Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Davidson, John Wynn

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DAVIDSON, John Wynn, soldier, b. in Fairfax county, Va., 18 Aug., 1824; d. in St. Paul, Minn., 26 June, 1881. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1845, assigned to the 1st dragoons, and accompanied Gen. Kearny to California in 1846, in charge of a howitzer battery. During the Mexican war he served in the Army of the West, being present at the combats of San Pasqual, San Bernardo, San Gabriel, and Mesa. He was a scout in 1850, and was at the action of Clear Lake, 17 May, and at Russian River, 17 June, under Capt. Nathaniel Lyon. From this time till the civil war he continued on frontier and garrison duty. He fought the battle of Cieneguilla, New Mexico, on 30 March, 1854, against the Apache and Utah Indians, losing three fourths of his command, and being himself wounded. He was promoted to captain on 20 Jan., 1855, to major on 14 Nov., 1861, and, after serving in defence of Washington, was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers on 3 Feb., 1862. In the Virginia peninsular campaign of 1862 he commanded a brigade in Gen. Smith's division, and received two brevets for gallant conduct that of lieutenant-colonel for the battle of Gaines's Mills, and that of colonel for Golding's Farm. He was also engaged at Lee's Mills, Mechanicsville, Savage Station, and Glendale. He commanded the St. Louis district of Missouri from 6 Aug., till 13 Nov., 1862, the Army of Southeast Missouri till 23 Feb., 1863, and the St. Louis district again till 6 June, co-operating with Gen. Steele in his Little Rock expedition and directing the movements of troops against Pilot Knob and Fredericktown, and in the pursuit of the enemy during Marmaduke's raid into Missouri. He led a cavalry division from June till September, commanded in the actions at Brownsville, Bayou Metre, and Ashley's Mills, Ark., and took part in the capture of Little Rock. He was made chief of cavalry of the military division west of the Mississippi on 26 June, 1864, and on 24 Nov. led a cavalry expedition from Baton Rouge to Pascagoula. He was brevetted brigadier-general in the regular army on 13 March, 1865, for the capture of Little Rock, and major-general for his services during the war. He was made lieutenant-colonel of the 10th cavalry on 1 Dec., 1866, was acting inspector-general of the Department of the Missouri from November, 1866, till December, 1867, and professor of military science in Kansas agricultural college from 1868 till 1871. He then commanded various posts in Idaho and Texas, and, in 1877-'8, the district of Upper Brazos, Tex. On 20 March, 1879, he was made colonel of the 2d cavalry.