In the AikenStandard.com website yesterday I read the following about the White House in Richmond: “Mrs. Davis’s drawing room last night was brilliant, and she was in great force. Outside a mob called for the President. He did speak – an old war horse, who scents the battlefields from afar. His enthusiasm was contagious, wrote Mary Chesnut. Her book Diary from Dixie is one of the best first hand accounts of life in the American South leading up to and during the Civil War”.
Of course she was referring to Jefferson Davis. Her husband was on his staff and she was a close friend of Varina. They even lived across the street from the White House in Richmond for a time.
Mary Chesnut records that when Jefferson and Varina held New Year’s Day open house, the President’s arm was sore for days afterwards, from shaking so many hands. Other things of interest that she wrote about was that the President had insomnia, and spent many sleepless nights. The Master Bedroom sometimes served as an office since Davis, who was frequently ill, spent many days working propped up in bed.
The nursery, she says was “bedlam broke loose”. It housed five young and rambunctious children. One tragic result of the children’s apparent lack of discipline was when Joe, five years old, fell from the railing of the portico fifteen feet to his death. She describes the immense crowd at his funeral, including “thousands of children” who placed white flowers on the small grave.