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After the Black Hawk War closed in 1831 Lieutenant Davis was sent up to Galena on a tour of inspection to the lead mines, where he remained long enough personally to know some of the miners, and they had so many manly qualities that his relations with them were very kind, and his appreciation of them won their regard. In the autumn of 1832, Lieutenant Davis was sent on recruiting service, and went to Louisville and Lexington, Ky. The cholera broke out while he was at the latter place, and people fled from it in numbers. True to his sense of duty, and fearless in the pursuit of it, he remained at his post, took care of his recruits, attended to their diet, and, as ever, did his best regardless of consequences.  It was there he said he performed his first undertaker's duty, for a poor old negro man who, with a white man, lay dead alone in a “shanty.” He found, with much difficulty, a carpenter, who, with Lieutenant Davis's unskilled assistance, made two coffins, took the corpses to the cemetery, and buried them decently. As soon as Lieutenant Davis secured the necessary number of men he returned with his recruits to Fort Crawford, the regimental Headquarters, and remained there until 1834, when he was ordered to the extreme frontier, which was then Fort Gibson, Iowa Territory. From there he went on an expedition to the Toweash villages, and was constantly engaged in reconnaissances involving many hardships and anxieties, with nights and days spent without food or shelter and drenched with the rain. But these are of no importance at this day to the general public, who travel in Pullman coaches through fields of smiling plenty, and by flourishing villages where law and order permit their happy citizens to lay them down “in peace and sleep,” instead of watching over their households in fear of midnight invasions by savages. Lieutenant Davis was sent off to make a reconnaissance toward the Northwest, to find a detached force of warriors who had been trespassing  and committing murders, to whom he hoped to give battle. He grew tired of listening to a pow-wow going on between some Indians and whites and wandered off with an Indian who offered to guide him. He took the man up behind him on his horse and they rode off together among the rocks. They had come to one of the caftons of the Rocky Mountains where the cliffs rose like walls on either side, when the Indian, springing down, put his hands to his mouth and uttered a peculiar cry, evidently a signal to some of his friends. Lieutenant Davis, suspecting treachery, drew his pistol and pointed it at the guide. However, the other made signs of peace, and in a little while a rough kind of ladder was let down from one side of the cafton. They clambered up and discovered themselves in a village from which all the strong men had gone down to the pow-wow leaving nobody but the sick, the aged, and the women and children behind them. They had built themselves porch-like contrivances of twigs where they sat during the day. It was just the season when melons were commencing to ripen. They received the stranger kindly, and while he sat under one of these, brought him some melons to eat. He had become so browned by the exposure that his naturally fair skin was as dark almost as  theirs, and excited no attention. But when, the melon-juice running down his sleeve, he turned back his cuff and they discovered the white skin beneath it, the whole village was in excitement in a moment, as none of them had ever seen a white man before. They pulled open his shirt to see if his chest, too, was of this peculiar color, and everybody tumbled up out of wigwam and hut to take a look at this strange creature. However, being savage, their curiosity was well-bred, they troubled him no further, and he and the friendly villagers parted on the most kindly terms, his own Indian guide returning with him to the camp. When Lieutenant Davis was on an expedition in the neighborhood of Fort Gibson once, he met Washington Irving and also Eleazur Williams, the person who believed himself to be the Dauphin of France.1 His impression of Washington Irving was that he was a most amiable and charming man, lamentably out of place on that frontier, and he suspected Mr. Irving of secretly coinciding with him. Of Mr. Williams he had only one memory, and that was that he looked like a preacher and had a measured cadence in his speech like one.  He said, “If I only had my books here I could read a great deal.” After nearly a year's service at Fort Gibson many of the troops became ill, and as the cause was obscure, it was thought prudent to remove them from the Cherokee to the Creek Nation, and Lieutenant Davis was detailed to superintend the change. He gave the following account of his service in a letter written in 1878:
Some misrepresentations having in late years been made of Mr. Davis's Western service, he wrote the following letter to his friend General G. W. Jones:
1 The original of the once famous article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Have we a Bourbon among us?”
2 John Smith T. was a noted duellist, had killed nine men outright. His unexpected presence at a little wayside tavern, where he was not recognized, produced an absurd effect. lie was considered invincible by the people of the West, his name struck terror into the hearts of the men of that day, and a brave and tried man related an anecdote of how Smith T.‘s name affected himself at the inn at Galena. He said the company were sitting on the gallery, talking of Smith T. after dinner, and he said he should like to see him; he thought he could not be terrorized. A quiet little man arose and announced, “I am Smith T., at your service.” The man went to the bannister and gave up his dinner, the instinctive terror made him sea-sick. Once General Dodge had a difficulty with Mr. Smith T., and the two exchanged a promise to fight at sight. The general saw Smith T. first at a crossing as he turned the corner in Galena, and his pistol covered Smith T. before he saw the general. Smith T. bowed coolly and said, “This time you have the advantage of me, general, but the next!” and passed on. The old Indian fighter was a match for anyone in the art of defence and offence. The two never met again. The general's eyes flashed as he told it, and he added, “he came very near getting me, sir-very near!”
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