Floyd’s Tar Heel Confederate



orenzo Dow Davis left North Carolina and moved to White County, Arkansas, near Floyd in the winter of 1866-67. His brother Meck did not want him to move. As L.D. was leaving, Meck told him, "A rolling stone gathers no moss". L.D. turned to him and responded, "A sitting hen never grows fat".   Known as both “L.D.” and "Dow," he was named for a circuit-riding Methodist preacher, Lorenzo Dow, who preached along the East Coast in the early 1800s.


L.D. farmed most of his life. He also taught school in the winter for a few years and was appointed Postmaster at Tranquility in 1878 then later at Sunrise on two different occasions. When I was a small boy my grandmother, Willie Victoria Woods Davis, told me that she would ride “shotgun” for L.D. when he was carrying something of value on his Postmaster rounds.  She still had the pistol she carried at the time.

L.D. was married four times.  His wives were:  Loucinda Akin, Mary Ragsdale, Caroline (Carrie) Durham and Tempie Jackson.  Loucinda and Carrie died while they were married to L.D.  He was divorced from Mary and was in the process of divorcing Tempie when she died.

In 1917, while “ruminating at the evening of life, 73 years, 5 months, and 3 days,” he wrote a brief chronicle of his life:

“To begin, I was born in Granville County, North Carolina, May 31, 1844, son of Dolphin Davis and Francis A. Jenkins.  Dolphin Davis was a son of John Davis, a large property owner both of slaves and lands in Wake County. He raised five boys: Jackson, Eaton, Joe, Duncan and Dolphin. Three girls: Sallie, [who] married Jeremiah Estes; Candis Beavers, and Ailey Esriel Gill. Uncle Jack and Joe moved to Tennessee, Eaton to Kentucky and Duncan, a Baptist preacher, to Texas --  all along in the ‘40s.  My mother was the daughter of Jimmy Jenkins and Myrah Cook, also land and Negro owners. They raised three boys:  Atha, Buck and Issac;  two girls:  Francis and Martha. Atha married but Buck, Issac and Martha never.  Buck died in the Mexican War in the ‘40s, Issac at Point Lookout, Maryland, May, 1863.  He served in the same company with me… The Jenkins, Cooks and Davis families were all high-toned, influential citizens, both in state and church, save and except Dolphin Davis, my father, who debauched himself with liquor so much so my mother separated (and properly so) from him -- taking myself a suckling babe and a brother 2 years and 2 months old back to her father.  Nor did I hear a word of reproach or censure over this affair, in fact all kinsfolk and neighbors vied with each other in kindly attention to all of us.

“The Conscript Act passing the Confederate Congress, Uncle Ike and I volunteered.  I went through to Appomattox, was captured five times, paroled twice, got away three times, nor never darkened the door of a prison pen.  Got home from Appomattox about 14 days of April, 1865.  Went to plowing next morning -- made two crops, 1865-66; sold no part of tobacco crops; turned all over to my brother to sell and send my part to me. Borrowed $125 with him surety.  Back in North Carolina in 1879, found he had bankrupted nor did he ever pay one cent to me of these two crops left him to sell and send me my part.

“Although a ladies man, [I] decided never to marry and possibly would never had I never met with Miss Loucinda Akins -- introduced to her December 1867.  Standing in her presence, [I] knew … that we would marry, which we did 17th December, 1868. In this I made no mistake, for truly she fulfilled her woman verse found [in the] 31st chapter, 12th verse [of] Proverbs:   ‘She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.’ Oh, the bliss, contentment and happiness of our lives together.  I had, as a young man before marrying, accumulated something over $500.  With this [I] bought a horse, feed, plow tools, a cow, cooking stove and household, such as we had to have.  At her death 6th September, 1879, we had a small farm paid for, some money ahead and everything needed to make us comfortable and happy. We had four children, Ada, Meck, Herman and Sid. We both thought these the cutest, nicest children on earth, and while I had always been devoted to them yet, the day before she died, Sid our baby, 9 months and 16 days old, becoming absolutely unmanageable she insisted we give him to her. He at once was comforted. She asked, ‘Are you going to be good to this child when I am gone?’ Of course I promised, what else could I do, loving her and them as I did.

