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Davis, Richmond Pearson

by Timothy L. Howerton, 1986

23 June 1866–17 Sept. 1937

See also: Hayne Davis, brother.

An undated photograph of Richmond Pearson Davis. Image from the Lewis Army Museum, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.Richmond Pearson Davis, career military officer and major general of artillery, was born in Statesville, the son of Hayne and Mary Williams Davis. He was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1887, ranking sixth in his class. From 1891 to 1896 Davis taught chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at West Point. Upon promotion to captain on 2 Feb. 1901, he was transferred to the School of Submarine Defense at Fort Totten, N. Y., where he served as an instructor for two years. In 1907 Davis directed the Coastal Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Va. From 1 Sept. to 27 Dec. 1911 he was enrolled as a student officer at the Army War College in Washington, D. C.

After serving an appointment to the General Staff in Washington, Davis was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on 5 Aug. 1917. At Camp Pike, Ark., he was assigned to the 162nd Field Artillery Brigade, which he commanded in France during World War I. The 162nd Brigade participated in the Battle of Saint Mihiel and Camp de Songe. From 1918 to 1919, Davis commanded all artillery units in the U.S. Army 9th Corps. In the latter year he was ordered to Manila Bay in the Philippines where he designed and commanded coastal defenses for U.S. military bases. After a career of forty years, Davis retired from the army on 22 Dec. 1929. He died seven years later while a patient at Walter Reed Army Hospital and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Bertha Marie Bouvier Davis, whom he married in 1887.

Davis contributed much to the technical development of coastal defenses using fixed artillery, and he originated a system of mines for use against submarines in harbor defenses. Camp Davis, located at Holly Ridge in south Onslow County, was named for him. The base opened in April 1941 and closed four years later, having served as a major center for antiaircraft training.

A 1913 photograph of Mrs. Bertha Marie Bouvier Davis, wife of Richard Pearson Davis. Image from the California Digital Newspaper Collection.References:

Charles Braden, Biographical Record of the United States Military Academy, vols. 5 and 6a (1910).

William S. Powell, The North Carolina Gazetteer (1968).

Raleigh News and Observer, 17 Sept. 1937.

Who Was Who in America, vol. 1 (1943).

Additional Resources:

Steelman, Ben. "What is the history behind Camp Davis and Holly Ridge?" Wilmington Star News. September 11, 2009. (accessed January 28, 2014).

"Colonel and Mrs. Davis Dinner Hosts at Presidio This Evening." San Francisco Call 115, no. 14, (December 16, 1913).  California Digital Newspaper Collection. (accessed January 28, 2014).

"Coastal Artillery to Leave on Manuevers." San Francisco Call 114, no.149 (November 5, 1913). California Digital Newspaper Collection. (accessed January 28, 2014).

Image Credits:

"BG Richmond P. Davis, ? - Sep 1927." Photograph. Lewis Army Museum, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (accessed January 30, 2014).

Bushnell Photo. "Mrs.Richard [sic] P. Davis, who will entertain at Dinner this evening at Fort Winfield Scott." Photograph. San Francisco Call 115, no. 14, (December 16, 1913). California Digital Newspaper Collection. (accessed January 28, 2014).

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