Jefferson Davis Before He Wore Confederate Gray
Jefferson Davis Before He Wore Confederate Gray is a novel that stays true to a historical narrative. At the same time, the book examines the intimate life and the personality traits of this famous American political figure.
Read about how after Davis graduated from West Point, his service in the Black Hawk War and the Mexican War made him a hero to the nation. Discover intimate stories of his relationships with Knoxie, the love of his life, and with his second wife, Varina, show both his strengths and weaknesses as a husband.
Through it all, follow the path of Jefferson Davis’ public service as a member of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and as the Secretary of War.
The novel explores Davis’ philosophy on the Constitution and the relation of the States to Washington. The reader will learn how his education, environment, and personal experiences led him to the views he held on important political matters.
“Midwest Book Review” says:
“Jefferson Davis Before He Wore Confederate Gray” is a novel that stays true to a historical narrative. At the same time, this story examines the intimate life and the personality traits of this famous American political figure. The reader will learn how after Davis graduated from West Point, his service in the Black Hawk War and the Mexican War made him a hero to the nation. Intimate stories of his relationships with Knoxie, the love of his life, and with his second wife, Varina, show both his strengths and weakness as a husband. The reader will follow the path of Davis’ public service as a member of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and as Secretary of War. The novel explores Davis’ philosophy on the Constitution and the relationship of the States to Washington. The reader will learn how his education, environment, and personal experiences led him to the views he held on the important political matters.
“If Jefferson Davis Before He Wore Confederate Gray were a film it would quite possible be classified as a ‘docudrama’. Although a deftly written work of fiction, Jefferson Davis, with respect to his life and times, is reliably informed and informative. Highly entertaining and an easy read, this novel is strongly recommended for personal reading lists and community historical library collections.
“Clarion Reviews” says:
“Maring allows a candid glimpse of the human being before he rose to lead the
A famous gray ghost emerges from this realistic dramatization in a convincing portrayal
of Jefferson Davis. David Maring focuses on the life of this controversial figure often perceived
as an enemy of the United States. Jefferson Davis: Before He Wore Confederate Gray is a
fictionalized account of the early years of an educated man who later became known as the
president of the Confederacy.”…
From “The U S Review”:
“This historical novel about Jefferson Davis has been carefully crafted by author and retired circuit judge David Maring. The author’s Davis is both private personality and public figure, the latter role well researched, the former a somewhat invented figure fleshing out the factual archive. Portrayed as a ladies man and somewhat of a cut-up in his youth (i.e. He sparked the so-called Egg Nog Riot as a West Point cadet), Davis is also revealed as a thinker, with well-honed political opinions and leadership potential gained from his heady experiences of Indian and Mexican wars and the stressful requirements of being a plantation owner who treated his human property with rational kindness. Davis had one great love, Sarah, known as Knoxie, and later as a widower, took a young wife, Varina, who bore him six children. The story ends with a short description of Davis’ inauguration as Provisional President of the Confederate States.
Davis’ romances are complete with sex scenes, possible intended to make the book more exciting to readers less interested in its historical aspects. Likewise, the personal relationships with the hero’s family and slaves are doubtless decorated to underscore Davis’ human side. But as to the man’s upbringing, education, and his careers first in the army and then as a politician, the book strives for accuracy even when such minute detail may burden the narrative. Maring is a Southern, at home with this material, and has plans for a similar treatment of the per-Presidential life of Davis’ nemesis, Abraham Lincoln. Though only a dedicated scholar could identify leaks, if any, in Maring’s portrait of Davis, the novel moves along at a pleasant clip with warfare, love interest, and political finagling enough to appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.”
August 2014 Web Exclusive – Civil War News Book Review
Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s life during the Civil War and afterward is well known. But little seems to be known about his early life, his Mexican War experiences, and his antebellum political activities. That gap has now been filled by a historical novel about Davis before he wore Confederate gray.
David Maring provides many of these details in this excellent book. He answers many questions regarding Davis’ adolescence, time at West Point, health problems, tragic early marriage and political ascent.
Davis had originally planned to practice law; however, his father’s death left no funds available. His brother Joseph, 23 years his senior, assumed the role of father to the teenaged boy.
Joseph arranged for him to attend West Point to have “an honorable endeavor without wealth.” This began his off-and-on service with the United States Army.
At West Point, Davis met many cadets who later became Confederate generals, including Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph Johnston and Robert E. Lee. Posted to the 1st Infantry Regiment upon graduation, Davis initially collected lumber to finish Fort Crawford’s construction in the Michigan Territory. There Davis contracted pneumonia and temporarily went blind in his left eye, illnesses that would plague him for years to come.
Maring describes Davis’ marriage to Zachary Taylor’s daughter,Sarah(Knoxie) and her death only two months later. Maring continues with Davis’ attempt to build a plantation, service in Mexico, and entry into Mississippi politics.
Davis’ second wife, Varina Howell, who was half his age, proved to be a difficult match until they grew to love each other. War and politics kept them apart many times, but their marriage became a great success.
Always interested in politics, Davis was appointed a United States senator. Recognized for his talent as a statesman, President Franklin Pierce selected him as his secretary of war.
Davis returned to the Senate after Pierce’s term, resigning upon Mississippi’s secession. He returned home to continue his life as a plantation owner. He left his plantation when he was invited to Montgomery, Ala., to become Confederate president.
Maring’s historical novel fills many gaps in Jefferson Davis’ early years. Well written, this is the first of two novels on Davis’s life. It ends with his inauguration; the next will cover his later years.
This book is highly recommended to all interested in Davis. It is an excellent value.
– Larry Clowers
Larry Clowers is a professional historical interpreter of General and President Ulysses S. Grant. He is writing a book covering the lives of Ulysses and Julia Grant.