The Davis' Crossroads site is located at the intersection of Georgia Highway 193 and Cove Road. The area appears on the Kensington, Georgia quadrangle of the U. S. Geological Survey maps.

Martin Davis in Indian Removal-era Uniform.
Martin Davis in Indian Removal-era Uniform.

The Davis brothers, Martin and John were from the old Cherokee area around Dahlonega in Lumpkin County, Georgia. Their wives, Julia Anne and Saphronia were sisters. Sometime before 1850, the brothers moved to the western part of Walker County along the Stephen's Gap road that led from Lookout Mountain to Dug Gap in Pigeon Mountain, and on the LaFayette. John and Saphronia Davis established a farm on the north side of the road west of West Chickamauga Creek. Martin and Julia built their house at the intersection of a north-south road a short distance to the east. The surrounding farming community came to be known as Davis' Crossroads.

By 1858, Martin Davis has established a working farm. In a letter to relatives back at Dahlonega dated March 8, 1858, he stated: "We have had two bad cases of scarlet fever among the Negroes ... We are nearly ready to commence crop breaking our lands for corn. Times in this county are quite hard and money scarce, plenty to sell but it brings but little." Martin Davis made an orchard a little to the north of his house. He spent much time there among the fruit trees, relaxing and smoking his pipe. In 1859, he was found dead in the orchard with his pipe still clenched firmly between his teeth. Because he had loved this spot so well, he was buried there, thus starting the Davis Cemetery.

When Martin Davis died, his widow Julia was left with six children, the youngest being two years old. She continued to direct the slaves in the operation of the farm. The 1860 Agricultural Census showed her to have livestock consisting of "7 horses, 4 mules, 5 milch cows, 10 other cattle, and 100 swine," valued at $1,400.00. The farm produced 200 bushels of wheat, 2,000 bushels of corn, and 100 bushels of oats. The cash value of the farm was indicated at $5,500.00. Julia also owned 21 Negro slaves. John Davis had a similar farm with 19 slaves.

The 1860 Federal Census listed Julia Anne Davis as a 37 year-old widow and head of a household consisting of her children; Jane, 19 years old; Rachel, 17, Mary, 16; John, 13; Thursa, 6; and Martin, 3. On the joining farm to the west, Julia's brother-in-law, John Davis was listed as a 47 year-old farmer living with his 29 year-old wife, Jane Saphronia. Their children included: Georgia Ann, 11 years old; Samuel, 9; Susannah, 7; Daniel, 5; Cicero, 2; and Julia, a five month-old baby.

During the summer of 1863 there was a strong presence of Confederate cavalry on the roads around Davis' Crossroads. By early September, it was generally known that there was a major Federal army located just on the other side of Lookout Mountain and they were expected to be crossing at any time. John Davis felt it advisable to remove most of the more valuable slaves to a safer place, and did so. On their respective farms, Saphronia and Julia elected to stay behind on their property during the expected invasion. At this point, the three Army Corps that made up the Federal Army of the Cumberland were separated over a wide area. General Crittenden's 21st Corps had occupied Chattanooga. General McCook's 20th Corps was more than 40 miles to the south preparing to move on Summerville, and possibly Rome, Georgia. General Thomas was in Lookout Valley with the 14th Corps. From his headquarters in Chattanooga, the Federal Commander, General Rosecrans, believed the Confederate army to be in full retreat. He ordered General Thomas to rush his men through the mountain gaps and strike the Confederate flank at LaFayette. On September 9, 1863 General James Negley's Division, the first unit of the 14th Corps, was off the mountain at Bailey's Crossroads with orders to push through Dug Gap to LaFayette. So far, the only Confederate resistance that the Federals had met consisted of token forces of cavalry. Generals Thomas and Negley, however, had received a number of indications the Confederates were massing for an attack on the other side of Pigeon Mountain. In fact the Confederates were fully aware of the Federal movements, and saw the situation as an excellent opportunity to destroy Negley's isolated division, and possibly the rest of Thomas' Corps as they came off the mountain.

Confederate cavalry general William Martin was the first to encounter the Federals in Walker County. In the early morning of September 8, Martin reported that the Federal advance had forced his troops out of Stevens' and Cooper's Gaps in Lookout Mountain. Martin withdrew his men to Pigeon Mountain, the last remaining barrier between the Federal advance and the main Confederate Army. There, he ordered his men to fortify and cut down trees to block Blue Bird, Dug, and Catlett's Gaps. Small bands of cavalrymen also kept watch on the Federals coming off the mountain and gathering at Bailey's Crossroads. Although Confederate commander Braxton Bragg was provided constant information concerning the Federal movement, he disregarded it until the following day.

On September 9, General Martin sent the 3rd Alabama Cavalry Regiment into McLemore's Cove to develop the enemy. The cavalrymen discovered that the Federal unit at Bailey's Crossroads [Negley's Division] contained between four and eight thousand men and appeared to be separated from the rest of the main Federal Army. Later in the day, Martin informed General Bragg on the findings, adding that the Federals were moving toward Davis' Crossroads and appeared to be vulnerable to a surprise Confederate attack. Bragg was aware that this would be an excellent opportunity to destroy a significant portion of the enemy army, an accomplishment that could mean a decisive victory in the campaign. "During the 9th," General Bragg later wrote, "it was ascertained that a column, estimated at from 4,000 to 8,000, had crossed Lookout Mountain into the cove by way of Stevens' and Cooper's Gaps. Thrown off his guard by our rapid movement, apparently in retreat, when in reality we had concentrated opposite his center, and deceived by the information from deserters and others sent into his lines, the enemy pressed on his columns to intercept us and thus exposed himself in detail. Major-General Hindman received verbal instructions on the 9th to prepare his division to move against this force and was informed that another division from Lieutenant-General Hill's command at LaFayette, would join him. Written orders were issued to Generals Hindman and Hill."

Written orders concerning this plan were also issued to General Hindman by Bragg's adjutant at 11:45 p.m. on the evening of September 9th. "You will move," the order stated, "with your division immediately to Davis' Cross-Roads, on the road from La Fayette to Stevens' Gap. At this point you will put yourself in communication with the column of General Hill, ordered to move to the same point, and take command of the joint forces, or report to the officer commanding Hill's column according to rank. If in command you will move upon the enemy reported to be 4,000 or 5,000 strong, encamped at the foot of Lookout Mountain at Stevens' Gap. Another column of the enemy is reported to be at Cooper's Gap; number not known."

