John McAuley Palmer (general)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from John McAuley Palmer (1870–1955))
Jump to: navigation, search
John McAuley Palmer
John McAuley Palmer Army WW II.jpg
Brigadier General John M. Palmer during World War II
Born (1870-04-23)April 23, 1870
Carlinville, Illinois
Died October 26, 1955(1955-10-26) (aged 85)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1892–1926, 1941–1946
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands held 58th Infantry Brigade
19th Infantry Brigade
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Other work Author

John McAuley Palmer (April 23, 1870 – October 26, 1955) was a soldier and administrator in the United States Army.

Early life and start of career[edit]

Born in Carlinville, Illinois, he was the grandson and namesake of John McAuley Palmer, a famous American Civil War general and Governor of Illinois. He graduated from West Point and was appointed a second lieutenant of infantry in 1892, and served with the 15th Infantry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He participated in the suppression of the Chicago railroad riots of 1894, then went to Cuba as an aide to Samuel S. Sumner (1898–1899) during the Spanish–American War.[1][2][3]

Post-Spanish–American War career[edit]

Following his Cuba service, he became a member of the China Relief Expedition (1900–1901), then an instructor and assistant professor of chemistry at West Point (1901–1906). Following this academic stint, he was then assigned a billet as governor of Lanao District on Mindanao in the Philippines (1906–1908).[4] Upon return from Far East Service, he was a student at the United States Army Command and General Staff College.[5] After graduating he was assigned to the War Department General Staff under the command of the then-Army Chief of Staff Leonard Wood (1908–1910). During this period of service he received recognition as a writer and advocate on military theory.[6]

Later career and World War I[edit]

In 1910 he rejoined his regiment in Tientsin (Tianjin) China and was promoted to the permanent rank of major. He was then transferred to the 24th Infantry on Corregidor and was instrumental in creating the plans for the defense of the Bataan Peninsula (1914–1916).[7]

Following this assignment, he returned to the General Staff in Washington, D.C. (1916) and on the outbreak of the First World War was instrumental in drafting the Draft Act of 1917 and plans for an American Expeditionary Force (AEF). This work caught the notice of John J. Pershing, who selected Palmer to become his Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, G-3, where he went to France and set up operational plans and staff schools for the American Army. He left the AEF staff due to illness, but recovered in time, as a colonel, to command the 58th Infantry Brigade of the 29th Division in combat against the enemy at Verdun in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that helped to end World War I.[8][9] He received the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in France.[10]

Post–World War I[edit]

As the principal formulator of military policy following World War I, he was the guiding force in the creation of the National Defense Act of 1920. It was this Act which reaffirmed America's reliance upon the citizen-soldier for her defense and established the "Total Army" composed of the Regular Army, the National Guard, and the Army Reserve. For his accomplishments, he was made aide-de-camp to Army Chief of Staff John J. Pershing (1921–1923) and promoted to permanent brigadier general in the Regular Army (1922). He then completed his military career by commanding the 19th Infantry Brigade in Panama (1923–1926).[11][12]

Retirement and recall for World War II[edit]

Palmer at work during his recall to active duty for World War II.

In retirement (1926), General Palmer continued to champion the cause of universal military service. He wrote numerous books and articles about military policy. A strong advocate of the role of the citizen-soldier in the army of a democracy, Palmer diverged from the views of Emory Upton, with whom he is often compared as a great philosophical thinker-philosopher of the U.S. Army.[13]

He was recalled to active duty by Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall (a personal friend and devotee of Palmer's) just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack and served as an advisor on military policy to the War Department General Staff throughout World War II. Palmer was the oldest military member to serve during World War II.[14][15][16]

Second retirement, death and burial[edit]

Palmer retired again soon after the end of the Second World War, receiving a second Distinguished Service Medal.[17]

He lived in Washington, D.C. where he died on October 26, 1955.[18] Palmer was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 34, Grave 50-A.[19]


Brigadier General Palmer's ribbon bar:[20]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Army of Cuban Occupation Medal China Campaign Medal
2nd Row World War I Victory Medal American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal
3rd Row Officer of the Legion of Honour French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Palm Médaille du Cercle National des Armées de Terre, Air et Mer Military Order of the Dragon

Published works[edit]

  • An Army of the People (1916)
  • Statesmanship or War (1927)
  • Washington, Lincoln, Wilson (1930)
  • General von Steuben (1937)
  • America in Arms (1941).[21]


  1. ^ New York Times, Railroads and "Pacification", December 7, 1902
  2. ^ Anne Venzon, The United States in the First World War: An Encyclopedia, 1995, pages 434 to 435
  3. ^ The Bookman magazine, Chronicle and Comment, Volume 43, 1916, pages 253 to 254
  4. ^ University of Malaya, Tenggara magazine, Issues 36–37, 1996, page 133
  5. ^ Sam Charles Sarkesian, America's Forgotten Wars: The Counterrevolutionary Past and Lessons for the Future, 1984, page 129
  6. ^ John Whiteclay Chambers, The Oxford Companion to American Military History, 1999, page 523
  7. ^ Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, Curt Johnson, David L. Bongard, The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography, 1992, page 570
  8. ^ J.T. White, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1930, page 191
  9. ^ Jorg Muth, Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, 2011, page 26
  10. ^ George Washington Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, Volume 6, Part 1, 1920, page 626
  11. ^ Russell Frank Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy, 1977, pages 221 to 222
  12. ^ Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War, 2009, page 118
  13. ^ George Q. Flynn, Conscription And Democracy, 2002, page 39
  14. ^ Hanson W. Baldwin, "Study of Permanent Selective Service Held Essential to Nation's Planning", New York Times, January 20, 1944
  15. ^ Irving Brinton Holley, General John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldiers, and the Army of a Democracy, 1982, page 291
  16. ^ Society for History Education, The History Teacher, Volume 17, 1983, page 628
  17. ^ Military Times, Hall of Valor, Alphabetical Index of Recipients of Major Military Awards, accessed October 8, 2012
  18. ^ Chicago Tribune, Gen. Palmer, 85, a Governor's Grandson, Dies, October 27, 1955
  19. ^ John McAuley Palmer at Find A Grave, accessed October 8, 2012[unreliable source?]
  20. ^ Michael Belis,, John M. A. Palmer, Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry, June 11, 1920 – May 5, 1921, retrieved July 23, 2014
  21. ^ C. Langston Craig, Michael McElderry, Jewel R. McPherson, Finding Aid, John McAuley Palmer Papers, 2010, page 4

External links[edit]