27, 1863 - Execution of Sam Davis as a spy
Neither Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee nor OR reference this event, yet is part of an allegory of Confederate selfless denial and fealty associated with Tennessee's Confederate Civil War experience. He was considered a spy because he had some sensitive information on his person and he was not in the uniform of the Confederate army. Yet there is some data probably relative to Davis:
HDQRS. LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Pulaski, Tennessee, November 20, 1863.
Maj. R. M. SAWYER,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Department of the Tennessee:
I herewith inclose a copy of dispatch taken from one of Brag 's spies. He had a heavy mail, papers, &c., and Capt. Coleman is pretty well posted. I think I will have him in a day or two. We have broken up several bands of mounted robbers and Confederate cavalry in the last week, capturing some 5 commissioned officers and 100 enlisted men, which have been forwarded. I also forward a few of the most important letters found in the mail. The tooth-brushes and blank-books I was greatly in need of, and therefore appropriate them.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE, Brig.-Gen.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
IN FRONT OF CHATTANOOGA, November 11, 1863.
[Mrs. Dan M. Nelson].
MY DEAR NANNIE: I have written over and over and still receive no reply. Don't know whether you ever received any of my letters or not. The "underground mail" is so uncertain, perhaps you never received any of them. I would keep you pretty well posted if all my letters reached you. As it is, I would have to reiterate a great deal to keep you well informed as to passing events. Nothing direct have I heard from you since June; however, I hear indirectly occasionally. I am well at present with exception of cold. We still occupy our same position since the battle of Chickamauga.
Don't know how long we will remain here. There is a move going on in East Tennessee which may materially change affairs in a few days, unless the enemy is re-enforced sufficiently to give us battle. Gen. Longstreet will operate from this way, while Gen. Jones will co-operate with him from beyond Knoxville. Here I will give you a little news; perhaps you may hear of it before this reaches you, or get the Yankee accounts of it. Gen. Jones captured, a day or two ago, 850 Yankees, 1,000 head of mules and horses, and 150 wagons. (This is official.) I am fearful the enemy has been so heavily re-enforced we will be unable to gain and hold any permanent foot-hold in Tennessee. My opinion is we will fall back as soon as Sherman with his re-enforcements reaches Chattanooga. We have been re-enforced since the battle, but not near so much as the Yanks. I am sorry to say there is a want of harmony among our generals at present and ever since the battle. All are down on Bragg; want him removed. I can see for no other cause than to be promoted themselves. I am no part of a general, nor a judge of one; do not consider Bragg a No. 1 general, but think he is the best in this department. Gen.'s D. H. Hill and Polk have been relieved of command since the battle, also Gen. Cheatham. I understand Gen. B. R. Johnson is made a major-general and will command Cheatham's division. Gen. Breckinridge commands Hill's corps and Hardee commands Polk's corps. I went up on the point of Lookout Mountain yesterday to take a view of both Armies and the surrounding country. It was the most sublime scene I ever witnessed; could see the whole Yankee army and ours almost at the same sight. My eyes had not grown weary of such a magnificent sight when we were greeted by a shell from a Yankee battery on Moccasin Point, just across the river. They shelled our battery on the Lookout Point about one hour. They soon shelled my old friend Alf. Davis and myself off the point. I remarked to him when he heard the whistle of a shell, did he not love to hug the ground better than his wife? He replied, "them things" would make any one get down on the ground. Dan. White was sent from the hospital near the battle-field a day or two ago, the first time he has been moved since wounded. He went to Ringold old, Georgia. He had not improved much; was perfectly helpless. It will be a long while, if ever, before he will be well. Low Weakly died at Atlanta, in hospital, from a wound received in the knee in the late battle. He died on the 23d of October. Ferril Edwards left us a week or so ago. I expect he is at home ere this.
