Biographical Directory Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The brief sketches in this appendix offer highlights of the careers of American military and political leaders who played significant roles in the history of U.S. warfare. For fuller information on these figures and others, consult the pages referenced in the Index of Personages.

Abrams, Creighton Williams, Jr. (1914–1974): A graduate of West Point, Abrams distinguished himself as a tank commander during World War II. He emerged from the war as a leading authority on armored combat and rose steadily in the Army’s adminstrative ranks until 1968, when he was appointed to replace General William Westmoreland as commander of all American forces in Vietnam. In October, 1972, Abrams was promoted to chief of staff of the U.S. Army. In that position, he laid the groundwork for post-Vietnam Army reforms.

Allen, Ethan (1738–1789): Allen led Vermont settlers’ fight for land rights and secured the first American military victory of the Revolutionary War at Fort Ticonderoga.

Arnold, Benedict (1741–1801): Arnold was one of the most outstanding tactical leaders of the Revolutionary War. However, his mercurial, resentful disposition culminated in the most notorious episode of treason in U.S. history. Despite his skillful leadership of forces in that war, his betrayal of his country has made his name a synonym for treason. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the battles at Fort Ticonderoga, Quebec, Valcour Island, and Saratoga.

Arnold, H. H. (1886–1950): Before and during World War II, Arnold was an ardent advocate of air power. He was in charge of all flight training conducted overseas during World War I. During World War II, Arnold was the principal adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the employment of aviation in both theaters of operations. He is also known as the father of the U.S. Air Force. President Harry S. Truman named him general of the Air Force in May, 1949.

Attucks, Crispus (1723–1770): Attucks was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770. A literate former slave, he was among a group of colonists who confronted British troops in Boston. As the first of five colonists to die when the British fired into the crowd, Attucks is often regarded as the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War.

Austin, Stephen Fuller (1793–1836): Austin established the first Anglo-American colony in Texas and played a significant role in the Texas Revolution, which resulted in Texas’s securing its independence from Mexico.

Beauregard, P. G. T. (1818–1893): Beauregard served in the Mexican War under General Winfield Scott but is best remembered for his later service during the Civil War. One of only eight full generals in the Confederacy, Beauregard was involved in virtually every major theater during the Civil War. His principal battles included Fort Sumter, First Battle of Bull Run, and Shiloh.

Bowie, Jim (1796–1836): A colonel in the Texas revolutionary army that fought for independence, Bowie shared command at the Alamo with Colonel William Barret Travis when both officers, along with about other 150 men, were trapped in the abandoned mission grounds in early 1836. When the Mexican army overwhelmed the defenders, Bowie was killed while lying sick in his cot.

Bradley, Omar N. (1893–1981): Bradley served during World War I but saw his most notable service during World War II. He led American troops to victories in North Africa and Sicily, commanded the U.S. First Army during the Normandy invasion, and repulsed the German counteroffensive known as the Battle of the Bulge. Bradley provided stability and continuity within the American military establishment during the critical period following the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War. He was also the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was involved in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Brown, John (1800–1859): As the leader of the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Brown has come to symbolize the struggle over the abolition of slavery in the United States. He was the catalyst for change from polite debate and parliamentary maneuvering aimed at modification of the institution to physical violence and a direct onslaught on Southern territory and the supporters of slavery.

Burnside, Ambrose E. (1824–1881): Burnside’s military record was marked by high and low points. Shortly after assuming command of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, he faced a crushing defeat at Fredericksburg. His principal battles included First Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Petersburg.

Burr, Aaron (1756–1836): During the Revolutionary War, Burr served with distinction at the battles of Quebec, New York, and Monmouth and commanded American forces in Westchester. After his health forced him to resign, he returned to the study of the law. Burr developed the political organization that assured the presidential victory of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and was the force behind the liberalization of New York’s penal codes and political process.

Bush, George (1924- ): During World War II, Bush flew fifty-eight combat missions in the Pacific and was considered a hero for his conduct at Chichi Jima. As the forty-first president (1989–1993), he presided over the end of the Cold War, the occupation of Panama in 1989, and the 1991 Gulf War.

