John Davis was born in Cedarville, New Jersey. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy from that state and served on board USS Valley City during the Civil War. While attacking Condererate batteries and ships at Elizabeth City, North Carolina on 10 February 1862, the ship encountered intense enemy fire. When a shell entered the ship and started a fire near the ammunition magazine, Davis protected an open gun powder cask with his body to prevent an explosion, at the same time continuing to pass powder to his division on the upper deck. For this courageous act, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
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Photo #: NH 79905
Quarter Gunner John Davis
Halftone reproduction of an artwork, published in "Deeds of Valor," Volume II, page 14, by the Perrien-Keydel Company, Detroit, 1907. This image shows John Davis preventing a powder explosion aboard USS Valley City by covering an open powder cask with his body to protect it from nearby flames, during the attack on Confederates at Elizabeth City, North Carolina on 10 February 1862. Davis received the Medal of Honor for this courageous act.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Online Image: 72KB; 590 x 765 pixels
Medal of Honor citation of Quarter Gunner John Davis (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 21):
Page made 27 April 2006