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MacArthur Defiant Soldier
By Mitchell Yockelson
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Mitchell Yockelson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe MacArthurs
Douglas MacArthur idolized his father, Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, and for good reason. The elder MacArthur was intelligent, possessed high professional standards, and—most appealing to an impressionable young man with military ambitions of his own—General Arthur MacArthur was fearless in combat. Although largely forgotten today and certainly overshadowed by his famous son, the senior MacArthur was one of America's greatest soldiers. Douglas believed that he could never equal his father, but he looked to him as a role model. And throughout his own career Douglas certainly emulated his father, for better and for worse.
Tracing the MacArthur lineage is complicated and some of the facts passed down through the years are questionable. Arthur's father, also named Arthur, and later known as Judge MacArthur, was the patriarch of the family. He was born on January 26,1817, in Glasgow, Scotland. Coincidentally, his mother's surname was also MacArthur. As the story goes, the earliest MacArthurs descended from Highlander nobility and a rich Scottish military heritage that dated to the sixth century.
Arthur Jr. never knew his father or his sister. They both died just days before he was born, and relatives looked after mother and son. His mother, Sarah, remarried in 1824 and a few years later the family immigrated to the United States to join one of Sarah's sisters in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, a booming textile town about sixty miles south of Boston. Arthur attended the one-room Uxbridge Academy until an economic downturn forced it to close and he transferred to a boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts. He then enrolled briefly at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut, before moving to New York City to clerk in a law firm. Along the way he married Aurelia, the daughter of a wealthy Chicopee, Massachusetts, industrialist, and supported his wife by opening his own law office in Springfield, Massachusetts. On June 2, 1845, the young couple had a son, who was named for his father. Four years later the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Arthur Sr. continued to practice law, but also dabbled in politics. Some years later he served as lieutenant governor and for five days as governor of the state. Ever the public servant, Arthur Sr. was elected circuit court judge for two terms and earned the moniker "Judge MacArthur."
When the Civil War commenced, Arthur Jr. was eager to join in support of the Union. Throughout his young life he had devoured books on military and historical subjects and now came the opportunity to make history himself. Judge MacArthur felt his son was not ready for the army, though, and sent him to a private military school for a year. In 1862 he attempted to secure a presidential appointment for Arthur Jr. at West Point. The judge wrote the U.S. senator from Wisconsin and through him father and son visited President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. Lincoln told them the bad news that there were no more presidential vacancies until the next year. Arthur Jr. refused to wait and enlisted in the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.
Through his father's influence he gained a commission as first lieutenant and was assigned the position of regimental adjutant. Not content to be just a clerk, Arthur Jr. saw his first action in October 1862, when the regiment supported a division in the Army of the Ohio near Perryville, Kentucky. Young MacArthur gave a good account of himself and the division commander, Brigadier General Philip A. Sheridan, cited Arthur Jr. for gallantry under fire and promoted him to brevet captain. At the end of 1862, the 24th Wisconsin took part in the heavy fighting at Stones River, Tennessee, and Captain MacArthur was again praised for his gallantry while under fire.
Now a combat veteran, his finest moment on the battlefield occurred during the Battle of Missionary Ridge near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 25, 1863. There, the 24th Wisconsin, with other Union regiments, captured Confederate-held rifle pits on the ridge. Not willing to rest on their laurels, the regiment took the initiative and charged up the steep, rocky face of the ridge to route Confederates entrenched at the crest. During the action the 24th's color bearer was hit. MacArthur, seeing the wounded soldier about to fall, grabbed the regimental flag from him and planted it on the crest of the ridge, thus proving the Wisconsin troops had reached the top first.
Impressed by the act of bravery, the regimental commander, Major Carl von Baumach, wrote in his official report that MacArthur "was the most distinguished in action on a field where many in the regiment displayed conspicuous gallantry, worthy of the highest praise." Much later MacArthur received the Medal of Honor for his showing that day. When Douglas received the same coveted decoration during World War II, they were the first father and son in American history to have earned such distinction.
Two months after Missionary Ridge, Arthur was promoted to major and placed in command of the 24th Wisconsin. He led the regiment as it took part in General William T. Sherman's Atlanta campaign and was wounded while attacking a heavily entrenched enemy position at Kennesaw Mountain. It took almost two months for his wounds to heal, and when he returned to the battlefield on November 30, 1864, he was wounded again during the battle at Franklin, Tennessee. This time he was shot in the leg and through the breast, and the war now ended for him. MacArthur was again cited for gallantry and, as a result, promoted to brevet colonel and eventually to the permanent rank of lieutenant colonel of volunteers. He always insisted on leading his men at the front, a heroic trait his son adopted during World War I.