Bush, George W. (1946- ): As forty-third president of the United States (2001- ), Bush presided over the response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq War in 2003.

Calley, William L. (1943- ): An army lieutenant during the Vietnam War, Calley was convicted of murdering twenty-two Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre and was the only person convicted of any crime in that affair. However, his sentence was reduced and he served only three and one-half years under house arrest before receiving parole in 1974.

Carson, Kit (1809–1868): As a trapper, guide, Indian agent, and soldier, Carson helped open the American West to settlement. Although he is better known as a frontiersman than as a soldier, Carson fought in California during the Mexican War and saw action in battles at San Pasqual, Los Angeles, and Valverde. He also served as colonel in the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and in that position forced thousands of Navajo to abandon their homes.

Clark, George Rogers (1752–1818): Clark’s successful attack against the British forts at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes in 1778–1779 served as the basis for the American claim to the Northwest Territory during negotiation of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Revolutionary War. His leadership of the Northwest campaign led in turn to the founding of Louisville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Indiana.

Clark, Mark W. (1896–1984): Clark began his military service as an infantry officer during World War I. During World War II, he commanded Allied forces in Italy from 1943 to 1945, and he commanded United Nations troops in Korea from 1952 to 1953. Clark’s principal battles included Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino.

Clinton, Bill (1946- ): As the forty-second president of the United States (1993–2001), Clinton presided over the nation during the Somalia occupation, U.S. involvement in the Bosnian war, the 1998 missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan, and the bombing of military sites in Iraq. The terrorist attack on the USS Cole also occurred during his presidency.

Crockett, David (1786–1836): A U.S. congressman from western Tennessee and the author of a best-selling autobiography, Crockett became the most celebrated backwoodsman in the United States. His death at the battle of the Alamo in 1836 turned him into one of America’s legendary frontier heroes.

Custer, George A. (1839–1876): Although obscured by the events surrounding his death at the hands of American Indians at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer’s Civil War exploits made him one of the nation’s most respected military figures and a national idol. After the war, his expeditions into the Yellowstone region and the Black Hills earned him renown as an explorer and compiler of scientific information. His principal Civil War battles included Gettysburg and Appomattox Court House.

Davis, Jefferson (1808–1889): Davis saw military service in the Mexican War and was later a U.S. senator and the secretary of war. However, his commitment to the South at the start of the Civil War led him to accept the presidency of the Confederacy and to attempt to preserve Southern independence against bitter opposition and overwhelming odds.

Decatur, Stephen (1779–1820): Decatur was the most colorful and successful open-sea naval commander and hero of the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.

Dewey, George (1837–1917): A naval admiral, Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War and afterward served as senior officer of the U.S. Navy until his death.

Eisenhower, Dwight D. (1890–1969): A master organizer, Eisenhower received the Distinguished Service Medal for his organization of the Army Tank Corps during World War I. During World War II, he served with distinction as Allied Commander for the invasions of North Africa, Italy, and France. He won the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956 and guided the country through the beginning of the Cold War.

Farragut, David G. (1801–1870): The first admiral in the U.S. Navy, Farragut is most noted for his victory over Confederate forces in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. He earlier served in minor capacities during the War of 1812 and the Mexican War.

Franks, Tommy (1945- ): Franks served in the Vietnam War and in June, 2000, was appointed commander-in-chief of United States Central Command. He led the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq until his retirement in July, 2003.

Frémont, John C. (1813–1890): Frémont’s exploits as an explorer helped to propel the American people westward toward Oregon and California. When the nation faced civil war, he fought to maintain the Union and end slavery. He served as a major general in the Civil War but was relieved of his command in the West after a disagreement with Abraham Lincoln and received another post in the East, from which he resigned after losing several battles.

Gadsden, James (1788–1858): Although Gadsden was an accomplished soldier, engineer, and railroad executive, his lasting fame came as the U.S. minister to Mexico during the mid-1850’s. While in Mexico City, he negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, the U.S. acquisition of a strip of territory that became the southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico.

