Joseph Theodore Dickman was born on October 6, 1857, in Dayton, Ohio. He was commissioned in the 3rd Cavalry upon graduation from West Point in 1881. He served in the Geronimo campaign and on the Mexican border patrol in operations against the Garza revolutionists and in the capture of the outlaws, Benavides and Gonzales.
While at Fort Riley, Kansas (1893-94) as an instructor at the Cavalry and Light Artillery School, his command was on duty in the Chicago railroad strike in 1894 before he was transferred to Ft. Ethan Allen, Vermont.
During the Spanish-American War, Captain Dickman served in the Santiago campaign on the staff of General Joseph Wheeler.
He saw action against insurgents during the Philippine Insurrection in the Island of Panay in 1899-1900 and was promoted to major and lieutenant colonel in a volunteer infantry regiment.
He served as Chief of Staff to General Adna R. Chaffee during the Peking Relief Expedition which followed the Boxer uprising in China in 1900. While there he saw action in the engagement at Pa-ta-Chao temples, near Peking, on Sept. 26, 1900.
In 1902 he was named to the first General Staff. He graduated from the Army War College in 1905.
He was promoted to major in March 1906, lieutenant colonel in February 1912, and colonel in December 1914. In May 1917 he was promoted to brigadier general and in August he became a temporary major general in command of the 85th Infantry Division, Camp Custer, Michigan.
In November 1917 he commanded the 3rd Infantry Division and took them to France in March 1918. The 3rd Infantry Division saw combat at Chateau-Thierry on May 31 and held the Marne crossings against tremendous offensives while French lines on either side fell back. For this, the 3rd became known as the "Rock of the Marne."
In August 1918 he took over the IV Corps, participating in the St. Mihiel offensive. In October he commanded the I Corps during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
In November he became the first commander of the Third Army, formed by General Pershing to hold the Coblenz bridgehead and to serve after the war as the Army of Occupation.
After the war, Major General Dickman turned over command of the Third Army to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett and, as president of a board, prepared and submitted a lessons learned report before returning to the United States to take command of the Southern Department and the VIII Corps Area.
Major General Dickman retired Oct. 6, 1921, but was recalled in 1922 to serve as president of the board charged with the removal of officers from active duty in conjunction with legislation enacted to downsize the force.
Major General Dickman died in Washington, D.C., October 23, 1927, at age 70. He was well-regarded as one of the ablest of officers of the World War, a military scholar, and a natural leader of men.
He was a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the Society of Indian Wars, the Society of Santiago de Cuba and the Military Order of the World War.
Included among his awards and decorations are: the distinguished service medal; Croix de Guerre, France; Order of Leopold, Belgium; Grand Officer of the Crown of Italy; Commander of the Legion of Honor, France; Knight of the Bath, England; and La Solidaridad, Panama. The honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by the University of Vermont.
Field Service Regulations, 1904.
Cavalry Service Regulations, 1914.
The Great Crusade. A Narrative of the World War. NY: Appleton, 1927. An account of his war experiences.
Dickman, J.T. et al. The Santiago Campaign. Richmond, VA: Williams, 1927.
General Orders No. 17, War Department, 1927. Summarizes his career.
General Von der Goltz's, Conduct of War.
The USS Joseph T. Dickman and the USS Hunter Liggett, along with the USS Leonard Wood, were the largest attack transports in the Amphibian Force during World War II. They carried 35 landing boats and 2 tank lighters, along with 51 officers and a crew of 634. These newly commissioned U.S. Navy vessels were operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The USS Joseph T. Dickman carried Third Army soldiers of the 4th Infantry to the beaches of Normandy during Operation Overlord on D-Day.