ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
In the early morning of 18 April 1906, a massive earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area. The initial tremor was estimated at a 7.9 Moment Magnitude, leading to a conflagration that destroyed thousands of buildings, hundreds of millions of dollars of property, and led to the deaths of an estimated 3,000 individuals. In the hours following the earthquake a joint military force led by Brigadier General Frederick Funston of the US Army Department of California mobilized to provide security, firefighting, and disaster relief. The Armys actions during the crisis were fraught with legal and practical problems, ultimately leading to the unnecessary destruction of tens of millions of dollars of property and untold civilian casualties. This study proposes that military leadership in firefighting and security efforts were culpable for the unnecessary loss of property and human life during the crisis, while the humanitarian and medical relief efforts were critical in the recovery of the city following the conflagration. The thesis attempts to close the gap between civilian and military scholarship on this event and concludes with implications for Defense Support to Civil Authorities DSCA missions in the modern era.