GRAVES, WILLIAM SIDNEY
GRAVES, WILLIAM SIDNEY (1865–1940). William Sidney Graves, military officer, was born to Andrew C. and Evelyn (Bennet) Graves at Mount Calm, Texas, on March 27, 1865. He attended Baylor University from 1881 to 1884 and afterward taught school for a year before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy. Upon his graduation from that institution in 1889 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the army and embarked upon a lifelong military career. He spent the next several years in Colorado, where he met and, on February 9, 1891, married Katherine Boyd. The couple raised two children. Between 1897 and 1899 he served as a small-arms instructor in the Department of Columbia. In addition, in 1898–99 he was acting judge advocate, a position that he maintained after returning to the Department of Colorado in 1899. He was promoted to captain and ordered the same year to the Philippines, where he took part in a number of battles against Philippine insurgents during the Spanish-American War.
After the war Graves held assignments briefly in Ohio and Illinois before further service in the Philippines from 1904 to 1906. In the latter year he was posted for a short time in San Francisco, California, for duty involved in the cleanup and rebuilding of that city after the great earthquake. Between 1906 and 1909 he served as a recruiting officer. He returned to Washington, D.C., in the latter year to work on the general staff of the War Department. At this post he served as secretary of the general staff and rose to the rank of major. On July 4, 1912, he was assigned to the Twentieth Infantry, stationed in Utah. Graves retained this post until November 27, 1913, when he became commander of the United States Border Patrol in Texas, a position he held until August 12, 1914.
After the beginning of World War I in Europe in 1914 he returned to duty with the general staff. He remained in the national capital in this position until 1918; he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July 1916. In Washington he conducted a secret observation tour of Europe to compile information for use in the organization of the American Expeditionary Force in 1917. Graves was promoted to the rank of colonel in June 1917, and in December of that year he received a promotion to brigadier general and became assistant chief of the general staff.
Despite his covert mission in 1917, Graves failed to receive a command in Europe upon American entry into the war. He was, however, made commander of the American Expeditionary Force sent to Siberia in 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution and conclusion of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, under which Russia ceased hostilities against the Central Powers. In this position Graves received orders to maintain his force as an independent command and assist in the withdrawal of the 40,000-man Czech force that had fought in Russia against Germany and Austria. Despite constant criticism and pressure from British and White Russian officials, he succeeded in his mission, for which he received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919.
After the war he held a number of posts. He served as commander of Fort William McKinley in the Philippines from April through October 1920, commander of the First Brigade of the First Division from December 1920 to April 1925, and commander of the First Division from April to July 1925, at which time he was promoted to major general. After a stint as commander of the Sixth Corps Area in Chicago, Illinois, from July 1925 through October 1926, Graves concluded his military career in Panama. He served as commander of the Panama Canal Division from December 1926 until October 1927. When the division was reorganized as the Panama Canal Department, he retained his command until his retirement from the army in 1928.
He then settled at Shrewsbury, New Jersey, and wrote of his wartime experiences in Siberia in American Siberian Adventure (1931). His criticism of the White Russian leadership in this work provoked an unanswered challenge to duel from Lt. Col. Konstantin Sakharoff, who had commanded the White Russian forces in the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution. Graves received a number of military honors. He was made a member of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, a member of the Order of the Striped Tiger of China, and a commander in the Order of the Crown of Italy. He also was awarded the War Cross by the government of Czechoslovakia. He died at his home in New Jersey on February 27, 1940, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Ernest Milton Halliday, The Ignorant Armies: The Anglo-American Archangel Expedition, 1918–1919 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961). Washington Post, February 28, 1940. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 7.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Margaret Royalty Edwards, "Graves, William Sidney," accessed February 14, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgr16.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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