A Goodbye Gift

While attending services at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond on Sunday, April 2, 1865, Confederate president Jefferson Davis received word that Confederate forces had begun evacuating Petersburg in the wake of a morning attack by Ulysses S. Grant’s army. Knowing that the fall of Richmond would soon follow, Davis abandoned the capital that night and boarded a train headed for Danville, Virginia. On May 10, Union forces would catch up with and capture the fleeing Davis in Georgia.

Before he departed Richmond, Davis left behind a gift for Walter Grant, the young son of a family who lived near the Davises on 12th Street. “I was in St. Paul’s Church when Mr. Davis was called out on that memorable Sunday,” Grant would later recall. “After dinner when the older heads were engaged, I drifted down the gully, and when I returned to the house, was told that Mr. Davis had been to say goodbye and left something for me to remember him by.” That gift was the wood and brass, cannon-shaped desk ornament—including an inkstand, pen holder, and matchbox—shown below. Grant eventually donated the relic to the Museum of the Confederacy—now The American Civil War Museum—in Richmond.

The American Civil War Museum, Richmond, Virginia

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of The Civil War Monitor.

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