Education of a General – Chapter 05 – The Mettle of the Man

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

‘There isn’t anything much lower than a second lieutenant and I was about the junior second lieutenant in the Army at that time.” 

A year before Marshall arrived in the Philippines the rebel leader, Aguinaldo, had been captured. He was persuaded to take an oath of loyalty to the United States and to urge his followers to yield. During the summer of 1901 some four thousand rebels actually did surrender. General Arthur MacArthur, then in command of United States forces, informed the War Department that the insurrection was over except for rebel holdouts on the island of Samar and in Batangas Province of Luzon, south of Manila. His army of about seventy thousand men was reduced to about forty-two thousand; the rest went h0me.

In July, William Howard Taft took charge of the conquered land as its first American civilian governor. The rebellion was defeated but not ended. Taft’s authority at first extended only to one-third of the provinces and about half the population. Elsewhere the natives were considered insufficiently pacified and remained for varying periods under military rule. On Luzon, General Miguel Malvar, cunning and intransigent, still had some five thousand guerrillas in Batangas and commanded what organized resistance remained. He directed at


least one effective raid against the Americans before a punitive force under Brigadier General J. Franklin Bell, during the winter of 1901-1902, literally wiped out his forces by sweeping the province bare of food and natives. It was a bitter-end fight on both sides, attended by massacres, torture, and utter ruthlessness, until virtually all the warriors left were on one side. Malvar himself surrendered in April 1902, just four days after Marshall’s ship left San Francisco.

The chronology is important, for while the insurrection as a military problem had long since been solved and, by most people in America, put out of mind, the spilling of blood was still fresh in the Islands. In fact, peace was not officially proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt until July 4, 1902. Even after that guerrillas continued to raid and kill in remote areas.  The American occupying army in the summer of 1902 still numbered thirty-four thousand, or a little more than half the peak strength.

Marshall, on arrival, was assigned to Company G of the 30th Infantry. It was one of six companies of that regiment which about a year before, during General Bell’s campaign to clear Luzon, had occupied the island of Mindoro, to which some Luzon Insurrectos were fleeing. Though the fighting was now over, the 30th Infantry remained in occupation. Marshall was to reach his post by inter-island steamer. Discovering on the morning of his second day in Manila that the boat was about to sail, he barely had time to collect his luggage from the Oriente Hotel and an unfinished tropical uniform ordered the previous day from a Manila tailor before dashing for the boat dock. In his haste he dropped a pocket of the blouse and one leg of the pair of trousers but caught the last launch that would take him out to the Isla de Negros. This singularly unattractive 250-ton ship, chartered by the Army, set sail at once across Manila Bay. But off Bataan Peninsula it dropped anchor and there in the steaming heat lay for five days. T h e delay was forced by quarantine regulations designed to prevent the spread among the islands of cholera, which was then epidemic in Manila.

So exhausting were the heat and tedium of those five days that, when they were up, the captain resumed the voyage despite


typhoon warnings. Heading out past Corregidor, he turned down the coast and in a very little time ran into the “damnedest typhoon you ever saw.”  The General recalled it vividly a half century later.

‘‘I am not exaggerating when 1 say that the boat would tilt over until the longboats on the upper deck would go into the water. It would just poise there for a little bit as if it would never go back again. Then it would roll to the other side. The captain got frightened or sick. Anyway he left the bridge and went to his stateroom, where he knocked about in a sea chest which was rolling around from one side to the other. The Filipino at the wheel got his ribs mashed and he was gone. That left nobody to steer and nobody to command.

“So a young fellow, Lieutenant Daly, who was going back to his station at Calapan (on Mindoro), and 1 took over the boat. The two of us got the wheel and, of course, turned it in the wrong direction. We were heading toward a forbidding-looking mountain before we got straightened out and turned the other way.

“We battled it until about three o’clock in the morning. Then the first mate came up from the lower deck. He climbed up the stanchions on the outside and would go under water every time the boat tilted over.

“The water also poured into the engine room through the open ventilated space in the middle section of the deck. During the worst of it the Filipinos started to leave the engine room. We leaned over the hatch and with our guns threatened them and, as I recall, shot once or twice. I wouldn’t have stayed myself if I had been in that position. It was a nerve-wracking experience but finally with this Spanish mate we made it.”

Perhaps after such an ordeal even Mindoro looked good, but it was in fact a forbidding place, an island of about four thousand square miles of mountains and jungle. The towns, such as they were, spotted the coastal perimeter and were inhabited by Tagalog, Visayan, and Ilocano natives. In the wild and unexplored interior lived the primitive Manguianes, a tribe of light-skinned nomads. The jungles, in which they hunted even in Marshall’s time, still sheltered armed bands of Zadrones, out-laws, some of whom were former Insurrectos.


The 30th Infantry had occupied the towns of Mindoro in the late summer and autumn of 1901. Company G , to which Marshall was assigned, had headquarters at Mangarin, but Marshall was ordered to join a detachment of the company stationed at Calapan with the battalion command.

