Book Review: Reminiscences of Conrad S. Babcock: The Old U.S. Army and the New, 1898-1918


by Robert H. Ferrell, editor

Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 152. Maps, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 0826219810

The memoirs of Conrad S. Babcock (1876-1950).

Graduating from West Point in 1898, Babcock took part in the Philippine War, during which he was cited for gallantry, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Mexican border troubles.  In the First World War, despite being a cavalryman, he commanded several regiments, fighting at Soissons, Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne, earning two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Medal, and then spent three years on occupation duty in Germany and as assistant military attaché in Paris.  Returning to the U.S., and reverting to his peacetime rank, he performed the usual routine of garrison and staff duties, rising to colonel before retiring in 1937, and was later promoted to brigadier general on the retired list.  Babcock’s memoirs cover his service through the Armistice of 1918 from a very personal perspective, with many anecdotes, some amusing, some not, often harsh words about senior personnel, and some interesting criticism of American policy in the Philippines.  Preparing the original manuscript for publication, Prof. Ferrell (Indiana), who has written extensively in American history and particularly World War I, inserted clearly marked clarificatory passages directly into the text. 

A volume in UMP’s series “The American Military Experience,” Reminiscences is not only valuable for the serious student of the transition of the frontier army into the AEF, but is likely to prove profitable and amusing reading for anyone interested in military history.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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