McArthur, Gen. Arthur (1845-1912) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

McArthur, Gen. Arthur (1845-1912)

Wisconsin Civil War Officer, Congressional Medal of Honor, Spanish-American War Soldier,

McArthur, Gen. Arthur (1845-1912) | Wisconsin Historical Society
b. Springfield, Massachusetts, June 2, 1845
d. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 5, 1912

Arthur McArthur, commander of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry, was the youngest colonel in the Wisconsin volunteers. He later served as military governor of the Philippines during occupation after the Spanish-American War of 1898.

EnlargeArthur MacArthur, Jr., WHI 4502.

Arthur MacArthur, Jr.

View the original source document: WHI 4502


McArthur (he changed the spelling to 'MacArthur' after the Civil War) came to Milwaukee with his family as a young child. When the Civil War broke out, he was only 16 years old. The following year he was commissioned adjutant and 1st lieutenant of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry.

Civil War Service

The 24th Infantry arrived at Louisville, Kentucky, on September 20, 1862, and fought at the Battle of Perryville on October 8. At the Battle of Stones River (December 30, 1862-January 1, 1863), the colonel and lieutenant colonel of the 24th Infantry were both ill and command fell on the regiment's major and 18-year-old McArthur.

Congressional Medal of Honor

Eleven months later, at age 18, McArthur won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership at Missionary Ridge during the Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 24th Infantry was one of several units ordered to charge uphill into a fortified enemy position on November 25, 1863. When his regiment's color bearer fell, McArthur picked up the regimental flag and charged ahead with it in front of his men. They rallied behind him, stormed the seemingly impregnable entrenchments, and seized the strategic ridge for the Union.

McArthur was promoted to major on January 2, 1864, and on May 15 again commanded the regiment, at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 8, 1864, and led his troops during the Siege of Atlanta. On November 30, 1864, he was wounded at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. McArthur was mustered out with his regiment on June 10, 1865, but soon enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Later Career

From 1866-1886, McArthur was stationed at many posts around the South and West. He was commissioned a brigadier general 1896. He fought in the Spanish-American War and was appointed military governor of the Philippines during the American occupation from 1900-1901. He also served as special observer to the Japanese army during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 before finally retiring on June 2, 1909.

McArthur returned to Milwaukee in 1907. He died there from a massive heart attack on September 5, 1912, while addressing a reunion of veterans from the 24th Wisconsin Infantry.

Links to Learn More

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography (Madison, 1965); "Lieutenant General MacArthur Retires." Milwaukee Free Press, June 2, 1909; "Major General Arthur MacArthur" The United Service, A Monthly Review… Third Series, Vol. 2, No. 1 (July 1902) 111-112.]