Education of a General – Chapter 07 – The Making of a Staff Officer

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

‘The teacher was being educated at the same time he  was instructing. . . . I was able to experiment. . . .”

In September 19o9 George Marshall senior died. For several weeks he had been ill enough to have a nurse; then he improved and the nurse was dismissed. The end came suddenly. On the morning of September 21 he was talking on the telephone in his apartment when he had a massive stroke. Paralyzed and within the hour unconscious, he lived only until that afternoon. Mrs. Marshall, Marie, and Stuart were at his bedside when he died; George could not get there.  The Knights Templar performed a short memorial ceremony for their brother Mason. Interment was in the Allegheny Cemetery at Pittsburgh, where Mrs. Marshall’s maternal family, the Stuarts, had a plot; it was her decision that she and her husband should be buried there. Mr. Marshall left no will, but his estate of some twenty-six thousand dollars-the children assigned their legal shares to their mother-was sufficient to support Mrs. Marshall during her remaining nineteen years. She kept the apartment in Uniontown but visited Marie in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, spent some time in Washington after World War I when both George and Stuart were there, and took regular long holidays in Atlantic City.

In the General’s reminiscence of his youth, his father was a

strong and dominant figure, more prominent, more vividly realized and remembered than his mother, for whom he reserved his expressions of love. The elder Marshall’s death marked for the
younger another break with his past toward which he already felt a stranger. His hometown had so changed that it no longer looked or felt like home. Now the loss of his father locked one more door on the house of boyhood.

There was also about this time a pause in his career. Nearing the end of his four years at Leavenworth, he had clearly finished for the time being one phase of his professional training. Now what? Would he find some immediate use for it? Would he perhaps have further assignments to teach? Would he go back to his regiment, to garrison routine, and bide his time? It was a moment which in the career of a civilian would have seemed like a crossroads, calling for earnest analysis and prayerful decision. But in the Army decision was made by someone else, and the lieutenant had already done all he could to guide it, although not necessarily as he would have willed.

With four months’ accrued leave and the first real opportunity since his marriage to have a true honeymoon, he asked for the whole of his leave beginning in mid-August 1910 to take a trip with Lily to Europe. He got it (as well as a subsequent one month’s extension at half pay) despite the disapproval of the commanding officer of the 24th Infantry, who pointed out that Marshall had not yet served with the regiment to which he had been assigned in 1907. Before taking ship Marshall put in another few weeks of instruction with the militia, a week at summer camp in Karner, New York, and two weeks at the Massachusetts Militia Camps in Wingham and South Framingham. At his own request his leave was delayed to the end of August in order to allow him to spend the month at the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohi0.

The Marshalls toured Europe in leisurely fashion-more than a month in England, two weeks or more in the Paris area, a month’s journey in the chateau country, three weeks in Florence, about two weeks in Rome, then to Austria. On January 7, in Trieste, they caught a slow boat home that stopped in Patras and Algiers on the way. Typically he took time in England to see British Army maneuvers at Aldershot. He rented a bicycle,


“went through” the whole exercise, and believed that he saw more of it than the American military attache, since he was free of official restrictions. He enjoyed recalling years later that at Versailles he and Lily had managed a forbidden picnic on the palace grounds by inviting an agent de police to share it with them. In Rome he talked his way into the Quirinal Palace, where he was taken upstairs to the room in which the royal family had just dined and in which, nine years later, he was himself to dine with King Victor Emmanuel in the company of General Pershing. We also indulged with zest in some ancient history. An expert, whom the Marshalls had met on the Florence-Rome express, took him on tours of the Roman ruins, and in the evening Marshall would report the day’s lectures at the pension, where two archaeologists and an Oxford don were also staying. “That would lead to an argument that would last about all evening.”

On his return at the end of January, Marshall took command of Company D of the 24th Infantry, which was stationed at Madison Barracks near Watertown, New York. But that proved to be little more than touching home base (and a bitterly cold one that winter) before he was off on another assignment for which his talents and training especially fitted him.

