Fine Books and Manuscripts / DAVIS, JEFFERSON. 1808-1889. Autograph Letter Signed (Jeffers Davis Presdt. C.S.A.) as President of the CSA commanding safe passage for his niece, Miss Mary Humphreys Stamp and her three children from Richmond to Woodville, Miss,
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DAVIS, JEFFERSON. 1808-1889.
DAVIS PROVIDES PROTECTION FOR HIS NIECE AND HER CHILDREN TO RETURN HOME. Mary Humphreys Stamps married Davis's nephew Isaac Davis Stamps in 1856. With the start of the war in 1861, the couple were separated, and in early 1862, Mary visited Isaac at Manassas. On her return trip, she stopped in Richmond to visit her uncle, who provided her this letter of safe passage.
Unfortunately, by the time she made it to Vicksburg, her oldest child Sarah, whom they called Sallie, fell ill and died. She sent her two other children on, and vowed to return the body of her child home as well. She had a small coffin fashioned in Vicksburg before boarding a ship for Woodville. When the ship hit a snag and began to take on water, the Captain ordered everyone to a nearby vessel, but Mary refused to leave until he retrieved her baby girl's coffin. She showed similar resolve upon the death of her husband Isaac in the peach orchards at Gettysburg in 1863, fighting for the return of his body to Rosemount, their estate in Woodville. Mary Stamps refused to retire to her family home for help with the children, and instead chose to earn a living to support her family in and around New Orleans as a teacher. She went on to be an influential educator in the New Orleans area and beyond.
This letter from Davis forms an important part of her story, and he would continue to offer her emotional support throughout her life. See Grace King, "A Southern Educator: Mrs. Mary Humphreys Stamps," Century Magazine 78, no. 2 (1909), 271–76; Winschel, "To Assuage the Grief: The Gettysburg Saga of Isaac and Mary Stamps," Gettysburg Magazine, Issue 7 (1992), pp 76-82.