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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 17, 1865

Diary Entry on Jefferson Davis Passing Through Augusta

An Augusta, Georgia woman recorded in her diary the passage of captured Jefferson Davis through Augusta, and of am impromptu name change because of the sad occasion.

“… Coming home from church, I saw Major Sibley. He told me that Jeff Davis had been captured in Early County [actually Irwin County] on his way to Florida. Mr. Thomas and I were resting after dinner when Patsey came running in in great excitement, telling us that a fight was expected down the street that if anyone wished to go down town they must go on Broad instead of Greene St, that Jeff Davis was in town and a large crowd had gathered. Jeff Davis in Augusta and a prisoner. This was indeed the crowning point, the climax of our downfall. I buried my face on the pillow and wept bitterly… . Sunday night after Jeff Davis passed through we were seated in the piazzi. Tea being announced to be ready Mr Thomas called Jeff [their son] , and added ‘Come Jeff Davis, we will give you that name. It is all we can do in honor of Davis.’ ‘Very well,’ said I ‘it may be so since you propose it.’ This addition to his name was given under almost as solemn circumstances as he received the name of Jeff Thomas. I jestingly remarked that it might hereafter retard his political career… .” Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 268-269.