May 10: The Capture Of Jefferson Davis

JeffersonDavisCaptureIn May of 1865, the Civil War was effectively over. After all, on April 9th, Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Confederate army at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. The Confederacy was in ruins and Confederate President Jefferson Davis was forced to flee the CSA’s capitol in Richmond, Virginia. It was on this day in 1865 that Davis’ run came to an end when he was captured by American troops.

There’s some amount of controversy over the capture. The popular press in the North claimed that Davis had been captured while disguised as a woman. As hilarious as the image of a head of state fleeing in drag may be, this claim is an exaggeration of the truth. In reality, when Davis and his wife were captured, he was under the weather and was wearing his wife’s heavy black shawl to protect him from the elements.

Davis spent the next two years imprisoned in Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was indicted for treason, but never put on trial. Some historians believe that Davis was never tried because the U. S. government didn’t want to create a public forum in which Davis could claim that secession was legal. Regardless, in 1867 he was released on a $100,000 bail. After his release, Davis was involved in a series of unsuccessful business ventures and even tried to go back into politics. He was elected as a U. S. senator in 1875 by the state of Mississippi in 1875, but was denied the office under the 14th Amendment as his American citizenship had been revoked during the Civil War. Davis spent his last years living with his family on the Biloxi estate of Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey, writing his memoirs, 1881’s The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government and 1889’s A Short History of the Confederate States of America. Davis died in December 1889 at the age of 81. His American citizenship would not be restored until 1978.

On the anniversary of the de facto fall of Dixie, let’s drink a Dixie. This drink comes to us from Tom Bullock’s 1919 The Ideal Bartender., but this particular variation comes to us from Erik Adkins at Hard Water in San Francisco. It’s essentially an Old Fashioned that’s been accented with curaçao and crème de menthe.


  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Mariner
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 4 dashes Crème de Menthe

Build in a rocks glass over a large ice cube and stir. Garnish with a lemon peel

Tomorrow: A cocktail inspired by Berlin.



One response

  1. […] continued on its mission. It wasn’t until August that the crew of the Shenandoah learned of Davis’ capture and the final surrender of all Confederate troops. After coming to terms with the fact that the war […]

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