At the same time as the orders were sent to General Hindman, Bragg's adjutant also transmitted written orders to General D. H. Hill stating: "I enclose orders given to General Hindman. General Bragg directs that you send or take, as your judgement dictates, Gleburne's division to unite with General Hindman at Davis' Cross-Roads to-morrow morning. Hindman starts at 12 o'clock to-night, and has 13 miles to make. The commander of the column thus united will move upon the enemy encamped at the foot of Stevens' Gap, said to be 4,000 or 5,000. If unforeseen circumstances should prevent your movement, notify Hindman. A cavalry force should accompany your column. Hindman has none. Open communications with Hindman with your cavalry in advance of the junction. He marches on the road from Dr. Anderson's [at Rock Spring] to Davis' Cross-Roads."

General Thomas Hindman responded promptly to Bragg's orders. During the night he moved his division through Pigoen Mountain, and by dawn reached the house of J. J. Morgan, a 43 year-old farmer living with his wife and nine children on the west side of Cove Road at the intersection of the road leading eastward to Catlett's Gap in Pigeon Mountain. Many of the soldiers got water from nearby West Chickamauga Creek, perhaps at Gower's Ford a short distance to the north. After a brief rest, Hindman moved his men further down along Cove Road and established his headquarters at the H. J. Conley house, where there was "a spring, the last convenient water before Davis." Although he was less than four miles north of Davis' Crossroads, Hindman had not heard from General Hill during the night, and had received reports of large bodies of Federals between Stevens' and Dug Gaps. This made him wary, and he halted in hopes of hearing something from Hill.

General Daniel H. Hill received his orders from Bragg concerning the joint movement against the Federals at 4:30 a.m. on September 10. At this late date he realized that the time factor made the plan impractical and responded with a message to Bragg explaining why he could not comply with the orders. General Cleburne, Hill explained had overexerted himself on the retreat from Tyner, and had been sick in bed. Furthermore, Cleburne's command was widely scattered. Two thirds of the division was in LaFayette and the other brigade, commanded by General S.A.M. Wood, was picketing Catlett's, Dug, and Blue Bird Gaps. Lastly, it would take hours to clear away the obstructions in Dug Gap placed there earlier by the Confederate cavalrymen. Bragg accepted these excuses, and modified his plan by ordering General Simon Buckner to march his corps to the defense of Hindman.

General Buckner received an order dated 8 a.m., September 10, from Bragg's adjutant stating: "I enclose orders issued last night to Generals Hill and Hindman. General Hill has found it impossible to carry out the part assigned to Cleburne's division. The general commanding desires that you will execute without delay the order issued to General Hill. You can move to Davis' Cross-Roads by the direct road from your present position at Anderson's, along which General Hindman has passed."

Captain Milton P. Jarnagin was Judge Advocate in the Military Court for the Department of East Tennessee attached to General Buckenr's staff. He left Knoxville with Buckner on August 23, 1863. "Our Dept. court," the captain later wrote, "went with our commander, Maj. Gen. Buckner, from Knoxville to Rocky Spring, 9 miles from LaFayette, Ga ... . Gen. Bragg ordered Buckner's Corps to make a junction with Gen. Hindman at the mouth or lower end of the cove. This proceeded to raise a question of rank between them. Hindman had the older commission. Buckner was an older man, a West Point graduate, & had the larger force. They wisely agreed to consult and cooperate. We understood that there were 11,000 [men] in Buckner's Corps, & 3,000 in Hindman's Division."

"Both Hindman and Hill were notified," Bragg wrote, "Hindman had halted his division at Morgan's some 3 or 4 miles from Davis' Cross-Roads, in the cove, and at this point Buckner joined him during the afternoon of the 10th. Reports fully confirmed previous information in regard to the position of the enemy's forces were received during the 10th, and it became certain that he was moving his three columns to form a junction upon us at or near LaFayette. The corps near Colonel Winston's [McCook] moved on the mountain toward Alpine, a point 20 miles south of us. The one opposite the cove [Thomas] continued its movement and threw forward its advances to Davis' Cross-Roads, and Crittenden moved from Chattanooga on the roads to Ringgold and Lee and Gordon's Mills. To strike these isolated commands was our obvious policy."

Throughout the day on September 10, General Hindman had heard the sound of gunfire to the south as Negley led his division through Davis' Crossroads and up to the mouth of Dug Gap, skirmishing with the Confederate cavalry all the way. He could have had his men on the scene in less than an hour but continued to wait for further orders. After being joined by Buckner, much time was lost in the discussion over who would command. The issue was resolved be deciding upon a joint command. This solution, however, led to each decision becoming the subject of a lengthy debate between the two generals. During the night, Hindman sent a message to Bragg. For some reason, he sent Major James Nocquet, a Frenchman who claimed extensive service with the French army in Europe and a position of General Buckner's staff, but could hardly speak English. The Frenchman explained to Bragg, in broken English, that Hindman had learned that Crittenden was moving with a major Federal army upon his rear. He also felt that the Federal activity in McLemore's Cove was only a feint, and that the major threat would come from McCook's Corps at Alpine. In view of these developments, Hindman felt that Bragg should call off the planned attack. Nocquet gave a somewhat incoherent account of Hindman's concerns, adding that he had "heard that the enemy was moving in a particular direction and [thus] thought it advisable to modify the orders he had received." General Martin, the Confederate cavalry commander was present, and he stated that there was absolutely nothing to Hindman's fears. He assured Bragg that there were no enemy forces threatening Hindman's rear, and the major Federal push was definitely at McLemore's Cove, not Alpine. General Bragg told Nocquet emphatically that he was to go back and tell Hindman to attack in the morning, even if he lost his entire command in doing so.

Bragg then conferred with General Hill concerning Cleburne's progress at Dug Gap. "Orders were also given," Bragg stated, "for Walker's Reserve Corps to move promptly and join Cleburne's division at Dug Gap to unite in the attack. At the same time, Cleburne was directed to remove all obstructions in the road in his front, which was promptly done, and by daylight he was ready to move. The obstructions in Catlett's Gap were also ordered to be removed, to clear the road in Hindman's rear. Breckinridge's division (Hill's corps) was kept in position south of LaFayette, to check any movement the enemy might make in that direction."

