Thornton Davis (115th USCT)

Thornton Davis was born into slavery on either the 15th or 16th of September, 1833, in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was taken to Kentucky when he was only 18 months old. Before the war, he was owned by James Davis of Barren County, Kentucky, for at least five years before his enlistment, and he was classified as a house servant. He married Hasseltine Clack in a slave wedding ceremony on June 20, 1858, near Hiseville. The couple had six children together, two of whom were born before Davis enlisted in the military: George, born May 15, 1859; and Tom, born December 10, 1862.

Davis enlisted in the 115th USCT Infantry Regiment on July 26, 1864, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a period of 3 years. He told Union recruiters that he was 26 years old, although he was probably at least 30 years old according to his later pension application. At the time of his enlistment, Davis stood 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a black complexion, hair, and eyes. He was mustered into Company A of the 115th USCT the same day, but he had to wait until October 21 for the regiment to be fully organized. The army attached the 115th USCT to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division in the District of Kentucky. Davis and the regiment performed garrison duty in Lexington until December. They were then ordered to Virginia in January 1865 to participate in the siege operations in and around Petersburg. Davis was promoted to corporal on February 2. After nearly 3 months on the siege line, the 115th USCT marched into Richmond on April 3 after Confederates abandoned the city. Davis and his comrades remained in Virginia until May 20, 1865, when they sailed for Texas. They served in the District of the Rio Grande for nearly 9 months, until they finally mustered out on February 20, 1866 in Indianola, Texas.

Following his time in the army, Davis returned to Kentucky, where he took up farming. He applied for a pension numerous times during the 1880s and was finally granted one on March 21, 1891, for $12 per month. The government increased his pension to $15 per month in 1906 due to old age. Davis was originally awarded a pension due to multiple ailments brought on by his time in the army. He had a severe cough, disease in his lungs, and a heart complaint. He had contracted these ailments during his exposure to cold weather while on duty in Indianola, Texas, at the very end of his term of service. As a result of these wartime injuries, Davis was prevented from performing any kind of hard labor without suffering great pain. He and his wife had four more children after the war: LuBell, born January 1, 1877; Walter, born August 20, 1870; Will, born in August 1881; and Joe, born October 16, 1886. Davis passed away on November 27, 1909, in Knob Lick, Metcalfe County, Kentucky. Hasseltine received a widow's pension of $30 per month for the next decade. She died on June 7, 1920, in Hart County, Kentucky, due to complications from a cerebral hemorrhage.


Testimony of Thornton Davis

Name:Davis, Thornton
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
115th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored TroopsA
Branch of service:Army
Muster In1864-07-26Bowling Green, KY
Enlistment1864-07-26Bowling Green, KYaccepted26Slave
Muster Out1866-02-10Indianola, TXMustered Out
Residence at enlistment:Barren County, KY
Rank In:Private
Rank Out:Corporal
Highest rank achieved:Corporal
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Davis, ThorntonDavis, Thornton349242application-invalid
Davis, ThorntonDavis, Hasseltine934157application-widow
Davis, ThorntonDavis, Thornton671529certificate-invalid
Davis, ThorntonDavis, Hasseltine708006certificate-widow
Birth date:1833-09
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Albemarle County, VA
Death date:1909-11-27
Death place:Knob Lick, KY
Causes of death:
Occupations:Farmer, Cook, House Servant
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, George
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, Tom
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, Walter
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, LuBell
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, Will
Davis, Thorntonparent ofDavis, Joe
Davis, Hasseltinewife ofDavis, Thornton
Davis, Jamesowner ofDavis, Thornton

Compiled Service Records for Thornton Davis, RG94, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Pension Records for Thornton Davis, RG15, NARA, Washington, D.C.; Frederick A. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, vol. 3 (Des Moines, IA: Dyer Publishing Company, 1908).