John Millikin

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John Millikin
Birth name John Millikin
Born (1888-01-07)January 7, 1888
Died November 6, 1970(1970-11-06) (aged 82)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1906 – 1948
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held 33rd Infantry Division SSI.svg 33rd Infantry Division
3 Corps Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.svg III Corps
15px 13th Armored Division

World War I
World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star

John Millikin (January 7, 1888 – November 06, 1970) was the United States Army Major General who commanded the III Corps' counterattack toward Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

Early life

John Millikin was born January 7, 1888 in Indiana.

Military career

Millikin graduated from West Point in 1910 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1912.[1]

World War I

During World War I, Millikin was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry November 16, 1918. He was honorably discharged from the National Army March 15, 1920, and reverted to his Regular Army rank of Captain.[1]

Interwar Period

After World War I, Captain Millikin Graduated from the Cavalry School Advanced Course, and he returned to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas as a distinguished graduate[1] ranking 30th out of 245 in 1926. He served as a faculty member from 1926 to 1930.[2]

World War II

General Millikin commanded the 2nd Cavalry as part of the 1st Armored Corps attached to the 2nd Army during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.[4]
The 33rd Division deployed to the pacific July 7, 1943, in Hawaii the division was divided into different units along the island chain. October 18, 1943 Major General Percy W. Clarkson took command of the division.[5]

Major General Millikin took command of III Corps in October 1943 at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

On 23 August 1944, the corps headquarters departed California for Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts. It deployed for the European Theater of Operations on 5 September 1944. Upon arrival at Cherbourg, France, the corps was assigned to the Ninth Army, Twelfth United States Army Group, and given the code name "CENTURY" which it retained throughout the war.[6] The corps headquarters was established at Carteret, in Normandy, and for six weeks, the corps received and processed all the troops of the 12th Army Group arriving over the Normandy beaches during that period. The corps also participated in the "Red Ball Express" by organizing 45 provisional truck companies to carry fuel and ammunition for the units on the front lines.[6]

III Corps was assigned to the Third United States Army on 10 October 1944, and moved to Etain, near Verdun, and into combat. The corps' first fighting was for the Metz region, as it was moved to attack Fort Jeanne d'Arc, one of the last forts holding out in the region. That fort fell on 13 December 1944.[6]

Relief of Bastogne

Main article: Battle of the Bulge

The forces to be employed for the relief of Bastogne had been earmarked as early as the night of 18 December 1944 when Bradley and Patton agreed to move the new III Corps headquarters (as yet inexperienced and untried) from Metz to Arlon. The divisions given Maj. Gen. John Millikin (the 26th Infantry Division, 80th Infantry Division, and 4th Armored Division) all had been out of the line or in a quiet sector when the Third Army was ordered north, and thus were selected almost automatically.[7]

In the south, Patton's Third Army was battling to relieve Bastogne. At 16:50 on 26 December 1944, the lead element, Company D, 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division, reached Bastogne, ending the siege.

On 10 February 1945 General Bradley moved III Corps minus one Division to 1st Army control.[8]

Battle of Remagen

Main article: Battle of Remagen

Major General John W. Leonard, commanding officer of the 9th Armored Division, later recalled that on 6 March 1945, Major General Millikin, referring to the Ludendorff Bridge, told him over the phone, "You see that black line on the map. If you can seize that your name will go down in history."[9] In the last week of February, Colonel Charles G. Patterson, the anti-aircraft artillery officer for III Corps, led a meeting for brigade and group commanders during which they discussed what they would do if they were lucky enough to capture a bridge intact.[10]

On 2 March 1945, Major General Millikin assigned the 14th Tank Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Leonard E. Engeman to the north flank and attached it to the 1st Division. The 9th Armored's Combat Command B attacked towards the Erft river, and Combat Command A advanced towards the Ahr river. They were to then move south to capture Remagen and Sinzeg before linking up with the flanks of Lieutenant General George S. Patton's Third Army.[11]

Seeing the bridge intact, Brigadier General William M. Hoge Commander of Combat Group A waited for a platoon of the 9th Infantry Division to reach the far bank, hoping the bridge would stand, and then called Major General Leonard to inform him the bridge had been captured.