"To secure more prompt and decided action in the movement ordered against the enemy's center," Bragg continued, "my headquarters were removed to LaFayette, where I arrived about 11:30 p.m. on the 10th, and Lieutenant-General Polk was ordered forward with his remaining division to Anderson's, so as to cover Hindman's rear during the operations in the cove. At LaFayette, I met Major Nocquet, engineer officer on General Buckner's staff, sent by General Hindman, after a junction of their commands, to confer with me and suggest a change in the plan of operations. After hearing the report of this officer, and obtaining from the active and energetic cavalry commander in front of our position (Brigadier-General Martin) the latest information of the enemy's movements and position, I verbally directed the major to return to General Hindman and say that my plans could not be changed, and that he would carry out his orders. At the same time ... written order were sent by a courier." The written orders instructed Hindman to attack "and force your way through the enemy ... at the earliest hour that you can see him in the morning. Cleburne will attack in front the moment your guns are heard."

Two of General Cleburne's Brigades, Woods' Alabama and Deshler's Texas units, had crawled through, over, or around the trees blocking Dug Gap, and by morning Cleburne had formed up for battle within a half mile of the Federal line. A single ridge separated the opposing forces. Bragg and Hill arrived to join Cleburne at his position and settled down to wait for the sound of gunfire that would signal Hindman's flank attack. "On the morning of the 11th," General Hill later wrote, "Cleburne's division, followed by Walker's, marched to Dug Gap. It was understood that Hindman and Buckner would attack at daylight and these other divisions were to co-operate with them. The attack, however, did not begin at the hour designated."

"At daylight," General Bragg stated, "I proceeded to join Cleburne at Dug Gap, and found him waiting for the opening of Hindman's guns to move on the enemy's flank and rear. Most of the day was spent in this position, waiting in great anxiety for the attack by Hindman's column. Several couriers and two staff officers were dispatched at different times urging him to move with promptness and vigor."

Although it went against his better judgment, General Thomas followed Rosecrans' plan by ordering Negley to move out on the morning of September 10 and march through Dug Gap and on to LaFayette. Thomas did not feel right about this move, however, and ordered General Baird to hurry over the mountain with his division to join Negley. Reynolds' and Brannan's divisions were ordered to follow as rapidly as possible. Thomas then mounted his horse and, before sunup, set out to join Negley at the front. "General Negley's [division] in front of or 1 mile west of Dug Gap," Thomas reported to Rosecrans' headquarters, "which has been heavily obstructed by the enemy and occupied by a strong picket line. General Baird ordered to move up to-night to Negley's support. General Reynolds to move at daylight to support Baird's left, and General Brannan to move at 8 a.m. tomorrow to support Reynolds. Headquarters and General Reynolds' division camped at foot of the mountain; Brannan's division at Easley's."

The morning was already hot and dusty when Negley's Division marched out of Bailey's Crossroads toward Dug Gap on September 10. The marching men and officer's horses raised clouds of dust as they neared Davis' Crossroads. Lieutenant Archibald Blakely's 78th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment led the way, moving so fast that they did not bother to deploy skirmishers in the front. "Personally I do not recollect the events of any particular day more vividly," J. T. Gibson, historian of the 78th Pennsylvania Regiment, later wrote, "than I recollect what occurred on the 10th and 11th of September in McLemore's Cove. The 10th was a beautiful September day and our movements through fields and woodlands, along pleasant ravines, over brooks and ridges, would ordinarily have been very enjoyable, but there seemed to be something oppressive in the atmosphere. Soldiers remarked the anxious looks on the faces of General Thomas and other officers, and, while the officers did not tell the soldiers of their anxiety, there was a kind of language without words, so that the feeling of anxiety was very pervasive."

19th Century View of the Julia Davis House
19th Century View of the Julia Davis House

General Negley, with his mounted staff, rode at the head of the column. They stopped briefly at the John Davis house. "We had halted by the wayside," W.S. Brown, Company A, 18th Ohio Infantry later wrote, "near a Southern mansion, that of Mrs. [Saphronia] Davis, I think. She was at home, but Mr. Davis was not anywhere around. Gen. Negley, with Aids, was sitting on his horse underneath the shade-trees in the door-yard. He evidently was seeking information, and politely asked Mrs. Davis how far it was to LaFayette. She replied with, 'Go and see.' I think the General blushed a little, but the boys who heard the conversation knew at once where we were and what to do. We just helped ourselves to everything good in sight. After our rest and refreshments we were sent forward across the creek to reconnoiter."

The Julia Davis House in 2002
The Julia Davis House in 2002

The advance of the Federal column had gone about two miles down the dusty, cedar-lined road when the unexpected happened. "The enemy's pickets opened fire on us," Colonel Blakely reported. "The division and brigade commanders, with their staffs, wheeled, rushed back on us pell mell, yelling 'into line, Colonel; into line!' Bullets were flying through the cedars thick as flies and dropping all around us." The 78th Pennsylvania Regiment pushed slowly forward, skirmishing every foot of the way. By mid-afternoon the Federal columns broke free of the cedars to the fields of the widow Davis plantation. The soldiers deployed into the fields on either side of the road. From a high knob to the east of the Davis house they could see the gorge leading to Dug Gap about a thousand yards away. Within the gap they could clearly see Confederate infantrymen from Cleburne's division clearing away the felled trees and rocks that had barricaded the position.

"I left my fence corner by daylight next morning [the 11th], Captain Jarnagin wrote, "& rode up the valley, & recognized General Hindman at a cabin in which he slept the night before. We had known each other before that. He informed me that orders had been given to march at sun rise on Davis' X roads, two or three miles up the cove, where Gen. Thomas with 7,000 men was encamped; that his command was then moving, and a big noise would soon be heard; that he and Buckenr were to engage the enemy in the front, and then D. H. Hill, with 2,000 men, would come down out of Pigeon Mountain, by Dug Gap, and make an attack in the rear."

To prepare for the attack, General Patton Anderson formed his division at the Barnes house. Calvin R. Barnes was a 38 year-old farmer from Tennessee, living with his wife, Nancy, and six daughters. Also part of the household was Sam Higgz, a 22 year-old farm laborer from Texas. General A. P. Stewart formed his division further south, near the Frick house. General Buckner may have established his headquarters at the Richard A. Lane house, an imposing structure that was unfinished because the workmen had returned to New York at the start of the war. Lane and his family failed to return after the end of the war.

