Joseph R. Davis
Official portrait, c. 1888
Birth nameJoseph Robert Davis
Born(1825-01-12)January 12, 1825
Louisiana, U.S.
DiedSeptember 15, 1896(1896-09-15) (aged 71)
Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.
Biloxi Cemetery,
Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.
30°23′52.1″N 88°54′27.2″W / 30.397806°N 88.907556°W / 30.397806; -88.907556Coordinates: 30°23′52.1″N 88°54′27.2″W / 30.397806°N 88.907556°W / 30.397806; -88.907556
Years of service
Commands held
Alma materMiami University (BA)
  • Frances H. D. Peyton
    (m. 1842; div. 1878)
  • Margaret C. Green
    (m. 1879)
RelationsJefferson Davis (uncle)

Major-General Joseph Robert Davis (January 12, 1825 – September 15, 1896) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the commanding general of the Mississippi National Guard from 1888 to 1895.[1][2] During the American Civil War, he served as aide-de-camp to the President of the Confederate States and commanded a brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. He is best known for his role at Gettysburg.[3] A member of the Democratic Party,[4] he represented Madison and Scott counties in the Mississippi Senate from 1860 to 1861.

Early life and education

Joseph Robert Davis was born on January 12, 1825, in Louisiana, to Isaac and Susan (née Hartley) Davis, who were of Welsh and Irish origin, respectively. He attended Miami University. Davis engaged in private law practice in Madison County, Mississippi until 1860,[5] when he was elected to the state senate.[3]

American Civil War

Davis as an aide-de-camp
Davis as an aide-de-camp

Entering the Confederate service as Captain of Militia from Madison County, Davis had no formal military training. He was soon made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 10th Mississippi Infantry, after which he served on the personal staff of his uncle, President Jefferson Davis, in Richmond, Virginia, as an aide-de-camp with the rank of Colonel of Cavalry.[3] Commissioned a brigadier-general for the provisional army of the Confederate States to rank from September 15, 1862,[6] and confirmed by the Confederate States Senate only after charges of nepotism were freely aired and his nomination once rejected, he was assigned a brigade in Heth's Division, 3d (Hill's) Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, which he led through some of the most bitter battles of the war. He fought at Gettysburg (where his brigade suffered heavily in the railroad cut on the first day of the battle and participated in Pickett's Charge on the third day), in the Wilderness Campaign, and at the Siege of Petersburg.[7]

Later life

Paroled at Appomattox Court-House on April 9, 1865,[6] Davis returned to Mississippi. After the war he resided in Harrison County, his home most of the time being at Biloxi.[5] He died on September 15, 1896,[3] and is buried at Biloxi Cemetery.[7]

Personal life

Davis was married in 1848 to Frances H. D. Peyton, and secondly, in 1870, to Margaret C. Green. He had two daughters.[5]

Dates of rank

Rank Date Service
Captain October 1, 1860 Mississippi Volunteers
Lieutenant-Colonel April 12, 1861 Confederate States Army
Colonel August 31, 1861 Confederate States Army
Brigadier-General September 15, 1862 Confederate States Army
Major-General April 21, 1888 Mississippi National Guard

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Archives and Records Administration.


  1. ^ "Gen. Ricks' Successor". Daily Commercial Herald. XIX (97). Vicksburg, Mississippi. April 22, 1888. p. 1. Retrieved May 25, 2021 – via
  2. ^ "Around the City". The Clarion-Ledger. 7 (90). Jackson, Mississippi. April 22, 1895. p. 4. Retrieved May 25, 2021 – via
  3. ^ a b c d Curry, J. L. M.; Garrett, William R.; Evans, Clement A. (1899). Evans, Clement A. (ed.). Confederate Military History. Volume I. Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company. pp. 624–625. OCLC 1042405334 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ "Democratic Meeting". Semi-Weekly Mississippian. 2 (45). Jackson, Mississippi. January 1, 1856. p. 2. Retrieved May 30, 2021 – via
  5. ^ a b c Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi. Vol. I. The Goodspeed Publishing Company. 1891. pp. 626–627. OL 24157166M – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ a b Memorandum Relative to the General Officers Appointed by the President in the Armies of the Confederate States--1861-1865. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1908. p. 23. LCCN war08000049. OCLC 1048814672. OL 23318774M – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ a b Warner, Ezra J. (1959). Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.

Further reading

Military offices Preceded byMajor-General B. S. Ricks Commanding General of the Mississippi National Guard 1888–1895 Succeeded byMajor-General J. S. Billups