John Wynn Davidson

John Wynn Davidson was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, on August 18, 1824. His grandfather had been a general officer in the Revolution and his father, who was graduated from West Point in 1815, died in the service twenty-five years after his graduation. Young Davidson was graduated from the Academy in 1845 and, after frontier duty in Kansas and Wisconsin, took part in the Mexican War, mainly in California with the so-called Army of the West. He was promoted to captain of the 1st Dragoons in 1855, fought Indians throughout New Mexico and California, and was wounded in an engagement with the Jicarilla Apaches. At the beginning of the Civil War he was stationed at Fort Tejon near Los Angeles, and it is alleged that he declined a commission in the Confederate Army. After duty in the Washington defenses, Davidson, appointed a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from February 3, 1862, perhaps in reward for his adherence to the Union, commanded creditably a brigade of W. F. Smith's division of Reyes's IV Corps in the Peninsular campaign. Late in the summer of 1862 he was assigned to the command of the District of St. Louis, his wife's hometown. The rest of his Civil War career was spent in Missouri and Arkansas, where he was commander of the Army of Southeast Missouri in 1863 and the Army of Arkansas in 1864 and chief of cavalry of the Department of West Mississippi in 1865. Meantime, he was brevetted through all the grades to that of major general in both the Regular Army and volunteer service. After the war he was in the inspector general's department for a time and from 1868 until 1871 was professor of military science and tactics at Kansas Agricultural College. After holding various commands in Texas and the Indian Territory, he was promoted to colonel of the 2nd Cavalry in 1879. Two years later, while on duty at Fort Custer, Montana, he was injured when his horse fell with him. He died while on sick leave at St. Paul, Minnesota, June 26, 1881, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.