Lot 19: Davis, Jefferson. Superb autograph letter signed and initialed, 4 pages (8 x 5 in.; 203 x 127 mm.)

Profiles in History

December 18, 2012, 11:00 AM PST
Calabasas Hills, CA, US
0 saved

More About this Item


Description:

19. Davis, Jefferson. Superb autograph letter signed (“Jeffer Davis”) and initialed (“D.”), as President of the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.), 4 pages (8 x 5 in.; 203 x 127 mm.), “Richmond, Virginia,” 1 April 1865, marked “Private” at the head of first page to General Braxton Bragg; repair to vertical fold of second leaf.

At the Confederacy’s darkest hour, just eight days before General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis looks back on all that he has given, and lost, to the Confederate cause.

Davis responds to a letter from Bragg sent from Raleigh, where he had withdrawn in the face of Union General William T. Sherman’s northward advance.  Bragg had complained of his own weakened position and the lack of order and loss of morale among the Confederate troops. Davis, casting his lot with a man on whom he bestowed his trust and full confidence despite open opposition from his military allies.

Davis writes in full: Yours by Col. Sale was duly received.  I am sorry to learn that so much of the good tidings published in regard to operations in N.C. is without solid foundation.  My best hope was that [Union General William T.] Sherman while his army was worn and his supplies short would be successfully resisted and prevented from reaching a new base or from making a junction with [General John] Schofield [Commander of the Department of North Carolina].  Now it remains to prevent a junction with [General Ulysses S.] Grant, if that cannot be done, the Enemy may decide our policy.

Your long and large experience in Tenn. and Ga. render palpable to you the difficulty and danger of a movement towards either.  If we could feed the army in Va. after exposing R.R. communication with the South the problem would be even in the worst view of it one of easy solution.  How long this could be done I cannot say, but fear the supply of grain is quite small. Our condition is that in which great Generals have shown their value to a struggling state.  Boldness of conception and rapidity of execution has often rendered the smaller force victorious.  To fight the Enemy in detail it is necessary to outmarch him and to surprise him.

I can readily understand your feelings.  We both entered into this war at the beginning of it.  We both staked every thing on the issue and have lost all which either the public or private enemies could take away.  We both have the consciousness of faithful service and may I not add the sting of feeling that capacity for the public good is diminished by the covert workings of malice and the constant iterations of falsehood.  I have desired to see you employed in a position suited to your rank and equal to your ability.  I do not desire to subject you to unfair opposition when failure may be produced by it and will not fail on the first fitting occasion to call for your aid to the perilous task which lies before us.

At Missionary Ridge in November, 1863, Bragg’s army suffered the most humiliating defeat yet suffered by a Confederate army.  The circulating opinion was that Bragg had been in a fog for months, and as a result of the disaster, the government would undoubtedly suffer the terrible consequences, as it (i.e., Davis) had assumed the responsibility of retaining him in command.  1863 was a terrible year for the Confederate cause.  Tennessee was entirely lost - as was Louisiana east of the Mississippi.  With the fall of Vicksburg went much of Mississippi.  In Virginia, the success at Chancellorsville had not kept Union forces out of the state, and Maryland seemed lost.  Gettysburg had been a disaster.  Foreign relations remained non-existent.  The economy was in precarious shape and the Southern people were tiring of the struggle. Davis had not been the leader his people needed in their final hour.

1864 was no better.  Davis’ inadequacy was partially due to his unyieldingly blind devotion to men such as Bragg throughout the final years of the war.  Davis has prejudiced his chances of success by consistently adhering to a man whose record gave cause to expect little but defeat.  Stubbornly, he refused to be moved by popular opinion, and would not take the chance of giving command to generals who had victories to their credit.  After Bragg’s removal from field command, he became Davis’ General-in-Chief, his chief advisor.  Bragg’s name quickly became anathema in the War Department; he generated respect from no one and hostility from almost everyone.  In the last months of the war, however, Davis consistently tied his fortunes to Bragg, demonstrably the worst of all his generals.  There was talk in the Congress of deposing the president, though the opposition essentially remained, from the first to the last, a petty group of squabbling, self-important, second-rate politicians.  To all concerned, however, Davis had ceased to be presidential.

As if fully aware that the war is now lost, Davis still cannot admit that defeat is imminent.  He still voices his support for Bragg, hoping to see him employed in a position suited to your rank and equal to your ability and pledging that he will not fail on the first fitting occasion to call for your aid to the perilous task which is before us. The resistance to Davis in the Congress proved to be impotent, though Davis remained obstinate, guided by his prejudices for and against men.  The situation was doomed for both Davis and the Confederacy.  By the end of March of 1865, most officials had left the Confederate capital of Richmond; only Davis and his cabinet remained.  To most Southerners, Davis’ determination was mere delusion and his cause lost.

