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Sam Davis, Boy Spy of the Confederacy


By exploits alone (leaving aside issues of personal heroism), Sam Davis probably does not warrant a separate listing in a bibliography of intelligence-related materials. He was only one among several of the members of the Confederate reconnaissance unit known as Coleman's Scouts, and his best known mission ended so disasterously that it cost him his life. Nevertheless, one of the positive attributes of this bibliographic effort is the freedom available to the compiler to indulge himself occasionally. This may be one such instance.

As I noted in a post to a Civil War newsgroup on 18 October 1997: "As someone who played on the grounds of the Sam Davis home as a youth ... and grew up well-versed in the 'legend' of Sam Davis, I was perhaps fortunate that those around me dwelt less on the southernness of that young man's story and more on its humanness.

"Later in life, I have found it mildly interesting that the two great spy stories of my childhood ([Nathan] Hale and Davis) both concern individuals who failed in their primary endeavor and yet found lasting redemption through their strength of character and dedication to duty. Stories that pass along such qualities, even when those stories begin to take on a patina of myth, are few enough that I am happy to see the legend of Sam Davis live on."

In addition to the items below, at least one novel on Sam Davis' life has been written: Adelaide Rowell, On Jordan's Stormy Banks (Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1948).

Bakeless, John. "Three Who Chose Death: Part 1. The Sam Davis Tragedy." Chap. in Spies of the Confederacy. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970.

Blanton, Margaret G. "Moment of Truth." Civil War Times Illustrated 6, no. 6 (1967): 20-23.

Petersen: "Espionage by members of Coleman's scouts."

Braly, Mary G. "If I Had a Thousand Lives...." Tennessee History Magazine 1 (Jul. 1931): 261-269. [http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/RefBibs/intell/civwar.htm]

Cunningham, S.A. "Sam Davis." Confederate Veteran 7 (Dec. 1899): 538-542. [http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/RefBibs/intell/civwar.htm]

Frantz, Mabel G. Full Many a Name: The Story of Sam Davis, Scout and Spy, CSA. Jackson, TN: McCowat-Mercer, 1961.

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