FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions the Museum receives.

Visiting/Travel

Where are you located? How much does it cost? What are your hours?
Click here for answers to all your questions about visiting the Museum.

How do I set up a group tour for adults? For children?
Click here for information on arranging an entertaining and educational experience for your group. There is also special information just for teachers available.

Do you validate parking?
Yes. You can get your parking ticket from the MCV/Museum of the Confederacy validated at the front desk of the Museum to be redeemed for free parking.

Do you have a discount?
Yes. The Museum offers admission discounts, including ones for senior citizens, AAA members, and active-duty military personnel. Members and children under the age of 7 are free.

May I receive information on the Museum and White House?
Yes. Information requests can be placed by calling the Museum at (855) 649-1861 or send what information you are looking for in an e-mail.

Where is a good place to eat lunch? eat dinner?
Several fine dining institutions are located nearby the Museum. Whether you are looking for a quick meal or an elegant dining experience you can find it. Our proximity to the historic Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom sections of Richmond provide the greatest opportunity to find a good meal for all occasions.

How can I get to Monument Avenue? Tredegar Iron Works? Hollywood Cemetery? the Virginia Capitol? the Interstate?
The Museum and White House of the Confederacy are located nearby all these Richmond area attractions. Directions to these sites, as well as numerous others, may be picked up at the visitor services desk in the Museum.

Where does the tour start?
Tours for the White House meet at the appropriate time at the front of the lobby by the visitor services desk. The guide will meet the group promptly.

May I make a reservation for an upcoming event?
Yes. Reservations for upcoming events may be made by calling (855) 649-1861 or by viewing on our calendar page.

When and where will there be reenactments?
A schedule of upcoming reenactments and other historical events can be viewed at the visitor services desk in the Museum.

Does the museum store have a catalog?
The Haversack store does not have a catalog, but selected items can be viewed and purchased online. E-mail them if there is something you would like, but don’t see listed.

What other Civil War sites would you recommend?
The Richmond area is full of exciting options relative to Civil War history. The Richmond National Battlefield Parks that surround the city allow visitors to tour the sites of such battles as Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, Seven Pines, and Drewry’s Bluff as well as many others. In addition the National Park Service maintains a center on the site of the Confederate Chimborazo Hospital complex. The main interpretative center for the National Battlefield Parks is housed at the restored Tredegar Iron Works and features several displays and interactive exhibits. The Virginia Historical Society is another site that has an interesting presentation of the Civil War period. Petersburg, only a thirty-minute drive to the south, also has several museums and battlefield parks.

Collections/History

May I receive information on membership?
Yes. Purchase a membership online or e-mail us to receive information via mail.

Who can I talk to about an artifact?
The Museum staff will gladly answer any questions relating to the Museum’s artifacts. An appointment may be arranged with a museum curator, if needed.

How do I go about donating an artifact? Money? Or Time?
The Museum welcomes all donations, although our space is limited and we are only able to accept those artifacts, books and documents that best meet the mission of the museum. Your generous contribution to the annual fund helps to support all of programs. Click here to find more information about donating. The Museum utilizes volunteers in many ways. For more information or to apply online, click here.

What are your current exhibits?
To view a list of exhibitions currently showing at the Museum or to explore the White House of the Confederacy, click here.

Do you sell flags?
Yes. The Haversack Store has a selection of flags including the three national flags, the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Bonnie Blue flag, and the flag design flown at Robert E. Lee’s headquarters. To order online, click here.

How can I find an ancestor?
The Museum does not have a comprehensive list of Confederate soldiers. The National Park Service offers a searchable data base of Confederate and Federal soldiers and sailors. The Museum's Brockenbrough Archive does have resources that may assist research about Confederate ancestors. To learn more about these resources, contact the library. Advanced and confirmed appointments are necessary to use the library.

Does the Museum possess a list of all the men held at Libby Prison?
No. The only such lists are found in prison registers in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Where is the White House of the Confederacy?
The White House of the Confederacy is located directly beside the Museum at 1201 East Clay Street—literally just a few steps away.

