Samuel D. Rockenbach Papers
World War I Tank Corps
Collection Guide & Online Exhibit
Military History Manuscripts top level
View the Online Exhibit
Samuel Dickerson Rockenbach, United States Army officer, was born on January 27, 1869 in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1889 and in 1891 was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He married Emma Baldwin on October 19, 1898. Prior to World War I he saw tours of duty in Cuba, the Philippines, various U.S. posts, and served as a military observer in Germany in 1914. He arrived in France in June 1917 with the American Expeditionary Force and from 1917-1919 served as Chief of the newly formed Tank Corps, A.E.F. He was notable for his role in the establishment of the Tank Corps and for his work in the development of tank warfare.
At the end of the war, Rockenbach continued his work with tanks, serving as the Army's Chief of the Tank Corps and as Commander of the Tank School at Camp Meade, Maryland. He retired to Brownsville, Texas in 1933 and died in 1952 at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC.
The papers contain approximately 1000 items that document Rockenbach's career in the United States Army. Included are correspondence and memoranda (1889-1945), military orders (1891-1933), Tank Corps operations reports (1918), numerous photographs of early tank designs and tank maneuvers, drawings of tank designs, and reports and minutes of the Inter-Allied Tank Committee. Also included are letters and photographs documenting the early army career of George S. Patton, Jr., who served under Rockenbach during World War I (ca. 15 items). Other notable correspondents are John J. Pershing, Leonard Wood, Douglas MacArthur, James G. Harbord, and Charles P. Summerall.
For additional information about the Rockenbach Papers, see the detailed online guide to this collection.