Education of a General – Chapter 08 – The Coming of the War

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

“He [Marshall] should be made a brigadier general in the regular Army, and every day this is postponed is a loss to the Army and the nation.” 
-Johnson Hagood in Marshall’s Efficiency Report, December 31, 1916.

It happens to many-perhaps to most-ambitious men: a day comes when they reckon their birthdays and their accomplishments to date and they see suddenly that not only is the time left in which to realize their dreams short, but it may not even be time enough. In October 19 15 Lieu tenant Marshall was fresh from his most considerable and conspicuous triumph as a military tactician; he was occupying a role of prominence and promise as aide to General Liggett. He had powerful friends in the Army at home and an unbroken record of high distinction in his career so far. Yet it was in that month that he sat down and wrote to his friend, the superintendent of VMI, General E. W. Nichols, that he was not getting anywhere and felt he ought to make a change. “The absolute stagnation in promotion in the infantry,” he wrote, “has caused me to make tentative plans for resigning as soon as business conditions improve. Even in the event of an increase as a result of legislation next winter [this was to develop as the National Defense Act of 1916, which considerably enlarged the


Army], the prospects for advancement in the Army are so restricted by law and by the accumulation of large numbers of men of nearly the same age all in a single grade, that I do not feel it right to waste all my best years in the vain struggle against insurmountable difficulties.” Clearly he thought he had already wasted a few of the best years. He was almost thirty-five, still a first lieutenant. And though by current Army standards he had by no means been an unusually long time in grade, it seemed to him, considering his age, that he was terribly near the bottom still. He had apparently thought so two years earlier. In the interim he had worked hard and achieved success but without, it
seemed, the tangible reward of pushing up ahead. That drive to excel which had goaded him incessantly since boyhood was at him with peculiar intensity. He had, he thought in these last years of youth, a moral obligation not to rest. “The temptation to  accept an absolutely assured and fairly soft living, with little or no prospect of reasonable advancement, is very great when you consider the difficulties and positive dangers of starting anew in civil life at my age. However, with only one life to live, I feel that the acceptance of my present secured position would mean that I lacked the backbone and necessary moral courage to do the right thing.”

Superintendent Nichols, of course, replied as a friend, with the facts that Marshall knew very well: that he was an assured and recognized success at his profession and that the Army would soon be enlarged and Marshall would then have a chance at a captaincy. “I would advise you to stick to it. If you do, 1 am sure in time you will be among the high ranking officers in the service.” It was modest prophecy but good advice. Probably Marshall did not really need it, but perhaps it helped soothe that moment of nightmare when a sense of failure coincided with a sense of advancing age.

It is remarkable that in this correspondence neither Marshall nor Nichols mentioned the outstandingly relevant fact of the time: the great war in Europe, with its threat to draw America in and provide Army officers with opportunities for promotion to overmatch their most extravagant dreams. The fact was that neither man, like the overwhelming bulk of his fellow citizens,


had any notion that the quarrels of the Central Powers and the Allies would involve the United States in war.

While in Europe in 1910 Marshall had had no presentiment of the coming conflict. Four years later in Japan he was shocked to hear a young German bitterly attack the British and sensed for the first time the hatred between peoples of Western Europe. Yet though the incident impressed him, it came into focus only in recollection afterward. Even after the war began he seems to have followed its course chiefly through various presidential proclamations of American neutrality, which it was his duty to read to units of the regiment, as country after country entered the war. Throughout his stay in the Philippines it was Mexico, not Europe, whose belligerence seemed relevant and threatening to him and to his fellow officers.

It will be recalled that when President Madero was ousted and murdered by the forces of Victoriano Huerta in February 1913 the War Department ordered the 2d Division to duty on the Texas-Mexico border. From that time until the eve of American entry into World War I the bulk of United States tactical forces was concentrated on the border or engaged in expeditions into Mexico. T o that extent, at least, the military posture of the nation was more alert than it had been before the Spanish-American War. The total United States regular force thus disposed was never more than the war strength of a division of regulars. With the calling out of the National Guard in the summer of 1916 this number was increased.