I notice the handrail is low/furniture is low/uniforms in the Museum are small/bed looks short were people shorter back then?
The low handrails, low furniture, and short beds are a testament to period fashion, not period height. However, on average, individuals were approximately one inch shorter during the period compared to modern times. A more substantial trait was that individuals of the mid-1800’s weighed less than our modern generations.

Did other people run for the job of President of the Confederacy?
Yes. During the February 1861 deliberations in Montgomery, Alabama, three men other than Davis were actively seeking the Confederate presidency. Alexander Stephens, Howell Cobb, and Robert Toombs, all Georgians, were considered for the post. However, the presidency would be entrusted to Davis, who had stayed at his plantation home in Mississippi rather than journey to Montgomery. Stephens became the Confederate Vice-President, Cobb led the Confederate Congress, and Toombs was appointed Secretary of State.

How was Davis chosen as President?
Davis was initially elected by the forty-three delegates representing six Southern states at the Confederate Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, and inaugurated on February 9, 1861. Davis was elected again to the six-year presidential term during presidential and congressional elections in November of 1861 and was re-inaugurated on February 22, 1862.

Was Davis married to someone before Varina?
Yes. Davis first wed Sarah Knox Taylor in June of 1835. Sadly, his bride would fall ill with malaria and die just prior to their three-month anniversary. Sarah Knox Taylor was the daughter of Zachary Taylor, who was elected President of the United States in 1848.

What is on the third floor of the White House?
During the Davis’ stay, the third floor served as living quarters for extended family and White House personnel. However, during the post-war period when the house functioned as a school, the rooms were re-shaped and no record was kept of the floor layout during wartime. Thus, the opportunity for a historic interpretation is most difficult. Today the third floor serves as office space for Museum employees.

Did they have slaves? How many? Where did they live?
Although little documentation has survived, it is believed that the Davises had approximately 15 servants and slaves at work in the White House. The Davis family brought some slaves from their Mississippi plantation and hired out others during their residency in Richmond. Several paid servants, both white and black, also aided in the running of the home.

How long did the Davises live at the White House?
The Davis family moved into the home in August of 1861, just months after the Confederate capital shifted from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond. The Davises would live in the home until being forced to evacuate on April 2, 1865 a mere two days prior to the Union capture of Richmond.

Did the Davises ever come back to Richmond or to the White House?
Jefferson Davis never returned to his former executive mansion, but he did return to Richmond -- to the federal court house building where his own executive office had been during the war -- in 1867 following his release from imprisonment at Fort Monroe, Virginia. While passing through Richmond in 1873 he visited the grave of his son Joseph in Hollywood Cemetery.Varina Davis visited Richmond a few times in the late 1890s to aid in the restoration of the White House as it was transformed into the Confederate Museum. Jefferson Davis' last trip to Richmond was posthumous, as he was re-interred in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery in 1893. Varina and the Davis children are also buried in Richmond.

Which generals or foreign dignitaries visited the house during the war?
The White House welcomed a number of key personnel during the course of the war. Generals Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, Joseph Johnston, J.E.B. Stuart, and James Longstreet, are just a few of the officers who paid a visit to the home for meetings and councils. Abraham Lincoln visited the home in April of 1865, merely days before his assassination in Washington, D.C. No foreign dignitaries visited the home because the Confederacy failed to gain international recognition.

Was it called the White House of the Confederacy during the war?
No. What we know today as the White House was referred to by several different names during the war. Residents of Richmond would have recognized the home as the Executive Mansion, or simply as the Davis House. The home was also referred to as the Gray House, on account of the exterior paint’s grayish hue.

Where did the Davises go when they left Richmond?
Jefferson Davis was captured in Georgia on May 10, 1865, and, after being imprisoned for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia, joined his family in Canada, where they had settled temporarily. Jefferson Davis traveled much during the post-war years, visiting England, France, and many other locations; he and his family lived in Canada, Memphis, where he was the president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company, and at "Beauvoir" near Biloxi, Mississippi. He died in New Orleans in 1889. Varina left Mississippi following Jefferson Davis’ death and lived the remainder of her life in New York City, where she died in 1906. Only one of the Davises’ six children, Margaret Davis Hayes, married and had children and outlived both parents.

