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Leonard Wood
October 9, 1860(1860-10-09) – August 7, 1927 (aged 66)
Leonard Wood 1903.jpg
Major General Leonard Wood in 1903
Place of birth Winchester, New Hampshire
Place of death Boston, Massachusetts
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1885-1921
Rank Major General
Commands held Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
Awards Medal of Honor
Other work Governor General of Cuba

Leonard Wood (October 9, 1860 – August 7, 1927) was a physician who served as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Military Governor of Cuba and Governor General of the Philippines. Early in his military career, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Leonard Wood also holds officer service #2 in the Regular Army (John Pershing holds officer service #1).




Early life and career

Born in Winchester, New Hampshire, he attended Pierce Academy in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and Harvard Medical School, earning an M.D. degree in 1884 as an intern at Boston City Hospital.

He took a position as an Army contract physician in 1885, and was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Wood participated in the last campaign against Geronimo in 1886, and was awarded the Medal of Honor, in 1898, for carrying dispatches 100 miles through hostile territory and for commanding an infantry detachment whose officers had been lost.

While stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia in 1893, Wood enrolled in graduate school at Georgia Tech, then known as the Georgia School of Technology, and became the school's first football coach and, as a player, its team captain. Wood led the team to its first ever football victory, 28 to 6, over the University of Georgia.[1]

Wood was personal physician to Presidents Grover Cleveland and William McKinley through 1898. It was during this period he developed a friendship with Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Wood, with Roosevelt, organized the 1st Volunteer Cavalry regiment, popularly known as the Rough Riders. Wood commanded the regiment in a successful engagement known as the Battle of Las Guasimas. When brigade commander, Samuel B. M. Young became ill, Wood received a field promotion to brigadier general of volunteers and assumed command of the 2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, V Corps (which included the Rough Riders) and led the brigade to a famous victory at Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights.

Staff of the 1st US Volunteer Regiment, the "Rough Riders" in Tampa - Wood is 2nd from right with LtCol Roosevelt far right.

After San Juan, Wood led the 2nd Cavalry Brigade for the rest of the war; he stayed in Cuba after the war and was appointed the Military Governor of Santiago in 1898, and of Cuba from 1899–1902. In that capacity, he relied on his medical experience to institute improvements to the medical and sanitary conditions in Cuba. He also ordered the incarceration of Dr. Manuel M. Coronado, director of La Discusión newspaper and Jesus Castellanos, caricaturist of the newspaper because Jesus Castellanos drew a cartoon that was published on April 12, 1901, in the Cuban paper La Discusión. The cartoon showed "The Cuban People" represented by a crucified Jesus Christ between two thieves, General Wood and American President William McKinley. Cuban public opinion was depicted by Mary Magdalene on her knees crying at the foot of the cross and Senator Platt, depicted as a Roman soldier, is holding a spear that says "The Platt Amendment" on it. Governor Wood, who saw in Castellanos's drawing an unfriendly gesture toward the United States, had both men arrested for criminal libel and held in the Vivac prison of Havana, and the offices of La Discusión newspaper were sealed (Wood was persuaded to release them on the following day). He was promoted to brigadier general of regulars shortly before moving to his next assignment.

In 1902, he proceeded to the Philippines, where he served in the capacity of commander of the Philippines Division and later as commander of the Department of the East. He was promoted to major general in 1903, and served as governor of Moro province from 1903–1906. During this period, he was in charge of several bloody campaigns against Muslim Moro natives, including personally leading the Moro Crater massacre.

Army Chief of Staff

Leonard Wood with horse.jpg

Wood had known Theodore Roosevelt well before the Spanish-American War. Wood was named Army Chief of Staff in 1910 by President Taft, whom he had met while both were in the Philippines; he remains the only medical officer to have ever held that position. As Chief of Staff, Wood implemented several programs, among which were the forerunner of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, and the Preparedness Movement, a campaign for universal military training and wartime conscription. The Preparedness Movement plan was scrapped in favor of the Selective Service System, shortly before World War I. He developed the Mobile Army, thus laying the groundwork for American success in World War I. He created the General Staff Corps.

