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Peyton C. March

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Title: Peyton C. March  
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Collection: 1864 Births, 1955 Deaths, American Military Personnel of the Spanish–american War, American Military Personnel of World War I, Burials at Arlington National Cemetery, Grand Cordons of the Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Crosses of the Order of George I, Grand Crosses of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Grand Crosses of the Order of the Crown (Belgium), Grand Officiers of the Légion D'Honneur, Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, Knights of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Lafayette College Alumni, People from Easton, Pennsylvania, People of the Russo-Japanese War, Recipients of the Czechoslovak War Cross, Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross (United States), Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal (United States), Recipients of the Silver Star, United States Army Chiefs of Staff, United States Army Generals of World War I, United States Military Academy Alumni
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Peyton C. March

Peyton Conway March
Born (1864-12-27)December 27, 1864
Easton, Pennsylvania
Died April 13, 1955(1955-04-13) (aged 90)
Washington, D.C.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1888–1921
Rank General
Commands held 8th Field Artillery Regiment
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
World War I
Russian Civil War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Honor (France)

Peyton Conway March (born December 27, 1864 in Easton, Pennsylvania – April 13, 1955) was an American soldier and Army Chief of Staff. He is largely responsible for the designing the powerful role of the Chief of Staff in the 20th century.


  • Early army career 1
  • World War I and later 2
  • Family 3
  • Dates of rank 4
  • Awards and decorations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early army career

March was the son of Francis Andrew March, considered the principal founder of modern comparative linguistics in Anglo-Saxon. Peyton March attended Lafayette College, where his father occupied the first chair of English language and comparative philology in the United States. His mother descended from Thomas Stone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was Moncure D. Conway's sister.[1] While at Lafayette College, March was a member of the Rho Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. After graduating with honors in 1884,[2] he was appointed to West Point and graduated in 1888. After his initial assignment to the 3rd Artillery, March was assigned to the 5th Artillery as a 1st lieutenant in 1894.

He was sent to the Artillery School at Philippines during the Spanish-American War.[3] Historian Bruce Campbell Adamson has written about Henry Bidwell Ely (Adamson's great grandfather) who was placed in charge of The Astor Battery by John Jacob Astor IV, to give Peyton March whatever he needed. March credit's Ely as having "an open check book" to purchase uniforms, mules and the cannons.[4]

After the battery returned from the Philippines in 1899, March was assigned as the aide to Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr. during the Philippine-American War. Later that year he was promoted to major. He continued to serve in the Philippines, participated as part of General Loyd Wheaton's expedition in battles at San Fabian, Buntayan Bridge and San Jacinto. He commanded the U.S. forces in the Battle of Tirad Pass, 2 December 1899, where General Gregorio del Pilar was killed, and received the surrender of General Venacio Concepción, Chief of Staff to Philippine President Aguinaldo at Cayan, 5 December 1899. He served as provincial governor of districts including Lepanto-Bontoc and Ilocos Sur from February to June 1900, and then the Abra Province from June 1900 to February 1901. He then served as Commissary General of Prisoners for the Philippine Islands through 30 June 1901, when he mustered out of the U.S. Volunteers.[5]

In 1903 he was sent to Fort Riley and commanded the 19th Battery of the Field Artillery. Later that year he was sent to Washington, D.C. and served on the newly created General Staff.

From 21 March to 30 November 1904, March was one of several American military attachés serving with the Imperial Japanese Army in the Russo-Japanese War. Of the seventeen military attachés observing both sides of the Russo-Japanese War for the United States, eight were later promoted to be generals.[6]

In 1907, March commanded the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery. March then served as adjutant of Fort Riley, Kansas and then served as adjutant at several other commands, including at the War Department.

In 1916, he was promoted to colonel and commanded the 8th Field Artillery Regiment on the Mexican border.

World War I and later

In June 1917, March was promoted to brigadier general and commanded the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Later that year, he was promoted to major general and commanded the artillery units of the U.S. First Army and all non-divisional artillery units.

In March 1918, he was recalled to Washington, took over as acting Army Chief of Staff on March 4 and was Army Chief of Staff on May 20, 1918. He was promoted to temporary general.

