Most people believe the American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 when Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Army Commander Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. In reality, the war did not officially end until one month later when fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union Troops at Irwinville, Georgia.
After Lee’s surrender, speculative plans were developed for Davis and his cabinet to flee further south where Confederate leaders would regroup and continue the struggle until better surrender terms could be secured from the Union. President Davis however, met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865, in Washington, Georgia and officially dissolved the Confederate government. In the predawn hours of May 10, near the tiny village of Irwinville in southern Georgia, Federal cavalry found Davis and his party.
Davis was surrounded by two independent groups of Union Calvary, who unaware of each others’ identity, began firing at one another and accidentally killed two soldiers. It was raining at the time, and Davis was wearing a shawl to keep his head dry, which gave birth to the rumor that he was trying to disguise himself in women’s clothes. Davis was eventually charged with treason. He spent two years in prison before being released without a trial and given amnesty. Davis died in 1889 after writing about his capture in The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.
In 1939 in the midst of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration completed work on the Jefferson Davis Memorial Museum and Park in Irwinville, Georgia, which features Civil war weapons, uniforms, artifacts and exhibits about Davis and the Confederacy. The park features a granite monument with a bust of Davis that is located on the exact spot of his capture. It’s an interesting monument when one considers it commemorates Davis’ failed rebellion against the United States Government.