John M. A. Palmer

Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry

June 11, 1920 - May 5, 1921

 

 

 

"Colonel John M.A. Palmer was assigned to the command of the 22nd US Infantry Regiment on June 11, 1920,
and joined June 19. Colonel Palmer had previously been on duty with the general staff of the War Department,
in which capacity he had done a great deal of work with the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, appearing
before that body on several occasions to present the views of the general staff on army reorganization,
particularly those phases bearing on the creation of a Chief of Infantry and the adoption of
a single promotion list for all officers.

On May 5, 1921 Colonel Palmer left the regiment to become Aide de Camp to the General of the Armies,
General John Pershing."
¹

 

John McAuley Palmer was born in Illinois on April 23, 1870. At the age of eighteen he entered the US Military Academy,
on June 16, 1888. On June 11, 1892, he graduated 19 out of a class of 62. His best subjects were History and Chemistry,
and his worst subjects were Spanish and Civil Engineering. He was the Captain of Company B of the Battalion Organization
of Cadets. Upon graduation he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 15th Infantry, assigned to Company F.

Palmer served on garrison duty at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, from September 30, 1892, to October 22, 1896. He was then stationed
with the Regiment at Fort Grant, Arizona, until December 30, 1897. From June 1 to September 1, 1897, he was on Special
Topographical duty in southeastern Arizona. On January 1, 1898, he began a detail as Professor of Military Science and Tactics,
at the University of Chicago. On April 26, 1898, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

With the declaration of war against Spain, his detail at the university was curtailed on May 26, 1898, and he was assigned as part
of an Army board in Chicago, Illinois, purchasing horses for the volunteer cavalry. He performed this duty from May 26 to
June 30, 1898. From June 21 to August 9, 1898, he was the mustering officer for one of the US Volunteer Infantry Regiments,
classified as "Immunes", which were made up of volunteers supposedly immune to the tropical diseases which Soldiers were
expected to encounter in the war zone of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Palmer was on garrsion duty at Fort Logan, Colorado, from August 14 to September 4, 1898. From September 4, 1898,
to February 24, 1899, he was detailed as Aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Edwin Vose Sumner, Jr, who was the
Commander of both the Department of the Missouri and the Department of Colorado. From February 24 to March 24, 1899,
he remained on temporary duty at the Headquarters of the Department of the Missouri.

From March 24, 1899, Palmer was officially enroute to rejoin his Regiment, eventually serving with it in Cuba on occupation
duty. From September to December 20, 1899, he was the Acting Chief Quartermaster, District of Puerto Principe, Cuba.
He returned with the 15th Infantry to Plattsburg Barracks, New York, where he served from January 1 to July 10, 1900.

From July 10 to November 26, 1900, Palmer served as part of 1st Battalion 15th Infantry, in the China Relief Expedition,
on duty in the Tientsin area, and up the Pei Ho River to Peking. Leaving China on November 26, 1900, he returned to
garrison duty at Fort Porter, New York. He was promoted to Captain of the 15th Infantry on February 2, 1901, assigned
to Company D. However, that Company was on duty in the Philippines, and Palmer did not join it.

He was detailed as Instructor of Chemistry at the US Military Academy at West Point on August 27, 1901.
During the year 1902, Palmer was officially assigned to Company K of the 15th Infantry, though he remained
on duty at West Point. His initial detail to the Academy ended on August 15, 1905, but he stayed on at West Point
for another year, as as Assistant Professor of Chemistry, leaving the Academy on August 15, 1906.

From August 15 to October 21, 1906, Palmer was officially "en route" to join his regiment which was then on duty
in the Philippines. On October 21 he rejoined the regiment at Camp Keithley, on the island of Mindanao. From
November 11, 1906, to September 15, 1907, he was the Governor of the District of Lanao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands.
He took sick leave from September 12 to November 20, 1907, at which time he joined his regiment at Nagasaki, Japan,
en route to the United States.

Palmer served with the 15th Infantry at Fort Douglas, Utah, from December 18, 1907, to June 1, 1908.
From June of 1908 to June of 1909, he attended the Army's School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,
from which he became an Honor Graduate. From June of 1909, to June of 1910, he attended the Army Staff College,
graduating from that course. He then went on "Staff Ride", visiting various manuever camps from July to September, 1910.

