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John Wynn Davidson
[[Image:150px|center|200px|border]]John W. Davidson
Personal Information
Born: August 14, 1825(1825-08-14)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: June 26, 1881 (aged 55)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: "Black Jack"
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: 22x20px United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 1st Cavalry Regiment
10th Cavalry Regiment
2nd Cavalry Regiment
Commands: {{{commands}}}
Battles: Mexican-American War
  • Battle of San Pasqual
  • Battle of Rio San Gabriel

Indian Wars

  • Apache Wars
  • Battle of Cieneguilla

American Civil War

Awards: {{{awards}}}
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

John Wynn Davidson (August 14, 1825 – June 26, 1881) was a major general in the United States Army and an American Indian fighter.


Davidson was born in Fairfax County, Virginia. He graduated from West Point. Shortly after graduation he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Dragoons and participated in the Mexican-American War, seeing considerable action at the San Pasqual and the Rio San Gabriel battles.[1]

Following the war, Davidson was promoted to 1st lieutenant and assigned to the Western frontier. He served as the regimental quartermaster and adjutant. He led the 1st Cavalry Regiment against the Jicarilla Apaches in the Battle of Cieneguilla on March 30, 1854,[2] where he was badly defeated in what was to be the fourth worst defeat suffered by the American military during the Western Indian Wars.[3]

In 1855 Davidson was promoted captain and was in command of Fort Tejon, California when the American Civil War erupted. He was allegedly offered a commission in the Confederate Army but turned it down.[4] Davidson was transferred to the east and took command of a brigade in the newly formed Army of the Potomac. On February 3, 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general of U.S. volunteers.

General Davidson assumed command of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. He fought at the battles of Yorktown and Williamsburg. During the Seven Days Battles he received brevet promotions in the Regular Army for his service at Gaines' Mill and Golding's Farm. Shortly after the culmination of the Seven Days' fighting, Davidson was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Theater where he was placed in command of the Dist. of St. Louis. From December 3, 1862 to March 26, 1863 he was also in command of the so called Army of Southeast Missouri until much of his army was transferred to Ulysses S. Grant in preparation for the Vicksburg Campaign. He retained command of the Dist. of St. Louis until June 16, 1863 when he briefly commanded the Dist. of Southeast Missouri.

From August 10 to November 3, 1863 Davidson commanded the 1st Division of Frederick Steele's Army of Arkansas in his most distinguished role in the west. He led Union advance into central Arkansas and won the battle of Bayou Fourche, which led directly to the fall of Confederate-held Little Rock. After the Little Rock expedition, Davidson commanded the cavalry in the Dept. of the Gulf before returning to command the cavalry in the Dist. of Southeast Missouri. For the remainder of the war, Davidson held various administrative commands in Mississippi. He was mustered out of the volunteer service on January 15, 1866.

Following the end of the Civil War Davidson was again posted on the Western frontier, this time as a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Cavalry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers. It was there that he acquired the nickname "Black Jack."[5]

In 1879 he was transferred to the 2nd Cavalry, to Fort Custer in the Montana Territory.[5] Davidson died in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1881 after being seriously injured during an inspection tour. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[6]

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  • Davidson, Homer K. (1974). Black Jack Davidson, a Cavalry Commander on the Western Frontier: The Life of General John W. Davidson. A. H. Clark Co.. pp. 273. ISBN 0-8706-2109-2. 


  1. John Wynn Davidson - The Handbook of Texas Online
  2. Davidson, pp. 69 - 79.
  3. Johnson, Adams, Hawk and Miller, Final Report on the Battle of Cieneguilla: A Jicarilla Apache Victory Over the U.A. Dragoons March 30, 1854, United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southwest Region, June 2009, p. 1
  4. Eicher p.200
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gorenfeld, Will. The Battle of Cieneguilla, Wild West magazine, February, 2008
  6. John Wynn Davidson - Arlington National Cemetery website

External links[]