Monday, September 15, 2014

Captured ... The Life Of A Civil War Spy!!

Who was Sam Davis??  That's the question I had when Barbara said we were going to visit his home in nearby Smyrna Tennessee.  We soon found out Sam Davis is known as the "boy hero of the confederacy".  Born in 1842 in this house near Stewart Creek (recently moved to this location) to Charles Lewis and Jane Davis, he enjoyed an upper middle class upbringing.  Dad must have had SOME money to have a two story log cabin!  He even attended the Western Military Institute where he was highly influenced by his military instructors.

Once his father Charles made enough money, he purchased this house and 160 acres of cotton fields in 1850, moving the family out of the log cabin.  The family lived here along with about 50 slaves to work the cotton.  
Tennessee being a slave state, seceded from the union, putting them in the middle of the Civil War.     Young Sam Davis signed up with the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment where he fought several battles.  After recovering from a serious wound at Perryville, he joined Coleman's Scouts. In 1863 Sam was captured not far from here carrying papers on Union Troop movements, as well as newspapers and personal items for Confederate General Bragg.  Convinced one of his own Union officers was giving out information, Union General Dodge tried to get Sam to expose his spy friend.  Sam refused, saying "If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all, rather than betray a friend or my country!"   He was hanged in November 1863 at the age of 21 and is now buried in a small family cemetery behind this house.  THAT made him a hero!!

This is the kitchen (mentioned again below), built away from the main house due to the possibility of fire.
A large barn out back held animals used in farming the cotton, along with a buggy or two I imagine.  
Cotton is still being grown all around the house and visitor's center.  This is what it probably looked like in the old days.
The slave quarters here were barely 100 sq ft buildings, but at least these had two doors, a couple of windows and a fireplace.  Slave Frank Davis, who did most of the blacksmithing on the plantation, opened his own business in Smyrna after emancipation.  His sister at age 16, went to work for Sam's sister and her husband.  Slave Charlie Waldron left the plantation, but returned in 1910 to work on the property for Sam's brother Oscar, who resided here by then.  It is believed he lived in the kitchen above until his death at age 83.
This one was not only the home of a slave, but where they did the laundry for the main house.  Since the visitors center was closed, I didn't get much more information on the plantation, nor could we tour the home itself, but two very nice girls manning the desk while a photo shoot took place on the property, offered us Krispie Creme donuts!!
From there we tried to find a BBQ restaurant ... you know how that is, when your GPS takes you to the address and there's nothing there??  We found another close by called Jim N Nicks that had excellently cooked meat with tangy Carolina sauce!!  We even picked up a couple of Tennessee geocaches before heading back to the rigs.  Today we drive further Southwest to Memphis ... get your hips ready to do some shaking .... to the home of ELVIS!!!!!


  1. Enjoy Tenn and Ark to arrive in Dallas for the Texas State Fair Sept 26, a big, great fair.with a bldg of quilts and canning. Still plenty of time to get to Albq before the fiesta. Be sure to stay for the second Fri/Sat Special Shapes & Glowedo.
    I love your so well written blog. I will use it to help plan a long wished for trip from Greenfield Village to fall New England. Thanks

    1. Sounds like a great idea!!! I loved Nashville and had a great time on Beale Street tonight in Memphis!! Thank you for the compliment, I'm glad you enjoy the blog!!!