondence, and other evidence place Davis somewhere else on April 18.  Not the least of which is a marker in Concord, to the north, and a United Daughters of the Confederacy plaque at Davis’ campsite for the night of April 18.  Furthermore, there is another marker in Charlotte (which does not happen to be logged in the Historical Marker Database, believe it or not) that reads, “President Davis, moving southward after Lee’s surrender, spent seven days, April 19-26, 1865, in a house which stood in this vicinity.”  So unless we advance the theory that Davis slept on the streets of Charlotte for the night of April 18, there is that campsite up in Concord.

But in the interest of not offending anyone in Charlotte, shall we simply say that on what ever day Davis arrived in Charlotte, he was informed of Lincoln’s death and he also worshiped at the nearby St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.  And regardless of which marker you chose to believe, Davis and the Confederate Cabinet were in Charlotte on April 19, 1865. The cabinet had ridden on horseback or carriages to reach Charlotte, thanks to damage to the railroads done by Federal raider the week before.

Over the next few days, the Cabinet would hold meetings in a bank building (which is, again, marked by a United Daughters of the Confederacy plaque, but not without some questions as to dates.  Careful when the word “last” is used in a marker text… ).

(Photo credit: Tom Daoust, January 21, 2011, Courtesy HMDB.)

4 thoughts on “April 19, 1865: Where is Jefferson F. Davis?

  1. Those must have been some strange cabinet meetings, with minimal effective communication with other parts of the Confederacy, and not even a clear idea about the forces available to act.

    • Which brings up the next question – If Davis couldn’t keep track of the simple facts of his own experiences, how much salt do we need to take into the reading of “Rise and Fall”?

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