Despite advice that General Huerta as a strong man was the best guarantee of the restoration of order in Mexico, President Wilson refused to recognize his regime. He believed that both morally and in our own practical interest America should offer no help to a usurper whose object was to destroy constitutional Mexican democracy and return to the dictatorial system of Diaz.  He recommended a policy of “watchful waiting.” When in the spring of 1914 one of Huerta’s officers arrested a paymaster and
several crew members of an American warship who had come ashore at Tampico and declined to make the full apologies required by the United States after their release, Wilson asked Congress for authority to enforce his demand “for unequivocal


amends.”* Before Congress could act the American consul at Vera Cruz reported that a German merchant ship was about to land ammunition in that port for the Huerta government. The President thereupon ordered the Navy to seize Vera Gruz. Marines were landed within a few hours and Army units were dispatched at once from Galveston under Brigadier General Frederick Funston. At the head of a combined Army and Marine force of some seventy-five hundred, Funston occupied Vera Cruz until near the end of November. Well before that time Huerta had been forced to resign, largely because of United States hostility, and Venustiano Carranza had taken over the capital city.

Yet nothing was solved. There remained a general expectation in the United Siates that war might come. Congress regularized the status of volunteer enlistments and appointment of volunteer officers in case such troops might be needed, and appropriated two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for airships and other aerial craft.

In Mexico revolutionary groups continued to struggle fox power. Violence continued to spill across the border. Marshall, watching events with keen interest from his post in the Philippines, shared the opinion that war was imminent. His old friend and patron, General Bell, then in command of the 2d Division, had passed on to him a promise from the Chief of Staff of the Army that Marshall would be ordered home to serve on Bell’s staff if the General went to Mexico. Still in the Philippines a year later, the lieutenant wrote a friend that he feared he would miss “an advance on the City of Mexico” but hoped that he might “still be in time.”

In October 19 15 President Wilson recopizeci Carranza as de facto head of the Mexican government. While Carranza was to prove relatively durable (he remained in office until 1920) he was unable effectively to assert national authority over the factional leaders. In January 1916 America was shocked by a rebel raid at Santa Ysabel, and this was followed in March by a still more outrageous attack by Francisco Villa on American soldiers and civilians of Columbus, New Mexico.

It was an unusual case of acts of war perpetrated not by order


or even sufferance of a foreign government but despite it. America’s response was a similarly extraordinary military incursion into the territory of a friendly government, directed against some of its citizens but not against it. Six days after Villa’s raid, on orders of the new Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, a  punitive expedition under Brigadier General John J. Pershing crossed the border in pursuit of the bandit chief. Pershing was to remain in Mexico eleven months, without catching Villa and more remarkably without precipitating war with Mexico?

The Pershing expedition made its commander’s name (he was promoted to major general in 1916) and revealed the country’s military weakness. Although Pershing’s force had only one brush with Villa’s soldiers and a few minor engagements with Mexican government troops, its long march into Mexico under orders to avoid towns, and denied the use of Mexican railways by the Carranza government, stretched communications to the breaking point. To reinforce the expedition the War Department within two months stripped the United States of its mobile fighting force. In May the President therefore ordered the National Guard of the border states to federal duty. In June the order was extended to all states. By the end of August more than a hundred and forty thousand National Guardsmen were on active service.

While the Mexican crises showed u p the thinness of the nation’s border defenses, concurrent violations of our neutral rights at sea by both Britain and Germany raised larger questions of our ability to maintain our sovereignty. German submarine warfare, which took American lives in the sinking of the Lusitania in February 1915 and continued to inflict casualties on our nationals traveling the Atlantic in 1916, roused some Americans to demand intervention on the side of the Western Allies, and many others, more moderate, to urge a stronger Army and Navy to back the President’s stiffening policy toward both Britain and Germany. Public concern, thus variously stimulated, helped to drive the National Defense Act through Congress on June 3, 1916.  The act resolved the crucial and acrimonious debate over whether the United States in the twentieth century could continue to depend for defense primarily on the state militias. Wilson’s Secretary of War, Lindley M. Garrison, argued vigorously that it


