Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DAVIDSON, John Wynn, soldier, born in Fairfax County, Virginia, 18 August 1824; died in St. Paul, Minnesota, 26 June 1881. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1845, assigned to the 1st dragoons, and accompanied General 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 Cleat' Lake, 17 May and at Russian River, 17 June under Captain Natlaniel 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, h)sing three fourths of his command, and, being himself wounded. He was promoted to captain on 20 January 1855, to major on 14 November 1861, and, after serving in defense of Washington, was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers on 3 February 1862. In the Virginia peninsular campaign of 1862 he commanded a brigade in General 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 August till 13 November 1862, the Army of Southeast Missouri till 23 February 1863, and the St. Louis district again till 6 June co-operating with General 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 November led a cavalry expedition from Baton Rouge to Pas-cagoula. 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 December 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.
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