Hanson Edward Ely
Major General, United States Army
There he commanded General Funston's Mounted Scouts and later served as Regimental Adjutant and Adjutant General, 3rd District, Department of Luzon. He was an observer at the German maneuvers and studied European armies, 1906; in the Philippines, 1907-12.
He arrived in France in 1917 during World War I. He was appointed Colonel, 28th Infantry, 1918; commander, 3rd Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division, First Army Corps, 1918; was in command of the 28th when it captured Cantigny and the 5th Division when it forced the Meuse crossing.
He commanded a Battalion of Philippine Scouts during the Philippine Insurrection, later the 11th Battalion of Scouts and a battalion of the 7th U.S. Infantry at Vera Cruz in 1915. He retired from active duty in 1931 while commander of II Corps Area, Governors Island, New York.
He died on April 28, 1958 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
His sons, Hanson Edward
Ely Jr., Lieutenant, United States Navy (1896-1938), John
Ashton Ely, Colonel, United States Army (1920-2001), Louis
B. Ely, Colonel, United States Army (1899-1986), and Eugene
Barber Ely, Colonel, United States Army (1903-1966), are also buried
in Arlington National Cemetery. His daughter, Margaret
Hunter Ely Fuller, died at age 24, and is also buried in Arlington
Commander of First Purely American Offensive in 1918 Succumbs at 90
Jacksonville, Florida, April 28, 1958 – Major General Hanson Edward Ely, retired Army officer who led the first purely American offensive in World War I, died here today. He was 90 years old.
He is survived by his widow, three sons, Colonel Louis B. Ely, USA, retired, Colonel Eugene E. Ely, USA, retired, and Major John Ashton Ely of Fort Benning, Georgia, and a daughter, Mrs. T. W. Glocker.
“Ely of Cantigny” held many awards for bravery. At his retirement in 1931 he possessed the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Croix de Guerre with five citations and other foreign decorations.
During his forty years in the Army he campaigned in the old West, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines. In World War I he rose from the rank of Major to that of Major General. He received his “Cantigny” nickname on May 28, 1918, when, as a Colonel commanding the Twenty-eighth Infantry, First Division, he led his men at the battle of that name in France in the first purely American offensive of the war.
After the Armistice he commanded the Army War College in Washington, the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Second Corps Area, which embraces this district, from 1927 to 1931. His headquarters in the latter period was on Governors Island, New York.
Born at Independence, Iowa, he was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1891. He spent the early Spanish-American War period drilling volunteer regiments and in 1899 sailed for the Philippines, where he was promoted to brevet Captain for bravery under fire. He later became commander of the Philippine Mounted Scouts.
Returning home in 1904 he was graduated with honors from the Infantry and Cavalry School the following year, and in 1906 from the Army War College. After a tour in Europe observing the German Army on maneuvers, he returned to the Philippines, where as a Major of the Philippine Scouts he headed the unit that made the first complete map of the country.
He was one of the first American officers sent
to France, in May 1917. His first work there was the study of the
trench warfare methods of the Allies. Later he became Chief of Staff
of the First Division, and still later, at the request of General of the
Armies John J. Pershing, he organized the American forces’ Military Police
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Hanson E. Ely, Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Vierzy, France, July 18, 1918.
In order that he might personally direct the attack, General Ely attempted to enter Vierzy which was not yet cleared of the enemy; he was fired on at short range by enemy machine guns in the town. He then personally organized and directed an attack which resulted in the capture of the town and in the advance of the lines well beyond.
General Ely's indomitable bravery, disregard
for his own safety, his devotion to his men, and his frequent presence
with them in the front line, inspired them to deeds of great courage and
enabled the troops to take the town, despite strong enemy resistance made
vastly superior numbers.
Major General Hanson Edward Ely
Born November 23, 1867 in Independence, Iowa
Cadet US. Military Academy 1887-91
Second Lieutenant 1891
Served with 22nd Infantry Regiment 1891-01
Photo Courtesy of The Great War Photo Archives
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Photo By M. R. Patterson, 22 April 2004