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Archives: Personal Papers Collections  

The Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division collects personal papers collections of Marines ranked from Private on up. Our collections include personal papers of some of the most notable Marines in history.
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

Breckinridge Print Page

Lt. Gen. James C. Breckinridge


Lt. Gen. James C. Breckinridge Collection

This finding aid includes a biography of General Breckinridge and describes the items and their locations of the personal papers in the Collection.


General Breckinridge was born September 13, 1877, in Memphis, Tennessee, and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps (for the war with Spain) July 11, 1898, and was honorably discharged March 1, 1899; was promoted to Captain, July 23, 1901; Major, June 12, 1916; Lt. Colonel, August 29, 1916; Colonel, July 1, 1918; Brigadier General on October 31, 1931 and Major General, February 1, 1935. On October 1, 1941, he was transferred to the retired list and commissioned a Lieutenant General by reason of having been decorated for individual bravery in combat.

During the latter part of 1899 and the early part of 1900 he served at Cavite, Philippines Islands. From September 1902 to October 1903 he commanded a Marine Detachment at sea, and again from November 10, 1905 to July 15, 1907, and from January 1908 to November 1, 1909. He served ashore in Panama and Nicaragua from December 1, 1909 to January 1911, and from March to June of the latter year was on temporary expeditionary duty in Cuba. In command of the Marine Detachment USS UTAH, he participated in the capture of Vera Cruz in April 1914, and was commended by the Department for eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at that place.

From April 1916 to August 1917 he served as Assistant Naval Attaché at Petrograd, Russia and from August 1917 to September 1918, as Naval Attaché at Christiana, Norway, and Copenhagen, Denmark and at Stockholm. He was awarded the Navy Cross for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Naval Attaché to the American Legations at Christiana and Stockholm, and for a time also at Copenhagen. At all of these posts of duty, the service of information established and conducted was of great value to the United States and Allied Powers."

From February 1919 to October 1920, he commanded the 15th Regiment, 2nd Brigade of Marines, in the Dominican Republic, and from October 4, 1920 to May 5, 1921, was in command of the Guardia National Dominicana. In 1922 and 1923 he completed the course at the Army War College. From August 1923 to September 1925 he was in command of the Marine Barracks, Washington, D. C.

From October 4, 1925 to November 8, 1927, General Breckinridge was attached to the USS SEATTLE as Fleet Marine Officer and Aide on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet. . C.

From October 4, 1925 to November 8, 1927, General Breckinridge was attached to the USS SEATTLE as Fleet Marine Officer and Aide on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet.

From December 1, 1927 to December 25, 1929, he was on duty at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Va., where he served as chief of Staff and Commanding the First Regiment until July 1928 when he was placed in command of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, which duty he performed until his detachment.

From January 28, 1930 until March 13, 1932, General Breckinridge commanded the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peking, China, at which latter date he was detached and ordered to the United States. Upon arrival in the United States he was ordered to the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Va., and assigned as Commandant, Marine Corps Schools at that post, which duty he performed until January 6, 1935, when he was ordered to San Francisco, California, to assume command of the Department of the Pacific. On June 24, 1937, he returned to Quantico, Va., to assume command of the post, until September, 1939.

From Quantico he went to Marine Barracks, Parris Island, S. C., where he was Commanding General until his retirement effective October 1, 1941, having attained the statutory retiring age of 64 years.

In addition to the Navy Cross, General Breckinridge held the following decorations: Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippines Campaign Medal, Cuban Pacification Medal, Mexican Campaign Medal, Victory Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, and Military Medal of Merit of the Dominican Republic.


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