Jefferson Montgomery (Compton)
Davis, my great great Grandfather, was born on 6 Oct 1843 in
Union City, Giles, Tennessee. He enlisted in the Confederacy
at the beginning of the Civil War when he was 17 years old and
served in Holman's 11th Tennessee Cavalry. Shortly after enlisting,
he was wounded and was discharged with a paralyzed left arm.
After recovering he re-joined his unit.
Because of his
age, and the fact that he looked even younger, he was occasionally
detached from his regiment for service behind enemy lines as
a spy. On February 4, 1865 he was captured by Union cavalry at
Pulaski, Tennessee and was interned at Camp Chase military prison
in Louisville, Kentucky. He was convicted as a spy and sentenced
to hang. After his trial
Jefferson and several other prisoners were being transferred
from the court house back to the military prison. The route back
to the prison went through a heavily wooded area and during the
trip several prisoners managed to escape into the woods... Jefferson
among them. The escapees scattered in several different directions
with Jefferson going off by himself.
He eventually came
to a clearing that contained a small farm and log cabin. As he
approached the cabin, he saw a woman on the front porch. She
was sitting on a stool churning butter. Jefferson told her that
the soldiers were trying to take him back to be hanged and asked
her to hide him. She happened to be wearing a hoop skirt so she
lifted it up and told him to hide under her stool. Minutes later the
Union Calvary arrived looking for escapees and requested her
help. She told them she was busy with her churning and didn't
have time to go looking for escaped prisoners, but they could
look wherever they wanted. After a thorough search of the farm
the soldiers left. Jefferson later said the only place they didn't
look for him was under that stool.
He had been injured
during the escape so the lady fixed him up, fed him and sent
him on his way. He returned to Holman's Cavalry and finished
the last few months of the war fighting for the Confederacy.
Because the Union army still had a warrant out for his arrest
and execution as a spy, Jefferson left the army just before the
regiment surrendered at Gainesville, Alabama, in May, 1865.
He changed his
last name from COMPTON to DAVIS and made his way to southeastern
Idaho, arriving in Marsh Valley sometime between 1867 and 1870.
was married to AliceWest
WADDELL (daughter of Peter Ingles WADDELLand Patricia SHEARER)
on 1 Jul 1873 in Corbett's Station, Onida, Idaho. They
were first married as Jefferson Davis and Alice Waddell, but
later took their vows a second time as Jefferson Compton and
Alice Waddell, just to make sure the marriage was legal and proper.
He died on
18 March 1895 in McCammon, Bannock, Idaho. He was buried
in March 1895 in Marsh Center, Bannock, Idaho. Alice
was born on 27 Nov 1856 in Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland.
She died on 19 Jan 1943 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
RECORD FOR - Jefferson M. COMPTON
Giles Co. TN aged 18, 5'6" high, dark complexion, hazel
eyes, black hair, farmer. Is now entitled to a discharge by
reason of paralysis of left arm. He regained the use of it
as he enlisted again and was fighting 4 years later.
Company E. 11 (Holman's) TN Cavalry.
TN - 4 Feb. 1865
of war at Camp Chase Military Prison, Louisville, KY.
to hang as a confederate spy
Conorsville, Giles, TN
dark, hair dark, eyes dark height 5'7".
Battalion and the 11th Tennessee Cavalry
rangers were independent cavalry units that fought for the
South. They were irregular soldiers who fought guerrilla warfare,
making surprise raids behind the lines of the invading enemy.
For the most part, they were volunteers who elected their own
officers and provided their own horses, weapons, and other
equipage. They frequently provided vital information and services
to the Confederate army, as well as destroying enemy lines
of supply and communication.
Two companies of Major Daniel W. Holman's Battalion of partisan rangers
were raised in Giles County, in September and October, 1862. Captain
Andrew R. Gordon raised a company of 160 men and Captain James Rivers
raised a company of 100 men. The company officers elected were:
Andrew R. Gordon, Captain
George E. McClure, First Lieutenant
Henry Collins, Second Lieutenant
Robert J. Collins, Junior Second Lieutenant
Lee Lewis, First Sergeant
Robert Gordon, Second Sergeant
John A. Garrett, Third Sergeant
David A. Inman, Fourth Sergeant
George W. Dabney, First Corporal
Gus. H. McMillon, Second Corporal
George W. Rothrock, Third Corporal
William W. Oliver, Fourth Corporal
James Rivers, Captain
William H. Baugh, First Lieutenant
Robert McNairy, Second Lieutenant
Joseph Zucarillo, Second Lieutenant
R. Pitts Brown, First Sergeant
William T. Wells, Second Sergeant
Robert Frazier, Third Sergeant
"About the middle of October, 1862, the battalion was organized, went
into camp, and for about one month was subjected to drill and military discipline
preparatory to active field duty. While thus engaged details were called for
to assist in enforcing the conscript law and arresting deserters from the army.
