Sutherlin Mansion

   The William T. Sutherlin Mansion in Danville, Virginia, the temporary residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, April 3-10, 1865. Davis authored his last official proclamation in the house on April 4, 1865. It now houses the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History

   The Capt. John H. Culp Chapter 2577, United Daughters of the Confederacy, met on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the home of Secretary Jennie Workman. Those present were President Misty Kelley, Vice President Mary Lauren Garner, Treasurer Betty Anderson, and C of C member ClairAnne Workman. ClairAnne gave the blessing of the food, and everyone enjoyed breakfast provided by Coy Anderson.

   The President General’s and Division President’s messages were read by Jennie.

   A thank-you note was received from the family of Janette Kemper for the sympathy card we sent. An invitation was also received to the 125th Anniversary Celebration of the UDC in September.

   It was agreed to place an ad in the 125th Anniversary September issue of the UDC Magazine.  Members ordered 125th pins. They discussed working to find things made and produced in Tennessee to collect for the gift bags at the 125th Anniversary.

   A baby shower gift for expecting mothers hosted by the Nashville VA Medical Center was delivered to Jeanell Kutterer at the West TN District Meeting. The gift was valued at $25.73.

   The Historian General’s program was given by Mary Lauren. It was titled Leaving Richmond for Danville, the Last Capital of the Confederacy. On May 20, 1860, in Montgomery, AL, the first capital of the Confederacy, a vote was taken and approved for Richmond, VA, to be the Confederate capital. Confederate President Jefferson Davis left Montgomery and arrived at Richmond.  

   By the spring of 1865, everyone in Richmond was aware of the possibility of an invasion by Northern forces. It was common knowledge that the South had few supplies and fewer soldiers than the North. Also, Confederate General Robert E. Lee believed that protecting Richmond was keeping his troops from fighting to win the war. The troops of Union General William T. Sherman defeated Confederate troops at Five Forks, VA, on April 1, 1865, resulting in Lee’s decision to abandon Petersburg and, therefore, Richmond.

   Worry and concern for his family had caused President Davis to demand that Varina, his wife, and their children leave Richmond several days earlier. Davis had taught his wife how to aim and shoot a handgun in case it was needed. He gave her a weapon and several gold coins to take on her trip to Danville, VA. Davis told Varina, that if he lived, she could, “Come to him when the struggle is ended.” 

   Immediately after reading the dispatch from Lee, President Davis gave orders for the Confederate government to evacuate Richmond. Finally, they left Richmond at 11:00 p.m. The Confederate Treasury had been loaded on the train as well as many supplies and important papers. The last Confederate soldiers left that night. 

   Meanwhile, in Richmond, records were being destroyed and supplies as well. The Tredegar Iron Works burned, and docked ironclads were also set on fire to keep them out of the hands of the Yankees. Exploding shells and fire caused carriage windows to explode, tombstones to be overturned, and doors blown from houses from up to two miles away. Northern forces entered Richmond by 7:15 on Monday morning, April 3. 

   Lee was leading his forces to join General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. Cabinet leaders were in Danville in Pittsylvania Co., VA. Danville was considered the best place to relocate because of railroads, salt works, and earthworks there. The town was well supplied and ready for the Confederate government. Hotel rooms in Danville were filled with clerks, government workers, and even some Richmond refugees. However, without receiving any news from Generals Lee or Johnston, the government was paralyzed.

   Danville became the capital of the Confederacy near the final days of the war. The Sutherlin Mansion served as their Headquarters. Jefferson Davis had a bedroom on the second floor, and the Cabinet met in the dining room. 

   The last proclamation by President Jefferson Davis was made on April 4 from the Sutherlin Mansion. He expressed relief that Richmond did not need defense and the troops were free to move on to fight the enemy. No information had been received from Lee.

   Surprising news of the surrender of General Lee to Grant at Appomattox was received by President Davis on April 10, 1865. The last meeting of the Confederate Government in Danville was held on April 10, 1865. That day, Davis left Danville during a heavy rainstorm for Greensboro, NC. The government had to be moved again.

   A Catechism Quiz was conducted by Jennie. Questions about the program described above were included in the quiz.

   The next meeting will be announced at a later time. Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

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