Put ashore by small boat, the storm-tossed lieutenant was met by one man, possibly Second Lieutenant Henry Hossfeld (later to become one of his close friends), who had brought a pony to carry the luggage. Since no one had made clear just how primitive was the post to which he was going, Marshall had arrived with nearly full garrison gear. It was as much as the pony could carry, and the two men had to walk u p the jungle trail, past an American outpost that stood guard at the foot of the mountains and made Marshall think he was going to war, then on to Calapan. There he came upon an American sergeant teaching a group of native children how to speak English and sing English songs. That, too, was part of the American occupation, and, Marshall thought, “typical.”

Though Calapan, the island capital, boasted five thousand inhabitants in 1902, it was little more than an overgrown jungle village.  The houses were mostly the typical native huts set on stilts, the ground floor left open, the second story roofed and sided with Nipa palm leaves. ‘Marshall from his billet on the main plaza looked across at a church and convent built like fortresses; company messes occupied one side of the square, a row of native houses the other. There were, of course, none of the amenities of even a small city. The relatively large garrison besides battalion headquarters it included a company of in fantry, a company of Philippine Scouts, and various detachments found Calapan deadly dull. Minimum guard duty, an hour or two of drill a day, military housekeeping chores-these hardly filled the soldier’s day. Marshall, indeed, was to find that his day’s work was normally finished by nine-thirty or ten in the morning. T h e rest of the day was a struggle with idleness and ennui. At this time, moreover, the morale of the Calapan garrison had been badly bruised by an unstable “tough” commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel W. L. Pitcher, who had had enlisted men thrown into the guardhouse on whim and officers confined for disagreement. Pitcher, called “Billy Danger,” was relieved


early in May. His replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Hall, a Civil War veteran, would in time effect improvement, but on arrival he was as green to the problems of an unruly command of bored men as was young Marshall. T h e men at Calapan, the General said later, were “about the wildest crowd I’ve ever seen before or since.”

Colonel Hall had scarcely time even to become acquainted with his problems when, without warning, cholera struck the village. Somehow native fishermen had managed to elude the quarantine net around Manila, and one day Calapan, hitherto untouched, was caught in the epidemic.  The sickness was noted in the morning, and that afternoon Marshall helped bury three of its first victims-three sisters whom he and his fellow officers had met only a short time before.

The great cholera epidemic had struck Manila about two months before Marshall’s arrival in the Philippine capital. Despite preventive work by health authorities and the Army, the disease raced from island to island, aided by ignorance, superstition, inadequate supply of pure water, and the lack of proper medical facilities. By the time it had run its course in September 1903, there were more than a hundred and fifty-seven thousand reported cases and a hundred thousand reported deaths, with probably not more than two-thirds of each recorded. Dr. Victor Heiser, who arrived as chief quarantine officer of the Islands about the same time as George Marshall, has described the swift, ugly, deadly visitation: “A cold, clammy sweat is upon [the victim], his skin shrinks and grows dark gray from the terrific purging. Cramps of unbelievable intensity occur in the calves of the leg and in the arm. His thirst is unquenchable. His circulation literally grows so sluggish that even cutting the vein
fails to produce a flow of blood.”

There were no known cures and no known method of immunization; the usual palliative for the suffering – one which Marshall recalled hearing that his grandfather used in a cholera outbreak in Kentucky forty years before-was to inject a saline solution to reduce the cramps caused by the drying up of body fluids. Mortality rates were close to 100 per cent. The only defense against the disease was to avoid it. Fortunately it could be


avoided by taking care. Spread not by contact with the sick but by contamination of food and drink, it could be checked by meticulous cleanliness. Men in Calapan were confined to barracks; everything they ate or drank was boiled; hands had to be scrubbed, mess kits scoured and thoroughly rinsed. These procedures were rigorously enforced by military discipline lest the soldiers, like soldiers everywhere, take shortcuts. “A very little skimping could cost you your life.”

While protecting their own command, the officers at Calapan tried also to help check the disease among the Filipinos by establishing a cholera isolation camp about two miles off, where there was a good, clean water supply. Marshall’s roommate, Fletcher Gardner, the only doctor in the area, spent day and night at the camp, and Marshall went up often to help his friend in addition to his regular stints at the camp as officer of the day.

“The first time I went I found the soldiers peacefully eating their supper off a pile of coffins. Later on, there weren’t any coffins. The deaths came too rapidly and they were buried by dozens in a trench. A sheet was put over them and disinfectant poured on them. It was a tragic sight. The sides of the tent were rolled up so you could see the patients on these gold metal cots without any sheets, their legs drawn up almost under their chins, generally shrieking from the agony of convulsions. But they
didn’t last long. . . . I don’t remember anybody recovering at that time.”

