In November 1863, while carrying intelligence on Union troop movements, Sam was captured near the Alabama border and jailed in Pulaski, Tennessee.
Interrogated by General Grenville Dodge and others, he was told that if information were not forthcoming, the Federals would hang him as a spy. Sam refused to cooperate, claiming he was a scout and a courier, not a spy. He was swiftly tried and hanged on November 27, 1863. His stoic and calm behavior made an impression on all that witnessed his death.
Originally buried in Pulaski, Sam Davis' body was brought to Smyrna to be buried in the family graveyard across Stewarts Creek. Eventually, at the insistence of his mother, Sam's grave was moved to its current location.
In the 1890s, a fund-raising drive began to place a statue in Sam's memory at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. Veterans and their widows from across the nation contributed over $7,000 for the statue. The statue was dedicated in the spring of 1909 with great fanfare. Another statue of Sam was also placed in the public square in Pulaski by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
"If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all rather than betray a friend." — Sam Davis, November 1863
Giles County Courthouse on the day of the hanging.
Oscar Davis Sr. (far right) and family in cemetery, ca. 1925.
Unveiling of statue in Pulaski.
Pulaski monument to Sam Davis.
Unveiling of statue in Nashville.
Nashville monument to Sam Davis.