Jefferson Davis to Varina Howell Davis
[Richmond, May 30, 1862]
. . . I packed some valuable books and the sword I wore for many years, together with the pistols used at Monterey and Buena Vista, and my old dressing-case. These articles will have a value to the boys in after-time, and to you now. . . . They will probably go forward to-day.
Thank you for congratulations on success of Jackson. Had the movement been made when I first proposed it, the effect would have been more important.
In that night's long conference it was regarded impossible. We have not made any balloon discoveries. The only case in which much is to be expected from such means will be when large masses of troops are in motion.
Yesterday morning I thought we would engage the enemy, reported to be in large force on the Upper Chickahominy. The report was incorrect, as I verified in the afternoon by a long ride in that locality.
I saw nothing more than occasional cavalry videttes, and some pickets with field artillery.
General Lee rises to the occasion . . . and seems to be equal to the conception. I hope others will develop capacity in execution. . . . If we fight and are victorious, we can all soon meet again. If the enemy retreat to protect Washington, of which there are vague reports, I can probably visit you [Varina and the children had been sent to Raleigh earlier in the month].
You will have seen a notice of the destruction of our home. If our cause succeeds we shall not mourn over any personal deprivation; if it should not, why, "the deluge." I hope I shall be able to provide for the comfort of the old negroes.
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 8, pp. 203-4. Transcribed from Varina Davis, Memoir, Volume 2, pp. 267, 279-80. Ellipses are in the printed version. No manuscript has been found. Although Varina dates the letter May 31, internal evidence suggests that it was written on the 30th.