In Caesar's Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger

By Paul Chwialkowski | Go to book overview

about her experiences at a Confederate hospital, where she had served as a volunteer by holding the basin when amputations were performed. Furthermore, she taught Robert several Confederate songs, and fostered his interest and reading on Civil War topics. 13

Robert's father also approved of his son's interest in the military. A group of Civil War veterans met regularly in one of the rooms of George Eichelberger's law office, and George allowed his son to listen to the old men's stories of battles, wounds, and bloodshed. When Robert was 12, his father took him on a tour of the battlefields at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. In 1901, George bought Robert a "Rough Rider" suit and took him to Columbus, Ohio, to see Teddy Roosevelt. That same year, Robert attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, where he watched the West Point Corps of Cadets drill and parade. 14

These pleasant experiences for Robert made the prospect of a military career the most enticing alternative to a future in the legal profession. When an appointment to West Point became available in 1904, however, George Eichelberger deliberately failed to inform his son, although he must have known that Robert's appointment was assured due to his close friendship with Judge Warnock. Both he and Warnock had doubts about Robert's ability to be successful at West Point, especially since several Urbana boys had failed to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in the past. Robert heard about the West Point opening only after Warnock had unsuccessfully tried to convince several of Robert's friends to accept the appointment. When Robert heard that the position was still unfilled, he "ran all the way to [ Warnock's] office to ask him to give this appointment to me." Arriving out of breath, Robert pleaded with Warnock for the position. Obviously embarrassed by the situation, Warnock agreed to offer the appointment to Eichelberger after giving the excuse that he was unaware that Robert was interested in a military career. In retrospect, Robert concluded that Warnock had been extremely generous in offering him the appointment. 15

Robert forgave Warnock for his indiscretions, but he never forgave his father for the lack of confidence in his abilities. After leaving for West Point, he rarely wrote or spoke about his father. Years later, after Robert became Superintendent of West Point, a friend is reported to have heard him whisper at his father's grave, "You said I wouldn't be appointed to West Point, you said I wouldn't make the grade at West Point and now I'm running the place."16


NOTES
1.
Eichelberger Dictations, "Early Days", 6 July 1955, 1-2 (the Eichelberger "Dictations" are included in boxes 172, 174-78 of the Robert L. Eichelberger Papers, William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; hereafter, these dictations will be referred to as the Eichelberger Dictations).

-5-

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In Caesar's Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Note x
  • 1 - ORIGINS OF A MILITARY CAREER 1
  • Notes 5
  • 2 - FORMATION OF A PERSONALITY 7
  • Notes 13
  • 3 - SIBERIA -- A PERSONALITY EMERGES 15
  • Notes 25
  • 4 - PATHS TO PROMOTION 29
  • Notes 39
  • 5 - PREPARATION FOR WARTIME COMMAND 43
  • Notes 54
  • 6 - BUNA -- THE PYRRHIC VICTORY 57
  • Notes 75
  • 7 - STRUGGLES FROM THE SIDELINES 81
  • Notes 91
  • 8 - HOLLANDIA AND BIAK -- VICTORY AND CONFLICT 95
  • Notes 105
  • 9 - THE PHILIPPINES -- COMPETITION WITH KRUEGER 109
  • Notes 124
  • 10 - VICTORY AND DISAPPOINTMENT 131
  • Notes 142
  • 11 - MILITARY OCCUPATION OF JAPAN 149
  • Notes 162
  • 12 - RETIREMENT -- AND TURMOIL 173
  • Notes 190
  • Conclusion 205
  • Notes 208
  • SOURCES 209
  • Index 221
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