Commanders-in-Chief Biographies

Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur
Commander-in-Chief 1912 - 1912

by Dr. Robert Girard Carroon, Past Commander-in-Chief
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States

Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur had been elected Sr. Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion on October 18, 1911, and, as such, succeeded the Commander-in-Chief, Rear Admiral George Wallace Melville, upon the latter's death on March 17, 1912. As Commander-in-Chief he held office for not quite six months when he died unexpectedly on September 5, 1912.

Arthur MacArthur was the son of Arthur MacArthur, a native of Glasgow, and Aurelia Belcher of Massachusetts. The father was an attorney who opened a practice in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was while the family was living in Chicopee, Massachusetts that young Arthur was born on June 2, 1845. Four years later the family moved to Milwaukee Wisconsin, where Arthur MacArthur pursued his legal and political career as attorney, judge and, briefly Lt. Governor of Wisconsin.

Young Arthur entered the public school system of Milwaukee and was just graduating from the local high school when the Civil War broke out. On August 4, 1862, at the age of seventeen, he was commissioned 1st Lt. and Adjutant of the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He served throughout the War and was mustered out as Lieutenant Colonel of the 24th on June 10, 1865. The regiment formed part of the Army of the Cumberland, and with it he participated in the Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta and Franklin campaigns. He received the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel of Volunteers, March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service in action at Perryville, Kentucky, Stones River, Missionary Ridge, and Dandridge, Tennessee, and of Colonel of Volunteers on the same day for gallant and meritorious service in action at Franklin, Tennesse and in the Atlanta Campaign. The Medal of Honor was awarded him June 30, 1890, "for seizing the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planting them on a captured work on the crest of Missionary Ridge." During that action he was grazed in the head and fell, clutching the colors. Arthur was more seriously wounded at Kenesaw Mountain and at Franklin, Tennessee, where, in a sword fight on the front steps of the Carter House he and a Confederate officer managed to bloody each other with their sabers. The event ended when MacArthur was severely wounded by a shot in the left knee and another in the shoulder.

Early Photograph as 1st Lieutenant

At the close of the War, Arthur was unsure of his future, his father was about to be appointed a Federal District Judge in Washington D.C., wanted his son to return home, attend college, and get his law degree. Arthur, however, had done well in the Army and he finally decided to try and make it his career. He asked for letters of recommendation and received glowing endorsements from both Generals George H. Thomas and Philip Sheridan. Of course, at the close of the Civil War he was only 21 years old and so, giving up his eagles on his shoulder straps he entered the regular army as a Second Lieutenant in the 17th Infantry on February 23, 1866. The same day he was promoted to First Lieutenant and on September 21 was transferred to the 26th Infantry. In the course of the expansion of the regular army during 1866 he became captain in the 36th Infantry; but in 1869 the army was again reduced and on May 19th he was placed on the list of officers unassigned and awaiting orders. A little over a year later he returned to active duty as Captain in the 13th Infantry. At that time Arthur applied for membership in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion through the Commandery of the State of Pennsylvania, and was elected on February 5, 1868 and assigned Insignia No. 648. In this rank and regiment he served for nearly twenty years, chiefly in the West. It was during this period that he married, on May 19, 1875, in Norfolk, Virginia, Mary Pinkney Hardy. Three sons were born to the MacArthurs during the next five years, Arthur III in 1876, Malcolm in 1878, and Douglas on January 26, 1880. On October 21, 1886, Arthur transferred his membership in MOLLUS to the newly formed Commandery of Wisconsin.

On July 1, 1889, Arthur was transferred to the Adjutant General's Department in Washington D.C. as a Major. After four years in Washington he returned to the West and served at the headquarters of the Departments of Texas and of Dakota. On May 26, 1896, as war loomed with Spain, Arthur was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. During the Spanish-American War Arthur served as adjutant general of the troops at Tampa, Florida and, later, of the 3rd Army Corps at Camp Chickamauga.

Following the victory of Admiral George Dewey at Manila Bay an army of occupation for the Philippines was deemed necessary and Colonel MacArthur was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers on May 27, 1898 and assigned to the expeditionary forces. His brigade sailed from San Francisco on June 25 and reached Manila on July 25, 1898. The brigade landed at once and took part in the advance upon and occupation of the city of Manila, August 13. After the occupation he was appointed provost-marshal general and civil governor of Manila. Later he was promoted major general of volunteers and assumed command of the 2nd Division. He was promoted brigadier general in the regular army January 2, 1900 and major general on February 18, 1901.

In the Philippine Insurrection, which began February 4, 1899, he took a very prominent part. The first insurgent attack upon the city having been repulsed and order restored, his command led the advance upon the insurgent capital, Malolos, which was occupied on March 31. He was then given command of the Department of Northern Luzon, and directed the advances on the "north line" until the capture of Tarlac in November, after which the organized insurrection collapsed, the insurgent president, Aquinaldo became a fugitive and the operations passed into guerrilla warfare.

On the return of General Ewell S. Otis to the United States on May 5, 1900, General MacArthur became commander of the Division of the Philippines and military governor of the Islands which post he held until July 4, 1901, when he was relieved by the establishment of a civilian government headed by William Howard Taft. General MacArthur returned to the United States and held various departmental commands. While commanding the Department of the Pacific he was sent as senior military observer with the Japanese forces during the Russo-Japanese War. His son Douglas, recently graduated from West Point at the head of his class was assigned as his aide. For almost two years the MacArthurs visited Japan, most of Southeast Asia, China and India.

On September 15, 1906, Major General Arthur MacArthur was appointed Lieutenant General and became the ranking officer in the United States Army. He continued to command the Department of the Pacific until his retirement on June 2, 1909, when he returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. General MacArthur was a very active member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion always transferring to the Commandery nearest to his place of residence; consequently he was at various times a Companion of the Pennsylvania Commandery, the District of Columbia, California and Wisconsin. He was elected Commander of the Wisconsin Commandery on May 6, 1908 and served until 1911 when he was elected Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief of Order on October 18, 1911. On the death of Rear Admiral George Wallace Melville on March 17, 1912, General MacArthur became Commander-in-Chief.

General MacArthur held the office of Commander-in-Chief barely seven months, dying on September 5, 1912. On that evening he attended the 50th Reunion of the 24th Wisconsin held at Wolcott Hall in downtown Milwaukee. The hall was very warm and the General, who had been unwell, had not intended to come, but could not resist being with his fellow veterans of the 24th. He rose to speak, but after about ten minutes said he was too week to continue; he sank into his chair and his head fell forward on the table. Later it was determined that he died of a brain aneurysm. The body was lowered to the floor and covered with an American flag as the 64 members of the 24th Wisconsin who were present said the Lord's Prayer. At the service the pallbearers were members of the Wisconsin Commandery of the Loyal Legion. Initially interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Milwaukee his body was later moved to Arlington National Cemetery by the direction of his son, Douglas MacArthur, who was, by that time, Chief of Staff of the Army. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was a hereditary companion of the Loyal Legion with Insignia No. 15317, and at one time served as Sr. Vice Commander of the Wisconsin Commandery. General Arthur MacArthur was succeeded as Commander-in-Chief by the Jr. Vice Commander-in-Chief, Colonel Arnold Augustus Rand of the Massachusetts Commandery.

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