About Robert Lee Howze
Robert Lee Howze (August 22, 1864 – September 19, 1926) was a United States Army Major General who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Indian Wars.
Howze graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1888 and then accepted a commission to the United States Army. He first served in the Indian wars, then served in the Spanish–American War, Philippine–American War and World War I. His last assignment was presiding over the courts-martial for Colonel Billy Mitchell.
Howze was born to Captain James A. Howze, of the 14th Texas Cavalry, and Amanda Hamilton Howze in Overton, Rusk County, Texas. After graduating from Hubbard College in 1883, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and was in the graduating class of 1888.
Howze participated in the Pine Ridge Campaign from November 1890 to January 1891. On January 1, 1891, the 6th Cavalry crossed the frozen White River in South Dakota to engage a group of Brulé Sioux. It was for this action he was presented with the Medal of Honor.
He married Anne Chiffelle Hawkins, daughter of General Hamilton S. Hawkins, on February 24, 1897.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Howze, now a cavalry captain, was made adjutant general of the cavalry in Cuba. Upon his return to the United States, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of volunteers and commanded the Thirty-fourth Volunteer Infantry throughout the Philippine Insurrection. He was promoted to captain in the United States Army on February 2, 1901; to brigadier general of volunteers on June 20, 1901; and to major of the Puerto Rico provincial regiment of infantry in 1901.
In 1905, Howze was appointed Commandant of Cadets at West Point, remaining in that post until 1909. In 1907 he threatened to discharge an entire class from the Academy over a hazing incident. Howze was a Major in the 11th Cavalry during General John J. Pershing's Punitive Expedition into Mexico in 1916.
During World War I he was promoted to Major General and placed in command of the 38th Infantry Division, which fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in October 1918. He served as commander of the 3rd Division during their march on the Rhine River, and commanded the Third Army of Occupation in Germany in 1919. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the French Croix de Guerre, and French Legion of Honor for his service in command of the Third Army.
Howze died September 19, 1926, and is buried in the United States Military Academy Cemetery West Point, New York.
Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
Howze's last assignment was to preside over the court-martial of Colonel Billy Mitchell, who had made public comments in response to the Navy dirigible USS Shenandoah crashing in a storm. The crash killed 14 of the crew and Mitchell issued a statement accusing senior leaders in the Army and Navy of incompetence and "almost treasonable administration of the national defense." In November 1925 he was court-martialed at the direct order of President Calvin Coolidge. The trial attracted significant interest, and public opinion supported Mitchell. The court found Mitchell guilty of insubordination, and suspended him from active duty for five years without pay. The generals ruling in the case wrote, "The Court is thus lenient because of the military record of the Accused during the World War. On February 1, 1926 Mitchell resigned in-lieu of accepting the courts punishment.
Honors and awards
During the course of his life Howze received numerous military honors in addition to the Medal of Honor, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor and had a World War I military base named in his honor.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company K, 6th U.S. Cavalry.
Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891.
Entered service at: Overton, Rusk County, Tex.
Born: 22 August 1864, Overton, Rusk County, Tex.
Date of issue: 25 July 1891.
Bravery in action.
Army Distinguished Service Medal citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General Robert Lee Howze, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. As Commander of the 3d Division on its march to the Rhine and during the occupation of the enemy territory General Howze proved himself energetic and capable, exhibiting superb qualities of leadership. He maintained an unusually high standard of efficiency in his unit, rendering eminently conspicuous service as a Division Commander.
Camp Howze was a large World War II training facility near Gainesville, Texas and was named in his honor.
USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134)
The USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134), launched May 1943, was named in his honor.
Two of his sons graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and became generals: Major General Robert Lee Howze Jr., Class of 1925, and General Hamilton H. Howze, Class of 1930.