In arresting one Wm. Meadows, a deserter, Private Wm. Gordon, of
Capt. River's company, was killed near Cornersville, Tenn. Meadows
shot him from a crack in his house, for which he was tried by court-martial
at Murfreesboro a few days afterward and shot. A few days before
the killing of Gordon, Meadows had shot and severely wounded Pvt.
Malone of Capt. Gordon's company."
Holman's Battalion spent the rest of 1862 scouting for Confederate
General Joe Wheeler in the vicinity of Lavergne, Franklin and Murfreesboro.
They participated in several skirmishes between Lavergne and Nashville.
On the 29th of December they began a series of raids on the rear
of the Union army under the command of General Rosencrans, which
was massed near Murfreesboro preparing to attack the Confederate
army under the command of General Bragg. Holman's Battalion continued
these raids as the Battle of Stones River was fought. On the 2nd
of January, 1863, they moved to the battlefront and participated
in this bloody Confederate failure.
As Bragg's massive Confederate army retreated to Shelbyville, Holman's
Battalion was sent to Manchester to recruit and picket. From there
they moved to the Cumberland River below Nashville to harass the
enemy and interrupt his communications. They spent the next three
weeks disrupting the Union navigation of the Cumberland River, capturing
many prisoners and destroying Union boats laden with supplies.
Around the 1st of February, Holman's Battalion went with General
Wheeler toward Dover, on the Cumberland River. "Through Captain
Rivers and other reliable scouts sent from the battalion information
of the Federal force at Dover had been obtained, and was promptly
communicated to Generals Wheeler and Forrest."
Wheeler and Forrest then attacked the Union garrison at Dover. Lieutenant
Henry Collins of Captain Gordon's company was killed during this
assault. Major Holman was severely wounded in the thigh and was disabled
for about four months.
As the war that was supposed to last only a few months began to stretch
into years, most of the glamour of war was lost. Many partisan ranger
battalions began raiding Union sutlers' wagons more frequently than
raiding behind Union lines. They were permitted to keep their captured
booty, thus causing desertion from the Confederate army as many Confederates
by this time were more worried about feeding their starving families
than about fighting yankees. Knowing they were subject to the conscription
laws and had to be in the army, large numbers of Confederate soldiers
deserted their regiments and joined the partisan rangers.
After a recommendation from General Robert E. Lee, the law authorizing
partisan rangers was abolished and almost all partisan rangers were
required to join the regular Confederate army. Holman's Battalion
was no exception. "On the 20th of February, 1863, the battalion
against the wishes of every man composing it, was taken to form a
part of the Eleventh Tennessee Cavalry, and from that time till the
close of the war its history is identified with the history of that
regiment." Holman's Battalion had served as partisan rangers
for only 4 months.
General Nathan Bedford Forrest issued orders at Columbia, Tennessee,
on February 20, 1863, forming the Eleventh Tennessee Cavalry, composed
of 11 companies, including Gordon's and Rivers' companies of Holman's
Battalion. General Forrest appointed James M. Edmundson to command
the regiment. Daniel W. Holman was appointed Lieutenant Colonel,
but was recovering from the wound he had received at Dover and could
not immediately rejoin the regiment.
The 11th TN Cavalry was with General Forrest at the capture of Thompson's
Station on March 5, where 1200 prisoners were taken; and at the capture
of Brentwood on the 25th, where 800 prisoners were taken. On April
19, the regiment was ordered to Florence, Alabama, where it reported
to Colonel Philip D. Roddey. The 11th TN Cavalry was part of General
Forrest's Cavalry which captured Colonel Abel D. Streight's command,
taking 1700 prisoners, roughly three times the force General Forrest
had at hand.
