Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DAVIS, Jefferson C., soldier, born in Clark County, Indiana, 2 March 1828; died in Chicago, Illinois, 30 November 1879. His ancestors were noted in the Indian wars of Kentucky. At the age of eighteen, while pursuing his studies in the Clark County, Indiana, seminary, he heard of the declaration of war with Mexico, and enlisted in Colonel Lane's Indiana regiment. For gallant conduct at Buena Vista he was on 17 June 1848, made second lieutenant of the 1st artillery. He became first lieutenant in 1852, took charge of the garrison in Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in 1858, and was there during the bombardment in April 1861, at the beginning of the civil war. In May 1861, he was promoted to a captaincy and given leave of absence to raise the 22d Indiana volunteers, of which regiment he became colonel, and was afterward given a brigade by General Fremont, with whom he served in Missouri. He also commanded a brigade under Generals Hunter and Pope. For services rendered at Milford, Missouri, on 18 December 1861, where he aided in capturing a superior force of the enemy, with a large quantity of military supplies, he was made brigadier general of volunleers. At the battle of Pea Ridge he commanded one of the four divisions of General Curtis's army. He participated in the siege of Corinth, and, after the evacuation of that place by the Confederate forces, was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee. On 29 September 1862, he chanced to meet in Louisville General William Nelson, from whom he claimed to have received treatment unduly harsh and severe. An altercation ensued, and in a moment of resentment he shot Nelson, instantly killing him. He was arrested, and held for a time, but no trial was ordered, and he was released and assigned to duty at Covington, Kentucky. He led his old division of the 20th army corps into the fight at Stone River, and for his bravery was recommended by General Rosecrans for major general. In 1864 he commanded the 14th corps of Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign and in the march through Georgia. In 1865 a brevet major generalship was given him, and he was made colonel of the 23d infantry, 23 July 1866. He afterward went to the Pacific coast, and commanded the U. S. troops in Alaska, and in 1873, after the murder of General Canby by the Modoc Indians in northern California, took command of the forces operating against them, and compelled them to surrender.
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