Isaac Davis White, Class of 1922, embodied the Norwich spirit from a young age. A highly decorated four-star general, White descended from a long line of war heroes stretching back to the Revolutionary War.
White was born in 1901 and raised in Peterboro, New Hampshire. His father, Major General Daniel Mansfield White, was a Civil War veteran and career Army officer. As a boy, White was known to march proudly in town parades wearing his father’s Union Army cap. The family was descended from Isaac Davis, a Revolutionary War hero from Acton, Massachusetts who was among the first to be killed in the Battle of Concord.
White was so inspired by his father’s war stories that he departed high school after his junior year in order to enroll at Norwich University and pursue a career in the military. At Norwich he was an excellent horseman and captain of the polo team. He graduated in 1922 and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the cavalry in January 1923.
As his career advanced, it became clear that tanks were replacing horses in modern warfare, and White rose to the occasion. Throughout the 1930s, first as part of the 7th Cavalry Brigade and then the Armored Car Troop of the 1st Cavalry Regiment, he was on the front lines in the development of early modern armor.
In 1940 he was promoted to major and joined the “Hell on Wheels” 2nd Armored Division, which would be commanded by two Norwich men during World War II, Ernest Harmon and Edward Brooks. White held every rank in the division over the course of the war, and took command of it himself in January 1945, earning the nickname “Mr. Armor.”
After thus distinguishing himself through service in World War II, White went on to serve in the Korean War as well. He retired in 1961 as a four-star general with numerous decorations including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star. The impact of his legacy is clear, both for the nation he served and for Norwich University.
The Norwich University Archives is home to an extensive collection of I.D. White’s personal papers. The collection includes 60 boxes of letters, photographs, speeches, commendations, records of military service, and other donated materials. An overview of the collection can be found online; contact Archives staff for more in-depth information about its contents.