Palmer rejoined his regiment in October 1910, and served with it at San Antonio, Texas, through February 1911.
The 15th Infantry became part of the Maneuver Division in March 1911, and Palmer was assigned as Adjutant of
the Manuever Division's 2nd Brigade, from March to April of 1911.

 

April 1911 San Antonio, Texas
The Staff of the 2nd Brigade of the Maneuver Division.
John McAuley Palmer is on the far left, as a Captain of the 15th Infantry, and
Adjutant of 2nd Brigade of the Manuever Division.

In the center, seated, is Brigadier General Marion P. Maus, Commander of 2nd Brigade. Maus had been
the Lieutenant Colonel of the 22nd Infantry from 1902-1904, and had temporarily commanded
the 22nd Infantry Regiment in 1903 and 1904.

Photo from the Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-76985

 

 

In May of 1911, Palmer left the assignment with the Maneuver Division and reported to Washington, D.C.
On June 8, 1911, he was officially detailed to the General Staff Corps. He remained at Washington until
December 1, 1911, then travelled to Europe, where he was an observer of manuevers being held in both
France and Germany during 1912. Also during 1912, he was a cadre at the Army War College.

 

     

Newspaper article describing
the German manuevers of 1912.

In an eerie prophecy of things to come,
the maneuvers consisted of the German army
rehearsing for a two-front war, against both the
French and the Russians.

Two years later the German army fought that war
for real, as World War I erupted in Europe.

At the bottom of the article John McAuley Palmer
is mentioned, as one of three Captains from the
American General Staff, sent to observe
the German maneuvers.

San Francisco Call, Tuesday, September 10, 1912

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

 

On September 1, 1912, Palmer was relieved from the detail to the General Staff.
After some leave time, on March 1, 1913, he rejoined his regiment, then at Tientsin, China.

On June 5, 1914, Palmer was promoted to Major, 24th Infantry. On July 20, 1914, he left the 15th Infantry,
and on August 1 of that year, joined the 24th Infantry at their duty station in the Philippines. He served at
Corregidor and Manila, and from November, 1914, to September 15, 1915, he was a member of the
Board of Defense of the Philippine Islands. He returned with the regiment to the United States, and
served with it at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, from October 12, 1915, to January 8, 1916.

Palmer was detailed to the General Staff Corps on January 30, 1916, where he was listed (for General Staff purposes only),
as a Colonel of the General Staff. On May 15, 1917, he was promoted in the regular Army to Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry.
On May 20, 1917, he was assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe.

On August 5, 1917, Palmer was promoted to Colonel, Temporary, of Infantry. He left his position as Assistant
Chief of Staff on November 1, 1917, and from November 10, 1917, to February 20, 1918, he was at Lyons and
Langres, France, on Military School duty. He was on sick leave from May 3 to October 21, 1918.

From October 12 to December 24, 1918, Palmer commanded the 58th Infantry Brigade of the 29th Division,
and participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. On January 31, 1919, he was assigned to the War Plans Division
of the General Staff. On July 1, 1919, he was made Chief of the War Plans Branch. He was detailed to special duty
with the Military Affairs Committee of the US Senate on November 1, 1919.

Palmer was honorably discharged from his Temporary Colonel rank on March 15, 1920.

On June 11, 1920, Palmer was assigned as Commander of the 22nd Infantry, accepting the position on June 19 of that year.
On June 20, 1920, he was officially promoted to Colonel in the regular Army. He commanded the 22nd Infantry at Fort Jay,
New York, until May 5, 1921.

He left the 22nd Infantry to become the Aide-de-camp to General of the Armies John J. Pershing, on May 5, 1921.
He was offered a promotion to Brigadier General on December 2, 1922, which he accepted on December 4 of that year.
He continued as Pershing's Aide into 1923.

Palmer commanded the 19th Infantry Brigade in the Panama Canal Zone from 1923-1925.

He retired from the Army on January 18, 1926, and was given a disability in the line of duty.

On November 14, 1941, Palmer was recalled to active duty, and served on the General Staff, as
Advisor on Military Policy to the War Department, until September 27, 1946.

