Magruder, Bruce.

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Magruder, Bruce, born 03-12-1882, in Washington, D.C. the son of George Washington Corbin Magruder (1855-1936) and Eleanor Ann Helen Marshall (1852-1906). Bruce was educated in the public schools of Washington, and graduated from Central High School in 1903. Set on a military career from an early age, Magruder served as a first lieutenant and captain in the Washington YMCA’s cadet corps, which he commanded during drill and ceremony competitions and similar events, including the March 1901 inauguration of President William McKinley. In addition, he gained his initial military experience during high school when he enlisted in the District of Columbia National Guard and was commissioned as a first lieutenant in Company D, 6th Battalion. Magruder’s additional education included Emerson Preparatory School and Maryland Agricultural College. He also attended Columbian University (now George Washington University)  as a member of the class of 1907, and he joined the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. In 1904, he enlisted in the United States Army as a private. Assigned to the 87th Coast Artillery Company, he served at Fort Totten, New York until 1907 and attained the rank of sergeant.

After attaining noncommissioned officer rank, Magruder competed for an Army commission. He passed the multi-day examination, and on 11-02-1907 he received appointment as a second lieutenant of Infantry. Assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment, Magruder soon departed for occupation duty in the Philippines. He served there until 1910, and took part in the Moro Rebellion, in which the United States acted to end an insurgency by the Moro people.

After returning to the United States, Magruder served at Fort Mackenzie, Wyoming. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 19-07-1911. From 1912 to 1913, he served as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Frederick Appleton “Fred” Smith. In 1913, Magruder returned to the Philippines, this time stationed at Fort William McKinley. He was promoted to captain on 01-07-1916. In October 1917, Magruder was appointed adjutant of the post at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia when the post began to expand in anticipation of U.S. entry into World War I.

In November 1917, Magruder was promoted to temporary Major and assigned as executive officer of the Intelligence Section (G-2) on the staff of the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters in France. He was promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel in November 1918. Magruder served on the AEF staff until the end of the war, except for brief period of temporary duty on the staff of I Corps. He received the Army Distinguished Service Medal after the war in recognition of his superior performance of duty. In addition, Magruder was a recipient of the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier) and Belgian Order of the Crown.

Magruder returned from France in 1919 and was assigned to the G-2 section of the Army staff at the War Department.] On 01-07-1920, he was reduced from temporary Lieutenant Colonel to his permanent rank of Major. In 1922, Magruder was selected for attendance at the Infantry Officer Advanced Course (now the Maneuver Captains Career Course), and he graduated in 1923. In 1925, he began attendance at the United States Army Command and General Staff College. He completed the course in 1926, and was ranked as a distinguished graduate. After graduating, he remained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to serve on the Staff College faculty. In 1927, he was reassigned to the staff of the Army’s Chief of Infantry. Bruce was later assigned as an instructor for the Organized Reserve Corps of the Third Corps Area, with offices in Washington, DC. On 27-03-1930, Magruder was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

As the Army began to organize and train in anticipation of entry into World War II, Magruder was assigned to command the 7th Provisional Tank Brigade, which experimented with tactics and equipment. Convinced by the results of the May 1940 Third United States Army maneuvers that the United States would need to field an armored force for the war, tank and Cavalry unit commanders including Magruder, George S. Patton, and Adna R. Chaffee Jr. agreed to recommend its creation to 5* General George Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Marshall concurred, and the Army organized and fielded the I Armored Corps. Chaffee was assigned as corps commander, with Magruder assigned in July 1940 as commander of the 1st Armored Division and Charles Lewis Scott assigned to command the 2nd Armored Division .

As the first commander of the 1st Armored Division, Magruder organized and equipped it at Fort Knox, Kentucky using personnel, vehicles, and weapons from the 7th Cavalry Brigade and 6th Infantry Regiment. In addition, Magruder received credit for devising the division’s nickname, “Old Ironsides”. He was promoted to Major General on 01-10-1940. When the Army formed additional Armored divisions in 1941, Magruder’s 1st provided experienced and trained soldiers as the cadre around which the new 4th Armored Division was created.

In March 1942, Magruder was succeeded as division commander by 2* General Orlando Ward.   He was then assigned as commander of the Infantry Replacement Training Center (IRTC) at Camp Wolters, Texas. Responsible for providing trained and ready soldiers to units fighting in Europe and the Pacific, Magruder remained in charge of the IRTC until after the end of the war in 1945, and was succeeded by Brigadier General Maurice Levi Miller .

Magruder received the Legion of Merit to commend his service with the 1st Armored Division and IRTC. After leaving the IRTC, Magruder was unassigned pending retirement. His duties included inspection visits to the ROTC program at North Carolina A&T and participation in events organized by the Reserve Officers Association. He retired on 31-05-1946.

In 1912, Bruce married Clara Ferol Lott (1891-1955). They divorced before 1930,and in 1935 he married Ethel (Marshall) Stevenson. With his first wife, Magruder was the father of sons Bruce Jr., (1922-2017) an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and William (1923-1977), who served as a United States Air Force officer.

Magruder’s siblings included Marshall Magruder, a career Army officer who attained the rank of Brigadier General. Magruder was also a collateral descendant of George Washington. A great-great-great-grand nephew, he traced his family line through both Washington’s brother John Augustine Washington and Washington’s half-brother Augustine Washington Jr.

Death and burial ground of Margruder, Bruce.

In retirement, Bruce Magruder was a resident of first Biloxi, Mississippi, then Winter Park, Florida. Bruce died 23-07-1953, age 70 at the Orlando Air Force Base Hospital in Orlando and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Section 30, Site 1090-RH.

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