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Jefferson C. Davis collection

Identifier: L041

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of Jefferson C. Davis’s official military papers. During Davis’s time as quartermaster, the papers include receipts, bills, requisitions, and other documents relating to his Indianapolis based post (1861). As an officer in the field, Davis’s papers include official correspondence regarding duties, copies of telegrams to Gen. John C. Fremont, and military inspection reports sent to him while with the 14th Army Corps (1861–1865). The collection also contains correspondence with Davis while he served as commander of the District of Kentucky (1865–1866). Also included are account books for personal items (1868–1870), translation of a German article on the Modoc War (ca. 1875), and printed materials while Davis was stationed as command of the Department of Alaska (1868–1870). There are also general and special orders from the Department of Alaska (in Alaska Territory) (1868-1869), a diary (1868-1870), and a register from Mt. Olive Church in White County, Indianan (1878).

Correspondents include: William P. Benton, Will Cumback, Samuel R. Curtis, John C. Fremont, Ulysses S. Grant, Alvin P. Hovey, George B. McClellan, Oliver P. Morton, Lazarus Noble, John Pope, William S. Rosecrans, Winfield Scott, Franz Sigel, James C. Veatch, Lew Wallace, Thomas Wood, and Richard Yates.


  • 1849-1875


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Jefferson Columbus Davis was born March 2, 1828 in Clark County, near present-day Memphis, Indiana. A lifelong military man, Davis first served with the 3rd Indiana Regiment during the Mexican–American War, where he was appointed 2nd lieutenant, 1st Artillery, U.S. Army in 1848. Davis was station at Ft. Sumter in 1861, when the garrison was attacked by South Carolina Confederates that signaled the start of the U.S. Civil War. Following the attack, Davis was briefly stationed in the quartermaster’s department in Indianapolis before being appointed colonel of the 22nd Indiana Regiment. Davis was soon promoted to brigadier general and commanded troops in Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Jefferson C. Davis is a noted Civil War figure for two reasons: his shared name with Confederate President Jefferson Davis (no relation) and for the murder of his commanding officer Major General William “Bull” Nelson in the lobby of the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. Davis was spared a murder charge with help from Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton and Major General Horatio G. Wright due to his experience as a field commander.

Following the Civil War, Davis was stationed in Alaska, where he was the first commander of the Department of Alaska, the de-facto government of the newly purchased land. Davis served as Commander of the Department of Alaska from 1868 to 1870. Following his post in Alaska, Davis once again fielded command of U.S. forces in northern California during the Modoc War in 1873. Jefferson C. Davis died November 30, 1879 in Chicago, Illinois. Davis is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.


2 Cubic Feet (6 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation and from a purchase.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing and finding aid completed by Brent Abercrombie during February 2012. EAD finding aid revised 2024/05/15 by Brittany Kropf.
Jefferson C. Davis collection
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.