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The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, October 10, 1921, Image 3

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"with other forces farther south.
v'1n consideration of all the declarations
that were made to him by
his military advisers in Abbeville, it
must have been plain to President
Davis that the end of the Confederacy
had come. General Duke, in
speaking of the council of war at
Abbeville, says: 4I have never been
atte to form a positive opinion as ]
to what Mr..Davis's real purpose was ;
at that date. It was perfectly mani- <
fest to everyone else that there was
Vav\A nl' oii.mocofnl VA. I -
sistance. It was the genera^ opinion <
that Mr. Davis could escape if he ]
really wished to do so, but we feared <
t^at his pride would prevent his mak- i
ing the attempt.' *- s
"In his book, 'The Rise and Fall of
the Confederate Government,' Mr. 1
Davis says that his object in fleeing j
dofcth was to make his way to the j
Confederate forces in Alabama or in I
the Trans-Mississippi department who 1
bad not then surrendered. More than
^ne bbserver records, on the other j
'hand, that Mr. Davis traveled very t
slowly, apparently indifferent as to
whether or not he was. captured. If r
be expected to join Confederate 1
Jorces farther south or west, why a
did he .pot make more speed? Did e
he not really give up hope at Abbe- li
Tille? Did not his exclamation at the ti
meeting there that all indeed was 1;
lest indicate his realization that it b
was really useless for him to go on? G
Ob more than one occasion the Con- a
Jederate chief executive had shown p
himself unwilling to yield to the cold V
fogic of facts. It may have been that w
at Abbeville he st'll hoped against t<
hope, but his better judgment told tl
him that all was lost. In referring N
"to the consideration shown him by w
the cavalry escorting him after he in
left Charlotte, he says that 'the dark le
shadows which gathered round us al
foretold the coming night.' bi
. , "In view of what took place at al
Abbeville, our contention is that re
here the Confederate Government ^
ceased to exist because the officers s*
of that government perceived that *i
the last hope was gone and abandon- te
ed it and because President Dapis
himself must have seen that the
fxuse for which he had so long and CI
ae desDeratelv strup-?led was Inst. Tf I to
the Confederate Government went ^
oat of existence at Abbeville?and to
we hold that it did?then the Cabi- di
. net meeting at Abbeville?and we m
hold that there was one at Abbeville P!
I ?was the final session of that body. w
1 "Yet, although it has been proved ^
that the last Confederate council of ^
war was held at Abbeville, what ai
proof is there that the last meeting er
of the Confederate cabinet was held A
at Abbeville beyond that offered by r*
local tradition which, nevertheless, in
usually has sound basis in truth? re
"Major Armistead Burt, host of hi
President Davis at Abbeville, is
quoted by Mr. Miller as often say- ^
ing that the last meeting of the Confederate
cabinet was held in his
house. This may have been only his ?*
opinion, or it may have been an au- th
thoritative statement based on some fr'
contemporaneous declaration made to
feim by his illustrious guest, Presi- m
dent Davis. *8
"The New York World, in an issue R<
published many years ago, said of the Pr
v- meeting at Abbeville: - "
' " 'In gloomy loneliness Da via and ,ac
'bis cabinet assembled in. one of the 8?
sitting rooms. They held their last e(*
consultation, discussed plans that Te
Were discussed only to be abandoned
and finally decided that the end had co
come and they had better try to es- Al
cape. Then they examined such pa- wh
pen as they had with them,, and thi
L when the hour of twelve struck, the cai
ashes of nearly all of those papers Tr
were smouldering in the glowing in*
ceals of the big wood fire.' it
< "What is the testimony of those wa
who participated in the cabinet meet- cid
ing at Abbeville? to
"President Davis is silent. He does '
not mention his stay in Abbeville. He ten
refers to only one cabinet meeting silc
after the Confederate government the
ov>/^ woo +Vin a? A ma
ici b Mivuuiuim cum wuab noo ^uc vsuo uic
at Greensboro. He does not mention Co:
the session of his cabinet which took Sts
place at Danville and Charlotte, so sou
Ids omission of Abbeville carries with dea
it no implication unfavorable to Ab- sisl
beville. One of his most i?ecent bi- cus
egraphers, Dr. Wm. E. Dodd of the '
University of Chicago, refers to the of
*- cabinet meeting at Charlotte, but cab
-fco none of the others on the retreat tan
fiom Richmond. Rei
"8f the four members of the cabi- net
A*. ' -
net present at Abbeville, only onej
afterward wrote or said anything
about the last cabinet meeting, so far
as I have been able to learn.
