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Louis Poisson Davis Papers, 1897-1972

(Manuscript Collection #309)

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Louis Poisson Davis Papers
Creator: Davis, Louis Poisson, 1883-1978
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1897-1972, undated) of a U. S. Naval officer, a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, 1905, who commanded the destroyer USS JARVIS during World War I, and as ordnance inspector at the U. S. Naval Ammunition Depot during World War II, consisting of correspondence, a war diary, orders, proceedings, reports, thesis, albums, photographs, postal cards, financial records, citations, certificates, biographies and miscellaneous.
Extent: 1.52 Cubic feet, 970 items , consisting of correspondence, a war diary, orders, reports, proceedings, thesis, pamphlets, citations, certificates, biographies, clippings, photographs, album, financial records, postal cards, and miscellaneous.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

May 27, 1976,, War diary (1917-1918) for USS JARVIS and USS CUSHING, 221 pages; Gift of Captain Louis Poisson Davis, Washington, D.C.

April 13, 1979,, Files of Naval Officer (1905-1947); Including correspondence, orders, citations, notes, reports, logbooks, financial papers, photographs, clippings, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. Davis, Washington, D.C.

August 29, 1983,, 120 items; Papers (1907-1944) including photographs, a commission, and publications. Gift of Louis P. Davis, Jr., Sarasota, Florida

October 4, 1983,, 115 items; Papers (1897-1943), including correspondence, photographs, reports, citations, decorations, and miscellaneous. Gift of Louis P. Davis, Jr., Sarasota, Florida

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

Louis Poisson Davis Papers (#309), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Captain Louis Poisson Davis
  • Gift of Mrs. Davis
  • Gift of Louis P. Davis, Jr.

Processing Information

  • Processed by D. Lawson; C. Bentley, November 1985

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Captain Louis Poisson Davis (1883-1978), a native of Wilmington, N.C., was the son of attorney Junius Davis and grandson of eminent Confederate statesman George Davis. A 1905 graduate of the Naval Academy, he participated in the around the world cruise of "Great White Fleet" in 1907. During World War I he commanded the destroyer JARVIS and earned the Navy Cross for his troop and convoy service. As Ordinance Inspector at the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot during World War II, Davis implemented a system of palletized ammunition loading, an immense logistical advantage to the U.S. war effort. For more biographical detail see the biographical file of this collection.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Early materials (1912-1913) include correspondence pertaining to an imbroglio between Davis and the Naval Academy over coursework and a requirement that he purchase textbooks. Subsequent intervention by political officials further compounded the matter. A miscellaneous file contains the Organization, Routine, and Orders book for the USS NORTH DAKOTA (1911), also from this period.

During World War I Davis commanded the destroyer JARVIS. Correspondence consists of suggestions on naval duty for forces operating in European waters (July, 1917) and suggestions of the commander of the USS TEXAS based on experience in European waters (May, 1918). Other war-related material consists of war diaries of the JARVIS, based in Queenstown, Ireland (May 7, 1917-March, 1918), which record fuel, provisions, men aboard, weather, position, ships convoyed, convoy dispositions, sailing and operating orders, submarine encounters, and torpedoing of convoy ships. Reports in General Military records, consisting of proceedings of British and American ships in the southern division, list ships, dates, positions, submarine sightings, convoy sinkings, and torpedoings for June and August, 1917. A statistical analysis reports the activities of the USS JARVIS from June 10, 1917, until December 1, 1917.

Other topics covered in the Davis correspondence are the administration of the USS RINGGOLD (1919-1920), the administration of the USS WOODBURY (1922), trials and testing of Mark II compasses by the Sperry Gyroscope Company (1922), recommendation of Davis for additional navigational aids on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (1922), collision of the USS ZEILIN and HENDERSON (1923), and the loss of the USS WOODBURY by grounding in the Point Pedernales incident (1923-1924). A letter (May 2, 1923) provides a detailed confidential report on the visit of Lieutenant (later admiral) Tamon Yamaguchi, Imperial Japanese Navy to the USS WOODBURY. Letters (September, 1923, 1938) pertain to the burning and later liquidation of the Atlantic Paint and Varnish Company of Wilmington, N.C. A letter (February, 1925) reports on rioting in the Gulf of San Blas, Panama, by local Indians. Another letter (April, 1925) discusses lessons learned through combined fleet maneuvers.

