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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter III: the Jefferson Davis myth,   pp. 20-26


Page 25

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
to make the opposite shore, but owing to the strong current or some mismanage-
ment. the raft was wrecked in the slough."
It is possible that Mrs. Davis' " Western Historian" appropriated this account of
Lieutenant Gardenier's mishap in the spring of 1830 to his own purpose and applied
it to Lieutenant Davis in the spring of 1832. It does not seem possible that army
officers would have allowed this "sucking in" of a raft into Beef Slough to have
occurred twice within two years.
Fonda's account would indicate that the early camp and operations of which he
speaks were near the mouth of the Menomonie, probably near the site of the present
village of Dunnville.
It is a singular fact that in the telling by Brown and Fonda of this matter of the
running of the raft into Beef Slough there is a similar personal incident related by
each. Brown is reported as saying that Davis told him "to tell General Taylor
that the logs could be hauled across the country, but this he refused to do." Fonda
says: "Gardenier promised me something handsome if I would not give the par-
ticulars in my report as to how the raft was lost."
It is possible that Brown, Benson, Decker and Lemon were with the expedition
of 1829-30. If so, it is probable that in after years their recollections of the names
of officers in charge was a trifle hazy. Davis' name became prominent in connection
with the Civil war, and the fact of his presence at Fort Crawford in an early day
became a matter of public talk. Under these circumstances it would be natural for
these men to come to the conclusion that their employment on this river had been
under Davis.
Prof. Butler, in an article in Vol. 10, Wisconsin Historical Collections, page 75,
states that Davis at one time wrote to him that he, in 1829, while on detached duty
from Fort Winnebago, visited the site of Madison, and claimed to have been the
first white man there. This tends to show that any assignment which Davis may
have had at Fort Crawford in 1829 must have been temporary.
In a note in Vol. 12, Wisconsin Historical Collections, page 234, it is stated that
Davis was absent from Fort Crawford during January and February, 1832, and on
furlough from March 26 to August 18, 1832, and was sent to St. Louis, with Black
Hawk in August or September, 1832, If on furlough, as stated, it is not probable
that he ran lumber by raft out of the Menomonie into the Chippewa and thence
into Beef Slough in thie spring of 1832.
Conceding that Davis was at Fort Crawford in 1828, he could not have been
there until after the date of his commission, July 1; the statements of Clark and
Martin place him at Ft. Winnebago in September of that year. The report of the
secretary of war for 1828 shows that the site of the new Fort Crawford had not
been established as late as December of that year and would indicate that no con-
siderable rebuildingy or repairs of the old fort were under way. The narrative of
Fonda states that work on the new fort was not commenced until after April, 1829,
and the records of Crawford County showing transfer of the site of the new fort to
the United States in May, 1829, corroborates his statement in this regard.
It is evident, therefore, that Davis did not get out timber on the Red Cedar
River for Fort Crawford before the summer of 1829.
According to Davis' letter to Gen. Jones, he did not go to Fort Crawford until
1831. The Memoirs state that he did not go there until that year. Clark states
that Davis was at Fort Winnebago until July 5, 1831. Davis' letter to Prof.
Butler shows he was at Fort Winnebago in 1829 or on detached duty from there.
It is quite certain, therefore, that Davis did not in 1829, 1830 nor up until
July 5, 1831, get out timber on this river for Fort Crawford.
An examination of the unpublished reports of commanders and subaltern officers
at Forts Crawford and Winnebago, during the years 1828 to 1832, inclusive, might
throw new light on this question of Davis' employment during that period of time.
It is stated in the History of Crawford County page 337, that in the year 1831,
the garrison was removed from the old fort to the new fort on the prairie. This
would indicate that the fort was built but not finished. Naturally then it would
be lumb er that was now required for finishing. And Davis in his letter distinctly
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