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Object Record

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Object Name Painting
Title Sam Davis
Catalog Number 0985.11.00131
Date 1907
Description Oil on canvas portrait painting of the subject shown in a facial profile with the body in a three-quarter pose shown from the waist up.
Material paint (oil); textile (canvas); wood
Dimensions H-23.75 W-20 inches
Owner Regiment "Coleman's Scouts"
Made M. A. Hodge
Provenance The portrait is of Sam Davis, the "boy hero" of the Confederacy. Painted by M. A. Hodge in 1907. Davis, a resident of Smyrna, Tennessee, was one of Capt. Henry Shaw's scouts; Shaw was using the alias of E. C. Coleman. Coleman's Scouts were infamous to the Federals for spying activities. General Bragg had given Shaw orders to discover Union General Dodge's position in Tennessee in November 1863. Dodge's own spies captured Sam Davis about fifteen miles south of Pulaski, Tennessee; the twenty-one year old carried a pass signed by "E. Coleman." They took him to Dodge's headquarters in Pulaski and found sewn into his saddle and cavalry boots incriminating evidence about Federal positions and regimental strength, which would have been extremely helpful to Bragg. General Dodge attempted numerous times to entice Davis to give up Coleman/Shaw with offers of his own freedom. Davis repeatedly refused, even though the Union had Shaw in captivity as well, unbeknownst to them that he was "Coleman." Shaw was dressed in seedy looking clothes, passing himself as a former Confederate surgeon. Eventually Dodge had to turn Davis over to a courts-martial board where he was tried and convicted on November 24, 1863 to hang for spying on November 27, 1863 (the day after Thanksgiving). Even though Dodge still repeatedly offered to commute the death sentence if Davis provided information on "Coleman," Davis refused, including on the morning of the execution, standing on the scaffold. Davis was hanged, and Shaw was eventually released. After the war, Dodge donated $10 to a fund, raising money to build a memorial to Sam Davis in Nashville, Tennessee.
People Davis, Sam
Subjects Teenagers
Portrait paintings