Upon our trip home from the the regional NCFIC conference this weekend I came across a monument to a young man I had forgotten about. Sam Davis, A True Confederate Hero and the youngest recipient of the Confederate Medal of Honor, is little known today.
Even less known in the youth today is the character and maturity this 21 year old man possessed when he was illegally hung as a spy on November 27th 1863.
Born on October 6th 1843, Sam knew enough about his beliefs and had enough consideration for the future to make the decision to join Co. I of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment of the CSA in April 1861 at the age of 18.
Having distinguished himself in the east during the Cheat Mountain campaign under General Lee, young Master Davis continued to serve with honor and valor in the western theater in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River. Early in 1863 he became a member of “Coleman’s Scouts”, a group who worked behind enemy lines disrupting communications. It is in this service that he showed the true mettle he was made of.
In November of 1863 as Master Davis traveled toward Chattanooga he was captured by Federal troops. He carried highly sensitive communications on him that were an embarrassment to General Bragg as they showed he had an informant on his staff. That coupled with Bragg’s desire to capture “Coleman” Davis’ leader inspired him put pressure on Davis to name his informant and identify Coleman. Davis refused and was brought before a Federal court martial. Although he was in uniform and under orders, he was convicted of being a spy and sentenced to be hung.
Bragg offered him one last chance to save his life. To which, Davis secured his place in history by responding, “I will die a thousand deaths rather than betray my cause.”
That in itself is a most honorable response, but what makes it even more incredible is the fact that the leader General Bragg was seeking, Capt. H. B. Shaw, alias “Coleman,” the chief of the scouts, was in the cell across from Davis the entire time!
It seems today we often think of this kind of maturity as being foreign to this generation. A young man who thinks about what fraternity he will be part of is consider forward thinking at 18 years old. While it is true that it is rare, I had the privilege of meeting and conversing with a few young men at the NCFIC conference who challenge this notion at it’s roots. One of them I had the privilege of visiting with was Brett Harris, who’s motto on the card he gave me says, “Do Hard Things”. His web site, which he blogs along with his brother Alex, is called The Rebelution. Be sure to check out their series on Kidults and contrast their line of thought with the thousands of kids and adults who spent Monday night camping out in front of their favorite electronics store to bring home a new Xbox 360!
For more information on Private Samuel Davis check out this link or Google him.