One evening Marshall, exhausted, was lying on his cot when Gardner came in, also ready to drop from his around-the-clock work, and reported that he had the cholera. He laid out some personal papers and personal possessions and was describing how he wished them to be disposed when Marshall fell asleep. “Next thing I knew, I woke up and it was morning. . . . I thought this was a dream. Then I realized it wasn’t . . . and I was horrified that I should go to sleep while a man was telling me that he was getting the cholera and was going to die. So I got up-and looked around the corner to his bed; it had been used and he wasn’t there. I breathed a . . . sigh of relief. . . . I went to the lattice window and looked out, and he was coming across the plaza with some friends from breakfast. He saw me and shook


his fist and said, ‘There’s the damn fellow who went to sleep when I told him I was dying.’ ”

In fact no soldier died on Mindoro during the epidemic, which took the lives of several hundred Filipinos. Discipline had been effective, but the prolonged confinement did not improve the temper of the men. T h e quarantine was lifted just before the Fourth of July and the command decided to make that an occasion for a gala party. It fell naturally to Lieutenant Marshall as the newest and most junior officer present to take charge of the entertainment program, which was worked out by Sergeant Enoch R. L. Jones. But the assignment turned out to be something more than routine.

Still sore at their treatment by the previous commanding officer, the men spontaneously or by arrangement decided to sulk. Names were to have been entered the day before for the athletic events, but when the men turned out on the morning of the celebration, none had entered. Some of the older officers waited in amusement, expecting to see the green lieutenant discomfited. But Marshall had one trump: the prize money which he had already collected from the officers in generous amounts.(There was so little to buy in Calapan that money was relatively easy to part with.) He called for competitors for the hundred-yard dash. Two men stepped forward. When they had run the race, the lieutenant without comment divided between them the prize money intended for the first four who crossed the finish line. There was no holding back thereafter; the program went on from enthusiasm to hilarity and finished in the evening with impromptu entertainment supplied in part by a soldier whom Marshall persuaded the commanding officer to release from the guardhouse for the occasion. All this was highly satisfactory to the men and the command.  The young officer was proving-at least in the minor crises – highly resourceful.

He had another quality invaluable in one so green with so large a destiny: the ability to learn quickly and while learning to depend on the experience and skills of subordinates. When presently he was transferred to his company at Mangarin he found himself pushed into the deep water of military responsibility. Two weeks after his arrival he was in command of the


company and of the post and acting as civil governor for the southern end of Mindoro Island. He was, in fact, the only officer anywhere around. This was in July, and it was not until mid-September that Captain H. E. Eames appeared to take over the company from him. In this spot he was grateful to VMI for what it had given him through its traditions, its standards of conduct and responsibility. “At retreat formation in some isolated company garrison in the Philippines,” he told the Corps of Cadets forty years later, “I would find my thoughts going back to evening parade with the background of the Brushy Hills and the sunset over House Mountain,” and he would recall “what the Corps, the Institute, expected of a cadet officer in the performance of his duty.” Nevertheless he was “a little vague about matters pertaining to the cooks and kitchen police,” and there had been nothing in his courses to solve scores of practical problems he now faced.11 T o at least one member of Company G, the “mild-mannered, soft-spoken” young lieutenant, only six months in uniform, “appeared very green in military affairs.”  But with the “super-confidence of a recent cadet officer” and the help of two seasoned noncoms, First Sergeant William Carter and Sergeant August Torstrup, he managed to survive. During the summer of 1902, until his relief arrived, he struggled with Army routine, improvised forms to make out his reports because the forms provided had been kept in a barrel and ruined by a typhoon, managed his post, struck up a friendship with Eduardo Lualjadi, “the most natural boss I ever met,” the presidente of a village on the nearby island of Ilin, and planned and conducted several patrols into the back lands and nearby islands to search for ladrones.

On one of these patrols occurred an incident that he long remembered and often told with relish. He took seven men by native boat (banca) to a small offshore island where an armed band had been reported. After landing on the island, the patrol passed through a village on its way into the jungle and there came upon some natives sewing up a pony which had been bitten by a crocodile. Shortly after leaving the village the men had to cross a stream, narrow but deep for fording. The lieutenant was in the lead and all the men in the water when there was a


splash and someone yelled, “Crocodiles!” In panic the men shot forward, knocked Marshall over and trod him into the mud in their haste to reach the shore. He picked himself up and waded tup the bank. Standing before his men, wet and bedraggled, he realized the need promptly to reassert control. He decided very quickly that “it wasn’t a time for cussing around.” Instead he formally fell them in, gave them right shoulder arms, and faced them toward the river they had just crossed. He gave the order to march. Down they went, single file, into the river, Marshall at their head, and across it and up the other side. Then the lieutenant, as though he were on the drill field, shouted, “To the rear-march! Again they crossed the crocodile river. When they were back on the far bank “I halted them, faced them toward me, inspected their rifles, and then gave them ‘fall out.’ ”  That was all. Not another word was ever said about the little jungle drill by the men to the lieutenant or by the lieutenant to them. Once more he had used the reflexes of discipline to restore the substance of command.

Expeditions of this sort into the interior and brushes with the primitive Manguianes, a people so shy that one had to approach cautiously or risk being shot with poisoned arrows, were a relief from the boredom of the post and, for Marshall particularly, its loneliness.

