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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Summerall

Birthplace: Blunts Ferry, FL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Pelot

Date of Birth: 04 March 1867

Date of Death: 14 May 1955

Rank: General

Years Served: 1892-1931
Charles Pelot Summerall

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1892

•  Philippine-American War (1899 - 1902)
•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Charles Pelot Summerall
General, U.S. Army

Charles Pelot Summerall was born on 4 March 1867 in Blunts Ferry, FL.

Summerall attended the Porter Military Academy in South Carolina from 1882-85. After graduation, he worked as a school teacher for three years. In 1888, he enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in June 1892. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he was assigned to the 1st Infantry, transferring to the 5th Artillery on March 1893. He performed garrison duty in California from 1893-95, then served at Fort Hamilton from 1895-98. He was assigned to the Department of the Gulf as Aide-de-Camp to the Commander and as an Engineer Officer in 1898-99, receiving promotion to First Lieutenant in March 1899.

Summerall participated with his unit in the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1900, and was a member of the China Relief Expedition in 1900-01, participating in the attack on Peking. He was promoted to Captain and assigned to the 106th Coast Artillery Company in July 1901. He served at Forts Walla Walla and Lawton, in Washington, commanding the latter post in 1901-02. He was on duty at Camp Skagway and was in charge of preliminary work at Fort Seward in Alaska. He commanded Fort Flagler in 1902-03, and then was transferred to the 3rd Field Artillery Battery with duty at Camp Thomas and Fort Myer in 1903-05.

Summerall was the Senior Instructor of Artillery Tactics at West Point from 1905-11. He was promoted to Major in March 1911, and Commanded the Field Artillery of the Maneuver Division at San Antonio, TX. He commanded the summer camps of instruction for Army and National Guard Artillery in 1912-14, was Assistant Chief of the Militia Bureau and in charge of National Guard artillery in 1915-17. He was engaged in purchasing artillery ranges, and was a member of the Ordnance Board from 1915-16, the commission to investigate the manufacture of munitions in 1916, the Board of Ordnance and Fortification in 1917, and the military mission to British and French Armies in 1917. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1916, Colonel in 1917, and Brigadier General in the National Army in August 1917.

World War I

Summerall commanded the 67th Field Artillery Brigade and the 1st Field Artillery Brigade in operations in France in 1917 and was promoted to Major General in the National Army. He successively commanded his Brigade, the 1st Division, and V Corps, in the Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne operations in 1918. He commanded IX and IV Corps and served on the American Peace Commission at the Peace Conference in 1919.

Post-War Career

Summerall commanded the 1st Division in 1919-21, receiving promotion to Brigadier General in February 1919 and to Major General in April 1920. He commanded the Hawaiian Department in 1921-24. Colonel William "Billy" Mitchell visited Summerall during his command in Hawaii, and criticized the lack of air defenses for the islands. This angered the General, who later attempted to preside over Mitchell's court-martial in 1925, until the defense won his dismissal by showing his bias. However, he still testified as a witness against Mitchell.

After commanding the Eighth and Second Corps Areas in 1924-26, Summerall was appointed Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, serving from 21 November 1926 until 20 November 1930, with promotion to General in February 1929. During his tenure, he directed the formation of a mechanized force and recommended an integrated mobile force of tank, artillery, engineer, and quartermaster elements.

Summerall retired from active service in March 1931, and was president of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina from 1931-53. The elite drill team was named for Summerall: The Summerall Guards.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal

He also received numerous foreign awards.

Summerall received the Distinguished Service Cross as Commanding General of the 1st Division.

...for extraordinary heroism in action before Berzy-le-Sec, near Soissons, France, during the Aisne-Marne offensive, July 19, 1918. General Summerall, commanding the 1st Division, visited, with great gallantry and with utter disregard for his own safety, the extreme front lines of his division and personally made a reconnaissance of the position in the face of heavy hostile machine-gun and artillery fire, exhorting his men to renew the attack on Berzy-le-Sec, promising them a powerful artillery support, and so encouraging them by his presence and example that they declared their readiness to take the town for him. Due to his great courage and utter disregard for his own safety, the men of his division were inspired to enormous and heroic efforts, capturing Berzy-le-Sec the next morning under terrific enemy fire, and later in the day the division reached all its objectives.

In contrast to the official citation, Colonel Conrad S. Babcock, Commander of the 28th Infantry Regiment at Berzy-le-Sec, contended that General Summerall was not at the front until after the battle.

"The only time I saw General Summerall near the front was on the night of the 19th in the Missy-aux-Bois ravine, Ploisy had just been captured. If he exhorted any of the 1st Battalion that evening, after their strenuous and fierce 3,000 yard advance, I was never told of it."

Death and Burial

General Charles Pelot Summerall died on 14 May 1955 in Washington, DC. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 338   Created by: MHOH




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