World War II-related letters pertain to the development of a system of palletized ammunition loading and materials handling devised by Davis, then Inspector of Ordinance at the U.S. Naval Depot at Hingham, Mass. (1942-1943). A variety of photographs from Davis's time at Hingham show construction projects and various military functions. A six-page letter by a disgruntled Naval armed guard commander aboard the SS WEST CACTUS (July, 1942) complains of the phenomenal ineptitude of a merchant marine captain, the surly, inept union-controlled crew, lack of procedure for emergency operations, and inability to acquire armament. Post-World War II material includes a letter from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to Davis recounting an amusing story of life at the Naval Academy in 1905.

Proceedings of the general court martial of Davis (November, 1923) pertain to his acquittal in the grounding of the WOODBURY in the Perdernales Point disaster. This incident was precipitated by an error on the part of the captain of the DELPHY and also involved the LEE, YOUNG, NICHOLAS, CHAUNCY, and FULLER. Materials on this incident also include charts of the Point Pedernales area and news clippings about the disaster.

Included in the papers is Davis' Naval War College thesis, "The Foreign Policies of the U.S." (1929)

Pamphlets include a "Diagrammatic Study of the Battle of Jutland" (1921); and "A Descriptive and Historical Sketch of Port Arthur," which describes a city fought over by the Russians and Japanese and includes a map of the city and chart of the harbor showing sunken warships. There is also a pamphlet about Nimitz (1971), and a commissioning ceremony program for the USS NIMITZ (May 13, 1972). Clippings include a memorial tribute to Junius Davis (1916) and an account of the sinking of the USS DELPHY (1923). Also of interest is a "secret" eyewitness account of the Battle of Jutland (apparently hand-copied by Davis) by the executive officer of HMS WARSPITE, dated May 31, 1916; "Berehaven and Bantry Bay" (1917), a description of historical and legendary incidents of this Ireland locality, apparently written for Americans stationed in the area during World War I; and typescript copies of ribald doggerel pertaining to the efforts of John Harrelson to make saltpetre from chamber lye in Virginia in 1863.

Other items included are a program for the Army-Navy football game in 1940 and a reprint of "A Letter From the Committee Of the Association of New York To The Lord Mayor And Corporation Of The City Of London 5th May 1775," dealing with attempts to avoid the Revolution.

A photograph album consists of scenes of ships and ship life, probably of the USS DELAWARE in England dating from the time of the coronation of George V, 1910-1912. The oversize folders contain a 7' ×1' panorama of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, showing an anchored fleet, ca. 1920, and Davis's U. S. Navy captain's commission.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Autograph Entries :

  • Andrews, Adolphus, Jr. (2) 1935
  • Bayley, Lewis 1917
  • Blandy, W[illiam] H[enry] (2) 1943
  • Blue, Victor (3) 1913, 1916
  • Cole, William Carey 1923
  • Daniels, Josephus (3) 1914-1917
  • Forrestal, James (2) 1946, 1947
  • Davis, Junius (3) 1912
  • Hussey, G[eorge] F[rederick] 1944
  • Kittelle, Sumner E[ly] W[etmore] (2) 1923
  • Knox, Frank 1941
  • Latimer, J[ulian] L[ane]
  • Leahy, William D[aniel] (2) 1934, 1935
  • Leigh, R[ichard] H[enry] 1929
  • Markham, H[enry] V[aughn] 1945
  • Meyer, G[eorge] v[on] L[engerke] 1912
  • Nimitz, C[hester] W[illiam] (4) 1923, 1936, 1962
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D[elano] (2) 1918, 1944
  • Simons, M[anly] H[ale] 1938

Subject Entries :