could not. Despite the Dick Act of 1903, by which the militia had been required to conform to certain federal standards of  training and officer fitness, it remained essentially an Army of the separate states. Even if one were to get around Attorney General Wickersham’s opinion of 1912 that the militia could not constitutionally be sent out of the country, there seemed to be insuperable constitutional obstacles to bringing it under effective control and discipline. President Wilson, like Garrison, became convinced that the nation needed a genuinely national reserve force and that the state levies could not supply that need. He favored the scheme advocated by the Secretary of War and a
considerable body of regular Army opinion for a volunteer “continental” Army (modeled after the conscript armies of Europe), to consist of four hundred thousand reserves called up nationally by classes and periodically retrained.

But for various reasons the majority of Congress balked at this thoroughgoing national solution. T h e National Defense Act worked out a compromise, which Wilson accepted (though Garrison would not and resigned in consequence). The compromise set the national defense on a tripod: to the regular Army which was to be gradually expanded, and the National Guard which in case of war was to be drafted into the federal service, it added an organized reserve to consist of an Officer Reserve Corps and an enlisted reserve. The body of the enlisted reserve was to be drawn from regulars furloughed to it; the officers were to be trained at various approved colleges or at citizens’ training camps and commissioned on examination.

Neither of these ideas for a reserve component was new. A section of the Army Appropriation Act of 1912 had laid the legislative groundwork for an enlisted reserve by changing the term of recruitment from a straight three years on active duty to a term of seven years, four in the Army and three in the reserve. Veterans were also permitted to enlist in the reserve. Few men, however, were tempted to sign u p for such a long period at a time when Army pay and conditions of service compared unfavorably with the opportunities open to even untrained civilians. In the summer of 1915 the enlisted reserve numbered just seventeen men.


Creation of the Officer Reserve Corps accepted and extended experiments in training civilians which General Wood began in 1912 when he was Chief of Staff. In the summer of that year he opened two summer camps to give six weeks’ militdry training to students. Although the students had to pay their own way, they came in such numbers that more camps were opened the following year, and in 1915 similar training was organized for business and professional men as well. Best known of these latter camps was the one at Plattsburg, New York, which General Wood established when he became commanding general of the Eastern Department and which he publicized so effectively with his usual dash and enthusiasm that the whole scheme of citizen-officer training became known as the “Plattsburg idea.”

With the National Defense Act and the’summer camps the nation by the summer of 1916 had psychologically at least turned to face the possibility of war, but not the war that in fact was only about nine months away. The comparative vigor with which Congress legislated a defense establishment and the enthusiasm with which the young men trained in their summer camps were in response primarily to the challenge of Mexico. These expressed a national consensus in that direction that was especially welcome in contrast to the bitter division of opinion over the European war.

When Marshall sailed for home in May 1916 he expected to go shortly after his arrival to a ,regiment at Colonia Dublhn in Pershing’s command.  Instead he found himself assigned at the Presidio of San Francisco on the staff of General Bell as the General’s aide. Bell, no longer poised on the Mexican border, was commanding the Western Department and was, among other things, deeply involved in the new citizen-training program.   It was for that he needed Marshall’s help. Before reporting for duty Marshall was ordered to appear before a promotion board at Fort McDowell. T h e procedure, after the long wait, was swift. Unanimously recommended for his captaincy without examination-waived as a result of his Leavenworth training-he actually received his commission on August 14, nine years after he had become a first lieutenant, fourteen years after he had entered the Army.


