From a press report:
As the American Legion band played “On Wisconsin,” the National Guard cavalry troop came to attention. When the 60-year-old Army officer stepped from the train, he was greeted by several thousand waiting Kenoshans.
Brigadier General General Charles J. Symmonds, Kenosha's highest ranking Army officer and the only one to reach general's rank (until Roger De Kok became an Air Force brigadier in 1992), had returned to help the community celebrate Armistice Day, November 11, 1927. He received a hometown hero's welcome.
Symmonds was born October 6, 1866 in Holland, Michigan, son of Phyllis and Robert Symmonds, a Great Lakes skipper. When he was a year old, Charles moved with his parents to Kenosha, where he grew up and attended high school. At 21, he was appointed to West Point and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon graduation in 1888.
For the next five years, he served with the famed 7th Cavalry, later the 12th Cavalry, at various remote posts along the Texas border. In 1898, after hostilities ended in the Spanish-American War, he was sent to Puerto Principe, Cuba, to supervise engineering and sanitation work. So successful was Lieutenant Symmonds that he was promoted to captain and local Cubans asked to name their reconstructed port in his honor. He also contracted yellow fever and, in 1902, was sent home to Kenosha on a four-month medical furlough.
In 1903, his poor health kept him from joining his 12th Cavalry unit in the Philippines. Instead he was named to head the officer training department at the University of Maine. Other stateside assignments followed: Quartermaster General's department in Washington; Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and strike-bound mining camps in Colorado. After promotion to Major in 1914, he finally was assigned to Philippine duty.
When World War I broke out, Symmonds was promoted to Colonel and assigned to command the huge Gievres Army Supply Depot in France, where he was cited twice by General John J. Pershing, and by the French government. After the war, in 1923, he received his General's star assigned to command Fort Hayes, Ohio. Later, he moved up to brigade commander at Fort Bliss, Texas, and, in 1927, was given command of the largest cavalry post in the United States, Fort Riley, Kansas.
In October 1930, Gen. Symmonds ended his military career after 42 years. Although years earlier he had spoken of retiring in Kenosha, he chose instead a home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.
Symmonds and his wife, Georgia, the daughter of an Army General whom he had married as a young officer on the Texas frontier, had a son and two daughters. The son, Captain Robert Earl Symmonds, also a West Point graduate, was killed in France by a sniper's bullet at the end of World War I.
General Symmonds received a number of military honors and decorations from his own government as well as from France, Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Belgium and Austria.
On July 16, 1941, the 74-year-old retired officer suffered a heart attack and died at his home. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Robert E. Symmonds
Captain, U.S. Army
5th Machine Gun Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division
Entered the Service from: Wisconsin
Died: November 22, 1918
Buried at: Plot A Row 19 Grave 35
St. Mihiel American Cemetery
SYMMONDS, CHARLES J
BRIG GEN USA RET
- VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
- DATE OF DEATH: 07/16/1941
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 07/18/1941
- BURIED AT: SECTION 6 SITE 5733
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
SYMMONDS, GEORGIA THOMAS W/O CHARLES J
- DATE OF BIRTH: 04/15/1875
- DATE OF DEATH: 11/18/1959
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/23/1959
- BURIED AT: SECTION 6 SITE 5733 NH
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
- WIFE OF CJ SYMMONDS – B/GEN U S A
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard