Hodges attended the Field Artillery School in 1920 and then served as an instructor at West Point. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1925, taught at the Infantry School, and then graduated from the Army War College. In 1938, he was appointed assistant commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Promoted to major general in May 1941, Hodges was assigned as chief of infantry. He assumed command of X Corps in May 1942. In February 1943, he was promoted to lieutenant general and took over the Southern Defense Command and Third Army. In January 1944, Hodges joined the First Army in Britain, which was then preparing for the Normandy Invasion, as deputy commander under Lieutenant General Omar Bradley.
In August 1944, Hodges succeeded to command of the First Army when Bradley moved up to head the Twelfth Army Group. First Army then defended Mortain, reduced the Falaise-Argentan pocket, helped in the liberation of Paris, penetrated the Siegfried Line, captured Aachen, and suffered heavy casualties in the Hürtgen Forest. In December 1944, the First Army bore the brunt of the German Ardennes counteroffensive. To deal with the crisis, General Dwight D. Eisenhower temporarily reorganized his command structure and placed a portion of First Army—and Hodges—under British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who thought Hodges was at his breaking point. Eisenhower refused any suggestion that Hodges be relieved, and Hodges' performance in the Battle of the Bulge vindicated Eisenhower's view. The First Army rallied to hold the northern shoulder of the Bulge and then played an important role in the successful counterattack. First Army soldiers crossed the Rhine at Remagen, joined in the closing of the Ruhr pocket, and, at the end of the war, linked up with Soviet forces on the Elbe River.
In April 1945, Hodges was promoted to general. Following V-E Day, he and the First Army were under orders for the Pacific Theater to lead the invasion of Honshu when the Japanese surrendered. After the war, Hodges remained in command of the First Army until his retirement in 1949. He died in San Antonio, Texas, on 16 January 1966.
Thomas D. Veve
Cole, Hugh M. United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations: The Ardennes. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1965.; Weigley, Russell F. Eisenhower's Lieutenants. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981.