Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/344

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Southern Historical Society Papers.

doubtedly the best qualified living person to recount them. Any statement made by this person would require no corroborative proof, which, however, is not lacking, to substantiate it.


Hon. Jefferson Davis, in his Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, says:

"Though the occupation of Danville was not expected to be permanent, immediately after arriving there rooms were obtained, and the different departments resumed their routine labors."

Since this was the last place at which the departments carried on their routine labors, and since, while they did this, the capital was located here, therefore this place is entitled clearly to the distinction of being called "The Last Capital of the Confederacy."

When it became evident to General Lee that it would be impossible for him to longer hold the defences guarding the capital, his main line of defences at Petersburg having been broken, which necessitated a withdrawal of his other forces, he advised President Davis, in a telegram received by him while attending divine services, that Richmond should be evacuated by the government simultaneously with the withdrawal of his army. The situation left no alternative. So, with his cabinet, and attended by his staff, President Davis left at once for Danville. This was on the 2d of April.

Upon arriving at Danville the Presidential party was met at the depot, taken to his residence, and entertained by Major W. T. Sutherlin, a wealthy and prominent citizen, who held the offices of commissionary and commandant at this place, and who had been a member of the Secession Convention of Virginia. Here the President and his cabinet remained until the 10th of April. Here also were the cabinet meetings held, the proclamation issued, and orders transmitted. During this time the Sutherlin mansion constituted de facto the capital of the Confederate States. A house on Wilson street was obtained by the government for the use of the President's staff and the offices of the various departments, and there all routine government business was transacted.

Last Full Cabinet Meeting.

The last lull cabinet meeting which was ever held by the President met with him in one of the sitting-rooms of the Sutherlin mansion. All of the members of the cabinet attended this meeting except the