Gates, Horatio (c. 1728–1806): As an army general, Gates presided over the first strategic victory over the British at Saratoga in 1777. At Camden, three years later, he was responsible for one of the worst defeats ever suffered by American forces.

Grant, Ulysses S. (1822–1885): Grant became the preeminent Union general during the Civil War, demonstrating the persistence and strategic genius that brought about victory. His principal battles included Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox Court House. Grant earlier served during the Mexican War, in which he excelled as a field officer at the battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec.

Greene, Nathanael (1742–1786): Greene was one of George Washington’s most trusted subordinates throughout the Revolutionary War, playing a significant role both as a field commander and as the Continental army’s quartermaster general. His principal battles included Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk’s Hill, and Eutaw Springs.

Haig, Alexander M. (1924- ): Haig fought in the Korean War, in which he won a Bronze Star for valor, and participated in the 1950 Inchon Landing and the march to the Yalu River. He was a successful battalion commander in Vietnam who later influenced military policy as an aide to President Richard Nixon before serving as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Halleck, Henry W. (1815–1872): During the Civil War, Halleck, who was famous as the author of a work on military theory, was named commanding general of all Union armies in July, 1862. In March, 1864, he became the first chief of staff.

Halsey, William F. (1882–1959): “Bull” Halsey was a colorful and offensive-minded fighter who went by the slogan “hit hard, hit fast, hit often.” A proponent of naval aviation and an avowed risk taker, he epitomized the aggressive spirit of the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Hancock, Winfield S. (1824–1886): Hancock is probably best known for defending Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg during the Civil War, avoiding a Confederate victory, and possibly saving the Union.

Harrison, William Henry (1773–1841): Harrison became one of the nation’s most popular military heroes because of his victory over the Indian forces of Tecumseh and the Prophet at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. As a soldier and later governor of the Old Northwest Territory, he became identified with the ideas and desires of the West. His military reputation got him elected president in 1840, but he died only one month after he was inaugurated. His principal battles during the War of 1812 were Fallen Timbers, Tippecanoe, Fort Meigs, and Thames.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (1823–1911): Higginson wrote prolifically but is best known in the literary world as the discoverer of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. He is also noted for commanding a regiment of black enlisted men during the Civil War and for laboring in social causes such as the abolition of slavery and women’s rights.

Hood, John Bell (1831–1879): A rash commander for the South during the Civil War, Hood lost Atlanta and the Confederacy’s last chance for independence. Hood’s principal battles included Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville.

Hooker, Joseph (1814–1879): At the Civil War’s Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Hooker was badly outgeneraled and ultimately relieved of army command. He rehabilitated his reputation somewhat in the western theater in late 1863 and 1864. He earlier served in the Mexican War.

Houston, Sam (1793–1863): During the Texas Revolution, Houston served as commanding general of the Texan army and guided the Mexican province to independence in 1836. Afterward, he served as first president of the Republic of Texas, first governor of the state of Texas, and as one of the state’s first U.S. senators.

Jackson, Andrew (1767–1845): Possessing the characteristics of the roughly hewn Western frontiersman as opposed to aristocratic propensities of the eastern and Virginia “establishment,” Jackson came to symbolize the common man in America and the rise of democracy. In 1815, Jackson prevented the British from seizing New Orleans in the last major battle of the War of 1812. The reputation he won during that war helped lift him to the presidency in 1829.

Jackson, Stonewall (1824–1863): The ablest and most renowned of General Robert E. Lee’s lieutenants, Jackson led daring marches and employed do-or-die battle tactics that resulted in key victories that helped sustain the Confederacy during the first two years of the Civil War. His career might have been even more distinguished, had he not died after being accidentally shot by one of his own men. Jackson also served earlier during the Mexican War as an artillery officer.

Johnson, Lyndon B. (1908–1973): Johnson served briefly in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. Johnson went on to become majority leader in the U.S. Senate and was elected vice president in 1960. After President John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson became president of the United States and approved the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese civil war by ordering the first large-scale ground troops to the embattled nation and authorized the beginning of an air-bombing campaign. In 1965, Johnson sent a U.S. occupation force into the Dominican Republic. Johnson’s handling of the Vietnam War ultimately doomed his presidency and he chose not to run for reelection in 1968.

