Dear father and mother, I sit myself down to let you know that you have one son yet alive
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.
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’.
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.
Note on Will's headstone in Lewiston, Maine
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.