"Secretary of State Benjamin immediately
after leaving Abbeville
went to the coast of Florida, made
his way to England and never returned
to the United States. In his
letters to his kindred in this country
shortly after his escape he made no
reference to the cabinet. His sole
published utterance concerning the
Confederacy after he settled in England
\tas a vindication of President
Davis and contained no mention of
cabinet meetings.
"Secretary of War Breckinridge,
30 far as I can find, had nothing to
say on the subject, nor did Secretary
Mallory who wrote a brief account
jf the last days of the government
ivithout mentioning the final cabiftet '
iession. '
"Tiie only cabinet member who '
lad anything to say about the sub- 1
iect was Postmaster General Rea- 1
ran. In a letter written in 1899 to '
tfr. D. Wjratt Aiken of Abbeville, 1
le said:
" 'You make inquiry as to the
>lace at which the last meeting of 1
he Confederate Cabinet was held. 1
'I have to make a statement '
ather than a direct answer. The^
ast full cabinet meeting, in which ,?
11 the cabinet members participat- ^
d, was in Richmond, Va. Before we r
aft there Mr. Trenholm, the secre- 1
ary of the treasury, became serious- r
Y sick and left that city before the r
alance of the cabinet and went to *
treensboro, N. C. .President Davis ?
nd the balance of the cabinet stop- e
ed at Danville, Va., several days. 11
Fhen we reached Greensboro, N. C., ^
re found Mr. Trenholm still too sick t
) participate in the cabinet meeting ;v
lere, and he went on to Charlotte,!8
'. C. When we reached there he | d
as still auite sick and unable to r'
teet with the cabinet. When we'^
:ft Charlotte he left with us, but Ci
9 j
fter traveling about half a day he cjcame
too ill to go further with ua, ^
id there resigned the office of sec- r<
stary of the treasury. There was *
ten a cabinet meeting, where we c<
ayed the night after his resigna-! ^
on, which I was not invited to at- s<
nd and at which it was determined ^
tat I should be appointed secretary
' the treasury ad interim. And at ^
harlotte the Hon. George Davis, at- ^
rney-general, with the approval of a'
ie president afld cabinet, remained *r
i take- care of his motherless chil- ^
:en, and met us no more. The next t(
eeting, and one much interest, w
irtly on account of conferences
ith the officers of some brigades of ?'
\e- cavalry, was at Abbeville. All a1
ie members, except Mr. Trenholm tJ
id' the attorney-general, were pres- G
it at this meeting. After we left H
bbeville- and passed the Savannah ?