Johnston, Albert Sidney (1803–1862): In 1861, Jefferson Davis appointed Johnston to command Confederate Department No. 2, encompassing the entire region west of the Appalachian Mountains. Earlier, Johnston served in the Texan War of Independence and the Mexican War. His principal battles included Monterrey in the Mexican War and Shiloh in the Civil War.

Johnston, Joseph Eggleston (1807–1891): Johnston was one of the most able practitioners of defensive tactics on either side of the Civil War but was limited as a Confederate army commander by his lack of strategic planning and his poor communication skills. His principal battles included First Battle of Bull Run, Seven Pines, and Bentonville.

Jones, John Paul (1747–1792): A naval captain known during his own time for his daring raids on British territory and spectacular engagements with British vessels during the Revolutionary War, Jones is now widely regarded as the symbolic founder of the U.S. Navy.

Kearny, Stephen W. (1794–1848): Kearny joined the U.S. Army as a lieutenant and fought in the War of 1812. Afterward, he held several commands in the West and fought in the Mexican War. He was instrumental in creating the territories of New Mexico and California.

Kennedy, John F. (1917–1963): During World War II, Kennedy served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, for which he commanded a PT boat in the Pacific, and earned several decorations, including a Purple Heart for his heroism during the war. After serving in the U.S. Senate during the 1950’s, Kennedy was elected president in 1960. During the following year, he put into operation the Bay of Pigs invasion that had been planned by the Eisenhower administration and the Central Intelligence Agency. That attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba was a humiliating failure for Kennedy’s administration, but in October, 1962, Kennedy recovered his prestige with his successful management of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Kimmel, Husband Edward (1882–1968): Admiral Kimmel was commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was blamed for the disaster and relieved of his command but was never officially found at fault for the U.S. Navy’s lack of preparedness.

King, Ernest (1878–1956): Admiral King directed all U.S. Navy strategy during World War II. Under his leadership, the U.S. Navy helped win the Allied Battle of the North Atlantic against the German submarine force. Other major battles against Germany included the invasions of North Africa and of Normandy. In the Pacific, King’s fleet fought the Japanese at Coral Sea, Midway, and Leyte Gulf.

Lee, Henry (1756–1818): An accomplished horseman and fearless cavalryman, Lee successfully commanded a legion of cavalry and infantry during the Revolutionary War. His victory at Paulus Hook was one of the most impressive feats of the war. He was also the father of future Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Lee, Robert E. (1807–1870): Perhaps the finest army tactician of his generation, Lee so brilliantly commanded the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia that he prolonged the life of the Confederacy during the Civil War. His principal battles included Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Earlier, he served in the Mexican War.

Lincoln, Abraham (1809–1865): As the sixteenth president of the United States (1861–1865), Lincoln directed the Northern war effort during the Civil War. His abilities and unshakable commitment to preserving the Union mark him as one of the nation’s greatest leaders.

Longstreet, James (1821–1904): Longstreet served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War. As Robert E. Lee’s second in command in the Confederate army during the Civil War, Longstreet obeyed Lee and ordered a charge on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg that was driven back at great cost to the Confederates and ended the battle.

MacArthur, Douglas (1880–1964): MacArthur may have had a greater impact on American military history than any other officer of the twentieth century. Variously gifted, he was a hero to much of the American public but a center of controversy on several occasions. He commanded Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific during World War II and was instrumental in defeating Japan. After commanding the occupation of Japan, he led United Nations forces in the Korean War until relieved of his command for disobeying President Harry S. Truman’s orders. His principal battles in the Korean War included Pusan Perimeter and Inchon Landing.

McClellan, George B. (1826–1885): Although Union general McClellan was unsuccessful in destroying Confederate armies or capturing Richmond during the Civil War, his victory at Antietam permitted President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and he helped make the Army of the Potomac a potent fighting force.