In 1914, Wood was replaced as Chief of Staff by William Wotherspoon. Wood was a strong advocate of preparedness, which alienated him from President Wilson. With the US entry into World War I, Wood was recommended by Republicans, in particular Henry Cabot Lodge, to be the U.S. field commander; however, War Secretary Newton Baker instead appointed John J. Pershing, amid much controversy. During the war, Wood was, instead, put in charge of the training of the 10th and 89th Infantry Divisions, both at Camp Funston. In 1915, he published The Military Obligation of Citizenship, and in 1916 Our Military History.

Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood in later years

Wood was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in the election of 1920. He was urged into running by the family and supporters of his old friend Theodore Roosevelt, who had himself been considering another campaign before his illness and death in 1919. He won the New Hampshire primary that year, but lost at the convention. Among the reasons why he did not become the candidate were rivals for the nomination, his obvious political inexperience, and the strong support he gave for the anti-Communist strategy of Democratic Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to defeat radical subversion. After the major candidates deadlocked, the nomination went to Warren G. Harding.

He retired from the Army in 1921, and was made Governor General of the Philippines, in which capacity he served from 1921 to 1927.[2] He was noted for his harsh, unpopular policies.

Wood died in Boston, Massachusetts after undergoing surgery for a recurrent brain tumor. He had initially been diagnosed in 1910 with a benign meningioma brought on by exposure to experimental weapons refuse. This was resected by Harvey Cushing at that time, and Wood made a full recovery until the tumor later recurred. The successful removal of Wood's brain tumor represented an important milestone, indicating to the public the advances that had been made in the nascent field of neurosurgery, and extending Wood's life by almost two decades.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[3] His brain is held at the Yale University School of Medicine as part of an historic collection of Harvey Cushing's patients' preserved brains.


Wood's actual field jacket from the Spanish American War seen in above photo - on display at the National Museum of American History

Camp Leonard Wood in Missouri, now Fort Leonard Wood, home of the United States Army Combat Engineer School, Chemical School, Military Police School, and USAF 366 TRS Det 7 was named in his honor, as was the USS "Leonard Wood" (AP-25/APA-12).

Leonard Wood Road in Baguio City, Philippines was named in his honor. A Public Elementary School in Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City, Philippines (inside Eversley Childs Sanitarium compound) was also named after him.

Ft. Leonard Wood is also a major TRADOC post for Basic Combat Training (BCT), home of the 10th Infantry Regiment.

He is portrayed favorably in the 1997 miniseries "Rough Riders" by actor and former United States Marine Dale Dye.

Leonard Wood was portrayed in a less favorable light by Mark Twain and others for his part in leading the Moro Crater massacre in 1906.

A plaque in Wood's memory is found in Harvard University's Memorial Church.

Medal of Honor citation

Medal of Honor
Voluntarily carried dispatches through a region infested with hostile Indians, making a journey of 70 miles in one night and walking 30 miles the next day. Also for several weeks, while in close pursuit of Geronimo's band and constantly expecting an encounter, commanded a detachment of Infantry, which was then without an officer, and to the command of which he was assigned upon his own request.

See also



  1. ^ Byrd, Joseph (Spring 1992). "From Civil War Battlefields to the Moon: Leonard Wood". Tech Topics (Georgia Tech Alumni Association). Retrieved 2007-03-12.  
  2. ^ Jones, O. Garfield (September 28 1921). "What Wood and Forbes Have Done In The Philippines". The Outlook 129: 133–135. Retrieved 2009-07-30.   Also see Robb, Walter (November 30 1921). "Wood Facing His Task". The Outlook 129: 512–513. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  3. ^ [1]

Other sources

  • Hermann Hagedorn, Leonard Wood, a Biography 2 vol 1931
  • Jack McCallum, Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism (2005)
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), "Comments on the Moro Massacre" 1906

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Casey Finnegan
Georgia Tech Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Rufus B. Nalley
Military offices
Preceded by
John R. Brooke
Military Governor of Cuba
Succeeded by
Preceded by
J. Franklin Bell
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
William W. Wotherspoon
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Yeater
Governor-General of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Eugene Allen Gilmore

