1-081 Editorial Note on Pershing and Departure Preparations, May 1917

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Pershing and Departure Preparations

May-June 1917

On May 28, Major General John J. Pershing and his staff came to Governors Island, rendezvousing in Marshall’s office before sailing to Europe. It was Marshall’s first meeting with the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.). “General Pershing arrived in civilian clothes and straw hat,” Marshall recalled. “We put him on a ferryboat at Governors Island at a secluded dock and sent him over to the Baltic which he boarded for his trip to Europe.” What Marshall did not then know was that Pershing’s chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel James G. Harbord, had requested Marshall’s services. But when Pershing discovered that Marshall was Bell’s aide, he ordered the request dropped. (Marshall Interviews, p. 188.) Watching the officers depart, Marshall was “in a most depressed frame of mind over being left behind.” (Marshall, Memoirs, p. 3.)

On June 3, troops of the hurriedly collected First Division began to leave their camps in Texas and Arizona for Hoboken, New Jersey, where they were to embark for France. The same day, Marshall was handed the following telegram from the new division’s commander (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-082 [1: 104]). Bell allowed him to write the reply. (Marshall, Memoirs, p. 5.)

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. 104.

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