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BENJAMIN O. DAVIS SR. (1877-1970)

BENJAMIN O. DAVIS SR. (1877-1970)

 

Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was the first African American to be named a general in the American military. Davis claimed to have been born on July 1, 1877, but, according to some sources, his birthdate may have been in May 1880 and that he lied about his age to enlist in the Army without the permission of his parents. Davis was born in Washington, D.C., to Louis P. H. Davis and Henrietta Stewart Davis. His father was a messenger for the Interior Department and his mother was a nurse. Davis attended M Street High School in Washington, D.C., but during his senior year, he took classes at Howard University.

Because of his cadet training in high school, Davis entered the U.S. Army on July 13, 1898, during the Spanish American War. He was a temporary first lieutenant assigned to the 8th United States Volunteer Infantry, an all-black unit stationed at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, from October 1898 until the unit disbanded in March 1899 after the end of the war. On June 18, Davis reentered the Army as a private with the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) and was stationed at Fort Duchesne, Utah. Within a year, Davis rose to the rank of sergeant major. He was then mentored by Lieutenant Charles Young, the only black officer in the military at that time. Young encouraged Davis to seek an officer’s commission which he received on February 1, 1901, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, along with another former enlisted African American, John E. Green. To read more click here.