ver, and before we reached Washgton,
Ga., Mr. Benjamin, the sec- bi
tary of state, left us, and we saw tt
m no more. The next meeting of
liat was left of the cabinet was at rt
at place. Besides the president,
^re were in that meeting Gen. to
eckinridge, Mr. Mallory, secretary si
the navy and myself, representing cc
e postoffice department and the n;
easury department.' ce
""Even stronger still is the testi- m
ony of M. H. Clark, written fn ni
182, seventeen years before Mr. hi
iagan's statement. Mr. Clark was a
esent at Charlotte, Abbeville and P*
ashington, Ga., serving finally as C(
ting treasurer of the Confederate
erfiment, the lasj officer appoint- th
by President Davis. He was a th
mnessean. He declared: of
" 'The last cabinet meeting which th
aid be called such was held at be
>beville on the second of May at th
lich it seems to haye been decided en
4L. V 1 A_
wie tivuciiip^ was uujjeieas tu
rry the organized force to the by
ans-Mississippi department, it be- rii
j too small to cope with the enemy wl
would have to encounter and it thi
s left free to the soldiers to de- di<
e their own action?the move was wfc
be a voluntary one.' off
'The official records and the con- pe:
iporary issues of newspapers are in*
snt, as far as my examination of go1
m has gone. No officials records of the
etings of the cabinets of either the to
nfederate States or the United mi:
ites have been kept, for the rea- evj
l that no record is necessary or fee
lirable since cabinet meetings con- '
; mainly of free and informal die- go^
isions, more or less confidential. on
'D:d the last Confederate council; bet
war at Abbeville include the last'ere
kinet meeting? Were they simul-jwo
eously' held? Postmaster General po^
igan says-that the Abbeville cabi- ine
meeting was 'one of much inter- al
est, partly on account of conferenc
with the officers of some brigades <
cavalry.' Evidently the cabinet mei
bers participated, although it is po
sible that the cabinet held a separa
session before or after the counc
of war. It is significant in this coi
nection that at Greensboro there wi
a session of the cabinet at which Coi
federate commanders were presei
and it is reasonable to infer that tl
same procedure was followed at A1
beville. General Duke says that on]
the brigade commanders and Pres
dent Davis were present, but Pos
master General Reagan contradici
him on this point.
"It has been proved on high at
thority that there was a session c
the Confederate cabinet at Abb<
ville, but was it the last meeting?
"Acting Treasurer Clark declare
that 'the last cabinet meeting -^luc
could be called such was held at At
beville.' No other person competes
to testify contradicts that stat<
tnent Postmaster General Reaga
>ays that the next meeting, not o
the cabinet, but of "what was left o
Jie cabinet' was at Washington
SVhat was left of the cabinet a
(Washington, Ga.? Only Secretary o
;he Navy Mallory and Postmaster
General Reagan. Secretary of Wa
3reckinridge was not there, althoug:
lome Georgia historians say he was
The plain inference from the state
nent of President Davis ih his boo!
s that he never saw General Breckin
idge after he left him at the Savan
lah river, while Acting Treasure;
]lark removes the last vestige o:
loubt by the declaration that 4Gen
ral Breckinridge arrived in Wash
ngton an hour or so after President
)avis left.' Secretary Benjamin qui
he party just after crossing the Sa
annah river and, therefore, was nol
t Washington. There is no test tc
etermine how many members art
equired to constitute a session ei
tie cabinet, but common sense indiates
that two men do not make a
abinet. There were four cabinet ofcers
present and five departments
jpresented at Abbeville, but at
Fashington only two cabinet officers
Duld have been present and three
epartments could have been repre;nted,
not enough to compose an orinary
"But was there a session of the
onfederate cabinet at Washington?
Hiete is the proof? I have been unble
to find any. Stovall and Phillips
i their lives of Robert Toombs, and
very in his history of Georgia consnd
that the last cabinet meeting
as held at Washington, but do not
ttempt to produce proof to make
Dod the assertion. Joseph T. Derry,
uthor of a school history of the
nited States and of the history of
eorgia in the Confederate Military
istory, in the latter volume menons
that President Davis and some
I his party stopped at Washington,
nt is silent as to a cabinet meeting
Praci/lflnf Tiotno o*?/J 4-Via
jmaining members of his cabinet
ild any sort of meeting in Washingn,
it was merely the informal seson
of three directors of a bankrupt
>ncern after it had gone into bankiptcy
arid ceased to be a going conirn.
It is true that some of the
oney-left in the Confederate treas y
was disbursed at Wtshington,
it that was only the distribution of
part of the bankrupt's assets to its
eferred creditors, the long unpaid
jnfederate soldiers.
"Were the acts of the officers of
e Confederate government after
e last cabinet meeting and council
war at Abbeville consistent with
e theory that the government had
en dissolved there? Did the course
ey then followed indicate that the
d had come?
"Mr. Miller cites a letter written
' a daughter of Thomas Chiles Per1
who was' at her father's house
ten Mr. Benjamin was a guest
sre.' She said: 'After the last sol;r
left, father went into the library
lere Mr Rpnfnmin WAS Vinminff tViP
icial papers.' What were those pars?