A remarkable letter written the day after Davis put his wife Varina and his children off at the Danville railroad.  His words to his wife: If I live you can come to me when the struggle is ended, but I do not expect to survive the destruction of constitutional liberty. Davis fully believed that he was saying his final farewell to his family.  The day after his letter to Braxton, Davis learned from the War Department that the enemy had broken through Lee’s lines, endangering the last remaining avenue of escape; to save his army, Lee had to evacuate immediately.  Richmond had to be abandoned.  It was only a matter of days before the war would be over. 

Request more information

Payment

Accepted forms of payment: American Express, COD (cash on delivery), Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer
Shipping: For secure, convenient shipping, Profiles in History uses Federal Express exclusively for Domestic and International shipping, unless the buyer requests other arrangements in writing. Immediately after the sale, please contact our office for a shipping quote. Buyer is responsible for insuring their shipment. Shipping and handling charges will be added to your final invoice.
International Shipments: Buyer is responsible for all insurance, customs, import permits, taxes, duties and/or fees incurred with respect to their purchase. Shipping and handling charges will be added to your final invoice.
For those pieces that require special shipping and handling by a third-party shipper, the buyer is required to make all necessary arrangements for the transport of their purchase directly with the shipper.
Possession and Removal, Charges: No portion of any lot may be removed from the premises or possession transferred to Buyer unless Buyer has fully complied with these Conditions of Sale and the terms of the Online Registration, and unless and until Profiles has received the Purchase Price funds in full. Notwithstanding the above, all property must be removed from the premises by Buyer, at his or her sole expense, not later than seven (7) calendar days from the invoice date. If all or any property has not been so removed within that time, in addition to any other remedies available to Profiles all of which are reserved, a handling charge of one percent (1%) of the Purchase Price per month will be assessed and payable to Profiles by Buyer, with a minimum of five percent (5%) assessed and payable to Profiles by Buyer for any property not removed within sixty (60) days. Profiles shall additionally have the option, in its sole discretion, of transferring any of such property to a public warehouse at the full risk and expense of Buyer. Profiles, in addition, reserves the right to impose a late charge of fifteen percent (15%) per year on the Purchase Price if Buyer does not make full payment in accordance herewith. Profiles and Buyer acknowledge and agree that these charges are reasonably imposed to partially compensate Profiles for losses and expenses associated with any such delays.
Buyer's Premium
23.0%
From: To: Increment:
$0 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000+ $10,000
Buyer: BY EITHER REGISTERING TO BID OR PLACING A BID, THE BIDDER ACCEPTS THESE "CONDITIONS OF SALE" AND ENTERS INTO A LEGALLY, BINDING, AND ENFORCEABLE AGREEMENT WITH PROFILES IN HISTORY.

READ THIS BEFORE YOU BID: NO BID MAY BE PLACED IN ANY MANNER UNLESS THE BIDDER HAS FULLY REVIEWED AND AGREES TO ALL OF THE "CONDITIONS OF SALE" PRESENTED ON-LINE. BY PLACING ANY BID, THE BIDDER REPRESENTS AND WARRANTS TO PROFILES THAT HE OR SHE HAS FULLY REVIEWED AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE "CONDITIONS OF SALE" AND THE TERMS OF ON-LINE REGISTRATION. WITHOUT SUCH REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY AND AGREEMENT, PROFILES WOULD NOT PERMIT THE BIDDER TO BID.

AS SET FORTH IN THE "CONDITIONS OF SALE", FULL PAYMENT MUST BE RECEIVED BY PROFILES NO LATER THAN SEVEN (7) CALENDAR DAYS OF THE AUCTION OR WITHIN FIVE CALENDAR DAYS OF THE INVOICE DATE, WHICHEVER IS LATER. PURCHASE PRICE IS THE SUM OF FINAL BID AMOUNT PLUS BUYER'S PREMIUM (23% OF FINAL BID PRICE), PLUS APPLICABLE SALES TAXES AND SHIPPING. BID INCREMENTS ARE SET FORTH ABOVE.
Photographs, Illustrations and Screen Sh: Photographs, Illustrations and Screen Shots: Unless otherwise explicitly set forth in the catalog description for an individual item, all photographs, illustrations, and screen shots are furnished solely for reference purposes and not as a statement, representation or warranty that the image depicted is the exact item offered. Due to the fact that multiple props, costumes, and other items are customarily made for and used on or off screen in a motion picture or other program, Profiles cannot and does not represent or warrant that the specific item depicted in the photograph, illustration or screen shot is the very same item offered at auction.
Trademarks: In the catalog descriptions, Profiles takes steps to identify and provide provenance for an item offered at auction. In many cases, the items offered were used in or in conjunction with motion pictures or other programs and is furnished in order to fully identify and describe the item offered at auction, including photographs, illustrations, and screen shots. Profiles in no way claims any connection to or relationship with the producers of the motion picture or other program. In all cases, the use of the titles or other elements of a motion picture or other program is for informational purposes only.
Copyrights: Unless otherwise set forth with respect to an item offered, the item offered at auction is a one-of-a-kind original piece, and Profiles makes no statement, representation or warranty concerning the copyright of such item. Depiction of the item in the catalog and other auction promotions is purely for informational and reference purposes regarding the offering of the item at auction. Unless otherwise set forth with respect to an item offered, Profiles makes no statement, representation or warranty concerning the successful bidder's right to copy, reproduce or adapt for any purpose any item offered at auction.