Calapan had been primitive; Mangarin did not exist. T h e village had been abandoned years before, after fever had killed most of its inhabitants. There remained a convent of the Recollect Order with extensive land holdings and cattle. A few natives who before the insurrection had worked nearby on a cattle ranch or in a local coal mine lingered in the area without visible means of support. It was chiefly to safeguard the convent that a military post was set down in this otherwise isolated and desolate spot.

So long as he was the sole officer in Mangarin, Marshall, keeping such distance from his men as he felt necessary to command, lived altogether alone except for the companionship of a lay brother, Padre Isidro Sanz. Though welcome, that association was sadly limited by the padre’s ignorance of English and Marshall’s only rudimentary acquaintance with Spanish. But at least they dined together almost every night and made of the meal a


prolonged ceremony that helped to pass and partly to civilize the tedium. By exchanging and combining rations they contrived to eat well, and each evening “had dinner served when the sun was almost halfway down on the horizon across the China Sea. ‘Then we would stay at the table until twelve at night.”

Once a month the IsZa de Negros delivered supplies and mail. Marshall, reading and rereading Lily’s let ters, amused himself by keeping track of the number of pounds she reported losing since she last wrote. At one point, he noted with glee, she had a minus weight.16 He recalled years later the sense of isolation: “In those far-off days the soldiers of the regular Army got little attention or consideration from the government or the public. As I recall, the ration was sixteen cents and privates (there was only one class) got thirteen dollars a month plus 10 per cent on foreign service. There was no turkey, chicken, or fresh vegetables. Fried peaches and apples and desiccated potatoes were a daily ration. No ice in a tropical hot sun. The only contribution to recreation I recall during my first year was a box of forty books from Helen Gould.”

In December, Company 6, now under command of Captain Eames, who had arrived in midSeptember, was alerted for a move to Manila at the end of the month. Most of the unit departed three days before Christmas, but Marshall, as the junior officer, was left with twenty-six men to garrison the station until replacements arrived. On December 25 there was so little in the tropical setting to remind anyone of home that it was afternoon before anyone realized that a celebration was in order. Someone found a young pig, and the animal was killed and roasted for the holiday dinner. Two days later the replacements arrived, and Marshall and his detachment were transferred to Manila, where the young lieutenant celebrated his twenty-second birthday. Billeted at first in temporary barracks of the 3d Reserve Hospital, they moved in January to §anta Mesa reservation eight miles east of the capital. Here Marshall, sharing a house with ten to twelve other officers, found a pleasant garrison life with time and facilities for recreation. It was here that he first learned to ride, beginning a lifelong recreation that he would always


prefer to any other. In off-duty hours Manila, with a theater and an Army and Navy Club, was readily accessible by horseback or carriage.

The lieutenant’s horse fell on him near the end of March, severely spraining his right ankle, so that he was excused from duty and had to use crutches for several weeks. While immobile, he was assigned to help the inspector of the headquarters examine the property accounts of officers awaiting financial clearances before they, could return to the United States. Working through masses of receipts and vouchers, he received a post-graduate course in Army accounting and accountability.

Among miscellaneous duties that Marshall performed at this time was a week’s trip by banca to post signs on various small islands in Manila Bay which the Army proposed to take over as military reservations. One of the islands was El Fraile, from which the Spaniards had fired the first shots at Commodore Dewey’s fleet four years earlier. T h e names of all of them would appear in history later when the Japanese conquered the Philippines in World War II and would awaken forty-year-old memories in the Chief of Staff. But at the moment the very junior officer was a little fed up. When his report of the accomplishment of his mission as agent of the United States was received by the authorities as merely routine, he was moved to reflect on his low estate. As he put it later, “There isn’t anything much lower than a second lieutenant and I was about the junior second lieutenant in the Army at that time.’’

Another lasting impression of these first years as a soldier was more significant. While learning the techniques of a company officer, Marshall was observing something of the large problems of occupying a foreign country, new of course to him and also largely new for America. So long as the insurrection continued, the Philippines were administered by the Army under military law. A commission in 1899 had studied the capacity of the Islands for self-government and concluded that any native government would collapse if American forces were withdrawn, leaving the Islands at the mercy of conquest by another foreign power. Nevertheless President McKinley and Secretary Root were eager to re-establish civil government as soon as possible and took the ,


first steps while the insurrection was still in progress. The second Philippine Commission, headed by Taft, was authorized to assume legislative responsibilities from the military governor as early as September igoo. Taft, as civil governor, replaced General MacArthur at the head of the Philippine government in July 1901. General Adna R. Ghaffee became military governor under him, with responsibility for areas not yet pacified. This kind of mixing of civilian and military authority would, in the easiest of circumstances, have been a source of friction. The Army’s experience in the Philippines intensified misunderstandings. Fighting against a foe who had no respect for the conventions of war, many high officers had become convinced that they dealt with a savage nation and that their own survival depended on keeping the country in tight subjugation. They were not sympathetic to Taft’s efforts to speed the return of native self-government to the conquered provinces. They were particularly embittered by the civilian government’s action against Army officers who on occasion answered brutality with brutality.

