1-048 Editorial Note on Maneuver Division and National Guard Assignments, 1911

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Maneuver Division and National Guard Assignments

April-May 1911

The most memorable aspect of this Signal Corps headquarters exercise for Marshall was his use of the Maneuver Division’s wireless transmitter. The three army pilots acted as commanders of the three groups of imaginary troops sent to repel the imaginary enemy advancing on San Antonio from the northeast. Two of the “generals” were to report to Marshall by telephone. The third (Benjamin Foulois) was given a platoon of men and the hand-cranked wireless set. Marshall was amused by the first American military radio message he ever knew to be received; Foulois reported that he and the Cavalry were “just west of the manure pile." Unfortunately, no one at headquarters knew where the manure pile was. (Marshall Interviews, p. 163.)

The point had been made, however. In his report, Major Squier predicted that the days when generals operated their forces largely by commands given personally in the field were over. Henceforth, the commanding general would sit well behind the lines, surrounded by specialized staff experts and communications equipment. In addition, he noted, “if there was any doubt in the minds of individuals of this command as to the utility of the aeroplane, for military purposes, that doubt has been removed by the aeronautical work done in this division." (Squier to Chief Signal Officer, War Department, July 13, 1911, NA/RG 111 [Maneuver Division].)

On May 4, Marshall received orders to report to the headquarters of the Department of the East at Governors Island, New York, for reassignment as inspector-instructor to the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. A law passed on March 3, 1911, permitted the assignment of Regular Army officers for long-term duty with state militias, rather than for brief tours at summer camps only.

In mid-October 1910, as the bill to permit such assignments was being contemplated, the governor of Massachusetts wrote to request Marshall’s assignment. (Eben S. Draper to Major General Frederick D. Grant, October 11, 1910, NA/RG 98 [Department of the East].) On May 13, Marshall arrived at Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania, for the first of two week-long officers’ camps (the second being at Luray, Virginia, May 22-30) to which he had been detailed prior to reporting to Boston. General Dougherty, head of the Pennsylvania National Guard, attempted to get the War Department to change Marshall’s Massachusetts assignment.

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. 55-56.

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