Hodges, Courtney H., 1887-1966

Alternative names
Birth 1887-01-05
Death 1966-01-16

Biographical notes:

General, U.S. Army.

From the description of Typed letter signed : New York, to John Steinbeck, 1947 May 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 775803940

Courtney Hicks Hodges (1887-1966), soldier and military commander, was born in Perry, Georgia. In 1904, after graduating from high school in Perry, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he failed geometry and had to leave after one year. He spent the following year as a grocery clerk in Georgia but refused to abandon his dream of soldiering. In 1906 he enlisted as a private at Fort McPherson, Georgia, serving in the Seventeenth Infantry for two and a half years and rising to the rank of sergeant. In 1909 he became a second lieutenant in the infantry through competitive examination, a very rare achievement at that time. Hodges served successively in peacetime at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in San Antonio, Texas, and in the Philippine Islands. From March 1916 to February 1917, he served in Mexico with General John Pershing''s Punitive Expedition, which tried to capture Pancho Villa. In France during World War I Hodges rose rapidly up the chain of command and led troops in several offensives, most notably the Meuse-Argonne. He led a scouting expedition across the Meuse River and penetrated the main German lines. For more than a day his command held that key bridgehead, which became the lead point of an American advance across the Meuse. For his gallantry and leadership he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star with three battle stars. Between the two world wars Hodges saw his rank reduced as the army contracted in size, but he remained a permanent major from 1920 to 1934. In 1928 he married Mildred Lee Buchner, a widow who, like Hodges, was an expert shot. Hodges had been a crack marksman since childhood and for a long time was the army''s leading performer in national rifle matches. During the interwar period Hodges learned and taught about the use of infantry, artillery, and air support. After brief duty in Germany he graduated from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1920. From 1920 to 1924 he served as an instructor of tactics at West Point, the first non-graduate of the academy to hold that position. While teaching at West Point he met and impressed Omar N. Bradley. Hodges graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in 1925. He served as an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then taught infantry tactics for three years at the Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field, Va. In 1929 he became a member of the Infantry Board at Fort Benning, where he served again with Bradley and also won the approval of George Marshall, then assistant commandant of the Infantry School at the fort. In 1933 Hodges and Bradley went to the Army War College, graduating the next year. Hodges served two years with the Seventh Infantry at Vancouver Barracks in the state of Washington, then two years in the Philippines. In 1938 he became assistant commandant and in 1940 commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning. Chief of Staff General Marshall promoted Hodges to brigadier general in 1940 and to major general in May 1941, when Marshall named him chief of infantry of the United States Army. In the wake of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the army was reorganized and the position of chief of infantry was abolished. Hodges then organized the Replacement and School Command at Birmingham, Ala. In mid-1942 he activated the X Corps as part of the Third Army and in February 1943, having been promoted to lieutenant general, he took command of the Southern Defense Command (including the Third Army) at Fort Sam Houston, Tex. When the Third Army moved from the United States to England for the projected invasion of Europe, command of the army passed to General George S. Patton, Jr., the premier American army assault commander. The less well known Hodges was named deputy commanding general in Bradley''s First Army, which was also in England preparing for the cross-Channel assault on Europe. Eight weeks after the invasion on June 6, 1944, Bradley was named commander of the Twelfth Army Group and Hodges took over the First Army under Bradley''s overall command. Hodges'' First Army compiled a record second to none in the European Theater of Operations. It moved quickly across France, helping to liberate Paris on Aug. 25, 1944, then moved into Belgium and Luxembourg. General Hodges'' forces were the first Allied troops to penetrate Germany, having reached the German border on September 11. In the autumn of 1944 the army fought long, confusing, and costly battles along the Siegfried Line, especially at Aachen and in the Hürtgen Forest. The battle reached a crisis when, in mid-December, the Germans commenced an offensive from the Ardennes Forest in what came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Hodges'' First Army absorbed the brunt of the battle, and for two weeks was cut off from Bradley. But Hodges counterattacked and the First Army quickly moved into the Rhineland. In early March 1945 elements of the First Army seized the Remagen Bridge and became the first Allied troops to cross the Rhine. Together with the Ninth Army, the First trapped 300,000 German troops in the Ruhr Valley before achieving another first--the linkup with Soviet forces on the Elbe River. In April 1945, in the final weeks of the campaign, Hodges was promoted to full general. After World War II, Hodges quietly led the First Army in its peacetime defense and training role at Governor''s Island in New York Harbor. He retired early in 1949 to San Antonio, Texas, where he died.

From the description of Hodges, Courtney Hicks, 1887-1966 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10679495


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