Grote Hutcheson was born April 1, 1862, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Ebenezer E. and Therese C. Hutcheson. In his boyhood he had no knowledge of or interest in the Army, but when an appointment to the Military Academy was offered him, it seemed his best chance for an education. Sent to a preparatory school near West Point, he came under an influence that shaped his career— his observation of the mounted drills and instruction made him an enthusiastic cavalryman, in many ways the counterpart of a Captain Charles King hero. Entering the Academy in 1879 he was graduated in 1884, No. 25 in a class of 37, no outstanding student, but a young man of forceful personality and capacity for leadership.
Assigned to the 9th Cavalry, he joined his troop at Fort Sill Indian Territory, later to be transferred to Fort Niobrara and other posts in the Department of the Missouri, in which department he served continuously till the time of the Spanish War.
From the beginning of his commissioned service, his ability and energy marked him as a subaltern destined for promotion and distinction. He early demonstrated his capacity for handling the wide range of duties an army officer may be called on to perform in peace or war. In his first year of service part of his duty was concerned with the maintenance of law and order in the turbulent region later to become the state of Oklahoma.
With his regiment he took part in the unfortunate fight with the Sioux Indians in Dakota, in the winter of 1890-1891. In the spring of 1891 he was promoted to the grade of 1st Lieutenant.
At an unusually early period of service, Hutcheson was detailed to the highly responsible position of Regimental Adjutant, which he filled with great success from 1891-95.
In 1894 the 9th Cavalry was called out to assist in the settlement of a national railroad strike—a most disagreeable and embarrassing type of duty. The regiment’s fine record in this emergency was attributed in large measure to the wisdom, firmness and tact of the Adjutant.
From July to September 1895, occurred the so-called Bannock Indian Campaign. In this year, on the termination of his tour as Regimental Adjutant, Hutcheson was immediately appointed Aide-de-camp to General J. J. Coppinger, commanding the Department of the Missouri, with whom he served for three years. On the outbreak of the Spanish War, he was appointed Captain and detailed as Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, and in that capacity, participated in the occupation of Puerto Rico. After the war he was once more on duty in the Department of the Missouri as Adjutant General and Judge Advocate.
When in 1900 certain allied nations contributed troops to form what was known as The China Relief Expedition, our contingent was made up of scattered units under the command of Major General Adna R. Chaffee. For the difficult task of organization, he selected Hutcheson, with whom he had previously served, and whose reputation for efficiency was widely known. For the duration of the Expedition, including the march to Pekin and the relief of the Legations, Hutcheson combined the duties of Adjutant General, Inspector General and Judge Advocate. At the close of the China campaign when General Chaffee became Military Governor of the Philippines, he kept with him as Military Secretary the officer who had proved himself so worthy of reliance.
Upon his return to the United States, Hutcheson’s legal ability was recognized by his appointment as Judge Advocate of the Department of the East.
When General Chaffee became Chief of Staff of the Army, a new and difficult administrative position, he at once sent for Hutcheson, now on the General Staff, for highly confidential duty in his office and in that of the Secretary of War, William H. Taft. For the period 1904-08 Hutcheson rendered invaluable service to the highest echelons of the government in his recognized capacity of “trouble shooter”.
While still on the General Staff he was appointed in 1905 a member of a commission sent to observe the maneuvers of the French Army.
In the following years, he served two more tours in the Philippines, and two on the Mexican border. When the United States entered the World War, he was appointed Brigadier General, National Army. His first war duty was the organization of recruit camps at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and Fort Thomas, Kentucky, a task for which his wide experience eminently fitted him. He next organized and commanded the port of embarkation at Norfolk, Virginia, during which time he was in close personal contact with the great war-time Secertary of War, Newton D. Baker. The hearty approval of the War Department was expressed in the award to him of the Distinguished Service Medal, “for especially meritorious and distinguished services in the administration of Ports of Embarkation”. A rather unusual tribute to Hutcheson’s efficiency in his relations with the Navy was the award to him of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
It may be noted that he was also awarded a Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters during his Army service.
In November 1918 he was placed in command of the 14th Division, then in training at Camp Custer, Michigan. Shortly after the cessation of hostilities, he was ordered to duty in Washington, then took command of the New York General Intermediate Depot. He was appointed Brigadier General, U.S. Army March 5, 1921. In July 1922 he was ordered to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to pursue a refresher course at the Artillery School. Upon completion of this course he proceeded to Hawaii and assumed command of the 11th Field Artillery Brigade of the Hawaiian Division, his last command. He was appointed Major General, U.S. Army and retired July 20, 1924.
Upon retirement he settled in Washington. Being a devout Episcopalian, it was only natural for him to become interested in the great task confronting Bishop Freeman. During the period 1925-27 he became Director General of the National Cathedral in Washington and was of notable assistance to Bishop Freeman in the immense task of financing and erecting that national shrine.
In 1934 he moved to California and made a delightful home in the beautiful little village of Saratoga in the coast range of hills on the Peninsula, some fifty miles south of San Francisco, a region of gardens, vineyards, and orchards. To the amusement and admiration of all his friends this grizzled old soldier developed a “green thumb” He took up horticulture, personally, seriously and scientifically, with the result that his garden, though small, became a show place.
He demonstrated that rare quality—a genius for friendship, and as a country gentleman he fitted perfectly into the life of the civilian community. His reputation as a witty speaker was country-wide, his popularity equally extensive. He came to be regarded somewhat as an “Elder Statesman”, whose views on military or other topics of national importance were cx-cathedra.
He was married twice, first to Rosalie St. George of Brooklyn, who died in 1942; second to Anne Holt Pegram of Washington, D. C. who survives him. There are no children.
It is bad to realize the toll taken by death in the ranks of those officers who actually participated in serious Indian warfare along the far flung vanished frontiers. There are now but three survivors of the Class of 1884.
Hutcheson’s warmth of heart manifested itself in many ways and extended to all ages and conditions. He kept in touch with some of his friends through “The Society of Indian Wars”, “The Society of Foreign Wars”, “The Order of the Dragon”, and the “Order of Carabao.” During his visits to Washington he greatly enjoyed renewing old friendships at the Chevy Chase Club and the Army and Navy Club.
General Hutcheson died at Saratoga Inn, Saratoga, California at 7 p.m. o’clock on December 14, 1948. He was buried with appropriate military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on December 28, 1948.
“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man’.”
—A. P. H.