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Joseph Robert Davis
January 12, 1825(1825-01-12) – September 15, 1896 (aged 71)
JRDavis.jpg
Place of birth Mississippi
Place of death Biloxi, Mississippi
Place of burial Biloxi Cemetery, Biloxi, Mississippi
Allegiance United States of America
Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held 2nd, 11th, 42nd Mississippi, 55th North Carolina regiments
Battles/wars American Civil War
Relations Nephew of Jefferson Davis

Joseph Robert Davis (January 12, 1825 – September 15, 1896) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. His troops played an important role in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Biography

Davis was born in Mississippi, becoming a lawyer and Mississippi state senator. Before the war, he led a local militia company. He entered Confederate service in the spring of 1861 as a captain in the 10th Mississippi Infantry. After serving in the Pensacola, Florida, area, he joined President Davis's staff, serving as a colonel and aide-de-camp to his uncle. He was nominated by President Davis to become a brigadier general in 1862. His confirmation was delayed however, due to criticism of nepotism from opponents to the President. He was finally granted the rank on September 15, 1862.

Davis commanded a brigade of infantry around the Confederate capitol of Richmond and in southeastern Virginia. In the late spring of 1863, he was assigned to Heth's Division, Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, to reinforce Lee during his invasion of the North. Commanding the 2nd, 11th, 42nd Mississippi, and the 55th North Carolina, he marched into Pennsylvania.

On July 1, 1863, Heth's Division encountered Union cavalry outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Davis's Brigade was the second Confederate brigade committed to the fighting. Sending in all of his regiments except the 11th Mississippi, General Davis allowed two of his regiments to become trapped in an unfinished railroad cut that was too deep for the men to use as a trench (around 20 feet deep at the deepest). The two regiments suffered many men wounded and captured. The remnants of Davis's Brigade rested through the July 2 fighting, but were ordered into action again on July 3. Davis led his brigade through the devastating assault known as Pickett's Charge. Davis's Brigade suffered 289 dead, 677 wounded, 67+ missing/captured for 44.7% loss.

After the battle, Davis became ill and General Lee considered breaking up his brigade, but he decided against it because Davis was the President's nephew. Davis returned to duty and served throughout the rest of the war in Lee's army, fighting at Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg. He finally surrendered with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse.

Joseph R. Davis spent the rest of his life practicing law. He died in Biloxi, Mississippi, and is buried there in Biloxi Cemetery.

See also

References

  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
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