Robert Lee Bullard

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For the sociologist and environmental justice advocate, see Robert D. Bullard.
Robert L. Bullard
Lieutenant General Robert Lee Bullard.PNG
Born (1861-01-05)January 5, 1861
Lee County, Alabama, United States
Died September 11, 1947(1947-09-11) (aged 86)
New York City, United States
Buried at West Point Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1885–1925
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Unit USA - Army Infantry Insignia.png Infantry Branch
Commands held 26th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division
III Corps
Second Army
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
Mexican Border Service
World War I
*Battle of Cantigny
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Other work President of National Security League

Lieutenant General Robert Lee Bullard (January 5, 1861 – September 11, 1947) was a senior officer of the United States Army. He was involved in conflicts in the American Western Frontier, the Philippines, and World War I, where he commanded the 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed "The Big Red One") during the Battle of Cantigny while serving on the Western Front. He was an administrator in Cuba.


A native of Alabama, Bullard attended the United States Military Academy, graduated in 1885, and was appointed first lieutenant in 1892. He served in various capacities in the Spanish–American War, and in the Philippines from 1902 to 1904. He was made lieutenant colonel in 1906. In 1907, he was special investigator for the U.S. provisional government in Cuba, and the following year was superintendent of public instruction there. In 1911, he was promoted to colonel.1[1]

World War I[edit]

After the American entry in World War I, Bullard was quickly promoted to brigadier general (June 1917) and major general N.A. (August 1917). He commanded the 1st Infantry Division ("Big Red One") from December 1917 to July 1918.[1]

During World War I, he led men in the Battle of Cantigny (1918) and captured the village of Cantigny. It had been held by the German Eighteenth Army. It was the site of a German advance observation point and strongly fortified. This was the first sustained American offensive of the war. It was considered a success in that it expanded the American front by about a mile. General John J. Pershing said of the attack:

"The enemy reaction against our troops at Cantigny was extremely violent, and apparently he was determined at all costs to counteract the most excellent effect the American success had produced. For three days his guns of all calibers were concentrated on our new position and counter-attack succeeded counter-attack. The desperate efforts of the Germans gave the fighting at Cantigny a seeming tactical importance entirely out of proportion to the numbers involved."2

Bullard was fluent in French and often served in joint U.S.–French operations.

In the Battle of Montfalcon, Bullard refused orders to turn the flank of the German troops with his 4th division as he did not want to help a fellow general get credit for it. Due to his disobedience, the 79th division had no support to their right and suffered severe casualties. Even when one of General Bullard's colonels asked about the order and why he would not obey it, Ballard refused to provide any support at all for the 79th division. This ultimately resulted in over 6,000 more U.S.killed and wounded as the 79th division performed a frontal attack on Montfalcon with no support whatsoever from Bullard.[2]

General Pershing created the Second U.S. Army in October 1918 and appointed Bullard as its first commander with the rank of lieutenant general. At the same time he turned over command of First United States Army to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. Pershing retained his position as commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) with authority over both of the armies.

Bullard's sending of troops into battle, with full knowledge that the Armistice was due in a few hours, was severely criticized by Alden Brooks in his post-war account of the war, As I Saw It (1930).

Post war[edit]

The 2nd Army was deactivated in April 1919 and Bullard reverted to his permanent rank of major general in June 1920. He was assigned to corps command in the much smaller post war U.S. Army. He retired from active duty in 1925 to concentrate on writing.[1] He served as president of the National Security League.

Bullard wrote American Soldiers Also Fought in 1936.[1]

He died on September 11, 1947.[1] Bullard is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery, with his wife Ella (Reiff) Bullard (5 November 1870 to 3 March 1963).


He was author of the following books:

  • Personalities and Reminiscences of the War, New York: Doubleday Page, 1925. ISBN 0-7661-9742-5
  • American Soldiers also Fought, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1936. OCLC 2854191

Bullard also wrote several magazine articles.

Further reading[edit]

  • Millett, Allan R. (1975). The General: Robert L. Bullard and Officership in the United States Army, 1881–1925. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0837179572. OCLC 1530541. 
  • Walker, William T. (2016). Betrayal at Little Gibraltar: A German Fortress, a Treacherous American General, and the Battle to End World War I. Scribner. ISBN 9781501117893. 


^1 Wikisource-logo.svg "Bullard, Robert Lee". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 1922. 

^2 Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923


  1. ^ a b c d e Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, NC: Pentland Press, Inc. p. 58. ISBN 1571970886. 
  2. ^ Betrayal at Little Gibralter, William Walker.

External links[edit]