Major General Leonard Wood was now Chief of Staff, having succeeded General Bell in the spring of 1910. Like Bell, Wood had come to Washington filled with ideas of what needed to be done to reform the Army and the War Department and affirm the authority of the Chief of Staff, which remained in practice a good deal less than it appeared in law. A year before his appointment he had observed that the War Department bureaus, supposed to have been brought by Root’s legislation under central control and subordinated to the General Staff, seemed “to be becoming more and more disorganized.” “Orders,” he continued, “emanate from different sources, and there seems to be little control or centralization.” Wood was resolved to end that diffusion of authority and become himself the sole uniformed boss of the Army. In a memorable fight with the most powerful of the bureau chiefs, Major General Fred Ainsworth, he won his point, though only in principle.

Wood’s other major concern was to reorganize the Army to


fight. It was with this that Marshall became directly involved. Despite the experience of the Spanish-American War nothing had been done to assure, in case of war, rapid and effective concentration of the Army in units prepared for combat.  The largest tactical unit was still the regiment, and in practice even the regiment existed largely on paper. Troops were scattered throughout the continent in forty-nine posts in twenty-four states. T h e average garrison was smaller than a battalion (less than seven hundred men). While regimental commanders were responsible for discipline and training of their troops they had no effective way of discharging that responsibility. To assemble a balanced fighting force to cope with an emergency of any size still required the War Department to issue scores of separate orders to commands all over the country.

The best solution would have been to abolish many of the “hitching post” forts, which were in any case useless relics of Indian fighting. Concentration at fewer places would have saved money as well as promoted more effective training and efficient administration. But when General Wood made the first tentative proposals along this line he touched a political nerve. Congressmen with Army installations in their districts or in their friends’ districts, along with some admirers of General Ainsworth, responded by trying to pass a law to prevent Leonard Wood from continuing as Chief of Staff.9 Frustrated on that tack, Wood and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson managed at least to simplify tactical command channels by an executive order in 1913, organizing the continental Army into divisions and brigades without, however, shifting any troops.

In the meantime maneuvers could accomplish something in providing commanders and staff officers with occasional experience in handling comparatively large bodies of troops. Marshall, as has been noted, had taken part in maneuvers and camps of instruction regularly for four years. Not surprisingly, when one of the largest of them was scheduled in the spring of 1911, someone in the War Department thought of him. The exercise was the first attempt since the war to concentrate a division. Since there were then no regular Army divisions, the unit was designated simply the Maneuver Division, to be commanded by


Major General William H. Carter (the man who as assistant to the Adjutant General had done much of the drafting of the General Staff law) and assembled in the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas. Though publicly explained as a training exercise (and actually amply justified on that ground alone), it was also intended as a show of force along the troubled Mexican border. The Mexican Revolution had broken out the year before. The revolutionary leader, Francisco I. Madero, had fled to Texas and issued from there his call for the overthrow of Dictator Porfirio Diaz. Washington, uneasy over inflamed feelings on both sides of the border, ordered officers taking part in the maneuvers “to render the civil authorities any aid that might be required to secure the proper observance of an enforcement of neutrality laws on the Mexican border.”

Marshall arrived in San Antonio in March in the midst of heavy rains and cold winds. Assigned to duty with Company D, Signal Corps, he organized a communications center at headquarters, then worked out “a brief plan of having maneuvers with . . . the staffs . . . using communications details . . . instead of the troops at first.” This appears to have been a precursor of what was later to be a common method of staff training, the “Command Post Exercise” (CPX), in which troop movements are simulated by messages. As assistant to the chief signal officer, Marshall drew u p the plan and selected the three pilots assigned to the signal company to represent generak commanding two infantry columns and an independent cavalry brigade.  These officers then reported by telephone and wireless to Marshall, acting as chief of staff of the exercise.ll He had one portable wireless transmitter, whose generator required two men to crank, and this he sent with the cavalry on the first tactical problem. It was perhaps the first time wireless was used in maneuvers. The historic first message that came back to headquarters was from the cavalry commander, who reported, “I am just west of the manure pile.” What manure pile he was west of no one at headquarters ever found out.

