Private John A. Davis

Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Private John Davis was perhaps unique in the Fifth Iowa regiment(s), in that he had already been discharged from the Fifth Iowa Infantry prior to its consolidation with the Fifth Iowa Cavalry. Thus he was not present for this historic event. However, he did not let that prevent him from joining up with his comrades who had joined the cavalry regiment as soon as he recovered enough from his wounds to do so.

While in the Infantry, Davis' leg was severely wounded on May 16, 1863 during the Battle at Champion Hills, Mississippi. He was discharged on December 17th of that same year. Sufficiently recovered, he enlisted on October 5, 1864 in Company F of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry. Although he was not able to join his fellow soldiers in one of their two companies, he did manage to enter the same regiment into which nearly two hundred of them had transferred.

The following biography, from the 1889 publication History of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade and Barton Counties, Missouri, elaborates on this account. Of particular interest is the fact that Davis' ancestors fought in the War of 1812, the American Revolution, and the war with Mexico. This biographical sketch also reveals that Davis' foot was amputated due to a wound suffered in the Battle of Nashville. This injury is not noted in the Official Roster.

John A. Davis, circuit clerk of Dade County, Missouri, was born in Ripley County, Indiana, in 1842, and is the son of William and Lydia (Shook) Davis, and the grandson of George Davis, who was a native of Wales. George Davis came to the United States with his two brothers, and all located at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. George was a carpenter and blacksmith by trade in early life, but afterward followed farming. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. In 1836 he emigrated to Ripley County, Indiana, and died there in 1853 at the age of eighty-six years. His wife, Nancy Davis, was a native of Scotland. She died in 1869 at the age of ninety-five years. Her father was an aid-de-camp on General Green's staff in the Revolutionary War.

William Davis was born in Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1816, and came to Indiana in 1836, where he was married, and where he lived until 1857, at which date he moved to Fayette County, Iowa, and there died in 1887. He was a soldier in the Mexican war. His wife, Lydia, was born near Baltimore, Md., in 1829, and died in 1871. They were the parents of five children, two of whom are now living. John A. Davis is the elder child, and received his education in the common schools of Indiana, and also attended the Upper Iowa University, at Fayette, Iowa. In 1860 he engaged in the teacher's profession, and followed this for nine terms in district schools. He was a strong Union man during the war, and, July 4, 1861, enlisted in Company E, Fifth Iowa Infantry Volunteers, for three years. He was in the fights at new Madrid, Iuka, Corinth, Fort Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, and at Champion's Hill, in which action he was severely wounded in the right thigh by gunshot. He was taken to Vicksburg, and remained four weeks in a hospital at that place, after which he was taken to Memphis, and remained three months, when he was sent to St. Louis, and there received his discharge in December, 1863.

He then returned home, where he improved so rapidly that, on October 10 of the subsequent year, he enlisted in Company F, Fifth Iowa Cavalry, and immediately went to the front. He was at Columbia, Tennessee, Maury's Mills, Franklin and Nashville, in which action of the first day's fight, November 15, 1864, he was shot in the right foot, the wound being so severe that in two days amputation was necessary. He remained Nashville until February, when he was sent to Keokuk, Iowa, and, in July, 1865, he was discharged and sent home. After the war M. Davis was in the lumber business; in 1868 was elected sheriff of Buchanan County, Iowa, being re-elected in 1870. He was also city marshal of Independence, Iowa, but, in 1880, he removed to Nevada, Missouri, and was proprietor of the Central Hotel. In 1885 be became a citizen of Greenfield, Missouri, and in 1886 he was elected circuit clerk of Dade County, which position he is now holding. He is a Republican in politics, casting his first presidential vote for Lincoln in 1864. He is a member of the Masonic order, Greenfield Lodge No. 446, and is also a member of the G.A.R., Greenfield Post No. 75. In January, 1869, Mr. Davis married Miss Ellen Long, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1849, and who became the mother of four children: William, Frank, Harry and Karle. He and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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