Important note to prospective bidders and disclaimer: Please note that all items in this auction are sold in "as is" condition. We do our best to properly describe all materials herein, but normal wear and tear is common due to the fragile nature of the items including their age and use in film and TV productions. We are not responsible for a zipper not working, a piece missing from a prop, etc. Tears or alterations to the fabric or original design of a costume, or broken/missing pieces to a prop are to be expected. While many of the props, costumes and other memorabilia are currently displayable in their screen-used condition, these items may require some restoration to be returned to their pre-production state. Many of the items featured have been modified and altered for subsequent productions and may differ from the original production usage. The term "working prop" denotes that the prop was originally made to do something unlike a static prop. This does not mean that the prop works today, although in many circumstances it may be possible to have the prop restored to its original configuration.

We strongly encourage you to either preview the items before bidding, or call for a more specific condition report on items of interest.
Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping charges from Profiles in History's offices in Calabasas Hills, CA to the buyer's door. Items that are of unusual size and/or weight will require special handling and will incur an additional shipping premium as charged by the carrier. Please see Terms & Conditions of Sale.
Important Note: Important note to prospective bidders and disclaimer: Please note that all items in this auction are sold in "as is" condition. We do our best to properly describe all materials herein, but normal wear and tear is common due to the fragile nature of the items including their age and use in film and TV productions. We are not responsible for a zipper not working, a piece missing from a prop, etc. Tears or alterations to the fabric or original design of a costume, or broken/missing pieces to a prop are to be expected. While many of the props, costumes and other memorabilia are currently displayable in their screen-used condition, these items may require some restoration to be returned to their pre-production state. Many of the items featured have been modified and altered for subsequent productions and may differ from the original production usage. The term "working prop" denotes that the prop was originally made to do something unlike a static prop. This does not mean that the prop works today, although in many circumstances it may be possible to have the prop restored to its original configuration.
We strongly encourage you to either preview the items before bidding, or call for a more specific condition report on items of interest.
Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping charges from Profiles in History's offices in Calabasas Hills, CA to the buyer's door. Items that are of unusual size and/or weight will require special handling and will incur an additional shipping premium as charged by the carrier. Please see Terms & Conditions of Sale.
How will I receive my property?: For secure, convenient shipping, Profiles in History uses Federal Express exclusively for Domestic and International shipping, unless the buyer requests other arrangements in writing. Immediately after the sale, please contact our office for a shipping quote. Buyer is responsible for insuring their shipment. Shipping and handling charges will be added to your final invoice.
International Shipments: Buyer is responsible for all insurance, customs, import permits, taxes, duties and/or fees incurred with respect to their purchase. Shipping and handling charges will be added to your final invoice.
For those pieces that require special shipping and handling by a third-party shipper, the buyer is required to make all necessary arrangements for the transport of their purchase directly with the shipper.
Possession and Removal, Charges: No portion of any lot may be removed from the premises or possession transferred to Buyer unless Buyer has fully complied with these Conditions of Sale and the terms of the Online Registration, and unless and until Profiles has received the Purchase Price funds in full. Notwithstanding the above, all property must be removed from the premises by Buyer, at his or her sole expense, not later than seven (7) calendar days from the invoice date. If all or any property has not been so removed within that time, in addition to any other remedies available to Profiles all of which are reserved, a handling charge of one percent (1%) of the Purchase Price per month will be assessed and payable to Profiles by Buyer, with a minimum of five percent (5%) assessed and payable to Profiles by Buyer for any property not removed within sixty (60) days. Profiles shall additionally have the option, in its sole discretion, of transferring any of such property to a public warehouse at the full risk and expense of Buyer. Profiles, in addition, reserves the right to impose a late charge of fifteen percent (15%) per year on the Purchase Price if Buyer does not make full payment in accordance herewith. Profiles and Buyer acknowledge and agree that these charges are reasonably imposed to partially compensate Profiles for losses and expenses associated with any such delays.
View full terms and conditions