Adventures and Letters HTML version
The Last Days
After a short visit to London, Richard returned to New York in February, 1916. During
his absence his wife and Hope had occupied the Scribner cottage at Mount Kisco, about
two miles from Crossroads. Here my brother finished his second book on the war, and
wrote numerous articles and letters urging the immediate necessity for preparedness in
this country. As to Richard's usefulness to his country at this time, I quote in part from
two appreciations written after my brother's death by the two most prominent exponents
Theodore Roosevelt said:
"He was as good an American as ever lived, and his heart flamed against cruelty and
injustice. His writings form a text-book of Americanism which all our people would do
well to read at the present time."
Major-General Leonard Wood said:
"The death of Richard Harding Davis was a real loss to the movement for preparedness.
Mr. Davis had an extensive experience as a military observer, and thoroughly appreciated
the need of a general training system like that of Australia or Switzerland and of thorough
organization of our industrial resources in, order to establish a condition of reasonable
preparedness in this country. A few days before his death he came to Governors Island
for the purpose of ascertaining in what line of work he could be most useful in building
up sound public opinion in favor of such preparedness as would give us a real peace
insurance. His mind was bent on devoting his energies and abilities to the work of public
education on this vitally important subject, and few men were better qualified to do so,
for he had served as a military observer in many campaigns.
"Throughout the Cuban campaign he was attached to the headquarters of my regiment in
Cuba as a military observer. He was with the advanced party at the opening of the fight at
Las Guasiinas, and was distinguished throughout the fight by coolness and good conduct.
He also participated in the battle of San Juan and the siege of Santiago, and as an
observer was always where duty called him. He was a delightful companion, cheerful,
resourceful, and thoughtful of the interests and wishes of others. His reports of the game
were valuable and among the best and most accurate.
"The Plattsburg movement took a very strong hold of him. He saw in this a great
instrument for building up a sound knowledge concerning our military history and policy,
also a very practical way of training men for the duties of junior officers. He realized
fully that we should need in case of war tens of thousands of officers with our newly
raised troops, and that it would be utterly impossible to prepare them in the hurry and
confusion of the onrush of modern war. His heart was filled with a desire to serve his
country to the best of his ability. His recent experience in Europe pointed out to him the
absolute madness of longer disregarding the need of doing those things which reasonable