Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/97

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The Real Jefferson Davis.

and namesake, Mrs. Anderson, to-day recalls the delight of her life at the "Poplars."

It was with this sister, "Polly," that the 5-vear-old Jefferson first went to school, at a loghouse half a mile away. Two years later, when not 7 years old (in 1815) he was sent on a ride through virgin forests of nearly 900 miles, to attend the St. Thomas Academy at Washington County, Ky. In three years more he was at Jefferson College, Adams County, Miss., and in 1821, when but 13 years old, was sent to Transylvania College, Lexington, Ky. He was an earnest and intelligent pupil,. but gave little promise of the brilliance, acumen and erudition that illustrated his later career.

After their father's death, his brother, Joseph Davis, became the real head of the family, and it was he who gave special attention to the rearing of the youngest boy, and who directed his education. And by that time, Joseph Emory Davis had become a power in the law and politics of his section. So in 1824, he obtained, through Congressman Rankin, a West Point cadet-ship for his 16-year old brother.

At the Academy the youth was esteemed as a careful, studious and dignified cadet, rather than an ambitious and dashing one; yet he missed no branch of useful acquirement, and came out a fine rider, swordsman and tactician, as well as a courteous and dignified officer. He graduated twenty-fifth in a class of thirty-three, going into the brevet lieutenancy in the Twenty-first Infantry, then, under Colonel Zachary Taylor, afterwards General and President.

This was in 1828. and before his majority. At the Point his intimates were Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Prof. Alex. Dallas Bache, Albert Sydney Johnston and others, with whom he held lifelong friendships, or—in rare cases—undying enmities.

Lieutenant Davis served with credit at Fort Crawford, in what is now Illinois; then at the lead mines near Galena, and at Fort Winnebago, in Wisconsin. He made his first campaign against the Indians in the closing of the Black Hawk war in 1831-33.

Then, when service needs created more cavalry, the First Dragoons was organized, and its Adjutant was Jefferson Davis, now