Sam Davis - Confederate Hero

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Sam Davis
   Hero of the Confederacy

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"If I had a thousand lives, I would give them all here before I would betray a friend or the confidence of my informer.”  Sam Davis - Hero of the Confederacy.  Sam Davis was born on 6 October 1842 and gave his life with honor, in the cause of independence and freedom.  He attended the Western Military Institute of Nashville Tennessee and return to Rutherford County and joined the Tennessee Rifles.  Among his school teachers prior to The War, were the soon to be Generals Bushrod Johnson and E. Kirby Smith.  Young Sam Davis was captured behind enemy lines, accused of being a spy, and sentenced to be hanged on 27 November 1863.
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But for the sake of honor and the love of his own country; the Confederate States of America.  Sam could have spared his own life, by merely reveling the name of the vary man the Yankees truly wanted; Captain Henry Shaw, alias E. Coleman. Captain Shaw was himself a fellow prisoner, who later escaped to continue the struggle.  Sam Davis in his steadfast adherence to the principles of honor, duty and country, gained the respect, even of his enemies, and thereby redefined the word honor forever.
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Born October 6, 1842, Near Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Educated at the Western Military Institute at Nashville.  Early in the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army Company I, First Tennessee Regiment.  In 1863 he was assigned to Shaw’s Scouts, Cheatham’s Division.  In November, 1863, when on duty, Uniformed in Confederate butternut and grey, Davis was captured in his native state, then within the Federal lines.  Important papers, descriptive of the Federal fortifications and forces, were found upon his person.
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Davis was tried by court-martial, condemned to death and executed at Pulaski, November 27.  The Federal commander offered Davis his life if he would tell who gave him the papers.  To this offer, under the very shadow of the gallows, Davis made his immortal reply: “I would die a thousand deaths before I would betray a friend”  —  “Greater love hath no man than this – that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
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Sam Davis

Hero of the Confederacy

Sam Davis, a young Confederate soldier from Smyrna, Tennessee, was a private in the First Tennessee Infantry.  He was a scout under Capt. Coleman, alias Dr. H.B. Shaw.  Coleman's Scouts were gathering information about the Union forces moving from Middle Tennessee toward Chattanooga.
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On November 19, 1863, Davis is said to have spent the night at Campbellsville, at the home of Bob English.  The next day Davis, carrying important documents to General Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga, was captured fifteen miles south of Pulaski, Tennessee, on Lamb's Ferry Road, below Minor Hill.  Two Union soldiers dressed in Confederate uniforms approached young Davis and told him that they were conscripting.
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Davis replied that he was already a Confederate soldier and showed them his pass.  He was dressed in his own Confederate Uniform.  The soldiers led him to their commanding officer, who took his gun.  A search revealed papers in the soles of his boots and saddle.
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He was taken to Pulaski and imprisoned in jail on the northwest corner of the square, at the location of today's Hunter-Smith Furniture Store, in a building that later burned.  He was court marshalled, then condemned to death by hanging.  General Dodge offered young Davis his freedom if he would reveal the source of his information.  Davis replied, If I had a thousand lives, I would give them all here before I would betray a friend or the confidence of my informer.
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On November 27, 1863, Sam rode in a wagon, seated upon his own coffin, from the Giles County jail to a hill in east Pulaski, overlooking the town.  There he died the death of a hero.
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A statue of Sam Davis stands on the Tennessee Capitol grounds in Nashville.  The Sam Davis Home in Smyrna, Tennessee, is another shrine open to the public daily.

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Sam remained in school only a short time before the Civil War started in 1861.  Like many other young men, Sam joined the army before Tennessee had officially seceded from the Union.  He enlisted in Co. I of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment in April 1861.  The 1st Tennessee participated in the Cheat Mountain campaign in western Virginia under Robert E.  Lee in 1861.  In 1862, they moved west and took part in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River.
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Early in 1863, Sam became a member of "Coleman's Scouts," a group founded by his older half-brother John.  By 1863, the Union Army occupied much of Middle Tennessee.  Sam and his fellow scouts worked behind enemy lines disrupting communications.  Even though they wore Confederate uniforms and traveled with passes signed by Confederate General Braxton Bragg, the Union army considered them spies if captured.
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Around November 20, 1863 as Sam traveled toward Chattanooga, he was captured by Federal troops near Minor Hill, Tennessee.  Sam carried papers that contained critical information on troop movements near Nashville and Pulaski, as well as eleven newspapers and various personal items for General Bragg.  Among the papers found concealed on Sam was information that could have only come from the desk of Union General Grenville Dodge.  Convinced that one of his own officers was supplying information to the Confederates, Dodge decided to put pressure on Sam to identify his spy.  He offered Sam his freedom in exchange for this information. Sam refused, so General Dodge ordered a court martial.
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The court charged Sam with being a courier of mails and of being a spy.  Sam admitted to being a courier, but pled not guilty to the charge of spying.  The military court convicted Samuel Davis on both charges, and sentenced him to hang.  On the gallows, General Dodge offered Sam one last chance to save his life by revealing the source of the papers he carried.  Sam stated with his last words that "I would die a thousand deaths before I would betray a friend," and was hanged on November 27, 1863.

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The fire, spirit and commitment, which drove those brave men in battle, is severely lacking among today’s Southerners.  Ragged, worn and half starved, our forefathers fought on, for the just and honorable cause of the Confederacy and of the South.  Victory requires that we once more pickup the mantle which through inheritance was delivered to us.  It is for us therefore, to stand in the hedge and take up the gap.  Let us therefore relight the torch and reclaim our fallen honor, sense of duty and responsibility.  Liberate our own nation, the Confederate States of America, for which those who have gone before us, have struggled unto death.
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But for the sake of honor and the love of his own country; the Confederate States of America.  Sam could have spared his own life, by merely reveling the name of the vary man the Yankees truly wanted; Captain Henry Shaw, alias E. Coleman.  Captain Shaw was himself a fellow prisoner, who later escaped to continue the struggle.
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Those today who speak of standing upon honor, integrity, duty and faith, measure their commitment against Sam Davis.  Sam Davis was steadfast in his adherence to the principles of honor, duty and country.  More then redifining honor, Sam Davis become honor personified.

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When the Lord calls up Earth’s heroes to stand before his face, O, many a name, unknown to fame shall ring from that high place;  then out of a grave of the southland at the just God’s call and beck shall one man rise with fearless eyes with a rope about his neck; O southland: bring your laurels and add your wreath, O north: let glory claim the hero’s name and tell the world his worth.  - Ella Wheeler Knox
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SAM DAVIS 1842 – 1863 “The Boys will have to fight the battles without me” — He gave all he had – life.  He gained all he lacked – immortality — This monument is erected by contributions from citizens of every state in the American Union on the site authorized by the 51st General Assembly of the state of Tennessee. 1909.

Constructed by G.J. Zolnay, Sculptor, in 1908.
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