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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Sixty-sixth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 11, 1935.


[image ALT: A head-and‑shoulders photograph of a man in his sixties in a plain high-collared military tunic; his face is almost perfectly rectangular and sports a crop of short wavy white hair as well as a full drooping mustache and goatee. He wears a serious expression. He is West Point graduate John Davenport Barrette, the subject of this webpage.]

 p127  John Davenport Barrette
No. 3066 Class of 1885
Died July 16, 1934, at St. Louis, Missouri,
aged 72 years.

John Davenport Barrette was born at Thibodauxville, La Fourcheº Parish, Louisiana, May 14th, 1862, the son of John Dunsworth Barrette and Margaret Elizabeth (Maybanks) Barrette. When he was only a small child his father moved his family to Illinois and thence to Davenport, Iowa, and it was there that General Barrette received his early education. He graduated from the Davenport High School, and attended the Iowa State University for one year before entering West Point in 1881 to graduate with the Class of 1885. His alternate begged him to give up his appointment; but "Old John D." as he was known to his classmates, and to many of the officers with whom he was later associated, valued the opportunity too greatly to give up his appointment.

His first station after graduation was with the 3rd Artillery which was then stationed around Washington. From the 3rd Artillery he went to the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia, as a student with the Class of 1892.

 p128  After a sick leave due to illness during the school year, he was assigned as an instructor of Mathematics at West Point where he remained until 1896. While at West Point he married Katherine Biddle of Detroit, Michigan, daughter of Major James Biddle of the 16th U. S. Infantry who resigned at the conclusion of the Civil War and Margaret Terry Biddle.

From 1896 to 1900 he served at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, Fort Preble and Fort Williams, Maine. While in Maine he mustered out the National Guard troops of the State of Maine who served during the Spanish War. In 1900, he was ordered to Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he commanded troops until 1903 when he was made an instructor and finally Director of the Artillery School. He was instrumental in the amalgamation of the Artillery School and the School of Submarine Defense at Fort Totten, New York.

From the fall of 1909 to the spring of 1911 he was in command of Fort McKinley, Maine and then went to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. It was while there, in command, that he took many of his troops to Galveston during the concentration of troops in Texas due to troublous times in Mexico.

During the severe storm of the Summer of 1911 at Fort Moultrie he personally directed the work which resulted in the saving of the lives and property not only of his command but also of the civilian population of Sullivan's Island.

From 1911 to 1912 he was at Governor's Island, New York, with the Adjutant General's Department. For one year he was in command of Fort Howard, Maryland. From 1913 to 1915 he commanded Fort H. G. Wright, New York. From Fort H. G. Wright he was ordered to San Francisco, California, as Adjutant General of the Western Department and in 1916 he went to Manila where he served as Adjutant General of the Philippines Department during the trying days of 1917.

In September 1917, General Barrette was ordered to Camp Upton, New York, to command the 152nd Field Artillery Brigade of the 77th Division. In November, 1917, on the eve of the sailing of his brigade for France, he was detached from his command and ordered to Washington. Upon reporting he was ordered to confer immediately with the Secretary of War who stated that a serious situation existed with reference to sending both artillery officers and heavy artillery to France and that he, the Secretary, had been informed that General Barrette was qualified to handle the situation of which he would assume control immediately. A War Department order directing General Barrette to act as Chief of Coast Artillery was issued by the Secretary of War. Upon conclusion of his duties in May, 1918, the Secretary personally informed General Barrette that he had performed the mission assigned him to the complete satisfaction of the Secretary.

From May, 1918, until the conclusion of the war, General Barrette was in command of the Artillery School at Saumur, France.

Upon return to this country, he commanded the Middle Atlantic Coast Artillery District at Fort Totten, New York going from there in  p129 1919 to command the South Eastern Department and the South Atlantic Coast Artillery District at Charleston, South Carolina. In 1920 he was assigned to command the South Pacific Coast Artillery District at San Francisco, California.

In 1922, he assumed command of the Hawaiian Coast Artillery District and at times of the Hawaiian Division. At the end of his three years service with the Coast Artillery District in Hawaii and with the Hawaiian Department, the Commanding General testified before the Morrow Commission that he believed the Hawaiian Coast Artillery Brigade had reached his highest point of efficiency under the command of General Barrette.

On leaving the Hawaiian Department, he was ordered to command the First Coast Artillery District at Boston, Massachusetts, during which time he was Acting Commanding General of the First Corps Area for several months. Here in Boston he was retired for age in 1926. It was shortly before his retirement that a superior officer wrote — "General Barrette is an officer of the highest character, — loyal, conscientious, and efficient." Also was written of him, "— His long years of faithful service being characterized by efficiency, unfailing loyalty and devotion to duty."

Loyalty — that is the keynote of General Barrette's character. He entered West Point with the thought only of obeying orders; of seeking for himself no personal favors; and of serving his country to the best of his ability even to the detriment of his own personal feelings and interest. From the day he entered West Point to the end of his long and honorable career, and even unto death, he never deviated from his high ideals.

General Barrette was widely known for his personal kindness to, and his interest in, both officers and enlisted men under his command. All men knew that he would always be just and fair in his contacts with them.

General Barrette lies buried in Arlington Cemetery beside the wife he loved so well and to whom, with his customary ability to say the right word, he gave the name "His Good Soldier". After his death an English officer wrote "General Barrette was my idea of a great American". He loved and served his country well and no greater tribute can we give him than his own words — "A Good Soldier" and those of the English officer — "A Great American".

M. B. H. and E. B. B.


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Page updated: 23 Jul 18