He died on October 26, 1955.

John McAuley Palmer was a member of the Military Order of the Dragon.

 

 

11 November 1921, the procession of the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.

Colonel John M.A. Palmer is third from the right; at this time he was the Aide-de-Camp to General John Pershing.
Next to Palmer is George C. Marshall, and next to Marshall is John G. Quekemeyer, also Aides to Pershing.
General Pershing is center, walking with President Harding.

US Army photo

 

 

John McAuley Palmer

Born in Carlinville, Illinois, on April 23, 1870, he was the grandson and namesake of John McAuley Palmer,
a famous American Civil War general and Governor of Illinois. He graduated as a 2d lieutenant of infantry
in 1892, and served with the 15th US Infantry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He participated in the suppression
of the Chicago railroad riots of 1894, ........... he became a member of the China Relief Expedition
(1900-1901), then an instructor and assistant professor of chemistry at West Point (1901-1906).

Following this academic stint, he was then assigned a billet as a district governor in the Lanao District
on Mindanao in the Philippines (1906-1908). Upon return from Far East Service, he was a student
at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and then assigned to the War Department General Staff under the command
of the then-Army Chief of Staff Major General Leonard Wood (1908-1910). During this period of service
he received recognition as a thinker and writer. .............was promoted to the permanent rank of major.
He was then transferred to the 24th Infantry on Corregidor and was instrumental in creating the plans for the
defense of the Bataan Peninsula (1914-1916).

Following this assignment, he returned to the General Staff in Washington, D.C. (1916) and on the outbreak
of the First World War was instrumental in drafting the Draft Act of 1917 and plans for an
American Expeditionary Force (AEF). This work caught the notice of General John J. Pershing,
who selected Palmer to become his Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, where he went to France and set up
operational plans and staff schools for the American Army. He left the AEF staff due to illness,
but recovered in time, as a colonel, to command the 58th Infantry Brigade of the 29th Division in combat
against the enemy at Verdun in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that helped to end World War I.

As the principal formulator of military policy following World War I, he was the guiding force
in the creation of the National Defense Act of 1920. It was this Act which reaffirmed America's reliance
upon the citizen-soldier for her defense and established the "Total Army" composed of the Regular Army,
the National Guard, and the Army Reserve. For his accomplishments, he was made a special advisor
to General of the Armies John J. Pershing (1921-1923) and promoted to permanent brigadier general
in the Regular Army (1922). He then completed his military career
by commanding a brigade in Panama (1924-1926).

In retirement (1926), General Palmer continued to champion the cause of military service.
He wrote numerous books and articles about military policy. He was recalled to active duty by
Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall (a personal friend and devotee of Palmer's) just prior
to the Pearl Harbor attack and served as an advisor on military policy to the War Department General Staff
throughout World War II. He retired quietly soon after the end of the Second World War
and lived quietly in Washington, D.C. where he died on October 26, 1955.
He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

A strong advocate of the role of the citizen-soldier in the army of a democracy, Palmer diverged
from the views of Emory Upton, with whom he is often compared as a great philosophical
thinker-philosopher of the U.S. Army.
²

 

 

   

Brigadier General John M.A. Palmer

Photo taken during the Second World War.

General Palmer was the oldest American
to see military service during that war.

When the war ended in 1945,
he was over 75 years old.

 

 

 

The citations for John McAuley Palmer's two Distinguished Service Medals are:

 

War Department General Orders No. 12 (1919)

For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services. In the organization of the operations section of the General Staff,
American Expeditionary Forces, this officer displayed sound tactical judgment and breadth of vision, and the ultimate success
of the Amerian plan of campaign was largely due to his detailed plans. As Commander of the 58th Infantry Brigade during the
severe fighting north of Verdun, in the Argonne-Meuse offensive, his services were conspicuous and his brigade successful.

 

War Department General Orders No. 115 (1945)

Brigadier General John McAuley Palmer, United States Army, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award
of the Army Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States,
in a duty of great responsibility as General Staff Advisor on Military policy.

 

John McAuley Palmer's decorations

 

 

 

This portrait of Colonel Palmer hung on the wall at 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Headquarters
at Fort Hood, Texas, 1999-2009.