"At 10 o'clock," Captain Jarnagin stated, "I was at Buckner and Hindman's Hd. Qurs., some distance in advance of Hindman's cabin. Lt. Foster of the Engineers, whom I well knew, rode up, saluted the Generals and said: 'I left Stevens' Gap within the last 30 minutes. It was entirely clear and unobstructed. I learned reliably that 400 wagons had passed through the gap, and were heading towards Alpine, along a narrow road, so shut in by rocks and woods that it would be almost impossible for them to turn around.' Gen. Buckner nodded his head, but said nothing. Just about this time a courier from Gen. Bate, on the left, towards Pigeon Mountain, reported the enemy was pressing, so that he wanted re-inforcments."

It was around 4:00 p.m. when the courier returned with Bragg's message to Buckner and Hindman. "Time is precious," the commanding general stated. "The enemy presses from the north. We must unite or both must retire. The enemy [is] in small force in line of battle in our front, and we only wait for your attack."

Davis Ford - Site of Skirmish West of Davis House
Davis Ford - Site of Skirmish West of Davis House

"On the 10th of September," Private James Fenton, Company K, 19th Illinois Infantry, wrote, "Negley's division reached the open end of the cove and threw up some slight breastworks, V-shaped, with the point toward the gap. Heavy skirmishes were going on both sides [of the road] and at the gap proper ... Our brigade, the 11th Michigan, 18th Ohio, and 19th Illinois, were moved in to a cornfield. I have seen descriptions of it in several letters to the National Tribune. The ears of corn were all above our heads, and although we expected to go into battle the next minute, some of the boys took their muskets by the small of the stock and reached up to touch the tassel with the point of their bayonets. No one had seen such corn before. Right here was a singular incident. A man in our front called out in a loud voice, "Boys, where is General Negley?" And a cavalry man rode out to us from between the rows of corn, dressed in a fine gray uniform, a wide gray hat, and on a splendid horse. It was lucky for him and for us also that we had not seen him before he spoke, or he would have not lived to warn us. He told our officers not to go in any farther until he had notified General Negley that three divisions of Rebel infantry under Hindman, Buckner, and Walker, were marching to get in our rear by a road on our left; these troops were ordered to be at our rear by daylight that morning."

At 10:00 a.m. General Negley reported on his position. "After passing Bailey's Cross-Roads my skirmishers were more or less engaged until we arrived at the gorge leading to Dug Gap, where I halted the command for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the enemy in the gap. [At} 1:30 p.m., I learned from a Union citizen that a large force of the enemy (Buckner's Corps), with cavalry and artillery (then only three miles distant), was approaching toward my left, from the direction of Cattlet's Gap. I immediately sent one regiment in the direction of this force, for the double purpose of a reconnaissance and to compel the enemy to halt, under the impression that I would attack him. At sundown I made a strong demonstration in the direction of Dug Gap, driving the enemy's skirmishers back to his main force and holding the position until I could establish my picket line un-observed. Before dark the strongest position of defense the locality afforded were selected with the intention of bivouacking the troops for the night, with my trains parked close to my rear. From the movements of the enemy, and from information obtained from scouts, I felt confidant the enemy proposed to attack me in the morning with a superior force. I also learned from a prisoner, and from Union civilians, that I was confronted by Hill's Corps of three divisions (twelve brigades), that Buckner's Corps of two divisions (eight brigades), also Forrest's division of cavalry, were three miles to my left, and that Polk's and Breckinridge's commands were in supporting distance. From the occurrence of testimony on this point, there seemed no doubt of the fact. I therefore adopted immediate precautionary measures to guard against surprise. At 9 o'clock in the evening of the 10th Colonels Stanley and Sirwell were ordered to withdraw quietly, at 3 the next morning their entire line of pickets to the west side of the road running along the foot of the ridge occupied by the enemy, and to remain under arms until morning. It was subsequently learned that the enemy intended to surprise my picket line at daybreak, if their positions had not been changed."

General Thomas fully approved of Negley's handling of the situation. In a message to General Rosecrans, he explained why the Federal advance had been halted and his plans to bring up reinforcements the next day. He pointed out that Dug Gap "has been heavily obstructed by the enemy, and which is also occupied by a strong picket line; [Negley] could not discover what force they have supporting their pickets. An officer of the Thirty-second Mississippi who was on picket guard lost his way, came into our pickets and was captured. He was not very communicative, but was generous enough to advise General Negley not to advance or he would get severely whipped. It was also reported to General Negley by citizens that a large force of the enemy were endeavoring to flank his position by moving through Catlett"s Gap. Having no cavalry, he was unable to ascertain whether this report was true or not, but before I reached his headquarters he had already disposed his troops to meet an attack on his left flank. I also ordered General Baird to move to-night with his troops in his support, leaving his wagons to follow him to-morrow under a sufficient guard. General Reynolds will also move at daylight to-morrow to support Baird's left, and Brannan will move at 8 o'clock to-morrow to support Reynolds. Reynolds and Brannan will move by the road from Stevens' to Catlett's Gap ... But one or two divisions of Crittenden's corps, moving on the road from Chattanooga to LaFayette, would very materially aid the advance of my corps. I very much regret not having Wilder's brigade as I believe if I had had it I could have seized Dug and Catlett's Gaps before the enemy could have reached these places. The want of cavalry has prevented me from communicating with General McCook also. I shall move my headquaraters across the mountain to-morrow with the troops."

The Federal commander took Thomas' news very badly. One of his aids drafted an immediate reply. "The general commanding directs me to say," the aid informed Thomas, "that Negley's dispatch forwarded by you ... is received. He is disappointed to learn from it that his forces move to-morrow morning instead of having moved this morning, as they should have done, this delay imperiling both extremes of the army. Your movement on LaFayette should be made with the utmost promptness. You ought not to encumber yourself with your main supply train. A brigade or two will be sufficient to protect it. Your advance ought to have threatened LaFayette yesterday evening."