In addition troops had field telephones and airplanes for observation and messenger work. Major George 0. Squier, the chief signal officer, finding the communications work impressive,


was moved to some predictions. On the future of aircraft he reported: “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 aeronautical work done in this division.” l3 And in the larger view he had a vision of the future of generalship. He thought it conceivable that with large armies the communications systems they had demonstrated would permit the commander to remain from ten to thirty miles in the rear. It was possible for a man to “attain eminence in the military profession at present without ever having been actually under fire.”

Most comment was a great deal less sanguine on maneuvers which in fact revealed serious weaknesses. A plethora of orders from the War Department had produced a “hodgepodge concentration” of troops in the field, and at the end of ninety days the division was still not fully asseinbled. Foreign observers noted that units were seriously under strength and officers green to command. German critics blamed the volunteer system and the low esteem in which the military profession was held in America-so low, in fact, that Congress in 1911 had to order managers of inns, restaurants, and other public places not to discriminate against soldiers under penalty of a five-hundred-dollar fine. American officers tended to blame the archaic dispersion of the Army in frontier posts. General Wood himself took the occasion to write an article for McCIure’s, early in 1912, in which he attacked the widespread scattering of troops in posts (though he had already lost that battle) and the excessive power of the bureaus in Washington. T h e Texas maneuvers, he wrote, had “demonstrated conclusively our helplessness to meet with trained troops any sudden emergency.” Secretary of War Stimson contributed another article-one of a series of seven that the Independent published on “What Is the Matter with Our Army?”-in which he proposed the establishment of a council of national defense consisting of members of Congress and ci-vilian and military leaders to draw up an intelligent national military policy.

Congress could not be moved to any such basic reappraisal of America’s military needs and resources. It would, however, be


persuaded to vote a little more money as the Mexican crisis persisted. It also enacted another law to improve the quality of the militia along lines already laid out by Elihu Root. The law, passed on March 3, 1911, permitted the President to detail Army officers for regular tours of duty with the National Guard as instructors, one for each militia regiment or separate battalion of infantry, and proportionately for other branches.18 As early as the autumn of 1910 when the bill was being considered, Governor Eben S. Draper of Massachusetts asked the War Department to assign Lieutenant Marshall to his state’s militia if and when the bill passed. As soon as the measure was approved the commanding general of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the adjutant general of the state pressed General Wood to let them have Marshall, but the Chief of Staff ruled that it was only proper to yield to Governor Draper’s earlier request.

Marshall left San Antonio in May, under orders to report to Massachusetts. But he had first two short assignments with the National Guard: one in Luray, Virginia; the other at Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. The latter turned out to be a rugged week. And he bequeathed in his reminiscences a vivid picture of the young lieutenant, mounted on a blackmhorse borrowed from a Lebanon undertaker, galloping across the rugged countryside around Mount Gretna among groups of militia officers who were working out tactical problems he had assigned them. This gallant and very military spectacle was marred only by his most unmilitary horse, which, never having been off a paved street in his life, could not keep his footing; seven times he stumbled and fell in the five days. “If I hadn’t been young,” the General commented, “I never could have stood it.”

On reporting in Boston to Brigadier General Gardner Pearson, Massachusetts adjutant general, Marshall found his first task was to organize a school program for militia officers for the end of June and thereafter to assist Captain Matthew Hanna in drawing plans for state maneuvers.21 He had known Hanna at Leavenworth, where the captain taught during Marshall’s last year. Hanna, now on the War Department General Staff, was one of the intellectuals of the new Army. His Tactical Principles  and Problems was a required text at the Army School of the


Line and was besides well known in foreign armies, which were not accustomed to looking to Americans for military theory. The Massachusetts maneuvers which he planned with Marshall’s help
were among the largest militia exercises so far attempted. Concentrating six thousand state troops in Essex and Middlesex counties at the end of July, they stirred the pride of local patriots. Ten thousand citizens of Boston and vicinity watched the beginning of the exercises before torrential rain drove them from the field. Local newspapers delightedly covered the whole affair. Hanna was also enthusiastic; he believed the maneuvers were “beyond doubt the best [for militia] ever seen in this country.”

