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Editorial Note on 1st vs. 42d Division Flap and the Armistice
November 5-11, 1918
The sentence “Boundaries will not be considered as binding” in the November 5 memorandum was intended to mean that the Americans should cross into the sector allotted to the Fourth French Army, whose front line was somewhat behind that of the American First Army. What resulted, however, was a race in which Brigadier General Frank Parker’s First Division, attached to Major General Charles P. Summerall’s Fifth Corps, marched across the corps boundary into the zone allotted to Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur’s Eighty-fourth Infantry Brigade of the Forty-second Division of Major General Joseph T. Dickman’s First Corps. Marshall viewed the ensuing recriminations as “senseless. . . . The whole thing to my mind was out of place. The thing was we were succeeding. . . . There’s going to be all sorts of turbulence on the battlefield, and this thing was carried back to old animosities. I didn’t have much patience with it, but I wasn’t the one receiving the animosity.” Shortly before his death, Marshall remarked that “they are still fighting” the First versus Forty-second Division battle. (Marshall Interviews, p. 229.)
By November 9, First Army headquarters was full of rumors of the breakup of the German Army and of armistice terms, but Marshall’s time was still absorbed in preparing orders for the constantly changing battlefront, and in preparing for the two great attacks the First Army proposed to launch on November 14 and 15. The armistice on November 11 did not immediately affect the character of Marshall’s work. He was still occupied with moving divisions around the American sector of the front and in preparing for advances. But this planning was for the peaceful march into Germany that armistice terms stipulated would begin on November 17. (Memoirs, pp. 195-206.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 167-168.