Richardson, Robert Charlwood Jr. (1882-1954)

Photograph of Ralph Richardson

U.S. Army

"Nelly" Richardson was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and graduated from the Military Academy in 1904 as a cavalryman. He was wounded in the Philippines in 1905 and helped implement martial law in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. He served on Pershing's staff during the First World War and helped planned the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne operations. He repeatedly served as a West Point instructor and in the Philippines, and studied at the French Ecole Superior de Guerre and was military attaché to Rome. He graduated from the Army War College in 1934 and commanded the Cavalry School in 1938-1939.

Richardson was in command of VII Army Corps when war broke out, and promptly redeployed from the American South to San Jose, California. He returned his headquarters to the South in 1943 and assumed command of the Hawaiian Department on 1 June. Two months later he became commanding general of U.S. Army forces in the Central Pacific, and subsequently he became commanding general of all Army forces in the Pacific Ocean Areas. He retired in October 1946 following treatment for illness.

Richardson's career was marked by unusual breadth, but his colleagues considered him a staff officer at heart. However, he had Marshall's patronage. He was a quiet gentleman who would have been little noted by history but for his involvement in the "War of the Smiths" following the relief of Ralph Smith by Holland Smith in June 1944. Richardson had consistently opposed Army units coming under the command of the Navy or the Marines. Smith quoted him in his memoirs (Tuohy 2006):

You had no right to relieve Ralph Smith. The 27th is one of the best-trained divisions in the Pacific. I trained it myself. I want you to know you can't push the army around the way you've been doing. We've had more experience in handling troops than you have, and yet you dare remove one of my generals. You marines are nothing but a bunch of beach runners anyway. What do you know about land warfare?

Turner replied with a blast of his own when Richardson came aboard his flagship. However, in the end, Holland Smith got the worse of the exchange, being shifted to an administrative command.

Service record


Born in South Carolina
Second lieutenant     


Instructor, West Point

Staff, American Expeditionary Force, France

Command and General Staff School

Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France

Army War College
Brigadier general
Commander, 2 Cavalry Brigade

Commandant, Cavalry School

Commandant, Fort Bliss
Major general
Commander, 1 Cavalry Division

Director, Bureau of Public Relations, War Department

Commander, VII Army Corps
Lieutenant general     
Commander, Hawaiian Department

Commander, Army Forces, Central Pacific Area

Commander, Army Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas

Commander, Army Forces, Middle Pacific
General Retires due to illness

Dies in Rome


Dupuy et al. (1992) (accessed 2008-6-25)
Pettibone (2006)

Taaffe (2011)
Tuohy (2007)

United States Army, Pacific (accessed 2008-6-25)

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