Arthur Jr. mustered out of the service in June 1865 and returned to Milwaukee unsure of his future. He studied law under his father's guidance for several months but missed the army and the glory it brought him. Given the state of the post–Civil War regular army with its downsizing, rejoining the military was not looked upon favorably as a career choice. But MacArthur was sure this was what he wanted, so he sought endorsements from generals and senators and was commissioned as second lieutenant. Shortly thereafter he was made a captain.
Army service after the Civil War meant either reconstruction duty in the South or fighting Indians in the West. Arthur experienced both. Captain MacArthur was ordered to serve with the 36th Infantry Regiment. Posted at Fort Kearney in Nebraska Territory, the regiment was charged with protecting emigrants traversing the Oregon Trail and workers constructing the Union Pacific Railroad. As the railroad crews accomplished their work and headed west through Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, they were protected by the ten companies that comprised the 36th Infantry.
Before long the regiment moved to Fort Sanders, Colorado, where they performed a dual role as a police force and labor brigade. With the construction of the railroad came mining camps, cow towns, and farming communities. The residents of each needed protection. They were easy prey for marauding Indians who felt infringed upon by the new settlers and the bands of outlaws. The 36th was expected to keep law and order, as well as build bridges, telegraph lines, and roads. Somehow they also found time for military drill and guard duty.
After two years at Sanders, the 36th was sent to Fort Bridger, Wyoming, also to protect the Union Pacific and the settlers and crews who followed the railroad. Then a year later the regimental officers learned that Congress was reducing the army from forty to twenty-five regiments and the 36th was one of the units to be abolished. Captain McArthur was now without a job. He went back to Milwaukee in May 1869 to wait things out. Reality sunk in that perhaps the military, was too unstable and that maybe he should reconsider a law career, as his father had wanted.
Arthur had never completely given up the idea of becoming an attorney and had brought his law books with him when he joined the 36th. Just three months after returning home he took the Wisconsin bar examinations and passed them. But the army called again and he never had the chance to put his law degree into practice. The War Department ordered him to New York City for assignment at the Cavalry Recruiting Office in the Bowery.
Keeping officers in the army was never a problem, but retaining enlisted men was, as exhibited by the high desertion rate. New York was an ideal place for recruitment since there was always a steady stream of immigrants right off the boat needing employment. Then there was the ready supply of ruffians in the poorer sections of the city who were always looking for action and could easily be convinced to join the army and fight Indians. MacArthur took on his new assignment with vigor, studying cavalry tactics to make his pitch as a recruiting officer more believable. And the more he learned about the cavalry, the more he felt he wanted to serve in this branch.
Ironically General Philip Sheridan, now a commander of the Division of the Missouri, came to New York and he and MacArthur became reacquainted. Sheridan liked MacArthur's enthusiasm and endorsed him as a cavalry officer. For unknown reasons, the War Department ignored Sheridan's recommendation and instead assigned MacArthur to the 13th Infantry Regiment when his current post was up. This sent him back to the West for the same duty as before, guarding the construction of railroad lines.
After moving from one post to another, the 36th Infantry was consolidated with the 7th Infantry Regiment. Even though the U.S. Army was actively campaigning against the Indians, Arthur saw none of this. Eight years in the army had earned him not a single campaign badge. Eventually he transferred to the 13th Infantry and remained in the West until the regiment was reassigned to Jackson Barracks, Louisiana, in 1874. The city was located about fifty miles north of New Orleans and on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The regiment was assigned the difficult task of protecting the presidentially appointed reconstruction governor, William P. Kellogg. His administration was widely known to be corrupt, and the Republication governor of Louisiana and the occupying army were seen as an extension of Washington's problems.
As MacArthur approached the third decade of his life he was eager to settle down and have a family. Service on the frontier afforded little opportunity to meet a young lady for marriage, but nearby New Orleans provided the opportunity. There he attended balls and dances and his chance to find a wife drastically improved. A Mardi Gras celebration proved to be his lucky moment, and there he met a Southern belle named Mary Pinkney Hardy. Called Pinky by her family and friends, she stole Arthur's heart and they fell deeply in love.
Pinky was born in 1852 at Riveredge, her family's plantation near Norfolk. The Hardy family had a long military tradition, serving under George Washington's command during the American Revolution and continuing with four brothers who fought in the Confederacy. Pinky was of Scottish descent, and with the family's military background, MacArthur was certain he had found his match. She was also quite pretty and a graduate of the Mount de Sales Academy girls school where young women learned to dance, embroider, paint, and generally master the skills that were important to ladies of that era. Later on, as a wife and mother, Pinky became a "complex woman, being both meek and tough, petulant and sentimental, charming and emotional," according to biographer William Manchester. "Under her mannered, pretty exterior, she was cool, practical, and absolutely determined."
