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Kentucky Marine

Kentucky Marine: Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC

David J. Bettez
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 378
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky Marine
    Book Description:

    A native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Major General Logan Feland (1869--1936) played a major role in the development of the modern Marine Corps. Highly decorated for his heroic actions during the battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, Feland led the hunt for rebel leader Augusto C�sar Sandino during the Nicaraguan revolution from 1927 to 1929 -- an operation that helped to establish the Marines' reputation in guerrilla warfare and search-and-capture missions. Yet, despite rising to become one of the USMC's most highly ranked and regarded officers, Feland has been largely ignored in the historical record.

    In Kentucky Marine, David J. Bettez uncovers the forgotten story of this influential soldier of the sea. During Feland's tenure as an officer, the Corps expanded exponentially in power and prestige. Not only did his command in Nicaragua set the stage for similar twenty-first-century operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Feland was one of the first instructors in the USMC's Advanced Base Force, which served as the forerunner of the amphibious assault force mission the Marines adopted in World War II.

    Kentucky Marine also illuminates Feland's private life, including his marriage to successful soprano singer and socialite Katherine Cordner Feland, and details his disappointment at being twice passed over for the position of commandant. Drawing from personal letters, contemporary news articles, official communications, and confidential correspondence, this long-overdue biography fills a significant gap in twentieth-century American military history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4482-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. Prologue
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Marine Corps general from Kentucky sat down at his desk and typed. He was sixty-one years old, brown-haired, blue-eyed, and, standing at five feet ten inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, had remained in fighting trim.

    On the one hand, Logan Feland was a “Marine’s Marine”: tattooed, much decorated for bravery and leadership in World War I, a drinker, a smoker, and occasionally a cusser. He epitomized what the Marines called a “bushwhacker,” a veteran of several expeditions overseas. On the other hand, he was an MIT graduate, an admittedly intelligent man who had married a well-respected and refined...

  4. 1 The Early Years
    (pp. 5-12)

    Logan Feland’s ancestors came from Virginia, traveling over the mountains and settling in Kentucky in the early 1800s. Records indicate that his grandfather, Samuel Feland, was born in 1811 in Barren County in western Kentucky. A building contractor, he married Nancy Hammil in 1835 and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He lived to an old age, dying on January 21, 1895, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Samuel and Nancy Feland had two children: William, who became a physician, and Logan Feland’s father, John, who became a notable lawyer and politician.¹

    John Feland was born on December 23, 1837, in...

  5. 2 Spanish-American War Service
    (pp. 13-32)

    During the 1890s the United States looked outward: diplomacy and international relations expanded as the nation stabilized in the Gilded Age following the Civil War and Reconstruction. European powers continued to carve out spheres of influence, particularly in Africa and Asia, while also eyeing the potential for economic expansion in Latin America. Navy captain Alfred Thayer Mahan published an important book—The Influence of Seapower upon History(1890)—underscoring the need for a strong navy to ensure a country’s power and prosperity. This prescription was reflected in Britain’s worldwide naval superiority, deemed necessary to protect its far-flung empire.

    The United...

  6. 3 Professional and Personal Milestones, 1899–1907
    (pp. 33-52)

    In March 1899 President McKinley signed a bill doubling the size of the Marine Corps to 6,000 men and 201 line officers. The bill also authorized an increase in rank to brigadier general for the Marine Corps Commandant. In the words of Corps historian Allan Millett, “The War with Spain was a historic watershed for the Marine Corps.” Given the navy’s success during the war, “the twentieth century began with both the Navy and the Marine Corps in a state of high institutional prosperity.”¹ Thus the Marine Corps’s role in the new American empire solidified.

    On July 22, 1899, newly...