Marshall heard much of the story of the early occupation from his fellow officers and studied it later from official reports. He concluded that both sides were wrong. The junior officers commanding expeditions against towns were often outrageous in their actions, he recalled. Me added: “I remember distinctly one officer reporting that he had three men wounded in an encounter and he had burned the town down. . . . It showed how men are likely to get out of hand when they are on their own in critical situations. Near Manila, a cathedral that had what was considered to be the best library east of Suez was burned. Some of the Americans had taken the robes of the priests and the silver service from the chancel and were executing a dance outside. So, however quiet you may be in your home district, when you get abroad on a wartime basis under conditions that are extremely difficult, you are likely to do things that you would utterly discountenance at another time. Of course, the discipline was very loose because these things were hastily organized and [men] were serving under most difficult and trying circumstances.”


On the other hand, he thought, “maybe the civil officials [went] too far too fast. . . . It is hard for the military who have suffered so much [to accept] all the overtures of peace. . . . The Civil Commission was rather impatient with the troops. Both sides are wrong. Both reactions are perfectly natural. One of the best things would have been to discharge the fine officers they had and to have made them civil officials. . . . They would have had a much better understanding of the point of view of these fellows who . . . suffered the torture of the damned, as it were, . . . than would the man who had just come out from the States, who had never gone through any of it.” He appreciated the reasons for the “tough” attitude of the Army, the excesses of reprisals, and the water cure to make captured Insurrectos talk. He did not approve them and never doubted the principle of re-establishing civil control as soon as practicable.

The last of Marshall’s assignments in the Philippines he found especially distasteful. Company G in September 1903 was ordered to join the detachment guarding military prisoners on Malahi Island in the Laguna de Bay, some of them men who had committed the sort of brutality of which he had heard so much. Just before the transfer he had had temporary command of the company for a week while Captain Eames battled malaria. Just after the transfer Marshall himself came down with dengue fever and had to delay joining the company for two weeks. He had barely recovered when Captain Eames was ordered to report to the 10th Infantry, and so for the third time command of the company devolved on him.

Malahi Island was isolated and all but unfit for human habitation. It boasted a lake whose waters were so contaminated as to be ruled unsafe even for bathing. Shortly government inspectors would recommend that the Malahi post be abandoned. But for a while longer the “scum” of the Army, murderers, deserters, and the like, were imprisoned there and kept busy quarrying rock for Fort William McKinley, then under construction just outside Among the officers of the prison guard, when Marshall arrived was Lieutenant Walter Krueger (later to be General Krueger and commander of the Sixth Army in the Pacific in World War 11). Krueger recalls young Marshall as a


green second lieutenant who reported for duty in a fresh uniform and with evident distaste for his new surroundings. Krueger, having been commissioned from the ranks, was experienced in the tougher realities of Army life. H e remembers that Marshall asked the officer of the guard where to sleep and that he, Krueger, pointed to a pile of straw on the floor, evidently with a certain sat is fac tion.

Actually, of course, Marshall was less green than Krueger thought and had already acquitted himself well in rugged circumstances. Yet he retained (as indeed he would always retain) a fastidiousness which the prison grossly offended. “The prisoners,” he said later, “were the dregs of the Army of the Plhilippine Insurrection; they were the toughest crowd of men I have ever seen. You had to count them twice every night.  To go through the barracks where they were lying stark naked on those gold metal cots was a very depressing sight.” Happily the duty was soon over. Near the end of October,
Marshall’s company was relieved by elements of the 7th Infantry who had just arrived from the United States. “Their depression when they saw the place was very great. Our elation when we left was even greater.”

The 30th Infantry was being ordered home. I n early November the men assembled in quarantine on Bataan and on the thirteenth embarked on the Army transport Sherman for California. The ship made stops at Nagasaki, Japan, and Honolulu, Hawaiian capital situated near Pearl Harbor. Names for history. But in 1903 for the homecoming lieutenant they were just way-stops where it was possible to shop for souvenirs to take back to Lily, the final ports of call in foreign lands before assignment in the still wild heart of America. Marshall’s next post was to be Fort Reno in Oklahoma Territory. It would continue his education in the rugged life and test his stamina ,and love for the Army.

It is not clear just when Lily joined him at Fort Reno. Her health was still not fully equal to Army life, and it may have been eighteen months or more before she came out. In the meantime he continued the bachelor life he had lived ever since getting married.


Fort Reno, relic of the frontier, lay west of Oklahoma City in a reservation sixteen miles square along the north branch of the Canadian River. Across the river were reservations of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, where men of the post were permitted to hunt. The hunting was “superb.” “There was hunting every day of the year,” Marshall recalled. “At that time I was a pretty good shot and we would get out and camp ten days on the Indian Reservation. . . . We would get channel cat, which is very good eating, in the river. I shot ducks that would fall on the tents. On one occasion [after Lily arrived] when Mrs. Marshall and I were early for breakfast, we heard quail calling in the sumac grove near us and I went out there and in about thirty minutes I had ten or twelve quail. Actually, I think I[ had fifteen, but I don’t want to claim that.”

