1-168 Editorial Note on Congressional Hearings, 1919

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Congressional Hearings

October 1919-January 1920

Important as it was, work on the Report of the First Army was of lower priority than the congressional hearings on the army reorganization (Baker-March) bill. Since early 1919, when Secretary of War Newton Baker and Chief of Staff Peyton March had had the bill submitted, Congress had wrestled with the question of the army’s future role. Briefly, the key issues to be addressed were the organization of the army (including the General Staff’s status, the chief of staff’s powers, and the army’s relationship with the National Guard), the army’s size (particularly whether it should depend upon universal military training to fill its ranks), and promotion policy.

Between October 7 and 25, Pershing and Marshall relaxed with a small party of friends at the Brandreth, New York, mountain camp owned by Fox Conner’s father-in-law. There the two spent part of their time working on the reorganization problem. (Virginia Conner, What Father Forbad [Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1951], pp. 88-94; Marshall Interviews, p. 247.)

General Pershing was scheduled to testify before a combined meeting of the Senate and House military committees on October 31. Returning to Washington for final preparations, on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth Pershing held a series of twenty interviews with various army officials, including the chief of staff, in which he solicited opinions on the reorganization problems. Marshall actively participated in several interviews. (Transcripts of the interviews are in NA/RG PRSHG [J. J. Pershing Papers, Reorganization—Interviews].) He also secured galley proofs of John McA. Palmer’s October 9-10 testimony and studied them with General Pershing. (Marshall to Palmer, March 29, 1935, LC/J. McA. Palmer Papers.)

Regarding Pershing’s three days of testimony, Marshall later recalled: "I know the members of Congress were so astonished when he was having his hearings that I sat next to him with General Fox Conner on the other side, that I could interrupt him and talk to him and tell him about something, and he could turnaround and tell them. He had no hesitation at all of receiving suggestions or advice from me or from the others about him. It was one of his great strengths that he could listen to these things." (Marshall Interviews, p. 199.)

During the winter of 1919-20, Marshall accompanied Pershing on a national inspection tour of army installations. Fox Conner, George Van Horn Moseley, and Malin Craig were among the officers Pershing chose to travel with him in his two private railroad cars. After a southern and midwestern swing, Marshall spent Christmas and New Year’s with his wife and mother in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Then he was off to Chicago to rejoin the tour of the west and south.

After weeks on the road, when a southern city asked for recommendations on entertainment for the party, the return telegram suggested having pretty girls at the speakers’ table and that menu planners eschew chicken and Thousand Island dressing. Moseley later observed, "We had eaten so many chickens that we simply could not look another one in the face. . . . [Thousand Island dressing] was served everywhere, often three times in a single day." (Moseley, "One Soldier’s Journey," 2: 15, LC/G. V. H. Moseley Papers.)

Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 193-194.

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