Jefferson Columbus Davis

Jefferson Columbus Davis, the son of Kentucky parents, was born on March 2, 1828, in Clark County, Indiana. At the age of eighteen he served in the Mexican War as a volunteer in the 3rd Indiana and took part in the battle of Buena Vista. Two years later, June 17, 1848, he was commissioned directly into the Regular Army as a second lieutenant of the 1st Artillery. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1852 and to captain in 1861. He was present at the bombardment of Fort Sumter. That August his good friend Governor Oliver P. Morton appointed him colonel of the 22nd Indiana and in December he was made brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded a division at the battle of Elkhorn (Pea Ridge) in March, 1862, and at the siege of Corinth. On September 29 of that year he provoked a quarrel with his ex-commanding officer, General William Nelson, and shot him down in the lobby of the Gait House in Louisville. At least one impartial witness who was a friend of both men  felt that the act was cold-blooded murder, but no effective legal steps were taken against Davis. A few days later he was restored to duty, with the helping hand of the politically powerful Morton. Davis went on to distinguish himself as a division commander at Murfreesboro, at Chickamauga, and in the Atlanta campaign and as commander of the XIV Corps in the "March to the Sea" and in the Carolina campaign. He was not promoted in spite of his increased responsibilities and ended the war a major general by brevet only. One of his biographers set forth that "perhaps the administration felt about him as Dr. Johnson did about the American colonists, that he 'ought to be thankful for anything . . . short of hanging.' " After the war Davis became colonel of the 23rd Infantry, served in Alaska, and later took part in the chastisement of the Modocs who had murdered General Edward R. S. Canby. He died in Chicago on November 30, 1879, and now lies buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, near his wife's home.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.