There would be no use in takj.so
m(ich care to destroy ordinary
rernment records. It is suggested
it the papers were those referred
in Pierce Butler's life of Benjan.
After noting the approaching
icuation of Richmond as the Conlerate
capital, Mr. Butler says:
" 'For some weeks the packing of
irernment archives had been going
quietly and Mr. Benjamin had
;n preparing to destroy the se:t
service papers whose capture
uld compromise persons within the
wer of the enemy so that when the
vitable moment came and GenerLee's
message was delivered to
;.v V _ I' : H.1-.. :
es Mr. Davis in St. Paul's church all
of was ready for immediate removal to
n- some spot that might, for the time,
s- be safer.'
to "Wefee not the papers destroyed in
iil the Perrin home by Mr. Benjamin
n- the secret service papers referred to?
is Why had Mr. Benjamin kept them
i- so Ion? Was it because they were of
it value to the Confederate government
ie so long as it existed and did he burn
b- them because there was no longer a
ly government to which they could be
i- of use?
"Colonel Perrin's daughter says
^ further that when her father went into
the library Mr. Benjamin pointed
to the official seal which was lying on
^ the table and said that he did not
know what to do with it, as he could
not burn it and yet he was unwilld
ing for the Federals to get it. 'Fath^
or suggested that he throw it into
>_ the Savannah, which he had to cross
and he said that he would do so.' The
great seal is the traditional official
n symbol of sovereignty which must be
* affixed to all important state papers,
* including proclamations by the Presi*
dent. Why should Mr. Benjamin]
* have desired to secrete it or dispose
* of it unless he was convinced that
there would be no, further use for it,
r since the Confederate government
k had come to an end? If he thought
' that the Confederate government still
" existed or would continue, the natur^
al thing for him to have done was to
" turn the seal over to the President
" td be entrusted to his successor, since
r the Secretary of State is the customf
(ary custodian of the great seal. What
" I became of the seal? That question
" | has never b'een answered satisfactorit
ly. About twenty years ago an Ab^.beviJJe
writer in a South Carolina
-' ? ?;J ii-.i. .1 *
| iicrrapayer SttiU Ulttl/ 1116 iraQltlOTl
^. here was that the seal had been
> dropped into Mr. Burt's well, hut the
! commoner tradition is that it was!
dropped into the Savannah River.;
James. Jones, trusted negro body ser1
vant of Mr. Davis, said that only he
and Mr. Davis knew what became of
1 the seal and that he would never tell
: ?and he nevefr did. About 1913 a
1 group of patriotic gentlemen of
Richmond were offered an opportunity
to buy the great seal of the Confederacy
from a retired fear admiral
of the United States Navy. After j
Careful investigation, they became
convinced that the seal was authentic,
bought it and placed it in the
1 Confederate Museum in the former
White House of the Confederacy in .
Richmond. '
"Another interesting statement
made by Colonel Perrin's daughter
is: '
I 1
| " 'Mr. Benjamin gave father a 1
handsome inkstand and he gave moth- j
er a small box of loaf sugar and also <
about five pounds of tea in a little (
box. Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Reagan ;
left their trunks at our house. Mr. j
Benjamin afterward had his shipped j
to England, and Mr. Reagan, came
for his in person a few months later. ,
Messrs. Breckinridge and Benjamin ]
were well dressed, but Messrs. Mai- ;
lory and Reagan looked as if they ^
had been meeting with all the hard- \
ships of war. Messrs. Breckinridge, 1
Mallory and Reagan seemed to real- t
ize that a great calamity had befallen (
us; but Mr. Benjamin was more jo- ?
vial, and did not seem depressed. The
last named spent a good while out {
in the garden admiring the flowers.'