General Peyton March as chief of staff.

March was highly critical of President Wilson's decision to send an American Expedition to North Russia and Siberia in 1918 during the Russian Civil War (the so-called Siberian Intervention) ostensibly to prop-up the White movement war effort, secure the railroads, support the Czech Legion trapped there, and stop the Japanese from exploiting the chaos in order to colonize Siberia. March wrote after the pull-out of American forces in 1920:

In 1919 March was admitted as an honorary member of the Virginia Society of the Cincinnati.

Gen. Peyton C. March, painted by Nicodemus David Hufford III.

He served as Chief of Staff until June 30, 1921. As Chief of Staff he reorganized the Army structure, and abolished the distinctions between the Regular Army, the Army Reserves, and the Army National Guard during war time. He created new technical branches in the service including the United States Army Air Corps, Chemical Warfare Service, Transportation Corps, and Tank Corps. He also centralized control over supply. After the war ended, he supervised the demobilization of the Army. As Chief of Staff he often came into disagreement with General John J. Pershing, who wanted to conduct the AEF as an independent command.

March retired as a major general in 1921.[8] In June 1930, March was advanced to general on the retired list.

In December 1922, March was elected honorary president of Delta Kappa Epsilon during the fraternity's 78th Annual Convention.[9]

After retirement, he travelled Europe, Africa and Turkey.[10] In 1932, he published his war memoirs, The Nation at War.[11] During World War II, reporters for Time and Life magazines regularly sought his opinions of events.[10]

March died on April 13, 1955 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In his funeral marched "the escort commander and his staff; the U.S. Army Band; one battalion of cadets from the US Military Academy; one company of infantry; one battery of field artillery; one company of armor; the U.S. Marine Band; one company of Marines; one company of bluejackets; one squadron of airmen; and one composite company of servicewomen." The estimated total strength of the military escort was 1,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. At the grave "was a large group of military, civilian, and foreign dignitaries headed by Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Also in attendance were representatives of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, to all of which General March had belonged."[12]

March was a highly efficient and capable administrator who did much to modernize the American Army and prepare it for combat in the First World War.


He married Josephine Cunningham (née Smith, 18 December 1862 – 18 November 1904), the widowed daughter[10] of his battery commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Smith,[13] on July 4, 1891. She died in November 1904, while March was still observing the Imperial Japanese Army. Between 28 November 1917 and 8 June 1918, their daughters Mildred (1893—1967), Josephine (1895—1972) and Vivian (1899—1932) had all married Army officers.[14] Josephine had a twin brother, named Peyton Jr. who died ten days after their birth. March's second son, also named Peyton, Jr., was killed in a plane crash in Texas during World War I. March AFB in Riverside, California was named in young March's honor.[15] A third son, Lewis Alden March, was born in 1904 and died in 1928.[10][16]

While traveling in Italy, he met Cora Virginia McEntee (1897-1964), and married her in August 1923.[10][16][17]

Dates of rank

Rank Date Component
Cadet 15 June 1884 United States Military Academy
Second Lieutenant 11 June 1888 Regular Army
First Lieutenant 25 March 1894 Regular Army
Major 5 July 1899 Volunteers
Lieutenant Colonel 9 June 1900 Volunteers
Captain 2 February 1901 Regular Army (Discharged from Volunteers - 30 June 1901)
Major 25 January 1907 Regular Army
Lieutenant Colonel 8 February 1912 Regular Army
Colonel 1 July 1916 Regular Army
Brigadier General 17 June 1917 Regular Army
Major General 5 August 1917 National Army
Major General 12 February 1918 Regular Army
General 20 May 1918 National Army
Major General 1 July 1920 Regular Army
Major General 1 November 1921 Retired List
General 21 June 1930 Retired List

Source - Army Register, 1946[18]

Awards and decorations

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^  
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Armed Services Press, Welcome to March Air Force Base – 1971 Unofficial Guide and Directory, Riverside, California, 1971, page 3.
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^

Further reading

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Tasker H. Bliss
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
John J. Pershing
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