Assigned to Fort Reno were four companies of the 24th Infantry, two companies of the 30th Infantry, and a troop of the 8th Cavalry. T h e young lieutenant, still with Company G, seems to have been no busier than was customary with garrison routine-drills, inspections, administration-which at most posts during this period was over for officers and men by noon each day. In March, Marshall became the post ordnance officer, and in June the engineer officer as well. T h e duties were not exacting, but the commanding officer Marshall found “exceedingly difficult” and hard to please.

Fort Reno in 1904 was dominated by the “old Army” and its traditions. These were essentially the traditions of spit and polish, preoccupation with the look of a soldier and the precise ordering of the military society by the rules of rank and discipline. “The immaculate uniform,” wrote one officer who knew the Army well at this period, “the varnished wheel spokes, the glistening metal work, the shining pots and pans, that shocking speck of dust on a locker shelf-all these were the things occupying the mind oE our 1904 officer.” Even the garrison schools through which Elihu Root hoped to reawaken the professional interest of officers in the art and practice of war concerned themselves less with the tactics of battle than with the techniques of the model ofiicer. “Methodical precision was the rule; close-order drill, the alignment of a row of tent pegs; the parrot-like


memorizing of the Manual for Interior Guard Duty; the exact respective dimensions and use of garrison, post, and storm flags; . . . the layout and drainage of a campsite; the customs of the service. Such things were paramount.’’

Marshall himself had a strong feeling for neatness and order and a care for his personal appearance which many of his associates thought remarkable enough to be worth special comment. He would always uphold the military forms but only as the basis for effectiveness in the military profession. At Reno he got by rote the assigned work of the garrison school and passed the examinations. He was found to be proficient in military law, field engineering, military topography, international law, hippology, troops in campaign, and security information. I t was an impressive list until one finds that all he read for the examinations were: Root’s Military Topography and International Law; Military Field Engineering, Winthrop’s abridgment of International  Law; “some in” Horses, Saddles and Bridles; and Security and  Information and Troops in Campaign. He had previously studied the Guard Manual, Infantry Drill Regulations, Firing Regulations for Small Arms and a “portion” of Army Regulations.

There began at Reno a long struggle to stretch his Army pay to cover his living expenses. The starting salary of a second lieutenant of $116.67 a month was by the standard of the day generous enough, but out of it he had to pay for uniforms, food, “the required arms and equipment, from saber and revolver and field glasses to mess kit and bedding roll, as well as the civilian clothing he needed.”*5 Much of the time he had to support not only himself and his wife but his wife’s mother. He recalled the constant battle of the budget. “A spring hat was $3.50 and the spring suit was $14.00. I can remember that quite well. I had to keep track down to the last dime. My struggle was to come out ahead, I really wasn’t so much interested in whether it was $1.50 or $10.50 ahead for the month, but it was to be ahead and not to get behind. I always struggled in those days to have a month’s pay ahead and live on that.” The turns that his own career took made it particularly hard. He was to be moved frequently and he had to pay most of the costs himself. “In those days the government didn’t move our wives or families and we


got a very limited allowance for packing our things. We had to pack ourselves . . . and get hold of the lumber for crating.” What appears in the history books under the head of national unpreparedness, the officers-and particularly the young officers-felt keenly as enforced penury. “A citizen army can vote and get the attention of the press and the attention of Congress; … an Army such as I served in then, the President wasn’t interested in . . . , the Congress wasn’t interested in . . . , except to keep down the appropriation as closely as they could.”

It was characteristic of Marshall’s career that the few relatively routine assignments he had were interrupted for special duty. So in June 1905 he was abruptly plucked out of the garrison routine, pleasant enough if neither affluent nor stimulating, and set a job which he later called “the hardest service I ever had in the Army.”

Several posts had been asked in the spring of 1905 to detail young officers to Fort Clark, Texas, headquarters of the 1st Cavalry, to assist in mapping two thousand square miles in the south-western part of the state. The duty was to take three or four months. According to Marshall, it was because some units in Texas reported they had no officers available that “they brought an infantryman from Oklahoma to do the job.” Marshall actually was one of ten officers from Oklahoma Territory assigned in June to the mapping expedition. His part was to start in an area just west of Del Rio, two days’ march from Fort Clark.