  7. 4 Shuttling between the States and the Caribbean, 1907–1913
    (pp. 53-66)

    On March 9, 1907, Captain Logan Feland presided over the Marine Guard on the USSMinnesotaas the battleship was commissioned. In April, after a shakedown cruise to New England, theMinnesotajoined other Atlantic Fleet vessels off the coast of Virginia in celebrating the Jamestown Exposition. The exposition commemorated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony. Many famous people attended, including Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan, Booker T. Washington, William Randolph Hearst, Samuel Gompers, and President Theodore Roosevelt. A lavish affair, the exposition underscored the military and naval might of the United States, despite some objections...

  8. 5 Prewar Postings, 1913–1917
    (pp. 67-82)

    After returning to Philadelphia at the beginning of May 1913, Captain Logan Feland could finally turn his attention to the Advanced Base School and the creation of an Advanced Base Force. Captain William Fullam, the navy’s aid for inspections, had criticized the Marine Corps for its failure to create a viable force. Specifically, Fullam “charged that the Marine Corps had shirked its ‘true field’ of expeditionary duty and advanced base force training for thirteen years and had demonstrated its lack of interest by ‘its failure or inability’ to form permanent battalions and to surrender its anachronistic ships guard and Navy...

  9. 6 World War I through Belleau Wood
    (pp. 83-102)

    On the gray, rainy morning of May 28, 1917, nearly 200 men gathered in presumed secrecy at Governor’s Island, New York, to board a White Star Line passenger vessel, theSS Baltic.This group constituted the advance team that would accompany General John “Black Jack” Pershing to initiate the United States’ military effort in France. Dressed in civilian clothes, the men were supposed to meet furtively, but the secret was not perfectly kept: General Pershing’s aide had marked his luggage “General Pershing, Paris, France,” and it sat on the pier awaiting shipment, for any German spy to see.

    This small...

  10. 7 From Soissons to the Return Home
    (pp. 103-120)

    During the first week of July 1918, the Fourth Marine Brigade finally got a major respite from fighting. Pulled back into reserve, the Marines regrouped, taking in new replacements and preparing for future combat. General Pershing made significant command changes. Second Division commander Omar Bundy moved up the ladder to head an army corps. Brigadier General James Harbord became Second Division commander and received a promotion to major general. Wendell “Buck” Neville was promoted to brigadier general and replaced Harbord as head of the Fourth Marine Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Logan Feland took command of the Fifth Regiment. Given his...

  11. 8 The Dominican Republic, 1920
    (pp. 121-136)

    On May 13, 1919, theSS Von Steubenarrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, with Brigadier General Logan Feland aboard. The rest of the Fourth Brigade would not leave Europe until July, after the peace treaty had been signed at Versailles. Feland spent a few days with his wife in Philadelphia, where she had remained throughout the war. He then reported, as ordered, to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., where he participated in a Belleau Wood remembrance ceremony in early June. Keynote speakers included Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, along with the Commandant...

  12. 9 Headquarters Marine Corps
    (pp. 137-152)

    Commandant John Lejeune “envisioned the Division of Operations and Training as the springboard for Marine Corps doctrine and planning.”¹ As the first director of DOT, Brigadier General Logan Feland would be involved in many issues and responsible for many decisions that would impact the Marine Corps administratively.

    Upon his return to Washington from Santo Domingo, Feland began to attend Lejeune’s weekly management meetings, initiated in the summer of 1920, to discuss relevant Corps issues. Attendees included Wendell Neville, Assistant to the Commandant; Smedley Darlington Butler, commander of the East Coast Expeditionary Force at Quantico; Harold Snyder, who had been Feland’s...

  13. 10 Assistant to the Commandant
    (pp. 153-166)

    As the 1920s progressed, the U.S. Marine Corps under Commandant John Lejeune continued to search for its identity. Greatly reduced after the end of World War I, the Corps had difficulty deciding which direction to take.

    The world situation had changed dramatically. In East Asia, Japan emerged from the war with greater interests and responsibilities in the Pacific, as it assumed control of formerly German-held islands. U.S. Navy War Plan Orange recognized the possibility of a Japanese threat, and in early 1920 Chief of Naval Operations Robert Coontz had recommended that the Marine Corps create an expeditionary force on the...