"It was nearly 11 o'clock," Jarnagin continued, "when the head of Preston's Division was seen coming in column on the road leading to Davis X Roads. A courier from Gen. Bragg arrived just then, and told the Generals that Gen. Bragg wanted them to attack the enemy at once and in full force, unless something had happened to make it unadvisable. They [Hindman and Buckner] said, 'We do not know whether anything has happened or not.' So they halted Preston, and sent a courier back around the eastern end of Pigeon Mountain, to inquire of Bragg the meaning of his order. Then the Generals, and some staff officers, Col. Ruffin and myself, sat down upon a long oak log, & waited."

"So imperfect was the communications with Hindman," General Hill wrote, "That it was noon before he could be heard from. I was then directed to move with the divisions of Cleburne and Walker and make a front attack upon the Yankees. The sharpshooters of Wood's Brigade, under the gallant Major Hawkins, advanced in handsome style, driving in the Yankee pickets and skirmishers, and Cleburne's whole force was advancing on their line of battle when I was halted by an order from General Bragg. The object was, as supposed, to wait until Hindman got in the Yankees' rear.

The action made an impression of Private R. W.Dismore, Company K in the 78th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. "Our Division was in the advance ... " he stated in a letter to his brother. Our Regiment lost one killed and four wounded, one of which died since. Company K lost none. The whole Rebel Army appeared ... against our one division. The balance of our Corps was back and on another route. I saw more Rebels than I did at Stones River Battle. We expected to have a hot time the next morning as the Rebels followed close to our heels."

Throughout much of the night the Confederate high command attempted to coordinate Hindman and Buckner for an early morning attack, as was described in the last section. At Dug Gap, Cleburne Division was ready. "Passed through Dug Gap, Pigeon Mountain," W.E. Matthews, 33rd Alabama Infantry Regiment stated, "in Indian style, one behind the other, crawling under, around, or over tree logs and brush and logs with high walls on each side that we could not see in the dark, but gave the impression that we were in a hole in the ground. Again passing through the forest on a steep hillside, presuming there was a deep cut beneath us just to our right ... we descended into McLemore Cove before day, part of the time under a shell fire, and came through the same gap in daytime. However, the obstructions in the road had been moved.

"We were thrown into line of battle," wrote W. S. Brown, 18th Ohio Infantry, "facing the supposed enemy, where we lay on our arms all night. We afterward learned that the whole of Bragg's army was just the other side of Pigeon Mountain, and that they were busily planning to surround and capture us in the morning. But we were early. We waited patiently, peering through the woods in our front."

General Absalom Baird's Division was also moving throughout the night. "After 3 a.m. on the 11th instant," he wrote, "I moved forward ... At about 8 o'clock I reached General Negley's headquarters at the Widow Davis' house. All then appeared to be quiet, and I soon after started with him to ride around his lines ... Returning from this ride, we were informed that firing had commenced in the front, and we at once rode to the spot. About half a mile beyond (eastward) the Widow Davis' house, beyond the woods and with open fields in front, our line of infantry and artillery was formed, the right resting upon Dug Gap road, supported by skirmishers in a wood upon the other side of the road, extending one-fourth mile farther, as far as Shaw's house. Our main line curved over the ridge to the Chattanooga road, and thence fell back to the left and rear, being for the greater part of its extent in the woods ... In front of our right our line of skirmishers occupied some woods beyond the open ground, about 800 yards from our line of battle. Just as we arrived upon the ground our skirmishers were driven back some 200 yards from the wood and took shelter behind a fence. The enemy had the advantage and his fire was quite sharp, but indicated nothing serious."

"My brigade," General John C. Stockweather, of Baird's Division, wrote, "composed of the 21st Wisc. 24th Ill. Vols. and the 4th Indiana Battery (79th Pa. Vols. being to the rear working mountain road), moved forward from this point at 3 a.m. on 11th inst., together with Col. Scribner's Brigade, to the support of Genl. Negley's Division which was five miles in the advance. I reported to him at 8 a.m. having been obliged to skirmish the whole distance, Col. Scribner's Brigade being in rear of train. Found his troops under arms and ready to move in any direction necessary, stacked arms in an open field and cooked breakfast. Immediately heavy skirmish firing commenced with Genl. Negley's troops that had moved in advance into a reconnoitering position -- sent train to the rear and formed line of battle and was then ordered to move forward and take position occupied by a portion of Genl. Negley's Division which was soon to be retired. After occupying the point designated (Battery being in center, 1st Wis. on the right, 21st Wis. on left in the woods two hundred yards to the rear, 24th Ill. To the rear of and acting as support to the Battery) the pickets and skirmishers to the front were found to be retiring, as ordered, amid heavy firing from the enemy. I therefore moved my skirmishers to the front quickly for their support and for the purpose of taking their position, protecting them in the movement by the artillery. This was accomplished without accident. Skirmishing now commenced in great earnest and continued until 3:30 p.m. when a retrograde movement was commenced and I was ordered to cover the retreat of the troops with my Brigade.

"A brisk fire was now kept up all along the line," Colonel B. F. Scribner later wrote, "the enemy pressing us with much spirit and vigor. My hay fever was now upon me again, to my great discomfort. I wore dark goggles to protect my eyes, and the glare of the light without them was unendurable. My horse disturbed a hornet's nest in front of my line and became unmanageable, and so slashed me about in the underbrush that my glasses were lost. Overwhelmed with a disaster which would have completely disabled me, I called to my men with much earnestness to find them for me, which they soon did, to my great relief. The men tell this incident with great relish, that I 'stopped the fight to find my spectacles.'"

"At eleven o'clock skirmishing commenced," Surgeon S. Marks, 10th Wisconsin Infantry, stated. "I met Surgeon H. W. Boyce, 11th Wisconsin Volunteers, surgeon-in-chief of General Negley's division, and we established the hospital for two divisions at a Mrs. Davis's house, within three-quarters of a mile of our front, and had received some eight or ten wounded, when we discovered that our forces were falling back, and that our batteries were being planted around the house, making it unsafe for hospital purposes. We at once loaded them in ambulances, and went back to the foot of Lookout Mountain, and established our hospitals at a Mr. Stephens's house, where we cared for the wounded as best we could up to the 16th."