“Broke up and ruined [and] seeing no chance, although, Puss Crabtree and Clem Sappington begging me for my children, [I] sold out and [went] back to North Carolina in December 1879.  [I] came back February, 1881, kept house with them alone, cooking, milking, washing, patching, starching and ironing their clothes for two years and more.  Nor have I ever committed a deed, either marrying or settling a place, except with an eye single to these children’s best interest.”

It is interesting to note that in his Bible, L.D. lists Carrie Durham as his second wife. The court records show that she was his third wife. When Carrie married L.D. she already had a young daughter named Genecieve (called "Vivi").   L.D. and Carrie were married slightly less than a year when Carrie died.  Genecieve continued to live with L.D. but 13 months after Carrie's death, she backed up too close to the fireplace and her clothes caught on fire. She died from the complications of the burns. It has been said that L.D. mourned her loss as if she had been his own child.  Carrie and Vivi are buried in the Antioch Cemetery.  L.D. and Loucinda Akin had four children: Ada C., born Nov. 3, 1869; Jessie Medicus, born Feb. 14, 1871; Herman Granville, born May 13, 1875; and Albert Sidney, born Nov. 21, 1877.   L.D. did not have children by his other wives.   He died October 19, 1924.  In his will he requested that he be buried in his best Confederate uniform.  L.D. and Loucinda are buried in the community cemetery at Floyd, AR. They both have tombstones. 

Loucinda Akin's parents were Jesse Levi Akin and Piety Louticia Woodward Akin. Jessie Levi Akin was born Jan. 17, 1814 in Georgia. Piety Louticia Woodward was born Mar. 25, 1821 in North Carolina. They were married March 14, 1841, in Alabama. They moved from Alabama to Itawamba County, Mississippi in 1842-43. They had 10 children. Fairleanier, the first child, was born in Alabama; the rest of the children were born in Mississippi.   Jessie Levi Akin was murdered by a group of armed men Dec. 5, 1865, and was the first person buried in the Floyd Cemetery. When I visited the Floyd Cemetery in 1988 a pointed stone marked his grave; it is my understanding that it now has a tombstone.


e know very little about L.D. Davis’ parents, Dolphin and Francis. They separated soon after L.D. was born, possibly because of Dolphin's drinking. Francis Jenkins Davis took her children, Meck and L.D., and moved in with her parents, James Atha Jenkins and Miriah Cook Jenkins. James Jenkins owned a large farm and grew cotton and tobacco. James did not have a large number of slaves. The boys probably worked on the farm alongside the slaves.  In his will he specified that Francis Davis was to receive a slave named Angeline. Miriah Cook Jenkins died in the 1840s. James Atha Jenkins died in 1852.

Martha Jenkins, Francis' sister, inherited the home place when James died. Francis and Martha continued to live on the home place until their deaths. Martha offered to give the farm to Meck if he would come back and care for her and Francis during their old age.  Meck declined.   It is thought that she made the same offer to L.D.  At the end of the Civil War the slaves were freed but some continued to work on the farm.  Martha made an agreement with them:  If they would work the farm and care for her she would give them the farm at her death. They agreed to this arrangement and at her death the former slaves owned the farm which they had worked as slaves. Francis is buried in the old family cemetery. The graves are not marked.

In 1987, my mother and sister Katherine and I went to the Old Jenkins Home place. The only evidence of a structure are the rocks that were the foundation.  L.D. had little contact with his father.  The Jenkins family probably influenced his opinion of his father.  They thought Francis had married below herself when she married Dolphin.  A story is told by our North Carolina cousins that Dolphin would come to the edge of the woods near the Jenkins farm.  He would whistle and the boys would come and visit with him.  He would usually bring them candy.  L.D. and his brother James Medicus (Meck) attended Jenkins Academy, a private school in Granville County, NC.  From reading copies of L.D.'s letters, he obviously was well educated and had a large library.

L.D. entered the Confederate Army Feb. 11, 1863.  His "autobiography" says that he volunteered but his army record states that he had been conscripted (drafted).  He was in Company "A", 44th North Carolina Regt. of the Army of Northern Virginia (Lee's Army).  His brother  Meck and his Uncle Issac were also in this company.   When General Lee started north in June of 1863 to eventually fight the Battle of Gettysburg, he left various detachments behind to protect important locations. The bridge over the South Anna River in Virginia was important as a supply route. On July 3, 1863, 62 Confederates held back more than 1,000 Yankees for over four hours for this bridge.  One of these Confederates was L.D. Davis. Several of the men were killed, most were wounded, all were captured.  L.D. and all other enlisted men were paroled (released) three days after they were captured.  This was the policy of the Union forces at that time.

