Arthur MacArthur (1845-1912) was a prominent American military leader who served in both the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War. He is perhaps best known as the father of the famous World War II General Douglas MacArthur.
Arthur MacArthur was born on June 2, 1845, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father, Arthur MacArthur Sr., was a prominent judge and his mother was Aurelia Belcher MacArthur. The family moved to Wisconsin when Arthur was young, and he grew up in the town of Milwaukee.
As a young man, Arthur attended a military school in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before being appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1861. He graduated from West Point in 1865, just as the American Civil War was coming to an end.
During his time at West Point, Arthur MacArthur excelled both academically and militarily. He was one of the top students in his class and was known for his exceptional marksmanship and physical prowess. He also showed early signs of the leadership and tactical skills that would serve him well in his later military career.
Fighting With The 24th
Arthur MacArthur's time with the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment was a formative experience for him and helped to shape his military career. The 24th Wisconsin Infantry was a Union regiment that was raised in Wisconsin during the American Civil War, and it was part of the famous Iron Brigade, a well-known and highly respected unit in the Union Army.
MacArthur joined the regiment as a first lieutenant and quickly distinguished himself as a brave and capable officer. He saw action in several major battles, including the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Tennessee, where he was wounded. During the battle, MacArthur led a successful charge up the ridge that helped to break the Confederate line and turn the tide of the battle.
For his bravery at Missionary Ridge, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. military. The citation for his medal reads, in part: "Seized the regimental flag upon the death of the standard bearer in a hand-to-hand fight and prevented it from falling into the hands of the enemy."
The Fateful Charge
The charge that earned Arthur MacArthur the Medal of Honor was a key moment in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, which took place on November 25, 1863, during the American Civil War. At the time, MacArthur was a first lieutenant in the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, which was part of the Union Army's XI Corps.
During the battle, the Union Army had made several unsuccessful attempts to capture the Confederate position on top of Missionary Ridge, which overlooked the town of Chattanooga, Tennessee. As the day wore on, Union troops began to falter and fall back, and it appeared that the battle was lost.
However, at this critical moment, MacArthur and a small group of soldiers from his regiment, including the color-bearer carrying the regimental flag, stepped forward to lead a charge up the steep slope of the ridge. The charge was initially met with heavy fire from the Confederate troops, and many of the Union soldiers were cut down.
Despite the heavy fire, MacArthur and his men pressed on, and eventually, they were able to reach the top of the ridge and capture the Confederate position. During the charge, the color-bearer carrying the regimental flag was killed, and MacArthur seized the flag and prevented it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
For his bravery during the charge, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. military. The citation for his medal reads, in part: "Seized the regimental flag upon the death of the standard bearer in a hand-to-hand fight and prevented it from falling into the hands of the enemy."
Life After the War
After the American Civil War, Arthur MacArthur continued to serve in the U.S. Army, primarily in the western United States. He held a number of positions during this time, including serving as an instructor at West Point and as a commander of troops in the Dakota Territory.
In 1875, MacArthur married Mary Pinkney Hardy, the daughter of a prominent army surgeon, and the couple had two children: a son, Douglas MacArthur, and a daughter, Mary. The family moved frequently due to MacArthur's military career, but they were able to settle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a time when MacArthur was appointed as the city's military governor in 1884.
In 1898, MacArthur was appointed as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and was sent to the Philippines to fight in the Spanish-American War. He played a key role in the capture of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and was later appointed as the military governor of the city.
Following the end of the Spanish-American War, MacArthur continued to serve in the U.S. Army, but his health began to decline. He retired from the army in 1909 with the rank of major general, after a long and distinguished career that had spanned more than four decades.
After his retirement, MacArthur lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he remained active in veterans' organizations and civic affairs. He passed away on September 5, 1912, at the age of 67, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Parenting the Legendary Douglas MacArthur
Arthur MacArthur was a devoted father to his son Douglas MacArthur, and he played an important role in shaping his son's character and values. As a military officer himself, Arthur instilled a sense of duty, discipline, and honor in his son from a young age.
Arthur MacArthur was also deeply committed to his son's education and encouraged him to pursue his studies with a great deal of rigor. He hired private tutors to supplement Douglas's education, and he also helped to instill a love of literature and the arts in his son.
As Douglas grew older, Arthur continued to be a mentor and a source of inspiration for him. When Douglas graduated from West Point in 1903, his father was in attendance and spoke to him about the importance of living a life of service and sacrifice.
Throughout his military career, Douglas would continue to draw on the lessons he had learned from his father, and he would often speak of his father's influence on his life. In his memoirs, Douglas wrote, "My father had taught me to give and take, to win without boasting, and to lose without excuses."
Overall, Arthur MacArthur's parenting helped to shape Douglas MacArthur into the man he would become: a renowned military leader who embodied the virtues of duty, discipline, and honor that his father had instilled in him.