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Jefferson Columbus Davis
[[Image:150px|center|200px|border]]Major General Jefferson C. Davis
Personal Information
Born: March 2, 1828(1828-03-02)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: November 30, 1879 (aged 51)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: "Jef"
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: 22x20px United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brevet Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: {{{unit}}}
Commands: XIV Corps
Department of Alaska
Department of the Columbia
23rd U.S. Infantry
Battles: Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Modoc War

Awards: {{{awards}}}
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Jefferson Columbus Davis (March 2, 1828 – November 30, 1879) was an officer in the United States Army who served in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Modoc War. He was the first commander of the Department of Alaska, from 1868 to 1870. Although successful in a number of Civil War battles, he is best remembered for two attributes: the similarity of his name to that of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his murder of a superior officer during an argument in the Civil War.

Early commands[]

File:William Tecumseh Sherman and staff - Brady-Handy.jpg

Gen. Davis in the staff of Gen. William T. Sherman

Born near present-day Memphis, Indiana, Davis served as an enlisted volunteer during the Mexican-American War. Upon completion of his volunteer service, he was accepted for an Army commission and served in the 1st U.S. Artillery. At the start of the American Civil War, Davis had attained the rank of first lieutenant and was serving in the Fort Sumter garrison when it was bombarded by Confederate forces in 1861. In August, Davis became Colonel of the 22nd Indiana Infantry, which he led in the Battle of Wilson's Creek. In December 1861, he became brigadier general of volunteers, commanding the 3rd Division, Army of the Southwest, at the Battle of Pea Ridge. He commanded the 4th Division, Army of the Mississippi, at Corinth. He went on sick leave, but left his hospital bed to serve in the defenses of Cincinnati, Ohio.

During this time of convalescence, on September 29, 1862, Davis got into an argument with his superior officer, Maj. Gen. William "Bull" Nelson, in the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. Davis had been offended by insults on prior occasions and when his face was slapped by Nelson, Davis shot and killed him. He was arrested and imprisoned, but Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright came to his aid and was able to get him released from prison. He avoided conviction for the murder because there was a need for experienced field commanders in the Union Army.

Promotions and post war[]

File:Memphis IN Jeff Davis Marker.jpg

Marker denoting Davis' birth near Memphis, Indiana

Davis was a capable commander, but due to the murder of General Nelson, he never received a full promotion higher than brigadier general of volunteers. He did however receive a brevet promotion to major general of volunteers on August 8, 1864 (for his service at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain), and was appointed commanding officer of the Fourteenth Corps during the Atlanta Campaign, which post he retained until the end of the war.[1] However, it should be noted that it was his actions during the Ebenezer Creek passing and his racist attitude towards freed slaves, that causes his legacy to be clouded in continued controversy. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in the regular army on March 20, 1865.

After the Civil War, Davis continued service with the Army. He was the first commander of the Department of Alaska, from March 18, 1868, to June 1, 1870, during which he commanded the Russian population of Sitka, Alaska, to abandon their homes as he maintained that they were needed for Americans. He gained fame once again when he assumed field command of the U.S. forces during the Modoc War. His presence in the field restored the confidence of the soldiers after their recent setbacks against the Modocs[2]. Davis' campaign resulted in the battle of Dry Lake and the eventual surrender of notable leaders such as Hooker Jim and Captain Jack. Davis died in Chicago, Illinois, and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  1. William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs, The Library of America, 1990, pp. 574, 823.
  2. Reminiscences of a Pioneer
  • Hughes, Nathaniel Cheairs, Jr. and Whitney, Gordon D. Jefferson Davis in Blue, Louisiana State University Press, 2002 ISBN 0807127779
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Levstik, Frank R., "Jefferson Columbus Davis", Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, Heidler, David S., and Heidler, Jeanne T., eds., W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04758-X.

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Prince Dmitri Maksutov as Governor of Russian Alaska |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Military Commander of Alaska
1868—1870 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Brevet Lt. Col. George K. Brady |- |}

da:Jefferson C. Davis fr:Jefferson Columbus Davis it:Jefferson Columbus Davis