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  Army. He believed that his
ideas would not only save the lives of
American soldiers but secure liberty for the nation.
He set to work on a study of all of America’s wars from
the Revolution forward. His intention was “to show the
enormous and unnecessary sacrifice of life and treasure
which has attended all our armed struggles.” Because
the United States had been unprepared for every war
it had ever fought, Upton believed, it had ended up
paying vastly more in lives and treasure than it might
have otherwise. He was attuned enough to the popular
mood to restrain himself from calling for a “big Army”
on anything like a European scale. What Upton ultimately
proposed was a regular Army of 25,000 men, with a well-
trained and superbly organized reserve of 140,000 national
volunteers. He was soon closing in on his goal.
However by late 1880, Upton seemed unable to finish his
nearly complete “Military Policy of the United States” or to lobby President Garfield for reforms. The cause of his listlessness was likely physical. He began to suffer violent headaches and consulted a Philadelphia specialist for what was diagnosed as a sinus condition, all the while feverishly attempting to finish his work. The doctor treated Upton by placing a coiled electrical wire against the mucous membrane of his nasal passages and sending a spark through it. The doctor later speculated Upton might have been suffering from a tumor in his face or brain, but whether a tumor or the pain of his “treatment” was to blame, the headaches did
not abate. Transferred to the Presidio of San Francisco by early 1881, Upton enjoyed the sound of the Pacific surf at night and looked forward to resuming his work. But the headaches worsened, and his actions and words became increasingly erratic. He began to forget things, on one occasion telling a dinner companion that his new infantry tactics were so perfect they would end war, but then deciding they were a
dangerous failure.
On March 14, 1881, Upton wrote his sister of his hope that God would “lead me to sacrifice myself, rather than to perpetuate a method which
Major General Emory Upton, “Father of the Modern United States Army”
might in the future cost a single man his life.” He then wrote out a single line resigning his commission, picked up his Colt .45 pistol from his desk and shot himself in the head, shocking the entire American military. Official reports noted “Emory Upton. Colonel 4th Artillery, committed suicide this morning by shooting. The ball [from the Army pistol] entered the mouth and made its exit near the occipital protuberance. Nothing positive is known as to the cause.” He was just 41 years old.
Fortunately Upton’s story didn’t end with his death. Upton’s final manuscript was unedited and unpublished at the time of his suicide. Upton’s old West Point classmate and friend Henry Dupont finished the editing work and gave the unfinished “Military Policy” to West Point professor Peter Michie, who distributed it to interested parties. Michie then published, “The Life and Letters of Emory Upton” in 1885. Friends in the Army circulated the manuscript privately, where its arguments became the source of much debate, although without being reflected immediately in high-level Army or national policy. After the Spanish- American War, which revealed many deficiencies in the Army, Secretary of War Elihu Root ordered the publication of the manuscript under the title, “The Military Policy of the United States”. “Military Policy” was not

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