Clarence Page Townsley

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Clarence Page Townsley
Clarence P.Townsley.jpg
Born (1855-09-24)September 24, 1855
De Kalb, New York
Died December 28, 1926(1926-12-28) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1881 - 1918
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held Superintendent of the United States Military Academy

Clarence Page Townsley (September 24, 1855 – December 28, 1926) was a career United States Army officer who became superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

Early life[edit]

Clarence Townsley was born September 24, 1855, at De Kalb village, New York, son of Elias P. Townsley and his wife Louise Thompson.[1] Townsley's grandfather Gideon had become postmaster, was elected town supervisor and operated a tannery close to the Oswegatchie River. Townsley's father Elias was also postmaster, was elected De Kalb town supervisor and also to the New York State Assembly.[1]

The younger Townsley was raised in the harsh St. Lawrence County winters in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. He attended preparatory school at St. Lawrence Academy in nearby Potsdam,[1] and graduated Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1876. Townsley spent a year in Sioux City, Iowa working as a civil engineer on the Covington, Columbus and Black Hills Railroad,[2] then was appointed from Iowa to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in July 1877, graduating 14th out of 53 in his USMA cadet class.[3]

Military career[edit]

Townsley 4057755543 a9532be531 o.jpg

On graduation in 1881, Townsley entered the 4th Artillery regiment, and the artillery corps is where he would spend his entire career. After a brief tour in California, Townsley returned to upstate New York, then to several coastal artillery posts. He spent three years teaching drawing at the academy, then back to garrison duty.[3]

In 1905, Major Townsley commanded the Artillery District of Pensacola for a period, then was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Coast Artillery Corps and was put in command of the Coastal Artillery School and the artillery district of Chesapeake Bay in 1909.[4]

Townsley commanded several artillery garrisons before returning to the academy to occupy the superintendent's billet in 1912. Townsley was in command of the USMA during the outbreak of World War I, and continued to serve in this capacity until July 1916, when he was promoted to brigadier general and returned to garrison duty. As the U.S. Army was preparing for entry into the war, Townsley commanded the coastal defenses of the South Atlantic district before brief assignment to Corregidor Island, Philippines, inspecting the formidable artillery emplacements of Manila and Subic Bays.[4]

Recalled to the United States to train and command the 30th Infantry Division (United States), Townsley was promoted major general before deployment with his command to France. Townsley was in Walter Reed Hospital and on sick leave until just before the Armistice, and then was retired, being over the legal age for retirement.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Curtis, ed., Chapter 28: The Town of De Kalb
  2. ^ Dodge ed., The Delta Upsilon Decennial Catalogue, p. 202
  3. ^ a b Cullum, (1891) Biographical Register, #2892
  4. ^ a b c Cullum, (1920) Biographical Register: Supplement, #2892


Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Henry Barry
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
John Biddle