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Russell P. Hartle


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General Russell Hartle

Russell P. “Scrappy” Hartle (1889-1961) was born June 26, 1889 to Barry M. and Emma Harp Hartle near Chewsville, Washington County, Maryland, one of six siblings. He married Lucille Clark in 1917 in Salt Lake City. They had no children. He died November 23, 1961 at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland.

Russell P. Hartle, 1910
Early military career – He rose through the ranks of the U. S. Army beginning with his 1910 graduation from St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland, with the honor graduate commission of Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Infantry. His first assignment was in the Philippines in 1910. In 1912, he served with the 10th Infantry at Fort Douglas, Utah. From 1913-1916, he served with the 20th Infantry on the Mexican border during the Pancho Villa revolution. During WWI, Hartle served with the 13th Division as a Captain in France. After WWI, he served as a professor of Military Science and Tactics at Utah Agricultural College. He graduated from the Army Infantry School in 1924, the Command and General Staff school in 1925, and the Army War College in 1930. He returned to the Philippine Islands in 1930 and went to Shanghai in 1932 as senior battalion commander of the 31st Infantry with the mission of protecting American lives and property during the Japanese invasion of China. In 1934, he graduated from the Naval War College, and from 1934-1938 he served as a member of the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff. Hartle was the only person to graduate from both the Army and Naval War Colleges.

Pre-World War II – Colonel Hartle commanded forces in Puerto Rico from 1939 to August 1941. His mission was to build-up American and Puerto Rican forces and prepare them to defend the Caribbean and eastern coast of the United States from any Axis aggression. While serving as commander of the mobile forces of Puerto Rico, Colonel Hartle was promoted to Brigadier General in October 1940. In November 1941, he received his second star and was promoted to Major General while serving with the 34th Infantry Division (a National Guard division from North and South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota) on maneuvers in Louisiana.

Queen Elizabeth and Hartle
Queen Elizabeth and General Hartle
near Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 1942
World War II - In January 1942, Major General Hartle took the 34th Division to Northern Ireland, the first large group of American troops to go to the United Kingdom. Hartle recommended his aide-de-camp Captain William Orlando Darby to organize and train the first American Ranger unit, authorized by General George Marshal in May of 1942. From May – June 1942, Hartle was designated Commanding General of V Corps under Major General James E. Chaney. He then served in this capacity under Lt. General Eisenhower from June 15, 1942 – October 24, 1942.

On November 2, 1942, Major General Hartle became Deputy Commander of American troops in the European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA), under Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Eisenhower went to North Africa from October 1942 to February 1943, Hartle moved his office to London. Hartle continued commanding the V Corps until his reassignment to Camp Fannin, Texas, in July 1943 to train replacement troops. He retired with a physical disability June 30, 1946 while living in Tyler, Texas, and eventually returned to Washington County.

Hartle received the Legion of Merit (1946) and the Distinguished Service Medal (1947). In 1950, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress for the Maryland 6th Congressional District as a Democrat.

“Scrappy” Hartle personally knew Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Douglas McArthur, General George C. Marshall and many other high profile American and Allied military and civilian leaders. Regardless of where he served, Hartle enjoyed corresponding with friends and family back home in Washington County, modestly deflecting the many compliments paid him through letters, newspaper and magazine articles, and news reels.

Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to Lucille Hartle, wife of General Hartle, who gave this collection to the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library, and to the Editor of the Belfast News Letter who permitted the use of the photographs taken for their newspaper. Our thanks too to Carol Appenzellar who processed the collection and Harold "Buck" Macht who selected the items and researched their context. More information about the collection at the library can be found at Hartle Collection in the Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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