Elbridge Colby, 91, a retired Army colonel, an author and the head of the journalism department at George Washington University from 1948 to 1958, died Dec. 27 at his home in Washington. He had arteriosclerosis.

Col. Colby began his 31-year career as a military officer in 1917. He served in Panama during World War I, with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Tientsin, China, from 1929 to 1932, and with the headquarters of the First Army in Europe during World War II. His last assignment was with the National Guard Bureau. He retired in 1948.

He was a member of the Legion of Merit. He also received an award from the American Society of Military Engineers. In addition, he held the Gold Medal of the Serbian Red Cross and the Yugoslav Order of Mercy for relief work that he helped perform in 1916 before he joined the Army. He was a member of the Cosmos Club.

Col. Colby's books included "The Profession of Arms," "Masters of Mobile Warfare," "English Catholic Poets" and "Theodore Winthrop." In 1959, he won the American Military Institute's Moncado Award for "Elihu Root and the National Guard," an article that was published in "Military Affairs." He contributed articles to magazines and law reviews and reviewed books on China and military affairs.

Col. Colby was born in New York City. In 1912, he was graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a doctorate in English there in 1921.

His wife, the former Margaret Egan, died in 1980.

Survivors include a son, William E. Colby of Arlington; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.