Major General Millikin ordered that the 47th Infantry Regiment be motorized and dispatched to Remagen as soon as possible.[9] Millikin relayed the news to General Bradley's 12th US Army Group headquarters at 8:15 PM. Millikin attached the 7th Armored Division to III Corps so they could relieve the 9th Infantry Division who were already crossing the Rhine. He also ordered the 2nd Infantry Division to relieve the 78th Infantry Division so it too could cross the Rhine and defend the bridgehead.[9]

Millikin relieved

On 17 March 1945, First Army commander General Hodges relieved III Corps Commander Millikin of his command and Major General James Van Fleet took over. From the day the bridge had been captured until he was relieved of command, Millikin had never visited the eastern bank of the Rhine.[12] Hodges and some of his staff had complained about the poor control of forces on both sides of the bridge and the lack of information on troop dispositions. Hodges also complained later that Millikin repeatedly disobeyed his orders including a directive to drive his forces north along the east bank and open a crossing for VII Corps, and that he failed to attach enough infantry support to the 9th Armored Division. The Chief of Staff of the 9th Infantry Division, Colonel William Westmoreland later commented that, "So irresolute was the III Corps Commander, so lacking in confidence, that I feared for the safety of the bridgehead."[13]

Within a month, Millikin assumed command of the 13th Armored Division whose commander had been seriously wounded. Millikin, previously highly rated by General Patton, formally objected to an unsatisfactory rating given him after his relief on 7 May 1945 by Courtney Hodges, commander of the U.S. First Army. Millikin affirmed that, "under the existing conditions my actions taken on the ground were justified in the light of successful results." General Bradley noted on the efficiency report that Millikin's successor, General Van Fleet, "was better qualified to command the corps than General Millikin with his limited experience." Bradley added that Millikin's record should not be adversely affected by his relief.[14]

Post War

Major General Millikin returned to the Regular Army April 30, 1946 in his permanent rank of Colonel, and was promoted to Brigadier General January 24, 1948. He retired February 29, 1948 and was promoted to Major General (Retired) June 29, 1948.

General Millikin died November 6, 1970.


Source - Register of the Army of the United States for 1946. United States Government Printing Office Washington: U.S. Secretary of War. 1946. p. 481

No insignia Cadet, United States Military Academy: June 15, 1906
No pin insignia in 1910 Second Lieutenant of Cavalry, Regular Army: June 15, 1910
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant, Regular Army: July 1, 1916
US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Regular Army: May 15, 1917
US-O4 insignia.svg Major of Cavalry, National Army: June 22, 1918
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry, National Army: November 16, 1918
US-O3 insignia.svg Reverted to Captain, Regular Army: March 15, 1920
US-O4 insignia.svg Major, Regular Army: July 1, 1920
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: November 1, 1934
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, Regular Army: June 1, 1939
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Army of the United States: October 2, 1940
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Army of the United States: July 16, 1941
US-O6 insignia.svg Reverted to Colonel, Regular Army: April 30, 1946
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Regular Army: January 24, 1948
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Regular Army (Retired List): June 29, 1948

Note - Millikin retired February 29, 1948


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Register of the Army of the United States for 1946. United States Government Printing Office Washington: U.S. Secretary of War. 1946. p. 481. 
  2. Berlin, Dr. Robert H. (1989). U.S. Army World War II Corps Commanders: A Composite Biography. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. p. 11. 
  3. US Army Insignia Retrieved 31 December 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gabel, Christopher R. (1992). The U.S. ARMY GHQ Maneuvers of 1941. Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D.C. p. 197. 
  5. Johnson, Forest Bryant (2007). Phantom Warrior. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 357 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 " III Corps History". Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  7. Cole, Hugh M. (1965). The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Military History Department of the Army. p. 510.  line feed character in |title= at position 14 (help)
  8. MacDonald, Charles B. (1993). The Last Offensive. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History United States Army. p. 97. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Leonard, John W. "The Remagen Bridgehead, March 7-17, 1945". Research And Evaluation Division, The Armored School, United States Army. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  10. Semmens, E. Paul. "The Remagen Bridgehead: A Decisive Victory for AAA Soldiers". The Hammer of Hell. Air Defense Artillery. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  11. Parfitt, Allen. "A Path Across the Rhine: The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen March 1945". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  12. Hogan, David W., Jr. (December 13, 2000). Command Post at War: First Army Headquarters in Europe, 1943-1945 (CMH Pub 70-60 ed.). Defense Department, Army Center of Military History. p. 253. ISBN 0-16-061328-0. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  13. Rickard, John Nelson (2011). Advance and Destroy: Patton as Commander in the Bulge. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813134550. [page needed]
  14. Bradley to Commanding General, European Theater of Operations, 26 Jun 1945, in John Millikin, Military Personnel Records Jacket, NPRC.