General Arthur MacArthur’s extraordinary life spans the history of the United States from the Civil War through the Indian Wars to the Spanish-American War and the heyday of American imperialism in the Philippines. And in a sense, as the father of Douglas MacArthur, his influence extends well into our own century. The General’s General is the first biography of Arthur MacArthur, and it clearly establishes his importance in American history. Arthur MacArthur’s military career began as a scrawny seventeen-year-old lieutenant, his commission owed not to any evidence of his ability but to family connections. His squeaky voice, barely audible on the parade field, combined with an adolescent conception of proper military bearing to make the young officer an object of ridicule. But MacArthur overcame this bad start and went on to become a bona fide Civil War hero. The youngest regimental commander of the war, he led his troops with distinction in battle and became one of the very first officers to be awarded the congressional Medal of Honor. In the 1870s MacArthur served in forts in the West during the Indian Wars, married “Pinkyâ€ Hardy, and started a family. He next commanded a division in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. MacArthur went on to become the governor-general of the Philippines—the most imperial post in that blatantly imperialistic period of American history. His blunt opposition to aspects of Washington’s colonial policy in the Philippines led to a series of conflicts with Taft, McKinley, and other civilian authorities. After his return to the United States in 1907, these same leaders blocked MacArthur’s appointment as chief of staff of the army. Instead, an embittered MacArthur was forced to retire. The MacArthur family, including Douglas, never forgave the powerful men who had thwarted Arthur in his greatest ambition and denied him his place in history. After one of the most distinguished careers in the history of the U.S. Army, Arthur MacArthur died in relative obscurity while delivering a speech at the fiftieth reunion of his original Civil War regiment. A man whose whole life had been soldiering left instructions forbidding a military funeral and asking to be buried in civilian clothes rather than in the uniform he had worn so proudly from the age of seventeen. MacArthur died too soon to witness the military exploits of his famous son. But there can be no doubt that Arthur made a profound impression on Douglas, who regarded the general with awe and spent much of his own life following in his father’s footsteps. Arthur MacArthur had spent his life striving to be a soldier’s soldier; in the end it can be truly said that he was the general’s general.
Table of Contents
Preface -- The Civil War -- The Judge -- Into the War -- The Battle of Murfreesboro -- Interlude -- Hero of Missionary Ridge -- The Atlanta Campaign -- The Battle for Franklin -- A Hero’s Return -- Frontier Days -- Into the Wilderness -- On Staff -- General MacArthur and the Philippines -- The Spanish-American War and the Philippines -- The Philippine Revolution -- Military Governor -- Final Days -- A Soldier’s Odyssey -- Postscript
Kenneth Ray Young, a Fulbright scholar to the Philippines in 1979, is professor of history at Western Connecticut State University, where he specializes in U.S. military actions in Asia.