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William S. Graves

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Title: William S. Graves  
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Subject: 8th Infantry Division (United States), American Expeditionary Force Siberia, Camp Fremont, Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, List of people from Texas
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William S. Graves

William Sidney Graves
General William Sidney Graves
Born (1865-03-27)March 27, 1865
Mount Calm, Texas
Died February 27, 1940(1940-02-27) (aged 74)
Shrewsbury, New Jersey
Place of Burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1889-1928
Rank Major General
Commands held 1st Infantry Division (United States) 1st Infantry Division
8th Infantry Division (United States) 8th Infantry Division

Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
World War I
Russian Civil War

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Philippine Campaign Medal
World War I Victory Medal
Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
Order of Wen-Hu
Order of the Crown of Italy
Czechoslovak War Cross
Other work Author

Major General William Sidney Graves (27 March 1865 – 27 February 1940) was a United States Army Major General. He commanded American forces in Siberia during the Siberian Expedition, part of the Allied Intervention in Russia.


  • Biography 1
  • Footnotes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Born in Mount Calm, Texas to the Reverend Andrew Carrol (a Southern Baptist minister)[1] and Evelyn (née Bennett)[2] Graves,[3][4] Graves attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated on 12 June 1889.[1][3]

Graves married Katherine Pauline "Kate" Boyd, daughter of William Lang and Augusta Josephine (née Merriam) Boyd, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming,[5] on 9 February 1891.[4] Katherine was the niece of his commanding officer, Henry C. Merriam.[4][6][7]

He served in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines until 1902. He fought at the Battle of Caloocan as a company commander during the insurrection.

In 1918 he was given command of the 8th Infantry Division and sent to Siberia under direct orders from President Woodrow Wilson. He landed on September 1, 1918. His orders were to remain strictly apolitical amidst a politically turbulent situation, as a result, he found himself constantly at odds with his Allied peers, the State Department, and various Russian groups.

Given some 8,000 soldiers in what was called the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), he settled on the idea of making sure the Trans-Siberian railroad stayed operational and brought in a number of railroad experts to run the railway. His troops did not intervene in the Russian Civil War despite strong pressure brought on him to help the White army of Admiral Kolchak. Early on, Graves developed a strong distaste for Kolchak and his government.

Graves thought that the British, French, and Japanese forces in Siberia were all following self-serving political ambitions beyond the stated goals of the Allies, which were to protect supplies provided by the powers to their erstwhile Tsarist allies and to provide for the safe conduct of foreign allied troops, primarily Czechs, who were to exit Russia via Vladivostok. Graves believed, correctly, that the British and French were trying to suppress Bolshevik forces (thought by some to be the result of German provocateurs). He also believed (again correctly) that the Japanese had plans to annex parts of Eastern Siberia (the Amur region, east of Lake Baikal). The Japanese deployed an estimated 72,000 soldiers—some 6 times the authorized troop level of 12,000 set by the Allies.

U.S. forces operated the Trans-Siberian railroad for almost two years, while bandits roamed the Siberian countryside and the political situation turned chaotic. The U.S. military did accomplish its main objective and the entire Czech Legion was evacuated out of Russia via Vladivostok. The last U.S. soldiers left Siberia April 1, 1920. Historian Benson Bobrick wrote of Graves: "In the whole sad debacle, he may have been the only honorable man."[8]

General Graves was promoted to the rank of major general on 11 July 1925,[3] and retired from the army in 1928 and then wrote a book about his time in Siberia.

William and Kate would have four children, "infant Graves" (who died as a newborn on October 27, 1891, and is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado-[9]), Marjorie (19 November 1892-24 February 1894; also buried at Ft. Logan NC.[9]), Sidney Carroll (1893–1974, USMA 1915) and Dorothy (Mrs. William R. Orton).[2] Major Sidney C. Graves would receive a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) in World War I, and then a second DSC in the Russia campaign, and in 1921 married Olga Roosevelt (Bayne), a direct relative of President Theodore Roosevelt, both descendants of Cornelius van Schaick Roosevelt (her grandfather, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, and the president's father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., were brothers).[2]


  1. ^ a b "The Graves Family Newsletter". Volumes 17-21. 1994. p. 77. 
  2. ^ a b c Davis, Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. p. 152. 
  3. ^ a b c "Gen. WS Graves, Siberian AEF Commander, Dies".  
  4. ^ a b c Pope, Charles Henry (1906). Merriam Genealogy in England and America. Boston, Massachusetts: Charles H. Pope. p. 374. 
  5. ^ Certificate of Marriage. Arapaho County, Colorado. County Clerk Jos H Smith. Filed: 12 February 1891.
  6. ^ "Fort Logan History". Colorado Department of Human Services. 
  7. ^ Cullum, George Washington, and United States Military Academy. Association of Graduates (1901). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. (3 ed.). Houghton, Mifflin. p. 487. 
  8. ^ Benson Bobrick, East of the Sun: The Conquest and Settlement of Siberia (Heinemann, 1992: ISBN 0434928895), p. 398.
  9. ^ a b "VA National Cemeteries: Gravesite Locator". U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: National Cemetery Administration. 


  • Kennan, George F.: The Decision to Intervene
  • Biography of Graves on
  • Obituaries of Graves from the New York Times and the Herald Tribune
  • Maj. Gen. William S. Graves, U.S. Army – Truly a Soldier of the Old School by G. Russell Evans, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
  • Graves, William S. (1931). America's Siberian Adventure 1918-1920. New York: Peter Smith. 

External links

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