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William Sidney Graves Edit Profile

military , army officer

Major General William Sidney Graves was a United States Army Major General. He commanded American forces in Siberia during the Siberian Expedition, part of the Allied Intervention in Russia.

Background

He was born on 27 March 1865 in Mount Calm, Texas to the Reverend Andrew Carrol, a Southern Baptist minister and Evelyn Bennett.

Education

Graves attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated on 12 June 1889.

Career

Graves graduated from "the Point" in 1889 and for the next ten years was attached to the Seventh Infantry. He saw service in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and from 1909 to the end of the First World War served with only a few interruptions in the General Staff, first as its secretary and later as an assistant to the chief of staff.

In June 1918, Graves was promoted to the grade of major general and given command of the Eighth Infantry Division in California. This assignment proved to be of short duration, however, for on August 2, he received secret orders to meet Secretary of War Baker in Kansas City; the secretary met Graves at the railway station and informed the general that he was to proceed immediately to Siberia to command an American Expeditionary Force (AEF) which was being sent there. Baker admonished Graves: "Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite. God bless you and good-bye."

Graves never really understood the nature of his mission. He was unaware that President Wilson had agreed to this quixotic adventure only at the insistent pleas of the British and the French. Indeed, the assignment was hopeless. Siberia was racked by a vicious civil war between Bolshevik and White armies; widespread starvation existed; and British, French, and Japanese forces roamed the area at will as did almost 90,000 soldiers of the so-called Czech legion, deserters from the Austro-Hungarian army. Graves found upon his arrival that he had barely 9,000 men of the Twenty-seventh and Thirty-first Infantry Regiments under his command. The Czech troops hoped eventually to reach the western front by way of Siberia and the sea passage, but they had in the meantime become hopelessly embroiled in fighting with Bolshevik units. Moreover, Wilson's instructions to Graves had been purposely kept ambiguous: the American commander was instructed to protect Allied military stores in Vladivostok, to render aid to the Czechs, and to help the "Russian people" (whoever they were) to determine freely their own destiny.

Wilson had not included a further aim, namely to prevent the Japanese from annexing parts of Siberia. Despite pressure from the British and French, Graves heroically stuck to the letter of his instructions and refused to become involved in fighting the Red forces; he had rightly surmised that the president did not desire military operations with the aim of overthrowing the Bolshevik government. Both Secretary of War Baker and General March, chief of the General Staff, had opposed the Siberian venture, but the president had overruled them because of the British and French.

Graves finally managed to extricate his troops from Siberia on April 1,1920. He retired from the army eight years later and died in Shrewsbury, New York, on February 27,1940.

Connections

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, on 9 February 1891. Katherine was the niece of his commanding officer, Henry C. Merriam.

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), Marjorie (19 November 1892-24 February 1894; also buried at Ft. Logan NC.), Sidney Carroll (1893–1974, USMA 1915) and Dorothy (Mrs. William R. Orton). 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).

spouse:
Katherine Boyd

children:
Sidney C. Graves

Dorothy (wife of Wm Graves