"This is significant as displaying ^
the demeanor of Mr. Benjamin, for
his good cheer in the face of heavy
misfortune was characteristic. Burton
Harrison and others who were in the
Presidential company before it
reached Charlotte noted that, despite
hardships, discomforts and ad- t
versity, Mr. Benjamin was in high j
spirits, singing and jest, the life of
the party. Disaster had again be- ^
fallen him at Abbeville and he met
it smiling again. j j
"Mr. Miller is authority for the <(
statement that during the night spent g|
at Abbeville discharges were issued 0
to thousands of soldiers. He adds: S(
'the day that Mr. Davis left Abbe- w
ville many of the soldiers threw a- el
way their arms. On the same day a
portion of?-the cavalry, which had J
been accompanying the President re-jcf
turned to Abbeville with a white flag j w
at their head, looking for Federal;
troops to whom they expected to ?
surrender.' The Press and Banner in
1886 said that 'it was here that the
failure of the Confederate arms was
formally acknowledged. It was here
that the Confederate Government
collapsed and the remaining officers
and men were released from military
"Moreover, General Duke says that!
on the night the party was in Abbe-1
ville he was ordered /by Genera
Breckinridge, secretary of .war, t<
take charge of the removal sand trans
portation of the specie of the Con
federate government. General Breck
inridge said then that the greater
part of this was gold and that the
total amount was between $500,00C
and $600,000?he did not know tht
exact amount. At the Savannah rivei
President Davis himself says he ordered
that enough silver coin be taker
from the treasury train to make a
partial payment to the soldiers oi
his escort. About one hundred and
eight or ten thousand dollars was
Daid nnt in tliio urow M TT
M ... ?M>W ?f WJ VIOiAj
acting treasurer, estimated that the
amount on the tram when it left
Richmond was $567,032; of which
$230,000 belonged to Virginia banks.
What finally became of the remainder
of the treasure after the payment
of silver to the soldiery is veiled in
mystery, but the hands of the Confederate
officials were clean when
they turned it over to the Federal
"The destruction of official documents,
the issuance of discharges to
many soldiers, the disposition of the
great seal, the? payment of part of
the funds in the treasury to the soldiers,
all go to prove that the Confederate
government was dissolved
in Abbeville. These, considered
as a whole, are most logically explained
on the hypothesis that the
government had ceased to function.
"One most significant development
after the party left Abbeville shortly
after midnight and before it reached
Washington deserves special emphasis.
It was the departure of Secretary
Benjamin. Practical, cold-blooded
in his'views, long before the Confederacy
fell he Drobablv had are
science of its fate. It is likely that
he was the mysterious Mr, X, described
by John Estees Cook, in his
great war novel 'Mohun,' as foretelling
ifi the summer of 1864 almost
the exact date of the doom of the
Confederacy Mr. Benjamin occupied
a singular position in the Confederate
government. He was a member of
the- Confederate cabinet from first
to last, serving successively as Attorney
General, Secretary of War and
Secretary of State. Schouler, the
historian, terms him 'the brains of
the Confederacy,' for in sheer intellectual
power he loomed above all
other Confederate statesmen. Pierce
Butler, his biographer, cites evidence
to show that President Davis leaned
heavily on Benjamin and transferred
bo his shoulders some of the responsibilities
of the chief executive. In the
last phase of the Confederacy, Presi
Jent Davis, by office a civilian but by
temperament, by mental processes
and by individuality a soldier, con:erned
himself largely with the con-1
duct of military, affairs, while Ben- j
jamin to some extent took his place j
n directing the civil affairs of the
government. J
"Secretary Benjamin was the only
nember of the cabinet who sided with
President* Davis'against ,$he .negotiation
of peace at the joint council of
var and cabinet meeting at Greens>oro,
yet under his veneer of optinism
he was a pessimist as to the fu;ure
and long had been, out of pity
>r sympathy seeking to <heer and
lustain his chief.
"Did Benjamin reach the decision
it ABbeville Mhat the Confederate
government had to be abandoned
here? ' v l
"Pierce Butler says:
" 'Benjamin evidently considered
he cause hopelessly ruined, for he
old Dr. L. Hoge that he would, if
he worst came, use every means to
scape, having resolved never to be
aken alive. When the news of Gen.
