James Villard Heidt – Colonel, United States Army

James Villard Heidt of Georgia
Appointd from Georgia, Cadet, United States Military Academy, 15 June 1892 to 2 July 1894
Private, Corporal and Sergeant and Sergeant Major, Company E, 13th Infantry And Private, General Service, 30 August 1894 to 28 Aprilo 1898
Second Lieutenant, 6th Infantry, 12 April 1898
First Lieutenant, 2 March 1899
Captain, 10th Infantry, 4 July 1902

NOTE: His brother, Gulielmus Villard Heidt, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, is also buried in Arlington Ntional Cemetery.

Was in the Gallant Charge at San Juan Where Many Fell

ATLANTA, July 9, 1898 – Lieutenant James V. Heidt, a son of Rev. James W. Heidt, formerly of Atlanta, now of Athens, is with the regular troops of the United States Army around Santiago, and his command figured conspicuously in the famous charge up San Juan Hill.

Lieutenant Heidt is well known in Atlanta, where he was raised.  He was appointed to the West Point Military Academy from the district and was there two years.  In 1893, however, he was attacked with astigmatism of the eye and found it necessary to give up his course at the academy and his brother, Grayson Heidt, was appointed to succeed him, and he will graduate next year with distinguished honors.  Determined not to give up his promised career as a soldier, Mr. Heidt, after leaving West Point and having his eyes treated by Dr. Calhoun, of Atlanta, enlisted as a Private in the Thirteenth Infantry, announcing his purpose of standing an examination as soon as possible for an appointment to a lieutenancy from the ranks.

He was stationed at Fort Niagara, New York, and for more than a year was a teacher of the regiment, being afterwards appointed as regimental Sergeant Major.  He stood his examination for appointment as a lieutenant at the regular time fixed for such examination, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and, having successfully gained a place on the list of eligibles, he was appointed a few months ago as a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army and assigned to the Sixth Regiment, which was immediately afterwards ordered to Cuba.

While nothing direct has been heard from Lieutenant Heidt, it is known that he was in the midst of the heaviest of the fighting around Santiago, as the Sixth Regiment was in the very foremost of the charge against the Spanish lines.

It is presumed that Lieutenant Heidt was not injured in any way, as his name has now been included in the several hundred mentioned in the list of casualties.

Officer Who Won Libel Case against Publisher Says He Was Falsely Accused
Defends “Suicide Post”
Fort Clayton Was Administered Well, He Declares Here, and Invites Investigation

PANAMA, October 20, 1935 – Reports of ill-treatment of enlisted personnel in the United States Army’s Panama Department and of alleged malfeasance by Army officers there were branded as “entirely incorrect” by Colonel James V. Heidt, until recently commander of Fort Clayton in the Canal Zone, in an interview yesterday at Fort Hamilton, where he is spending a short leave of absence.

The Colonel was a principal in the recently concluded Reousevell libel case, which attracted widespread attention in the United States.  The case centered around Nelson Rounsevell, Panama newspaper publisher, who was convicted on October 2 of criminal libel by a Federal jury in the Canal Zone District Court for criticizing conditions at Fort Clayton, then commanded by Colonel Heidt.

The charge of criminal libel grew out of certain articled in Mr. Rounsevell’s Panama American, in which Fort Clayton was called a “suicide post,” after four soldiers had committed suicide there inside of six weeks.  Major General Harold B. Fiske, commanding the Panama Department, and Colonel Heidt were accused in these articles of being responsible for conditions at the fort.

“The conviction of Mr. Rounsevell speaks for itself,” Colonel Heidt declared yesterday.  “He was unable to justify any of the libelous language used by him in his paper, his case falling entirely.”

“General Fiske and I didn’t prefer the charges against him; we merely furnished information to the District Attorney on which the five charges were based.  After Rounsevelle’s conviction, our case being won, we decided not to press three other charges against him.  Another charge previously had been thrown out of court on a technicality without having even reached the jury.”

Colonel Heidt expressed surprise at a recent statement nu Louis Waldman, Rounsevelle’s attorney, who, on his return from Panama last week, said he would ask President Roosevelt for a Congressional investigation, if necessary, of Army posts in Panama.  Conditions at these posts, Mr. Waldman charged, are more serious than either Rounsevell knew or stated.”

“Mr. Waldman,” Colonel Heidt declared, “naturally was very disappointed to lose his case.  And it appears that his disappointment is leading him to disregard the real facts.  I would welcome any investigation.  One has already been made by the Panama Canal Department of the Army.  Not only was I exonerated but, in addition, I was complimented on my administration of Fort Clayton, the same thing holding true for my administration of Fort Davis.  It is absolutely contrary to fact to say that soldiers at these posts are forced, or were forces, to work long hours in the broiling sun under conditions of extreme heat, and sometimes under Negro foremen.  The usual hours of fatigue at Fort Clayton are from 1 to 4 P.M. daily, four times a week.  Not more than 100 men a day are engaged in fatigue, the duties of which comprise necessary operating functions, such as sanitation, policing, etc.  In addition, each of the 2,500 enlisted men at the fort bears an equal share of these duties.

“It is ridiculous, too, to say that the men ever worked under a Negro foreman.  Whenever some of the soldiers assisted West Indian artisans in various works a non-commissioned officer was always in charge of the detail.”

Colonel Heidt said that none of the four suicides at Fort Clayton was due to overwork.  One of the suicides had been at the fort only nine days and was very morose, he declared.  Another was subjected to severe headaches, he explained, while a third was an alcoholic case and the other was despondent because his sweetheart had jilted him.

Answering criticism of the number of mental cases from Fort Clayton treated at Corozal Hospital within a year, Colonel Heidt said that fifteen of these cases were proved to have been due to causes existing prior to enlistment.  Three others were discharged as cured and the remaining three were sent to Walter Reed Hospital at Washington for treatment, he declared.

“Besides,” he said, “it is well known that the percentage of nervous diseases in the tropics if much greater for white men than in colder climates.”

Colonel Heidt ridiculed statements that company funds had been used to pay for two pleasure boats, the use of which was enjoyed almost entirely by officers and their families.  “These boats were purchased from recreational funds for which I was entirely responsible,” he declared.  “They were bought to transport members of the garrison to and from a recreation camp we had constructed at the mouth of the Chagres River.  Enlisted men were urged to use the boats for pleasure outings whenever possible, and they have.  The entire garrison is enjoying their use.  Purchase of these boats, allegedly from company funds, is the only ‘malfeasance’ ever charged to me or to subordinate officers under my command.  Certainly, no one can show that this was malfeasance.”

Colonel Heidt, one of the Army’s best-known officers, commanded Fort Davis from March 1932 to December 1934, when he was given command of Fort Clayton.  His present tour of foreign service being up, he will assume command of Fort McDowell, largest foreign replacement depot in the Army, on November 10.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/10/1873
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/31/1953


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/30/1880
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/21/1960

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