CROSS KEYS — A story from the closing days of the Civil War will once again be reenacted at the Cross Keys House later this month.
After nearly four years of fighting, the capital of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia fell to the armies of the United States of America, forcing the Confederate government to flee the city. Lead by President Jefferson Davis, the Confederate cabinet and other officials headed south, hoping to not only escape the federal forces pursing them, but to somehow continue the fight for southern independence.
The flight of the remnants of the Confederate government brought them to Union County where, on April 29, 1865, Davis and the remaining members of his cabinet and their military escort arrived at the Cross Keys House, home of Mary Ann Bobo Davis. The story goes that when she answered the knock at the door of her home, Mrs. Davis didn’t know who the five well-dressed men asking for a meal were. She did, however, invite them in and serve them lunch, only learning after the meal was over who her guests were when the Confederate president told her they had the same last name.
More than 150 years later, the story of Jefferson Davis’ visit to the Cross Keys House will be reenacted as it has for the past several years under the auspices of the Union County Historical Society. The Society, which owns the house and 25 acres of the original plantation, sponsors an annual Living History Event including the reenactment Davis’ visit each April.
Society member James M. Stepp said that while details are still being worked out, this year’s Living History Event will be held April 22-24. Stepp said that, as in the past, the first day of the event, which will be Friday, April 22, will be School Day when local students studying South Carolina history will come out to learn about the event as it relates to the history of the state. School Day is the only part of the event not open to the general public.
The general public will be admitted to the grounds on Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24. Stepp said that at 2 p.m. each day there will be a reenactment of Jefferson Davis’ visit. He said each reenactment will then be followed by field activities including the reenactment of a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops involving artillery, cavalry, and infantry.
Stepp said that the grounds will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. during which the public will be able to view displays of and learn about life during the Civil War era. He said the Cross Key House will be open to the public along with the cabin, blacksmith shop, barn, kitchen building, carriage building, and smokehouse.
There will also be vendors with food and items of general interest for the public to purchase during the event.
Stepp said this year’s Living History Event will include a new item, a Conestoga-type wagon of the kind that he said did the heavy hauling on the frontier of the 19th century. He said the wagon that will be on display reportedly was built in and used in Union County during the 1800s.
For more information about the Living History Event and related historic matters contact the Union County Museum at 864-429-5081.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.