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John Shirley Wood Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MFA
Date: Nov 1968

Biographical History

Major General John Shirley Wood (1888-1966) was an American army officer and writer on military history and strategy, particularly relating to field artillery.

Born January 11, 1888 at Monticello, Arkansas, John Shirley Wood was the son of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Carroll D. Wood and Reola (Thompson) Wood. He received his B.S. from the University of Arkansas in 1907 and graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1912. In 1924 he attended the Command and General Staff School, and in 1931 the Ecole de Guerre in Paris. The University of Arkansas awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree in 1946

Much of General Wood's early career was in the academic world. He served at West Point as football coach, instructor in chemistry, and Commandant of Cadets. He was also head of the military departments at Culver Military Academy and the University of Wisconsin.

General Wood commanded various field artillery units including the Division Artillery of the 1st Division and of the 2d Armored Division. His staff duties included service as Executive Officer (XO) of the Hawaiian Field Artillery Brigade, as a division staff officer of the 3rd Division in France (1918), as Chief of Staff of the Third Army (1939-1940), and as Chief of Staff of the 1st Armored Corps (1941). As a general officer he held a combat command of the 5th Armored Division. From 1942 to 1944 he commanded the 4th Armored Division, leading it in the advance from Normandy across France into Germany. From 1945 until his retirement from the Army in 1946, he was in command of the Replacement Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

For his service in combat, General Wood received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Air Medal. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Rosette of the Legion d'honneur for his service in France.

After his retirement from the Army, General Wood served as Chief of Mission for the International Refugee Organization in Austria (1947-1952), Chief of Mission for the United Nations Reconstruction Administration in Tokyo, Korea, and Geneva (1952-1953), and Civil Defense Director for Reno, Nevada (1957-1958).

During the years prior to World War II, General Wood's reviews and digests of French, German, Italian, and Spanish military literature appeared in a number of military journals.

General Wood died on July 2, 1966 in Reno, Nevada, and is buried at West Point Cemetery in West Point, New York. He was married to Abigail Harvey Wood, with whom he had a son, Colonel John S. Wood, and a daughter Shirley.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Shirley Wood Papers consist of correspondence, writings, photographs, and memorabilia.

Correspondence is primarily with friends and members of Congress; it concerns both personal affairs and national and international matters such as the Vietnam War, retirement pay for officers, nuclear weapons policy, military strategy and army recruitment and training.

Writings include articles, an autobiographical piece, a column, a foreword, memoranda, notes and outlines, obituaries for friends and for himself, speeches, and a transcript of a telephone conversation. Documents are in several forms, including manuscript, typescript, mimeograph, and printed.

Photographs in the collection are of General Wood, his friends, and places he served tours of duty. There are also two photograph albums.

Memorabilia include personal items such as address books, awards, citations, commissions, degrees, date books, bills and receipts, maps, obituaries and memorials, newspaper clippings about Wood, and printed material on subjects of interest to him.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged either alphabetically (incoming) or chronologically (outgoing). Writings are subdivided into those about Wood and those by Wood; within that, they are alphabetized by type of material. Photographs and memorabilia are arranged in roughly alphabetical order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the Hanson W. Baldwin Papers, which relate entirely to Baldwin's unpublished biography of General Wood.

Subject Headings


Abrams, Creighton W. (Creighton Williams), 1914-1974.
Baldwin, Hanson Weightman, 1903-1991.
Bible, Alan, 1909-1988.
Cannon, Howard W.
Clarke, Bruce C. (Bruce Cooper), 1901-1988.
Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978.
Crosby, Bing, 1903-1977.
Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969.
Figl, Leopold, 1902-1965.
Fulbright, J. William (James William), 1905-1995.
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973.
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968.
LeMay, Curtis E.
Liddell Hart, Basil Henry, Sir, 1895-1970.
McClellan, John L. (John Little), 1896-1977.
Pace, Frank, Jr., 1912-1988.
Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1923-
Plimpton, Francis T. P. (Francis Taylor Pearsons), 1900-1983.
Rhee, Syngman, 1875-1965.
Rickenbacker, Eddie, 1890-1973.
Rivers, L. Mendel (Lucius Mendel), 1905-1970.
Rolvaag, Karl F., 1913-1990.
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.
Smith, DeWitt C. (DeWitt Clinton), 1920-
Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953.
Taylor, Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport), 1901-1987.
Van Fleet, James A. (James Alward), 1892-1992.
Westmoreland, William C. (William Childs), 1914-2005.
Wood, John S. (John Shirley), 1888-1966.
Young, Stephen M. (Stephen Marvin), 1889-1984.

Corporate Bodies

United States. -- Army -- Officers.
United States. -- Army.


United States -- History, Military -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Address books.
Phonograph records.
Sound recordings.
Speeches (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Shirley Wood Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. John S. Wood, 1967.

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