  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Manufacturing— Paint— 1923, 1938
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Ships and Shipping— 1917-1918
  • CHINA— PORT ARTHUR
  • CIVIL UNREST— Panama— San Blas— 1925
  • CUBA— GUANTANAMO BAY
  • DAVIS, JUNIUS— 1916
  • EDUCATION— COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES— U.S. Naval Academy— 1905, 1912-1913
  • IRELAND— General Description and History— 1917
  • NIMITZ, CHESTER WILLIAM
  • USSR— Russo-Japanese War— Port Arthur— 1904-1905
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— 1922
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Education— U.S. Naval Academy— 1905, 1912-1913
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Recreation— 1940
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— Shipwrecks— 1923
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS JARVIS
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS NORTH DAKOTA
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS RINGGOLD
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS WOODBURY
  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— United States Naval Ammunition Depot, Hingham, Mass.— 1942
  • WAR— REVOLUTIONARY
  • WAR— RUSSO-JAPANESE— 1904-1905
  • WAR— WORLD WAR I— Battles— Jutland— 1916
  • WAR— WORLD WAR I— Naval Operations— 1917-1918
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Logistics— 1942-1943
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Merchant Marine— 1942
  • YAMAGUCHI, TAMON

Date Entries :

  • 1917-1918
  • 1920-1925
  • 1942-1944

Pamphlet Entries :

Author Entries
  • Frost, H. H.
    • Diagrammatic Study of Battle of Jutland,  (1921)
  • Morimoto, Mishige
    • A Descriptive and Historical Sketch of Port Arthur,  (1909)

Images below are listed alphabetically by subject. This list reflects only those portions of the collection for which negatives have been prepared.

BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE— Business District
Location: France— Brest
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/129

BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE— Business District
Location: England— London
Date: 1910
Call Number: p-309/236(374), 257(885), 299(888)

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Ships and Shipping
Description: Ships tied to dock
Location: Harbor
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/275

CHINA— MILITARY— Artillery
Description: Heavy guns
Location: China
Date: 1910s
Call Number: p-309/159, 168, 174

CHINA— MILITARY— Personnel
Description: Troops at attention
Location: China
Date: 1910s
Call Number: p-309/172

ENGLAND— Hotels, Inns and Taverns
Description: Gentleman's Saloon
Location: England
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/290(887)

SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Entertainment— Carnival
Description: Parade through streets
Location: Panama
Date: 1925
Call Number: p-309/184

U.S.— MILITARY— Diving— Equipment
Description: Deep sea diving
Location: England
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/182, 183

U.S.— MILITARY— Entertainment
Description: Three sailors with bicycles
Location: England
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/284(378)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Band
Description: Delaware Band
Location: USS DELAWARE
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/234(373)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Personnel
Description: Inspection of troops
Location: At sea
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/250(376)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Personnel
Description: Men at attention aboard USS DELAWARE
Call Number: p-309/253(884)
Date: 1910-1912

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Personnel
Description: Stowing gear aboard USS DELAWARE
Call Number: p-309/255(337); 265
Date: 1910-1912

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships
Description: American fleet in harbor
Location: Chile— Valparaiso
Date: 1908
Call Number: p-309/183

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— Atlantic Fleet
Description: View from the Radio Station
Location: Cuba— Guantanamo Bay
Date: 1890s
Call Number: p-309/125

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— Atlantic Fleet
Description: Pointe de Fer a Cheval
Location: France— Brest
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/132

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— Great White Fleet
Location: Japan— Yokahoma
Date: 1907
Call Number: p-309/129a-c

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— Great White Fleet
Location: At sea
Date: 1907
Call Number: p-309/223

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
Location: At sea
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/281(372)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
Location: At sea
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/239(883)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
Location: At sea
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/246(375)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
Location: At sea
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/273(886)

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS DELAWARE
Description: English visitors aboard ship
Location: England
Date: 1910-1912
Call Number: p-309/280

U.S.— MILITARY— Navy— Ships— USS MAUMEE
Description: Group photo: Nimitz, Chester; Davis; Louis Poisson
Location: At sea
Date: 1916
Call Number: p-309/1

U.S.— MILITARY— Ships and Shipping
Description: Cleaning, resacking beans to ship to Europe
Location: Panama— Darien Wharves
Date: 1909
Call Number: p-309/145

WAR— WORLD WAR I— Aerial Operations
Description: Blimp
Location: Irish Sea
Date: 1917
Call Number: p-309/187

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Oversize Folder os1#0309.os1
Davis's U. S. Navy Captian's commission, Warrant of Appointment to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (1945)
Oversize Folder os2#0309.os2
Panoramic Photograph of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ca. 1910) (Housed separately, see conservator)

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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