Sam Davis is known as the “Boy Hero of the Confederacy.”
He was born in Rutherford County, and went to military school in Nashville. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted with the Confederacy, eventually becoming a “scout,” or a spy, for the army.
On November 20, 1863, Davis was captured by the Union Army in Giles County while he was carrying information about troop movements. Union General Grenville Dodge offered Davis his freedom if he would tell him where he had gotten the papers he was carrying. Davis refused, and he was courts-martialed (which means he was tried in a military court).
Davis was found guilty of spying and subject to be killed by hanging. Before he was executed, General Dodge again offered to spare his life if he would reveal his compatriots. “I would rather die a thousand deaths before I betray a friend,” was Davis’s response.
Today there is a statue of Sam Davis on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol, and a monument to him next to the Giles County Courthouse. His childhood home has also been preserved and is used for educational programs.