His age, uniform and decorations all indicate this photo was taken between 1919 and 1926,
and quite possibly during his Command of the 22nd Infantry.

Photo courtesy of Major Anne LeGare, wife of LTC Marc LeGare,
Commanding Officer 1-22 IN 1999-2001.

 

 

 

From the Library of Congress, here are the main biographical notes of John McAuley Palmer:

1870, 23 April ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Born, Carlinville, Ill.
1892 ------------------------------------------------------------- B.S., United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
Commissioned second lieutenant, Fifteenth Infantry Regiment
1893 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Married Maude Laning
1899 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Assigned to occupation duty in Cuba
1900 --------------------------------------------------- Served in the China Relief Expedition during the Boxer Rebellion
1901-1906 -------------------------------- Instructor of chemistry, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
1906-1907 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Governor, Lanao district, Philippine Islands
1908-1910 ------ Student, United States Army School of the Line and the Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kans.
1911-1912 ----- Served on the Army General Staff where he proposed tactical reorganization of the United States
Army
---------------------------------------------------------------------
1916 ------------------------------ Published An Army of the People. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
1916-1920 --------------- Returned to the Army General Staff and participated in the organization of the American
Expeditionary Forces
-------------------------------------------------
1917 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Assisted in writing the Draft Act of 1917
------------------------------Selected by John J. Pershing as assistant chief of staff for operations for the American
Expeditionary Forces
1918 ----------------- Commanded the Fifty-eighth Infantry Brigade of the Twenty-ninth Division in assault of the
Hindenburg line north of Verdun
------------------------------------
1919-1920 -------------------------------------------------------- Military adviser, Senate Committee on Military Affairs
1920 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Assisted in writing the Defense Act of 1920
1920-1921 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Commander 22nd Infantry Regiment *
1921-1923 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Aide-de-camp to John J. Pershing
1922 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Promoted to brigadier general
1923-1925 --------------------------------------------- Commander, Nineteenth Infantry Brigade, Canal Zone, Panama
1926 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Retired
1927 --------------------------------- Published Statesmanship or War. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co.
1930 ---------------------- Published Washington, Lincoln, Wilson. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Co.
1937 ------------------------------------- Published General von Steuben. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press
1940 --------------------------------------------------------------- Assisted in writing the Selective Service Act of 1940\
1941 ------------------------------------- Published America in Arms. London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press
1941-1946 ---------------------------------------------------- Recalled to active duty as adviser to George C. Marshall
1955, 26 October ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Died, Washington, D.C.

 

* Entry added by the website editor

 

 

John McAuley Palmer was the author of several books of significance to the history and development
of the United States Army. A partial list of his wrtings include:

An Army of the People (1916)
Statesmanship or War (1927)
Washington, Lincoln, Wilson (1930)
General von Steuben (1937)
America in Arms (1941)

America in Arms is his best known and most important work. For an excellent review of America In Arms,
click on the following link:

America In Arms

 

The John McAuley Palmer papers are in the collection of the Library of Congress, as ID no. MSS35402.
In that file are 8,750 items, plus 1 artifact, that artifact being Palmer's Medal of the National Circle of the Armies
of Land Air and Sea (Médaille du Cercle National des Armées de Terre, Air et Mer).

 

 

In 2005 John McAuley Palmer was inducted into the Army's Force Development Hall of Fame

 

Graphic from the Official Homepage of Functional Area 50

 

 

 

John McAuley Palmer is buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Section 34 Grave 50-A

He was interred on October 27, 1955

 

General Palmer's grave marker at Arlington Cemetery

 

Photo from the Find A Grave website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top photo of John McAuley Palmer as a Brigadier General, and member of the General Staff, during his World War II recall from retirement, 1944.
Reprinted in Office of Army Reserve History's 2004 report "Chiefs of the Army Reserve: Biographical Sketches of the United States
Army Reserve's Senior Officers".
Photo by U. S. Army Signal Corps.

 

 

 

¹ HISTORY OF THE Twenty-second United States Infantry 1866 - 1922
Published by the Regiment 1922. (Palmer is given credit in the preface for "editing and preparing this work for publication".

² Biography from Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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