The Confederate threat was such that Negley felt his position to be hopeless. Because his forces were on "a long, low ridge, covered with a heavy growth of young timber, descending abruptly on the north end to the Chickamauga, while the east, south, and west sides were skirted by corn fields and commanded by higher ridges, demonstrated the fact that it would be impossible to hold this or any other position south of Bailey's Cross-Roads and fight a battle without involving the certain destruction of the trains ... The preservation of the trains, perhaps the safety of the entire command, demanded that I should retire to Bailey's Cross-Roads, 2 miles northwest of our position ... and that General Baird should hold Widow Davis' Cross-roads until I could withdraw a portion of the Second Division and take position on the north side of Chickamauga Creek."

As the fighting drew closer, Julia Davis put her children in the fruit cellar under the south end of the house. She then returned to the house and got her family Bible. On the porch, she had a word for some of the Federals before going back to the cellar. "As we were falling back with the Confederate army as close after us as it was safe for them to come, we passed a small, but neat little frame house. One of our Batteries was firing at advancing enemy, and one of their guns was firing at us. A shell from the enemy's gun struck the corner of the house, and exploding, tore out the end of the building. A tall, and rather nice looking lady came out with a large Bible under her arm, and said to the boys in blue: 'I hope, gentlemen, you will be highly entertained today, and I am glad to say the prospect for it is exceedingly bright,' and she hurried on toward a place of safety."

"There was a field to our left," W. S. Brown, 18th Ohio Infantry, stated, "with thick underbrush in the woods beyond. Our skirmishers were thrown some distance forward along the fence on the opposite side of the field. Suddenly a long line of skirmishers appeared, closely followed by a line-of-battle. Our boys gave them a warm reception, but when they had to fall back across the field, they had to run some distance exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy. We were ordered to move out, as the rebs were closing in on us from three sides. The general had ordered a new line of battle on the rise of ground just north of Chickamauga, and it ran right through the [John] Davis yard. There was a stone wall on the roadside just north of the creek, and the 19th Ill. Was lying behind it, for the rebel cavalry could be seen preparing for a charge. They did not see the trap, so on they came with a yell. Just as they got opposite the stone wall the 19th boys sprang up, as by magic, and one long sheet of flame leaped from their Springfields. There was a seething mass for a moment, and then a hasty retreat. It was one of the best things the 19th boys ever did."

"Our men were holding their fire," Private Fenton continued, "until the Rebels got nearer, when a Rebel officer on horseback dashed ahead of his line in pursuit of two Yankees who had been left on the firing line and with his revolver pointed, said 'Surrender, you Yankee _____ __ _______!' They were the last words he ever said, as horse and rider went to the ground. Both platoons gave them a volley, and they quit yelling and fell back from our front."

"I slowly withdrew my command," General Starkweather stated, "a distance of five hundred yards to the north and south cross road (maintaining the while with my skirmishers the same relative position) and reformed line of battle. Troops of Genl. Negley had in the meantime crossed the west Chickamauga Creek, and formed a second line of battle. After Col. Scribner's Brigade had also withdrawn I again retired by the right of companies to the rear, having sent my battery first across the creek. My skirmishers were then being heavily pressed, but as stubbornly resisted and kept the enemy in check until the infantry had crossed the creek and reformed line of battle. Skirmishers quickly followed, and formed in favorable and protected positions. At this juncture the enemy were moving rapidly on us with heavy skirmishing lines, supported by two lines of battle cheering as they advanced. I again quickly retired to top of [a] small hill where I found my Battery in position, four guns being on the road and two guns to the extreme right, supported by Col. Stanley's Brigade, when I again formed line of battle in support of Battery and opened fire with the same with shell and cannister; the enemy being received at the same time with a tremendous fire from my skirmishers (as also the skirmishers of Col. Stanley) were immediately checked with heavy loss.

"Meanwhile, our line was forming hastily for the next onset," W. S. Brown, 18th Ohio Infantry, stated. "While we are moving left in front to the support of our battery, just west of the house, the rebs coming from the west ran up a battery and commenced shelling us with bad effect. As soon as we got to our place in the line we lay down, as the storm had turned to grape and canister. It got too hot for our battery boys, and they left their guns for a time, resuming the fight whenever there was a lull in the storm."

It was after 4 p.m., with little daylight left, when a courier from General Bragg reached the Confederate right where General Hindman had placed the divisions of Generals Anderson, Stewart, and Preston that had been ready to attack all afternoon. "The attack which was ordered at daybreak," Bragg's brief message stated, "must be made at once or it will be too late." Finally, with dusk fast approaching, Hindman ordered his men to attack.

Anderson's division, followed by Stewart, arrived in time to be shelled by one of Negley's batteries, but were too late to engage the retreating Federal infantry. With darkness coming on, Hindman ordered Anderson to stop the attack. "An hour before sundown," General Hill reported, "I was ordered once more to advance, but the Yankees now rapidly retired. Their rear was gallant attacked by a company of our cavalry, but made a stand on the other side of Chickamauga Creek, under cover of a battery of artillery. Semple'' magnificent battery was ordered up, and in a short time silenced the Yankee fire with heavy loss, and the Yankee rout was complete."

"The bluff in front of Company A was soon covered with Rebel troops and a battery was planted there that shelled our reserve infilading fire, drove the 18th Ohio out of their works in disorder, and the whole line was ordered to fall back. Company A was in a perilous position, but managed to fall back from the willows with some loss. Negley's division moved back to the foot of the mountain and threw up temporary works. The enemy did not follow. Why, we never knew. They had sprung their trap and it did not work." (30)

Captain Jarnagin was with Buckner when Hindman made his abortive attack at the end of the day. Preston's [Anderson's] div. went forward," he later wrote, "the woods were shelled; and soon it was discovered that Thomas, with all of his wagons had gone safely through Stevens' Gap; and that his artillery was shelling the Cove. Missiles fell in the camp ground where Thomas stayed the night before. Some of our men ran out of the little houses, one of whom sat behind a tree and examined his New Testament. Before reaching the crossroads I had met Capt. Isaac Shelby, of Buckner's staff, who said a great blunder has been made, which will carry a great responsibility. So I thought. I had ridden toward Dug Gap a short distance from the crossroads, when I came upon Genl. Bragg & D. H. Hill As Gen. Buckner approached, Gen. Bragg sternly demanded of him -- 'Gen. Buckner, where are the enemy?' He replied 'They have escaped through Stevens' Gap.' It was then almost dark. If Thomas had been captured, the blood of 20,000 men would not have been shed at Chickamauga.

