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Brigadier General James D. Glennan

Biographies

THE ARMY MEDICAL BULLETIN, NUMBER 56 (APRIL 1941)

James D. Glennan

Brigadier General, Medical Corps, U. S. Army

James D. Glennan (March 2, 1862-December 24, 1927), Brigadier General, Medical Corps, U. S. Army, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Dr. Patrick Glennan and Margaret Denver (O’Donnell) Glennan. His father was a surgeon of volunteers in the Union Army during the Civil War and the end of that conflict found him in charge of Stone Hospital in Washington, one of the general hospitals which were established on Meridian Hill. Following the close of the war he joined the staff of the Freedman’s Hospital, moved his family to Washington, and established his home and office at the junction of Florida and New Jersey avenues, adjacent to the hospital. Three Sons followed their father in the study of medicine. Arthur Henry joined the Marine Hospital Service, while the second son gave up the practice of medicine for the law. James, after attending the public schools of the city, entered the Columbian University in Washington and graduated with the degree of M.D. in 1886.

He joined the Medical Corps of the Army on October 29, 1888, and shortly thereafter he reported for duty at Fort Riley, Kansas. While at this post, in November 1890, as an assistant to Captain John Van R. Hoff, he accompanied the 7th Cavalry and Capron’s battery of the 1st Artillery to the Pine Ridge Agency in Dakota, where the Sioux Indians were threatening trouble. On December 29, while General James W. Forsyth, Commanding the 7th Cavalry, was conducting a parley with a band of Indians at Wounded Knee Creek, a battle ensued in which there were numerous casualties on both sides. Fighting was resumed on the following day at White Clay Creek, which was the last serious engagement of this outbreak. Glennan took part in both of these fights and was commended for “fortitude and cool performance of duty under trying fire.” In returning to Fort Riley in January 1891, one of the troop trains was wrecked near the home station, with many injuries in the command.

His next service of any length was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he served for five years from 1892. During much of this time Fort Sill was the prison camp of Geronimo and his Apache followers. Glennan won high praise from his commanding officer and the gratitude and affection of the Indian prisoners on account of the zeal which he showed for their welfare.

The Spanish-American War furnished him service in several camps in the South and in the office of the chief surgeon in Havana, Cuba. A captain at the time, he was given the grade of major of volunteers. Returning from Cuba in May 1899, he went to Fort Myer, Virginia, where he was discharged from his volunteer commission. In August he went to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, where he received appointment as major and surgeon of the 38th U. S. Infantry and was ordered to the Philippine Islands. He arrived in Manila in December and served two busy years against the Filipino insurgents. His regimental commission vacated in May 1901, he was reappointed major surgeon of volunteers, which he held until his advancement to that grade in the regular corps on January 1, 1902.

Returned to the United States in February 1902, he saw a short term of duty at Plattsburg Barracks, New York, and was at Fort Myer in December. Five years at this post and he was again on his way to the Philippines, sailing in November 1907. Much of this tropical tour of two years was spent as commanding officer of the Division Hospital in Manila.

Then followed duty from 1909 to 1913 at the general hospital at the Presidio of San Francisco, and after that assignment to the U. S. Soldiers’ Home in Washington. This duty was interrupted by orders to join General Pershing’s punitive force on the Mexican border, as surgeon. He was at the Soldiers’ Home when the United States went into the World War. He was ordered to the office of The Surgeon General and placed in charge of the Division of Hospitalization, where he filled a difficult assignment most efficiently. So well had this work been done that he was ordered to France in March 1918 and placed in charge of hospitalization activities in the A. E. F. For his services in the World War he was given the Distinguished Service Medal with the following citation:

In charge of the hospitalization division in the office of the chief surgeon, he directed the establishment, equipment, and operation as well as the evacuation service of all the American hospitals in France. By his keen foresight, untiring energy, and administrative ability, lie solved successfully the numerous problems which confronted him, rendering service of the highest value to the A. E. F.

The French government conferred upon him its Medaille d’Honneur.

He had reached the grade of colonel on July 1, 1916, and during the war he was given the temporary grade of brigadier general. Returning to Washington in March 1919, he was assigned to the command of Walter Reed General Hospital. He was appointed a brigadier general and assistant to The Surgeon General February 9, 1925. He was retired for age on March 2, 1926; but two days later he was placed on active duty in order to supervise construction work going on at the Walter Reed General Hospital. He continued on this duty until the time of his death.

General Glennan had much to do with the orderly expansion of the Army Medical Center and the beautiful landscaping of the grounds is especially to his credit. He was devoted to gardening and flower culture. He had outstanding talent in the field of hospital administration. He was one of the first medical officers of the Army to join the Association of Military Surgeons, his membership dating from 1893.

General Glennan never married, though he was a handsome man and had many attractive qualities. His most conspicuous characteristics were diffidence of manner and extreme reticence in speech. He was resolute in action, though little advance notice could be expected of what he proposed to do.

His funeral was held on December 27, 1927, at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, with Mgr. Thomas officiating, and the burial was in Arlington Cemetery. The honorary pallbearers were Major General M. W. Ireland, Brigadier General J. M.

Kennedy, Brigadier General F. R. Keefer, Brigadier General J. R. Kean, Colonel C. R. Darnall, Colonel P. M. Ashburn, Lieutenant Colonel W. L. Keller, and Major Robert Kerr.

(Military Surgeon, February 1928. Army and Navy Journal, December 31, 1927. Washington daily papers. Records of the War Department.)

James M. Phalen,

Colonel, U. S. Army, Retired.