Edward Davis – Cavalry Officer and Chronicler, Part 2

Historiographical Significance

noun: historiography
the study of historical writing.
the writing of history.
Origin mid 16th century: via medieval Latin from Greek historiographia,
from historia ‘narrative, history’ + -graphia ‘writing’.

Oxford Languages
Capt. Edward Davis, while stationed at Mounted Services School, Ft Riley, KS, 1913.

Continuing with our study of Edward Davis, US Army cavalry officer, military attaché and observer, we undertake to address the reason for his story being included on this site. One of the important tasks Capt. Davis was engaged in in the years of 1910 through 1913 was performing the duties of secretary for the cavalry board called to modernize and specify improved cavalry horse equipments. Among the duties, or at least the interesting benefits of the task, was to acquire, study and access the actions of any previous cavalry boards, in order to determine any positive information could be gleaned to the benefit of the current Cavalry Board’s activities.

Capt. Davis was uniquely fortunate in being able to access and review all the cavalry board reports, archival notes, letters and material, then held by the War Department. These included all material from the various boards that met in the years 1847, 1857, 1859, 1872, 1874, 1878, and 1884.

Capt. Davis published a number of articles in the US Cavalry Association Journal prior to WW1 – two of which have great importance to our profile here – the significance of Capt. Davis’ articles in the USCA Journal cannot be overstated. Their influence to all subsequent writings of the history of US cavalry horse equipment was, and still is, significant to an extreme. Much, if not all, of the historical studies and writing on the subject in the 20th century is directly influenced ( positively and negatively ) by his work.

History of the McClellan Saddle, Capt. Edward Davis, 13th Cavalry Journal of the United State Cavalry Association, Vol XXII, No. 86, Sept 1911, pg. 235.

Cavalry Equipment–Past And Present, Captain Edward Davis, 13th Cavalry , Journal of the United State Cavalry Association, Vol. XXVI, No.108, October 1915, pg 218.

Reading these two articles, after having studied and read nearly all the published works on these subjects in the past 100+ years, you see that Edward Davis’ work at the core of them all. His grasp on the key facts and actions – as well as unprecedented access to the original documents and actual persons involved in early equipment acquisition and use – give his articles great value for the interested ‘antiquarian’.

Where the documents and witnesses fail, this is where Davis also failed, and where those that wrote on the subject in following years and decades also stumbled. It is only in the very recent years with the ever-expanding access to documentary evidence, in the form of digitized archives, have some of the more interesting details come forth that have shown new light on old questions.

If you wish to be knowledgeable of US military horse equipment, you must be a student of Edward Davis’ works – they are foundation stones of the subject.

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