July 2009

William T. Johnson and Charles B. MacDonald

This is another entry from PC alum William T. Johnson, whose reminiscences about PC in World War II
appeared in our June blog. To see some of Charles MacDonald’s wartime letters, check out our Bee Mail Page.

Charles Brown MacDonald was one of my favorite people. He was a Senior at Presbyterian College when I was a Freshman. I assume he never knew my name. I can still hear his jaunty whistle as he walked down the hall and up the stairs to his room on third floor, Spencer Dorm. I bought his first book Company Commander, from Infantry Journal as soon as I learned of it and have re-read and kept up with it over the years. His write-up in the PaCSaC, the college yearbook, for 1942, reported the following:

C MacDonald Army photo 1952

C MacDonald Army photo 1952

Bachelor of Arts degree

Home town: Little Rock, SC

Fraternities: Alpha Kappa Psi and Blue Key

Senior Activities:
-Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges
-Editor of the student newspaper, The Blue Stocking
-Lieutenant, R.O.T.C.
-”Y” Cabinet
-Director, College Publicity
-Class treasurer

Activities of Other Years:
-Business Manager, Knapsack ( freshman handbook)
-Editor, Knapsack
-Glee Club
-Student Council
-Secretary-Treasurer, Junior Class

Wikipedia’s article on him said in part:

Charles B. MacDonald (November 23, 1922–December 4, 1990) was a former Deputy Chief Historian for the United States Army. He wrote several of the Army’s official histories of World War II.

C MacDonald Silver Star

C MacDonald Silver Star

War Service

After graduating from Presbyterian College, MacDonald was commissioned as a US Army officer through ROTC and deployed to Europe. By September 1944, as a 21 year old captain, he commanded a rifle company in the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His company was intended to be part of the effort to capture the Huertgen Forest. They had been transferred north from the area which was, soon after, overrun by the Germans in the first moves of the Battle of the Bulge. In the event, they were redeployed to defend a crossroads against the German advance. They were forced to retreat but the enemy had been delayed for long enough to allow the rest of MacDonald’s division to deploy. He received the Silver Star for the action.

MacDonald was wounded a month later, on January 17, 1945, while leading his company in a counterattack. After two months’ convalescence, he was given command of another company in his old regiment, which he led until the end of the war. He also received the Purple Heart.

His first book, Company Commander, was published in 1947, while his wartime experiences were fresh in his mind.


MacDonald wrote the final volume of the Green Series on the European Theatre, The Last Offensive. He retired as Deputy Chief Historian, Army Center of Military History, in 1979.

After his retirement, MacDonald wrote A Time for Trumpets, his last book, a personal history of the Ardennes Offensive which concentrates on the first two weeks of the battle, which he spent five years researching. MacDonald also wrote or co-wrote two other books of the Green Series, The Siegfried Line Campaign and Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo, and Schmidt. He also contributed to Command Decisions.

NYT MacDonald obit

NYT MacDonald obit


-Company Commander
-The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II
-On a Field of Red: The Communist International and the Coming of World War II (with Anthony Cave Brown)
-The Battle of the Huertgen Forest
-A Time for Trumpets

C MacDonald and M Weersing

C MacDonald and M Weersing

Interested in reading more about Charles B. MacDonald? Check out the following blog at