Dear father and mother, I sit myself down to let you know that you have one son yet alive

JA DavisJohn Augustus Davis, 15th Alabama Cavalry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Civil War caused brother to fight against brother.  In our case Henry (Harry) Davis and his younger brother John A. Davis chose to fight for Alabama even though they were from Maine.  They were caught in the South at the begining of the war.  We believe they may have had a lumber or quarry business that brought them south.  From Will's letters we know their mother and father worried about their fate and did not hear from them for the longest time.  Eventually  the relatives in Maine learned of their enlistment in the Alabama 15th Cavalry.  Will learned this shortly before his death.

Like, Will, Henry and John were color bearers. Henry (Harry) Davis was one of the last to die carrying the Confederate battle flag into battle.  He was wounded on April 11, 1865, and died on April 13th. at the age of 31, leaving a wife and son.  He died in a skirmish near Mount Pleasant, Alabama and lies in an unmarked grave.  Robert E. Lee had surrendered on April 9, 1865, and the Alabama 15th disbanded on April 20th.

John was wounded in the same skirmish where he brother was killed.  He managed to stay on his horse which brought him to a farmhouse where his wound was treated.  His letter describing the final battle and his wound gave the sad news to his parents that "you have one son yet alive."

After the War John returned to Maine, married and had four children.  We are the descendants of his line.

Mobile the 24 [of  August]  1865

Dear  father ,

After five long years  I  sit myself  down  to let  you  know  that  you  have one  son  yet  alive. I  do  not know  what  to say for myself after so many years And  such  years  as  I  pray  GodI  may  never  see  again, years  that have  made  an  old  man out  of your  once  happy  boy. As  far  as my  health  is  concerned  it  was never  better. I  have  not  been sick  but  two  weeks  since I  left  home.  Home  I  say how  strange   that  loved  word goes  to  my  heart.  The  news  that Mr.  Ester  told  you  was too true.  Poor  Harry  has  gone  to  his  long home,  he  was  wounded  on  the 11th of  Apr. and  died  on  the 13th of  the same  month.  He  died in  his  right  mind  and  his last  words  were  about  his  wife and  parants.  I  did  not  see him  to  speak  to  him  after he  was  shot.  He  was  struck just  above the  left  hip and the Ball  passed  through his  hounch.  He  was  holding the  flag at the time.  I  was sitting  on  my  horse  and  we were talking and laughing only a few moments before he was struck.  I was ordered  with  a dispatch and when I returned I saw him about 100 steps in advance of our line down sitting at  the root of a tree and still waving the flag.  I  started to him and when about 20 steps from him the Federal force charged and I was obliged to retire but not before I was struck in the left shoulder.  The Ball  passed  through my shoulder blade and left lung and lodged in my breast where is now and will remain there as long as I live.  My  left  arm is helpless almost and I  have not  been without  pain since the moment  I was hit. When  I  was  struck it did not dismount me.  I had a very fine horse and as soon as I lost control of him he started with me at breakneck speed and someway I  never can  tell  how I  stayed  on him until he ran 7 miles. That was  why I  did not see Harry again. Judge my feelings as  my only kindred  in this strange land was breathing his last only 3 miles from me and I too weak to lift a hand. I sit down  to  write  a  letter  butbfear  that you will think that I am writing a history of  the war,  I  came to  Mobile yesteday and until then I thought you all dead, but I  thank my God  that I have once more seen some of your writing.  It has been my prayer that God would allow me to see you all once more and I  have faith that he will.  Dingley wrote  to  you as  soon as he recieved your letter and  it went to Washington and was sent back here.  I  would have written before this but I thought someone would write if you were not all dead.     

God  Bless you all and try and Forgive your undutiful son.  Tell all my friends if I have any there to write to me  Direct to Augustus  J  Davis,  Mobile,  Ala.

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John's letter was corroborated years after the war by CH  Driesbach, of  Baldwin County who was in the skirmish.  The account appeared in the Baldwin Times, February 8, 1928.