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

"LEONARD WOOD (1860-), American soldier, was born at Winchester, N.H., Oct. 9 1860. He graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 1884, was appointed assistant surgeon with the rank of first-lieutenant in the U.S. army in 1886, and at once joined Capt. Lawton's expedition against the Apaches in the southwest, resulting in the capture of Geronimo. For distinguished services he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1891 he was promoted captain and full surgeon, and later, while stationed in Washington, D.C., was President McKinley's personal physician. Here he became the close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant-Secretary of the Navy. On the outbreak of the Spanish American War in 1898 Wood was commissioned colonel of volunteers, and together with Roosevelt, as lieutenant-colonel, raised the famous regiment of " Rough Riders," composed of western ranchmen and cowboys as well as members of prominent eastern families eager to serve under these two strenuous leaders. For conduct at Las Guasimas and San Juan Hill, Wood was promoted brigadier-general July 1898 and in Dec. major-general of volunteers. He was military governor of Cuba from 1899 to 1902 when the Cuban Republic was established. Under his guidance great improvements were made in schools and sanitation. Meanwhile he had been honourably discharged from voluntary service and appointed brigadier-general in the regular army Feb. 1901. In March 1903 he was sent to the Philippines and in Aug. promoted major-general. For three years he was governor of the Moro Province and during 1906-8 was commander of the Philippines Division. In 1908 he returned to America as commander of the Eastern Department for a year. In 1910 he was special American ambassador to the centenary celebration of Argentine independence. On his return he was appointed chief of staff, serving until 1914, when he was again given command of the Eastern Department, General Wood often had disapproved the policies of the War Department, and as early as 1908 had urged preparedness. To him was largely due the establishment of a summer camp at Plattsburg for training civilian officers, which was taken as a model for other camps of the kind after America's entrance into the World War. In 1915, when he gave unofficial indorsement to the proposed formation of the American Legion whose purpose was to establish a body of some 300,000 men ready for immediate service, he was rebuked by the Secretary of War. Just before America's entrance into the World War in 1917 it was announced that the Eastern Division, then under Gen. Wood's command, had been divided into three divisions, and Gen. Wood was assigned to the Southeastern Division, with the alternative of choosing either Hawaii or the Philippines. As a soldier desiring active service he naturally chose the American post; but the apparent motive of the War Department to humiliate him aroused criticism. He was later transferred to Camp Funston, where he trained the 89th Div., N.A. In Jan. 1918, while in France, presumably preparatory to bringing his troops there, he was painfully wounded by the explosion of a French mortar. After his return to America he was on the point of embarking with the 89th Div., when he was suddenly assigned to the Western Department, no reason being given. It was generally understood that his name was not on the list of officers submitted by Gen. Pershing as acceptable for duty overseas. By change of orders he was returned to Camp Funston, where he trained the 10th Div. of the regular army and other troops. In 1919 he was put in command of the Central Department, with headquarters at Chicago. In 1920 he was a prominent candidate for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. He led on the first four ballots and never fell below second place. When the supporters of Governor Lowden, his chief competitor, were released after the eighth ballot, they swung to Senator Harding, a " dark horse," who was nominated on the tenth ballot, with 6921 votes to 156 for Gen. Wood. In 1921 Gen. Wood was sent on a special Federal mission to the Philippine Is. to report on conditions there. During his absence he was appointed head of the university of Pennsylvania. In Oct. 1921 he retired from active service in the army and was appointed governor-general of the Philippines. He was granted a year's leave of absence from the university of Pennsylvania, but it was thought that he might be able to assume his academic duties in Oct. 1922. He was the author of The Military Obligation of Citizenship (1915, lectures at Prince ton and elsewhere); Our Military History, Its Facts and Fallacies (1916); and Universal Military Training (1917).

See I. F. Marcosson, Leonard Wood, Prophet of Preparedness (1917) Joseph H. Sears, The Career of Leonard Wood (1919); and Leonard Wood on National Issues (1920), compiled by Evan J. David.

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