  14. 11 Nicaragua, 1927
    (pp. 167-184)

    The United States and the Marine Corps had been involved in Nicaragua since the mid-nineteenth century. In 1855 American soldier of fortune William Walker took a group of men to Nicaragua to support a Liberal Party revolt against the ruling Conservatives. A year later Walker turned coat and accepted the Conservatives’ offer to lead the country as president. Fighting continued, so in December 1857 Marines landed in Nicaragua to restore peace, and they eventually captured Walker. In 1860 Walker returned to Central America, where he was subsequently executed in Honduras.

    Marines again intervened in Nicaragua at times of perceived necessity....

  15. 12 Back to Nicaragua, 1928
    (pp. 185-208)

    While Logan and Katherine Feland were moving to the general’s new command at Parris Island, the Marine Corps was still dealing with two difficult situations in China and Nicaragua. Throughout the summer of 1927 the Corps had been withdrawing troops from Nicaragua to sustain an increasing buildup in China. As the Chinese Communists and Nationalists continued to fight, the Marine Corps established a garrison in Shanghai, home to many thousands of foreigners. Another detachment went to Tientsin, commanded by Smedley Darlington Butler.

    Back in Nicaragua, Colonel Louis Gulick took over the hunt for Augusto Sandino, who, despite the defeat at...

  16. 13 Postelection Nicaragua, 1929
    (pp. 209-230)

    Nicaraguan voters turned out in large numbers on Sunday, November 4, 1928. The day before, believing the situation was well in hand, General Feland had gone deer hunting. Throughout the difficult year, he had tried to relieve the stress of command by pursuing his hobbies of hunting and fishing. Aide-de-camp James Riseley accompanied the general on some of those trips. He later recalled that if Feland shot at fifty doves, he would hit forty-four of them, while Riseley could barely manage to bring down twelve. Riseley claimed that when hunting ducks, the general never missed.¹

    The day of the election,...

  17. 14 Returning Home
    (pp. 231-246)

    After nearly two years in Nicaragua, Brigadier General Logan Feland returned Stateside to find that the Corps had changed dramatically. After eight years as Commandant, Major General John Lejeune had decided not to seek another four-year term. Consequently, on February 7, 1929, he announced that he would step down the day after Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as president in March. Wendell Neville’s appointment as the new Commandant was made public the next day, to no one’s great surprise. Then, toward the end of March, Lejeune surprised everyone and accepted a position as president of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Lejeune...

  18. 15 Retirement
    (pp. 247-260)

    Major General Logan Feland undertook some major personal projects during his time on the West Coast. Although he had started writing a book about Belleau Wood before leaving Nicaragua, in San Francisco he turned his attention to writing a movie script about the battle.

    During the 1920s, a few Marines wrote successful novels, plays, and short stories about the Corps in World War I. In 1923 the first major artistic work about the Marine Corps in World War I appeared: the novelThrough the Wheat, by Thomas Boyd. Boyd had served with the Sixth Regiment at Belleau Wood, Soissons, and...

  19. Epilogue
    (pp. 261-266)

    On November 10, 1942, the observed 167th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, Katherine Feland and Mary Gilmour (the general’s sister) met in Long Beach, California, for the launching of a new ship that would be vital to the United States in World War II. They were joined at the ceremony by Major General Holland Smith, commanding general of the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, and the Fleet Marine Force, San Diego. Acting as the ship’s sponsor, Katherine Feland smashed the traditional bottle of champagne against the hull of the USSFeland, which then slipped sideways off the launching ramp. Named...

  20. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 267-270)
  21. Appendix: Key Dates in the Life of Major General Logan Feland, USMC
    (pp. 271-274)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 275-336)
  23. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 337-354)
  24. Index
    (pp. 355-368)