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PART I.

OUTLINE OF THE

LIFE AND CHARACTER

OF

PRESIDENT JEFFERSON DAVIS.

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HE following brief autobiography of Mr. Davis appeared in the January, 1890, number of Belford's

Magazine, and was dated “Beauvoir, Miss., November, 1889,” having been written but a short time before his lamented death. The publishers state that it “was dictated by Mr. Davis as he lay sick in bed one morning at Beauvoir a few weeks before his death, and was taken down in shorthand by a Northern guest, whose manuscript was revised by the old statesman before it was mailed to the Belford Company, who had solicited it for a biographical cyclopædia they had undertaken."

"I was born June 3, 1808, in Christian county, Ky., in that part of it which, by a subsequent division, is now Todd county. At this place has since arisen the village of Fairview, and on the exact spot where I was born has been constructed the Baptist church of the place. My father, Samuel Davis, was a native of Georgia, and served in the war of the revolution, first in the 'mounted gunmen,' and afterward as captain of infantry at the siege of Savannah. During my infancy my father removed to Wilkinson county, Miss. After passing through the county academy I entered Transylvania college, Kentucky, and was advanced as far as the senior class when, at the age of 16, I was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, which I entered in September, 1824. I graduated in 1828, and then, in accordance with the custom of cadets,

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entered active service with the rank of lieutenant, serving as an officer of infantry on the northwest frontier until 1833, when, a regiment of dragoons having been created, I was transferred to it. After a successful campaign against the Indians, I resigned from the army, in 1835, being anxious to fulfill a longexisting engagement with a daughter of Col. Zachary Taylor, whom I married, not after a romantic elopement,' as has so often been stated, but at the house of her aunt, and in the presence of many of her relatives, at a place near Louisville, Ky. Then I became a cotton planter in Warren county, Miss. It was my misfortune, early in my married life, to lose my wife; and for many years thereafter I lived in great seclusion on the plantation in the swamps of the Mississippi. In 1843 I for the first time took part in the political life of the country. Next year I was chosen one of the presidential electors at large of the State, and in the succeeding year was elected to Congress, taking my seat in the House of Representatives in December, 1845. The proposition to terminate the joint occupancy of Oregon and the reformation of the tariff were the two questions arousing most public attention at that time, and I took an active part in their discussion, especially in that of the first.

“During this period, hostilities with Mexico commenced, and in the legislation which the contest rendered necessary my military education enabled me to take a somewhat prominent part.

“In June, 1846, a regiment of Mississippi volunteers was organized at Vicksburg, of which I was elected colonel. On receiving notice of the election, I proceeded to overtake the regiment, which was already on its way to Mexico, and joined it at New Orleans. Reporting to General Taylor, then commanding at Camargo, my regiment, although the last to arrive having been detained for some time on duty at the mouth of the Rio Grande-was selected to move with the

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advance upon the city of Monterey. The want of transportation prevented General Taylor from taking the whole body of volunteers who had reported there for duty. The Mississippi regiment was armed entirely with percussion rifles. And here

be interesting to state that General Scott, in Washington, endeavored to persuade me not to take more rifles than enough for four companies, and objected particularly to percussion arms, as not having been sufficiently tested for the uso of troops in the field. Knowing that the Mississippians would have no confidence in the old flint-lock muskets, I insisted on their being armed with the kind of rifle then recently made at New Haven, Conn.—the Whitney rifle. From having been first used by the Mississippians these rifles have always been known as the ‘Mississippi’ rifles.

“In the attack on Monterey General Taylor divided his force, sending one part of it by a circuitous road to attack the city from the west, while he decided to lead in person the attack on the east. The Mississippi regiment advanced to the relief of a force which had attacked Fort Lenaria, but had been repulsed before the Mississippians arrived. They carried the redoubt, and the fort which was in the rear of it surrendered. The next day our force on the west side carried successfully tho height on which stood the bishop's palace, which commanded the city. :

“On the third day the Mississippians advanced from the fort which they held, through lanes and gardens, skirmishing and driving the enemy before them until they reached a two-story house at the corner of the Grand Plaza. Here they were joined by a regiment of Texans, and from the windows of this house they opened fire on the artillery and such other troops as were in view. But, to get a better position for firing on the principal buildings of the Grand Plaza, it was necessary to cross the street, which was swept by canister and grape, rattling on the pavement like hail, and, as the street was very narrow, it was

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