Editor's note: Julian Smith portrays his great-great-grandfather Aaron Stearns Davis, from Hope, in Civil War reenactments. Davis was born June 10, 1839 in Newbern, Indiana. This is the second part of the story of Davis' life and war-time experiences. In part 1, Davis mustered into the 6th Indiana Volunteer regiment Co. C in August 1861 as a private, alongside his eventual father-in-law Alfred Vickery, and his brother in law Samuel Beck. The 6th, was the first Indiana Regiment enlisted in the Civil War.

From Murfreesboro, the 6th marched along what is now Interstate 24 (amazed at the number and size of rattlesnakes as they crossed the mountains) through Chattanooga,Tennessee and just a bit farther into Georgia in an attempt to surprise and crush Confederate General Braxton Bragg at Chickamauga Creek. 

Aaron and the 6th were heavily engaged both days at Chickamauga, once again losing their beloved Colonel Baldwin. This time he was mortally wounded.

From Chickamauga the 6th fell back north to Chattanooga allowing Confederates to occupy the high ground from Look Out Mountain and Missionary Ridge as they laid siege to the city.

Gen. U.S. Grant, recently appointed to command following Rosecrans, determined the Army would break out of Chattanooga and end the Confederate siege of the city by first taking the heights of Lookout Mountain (a formidable task in the best of circumstances). In order to do so, Grant planned to first create a diversion and avert Confederate attention from Lookout Mountain by making it appear the main focus of the assault was to be Missionary Ridge.

As the intended ruse began, Aaron and the boys of the 6th found themselves at the base of the nearly three hundred foot vertical incline of Missionary Ridge with no covering fire for protection. The Confederates were jubilantly firing from atop the ridge like shooting fish in a barrel.

The rest of the story is best told by Private Davis in his own words. He shared his recollection with a reporter for The Evening Republican in Columbus in September of 1929

"After we had gone about one-third the way up, Grant called for us to halt. It was horrible. The shot and shell were flying thick and boys were dropping all around me. I told Charley, the Lieutenant commander, 'I can't stay here', and I went over the top.

"After I went over the top, I was by myself. In front of me was a pond and on the edge of the pond were two cannon, one of which had a horse down, but they were trying to get him up.

"I saw a tree that hung out over the lake and I made for it. I saw what they were doing and I shot at them. Three of them ran down the road. There were three left, and one had a gun and shot at me several times and barked the tree I was under. I shot a few times at them and two left in a hurry leaving the one with the gun.

"I didn't see him though, I thought he was behind a horse, so I walked around behind the cannon and saw something that looked like him, so I shot at him, but I could not hit him, one of the horses being in the way. He ran, and while reloading I lost sight of him.

"Then he ran out about 20 feet from me and shot at me. Turning, he started to run, but I shot at him. I didn't go to see about my shot, for his took the top button off my trousers. The bullet went on and cut a tent rope I carried in my blouse into several pieces. When the bullet went between my trousers and body it burned like fire.

"I couldn't speak a word, so I set my gun down by the wheel of the back cannon, then I climbed astride it and beat my hat out upon it trying to attract attention.

"I looked up and saw the army looking at me. Hundreds came down and took the cannon. Some of the boys said I had to go down and bury that dead man down there, but I did not go.

"I was the first man to cross Missionary Ridge, for which I was placed on the Civil War Honor Roll, and was given a medal.

"Now my grandchildren can look at it and see what I did to save America and the Stars and Stripes. If I may, by God's grace live until next June 10th, I shall be 91 years of age. Well, so it is.

Following the action at Missionary Ridge, Aaron and the 6th marched on toward Atlanta taking part in battles at Dalton, Resaca,and Kennesaw Mt., Georgia.

Finally, those fortunate to survive the past three years were mustered out and allowed to return home to Indiana just before Sherman burned Atlanta and commenced his march to the sea.

Private Aaron Stearns Davis was one of the fortunate. He survived to return to Indiana and surprisingly regained his voice. He settled in Hope, Indiana on the southeast corner of Seminary and Market Street and worked as a plasterer. He married twice. After his first wife Samaria, daughter of his messmate Alfred Vickery died childless and of consumption, he, at 46 years of age married Lulu Shafer and fathered four children. He had three daughters and one son, Harry, who was the father of my grandmother, Madeline Marie Davis Smith.

Aaron did not live to see his 91st birthday as he mentioned above. Within a month of sharing his recollection with The Evening Republican reporter, he ate a substantial lunch, sat down in his easy chair and peacefully passed on to his eternal rest, Oct. 21, 1929. And his grandchildren, now knowing his story, still proudly remember his sacrifice and contribution today.