The new captain plunged into a job that had familiar ingredients but a wildly unfamiliar setting. On behalf of General Bell he was to look into and recommend changes in the summer training of civilian volunteers at Monterey. T h e camp had been set up on the grounds of the Del Monte Hotel, “a beautiful and ideal spot,” the San Francisco Examiner commented, “although an incongruous one. T h e country and its natives seem to radiate peace and ease and the comfort of life. There is luxury and wealth at the
Del Monte Hotel. There is romance and glamour and decaying idealism at Monterey. There is classic literature and artistry at Carmel. There is the joy and sunshine of the vacation season at Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.”16 And in the midst of it all, twelve hundred trainees, aged eighteen to fifty-three, fashionable young men, ministers, lawyers, brokers, merchants, newspapermen, doctors-men whose idealism, though not decaying, was sometimes mixed. “They were all the hot bloods of San Francisco,” the General recalled. “I saw more Rolls Royces and other fine cars around there than I had ever seen collected . . . before.” It was quite the thing to do, to come to Monterey for a
month, where one experienced a fine blend of patriotic stimulus and holiday air, drills by day and the gaiety of the Del Monte Hotel at night.

Since they were not only volunteers but were paying for the privilege, they had been treated gently-too gently-by their instructors, many of whom were regular officers recalled from retirement. General Bell wanted the training made much stiffer, but he was also aware of the political dangers of clamping down too hard. Marshall approached the problem with the experience of the National Guard behind him and with just the right combination of professional poise and humor.

He pitched his tent on the first day along the path leading to the hotel and began to unpack his bedding roll that had been delivered,straight from the ship. As he worked, a circle of cunous trainees gathered. “I suppose there were ’fifteen to twenty lined up watching me, making a few clever remarks, to which he paid no attention.” He continued his unpacking though by now he knew what was coming. “The first thing on top was my saddle. But under it were two of Mrs. Marshall’s nightgowns, which had


been packed at the last minute. Then [came] a long string of stuff of hers which didn’t look anything like a bedding roll arrangement for the field. I finally got my stuff out, a heterogeneous combination of everything that was left at the house. . . . That made me famous. . . . Some of the men escorted me [to the hotel] for dinner [that night]. They made speeches [about] my field equipment.” And how did the captain take it? “They were awfully nice fellows;” the General recalled forty years afterward. “I came to know a good many of them . . . rather intimately.”

He liked their high spirits but he thought they needed-and probably would welcome-some tougher discipline. For two days he toured the camp, making recommendations for changes which he submitted to the camp commandant, Brigadier General William L. Sibert,lD before reporting to General Bell. General Sibert accepted some and then asked that Marshall be detailed to command a different training company each day so that he could personally check on them all. There may have been some malicious relish in the proposal (Sibert’s adjutant at least was “red-headed” at what he considered a junior officer’s meddling). If it was a case of giving the cocky newcomer an ornery horse to ride,
Marshall’s first company filled the bill.

The day began with maneuvers in the morning. Marshall’s company was in reserve; the men had almost nothing to do. No one minded; it was the end of the week anyway. For lunch a number of girls and wives drove down from San Francisco, bearing picnic baskets and champagne. They spread their viands under the oaks, and the men dined as soldiers ought. But it was too soon over, for the afternoon program was close-order drill, which was something else. T h e ground was rough, the picnickers sleepy, and the drill ragged, to say the least. At last Marshall called a halt and made a little speech. “You fellows came down here,” he said, “because you were enthusiastic to do something in this time of emergency and you are paying your own expenses. This morning you were in a maneuver and you hardly marched at all. You were in reserve, and sitting around resting. Then your wives and girls all brought out good things and you had champagne, and it has been quite delightful to sit under the trees. Now you are so 


exhausted from this war service you can’t do a damn thing. I’m going to go out there and drill you again, and if you can’t drill I  am going to march you in and report you as wholly ineffective.”

It was tough but good-humored, and it worked. “We had a very strenuous drill,” the General recalled, “and . . . they turned around that night and gave me a dinner at the hotel. I remember at the time I was called ‘Dynamite’ Marshall. But it was really quite a funny thing. . . . I continued friendships with them for many years. . . .”

