Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/46

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

Miss Varina Howell, a daughter of William B. Howell, of Natchez, Miss. She still survives. On his farm he pursued a course of close study, preparing himself for a public life. In 1843 he entered politics in an exciting gubernatorial campaign, and acquired reputation as a popular speaker. In 1844 he was an elector for Polk and Dallas, and in 1845 was sent to Congress, taking his seat in December of that year. The Tariff, the Oregon question, the Annexation of Texas were live issues, and he took an active part at once in their discussion, giving especial attention to the preparations for war with Mexico. In a speech on the Oregon question, February 6, 1846, he spoke of the "love of the Union in our hearts;" and, referring to the battles of the Revolution, said: "They form a monument to the common glory of our common country." He advocated converting certain forts into schools of instruction for the military of the States. War having begun with Mexico, he determined to re├źnter military life, and promptly resigned from Congress in June, 1846, and accepted the position of colonel of the First Mississippi Volunteer Rifles, to which he had been unanimously elected. He joined his regiment at New Orleans, and proceeded with it to the Rio Grande to re├źnforce the army under Gen. Taylor. On September 21, 1846, he led his disciplined command in the battle of Monterey, and won a brilliant victory in the assault, without bayonets, on Fort Teneria, advancing through the streets nearly to the Grand Plaza through a storm of shot and shell, and served later on the commission for the surrender of the place. At Buena Vista his command was charged by a Mexican brigade of lancers, greatly its superior in numbers, in full gallop, in a desperate effort to break the American lines, but Colonel Davis formed his men in the shape of the letter V, the flanks resting in the ravines, exposing the enemy to a converging fire, utterly routing them. During the day he charged up and broke the Mexican lines on their right, and was seriously wounded, remaining on the field, however, until the victory was won. Later he was complimented for coolness and gallantry under fire, by General Taylor in a special dispatch. On the expiration of its term of enlistment, his regiment was ordered home. Colonel Davis was then appointed brigadier general by President Polk, but he declined the commission, on the ground that a militia appointment by the Federal Executive was not constitutional. In August, 1847, he was appointed