George Whitefield Davis

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George Whitefield Davis
4th Military Governor of Puerto Rico
In office
May 9, 1899 – May 1, 1900
Preceded by Guy Vernor Henry
Succeeded by Charles Herbert Allen
1st Military Governor of Panama Canal Zone
In office
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Charles Edward Magoon
Personal details
Born (1839-07-26)July 26, 1839
Thompson, Connecticut, USA
Died July 12, 1918(1918-07-12) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., USA
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1861–1866, 1867–1903
Rank Major General
Commands 2nd Division, Second Corps
Battles/wars American Civil War
Spanish–American War

George Whitefield Davis (July 26, 1839 – July 12, 1918) was an engineer and Major General in the United States Army. He also served as a military Governor of Puerto Rico and as the first military Governor of the Panama Canal Zone.[1]

Military career[edit]

Civil War[edit]

Davis was born in the rural town of Thompson, Connecticut. He first entered the Army during the American Civil War, joining the 11th Connecticut Infantry Regiment in November 1861 as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant (the same position that his grandfather served in during the American Revolution). During the course of the war, he fought in several major battles, including Antietam, and worked his way up in rank in the volunteer force to the rank of Major. He was mustered out in April 1866.

After the war[edit]

In January 1867, Davis joined the 14th Infantry Regiment. As a captain, Davis was an assistant engineer on the construction project to build the Washington Monument, and was among the featured guests at the dedication ceremony in 1885.

Afterwards, Davis became vice-president of the construction company that was to build the Nicaragua Canal and chairman of the international board of consulting engineers on the Panama Canal. In 1895, he filled on opening on the Antietam Battlefield Board that helped oversee the preservation and monumentation of that historic place, culminating in the establishment of the Antietam National Battlefield.

With the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, Davis was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of regulars and Brigadier General of Volunteers. During the period of May 1898 until March 1899, he commanded the 2nd Division of the Second Army Corps at Camp Alger and Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia; Camp Meade, Pennsylvania; and Camp Fornance in South Carolina.

In 1899 he was elected as a Veteran Companion of the Pennsylvania Commander of the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

He was promoted to major general in July 1902, and retired on his 64th birthday in 1903.

Davis was a chairman of the central committee of the American Red Cross from 1907 to 1915. He died on July 12, 1918 in Washington, D.C.[3]


  1. ^ "George Whitefield Davis". Men of Mark in America. 1905. p. 277. 
  2. ^ History of Thompson Village
  3. ^ "Funeral of Gen. Davis". Washington Post. July 15, 1918. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mellander, Gustavo A.(1971) The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
Preceded by
Guy Vernor Henry
Military Governor of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
Charles Herbert Allen
Preceded by
Military Governor of Panama Canal Zone
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Magoon