In September, Marshall, who had been almost constantly on the move, and much of the time in camps, tried to set up his domestic base once more. He rented quarters in Boston and Lily again unpacked their things. But as it turned out he was to find himself seldom at home. During the autumn and early winter he conducted a brigade school, lectured to officer groups on the lessons of the summer maneuvers, and prepared problems and other teaching materials for six schools to be held in 1912. Between January 22 and March 8, 1912,  he inspected forty-two companies in twenty-five cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts. He was in Lawrence during the I.W.W. strike, staying one to three days at a time to inspect units there on strike duty, though he had, of course, no responsibility for their performance under state control.

It was hard work and kept him on the go but he did it with relish. He found that while the men sometimes complained at the load of work they were responsive to his lead. “This was an educational treat to me. The teacher was being educated at the same time he was instructing. . . . I was able to experiment and enlarge and subtract and so on.”

In the spring of 1912, after a week’s assignment to a camp of instruction at St. Augustine, Florida, Marshall was detailed to Governors Island, New York, to work with Brigadier General Tasker H. Bliss on still more ambitious exercises. It was planned that summer to assemble for a two-state exercise some fifteen thousand men of the National Guard from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, along


with twenty-three hundred regulars. The Boston newspaper which hailed the maneuvers as “the greatest military event of its nature held in peace in the United States” was exaggerating slightly Maneuvers at Manassas in 1904, in which General Bell had commanded one force, had involved considerably more troops (26,296). Nevertheless the exercises, for which General Bliss, later to become Chief of Staff, acted as chief umpire with Marshall as his assistant, were of national significance and brought both Secretary of War Stimson and Chief of Staff Wood to witness the final stages. Bliss was pleased with his assistant and wrote him afterward: “It is recognized that a very great measure of the success . . . is due to the skillful manner in which you planned the various situations of the campaign.”

Perhaps, had Marshall himself been able to choose, he would at this time have gone on in the teaching that he found so stimulating. If so, he would have had a choice between setting up a kind of “baby war college” in Massachusetts, as the new adjutant general, Charles H. Cole, wanted him to,26 or becoming commandant at VMI, which had put in its second request for him in three years.  But he had no choice. In August, Congress passed the so-called Manchu Law, which stiffened the restrictions on detached service laid down in the law of 1910. Under the law, line officers below the rank of major in time of peace could not at any time be on detached service unless they had served two of the preceding six years with the regiment to which they were assigned. Commanding officers responsible for abrogating the law whether intentionally or not were to forfeit pay and allowances during the period of their disobedience.

Marshall went back to troops, to Company M of the 4th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Logan Roots outside Little Rock, Arkansas, a post of eighteen officers and two hundred and ninety-one enlisted men, and one of those that Congress had been asked in vain to abolish. Militarily the high point of his six months’ stay came with the organization of a postgraduate garrison school, which won praise in the Inspector General’s report on the post as “a model course of instruction.”  Personally the experience which he recalled with greatest relish was a Christmas party he put on for the children of the post.

He discovered on the Thursday before Christmas Eve, which


fell on Tuesday, that no celebration had been planned and that in fact Fort Logan Roots had had none for years. In Army fashion the commanding officer, having heard his complaint, gave him permission to remedy it himself. With no more backing than that, he took on that Christmas party, to make some other people’s children happy, with the same drive, ingenuity, and persuasiveness he had applied to New England maneuvers. He collected the money. He talked the toy merchants of Little Rock into giving him bargains on the things they had so little time left to sell. He found a Santa Claus and persuaded him to build his own chimney in the post gymnasium. H e had himself made officer of the day three days running (a privilege no one protested) so that he could get some prisoners to volunteer to decorate the gymnasium. In the end all of them turned out, and he rewarded them by allowing them on Christmas morning to give out the presents. The party was a success, and there was a sequel-a reward for the unsentimental lieu tenant himself: Christmas night, as officer of the day, he made the required check of the guardhouse. He found the prisoners gathered in the corridor. One stepped forward to make a little speech. Only one man among them, he said, had ever had Christmas in his home. Now the lieutenant had given Christmas to them all. Their chances of ever doing anything for the lieutenant in return seemed remote, but they would always hope for such a chance, and if he ever called for any of them they would come, if possible, from wherever they might be.