It seems all the Middle Tennesseeans [sic] are going to desert. Have you made my clothes yet? You must make them a great deal larger than any you have ever made me, for tight clothes don't last. Have my overcoat cut military style, to come below the knee, and cape as long as the arm; frock some larger and longer than the jeans one you had made last fall; and pants a good deal larger in the body and leg than my old pattern; boots, No. 10. You must have my clothes ready to send at any time-you may have an opportunity when least expected. Send them as soon as you can, for I am nearly out of clothing and barefooted. White as well. I understood the Yanks had taken your riding animal, which I was sorry to hear; I thought so much of her. Do not let them get my old filly and colt. Tell old Gabe, I will "walk his log," if he gets too intimate with them Yanks when I come home. Will Shelton said he thought Frank had come home. Col. Searcy, James D. Richardson (Correction from General Index.) and all the boys well. The army is in better health than I ever knew before. How is our little children? Tell them howdy and kiss them for me. You must name the last. When I wrote to you I proposed the name of Sallie Ann, but use your own discretion. Have you paid Mrs. P. that money due her, also a little note that Maxwell has on me? Dock is well, and says he intends to stay in the army as long as I do. I presume you heard of the death of Jesse Sikes-died with typhoid fever near Decatur, Ala., some two months ago. I will inclose a paper in another envelope and send with this. Write when you can. My respects to your father and mother and family. Tell Lew, if the army gets back there, to pass himself for under age, for if Leonard Pebbles joins he will regret it in less than two months.
Your affectionate husband,
DAN. M. NELSON.
You must keep me a pair of boots on hand all the time. If you send out one pair, buy another. Also pair shoes. Send me a pair of suspenders on my pants, overshirts, drawers, socks, &c. Get me a light-colored hat; the one I have is wearing out. My advice to your pa [sic] is to put wheat and shelled corn enough in his house to make him bread, for if the Armies pass through there they will take it all.
[Inclosure No. 2.]
GILES COUNTY, Tennessee,
November 19, 1863.
Col. A. McKINSTRY,
Provost-Marshall-Gen., Army of Tennessee, Chattanooga:
DEAR SIR: I send you seven Nashville, three Louisville, and one Cincinnati papers, with dates to the 17th, in all eleven. I also send for Gen. Bragg three wash balls of soap, three more tooth-brushes, and two blank-books. I could not get a large-sized diary for him. I will send a pair of shoes and slippers, some more soap, gloves, and socks, soon. The Yankees are still camped on the line of the Tennessee and Atlanta Railroad. Gen. Dodge's headquarters are at Pulaski. His main force is camped from that place to Lynnville. Some at Elk River and two regiments at Athens. Dodge has issued an order to the people in those counties on the road to report all the stock, grain, and forage to him, and says he will pay or give vouchers for it. Any refU. S. A.l to report he will take it without pay. They are now taking all they can find. Dodge says he knows the people are all Southern, and does not ask them to swear to a lie. All the spare forces around Nashville and vicinity are being sent to McMinnville. Six batteries and twelve Parrott guns were sent forward on the 14th, 15th, and 16th. It is understood there is hot work in front somewhere. Telegrams suppressed. Davis has returned. Greig is gone below. Everything is beginning to work better. I sent Roberts with things for you and Gen. B., with dispatch. I do not think the Feds. mean to stay here. They are not now repairing the main points on the road. I understand part of Sherman's force has reached Shelbyville. I think a part of some other than Dodge's division came by Lynnville from the direction of Fayetteville. I sent Billy Moore over in that country, and am sorry to say he was captured. One of my men has just returned from there. The general impression with the citizens is they will move forward soon some way. Their wagon train has returned from N. Davis tells me the line is in order to Somerville. I send this by one of my men to that place. The dispatches sent you on the 9th, with paper of 7th, reached Decatur on the 10th at 9 p. m. Citizens were reading the papers next morning after breakfast. I do not think the major will do to forward them from reports.
I am, with high regard,
E. COLEMAN, Capt.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, pp. 208-211.
According to Valor In Gray, pp. 1-10, Sam Davis was awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor on August 17, 1977.
Each November 27, members of the Sam Davis chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy lay a wreath at the base of the statue on the Capitol grounds.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214