Marshall, George C. (1880–1959): As a general, Marshall helped create the U.S. Army of World War II, picked the commanders who led it to victory, and exemplified the best in the American military tradition: civilian control, integrity, and competence. Marshall was also involved in World War I, in which he served as a staff officer in France working on training and planning. He also served as secretary of defense for one year during the Korean War. In 1953, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work in postwar economic relief in Europe, where he was the author the Marshall Plan, which was named after him.

Meade, George G. (1815–1872): Meade first saw combat as an army engineer during the Mexican War. He began the Civil War as a brigadier general, and his courage and aggressive leadership in several early battles marked him as a valuable commander. In July, 1863, he became commander of the Army of the Potomac only a few days before the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. Afterward, he was criticized for not taking advantage of Robert E. Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg to counterattack and perhaps hasten the end of the Civil War.

Mitchell, William (1879–1936): An advocate of air power in the armed forces, Mitchell worked to create an air force separate from the U.S. Army and to develop strategic doctrines that would utilize the full potential of air power in the conduct of modern war. During World War I, at the battle of St. Mihiel, Mitchell organized the largest Allied air effort of the conflict, involving 1,481 planes.

Monroe, James (1758–1831): The fifth president of the United States, Monroe served in the Revolutionary War, fighting alongside George Washington in the Continental army, in which he achieved the rank of major. He later went on to be appointed the military commissioner of Virginia. During his presidency (1817–1825), he presided over the nation during the Missouri Compromise and is perhaps best known for the Monroe Doctrine, which articulated American foreign policy regarding the Western Hemisphere.

Nimitz, Chester W. (1885–1966): Admiral Nimitz commanded American naval forces in the Pacific during World War II and played a crucial role in winning the important and difficult Battle of Midway. After the war, he became Chief of Naval Operations. His other principal battles included Coral Sea, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

Nixon, Richard M. (1913–1994): During World War II, Nixon served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant commander and was praised as an excellent officer and leader by his own commanders. After becoming the thirty-seventh president of the United States in 1969, he continued the unpopular war in Vietnam. He also ordered a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia in 1970 that was kept secret from the American public and the Congress. The campaign was ineffective and resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Cambodian civilians.

Patton, George S. (1885–1945): Though never a theoretician, the U.S. Army’s General Patton was a masterful tactician who demonstrated the advantages of mobility and aggressive offensive action as essential elements of modern warfare. During World War II, his principal battles included Sicily, where he captured Palermo in a well-organized armored attack. His other principal battles included Normandy and the Bulge. Patton also organized a French center for training U.S. tank crews during World War I, in which his principal battles included St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.

Perry, Matthew C. (1794–1858): In a naval career spanning almost half a century, Perry, besides commanding ships and fleets with distinction in peace and in war, proposed and accomplished reforms in naval architecture, ordnance, and organization, and through skillful negotiation introduced Japan into the modern community of nations. Perry was also involved in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. He was the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry.

Perry, Oliver Hazard (1785–1819): Perry’s skillful seamanship and tactical tenacity in the War of 1812 provided an example of leadership and courage to the officers and crews of the young republic’s fledgling navy. Perry’s actions during the battle of Lake Erie earned him the status of hero and a promotion to captain.

Pershing, John J. (1860–1948): A career U.S. Army soldier, Pershing was ready when called upon to lead the American Expeditionary Force to Europe in World War I, helping to preserve democracy in the first global conflict. He also served during the Spanish-American War, in which he fought at San Juan Hill and in the Philippine Insurrection. During World War II, he served as an unofficial military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Pickett, George E. (1825–1875): Pickett fought for the United States during the Mexican War and for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Under orders from General Robert E. Lee, General Pickett led 15,000 troops in a charge against the Union stronghold on Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg, losing more than half his forces. Although Pickett served admirably through the remainder of the war, his failed charge at Gettysburg defined his reputation.

Pierce, Franklin (1804–1869): After service in his state’s legislature and in both houses of Congress and military service in the Mexican War, Pierce became the nation’s fourteenth president in 1853, serving as president during the four politically challenging years leading up to the crisis that brought the Civil War.

