Log In

Hunter Liggett Edit Profile

military , army officer

Hunter Liggett was a senior United States Army officer. His 42 years of service spanned the period from the Indian campaigns to trench warfare of World War I. Additionally, he identified possible invasion sites in Luzon, particularly Lingayen Gulf which was used during World War II in 1941 by the Japanese and in 1945 by the Americans.

Background

Liggett was born March 21, 1857 in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Education

After his graduation from West Point as a second lieutenant in 1879, he was assigned to the 5th Infantry, where he served in both the Montana and Dakota territories, as well as Texas and Florida, during which time he reached the rank of Captain.

Career

He rose to the grade of captain in 1897, being appointed to various commands in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Liggett was posted to the Philippines from 1899 to 1901; he attended the Army War College in 1909/1910, and in 1912 became president of that institution in the grade of colonel. A universally admired soldier, Liggett was promoted to the grade of major general one month before the United States entered the First World War. By then he had established a reputation as trustworthy and loyal to superiors and subordinates alike.

In October 1917, Liggett arrived in France to take command of the Forty-first (Sunset) Division. After a period of observation duty at the front, he was given command of the I Army Corps in January 1918. The appointment came as a surprise to many. Although Liggett was well known for his moral courage and his tact as well as lack of self-centeredness, it was widely known that General Pershing despised field commanders who were fat. Liggett typically answered his enemies by stating that this was "the more serious if the fat is above the collar."

As part of the French Sixth Army, the American I Army Corps saw action near Château-Thierry early in July 1918. The doughboys helped blunt the German Michael offensive in France, and between July 15 and 18, stood firm at the front from the Argonne Forest to Château-Thierry. After securing his sector during the Champagne-Marne operation, Liggett counterattacked between July 18 and August 6, in what is known as the Second Battle of the Marne, driving the Germans across the Ourcq and Vesle Rivers in bloody hand-to-hand combat. On August 10 his I Army Corps became part of Pershing's First Army and occupied the right of the line during the celebrated St. Mihiel operation between September 12 and 16. His four divisions in four days of heavy fighting reduced the St. Mihiel salient and scored the Americans first victory in Europe against a much smaller and demoralized foe. Liggett next stormed the Argonne Forest between September 26 and October 12 with his I Army Corps, advancing ten miles. This operation, supported by 2,700 guns and 189 small tanks, was designed to break the German Kriemhilde line, but the slow advance of the V Army Corps and the opponent's elastic defense, which drew the American troops into woven belts of fire, worked against its success. On October 16, 1918, General Pershing entrusted command of the First Army consisting of 1 million men and 4,000 guns to Liggett; Hugh Drum served as Liggett's chief of staff. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive to November 11, the First Army managed to break the Hindenburg line, outflank the Bois de Bourgogne, and force a German retreat behind the Meuse River. Alone the American burlesque at Sedan marred these impressive achievements: Liggett, who had not been informed of Pershing's order to take Sedan, had to witness how the American First Division, Pershing's favorite, cut through the American Forty-second Division at night, taking prisoner the latter's commander!

After the armistice, General Liggett remained in Germany in various occupation commands until July 1919. He returned home to assume command of the IX Corps Area (San Francisco) until his retirement on March 21, 1921. Liggett died in San Francisco on December 30,1935. The general was known as a man of shrewd character judgment, of quiet simplicity and fair-mindedness; he is credited with the comment that War provokes more muddled thinking than any human activity I know of." Liddell Hart called him "the soundest reasoner and strongest realist in the American Army."

Connections

Married Harriet R. Lane, June 30, 1881.

father:
James Liggett

mother:
Margaret (Hunter) Liggett

spouse:
Harriet R. Lane