Robert L. Eichelberger papers, 1728-1998, bulk 1942-1949

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Eichelberger, Robert L.
Robert Eichelberger (1886-1961) commanded the Eighth United States Army in the Southwest Pacific during World War II and the Occupation of Japan. Collection includes personal and official correspondence, including letters written while Eichelberger was a student at the U.S. Military Academy, 1905, and letters from a number of Japanese concerning Eichelberger's part in the occupation, 1948. Other materials contain information on military intelligence in the Philippine Department, 1920-1921; on the Siberian Expedition; reports on operations which Eichelberger commanded during World War II, and on the planned invasion of Japan. The collection also contains correspondence from Eichelberger's work on the North Carolina Ports Authority, 1957-1960, as well as diaries, interviews, statements and speeches, photograph albums and West Point yearbooks.
54 Linear Feet
29,056 items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Eichelberger Papers span the period 1728 to 1998, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1942 and 1949. The papers contain diaries, correspondence, military papers, writings and speeches, pictures, scrapbooks, printed material, clippings, memorabilia, and audiovisual material chiefly relating to Eichelberger's military career. Prominently highlighted is his participation as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia (1918-1920); the military campaigns he led in New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II (1942-1945); and the post-war period when he commanded all ground occupation troops in Japan (1945-1948). Additionally, there are several photographs of Winston Churchill, who came to Fort Jackson, S.C. in 1942, to view the 77th Army Division commanded by Eichelberger. There are also several photographs of Eleanor Roosevelt, when she came to Australia in 1943 to visit the troops, and several of Douglas MacArthur. The bulk of the personal correspondence (1942-1945) was written by Eichelberger to his wife, Emma Gudger Eichelberger, in which he described the fighting in the Pacific as well as the difficulties of jungle life. In dictations after the war, Eichelberger reflected upon his military career and various people, including Generals Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Robert C. Richardson.

Eichelberger's military career is represented in all series throughout the collection. In particular, the dictations Eichelberger made after the war are located in the Writings and Speeches Series. The extensive Pictures Series documents the events of his career during 1918 to 1920, and during World War II and the post-war period. Eichelberger's memoir, "Our Bloody Jungle Road to Tokyo", serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1949, is located in the Oversize Printed Material Series.

Related materials include a microfilm (2 reels) of the 1949 Ph.D. dissertation written at Syracuse University by Duke Professor Ralph Braibanti, "The Occupation of Japan," which contains information about Eichelberger while he was commander of the occupation troops in Japan after World War II. This microfilm is located in Perkins Library Microforms Department. The Duke University Special Collections Library also has the papers of Eichelberger's father George M. Eichelberger, a lawyer from Urbana, Ohio. Another related collection is the Westall Family Papers. Mrs. James M. Westall (Virginia Cooper Westall), was Eichelberger's longtime secretary in Asheville, N.C. There are over a hundred letters of Eichelberger's and other related materials in this collection which document the Eichelbergers' business and social affairs from the 1950s until his death.

Other related works include a compilation of Eichelberger's letters to his wife entitled Dear Miss Em: General Eichelberger's War in the Pacific, 1942-1945, (Westpoint, Conn., 1972) edited by Jay Luvaas. Other works about Eichelberger include Forged by Fire: General Robert L. Eichelberger and the Pacific War (Columbia, S.C., 1987) by John F. Shortal, and "A 'Near Great' General: the Life and Career of Robert L. Eichelberger," a Duke University 1991 Ph.D. dissertation, by Paul Chwialkowski.

The addition (acc# 1999-0167) (83 reels; dated 1998) consists of negative microfilm reels of the "Japan and America" microfilm series, photographed from the Eichelberger Papers.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1886 March 9
Born Urbana, Ohio
Attended Ohio State University
Graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point
Married Emma Gudger
Served in Siberia as Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations Division, and Chief Intelligence Officer with the American Expeditionary Forces
Served in Japan, China, and the Philippines in connection with military intelligence activities
Served in the Military Intelligence Division, War Department General Staff in Washington, D.C.
Student and instructor at the Command and General Staff School, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
Graduated from Army War College in Washington, D.C.
Assumed command of the 30th Infantry, Presidio of San Francisco
Appointed Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
1942 Jan.
Designated Commander of the Seventy-seventh Army Division, organized at Fort Jackson, S.C.
1942 Dec.-1943 Jan.
Participated in the Buna and Sanananda, New Guinea campaigns
1943 Sept.
Promoted to Brigadier General
1944 April
Commanded task force which captured Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea
1944 June
Commanded Biak Task Force which retook land from the Japanese
1944 Sept.
Became commanding general, Eighth Army
1945 Jan-Aug.
Eighth Army under Eichelberger's command fought on every occupied island of the Philippine Archipelago
1945 Aug 30
Participated in the occupation of Japan by landing at Atsugi Air Field in Honshu with the Eighth Army and a detachment from the 11th Airborne Division
1946 Jan. 1
Assumed control of all ground occupation troops in Japan
1948 Dec. 31
Retired from the Army
Eichelberger's memoir, "Our Bloody Jungle Road to Tokyo," was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post
Promoted to the rank of four star general by an Act of Congress
1961 Sept. 26
Died, buried in Arlington National Cemetery

Eichelberger received the following medals and honors: Distinguished Service Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal with three clusters, Combat Infantry Badge, Distinguished Service Medal (Navy), Silver Star with two clusters, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with one cluster, Honorary Knight Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Grand Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau with swords (Holland), Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor (France), Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium, the Croix de Guerre with palm (Belgium), and Order of ABDON Calderon First Class (Ecuador). He was granted the Distinguished Service Star, the Liberation Medal, and the Legion of Honor by the Republic of the Philippines. He also received the decoration, Grand Officer of the Military Order of Italy.

Acquisition information:
The Eichelberger Papers were donated to the Special Collections Library in several installments from 1955 to 1999.
Processing information:

Processed by Janie Morris, assisted by Denise Dolan

Completed October 28, 1999

Addition processed at box level by Lisa Stark

Last updated June 4, 1999

The current arrangement of the Robert L. Eichelberger Papers is primarily the same as before the collection was reprocessed. However, some papers were grouped to form the following series: Correspondence, Military Papers, and Writings and Speeches. In addition, deteriorating picture albums and scrapbooks were dismantled and placed into folders.

Encoded by Robin LaPasha; Stephen Douglas Miller; Walt Evans; Cat Saleeby

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns
North Carolina State Ports Authority
United States. Army -- Officers
United States Military Academy -- Students
Eichelberger, Robert L.
North Carolina -- Buncombe County -- Asheville
Japan -- History -- Allied occupation, 1945-1952


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Collection is open for research. Swords are non-circulating; contact Research Services to request access to swords.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in the papers have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Robert L. Eichelberger Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.