Arthur MacArthur

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Arthur MacArthur, Jr. (June 2, 1845 – September 5, 1912), was a United States Army general. He became the military governor of the American-occupied Philippines in 1900 but his term ended a year later due to clashes with the civilian governor, future President William Howard Taft.

Early life

MacArthur was the father of the famed general Douglas MacArthur, as well as Arthur MacArthur III, a captain in the Navy awarded the Navy Cross in World War I. His own father, Arthur MacArthur, Sr., was the fourth governor of Wisconsin (albeit for only four days) and a popular judge within Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Civil War

At the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, he was living in Wisconsin and immediately joined the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, seeing action at the Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Stones River, Third Battle of Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign and the Battle of Franklin. For his Civil War exploits he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his performance at Missionary Ridge and was brevetted colonel in the Army at the age of 19. His soldiers loved him so much that he became nationally recognized as "The Boy Colonel". (NOTE: MacArthur had been recommended for the Medal of Honor for electrifying his regiment at Missionary Ridge during the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863, with the cry "On Wisconsin." He was finally awarded the Medal (in 1890) for that service.)

MacArthur left the Army in June 1865 and began the study of law, but it was not for him and he returned to his first love, the Army, in February 1866, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army's U.S. 13th Infantry Regiment which led to slow promotion in a 'peacetime' army.

For thirty years, MacArthur traveled the nation, being assigned to Pennsylvania, New York, Utah Territory, Louisiana and New Mexico, where he took part in the campaign against Geronimo in 1885. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1899.

Spanish-American War

During the first part of the Spanish American War, MacArthur was serving as the adjutant general of the III Corps in Georgia, USA. In June, 1898 he was promoted temporary brigadier general in the volunteer army and commanded the Third Philippine Expedition. When he arrived in the Philippines he took command of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, VIII Corps and led it at the Battle of Manila (1898). He was appointed major general of volunteers when the Spanish-American War ended.

Philippine-American War

He was stationed in the Dakota Territory when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 and he was commissioned a Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers. MacArthur led the U.S. 2nd Division, VIII Corps during the Philippine-American War at the Battle of Manila (1899), the Malolos campaign and the Northern Offensive. When the American occupation of the Philippines turned from conventional battles to guerrilla warfare, MacArthur commanded the Dept of Northern Luzon. In January 1900, he was appointed brigadier general in the regular army and was appointed military governor of the Philippines and assumed command of the VIII Corps, replacing General Elwell S. Otis.

He authorized the expedition, under General Frederick Funston, that resulted in the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo. MacArthur persuaded the captured Aguinaldo to cease fighting and to swear allegiance to the United States. It has been estimated that over 200,000 Filipinos died during this war.

After the war, President William McKinley named him Military Governor of the Philippines, but the following year, William Howard Taft was appointed as Civilian Governor and he and MacArthur clashed frequently (he seemed to resent civilian authority, much as his son, Douglas, would do both in World War II and later in Korea). So severe were his difficulties with William H. Taft, over U.S. military actions in the war, that MacArthur was eventually relieved and transferred to command the Department of the Pacific, where he was promoted to lieutenant general.

Return to the United States

In the years that followed, he was assigned to various stateside posts and in 1905 was sent to Manchuria to observe the final stages of the Russo-Japanese War and served as military attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. He returned to the U.S. in 1906 and resumed his post as Commander of the Pacific Division. That year the position of Army Chief of Staff became available and he was then the highest ranking officer in the Army as a lieutenant general (three stars). However, he was passed over by Secretary of War William Howard Taft (old feelings were hard to forget). He never did realize his dream of commanding the entire Army.


MacArthur retired from the Army on June 2, 1909, the day that he turned 64. On September 5, 1912, he went to Milwaukee to address a reunion of his Civil War unit. While on the dais, he suffered a massive heart attack and died there, aged 67. He was originally buried in Milwaukee on Monday, September 7, 1912, but was moved to Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery in 1926. He is buried among other members of the family there, while his son, Douglas chose to be buried in Norfolk, Virginia.


Military awards and decorations include the Civil War Campaign Medal, Indian Campaign Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, and the Medal of Honor.


  • Arthur MacArthur, Jr. is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Just over four decades later, his son Douglas MacArthur would also gain fame for leading U.S forces to victory in the Philippines.
  • Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son ever to each be awarded a Medal of Honor. To date, the only other father and son to be awarded this honor are former President Theodore Roosevelt and his son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr..
  • Fort MacArthur, which protected the San Pedro, California harbor from 1914 until 1974 is named after General Arthur MacArthur.

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