After Christmas there was more moving, of which Mrs. Marshall at least was heartily sick. T h e 4th Infantry was transferred to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, arrived there in mid-February, and ten days later was ordered as part of the 2d Division to Fort Crocket t, near Galveston, Texas, some twen ty-six hundred miles away. The latter move reflected the emergency created by revolutionary developments in Mexico. President Madero, who had succeeded Diaz in i g i 1, was ousted by General Victoriano Huerta and a few days later (on February 22) murdered. To guard against border incidents in the resultant turmoil, President Taft wished to concentrate troops in Texas. The recent reorganization of the Army into divisions now proved its usefulness.


Instead of the usual swarm of War Department orders to each regiment or separate battalion, Secretary Stimson was able to boast that with a single order and a five-line letter he had been able to direct the concentration of the 2d Division under General Carter. Within a week 11,450 men (half the division’s authorized wartime strength) were on their way to Texas City and Galveston.

Marshall spent four months in Texas in command of Company M. On May 28, 1913, he had orders to move again, this time overseas. He had had nine years in the States and now was to go back to the Philippines to be assigned to the 13th Infantry near Manila. Mrs. Marshall was to accompany him but she would spend the hottest part of the year away from the Islands.

A twenty-six-day trip aboard the old transport Logan took  them from San Francisco to Manila, with stops at Honolulu and Guam. They arrived on August 5, ig 13, and Marshall joined his regiment at Fort McKinley, which had been under construction when he left Manila a little less than ten years before.

Ten years had changed the whole character of military service in the Philippines. I n the southern islands the Mohammedan Moros were still in rebellion but even they were at the end of their rope. Elsewhere the insurrection was history. American governors like Taft and W. Cameron Forbes had made considerable progress in preparing the Islands for self-government. In 1907 Taft, while Secretary of War, had come to Manila to inaugurate the first Philippine legislature. Wilson’s Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, was on record as favoring early independence, and shortly after Marshall reached Manila a new governor (the first Democratic one), Francis Burton Harrison, arrived with orders to speed the process.

As for the American Army, its view was turned outward, on guard against the possibility of invasion of the Philippines, especially from Japan. Japanese aggressiveness, displayed in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, together with the cooling of relations with the United States after the victory, had made Japan a Pacific neighbor to be watched. Her annexation of Korea in 1910 sharpened the danger. Relations with the United States were strained in 1906 and again in 1913 by California anti-


Japanese legislation, which the Japanese assumed the federal government should be able to control. Although the cloud over the Pacific was not very dark,35 it was sufficient to prompt the Philippine garrison to hold maneuvers designed frankly to test island defenses. It was one of those that was soon to provide George Marshall’s career with a myth of the kind familiar in the lives of heroes-the
moment when suddenly his native genius was supposed to stand revealed and one could no longer doubt that he was marked for the highest success.

Despite the vague menace of Japan, life in the Philippines was relaxed. There was no sense of imminent peril to the Islands or to the world. At Fort McKinley, where four to five thousand officers and men were billeted in buildings only completed in 1904, life was much like peacetime Army life in the States if one ignored the occasional green lizard that dropped into the soup, ants sometimes on parade over the living-room floor, the tarantula on the bridge table, plagues of grasshoppers, and, of course, the heat. From a professional point of view McKinley was superior to many, perhaps most, continental posts. Relatively large, it had a full regiment of infantry (the 13th), a regiment of cavalry (the 7th in 1913, later the 8th), a field artillery battalion, and attached signal and engineer units-all maintained at com- bat strength. It was possible, therefore, to carry out war games on a scale more nearly realistic than at any mainland United States post.

