In His Shackles

June 19, 1866


Jefferson Davis complains of not being able to move or exercise from his limited mobility due to the shackles. His health is poor and complains of discomfort from the heavy chains.


Told him to spend as little time in bed as he could; that exercise was the best medicine for dyspeptic patients. To this he answered by uncovering the blankets from his feet and showing me his shackled ankles. "It is impossible for me, Doctor; I cannot even stand erect. These shackles are very heavy ; I know not, with the chain, how many pounds. If I try to move, they trip me, and have already abraded broad patches of skin from the parts they touch. Can you devise no means to pad or cushion them, so that when I try to drag them along they may not chafe me so intolerably? My limbs have so little flesh on them, and that so weak as to be easily lacerated.
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Brooke Beam




“In His Shackles,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 26, 2022,