Did one of the Davis children die in the White House?
Yes. Five-year old Joe Davis died in the White House on April 30, 1864 following a fall from the railing of the home’s portico.

Didn't the Davises adopt an African-American child during the war?
Not exactly. In February 1864, the Davises took into their household a young free-black orphan who was being abused by his guardian. "Jim Limber" or James Henry Brooks, as he called himself, was a playmate of the Davis children. Jefferson Davis allegedly registered his free papers, but no records have been found to corroborate this; there was no formal "adoption" in 19th-century Virginia. Varina Davis referred to Jim Limber variously as a "protege" or "pet." He was with the Davis family when they were captured by Union troops in Georgia in May 1865; the Davises gave him over to the care of a Union general whom they trusted and never saw him again.
Read the full story about Jim Limber (includes photograph)

Are there any ghosts in the White House?
Although no "confirmed" sightings have occurred, several staff members have claimed to experience uncanny happenings in the house. With over 180 years of history, the home certainly has many stories to tell.

How did the White House survive progress and the passage of time?
After the fall of Richmond in April 1865, the White House was occupied by Federal troops until 1870. From 1871-1893 the mansion served as a school used by more than 600 teachers and students annually. In 1889 the Richmond School Board proposed to tear the home down. However, the White House was saved by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society and transformed into the Confederate Museum that opened in 1896. After a separate museum building opened in 1976, the mansion was refurbished to portray its wartime appearance. The renovated home opened in 1988.

Did any foreign countries recognize the Confederacy?
In effect, no. The closest thing to foreign recognition that the Confederacy achieved was when the German state of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha appointed a consul to Texas in July 1861 and the Confederate government accepted his credentials (all other foreign consuls operating in Southern states had applied to the U.S. government before the war). Although the appointment of the consul could be interpreted as de facto recognition of the Confederacy, Confederate officials did not make that claim during or after the war. Confederate diplomatic efforts concentrated on seeking recognition from Great Britain and France. Influential Britons and French were sympathetic to the South, but their governments did not recognize the Confederacy and the Confederacy never attained official status among the nations of the world.

The number of stars on Confederate flags sometimes varies­ why is that?
You will find Confederate flags with as few as seven and as many as thirteen starts representing the seceded states. Only seven states had seceded by the formation of the Confederacy in February 1861. By the end of 1861, there were 11 Confederate states­ and the states of Missouri and Kentucky. Unlike their 11 counterparts, Missouri and Kentucky did not secede completely, as the sitting legislatures voted against secession. The secessionist minorities in both states then held their own conventions, voted to secede, and gained admission to the Confederacy. Both states, however, were under Union control for most of the war. Thus the flags featuring 13 stars are counting Missouri and Kentucky debated border states.

What is the origin of the word, "Dixie?"
The origins of this word are hazy. Some historians believe it came out of popular reference to the land south of the Mason-Dixon line, others from the widespread use of $10-notes issued from Louisiana with the French spelling of ten, "dix," on the bills. By the 1850s the term Dixie was understood to mean the South. Ohio-born minstrel singer Dan Emmett composed the song "Dixie" in New York City in 1859. It became an instant hit in both North and South, and was soon embraced as the fighting song for the Confederate cause.

When do the Southern states observe Memorial Day?
Women’s groups in several Deep South communities are credited with founding Memorial Day in April 1866. During the years after the war, the idea took hold throughout the country; in the South different dates were observed in different states. The Deep South usually observed the holiday on April 26, the anniversary of General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina; North and South Carolina usually chose May 10, the date of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s death, and Jefferson Davis’ capture. Virginians in the 1880s began celebrating Confederate Memorial Day on the day (May 30) that had emerged already as a national Memorial Day. After former president Davis’ death in 1889, some states observed the holiday on his birthday, June 3. Eight states still observe “Confederate Memorial Day”: Florida and Georgia on April 26; South and North Carolina on May 10; Alabama on the last Monday in April; Mississippi on the fourth Monday in April; and Kentucky and Louisiana on June 3.

If you have any questions that are not addressed above, please e-mail us.