Pope, John (1822–1892): Pope served during the Mexican War and the Civil War. During the Civil War he commanded the Confederate Army of Virginia, which was defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Powell, Colin L. (1937- ): Career army officer who was the first African American to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He successfully organized and supervised U.S. military operations during the Gulf War of 1991. He was later appointed secretary of state by president George W. Bush and served in that capacity through the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, and the start of the administration’s war on terrorism.

Reagan, Ronald (1911–2004): As the fortieth president of the United States (1981–1989), Reagan authorized an increase in the defense budget, increased the size of the U.S. Navy, and supported the creation and development of new and more sophisticated military weaponry. In 1983, after Grenada’s government had been overthrown in a leftist coup, Reagan, in conjunction with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean Nations agreed to restore law and order on Grenada through military intervention.

Revere, Paul (1735–1818): A Revolutionary War patriot and propagandist, Revere was a prominent silversmith, engraver, and industrialist. Notable for his famous midnight ride to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the impending arrival of British troops, Revere later served as lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts State Train of Artillery and as commander of Castle Island in Boston Harbor. Revere and his troops did not see much action, however, and his military career ended without distinction.

Ridgway, Matthew B. (1895–1993): Ridgway commanded the first airborne division in U.S. history, led troops in World War II and Korea, and replaced both General Douglas MacArthur and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. As the commander of the Eighty-second Airborne Division, he invaded Sicily in July, 1943, landed at Salerno in September, and parachuted into Normandy in June, 1944.

Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1882–1945): President of the United States through the Great Depression and most of World War II, Roosevelt served as commander in chief of the armed forces and planned with Great Britain and the Soviet Union strategies for the military defeat of Germany and Japan and for postwar collective security.

Roosevelt, Theodore (1858–1919): During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt led a volunteer regiment against Spanish positions on Kettle Hill outside Santiago de Cuba. His successful charge secured fortifications on the heights overlooking the city, and he returned a military hero. Afterward, he was elected governor of New York and then vice president of the United States. After President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt became president (1901–1909). In that capacity, he promoted American imperial designs on the Pacific and advocated a strong army and navy.

Root, Elihu (1845–1937): As secretary of war under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, Root administered territories gained at the end of the Spanish-American War and initiated reforms in army administration. He pursued a conservative line as secretary of state under Roosevelt and later as U.S. senator from New York, and argued for the value of international law as a political instrument.

Rosecrans, William S. (1819–1898): A gifted strategist while serving as a Union army general during the Civil War, Rosecrans was noted for his brilliance at getting his troops into advantageous positions, but he was considered less capable of executing his plans on the battlefield. His defeat at Chickamauga ended his combat career.

Schwarzkopf, H. Norman (1934- ): As commander of coalition ground forces during the 1991 Gulf War, General Schwarzkopf was credited with liberating Kuwait from its Iraqi occupiers in only one hundred hours of fighting. His lightning moves on the battlefield and diplomatic finesse in handling a diverse multicultural force established him as one of the great coalition leaders. Schwarzkopf earlier served in the Vietnam War–in which he earned two Purple Hearts and three Silver Stars– and in the occupation of Grenada.

Scott, Winfield (1786–1866): In a military career spanning more than fifty years, Scott emphasized offensive warfare and influenced the military tactics employed by Union and Confederate officers during the Civil War. Scott earlier served in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, in which he commanded the army’s first major amphibious landing operation in 1847. During the latter war, he defeated Mexican forces at Cerro Gordo and at Contreras, Churubusco, and Molino del Rey, before storming the fortress at Chapultepec and capturing Mexico City.

Sheridan, Philip H. (1831–1888): Recognized as a great fighting general, Sheridan experienced a meteoric rise to become the overall commander of Union cavalry in the eastern theater of the Civil War.

Sherman, William Tecumseh (1820–1891): One of the architects of the Union victory in the Civil War and an inventor of modern forms of warfare, Sherman was also a leader in the nation’s late nineteenth century Indian wars in the West. His principal battles during the Civil War included Shiloh, Atlanta, and his March to the Sea.

