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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Davis, Jefferson (in Wisconsin)


after graduating from West Point in 1828, Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy, was assigned to the 1st Infantry and stationed at Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien. His first assignment, in 1829, was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red Cedar River, a tributary of the Chippewa River in northwestern Wisconsin, for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago, at Portage. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill on another Chippewa River tributary, the Yellow River, in 1831, he contracted pneumonia and returned to Fort Crawford. In 1832 Davis was dispatched to Galena, Illinois, at the head of a detachment assigned to remove miners from lands claimed by Native Americans. His first combat assignment was during the Black Hawk War of the same year, though there is no evidence that Davis actually fought in any of the engagements of the Black Hawk War. At the end of the war he was assigned to escort Black Hawk himself to prison at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, a journey described in Black Hawk's autobiography. In 1833, Davis was promoted to First Lieutenant and in 1834 was transferred to Fort Gibson, in Oklahoma. While in Wisconsin he fell in love with the teenage daughter of his commander, Col. Zachary Taylor, and in 1835 he resigned his commission in order to marry her. View more information elsewhere at

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the†Jefferson Davis†Miscellany for details.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: Biographical Guide to the U.S. Congress; Wikipedia; The Papers of Jefferson Davis at Rice University (]
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