When Union Army forces under General Benjamin Butler occupied Norfolk, they had made the Hardy estate a headquarters. The family fled to their summer home in Henderson, North Carolina, and remained there until the war ended and it was safe to go back to Riveredge. At first Pinky's family frowned upon her decision to marry a Yankee. After all, the Civil War had only recently ended and the Hardys were proud Southerners. Winning them over required a visit to Riveredge by Judge MacArthur, who used his charm and Scottish humor to ease the family's animosities and secure a bride for his son. Despite Judge's efforts, though, two of Pinky's diehard Confederate brothers refused to accept their new brother-in-law and stayed away from the May 1875 wedding.
Pinky had no idea what to expect when marrying an army officer. Luckily, her husband's next assignment was in Washington and thus spared Pinky, for the time being, from life on a frontier post. She was going to live in a big city and become exposed to the culture that came with the experience. The year she and her husband spent in Washington is described by Arthur's biographer as one of the happiest times of their marriage. While he mainly served on examining and retirement boards, Pinky indulged the company of Judge MacArthur and the Washington elite he knew well. The newlyweds were invited to meet and attend parties with congressmen, senators, and prominent businessmen. Pinky enjoyed this socializing much more than her husband did. In his eyes some of the political elite were corrupt and he kept as far away from them as possible. It was also a joyous time for the MacArthurs. Pinky returned to Norfolk and gave birth to their first son, named Arthur III.
At the end of 1876, Arthur Jr. was sent back to Louisiana to again serve with the 13th Regiment at Jackson Barracks. He was placed in command of Company K. Life there was a far cry from what they had just experienced in Washington. The post dated from 1831 and because Congress appropriated little money for maintaining the infrastructure of military installations, many of its buildings were in disrepair. The MacArthurs were quartered in a cramped officer's cottage.
Pinky learned to adapt to the routine of army life but used Louisiana's dreadfully hot summers as an excuse to travel back to Riveredge to be with her family. There was even more reason to return home in the summer of 1878—she was pregnant with their second child and expected to deliver that autumn. Jefferson Barracks did not have the family support found in Riveredge, so Pinky remained in the east when the MacArthurs' second son, Malcolm, was born.
Meanwhile Captain MacArthur spent much of his time drilling and inspecting his men, coupled with the occasional detached duty that involved breaking up labor disputes. He was every bit the family man and rarely fraternized with other officers. He preferred a quiet army life and was seldom seen at the officers club or at social affairs. MacArthur's main interest was his sons. The eldest, Arthur III, accompanied his father's troops on short supply excursions.
With occupation duty coming to an end in the South, regiments were shifted to various army posts. Company K moved frequently throughout Louisiana and Arkansas. In 1880, the last year Arthur MacArthur served in the region, Pinky was pregnant again. Her intention, as she had done with Arthur III and Malcolm, was to deliver at Riveredge. The child, whom the MacArthurs named Douglas, had other ideas and arrived sooner than expected on January 26, 1880. That same day Judge MacArthur turned sixty-three. The infant, who later eclipsed the greatness of his father and grandfather, was born at Little Rock Arsenal. Even though he entered the world far from Norfolk, the city still took pride in Douglas's arrival and he never forgot this. Norfolk's newspapers covered the event with headlines that oddly read: "Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, while his parents were away."
Chapter TwoEducation of a Soldier
After Douglas was born, Captain MacArthur moved with his family to the next assignment at Fort Wingate, New Mexico. A remote post about one hundred miles northwest of Albuquerque, it served as a garrison for the 13th Infantry and a couple of cavalry companies. The soldiers guarded crews building the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, while the mounted troops chased after Apache Indians. Pinky absolutely hated Fort Wingate. There were few other women for her to socialize with and the living conditions were abysmal. The MacArthurs were quartered in an adobe structure with two rooms and a kitchen— far too small for a family of five. Only a front porch provided some comfort during the brutally hot New Mexico summers.
Pinky continually urged her husband to resign his commission to practice law or to go into business. Arthur refused. He was comfortable with army life and willing to accept its difficulties in hopes that his patience would lead to a promotion and a better assignment. In later years, Douglas MacArthur would often recall Wingate with fondness.
Excerpted from MacArthur Defiant Soldier by Mitchell Yockelson Copyright © 2011 by Mitchell Yockelson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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