Fort Clark assigned him two’riding horses. “One belonged to the quartermaster, was very good-looking and a runaway, which was the reason I got him, and the other came from [Captain] Malin Craig’s troop. Fort Clark also supplied me with an escort wagon and a four-line mule team driven by Nate Cox of Brackettville, whose father brought Nate when he was six years old through Dead Man’s Pass near Shumla, Texas, then to Silver Lake. His earliest recollection was watching his father stand in the doorway of the cabin with a rifle to keep off a band of Comanches, his mother loading the rifle. I was also supplied with twenty pack mules under a packer about fifty-eight years old, one assistant packer-a soldier named Davis of the 1st Cavalry-a cook from the 1st Cavalry, and a sergeant also of the 1st Cavalry,


to assist me in sketching. T h e sergeant was a soldier of twenty-four years’ service, as I recall; had long drooping cavalry mustaches and was a very fine man but would drink after he got
paid off .”

In the country through which Marshall was to travel both forage and water were scarce. In fact he was told there was practically no water in the area at all “except in the small portion near Devil’s River.”  The only place to buy food for men or mules was Langtry, and very little could be bought there. He wished therefore to have the post quartermaster ship rations and forage to points along the railroad between Del Rio and Sanderson, Texas. It was a simple and reasonable request, and therefore Marshall found it particularly frustrating when it came to nothing.

The paper was to shuttle back and forth between headquarters in search of authority like a laboratory mouse making its first trip through a maze. Through channels it proceeded from Fort Clark to the engineer officer of the Southwestern Division, Oklahoma City, to the commanding general, Southwestern Division, who in correspondence signed by Lieutenant Hugh A. Drum approved Marshall’s request for pack mules, ignored the request for rations, and sent it on to the commanding general, Department of Texas, San Antonio, who forwarded it to the commanding officer, Fort Clark. There it was noted that no authority had been given for shipping rations and so off the letter went again to Oklahoma City. The military secretary “respectfully returned” it to the commanding general, Department of Texas, “within whose province lies the authority requested.” And so, no doubt, it did, but before the correspondence at last got back to Fort Clark someone had discovered an easier way and had given Marshall voucher forms with instructions to buy forage in the field.

July, Marshall recalled, was the hardest month as he and his men hiked from Comstock to Langtry. “The thermometer would go u p to 130 and I had to walk the track and count the sections of rails that would give me an exact measurement which I needed as a sort of base line. I got my distances otherwise from the odometer on the wheel of the wagon and from the


time scale on the walking of my horse.”  The difficulty of finding food was as great as he expected. Not many days after they set out they had exhausted their supply of potatoes and onions and had to subsist almost wholly on bacon and canned meats. “I would have the effect of too much acidity from the bacon without fresh vegetables of any kind and get heartburn so badly that I could barely drink without gasping. As I recall, I went in there weighing about 165 or 170 and I came out weighing 132 pounds.. . . At one period the old packer and I were without water for eighteen hours and had to travel pretty nearly fifty miles. This was an endurance contest of the first class.’’

By the end of July, moving ten or fifteen miles a day, they had pushed beyond the Pecos to Langtry, named for Judge Roy Bean’s favorite entertainer, “the Jersey Lily,” when pay day arrived. Marshall was cheered by both prospects, for it meant a chance to get some fresh food. For his sergeant it meant a chance to wash out of his system a month’s accumulation of Texas dust, and that, he anticipated, would take a good bit of drink. So, drawing his pay, he found himself a house with girls and bottles and settled in. The girls, he announced, were all for him, and he declared the place off limits for anyone else.

Certain citizens were outraged. Indeed the situation had the ingredients of a riot and was simmering when Marshall heard about it. Trying diplomacy in place of command, he talked the sergeant into agreeing to share his domain and drink in peace, and that the sergeant proceeded to do, so long as his pay lasted.

During August the mapping detachment apparently turned north, parallel to the river, and then doubled back eastward. Reports at the end of August were dated from a point “30 miles due north of Ry., on Devil’s River, Texas.” Here two vouchers with which he had bought supplies in late June and early July were returned to him unpaid with instructions to furnish headquarters with certificates in duplicate stating the emergency that caused the purchases and his authority for making them. He found the request irritating enough and the tone of it, suggesting that the purchases might be disallowed, exasperating. He sat down and composed a full statement of explanation, concluding patiently and respectfully, as a lieutenant should, that


“there seems to have been some misunderstanding about the supplying of my detachment and H respectfully request that I be informed as to whether 1 have been at fault or not, though my instructions are so clear as to hardly permit being misconstrued.” Five weeks later he had an answer-in fourteen endorsements-which in effect said that he was not at fault but neither was anyone else. The bills were paid and the monumefital correspondence concerning them came to rest first in the headquarters of the Southwestern Division and then in the National Archives, where they remain eloquent of congestion in bureaucratic minds and of exasperation in the field.

Back in Fort Clark, the lieutenant reported to the headquarters of Captain Malin Craig whose troop had furnished one of his two horses. Marshall came in wearing “an old Panama hat which a mule had bitten the top out of and P had tried to sew. . . together. I was burned almost black. When the sergeant took in the horses, Captain Craig met him . . . and wouldn’t look at me. He didn’t think 1 could be an officer and talked entirely to my old sergeant. .  .”

