The Civil War in Missouri

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The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.

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Hair Wreath made from the hair of Confederate Generals

MHM Collections

After the war ended, Miss Laura Davis spent at least nine years collecting hair from prominent Confederate officers to create a hair wreath meticulously worked with decorative flowers and braids. The wreath surrounds a letter from Gen. Robert E. Lee, replying favorably to her request for a lock of his hair. That she chose to include Lee’s letter over any of the other men’s speaks to the great esteem that she held for him.In the 1800s hair work was a popular form of commemoration of both joyous and somber occasions. By using the hair of Confederate leaders, Miss Davis’s wreath takes on new meaning by serving as a symbol of the Lost Cause—a literary, political, and social movement that sought to preserve the memory of the Confederacy—by representing the veneration that many Southerners, and those sympathetic to the Southern cause, felt for the Confederacy even as it reconciled defeat.