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Only known photo of Sam Davis.

Sam Davis Shoe of Doom

Field review by the editors.

Nashville, Tennessee

In the Civil War gallery of the Tennessee State Museum are two of the most significant possessions of Sam Davis, "The Boy Hero of the Confederacy": his overcoat and his shoe of doom. Davis was hanged by Yankees for being a Confederate spy, even though he insisted that he wasn't a spy because he was wearing a Confederate uniform. His defense was at best a technicality, and it was undermined because Davis was also wearing a Union overcoat (His defenders said that his mom tried to dye the blue coat Confederate grey, but the color didn't hold). An even more damaging piece of evidence against Davis was his shoe, which his captors cut open to reveal top secret military information stolen from the desk of a Union general. Davis was promised his life and freedom if he revealed the source of his shoe booty, but he refused. "I would rather die a thousand deaths than betray a friend or be false to a duty." So the Yankees hanged him, setting in motion his Boy Hero martyrdom, and virtually guaranteeing that his second-hand coat and gutted shoe would some day end up on display in a Southern museum.

Shoe of Doom.

Sam Davis Shoe of Doom

Tennessee State Museum

505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN
Tennessee State Museum. Downtown. I-40 exits 209A or B. Follow Broadway toward downtown. Turn left onto 5th Ave. Drive three blocks. The museum will be on the left between Union and Deaderick Sts, in the lower level of the James K. Polk Cultural Center.
Tu-Sa 10-5, Su 1-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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