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Robert L. Bullard
Lieutenant General Robert Lee Bullard - LCCN2014709815 (cropped).jpg
General Robert L. Bullard, 2nd Army Corps, Toul, 1918
Born (1861-01-05)January 5, 1861
Lee County, Alabama, United States
Died September 11, 1947(1947-09-11) (aged 86)
New York City, United States
West Point Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1885–1925
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Unit USA - Army Infantry Insignia.png Infantry Branch
Commands held 26th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division
III Corps
Second Army
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
Mexican Border Service
World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Other work President of National Security League

Lieutenant General Robert Lee Bullard (January 5, 1861 – September 11, 1947) was a senior officer of the United States Army. He was involved in conflicts in the American Western Frontier, the Philippines, and World War I, where he commanded the 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed "The Big Red One") during the Battle of Cantigny while serving on the Western Front. He later was an administrator in Cuba.


A native of Alabama, Bullard attended the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, now Auburn University, and the United States Military Academy, graduated in 1885, and was appointed first lieutenant in 1892. He served in various capacities in the Spanish–American War, and in the Philippines from 1902 to 1904. He was made lieutenant colonel in 1906. In 1907, he was special investigator for the U.S. provisional government in Cuba, and the following year was superintendent of public instruction there. In 1911, he was promoted to colonel.

World War I

After the American entry in World War I, Bullard was quickly promoted to brigadier general (June 1917) and major general N.A. (August 1917). He commanded the 1st Infantry Division ("Big Red One") from December 1917 to July 1918.

During World War I, he led men in the Battle of Cantigny (1918) and captured the village of Cantigny. It had been held by the German Eighteenth Army. It was the site of a German advance observation point and strongly fortified. This was the first sustained American offensive of the war. It was considered a success in that it expanded the American front by about a mile. General John J. Pershing said of the attack:

The enemy reaction against our troops at Cantigny was extremely violent, and apparently he was determined at all costs to counteract the most excellent effect the American success had produced. For three days his guns of all calibers were concentrated on our new position and counter-attack succeeded counter-attack. The desperate efforts of the Germans gave the fighting at Cantigny a seeming tactical importance entirely out of proportion to the numbers involved."

Bullard was fluent in French and often served in joint U.S.–French operations.

General Pershing created the Second U.S. Army in October 1918 and appointed Bullard as its first commander with the rank of lieutenant general. At the same time he turned over command of First United States Army to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. Pershing retained his position as commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) with authority over both of the armies.

Bullard's military actions have also been subject to criticism. In the Battle of Montfaucon, Bullard reportedly refused orders to turn the flank of the German troops with his 4th division as he did not want to help Major General George H. Cameron get credit for taking the German fortress at Montfaucon. Due to his alleged disobedience or deliberate misinterpretation of orders, Cameron's 79th division had no support to their right and suffered unnecessarily severe casualties as they performed a frontal attack on the fortress. Additionally, Bullard continued to conduct offensive operations, with full knowledge that the Armistice was due to take effect in a few hours, was criticized by Alden Brooks in his post-war account of the war, As I Saw It (1930).

Post war

Hughes party for Brazil LCCN2014715067
Bullard (far left) travels to Brazil with Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes in August 1922

The Second Army was deactivated in April 1919 and Bullard reverted to his permanent rank of major general in June 1920. He was assigned to corps command in the much smaller post war U.S. Army. He retired from active duty in 1925 to concentrate on writing. He served as last president of the National Security League from 1925 until he disbanded it in 1947.

Bullard wrote American Soldiers Also Fought in 1936.

He died on September 11, 1947. Bullard is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery, with his wife Ella (Reiff) Bullard (5 November 1870 to 3 March 1963).


He was author of the following books:

  • Personalities and Reminiscences of the War, New York: Doubleday Page, 1925. ISBN: 0-7661-9742-5
  • American Soldiers also Fought, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1936.

Bullard also wrote several magazine articles.

Military awards

  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Indian Campaign Medal
  • Spanish War Service Medal
  • Philippine Campaign Medal
  • Army of Cuban Pacification Medal
  • Mexican Border Service Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Commander, French Legion of Honor
  • Commander, Belgian Order of Leopold
  • Commander, Italian Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
  • French Croix de Guerre with 2 palms

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Component Date
None Cadet United States Military Academy 1 July 1881
None in 1885 Second Lieutenant Regular Army 14 June 1885
US-O2 insignia.svg
First Lieutenant Regular Army 2 April 1892
US-O4 insignia.svg
Major Volunteers 2 June 1898
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captain Regular Army 11 July 1898
(Date of rank was 22 June 1898.)
US-O6 insignia.svg
Colonel Volunteers 6 August 1898
(Mustered out of Volunteers on 20 March 1899.)
US-O6 insignia.svg
Colonel Volunteers 17 August 1899
(Honorably discharged from Volunteers on 6 May 1901.)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Major Regular Army 1 April 1901
US-O5 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Colonel Regular Army 31 October 1906
US-O6 insignia.svg
Colonel Regular Army 11 March 1911
US-O7 insignia.svg
Brigadier General Regular Army 29 June 1917
(Date of rank was 16 June 1917.)
US-O8 insignia.svg
Major General National Army 3 September 1917
(Date of rank was 6 August 1917.)
US-O9 insignia.svg
Lieutenant General Emergency 1 November 1918
(Date of rank was 16 October 1918. Discharged and reverted
to permanent rank 30 June 1920.)
US-O8 insignia.svg
Major General Regular Army 16 February 1919
(Date of rank 27 November 1918.)
US-O8 insignia.svg
Major General Retired List 15 January 1925
US-O9 insignia.svg
Lieutenant General Retired List 21 June 1930

Source: Army Register, 1931

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