Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Sam Davis Capture Site

Marker ID:  
Location: less than .1 miles west of Minor Hill Highway (Tennessee 11) and accessible from Tennessee 11 by turning on Monument Drive, Minor Hill, TN
County: Giles
Coordinates: N 35° 2.336    W 087° 10.409
  35.03893333    -87.17348333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


On Nov 20, 1863, scout Sam Davis stopped here while carrying dispatches to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. According to local tradition, he was asleep under a plum tree when two members of the 7th Kansas Cavalry, disguised as Confederates, arrested and searched him. They found newspapers, maps, detailed descriptions of Federal fortifications, and other suspicious items in his boot and saddle seat. Taken to Union headquarters in Pulaski and charged with spying, Davis was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death within a week. Union Gen. Grenville M. Dodge promised Davis a pardon if he would reveal either the source of the papers or the location of the chief of Bragg’s scouts, Capt. E. Coleman (actually Capt. Henry B. Shaw, who was in jail with Davis at that time). Davis refused, saying, “If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all rather than betray a friend or the confidence of my informer.” He was hanged Friday morning, November 27.

Confederate veteran James C. Braley and his wife, Sarah, lived near the capture site. Mrs. Braley kept a hand-drawn map that showed the Lamb’s Ferry Road and an old plum stump. After the land was sold, the new owner dug up the stump, but Mrs. Braley had no trouble locating the spot. Civic leader William C. Vaughan and the citizens of Minor Hill raised $250, matched by the state government, for a permanent monument on the site. Approximately 2,500 persons attended dedication ceremonies on July 22, 1926. Governor Austin Peay appealed to the young people to be loyal to their country and true to their friends, and Mrs. Braley pulled the cord to release the drapery covering the monument.

Tennessee Civil War Trails.