Clarence Ransom Edwards
|Clarence Ransom Edwards|
Clarence R. Edwards
January 1, 1859|
|Died||February 14, 1931
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1883–1922|
|Commands held||26th "Yankee" Division|
World War I
|Awards||Philippine Campaign Medal
World War I Victory Medal
Croix de guerre (France)
Order of Leopold (Belgium)
He was born in Ohio and accepted an appointment to West Point where, in 1883, he graduated last in his class. He was commander of the Guard for President Garfields tomb at Fort Porter and while there got married. He fought in the Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War and World War I. While commanding the 26th Infantry Division in World War I he was disliked by his superiors and was relieved of his command by General Pershing for allowing his troops to fraternize with the enemy. He returned to the United States and was assigned to various posts until he retired from the Army after 40 years service in 1922.
After retirement he worked as the president of the grocery business his dad started. He died in 1931, after his daughter and wife and all three are buried together at Arlington National Cemetery.
Edwards was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of local merchant William Edwards, and Lucia Ransom. He graduated last in his class from the United States Military Academy in 1883. Upon his graduation from West Point, Edwards was appointed a second lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry. For the next several years Edwards served at various posts, including Fort Union, Fort Porter, Cleveland, Ohio (commanding the guard at the grave of President Garfield), and Fort Davis. While stationed at Fort Porter he met Bessie Rochester Porter. They were married June 11, 1889, at Niagara Falls, New York and had a daughter, Bessie Porter Edwards who became an Army nurse.
He was promoted to first lieutenant on February 25, 1891 while serving on detached service as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at St. John's College (now known as Fordham University), from which he received an honorary degree. Following another stint of detached service in the Military Information Bureau of the Adjutant General's Office, Edwards returned to the 23rd Infantry at Fort Clark, serving as a captain in command of a company, and later as regimental quartermaster.
Spanish-American War, the Philippines, and after
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Edwards moved with his regiment to New Orleans, Louisiana. In May 1898, he was given the rank of major, U. S. Volunteers, and assigned as Adjutant General of the 4th Army Corps at Mobile, Alabama (and, later, Tampa, Florida and Huntsville, Alabama) under the command of Major General John J. Coppinger. The 4th Army Corps was to have been part of the invasion of Cuba, but was unable to obtain transport.
In January 1899, Edwards was appointed Adjutant-General on General H. W. Lawton's staff, accompanying him to the Philippines. He participated in all of Lawton's campaigns in the Philippines, including the Battle of Santa Cruz and the Battle of Zapote Bridge. Edwards received three Silver Star Citations for gallantry in action during these campaigns. Lawton was killed in the Battle of Paye in December 1899, and Edwards accompanied his remains to Washington, D.C. for burial.
In 1900, due in part to his knowledge of the conditions in the Philippines, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and named Chief of the Division of Customs and Insular Affairs in the War Department. By 1902 he was promoted to colonel and named the first chief of the new Bureau of Insular Affairs. He retained this office until 1912, by which time he had risen to the rank of brigadier general.
Edwards was named commander of the 6th Brigade at Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming in October 1912. The brigade was moved to Texas City, Texas, in February 1913 in response to the Mexican Revolution. In February 1914, Edwards became the commander of the 1st Hawaiian Brigade, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He then served as commander of all U. S. forces in the Panama Canal Zone from February 1915 to April 1917.
World War I
Upon the outbreak of World War I, Edwards was placed in charge of the Department of the Northeast, comprising all the New England states. In August 1917, he was promoted to major general in the National Army and given the task of organizing the 26th Division. The division arrived in France in September 1917, the first complete American division to do so. The division also became the first complete American division to go into combat at Chemin-des-Dames in February 1918, where they remained for 46 days.
Going back to his days at West Point, Edwards had earned a reputation for being sharp-tongued and contentious. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, particularly despised him. Edwards made another enemy in General Robert Lee Bullard during the 26th Division's relief of the 1st Infantry Division near Toul in April 1918. Edwards found fault with everything he saw, and accused the 1st Division of leaving behind classified documents. Bullard was enraged, but Pershing always favored the 1st Division, and reassured him, and nothing came of the incident. In July 1918, during the Second Battle of the Marne, I Corps commander Hunter Liggett found that, although the 26th Division did not lack for heroism and fought valiantly, he could not depend on its commanders, especially Edwards, to subjugate his unit to Regular Army Divisions.
Edwards' final demise came in October 1918, when he reported an incident to Liggett involving information two of his soldiers had obtained from German soldiers with whom they had been fraternizing. The Germans had expressed their belief that the war would be over soon, and that they were reluctant to continue fighting. While Edwards thought he was reporting the enemy's poor morale to Liggett, he instead gave Liggett an excuse to get rid of Edwards for his zeal in supporting the National Guard. Liggett reported the incident to Pershing, who took the opportunity to act on his personal vendetta and relieve Edwards of his command.