Fort McKinley was tailor-made for an ambitious young staff officer in training, and particularly for George Marshall, who found himself once more under the eye and wing of General Bell, now commanding general of the Philippine Department. After a few months Company F, to which Marshall was assigned, got a new commander. He was Captain E. J. Williams, who had been a student of Marshall’s at Leavenworth and had subsequently worked with him on maneuvers. Lowly as was the niche he filled in the tables of organization, the lieutenant was special, a marked man, and he knew it. It was not entirely a comfortable situation. Educated and experienced above his rank, he was caught, like many of his fellow officers, behind the hump of officers produced by the Spanish-American War. Having di-


rected the movements of thousands of troops, in his daily job he took orders from the commander of a hundred. Marshall recalled rather bitterly in later years that despite his teaching at Leavenworth and his work in maneuvers he was assigned to a post where for the first six months he never commanded a company for one day. “And yet the company commander was a dear friend of mine and had been a student under me at Leavenworth.” There were moments of frustration. It was perhaps at such a time, feeling both bored and cocky, that he made a foolish wager. He bet that the officer who next inspected his company would catch three minor faults and miss three major ones: that he would note the soldier who was unshaved, the soldier whose blouse was unbuttoned, and the soldier who lacked a bayonet, but miss three grave tactical blunders in a field exercise Marshall himself would arrange. T h e bet was won and regretted thereafter.38 A momentary triumph over a stuffed shirt proved not worth that officer’s lasting enmity.

Actually Marshall was very soon engaged on the project that, through a combination of accident, talent, and extraordinary devotion of energy, was to make his fame. He had arrived in August. In September he was assigned as adjutant to the “White Force,” scheduled to simulate an invasion of Luzon in January maneuvers, and was set to work with one of two planning detachments. Planning proceeded toward a target date, but the day of the attack was kept secret at General Bell’s headquarters until the last minute.

The last minute proved to be the morning of Janury 22. Orders were given to the commander of the White Force, a senior colonel on the brink of retirement, to concentrate his 4841 officers and men in the Batangas Bay area beginning immediately and finishing by January 2 5 . T h e troops were to be gathered from various posts in northern Luzon, transported by ship to Batangas, and put ashore by small boats. Once assembled, White Force was to move to attack Manila against 3245 defenders assigned to the opposing Brown Force.

Initial difficulties were typically of the kind that commonly mar any relatively green unit’s first leap into battle. A scarcity of small boats delayed the concentration forty-eight hours.  The


White Force commander proved to be “a courtly gentleman, a very nice fellow” (in his young adjutant’s words), and quite incompetent. “He rode in the spring wagon,” Marshall said, recalling the first days of the maneuver. “Every time we would stop [his zinc-lined] suitcase would be brought out and he would refresh himself against the Philippine heat.” I t was clearly no way to go into even a mock battle, and General Bell’s headquarters proposed to relieve him. Lieutenant Marshall then demonstrated his own unusual position and influence by arguing successfully against the move, which he feared would result in his getting a new commander more difficult to work with. The amiable colonel was left in command but under instruction to leave his adjutant free to act on his own.


Still larger responsibilities followed. T h e White Force chief of staff, Captain Jens Bugge, fell ill and had to be’ taken back to Manila. That happened on the second morning, just after Bugge and Marshall had arrived in the maneuver area. Since only Marshall had comparable knowledge of maneuver plans, it seemed logical that he should take over. So it seemed to General Bell’s  representative with White Force, Captain E. E. Booth, who was also aware that Marshall had been Bugge’s teacher at Leaven- worth. Disregarding the matter of rank, Booth named as acting chief of staff the man whose abilities he knew so well. General Bell confirmed the assignment. The highly unusual consequence was that a junior lieutenant wound up for all practical purposes in command of nearly five thousand men.

Lieutenant Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, who would be Chief of the Army Air Forces in World War 11, was there in Batangas and has recorded a memorable picture of Lieutenant Marshall lying on his back in a bamboo clump, glancing at a map and dictating precise field orders for the advance. Arnold was so impressed that he wrote his wife that he had just seen a future Chief of Staff in action.

Because of the lack of boats White Force could not begin the advance toward Manila until January 29. But for the next five days the invading troops moved smoothly to occupy successive objectives against a disorganized defense. The umpires did not declare a winner and the exercise was terminated before Manila fell. In the official report White Force was criticized for putting inadequate forces on its first day’s objective, but commended for thereafter keeping the units intact so that subsequent attacks could be made in strength. T h e chief umpire of White Force praised the field orders of the detachments and singled out Marshall’s work, noting that “sudden changes . . . placed upon Lieutenant Marshall . . . a severe task which he carried out successfully and for which he deserves great credit.”