The Federal soldiers constructed breastworks and dug rifle pits along a low ridge in front of the Rogers' farm at Bailey's Crossroads. They expected another Confederate attack, but none came. The remaining two divisions of the 14th Army Corps joined them there with General Thomas, and the command remained in the area for a few days. A number of reconnaissance patrols found that the gaps in Pigeon Mountain were still guarded by Confederate infantry from Cleburne's Division.

On September 12, the 87th Indiana Infantry Regiment came over Lookout Mountain. "We crossed the mountain," Peter Keegan, a member of the unit wrote in his diary, "which is two miles wide, and descended and went into camp mile from the base. Water is plentiful where we are camped. At 2 p.m. we moved to the front without baggage, 3 miles close to Bluebird Gap, or Dug Gap, where Gen. Negley had a fight with the rebs. 4 of Negley's men lay dead there unburied. We buried them. He being obliged to fall back to protect his train which he did. The rebel cav. tried to flank him & destroy his train. His entire loss I did not learn. We returned to camp at 8 a.m. The road was very dusty. We marched during the day 15 miles or more. The land on Lookout is tolerable good. The timber is heavy and of good quality. There are some fine farms under cultivation. I should think it would be a good place for fruit, also Irish potatoes. The soil is of a stiff nature, yet alluvial enough for good cultivation."

The Federals received information that there was a Confederate force gathering around the small mill that Dr. John Lee owned on a branch of West Chickamauga Creek. "On Wednesday September 15th Van Derveer's brigade moved to a position in front of Lee's Mill and nearer Chickamauga Creek," Jeremiah Donahower, 2nd Minnesota Infantry, wrote, "where the enemy could see our camp fires, and as a battle was imminent, the regimental camps were located with a view to quick formation into lines of battle."

On September 16," Donahower continued, "I was sent to establish a line of pickets at skirmishers distance of five paces between them, and to cover the front of the brigade, with company E and a detail of fifty men from the other nine companies, with instructions to make the reserve post at Major [John] Davis' house which stood near the road leading to the creek. I learned from Mrs. Davis that her husband the Major, on learning of the approach of Negley's troops, had prudently removed his most valuable personal property from the large farm and across the creek and under the protecting folds of the Stars and Bars, where his numerous slaves would be beyond the reach of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation, which was natural, and a consistent thing to do by a man who believed in the system of involuntary servitude, but I could not reconcile his precautions with his lack of care for the safety and welfare of his wife, an intelligent and handsome woman, and his three very pretty and interesting children, girls, and one old Mammy, a negress about seventy years of age, whom he left in the house and to the care of the despised Yankee soldiers."

Donahower had a lengthy talk with Saphronia Davis that day. "Mrs. Davis, in answer to my rap on her door," he wrote, "opened it, and I informed her that we would occupy her front porch, and that no one would intrude, and that she was quite safe from harm so far as we were concerned, and when bed time came to fear no evil, and at the same time I advised her to go into the cellar if the Confederates began shooting at us, and there she and her sweet little girls would be out of harms way. Mrs. Davis was a lady and a very frank one, and from what she told me I felt sure she lived in fear of evil to her children and herself, that fear based on the stories told her by the major himself of the barbarity of the yankee and of his cruelty and horrible treatment of Southern women so unfortunate as to fall into his hands, and after she had told me the stories, she looked into my face and in her face I read her faith in her husband's love, and especially faith in his veracity, and that face seemed to say to me -- there, now I have told you all -- but it did not say to me -- now murder me if you will."

"But she was a lady," he continued, "and as I stood humbly before her with my cap in hand, beneath it all I saw she was not afraid of us and had not uttered one word of fear or contempt for the Union soldier other than the stories told her by her husband of others cruelties. Mrs. Davis talked about President Lincoln, about the emancipation of the slaves, and in somewhat pathetic vein on the probable confiscation of their large tract of land, and I felt that she was in distress over the possible loss of the latter, and I pitied her, and said, 'Madam, President Lincoln is a kind and a tender hearted man, be comforted, he is not the rude and boorish man your newspapers pictured him, but a big brained and wise man, with a noble soul in his awkward body, and he will not take your land from you, but he will punish the South by subduing it, and will give, nay, has given, freedom to the slaves, and your thirty five or more slaves will soon be thanking God for Abraham Lincoln.' I again said to Mrs. Davis, 'Your husband certainly does love you and your children, and that being so, had he believed the stories he told you, he would assuredly have taken you across the river first, and after seeing you safely there, then have returned for his slaves, and if these three little girls were mine, I would let all the slaves in our country go free and hold on to my children.' Mrs. Davis did shed a few tears, but was greatly comforted with the hope held out to her that her 1,600 or 1,800 acres of land would not be taken from her."

"During the night," he concluded, "two of my detail in violation of orders went to the front to dig a few potatoes in a field in a bend in the creek and were made prisoners of war, one of the two dying while a prisoner. On the morning of the 16th, I had questioned Mrs. Davis as to her treatment by the men of Negley's and Baird's divisions, and her reply was that personally she had been treated with respect, but that the soldiers there two days before our arrival had gone into the cellar and had taken away all of her food -- everything that could be eaten. Later I rode over to Genl. Brannan's division headquarters and made Mrs. Davis' cause known and he promised to send her some coffee and other supplies from his own stores. The very same men guilty of taking Mrs. Davis' potatoes, jam, hams &c., would, in the home of the poor and the hungry, empty their own haversacks of coffee, crackers and bacon and freely give it, and the sick and the wounded never appealed to them in vain. The night of the 16th passed with no demonstration by the enemy, but Van Derveer's brigade was in line in readiness for attack."

"We could see the Rebs signal Corps on a hill close to us for two days," R. W. Dinsmore wrote in a letter to his brother on September 16. "We have since received reinforcements. The 21st Corps [actually General McCook's 20th Corps] came over the mountain today. I have just now received orders to have my company ready to move with two days rations at 3 o'clock in the morning. The whole division is to move at that time. We expect to have a rough time."

"On the 17th troops," Jeremiah Donahower stated, "probably the advance division of Genl. McCook's Corps, which had been ordered to march from Alpine ... McCook began his march from Alpine on the night of September 13, crossing the mountain at Winston Gap and descending through Stevens' Gap. Up to this time Rosecrans had acted on the offensive, but on the arrival of McCook in McLemore Cove on the 17th he changed his attitude to one of defense. More or less minor conflicts had occurred, and Bragg's change from threatening attack on Thomas and McCoook to concentrating against Crittenden's Corps, and the knowledge that he was receiving reinforcements from Virginia revealed Bragg's strategy, and let General Rosecrans to make the change and look after the safety of his left and of the roads that led to Chattanooga."

