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Editorial Note on Going to the Philippines
Fort Myer, Virginia, was Second Lieutenant Marshall’s first duty assignment. But in less than a week he was off to Fort Slocum, New York, and from there, on March 17, 1902, he boarded a westbound train for the first leg of the trip to his new post in the Philippine Islands. The month-long second leg, aboard the army transport Kilpatrick, which sailed from San Francisco, stuck in Marshall’s memory as being long, dull, and somewhat dangerous. But he remarked: “It was rather interesting on the boat. . . . There were quite a few officers who had been volunteers in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection and now had received Regular commissions; and some of them were very industrious in telling me—particularly who had come from civil life—how I should function. They understood it all. Later on I discovered they knew damn little.” (George C. Marshall Interviews and Reminiscences for Forrest C. Pogue, ed. Larry I. Bland, 3d ed. [Lexington, Va.: George C. Marshall Foundation, 1996], p. 12. Hereafter cited as Marshall Interviews.)
The Philippine Insurrection was sputtering out by the time Marshall arrived in Manila in May. President Theodore Roosevelt declared peace officially on July 4, 1902. Marshall landed in the capital of America’s new Pacific outpost in the midst of a severe cholera epidemic. He also needed to reach his new station quickly. Manila was an expensive city and he had little money. Taking hurried leave of the city, Marshall experienced a harrowing boat trip through a typhoon. Finally, he arrived at Calapan, the capital of the island of Mindoro, where his detachment of Company G, Thirtieth Infantry, was stationed.
Marshall had hardly had time to get acquainted when the cholera epidemic struck the region, necessitating the most rigorous enforcement of discipline on the soldiers in order to prevent their infection. When the quarantine was finally eased, Marshall, the most junior officer, was given the job of staging a Fourth of July field day and talent show. His memory of the situation was vivid. “Some of the older officers were laughing at me because the morale of the garrison had just been knocked galley-west by the arbitrary and tyrannical handling of the place by a predecessor of the then commanding officer. The men were all sore and all outraged and just in a sort of a sullen silence.” (Ibid., pp. 121-27.) His success in raising the command’s morale demonstrated his ability to take charge in a difficult situation. Further, it was the first evidence of his career-long concern with maintaining high troop morale.
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), p. 23.