. E. Johnston's surrender arrived
nd Mr. Davis had announced his
etermination to try to make his
ray to Texas and join Kirby Smith,
Ir. Benjamin, writes Mrs. Davis,
:ame to him (President Davis) and (
aid, 'I couldn't bear the fatigue *
f riding as you do and as I can s
?rve our people no more just now, *
ill you consent to my making an *
Tort to escaDe throueh Florida? If 1
ou should be in a condition to re*|r
aire me again, I will answer your(
ill at once.' This, says Mrs. Davis,'
as 'his considerate manner of say-,^
EAGLE "M1KAD0">^^|
For Sale at your Dealer
1 ing all was lost in his opinion.'
> "As Mr. Miller observed, after the '
cabinet meeting at Abbeville, 'every
one was free to take care of himself
- and, consequently, we find Mr. Benfjjamin
separating from the party and
: we also find the troops disbanded.'
> "In consideration of all the circum!
s^nces at Abbeville and the testi'
mony of the men who were pTomi
nent actors in the closing scene of
i the vast drama there, it seems to
i me that it is established that the last
\ "
cabinet meeting which could be callI
*.A V-1J -4. *u --J
vu auv.il, nas uciu at. AUVCVIW ttUQ
i that the last chapter in government
, of the Confederate States of Ameri
ca was written there. I have not. ex* v
; amined all the evidence, for that
i would take months, nor have I *had
> ^n
opportunity to acquaint myself
with the details of local traditions,
yet, upon such data as I have been liable
to find in a spirit of impartial \
inquiry, I believe that the honor and
distinction so long claimed by Abbeville
are hers by good and rightful
"Fate, with that fondness for coincidence
it has so often manifested,
ordained, in accordance with tbeftbness
of things that the last meeting
of the Confederate cabinet should be
held in the little town in which the
first Secession meeting in the South
tocfk place. Where the star of a hew
nation had risen, there it was destined
to fall. The Confederacy / received
its death blow at Appomattox,
but its heart ceased to beat at Abbeville,
the home of John C. Calhoun,
the master architect of those political
theories upon which the short-lived ,
government was reared, of the brilliant
Chancellor Francis Hugh Wardlaw
who supplied the' draft upon
which the Ordinance of Secession was
I modeled, of Thomas Chiles Perrin.
the first signer of that ordninanpe,, V.
and of legions of gallant sons who
fought with unsurpassed valor iir
the world's history and died for the
nation that was.
"And so, this memorial will stand
i ^ V '
forevermore to remind' successive
generations that Abbeville holds i?
proud and hallowed remembrance j v
unparalled historic connection - with
the rise and fall of a nation that hy
the fortitude, sacrifice and sublime
heroism ef its people, will command </
the admiration of the world more
and more through all the ages A*
come." STATE
Probate Court,
. ' >v 4$
/<! -.! t I .u A
vuairan i or ueiicri or /\amjni5ir?Hon.
By J. F. MILLER, Judge of Probate: .. 7
Whereas, James A. Hill hath made
suit to me, to grant him letters of
administration of the estate and effects
of Frank H. Flynn, late of Abbeville
County, deceased,
These are therefore, to cite an4'
admonish all and singular the kindred
and creditors of the said Frank
H. Flynn, deceased, that they be and ~ .
appear before me, in the Court -of
Probate, to be held at Abbeville
Court House, on Oct. 17th, 1921. after
publication hereof, at 11 o'clock
in the forenoon, to show cause, if
1. 1 1L - !J L J
ttii/ buey nave, way me saiu aaininistration
should not be granted.
Given under my hand and seal of
the court this 3rd day of October in
the year of our Lord one thousand
nine hundred and twenty-one and .'in
the 146th year of American Independence.
Published on the 3rd day of October
1921 in the Press and Banner f
and on the Court House door for the
time required by law.
3t Judge of Pro'oate.
The Abbeville Co\inty Highway
Commission will receive sealed bids
?or construction of 7.36 miles of top
oil road from Donalds to Greenwood
County line until noon October
20th. Certified check for $1009
equired with bid. Right reserved to
eject any or all bids.
L. W. KELLER, Secretary,
Abbeville, S. C.
[. B. HUMBERT, Engineer,
Abbeville, S. C.
^^^^Pencil No. 174
jMide In fire grade*

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