William Wallace Wotherspoon

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William Wallace Wotherspoon
File:William W. Wotherspoon.jpg
General William Wallace Wotherspoon, official portrait by Thomas W. Orlando.
Born November 16, 1850
Washington, D.C.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
United States Army
Years of service 1870–1873 (USN)
1873–1914 (USA)
Rank Major General
Commands held U.S. Army War College (1905–1906, 1907–1909, 1909–1912)
Army of Cuban Pacification (1906–1907)
Chief of Staff (1914)
Battles/wars Indian Wars
Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
Other work Superintendent of Public Works, State of New York (1915–1920)

William Wallace Wotherspoon (November 16, 1850 – October 21, 1921) was a United States Army general who served as Army Chief of Staff in 1914.


William Wotherspoon was born in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 1850. He was educated in private schools and served aboard ship as a mate in the United States Navy from 1870 to 1873.

Wotherspoon was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 12th Infantry in October 1873. From 1874 to 1881, he served in the West during the Indian wars as a troop officer and quartermaster.

In 1887, while stationed in northern New York, he married Mary C. Adams.

After a year of absence from the Army for being sick, he became the superintendent and did much needed work to expand the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C. He then served at Fort Sully and at Mount Vernon Barracks, where he trained a company of Apache prisoners from 1890 to 1894. In 1893 he became an hereditary member of the Aztec Club of 1847.

In 1894, he became aide to General Oliver O. Howard, commander of the Department of the East, and was the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (today named the University of Rhode Island) first Professor Military Science and Tactics[1] from 1894 to 1898.[2]

In 1898, while on recruiting duty at Fort McPherson, he organized the 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry. He served in the Philippines against insurgents and as collector of customs at Iloilo from 1899 to 1901.

In 1901, he was promoted to major and transferred to the 30th Infantry. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry at Fort Leavenworth and then taught at the Command and General Staff College from 1902 to 1904. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 14th Infantry in 1904 and later was transferred to the 19th Infantry and became the director of the U.S. Army War College from 1904 to 1906. Wotherspooon was the chief of staff of the Army of Cuban Pacification from 1906 to 1907.

He served as the acting president of the Army War College and chief of the Third Division, General Staff in 1907 and was promoted to brigadier general in October 1907, the became president of the Army War College, serving from 1907 to 1909 and again from 1910 to 1912. Wotherspoon was largely instrumental in transforming the Army War College from an adjunct of the General Staff to an autonomous educational institution, he became assistant to the chief of staff from 1901 to 1910 and again in 1912 to 1914. He was promoted to major general in May 1912 and served as the commander of the Department of the Gulf until that September.

He became the Chief of Staff of the United States Army from April 21 to November 15, 1914 and called attention to shortages of officers and noncommissioned officers for Army missions, emphasized the need to reevaluate coast defenses to meet heavier-gunned battleships, saw establishment of an aviation section in the Signal Corps and the completion of the Panama Canal. Wotherspoon retired from active service on November 16, 1914[3] and later was New York State Superintendent of Public Works from 1915 – 1920.

Major General William Wotherspoon died in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 1921. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dates of rank

Rank Date Component
Union army 2nd lt rank insignia.jpg Second Lieutenant 1 October 1873 Regular Army
Union army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant 20 March 1879 Regular Army
Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg Captain 28 April 1893 Regular Army
Union army maj rank insignia.jpg Major 2 February 1901 Regular Army
Union army lt col rank insignia.jpg Lieutenant Colonel 12 July 1904 Regular Army
Union army brig gen rank insignia.jpg Brigadier General 3 October 1907 Regular Army
Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Major General 12 May 1912 Regular Army



  1. "Eighth Annual Report of the President of the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, made to the State Board of Education". 1895. Retrieved September 16, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "About the Institution: Lippett Hall (University of Rhode Island)". State Council on the Arts, State of Rhode Island. Retrieved September 16, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Major-General William Wallace Wotherspoon, U.S.A." The Independent. December 14, 1914. Retrieved July 24, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Further reading

  • Wotherspoon, William Wallace (July 1905). "The Training of the Efficient Soldier". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Sage Publications. 26: 149–160. doi:10.1177/000271620502600114.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Leonard Wood
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Hugh L. Scott