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Civil War Trust

Capture of Jefferson Davis

May 10, 1865

Irwinsville, Georgia

Jefferson Davis imprisoned at Fort Monroe. (Library of Congress)

After fleeing from Richmond, and then from Danville after the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, Jefferson Davis found himself on the run yet again, this time deep in heart of Georgia. After Lee’s surrender, Confederate army after Confederate army began to accept the generous terms of surrender offered by the North, yet Davis remained defiant. Refusing to accept defeat, he hoped to reach a sympathetic foreign nation such as Britain or France, and had even contemplated organizing a Confederate government in exile. Davis’ pipedream of a perpetual and independent Confederacy would come to an abrupt end on May 10, 1865, when a detachment of the 4th Michigan Cavalry fell upon and captured him and his personal entourage, including his wife Varina, near Irwinsville, Georgia. Davis would be imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe on charges of treason – though he was never tried for the offence – and was released on bail in May of 1867.


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