General Thomas moved his men further north as McCook's men arrived, and established headquarters for the 14th Army Corps at Pond Springs. The Confederate infantry in the gaps on Pigeon Mountain also moved out, being replaced by General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry. "On Thursday evening, 17th instant," Colonel Thomas J. Harriison, 39th Indiana Mounted Infantry Regiment, reported, "I was ordered with my regiment to Bailey's Cross-Roads, in McLemore's Cove, which is opposite and 2 miles from Dug Gap and 3 miles from Blue Bird Gap. Those gaps were occupied at the time by a strong force of the enemy. About 3 p.m. my regiment was attacked by a brigade of rebel cavalry at Davis' Ford, on Chickamauga Creek. The fight lasted two hours. The field was left in our possession ... On the next day, we skirmished at the Widow Davis' Cross-roads, retaining the ground without loss."

Following the Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns, the main war moved further south. Nevertheless, there was still considerable hostility and hardship in the local area. On March 6, 1864, Mary Davis, the daughter of Julia Anne, started a letter to her aunt, Susan Davis who lived at Dahlonega, Georgia. "We are getting along as well as we could under existing circumstances," Mary stated. "Have plenty of Yankees in this cove yet, and we have got rid of some of our tory neighbors. The Yankees took some of them to Chattanooga to give an account of their behavior, and it is said they are after the others, but it is most too good to be true. They paid us a visit last week and took a few bushels of corn and we had a good quarrel, and I told them good about their behavior. They were riding Mr. Patton's horses -- two of them. O, how I wanted to kill some of them. Times are pretty hot in this quarter; it is reported that they had a fight about ten miles below here yesterday, and we whipped them pretty badly, and captured a good many prisoners, and I wish it had been the last one of them."

"Mary commenced writing," Julia Anne continued the letter, "but I will finish. I received two letters from you a few days ago. One was wrote last fall. You said something about the money you owed me. I have no use for money, so don't trouble yourself about it. I can't use what I have. We have troublesome times in here. The Yankees is still gathering men, and carrying them to Chattanooga. Some come back, while others go north. Mr. Beard has just got back. They kept him two weeks. They carried Lem McQuirter by here with five males and one horse, and several other men I did not know. What few men there is in here live in perfect dread. Mr. Whitlow slips in every once in awhile. Saphronia thinks John had better not come in here until after this fight is over. They commenced fighting at Strudsles Shop and run them some way to Crawfish Spring, others to Worthen's Gap. I look for hot times in here again. I am much obliged to you for your invitation, but I think we had better stay in here as long as we can. We have some Yankee friends. We can buy parched coffee at 40 cents a pound, bacon 12 cents, but we haven't bought any bacon. We have gardened and planted potatoes. We can't keep a horse that is able to work. If Johnson don't whip this fight we are ruined in this country. Miz Howell is keeping school for us. Miz Johnson has a good school in LaFayette, and Saphronia wants John to bring Georgia Anna home to go to school when he comes. They have taken some of the men that [had] taken the non-combatant oath, and made then take the oath of allegiance. We are all getting along very well, and I think John had better not come in here until after he sees a little further, for he can't do us any good. You must excuse this writing for I have not time to write as Whitlow is a'going out. Write often. Give my love to all, and accept a large portion for yourself. -- Julia."

The Davis Cemetery in 1986 (thanks to Vera Coulter)
The Davis Cemetery in 1986 (thanks to Vera Coulter)

The Davis Cemetery in 2002
The Davis Cemetery in 2002

After the war John and Saphronia Davis continued to manage their farm on West Chickamauga Creek. Similarly, Julia Davis and her children maintained the old Martin Davis farm. Eventually, many of them joined Martin in the cemetery at the orchard. A descendant wrote the following description. "This spring, 1972, I visited the old home place of Martin and Julia Anna at Davis' Cross Roads. Now it is Kensinton, Georgia. Here on their farm is the Davis family cemetery. In an enclosure of a wrought iron fence, surrounded by a rock wall you will find the following graves: Bessie Perry Davis, born Dec. 27, 1883 died June 13, 1884; Parks Hall Davis, born Dec. 9, 1870 died Sept 12, 1871; Martin Luther Davis, born Beb. 8, 1879 died Dec. 8, 1879. All three children were the children of John and Ruth Hall Davis. Martin Davis, born Aug. 27, 1809 died Nov. 11, 1859; Julia Anna Davis, born June 5, 1823, died Sept. 28, 1882; Martin Davis Jr., born Sept. 23, 1856 died Nov. 14, 1871. They have a small marker at each grave, and a large monument about twelve feet high with all of Martin Sr. family. It has four sides shaped something like a pyramid. They call this place McLemore Cove, and it is a beautiful site for a cemetery, tho, it needs a lot of work done on it. Trees of cedar and oak etc. have grown up amongst the graves."

During the course of the present study, local informants explained that the space between the wrought iron fence and the stone wall at the cemetery contains un-marked graves of the Davis slaves. The need for "a lot of work done on it" that Mattie Davis noted in 1972 is much more apparent today. The trees of cedar and oak that she found growing among the graves are much bigger today. Smaller shrubs and brush fill in the spaces between the trees to the point that the cemetery wall cannot be seen from a few feet away. An old road trace was noted on the west side of the cemetery.

References: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
Archive and files, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Raymond Evans, The Civil War in Walker County

Significant Views: There is a good view of the site at the intersection of Highway 193 and Cove Road.

Setting: The site is in a highly a rural setting. There are, however, rumors of additional clear cutting that would seriously impact of the visual nature of the area.

Documented Structures, Sites and Features: The Julia Davis House is still occupied and in good condition.

Presumed Wartime Features: There was a significant battle on this site on September 10 and 11, 1863. There could be numerous Confederate and Federal campsites and other features in the area.

Original Terrain: The general terrain in the vicinity of this site still retains much of its wartime condition.

Related Sites: Widow Bailey's Crossroads, and Federal Earthworks.


Please visit our website at