Certainly it was a job well done and represented the acceptance by a junior lieutenant of unusual responsibility. But the myth born in Batangas did not come out of an umpire’s report. It had the breathlessness of rumor and the touch of extravagance such as to make General Hagood “remember” quite er-


roneously later that General Bell at the close of the maneuver called his staff together and said of Marshal!, “This, gentlemen, is the greatest military genius since Stonewall Jackson.” Bell did not say that and probably didn’t think it.44 He knew what Marshall had learned at Leavenworth. H e knew that for the job done the lieutenant had had probably better and longer special training than any other officer in his command; the intelligent, even brilliant, application of lessons well learned was admirable but not necessarily Olympian.45 Furthermore it could be observed that Marshall had planned more complex maneuvers in New England, involving more troops, and as assistant umpire and instructor had had intellectually more difficult assignments. Nevertheless, in respect to his performance in the Philippines, history has to reckon with two facts: a solid achievement and the appearance of a miracle. T h e achievement demonstrated the development of a fine staff officer; the extra glamour of the demonstration gave a dazzle to Marshall’s name that helped in the future to make sure that his associates and superiors did not forget him.

Marshall had not found the performance easy.  The strain under which he had worked for many weeks brought on an attack of “neurasthenia.” It was his second warning of the consequences of overwork.  The first had come some eighteen months earlier at the conclusion of the Connecticut maneuvers in which he had similar responsibilities and long working hours. On a visit to his wife’s uncle, Thomas Coles, in Brooklyn in August 1913,  he had collapsed and was found unconscious on the street. Treated by a civilian doctor, he had been found to have “acute dilatation of the heart.” Later Marshall described the malady to an Army doctor as being “a tight dry feeling” of increased tension and inability to relax.46 He felt himself that it was a warning to take it easy, but it was some time before he could learn to do that.

Directly from the maneuvers he went to a Manila hospital and stayed there nearly two weeks. General Bell on February 15 granted him two months’ sick leave, which was later extended by two months’ regular leave. Most of that time he spent with Mrs. Marshall in Japan, Manchuria, and Korea-in part a busman’s holiday. H e spent part of a month studying the Manchurian battlefields of the Russo-Japanese War. Despite the


edginess of Japanese-American relations, “Japanese officers . . .treated me royally.” He was “entertained by General Baron Fukushima, the Governor of Manchuria at Port Arthur, and by Lieutenant General Akiyama, their greatest cavalry leader, at Liaoyang. . . .” From Dairen, he visited nearby Nanshan Hill and Port Arthur, and then went to Telissu, Liaoyang, the Shaho, Mukden, and Antung at the mouth of the Yalu River. He then went to Seoul and Pusan before returning to Japan. He rode horseback sometimes twenty-five to forty miles a day and walked long distances besides. He found “the weather was perfect, the scenery in some places was magnificent,” and altogether the trip was tonic for muscles, nerves, and spirit.

Feeling that what he had observed was important for the Army as a whole, he reported in detail to the Adjutant General. While at Leavenworth (no doubt under the influence of Major Morrison), had made, he said, “a serious study of the events of the Russo-Japanese War” and had kept at it since then “with considerable energy.” After visiting the battlefields, talking to Japanese officers, who apparently freely discussed their own training methods,, , and witnessing Japanese troops in exercises, he “came away with a new idea of those fights and entirely different ideas as to the proper methods to follow in peace training.’’ For instance, he admired the Japanese handling of the bayonet. Unlike the Americans, he noted, the Japanese did not fence but rushed skillfully in such a way as to make “utmost use  of the momentum of the man.” He admired, too, Japanese training in the hand grenade, which he felt would be particularly important in any attack on, and defense of, the Philippines. Yet our own Army, he thought, had all but neglected grenade training; he doubted that there was a private soldier on Corregidor “who ever heard of a hand grenade.” Finally he thought an important lesson of the Manchurian War was the value of attack at night, involving special techniques and tactics in which Americans had not been schooled.

