Captain James Willing’s Mississippi Raid, Part 2

Bernardo_de_Gálvez (Wikimedia Commons(
Bernardo De Galvez, Governor of Louisiana (Wikimedia Commons)

Willing’s next target was the town of Manchack upon which he descended “so rapidly that they reached the Settlements without being discovered.”[1]  On the 23rd, Willing’s advance parties captured the 250-ton British sloop Rebecca, with sixteen 4-pounders and six swivels.[2]  It was a coup worthy of Navy SEALS.  Rebecca was normally a merchant vessel, but had been armed and sent upriver to contest the Rattletrap’s advance by protecting Manchack.  Instead, her presence had strengthened Willing’s force.  Captured while lying against the levy opposite the town, she only had fifteen men aboard when an equal or superior force of Americans struck about 7 am.[3]  With Manchack captured and the Rebecca renamed the Morris, Willing turned his attention to the end game at New Orleans, where he hoped to dispose of his booty and obtain supplies useful for the American war effort.

At New Orleans, the Congressional Agent, Oliver Pollock, was aware of Rattletrap’s advance and began making preparations to dispose of the property Willing and his raiders had taken, a growing portion of which constituted slaves.  He organized a small force under his nephew, Thomas Pollock, to go up river and help Willing bring his vessels and cargo into port.  Instead, Pollock and his men proceeded down the river, where they captured an English brig, the Neptune, eventually bringing her into New Orleans as a prize.[4]  (The British would argue strenuously that Neptune and a private boat were not in fact legal prizes.)

Continue reading “Captain James Willing’s Mississippi Raid, Part 2”

Captain James Willing’s Mississippi Raid, Part 1


Willing's Mississippi Raid
Willing’s Marine Expedition, The Marines in the Revolution: A Pictorial History, (Washington, DC: United States Marine Corps/Government Printing Office, 1975)

In 1778, Captain James Willing and his crew sailed and rowed the bateaux Rattletrap down the Ohio River to the Mississippi.   A “left” turn of sorts then took them down the Mississippi all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Willing’s purpose was straightforward: secure the neutrality of residents along the Mississippi, obtain supplies from New Orleans, and return them to the new United States.  It was as tall an order as the Ohio and Mississippi were dangerous.   British rangers and their Native American allies closely watched both shores and would readily attack vulnerable river traffic.  Willing’s only refuge lay in a string of forts the Americans had established on the Ohio, but they did not extend very far.  He would have to make due with his crew and the two swivel guns that armed Rattletrap. Continue reading “Captain James Willing’s Mississippi Raid, Part 1”

Last Home of Jefferson Davis, Last Resting Place of Samuel Emory Davis

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my wife and I visited friends along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The mutual friends knew about my keen interest in American history and had planned an excursion accordingly.

Within a fifteen-minute drive of where we were staying, sits Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In 1877, the ex-Confederate president, looking for a quiet place to write his memoirs  of the Confederate cause in the  American Civil War, paid $50 a month to rent what is known as the “Library Pavilion” on the property. Davis became enamored with the property and purchased the house and grounds from the owner, a Mrs. Dorsey for the price of $5,500 in 1879.

The restored "Library Pavilion" The original was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The restored “Library Pavilion”
The original was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.


In the “Library Pavilion” Davis would write the majority of, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Ten years after purchasing Beauvoir, Davis was dead.

Although not buried on the property, hundreds of former Confederate soldiers are. Yet, there is one Davis is interred on the property now.

The Davis that is buried there is what struck my interest. With no surprise, according to my wife, I had researched what history sites were in that area of Mississippi and had circled Beauvoir as a place of interest. I did not realize that the friends we were visiting had also planned to take me there because they also knew I am a history nerd, err, enthusiast.

What had caught my attention and serves as the basis of this post is the other Davis.

Samuel Emory Davis's Toombstone
Samuel Emory Davis’s Toombstone

Samuel Emory Davis.

Samuel, the father of Jefferson Davis, lies buried in the cemetery. Originally buried below Vicksburg, Mississippi, the elder Davis’s remains were brought to the Gulf Coast to lie at rest at Beauvoir after the course of the Mississippi River was slightly altered.

The Sons of the American Revolution were responsible for saving the remains and having them re-interred.

Samuel Emory Davis, born sometime around 1756, served, like his half-brothers in the militia of Georgia. However, the records available lead to the fact that he served most of the war in South Carolina militia forces.

Furthermore, accounts, gathered by Rice University in conjunction with the Jefferson Davis Papers, have him serving in some of the major engagements of the American Revolution in Georgia, including the Battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779 and the Siege of Savannah from September to October 1779, and lastly the Siege of Augusta between April and June 1781.

A little more research led to the fact that Samuel Davis might have even raised his own mounted force which may have led to the rank listed on his tombstone; major.

After independence, Davis moved his family to Kentucky, where Jefferson Davis was born, then to Mississippi, and finally to Louisiana. While visiting his oldest son, the old patriot died on July 4, 1824.

Marker beside Samuel Davis's grave stone.
Marker beside Samuel Davis’s grave stone.

And from 1943 to this present day the former militia officer and father of the only Confederate president, lies in the Beauvoir Confederate Cemetery.

Thus, the visit, which I am thankful for friends who coordinated it on a holiday weekend that Americans celebrate what we are thankful for, now leads to another thankful opportunity.

More reading and research into the American Revolution.

As I came to Beauvoir for the Civil War history connection. I left wanting to know more about the Davis that fought in the American Revolution.