Reuben Davis

Reuben Davis, a general of Mississippi state troops, was born on January 18, 1813, in Winchester, Tennessee, the son of Reverend John Davis, a Baptist minister and farmer, and his wife Mary. The family moved to northern Alabama five years later. After studying both medicine and the law, the younger Davis moved to Monroe County in Mississippi. His performance at the bar was brilliant from the beginning. In 1835 he was elected (at age twenty-two) district attorney of the Sixth Judicial District. Moving to Aberdeen, Mississippi, he received the Whig nomination for Congress in 1838. Joining the Democrats after 1840, Davis was in 1842 appointed associate justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court. During the Mexican War Judge Davis was colonel of the 2nd Mississippi Regiment, but saw no action because of ill health. Davis remained active in the state militia, rising to the rank of brigadier by 1860. He again ran for Congress in 1848 and 1851, but was unsuccessful both times. The following year he became attorney for the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern railroads. In 1855 Davis was elected to the legislature, and finally achieved election to the U.S. Congress in 1857 and 1859. As congressman Davis became known as a fire-eating secessionist, a stance at odds with his earlier, more moderate views.

In 1861 Davis resigned from Congress, returning home to urge his state to secede. He was quickly appointed brigadier general, then major general, of the Mississippi state troops, serving with them in Kentucky in the winter of 1861. The sixty-day troops, ill-equipped and ill-fed, were all but mutinous. Davis didn't help matters by serving the troops bad whiskey for Christmas. Elected in the fall of 1861 to the Confederate Congress, Davis left the arena of martial glory for politics. In Congress he criticized war policy and openly opposed the Davis administration, a stance the effectiveness of which was somewhat negated by his missing a large number of roll-call votes. Davis ran for governor of Mississippi in 1863, but because of his association with the unpopular incumbent governor (the fire-eater John Pet-tus), he was defeated. Davis resigned from Congress in 1864 and did not again serve the Confederacy in an official capacity.

After the war Davis removed to Huntsville, Alabama, and had a brilliant postwar career as a criminal lawyer. His one final foray into politics was an unsuccessful run in 1878 for Congress on the Greenback party ticket. General Davis died October 14,1890, in Huntsville, and is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Aberdeen.

Both CMH and SHSP list Davis as a Confederate general.

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.