Jefferson Finis Davis, the one and only president of the Confederacy, also known as the Confederate States of America, visited Georgia's Coastal Empire three times. The first was on Oct. 21, 1863. Davis knew of Savannah's importance to his plans.
As one of his very first acts had been to order a bridge be built across the Savannah River near Augusta to link the South Carolina Railroad and the Central of Georgia Railroad, Davis was visiting the area on a secret inspection of military preparedness.
On his second visit, Davis was in the process of fleeing the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Va., in 1865. Many members of his Cabinet had accompanied him, including Secretary of War John Breckenridge (former vice president under James Buchanan).
Davis’ last visit was in May 1886. Arriving late at night from Atlanta, Davis found 15 military companies standing at attention all around the depot. Davis was in Savannah to attend the dedication of the monument to Revolutionary hero Nathaniel Greene, to whom he was related.
It was also the centennial celebration of the Chatham Artillery, for which 46 military units from around the nation were in Savannah.
At the main banquet, the officers of the Union’s famous New York Old Guard unit rose to toast Davis for his honorable conduct during the past conflict.
Unable to contain himself, Davis arose and spoke warmly of the dedication of all of our nations’ citizen soldiery, be they blue or grey, who had fought so hard for their nations.
As Davis prepared to leave, the military bands all played “Hail, Columbia,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and then “Dixie,” which received the loudest cheer of all.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.