Spruance, Raymond A. (1886–1969): Quiet and unassuming, Admiral Spruance was a highly effective fleet commander during World War II, in which he participated in the raids on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. He also participated in the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the war in the Pacific. Spruance had overall command of the invasion of the Marianas and the Battle of the Philippine Sea that effectively destroyed Japan’s naval aviation.

Stanton, Edwin M. (1814–1869): Combining excellent administrative skills with attention to detail, Stanton served as President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war during the Civil War and made major contributions to Union victory.

Stimson, Henry L. (1867–1950): Serving as secretary of war during the years 1909 to 1913 and again during World War II, and serving as secretary of state from 1929 to 1933, Stimson helped to define the United States’ transition from isolationism to world responsibility.

Taylor, Zachary (1784–1850): Climaxing a military career of nearly forty years with major victories in the Mexican War, Taylor used his popularity as a war hero to win office as twelfth president of the United States in 1848.

Tecumseh (c. 1768–1813): Leading Indians of the Old Northwest in a united defense against the intrusion of white settlers, the Shawnee Tecumseh contributed significantly to the development of pan-Indianism in North American history. During the War of 1812, he and many of his followers joined the British, believing the former colonial ruler offered Indians the best hope for retaining their homelands. Tecumseh fought in a number of battles until he was killed at the Battle of the Thames.

Thayer, Sylvanus (1785–1872): Known as the “Father of West Point,” Thayer is remembered for reorganizing the administration and curriculum of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and for firmly establishing a scientific and theory-based system of engineering education in the United States.

Thomas, George H. (1816–1870): Thomas’s victory at the Battle of Nashville during the Civil War effectively ended the war in the western theater. His other principal battles during the Civil War included Mill Springs, Corinth, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. Thomas also saw action earlier in the Mexican War at the battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista.

Truman, Harry S. (1884–1972): Truman saw combat service in World War I fighting in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. After the war he served in the reserves, rising to the rank of colonel. Meanwhile, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and chaired a defense committee that came to be called the Truman Committee. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office, Truman became the thirty-third president of the United States. He participated in the conference at Potsdam and prepared for the final stage of World War II. He approved the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. Truman also presided over the Korean War until Dwight D. Eisenhower succeeded him as president in 1953.

Wainright, Jonathan (1883–1953): During World War I, Wainright served as a staff officer in France. In March, 1942, after the United States entered World War II, he was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of all U.S. forces in the Philippines. Overwhelmed by more numerous Japanese forces, Wainright and his men surrendered at Corregidor in May, 1942.

Washington, George (1732–1799): As commander in chief of the Continental army during the Revolutionary War, as president of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and as first president of the United States (1789–1797), Washington was the principal architect of the nation’s independence and its federal political system. Washington made notable contributions to military strategy–his retreat and counterattack approach and his understanding of the role of naval forces. As president, Washington established the Department of War and he became the only former U.S. president to be renamed commander in chief of American forces in 1798.

Watie, Stand (1806–1871): Among the many Native Americans who fought in the Civil War, Stand Watie may have served with the greatest distinction. As a Confederate brigadier general, he commanded Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole cavalry and was the last fighting general to surrender to the Union.

Wayne, Anthony (1745–1796): Appointed a colonel in the Continental army in January, 1776, Wayne was one of George Washington’s most reliable commanders during the Revolutionary War. He was nicknamed “Mad Anthony” for his daring and served with distinction and cunning throughout the war.

Westmoreland, William (1914- ): Westmoreland led battalions in North Africa and Europe during World War II and saw combat in the Korean War. As a general, Westmoreland was the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968.

Wilson, Woodrow (1856–1924): As twenty-eighth president of the United States (1913–1921), Wilson was responsible for America’s entry into World War I, and he played a key role in insisting that the Allies refuse to negotiate with William II of Germany. Wilson was also one of the formulators of the Paris peace settlement and was the principal architect of the League of Nations, although the U.S. Senate refused to ratify U.S. membership in that world body.

Categories: History