As a result of the report he had a lecture to give the officers of Fort McKinley on his return. But despite his unquenchable professional enthusiasms, he came back resolved to reduce the intensity of his life and teach himself to relax. He began the habit


of riding an hour or so before breakfast and of playing ‘tennis in the afternoon. When he could he went hunting. Among his hunting companions were “Hap” Arnold and Lieu tenant Courtney Hodges, who would command the First Army in World War II.

Fort McKinley for the most part followed the tropical routine, getting the bulk of the day’s work out of the way in the comparative cool of the morning, napping in the worst heat of the early afternoon. But it was not a routine to which the children on the post always took kindly. Marshall’s next-door neighbors had “very young, very little” children who customarily played between their house and his and organized baseball games during the hour of siesta with all the kids in the vicinity. “They made so derned much noise nobody could sleep.”  The lieutenant may have been annoyed, but he took the way out of a man who liked children: he didn’t try to lick them; he got up and joined them, I  “pitching for both sides and umpiring.”

“The catcher,” he recalled, “used a coffee strainer as a mask. I was very much afraid he would get hit on the coffee strainer, and it would take the skin off all around his head where the thing rested. The little children were out in the field, about two players for each position, one deep infield and one ‘way out’ infield. When they got the ball they would get so excited they couldn’t throw it. All they could do was yell. It used to get very exciting, and when the man at home base would plead with them to throw the ball in, they would throw it about twenty feet from him; with his coffee strainer he could never get the ball.”

In the evenings there was the usual garrison social life, frequent dances at the club, strolling and visiting, usually in formal dress, officers in white, their wives in dinner gowns. Soon after Marshall got back from his leave he bought a Model T Ford from Major Sherrill, the engineer officer who had taught with him at Leavenworth. The car helped break the monotony of life on the post. “We ride from twenty to sixty miles almost every evening,” he wrote a friend. “The roads out here are wonderfully fine-so much better than the roads in the States-and the scenery is magnificent.” As if to make sure that his enjoyment of motoring should be matched by learning some-


thing useful, he proceeded to take the engine apart to see how it worked. “I was not at all mechanical,” he explained, “but I just had to do it.”

In March 1915 the 3d Battalion of the 13th Infantry, to which Marshall was assigned, along with the ist, was transferred to Corregidor. Not long before the transfer Brigadier General Hunter Liggett, who had known Marshall both in Leavenworth and on the Connecticut maneuvers which he umpired, arrived in the Islands to command the Provisional Infantry Brigade at Fort McKinley. General Liggett had Marshall detached from his company and assigned to him as aide.50 Less than a year later Liggett succeeded Bell as commander of the Philippine Department, and Marshall accompanied him to his new headquarters in Manila. In both assignments he worked with Liggett’s other aide, a  former Leavenworth classmate and close friend, Lieutenant Beebe. Both men helped Liggett in the tactical instruction of his command. An aide usually went with him on inspections, taking notes as to points to improve. At other times he would send one of them to check on exercises or instruction. In a sense, they were continuing their staff and field training under a man whom Beebe considered one of the finest tacticians and strategists in the Army, “with the quickest and best answers to tactical problems of any officer I ever met.”

Japan’s swift action after the outbreak of the European war in 1914 to improve her position in China by seizing the former German concessions in Shantung and by making a number of heavy demands on the badly divided country increased American fears for the safety of .the Philippines. In an effort to see how a Japanese invasion from the direction of the Lingayen Gulf might be stopped or delayed, Liggett at the end of 1915 ordered a staff ride for his officers u p the central valley of Luzon to the gulf. Marshall, who had spent some months poring over the War Department’s reports on the battles during the Philippine Insurrection and had visited many of the battlefields, worked out a plan for a two weeks’ ride, January 14-29, 1916.  Reinforced by maneuver experience, it led to the general conclusion that the Japanese could successfully land if they wanted to risk the invasion.


Liggett, in this past year, was having another and closer look  at the young officer he had long admired and becoming convinced that in case of war he would like very much to have Marshall under his immediate command. That in fact would happen soon-sooner than anyone then expected.


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