Joseph Robert Davis was born in Woodville, Wilkinson, Mississippi, January 12th 1825 the son of Isaac William and Susannah [Gartley] Davis. Isaac was the older brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Joseph was educated in Kentucky and then went on to graduate from Miami University in Ohio. He returned to Madison County, Mississippi were he married and opened a law practice.
When the Civil War started Davis entered the Confederate army as a Captain in the 10th Mississippi Infantry. He served in the Pensacola, Florida area before becoming the aide-de-camp for President Jefferson Davis. Davis received a promotion to Brigadier General on September 15th 1862. There were critics who felt his promotion was a case of nepotism. Davis had command of a brigade which patrolled the Richmond and southeastern Virginia area. In the Spring of 1863 Davis was assigned to Henry Heth’s Division of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was in command of the 42nd, 11th, 2nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina. Davis’ Brigade saw action early on July 1st 1863 on the first days Battle of Gettysburg. Davis saw many of his men killed or captured in the railroad cut on McPherson‘s Ridge. What was left of his brigade took part in the Pickett - Pettigrew - Tremble Charge on July 3rd 1863. Davis served through out the war seeing action at the many battles that the Army of Northern Virginia participated in, and was present at their surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
After the war Davis returned to Mississippi where he continued with his law practice, and was a Mississippi State Senator. He died in Biloxi, Mississippi and is buried in the Biloxi Cemetery.