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Forrest Carlisle Pogue: The Supreme Command
Congenial Crittenden County Historian Appointed By President Eisenhower as Official Biographer of George C. Marshall

By Matthew T. Patton (2001)

Dr. Pogue
In May 1954, Dr. Pogue presented the first copy of The Supreme Command to President Eisenhower. Left to right are: Dr. K.R. Greenfield, chief historian of the Army; Dr. Pogue; Major-General A.C. Smith, chief of military history; and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (photo from the Pogue Library collection)
Carved in stone at the Pogue Library is this epithet: “The hope of democracy depends on the diffusion of knowledge.” The namesake of the library himself, Forrest C. Pogue, always will be remembered as one of the groundbreakers of the knowledge diffusion.

Forrest Carlisle Pogue was born September 17, 1912, the son of Forrest Carlisle Pogue, Sr., and Fanny Carter Pogue. He was the grandson of Sen. Marion F. Pogue, a well-known educator and politician.

According to a biographical sketch of Pogue written by H. Lew Wallace for the Filson Club History Quarterly, “Pogue’s parents were avid readers, and their love of the written word influenced young Pogue. Another strong influence on him was that of his grandfather, Marion Pogue, who taught for many years, practiced some law, ran a farm, and owned a country store. He had a fairly large library and read widely.” “Wallace interviewed Pogue in Arlington, Virginia, on December 8, 1980.”

The Pogue family moved to Frances in Crittenden County approximately 1919-1920. There Forrest, Jr., continued his elementary and secondary education, except when he transferred to Dycusburg for his senior year, because his grandfather was principal there. He graduated in 1927 at the age of 14, one of seven graduates.

H. Lew Wallace wrote: “Pogue entered high school when he was 11, graduating when he was 14. He was ready and willing to go to college, immediately, but money was scarce and his family feared he was not mature enough for college, and so he spent a year studying history under his grandfather’s supervision. During the year he visited relatives in Louisville, and he observed the state legislature in Frankfort. These were cosmopolitan excursions, indeed, for the young Pogue.

Dr. Pogue
With a knapsack of pads and pens, this photo of SGT F.C. Pogue was snapped near St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France, just beyond Omaha Beach where American D-Day landings were made (photo from the Pogue Library collection)
“Following the year and reading and self-education, during which he completed five courses by correspondence, Pogue entered Murray State College in Murray, Kentucky. Murray was a small, slow-paced town, Southern in outlook and philosophy, a town that embodied a host of Southern, small town virtues as well as several of the vices: provincialism, parochialism, inclusiveness, and watchdogism. The school reflected the traits of the town, both positive and negative. But the town and the school were perfect incubators for the social and intellectual development of Pogue.

“Younger than his schoolmates, bookish, and disinclined toward sports and roughhousing, Pogue grew somewhat isolated from the cares, concerns, and styles of Crittenden County farmboys. He was shy, reserved, and a boy more comfortable in the company of adults and ideas than that of people his own age.

“Murray provided Pogue with the best of several worlds. Though only one day past 16, he was accepted as a social equal by older students who shared both his rural background and intellectual inspirations.”

Pogue earned his A.B. at Murray State University (1931); M.A., University of Kentucky, 1932; and Ph.D., Clark University, 1939. He was an American Exchange Fellow in International Relations and Diplomacy, University of Paris, 1937-38; and a Distinguished Visiting Professor, Virginia Military Institute, 1972. He was an instructor at Western Kentucky University, 1933, and an instructor professor at Murray, 1933-42 and 1954-56. He lectured at George Washington University and an Litt.D. from Murray. In 1975, he received the L.H.D. from Clark University. In 1983 the University of Kentucky conferred on him the Litt.D. degree.