L.D. was at Petersburg, VA, during its siege and the explosion of "The Crater."  During Lee's trek from Petersburg to Appomattox the only food L.D. had to eat was shelled corn, the kind we feed horses.  Barbara Davis Waymire, daughter of Noble Davis, sent me a copy of the parole that was issued to L.D. at Appomattox.  No one knows why he moved to Arkansas.


An Old Soldier Looks Back On His War


The following  was written by L.D. Davis to the author of  Lee’s Sharpshooters.



ear Sir and Comrade: Replying to yours of the 5th inst., requesting that I contribute for insertion in your book, “Lee’s Sharpshooters,” a short sketch of the part I played in that wonderful campaign, “from the Wilderness to Appomattox,” I have to say that it has been so long since, and all my energies, both mental and physical, have been so completely taxed in fighting the battles of life, that I have forgotten nearly all of my operations except the “hairbreadth escapes,” of which I will mention a few, and then you can insert, or not, any part of it or none, as you see proper. I only want your book to refresh my memory, and feel that in its perusal the humble part I played will be brought back to my recollection.  To begin:

I remember very distinctly that our brigade was engaged in the opening of the battle of the Wilderness on the morning of May 5, 1864, but it is not my recollection that the sharpshooters were thrown out.  If so, the line of battle overtook us and the whole line advanced through that scrubby, small growth of (principally) blackjack timber until near 12 pm.  From then on to Spotsylvania, and from there to Petersburg, my recollection is very indistinct, further than to remember that it was almost one continuous battle.


For some time after reaching Petersburg our regiment occupied the “blow up,” and while there the sharpshooters kept up a continuous fire through portholes from breastworks.


Some time along the latter part of summer or early fall we (the brigade) sallied forth down on the South Side railroad to intercept and prevent the enemy from capturing that important road. Arriving there the command was halted, and in less time than it takes to tell it the sharp­shooters were thrown forward and advanced in a jiffy.  We soon found the enemy’s sharpshooters, completely routed them, advanced up to their line of battle and engaged it until our line came up and relieved us.  Acting then as provost guard, I was so engaged personally that I did not discover a full line of battle of the enemy right at us in the rear.  I was captured, and it did seem to me that a dozen or more Federals would take charge of us two as prisoners, in spite of all their captain could do; anyhow, he sent three of his men to the rear with two of us.  They got lost; and we five lay out in the woods all night.  Ladd and I were so agreeable with them that we gained their entire confidence.  The next morning they were completely lost; and pledging them that we were more than willing to be prisoners of war, they let us guide them out; but to their chagrin we piloted them into our own command.  At this battle all our commissioned and non-commissioned officers were captured, and I was made orderly, and commanded the company for quite a while.


On evacuating Richmond and Petersburg, April 2, 1865, I was called on by the major commanding the regiment to make a detail to reinforce the picket line; the other orderlies were so tardy in sending forward their quota that Maj. Steadman directed Lieut. Sneed, then commanding the company, to take his company and reinforce the picket line. We moved off at once, with instructions to hold the same at all hazards.  I was directed to pick five men and occupy a farmhouse in the near distance.  After gaining the house we did not have to wait but a few minutes before we saw as appeared to us, the whole Federal army advancing slowly but surely upon us.  With my squad I arranged every detail of combat.  We loaded and fired into them, as men never did before, perhaps, until seeing that we were about to become prisoners, I ordered a retreat, and from the back door sent out one at a time.  Seeing the enemy picking up the dirt all around my men as they almost flew back to our breastworks, and knowing that I was to make the run last, the enemy right upon me, my feelings can better be imagined than described.  I made the break, and it seems now, as then that did not touch the ground in but two or three places.  Ladd and I made the run success­fully and soon reached our lines, left there to cover the retreat; and after resting awhile we pushed on and overtook our own command the second day after.  We then reorganized the regiment as best we could, but only had about fifty men out of an original number of twelve hundred.  From then on to the surrender our rations were shelled corn.  During the entire term of service I was in seventeen pitched battles, captured five times, was exchanged once, got away three times, and paroled at Appomattox, and have that parole now.


This statement is abbreviated, disconnected and not satisfactory to myself, but am satisfied that as soon as I shall have seen your book my mind will be refreshed.   P