Special to the Register:
Bay Minette, Ala,  Jan  27-? 

With his form as erect as the day when he first donned the uniform of Gray to fight for a cause he believed was right, but with father time gradually lessening 
the virile resistance that once characterized this Son of the South, CH  Driesbach, of Baldwin County, and one of the few survivors that marked the closing of the
Civil War, graphically relates events leading up to what was said to be the last battle in this section. History relates to the generation that followed the war 
descriptions of the decisive battles, but as Mr. Driesbach says, little is said about some of the closing combats that proved vital to the South and where many
Alabama Heroes "went west", whose names are cherished by those who survived, but whose identity has been lost in the cataclysm that followed. 

It was on April 11, 1865, according to Mr. Driesbach that one of the last battles of the Civil War was fought near here and although strongly outnumbered by the  
federal troops, a strong resistance was put up. It was in this battle he recalls, that Harry Davis, the flag bearer of the Confederate Soldiers, although 
mortally wounded propped himself up against a tree and held his flag aloft and vainly tried to give the "Rebel  Yell". The Battle occurred in Monroe County 
when what was estimated 3000 federal troops under the command of Lucus clashed with the 15th Cavalry commanded by LT Col Myers and a company of Mounted  Infantry, commanded by 
Capt TC English. Captain English was a brother to General McClelland,  It was English’ company Mr. Driesbach was a member of and one of the few survivors after the engagement.

“Our Company was guarding a bridge on Little River, between Baldwin and Monroe  counties”, Mr.Driesbach says, “while the 15th Cavalry, or rather part of it was at Claiborne, 
Monroe County. On the morning of April 11, 1865. General Lucus and his men were coming up the Highway from Stockton. The Confederate Troops came together at what is now known as 
Eliska. The federals numbered about 3000 and the Confederates had something like 200. Arrangements had been made between Captain Barlow and Colonel Myers that
Capt Barlows company should make a detour and reach the rear of the enemy and advance in echelon formation. The strength of the enemy was not known at the time. 
Colonel Myers decided to wait and attack the enemy in front. Shortly after Barlow left on his mission, Arrington’s company of the 15th Cav, used as an advance Guard 
met the enemy and it was plainly seen they were outnumbered. Col Myers then gave the command to charge and at the same time the "rebel yell" went up.

We drove the advance guard back to about ¼ of a mile when we came in contact with the enemy consisting of about 3000 men. The fighting was fierce, continued for about 20 minutes, when we were forced to retireHarry[Henry] Davis the flag bearer was shot in about 20 feet of where I was at, and getting off his horse, sat down  by a pine tree and was last seen holding the flag aloft”. Several were killed. “Besides several being killed about 50 of our men were captured. In the retreat William HH Greenwood and myself accompanied the few of the REGT, which was left to a rendezvous near Claiborne, Al. 

About April 20 all troops in south Al were ordered to Gainesville to be paroled.Davis the Flag bearer was buried on what is now known as the home of Capt CA  Marriot.

 “My experience during the war, like many another rebel, has been sometimes dark and sometimes bright.  I sometimes hear the boys who have gone before tapping on my chamber door calling ‘Come  o’re,  Come  o’re’.

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Will has been in an unknown and unmarked grave for over 150 years.  Please take a moment and sign our petition to give him back his name and return him home


 

Note on Will's Picture

 * The picture we have of Will has passed down through our family since 1862.  On the back of the picture is written the following...Father's brother William Davis fought in Civil war. Killed at that time.  Willl looks much like our brother Mark E. Davis.  The exact same picture is in the Oskosh Public Musem labeled William H. Boyd.

davis8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note on Will's headstone in Lewiston, Maine

gravestone

Will's parents lost their son James in 1855.  He died at age 19 in Michigan.  They put up a headstone for him in Lewiston, Maine.  The family does not know what killed James or if his body is in the grave under the headstone.  William's body was never recovered, nor was Henry's. We believe Will and Henry's names were added later.  We belive the headstone records the names of the three, but it marks an empty grave.