On Edwards' return to the United States he was assigned to the command of the Northeastern Department once again, with headquarters in Boston. In September 1920, he reverted to his Regular Army rank of brigadier general, and was placed in command of the 2nd Brigade, based at Camp Taylor, Kentucky. He was promoted to major general in the Regular Army in June 1921, and given the command of the First Corps area, headquartered in Boston, where he served until retired at his own request on December 1, 1922 after nearly 40 years of service. Following retirement, Edwards served as president of the grocery company his father had founded.
His daughter Bessie died from pneumonia at Camp Meade, Maryland on October 13, 1918 and his wife died January 25, 1929. Edwards died February 14, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts and all three are buried together at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Honors and awards
During his 40 year career he earned military decorations from several countries including France, who made him an officer of the Legion of Honor and granted him the Croix de Guerre with palm. He received the Order of Leopold (Grand Cross) from the Belgian government and the Haller Swords from Poland. However, he did not initially receive the Distinguished Service Medal by the United States for his service in World War I as most other division commanders were. The medal was not authorized by the Army until 1937, six years after his death, therefore it was presented posthumously.
Distinguished Service Cross citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal (Posthumously) to Major General Clarence R. Edwards, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. After having organized the 26th Division, General Edwards commanded it with distinction during all but 18 days of its active service at the front. The high qualities of leadership and unfailing devotion to duty displayed by him were responsible for the marked espirit and morale of his command. To his marked tactical ability and energy are largely due the brilliant successes achieved by the 26th National Guard Division during its operations against the enemy from 4 February 1918 to 11 November 1918. General Edwards died 14 February 1931.
- Edwards received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Syracuse University, Trinity College, Syracuse University, Middlebury College, Boston College, Norwich College, and Fordham College.
- A collection of his papers is archived at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, and is open for research.
- A middle school in Charlestown, Massachusetts, is named in his honor.
- A statue of Edwards stands on the grounds of the Connecticut state capitol.
- The General Edwards Bridge carries Massachusetts Route 1A into Lynn, Massachusetts.
- Edwards Parade is located on the campus of Fordham University.
- Camp Edwards, a training camp for the Massachusetts National Guard located in Falmouth, Massachusetts, was named for him in 1938.
- National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. A. New York: James T. White & Company. pp. 417–419.
- "Last In Their Class:Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point". Lastintheirclass. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- Sixty-Second Annual Report of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The Lakeside Press. June 10, 1931. p. 199.
- "Federal Force Ready For Fight On Epidemic" (PDF). New York Times. October 14, 1918. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
- Holden, Edward S. (ed.) (1901). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, New York Since its Establishment in 1802, Supplement, Vol. IV 1890-1900. Cambridge: The Riverside Press. pp. 383–384.
- Robinson, Wirt (ed.) (1920). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, New York Since its Establishment in 1802, Supplement, Vol. VI-A 1910-1920. Saginaw, Michigan: Seeman & Peters, Printers. p. 137.
- Benwell, Harry A. (1919). History of the Yankee Division. Boston: The Cornhill Company. pp. 11–31. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- Cooke, James J. (1997). Pershing and His Generals: Command and Staff in the AEF. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-275-95363-7.
- Eisenhower, John S. D.; with Joanne Thompson Eisenhower (2001). Yanks - The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. New York: The Free Press. pp. 84–85, 122. ISBN 0-684-86304-9.
- Coffman, Edward M. (1968). The War to End All Wars - The American Military Experience in World War I (1998 ed.). University Press of Kentucky. pp. 250–253. ISBN 0-8131-2096-9.
- Keene, Jennifer D. (2001). Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 113–115. ISBN 0-8018-6592-1.
- "Clarence Ransom Edwards". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
- "Connecticut State Capitol Tours". League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Inc. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "Google Map Showing the General Edwards Bridge". Google Maps. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "Edwards Parade". Fordham University. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
- "Camp Edwards History". Massachusetts National Guard. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
- Shay, Michael E. (2011). Revered Commander, Maligned General: The Life of Clarence Ransom Edwards, 1859-1931. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri.
- Sibley, Frank P. (1919). With the Yankee Division in France. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- Taylor, Emerson Gifford (1920). New England in France, 1917-1919 - A History of the Twenty-Sixth Division U.S.A.. Cambridge: Whiteside Press. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "Clarence Ransom Edwards: Major General, United States Army". Arlington National Cemetery website. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
- "Gen Clarence R. Edwards". Find a grave website. Dec 25, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2010.