Jeff's Last SkedaddleOff to the Last Ditch.

Jeff's Last Skedaddle/Off to the Last Ditch.

Usage conditions apply
In the spring of 1865, the Union Army increased its efforts to capture the Confederate President Jefferson Davis after the surrender of Lee and assassination of Lincoln. Suspecting him to be complicit in Lincoln’s murder, the U.S. War Department issued a $100,000 reward for the capture of Davis and his aides. Without his capture or surrender, many in the Union War Department would not recognize the war as officially ended. After fleeing Richmond, Davis was caught by members of Michigan and Wisconsin cavalry units at his camp outside Irwinville, Georgia, on May 10, 1865. As Davis tried to flee from the Union soldiers, he had grabbed his wife Varina’s overcoat instead of his own, resulting in a widespread Northern rumor that Davis had attempted to escape disguised as a woman. Shortly after the incident images of Davis appeared in Northern publications, picturing him dressed in petticoats, a hoop skirt, and a bonnet. This cowardly depiction of Davis’ flight further demoralized the Southern cause and shattered its president’s aristocratic reputation.
This print depicts Davis’ “Last Skedaddle,” Civil War sang for “retreat” or “flight.” The disguised Confederate wears a woman’s skirt and hat, and carries a knife and a pail. As he looks back in the direction of pursuing Federal cavalry, a tear rolls down his face. Davis has taken his outfit from his wife, Varina, who tries to impede the soldiers, saying, “Please Gentlemen, don’t disturb the Privacy of Ladies before they have time to dress.” A caption below the illustration uses anatomical innuendos and military puns to explain the scene: “How Jeff in his Extremity put his Navel Affairs and Ram-Parts under Petticoat Protection.”
Alexander McLean was born in Scotland around 1823. After moving the United States, he worked in Philadelphia and Louisville before settling in St Louis, where he started his own printing firm in 1853. This business was renamed A. McLean & Co. in 1860 when his son, Alexander McLean Jr., joined the company. For this print, McLean used a drawing by a St. Louis artist, Ferdinand Welcker.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Spring 1865
Davis, Jefferson
Davis, Varina Anne Howell
McLean, A.
Welcker, T.
place made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 10 3/4 in x 17 in; 27.305 cm x 43.18 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Political Caricatures
Uniforms, Military
Civil War
Civil War
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object