For the lieutenant, however, there were two expressions of thanks to compensate for the bruises of body and spirit he had suffered in his travels through rocky desert and Army red tape. The chief engineer officer of the Southwestern Division told him his map “was the best one received and the only complete one.”  At the headquarters of the commanding general of the Department of Texas he was warmly welcomed back by the military secretary, Captain George Van Horn Moseley. “When I came into your office,” he wrote Moseley afterward, “a young lieutenant who had been mapping on the Pecos, feeling that I had a pretty hard time, not only as a result of the climate and a harsh terrain, but largely because of the dyed-in-the-wool spirit of the commissary staff-we darn near starved-I have never forgotten your kindly greeting at that time.”

The commanding general at §an Antonio also granted him four months’ leave. It was a chance, among other things, for a reunion with Lily in Virginia and for a visit with his parents for the first time since he had left for the Philippines three years before. There was no question of a long visit.  The Marshalls


had moved out of the Main Street house shortly after George was commissioned and were now living in the “Skyscraper,” eleven stories of offices and apartments, which Andy Thompson’s father had built farther east on Main Street in 1902. Marie was to be married in mid-November to Dr. J. J. Singer of Connellsville, and to move to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Stuart in 1907 married Florence Heaton of Virginia. Their son Stuart was born in 1910.

The return for George Marshall was poignant. Four years had already made startling changes in the town of his childhood. The house on Main Street had been torn down, the yard leveled with fill, and on the site now stood the West End Theater. Coal Lick Run where the Marshall ferry once plied was partly choked with rubble. T h e Thompsons no longer lived across the way. Andy’s mother was dead; his father, J.V., had become one of the wealthiest men in the area, and in 1903 had married a lively widow who persuaded him to buy the old estate of Congressman Boyle west of town and remodel it at a rumored cost of one million dollars. I n addition they bought Friendship Hill, Albert Gallatin’s great house on the banks of the Monongahela at New Geneva.  Mr. Marshall by contrast, though somewhat better off financially, had begun to fade. H e was stouter, slower, no longer a householder or man of affairs.

For the young man the mood of melancholy deepened as he searched the town for the familiar. He went to visit the mother of an old playmate. T h e friend had died, but Marshall was delighted to find his dog, a short-haired terrier named Trip, lying “on the stones by the old pump in the sun, . . . his black coat. . . turned almost brown.’’ Fifty years later, the emotion of that moment remained vivid in memory. “He paid no attention to me-he didn’t bark at me-he was so old he was just indifferent. . . . That was quite a blow because Trip was one of the close companions of my youth. So I sat down on this long flagstone that was around the pump and succeeded in petting him, although he rather resented it. . . . I talked to him quite a long time, trying to renew my youth, and was very much distressed that he didn’t remember me at all. After, I suppose, five or ten minutes, he took a careful sniff of me, then he sniffed at me two or three times, and then he just went crazy. He had finally gotten


a scent in his old nostrils and he remembered me. That was the most flattering thing that occurred to me on that short visit home after many years of not being there.”

Marshall spent the remainder of his leave at Esmont in Albemarle County, Virginia, with Lily and her Coles relations. By the end of January 1906 they were back at Fort Reno, with only a few months to stay there. From this last period, he told a story revealing of his kindliness toward the less fortunate which constantly broke through his normal reserve. While acting as commander of the post during the absence of all the other officers and most of the men on a march to Fort Riley, he was making a routine inspection of the houses on the post in which wives, and widows, of the soldiers lived. The houses were miserable shanties and the Army did nothing officially to maintain them. On this day one of the women approached him to ask if he could not have her kitchen sink fixed. He promised he would, but noting the disreputable state of both house and yard “an idea struck me and I made a proposition to the lady.” Pointing out the yard of beaten-down clay strewn with tin cans and rubbish, he said, “If you fix your yard and make it look like something, I’ll fix your house up. I’ll come back here in about two weeks.”

Two weeks later he found the yard cleaned, the tin cans painted green and made into flower pots, the whole place transformed. She waited anxiously for his approval. “I looked it over very carefully-I’m quite [given] to that kind of performance-and I congratulated her. Then I went into the house to see what was to be done.”

He thought paint would do a lot and promised to send a painter so that she could select her own colors. A little later the astounded painter reported that the woman had selected pure, undiluted colors, red for the living room, blue for the kitchen. “Well, it was very hot down there in the summer, and this red was just like lighting a fire. The blue was the kind that created a haze in the room unless it was diluted.” Nevertheless Marshall decided that if these were the colors she wanted she should have them. She had carried out her part of the bargain. So it was done, and Marshall went to see it. “Well, actually when you opened up the front door . . . the living room almost knocked

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you down. It was an intense red, a terrible red. The kitchen was this vivid blue. [But] she was just pleased to death.” And so were her neighbors, and all down the line of “Soapsuds Row” they “started to fix up their lawns.”

In the spring Marshall was offered a chance to attend the Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth and gladly accepted.   He left for Leavenworth in August to begin a one year’s assignment that stretched into four and gave clear direction to his career.



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