"On the 12th of July, 1863, Gen. Bragg sent Capt. Rivers into Middle Tennessee
with important papers. Gen. Forrest selected him as the most suitable man that
could be found for the mission, and went with him in person to Gen. Bragg.
Middle Tennessee was wholly in possession of the enemy. Capt. Rivers performed
the prescribed work satisfactorily, and returned within a month, having ridden
in all over eight hundred miles to make the round trip."
The regiment then returned to Middle Tennessee, was with General
Forrest in the retreat of General Bragg's army to Chattanooga in
July, then moved to Post Oak Springs, near Kingston, on August 27,
They fought at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19th and 20th,
where they suffered casualties, among them Giles Countian William
Ballentine, who was killed by a cannon-ball. Ballentine's remains
were returned for interment in Maplewood cemetery in Pulaski. The
11th TN Cavalry chased the fleeing Union army within about one-half
mile of Chattanooga, taking several hundred prisoners, but losing
several killed and wounded. Among those killed was Dr. William McNairy,
whose head was torn from his body by an artillery shell. Dr. McNairy
at the time was Orderly Sergeant of his River's company, a physician
of prominence in Giles County, and a true and faithful soldier. Dr.
McNairy is buried in Maplewood cemetery in Pulaski.
Shortly after the Battle of Chickamauga, General Bragg took General
Forrest's command away from him, resulting in an altercation which
President Jefferson Davis had to resolve by sending General Forrest
to Mississippi. The 11th TN Cavalry was placed in General Joseph
Wheeler's Cavalry Corps. They moved into East Tennessee as part of
General James Longstreet's army and remained there until April, 1864,
when they rejoined the Army of Tennessee near Dalton, Georgia.
Around the 1st of October, the regiment was ordered to Cleveland,
Tennessee, to rest and recruit. It was during these three weeks at
Cleveland that they were taken from General Forrest and turned over
again to General Wheeler. From Cleveland, they advanced on a Union
brigade camped at Philadelphia, Tennessee, where they captured 700
prisoners, 50 wagons, 12 ambulances, 800 stands of small arms, 6
pieces of artillery, 1000 horses and mules, saddles, etc., and a
large amount of commissary and sutlers' stores. "Captain James
Rivers, while gallantly charging the retreating Federals with a view
of picking up prisoners, was captured, together with several of the
men whom he was leading. No exchange could be effected, and he was
held a prisoner of war at Johnson's Island till the close of the
1, the regiment reached Unitia, a small village on the east
bank of the Holston River. A brisk duel ensued, resulting in
the death of James Newton Paisley, Orderly Sergeant of Rivers'
company, who was shot through the head. The regiment remained
in East Tennessee until the following spring. It was exceedingly
cold that winter and the men were poorly clad. Many of them,
being almost barefooted, wrapped their feet and legs with rags
to keep them from freezing. Near the end of March, 1864, the
11th TN Cavalry headed for Dalton, Georgia, via Asheville,
NC, Greenville, SC, and Atlanta, GA.
The 11th TN Cavalry participated in General Joseph E. Johnston's
retreat to Atlanta during the spring and summer of 1864. They fought
at Dalton, Resaca, Adairsville, Cassville, and near Dallas, where
on May 31, Private C. Buford of Gordon's company was killed and Captain
Gordon was severely wounded, never again able for duty. Through the
rest of the war, Gordon's company was commanded by Lt. J. M. Edmundson,
Lt. Robert Gordon, and Lt. George Rothrock.
The regiment participated in the fighting at Kennesaw Mountain and
on the 13th of June, was ordered to report to General Joseph E. Johnston,
at Atlanta, for special service. They received much-needed rest,
then policed Atlanta, served as scouts, couriers, and almost every
duty incident to the army. When General John Bell Hood took command
of the Army of Tennessee, the regiment was retained for special service.
After the fall of Atlanta, the 11th TN Cavalry again served under
General Forrest. They returned to Tennessee as General Hood made
his valiant effort to re-capture Nashville. Following the Battles
of Franklin and Nashville, the regiment returned with the remnant
of Hood's army south of the Tennessee River. In February, 1865, the
11th TN Cavalry was consolidated with the 10th TN Cavalry and all
placed under the command of Colonel Holman. They participated in
the aftermath of the capture of Selma, Alabama, on the 2nd of April,
1865, which was to be their last engagement of the war. They made
the final surrender at Gainesville, Alabama, in May, 1865.
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