When the Monterey camp closed, Marshall assisted in establishing another at Fort Douglas near Salt Lake City, Utah, of which he became adjutant under his good friend and most extravagant admirer, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Hagood. Out of  this experience he picked up for his record perhaps the most extraordinary praise any Army officer ever had in those routine efficiency reports on which promotion is based. To the form question of whether he would like to have Marshall under his command, Lieutenant Colonel Hagood wrote: “Yes, but I would prefer to serve under his command.” He went on to call him “a  military genius” and to recommend that he be made “a brigadier general in the regular Army, and every day this is postponed is a  loss to the Army and the nation. . . . He is of the proper age, has had the training and experience, and possesses the ability to cornmand large bodies of troops in the field.”

The Fort Douglas camp lasted a month. Toward the end of  September, Marshall was back in San Francisco, where he resumed miscellaneous duties as General Bell’s aide and assistant to the adjutant of the Western Department headquarter.   Here he was to remain until after Congress’s declaration of a state of  war with Germany.

By the summer of 1916 the United States, in them struggle to defend neutrality, had already moved far toward adopting the postures of belligerency, although there were many at this time who believed we had stronger grounds for protest against Britain than against Germany.

That summer most large American cities, staged preparedness parades. The President himself walked in the Washington parade on Flag Day, June 14, 1916. On July 22 Marshall witnessed one


in San Francisco in which trainees from Monterey took part. He was sitting next to General Bell and General Sibert on the reviewing stand when a bomb exploded in the crowd, killing six people and wounding forty-four. It was this incident that led to the arrest of Tom Mooney and the long judicial battle to affirm his innocence.

The preparedness movement gained momentum, but in 1916  preparedness measures were still calculated not so much to put America in condition to fight any particular country as to demonstrate the country’s will not to be intimidated. So in the summer of 1916, along with the National Defense Act, Congress approved a five-year naval building program, established the Shipping Board-through which the government was authorized to lease, buy, build, and operate a fleet of merchant vessels-and tacked onto the Army Appropriation Act a rider to set up the Council of National Defense PO co-ordinate industrial resources for defense.

At the same time political suspicion of militarism in the War Department culminated in the virtual destruction of the General Staff on which Root had counted to avoid the planless confusion with which the country entered its war with Spain. Although the General Staff was not blameless for its own near-demise, it received at least no encouragement either in its function of planning for possible war or in its continuing and losing struggle with the War Department bureaus for centralized control. When war
came, only nineteen General Staff officers were on duty in Washington, about half available to supervise the whole Army establishment, the other half to study a national strategy and prepare plans for the use of the nation’s resources in battle. Needless to say, there were few plans.

So far as public opinion was concerned, the decision to go to war against Germany was shaped in the end by the greater brutality of German violations of American rights (particularly through submarine sinkings), reinforced by inept German diplomacy, like the clumsy bid for a Mexican alliance, and by an increasingly potent image, fostered by Allied propaganda, of Kaiserism as the foe of humane ideals and civilized‘order. Following Germany’s declaration early in 1917 of its intent to resume unre-


stricted submarine warfare after February 1 , President Wilson broke off diplomatic relations. As sinking of merchant ships continued, he appeared in April before a joint session of Congress to ask that the actions of the German government be declared “to be in fact nothing less than war.” Against some bitter-end opposition both houses passed the requested resolution, and on the morning of Friday, April 6, 1917, the United States was at war.

For George Marshall the change meant at first more of the  same sort of work at a pace stepped u p to fit the emergency. General Bell at the end of April was made commanding general of the Eastern Department with headquarters on Governors Island, New York, and his aide had scarcely unpacked before being saddled with the job of helping to organize two reserve officers’ camps in the vicinity of Plattsburg, each to give three months’ training to twen ty-five hundred officers.

The confusion of the weeks and months following made a vivid impression on Captain Marshall that was to remain and help to shape the thinking of the Chief of Staff in 1939. General Bell reported ill with influenza, and during his absence in the hospital he left the office for some time to his aide, who visited him every day to report what was going on and “particularly to tell him of  the displeasure of his senior staff officers with my actions.”

The staff was upset because Marshall with directness and energy set himself to cut red tape and solve the problems that had to be solved. The camps at Plattsburg were receiving trainees but they were short of nearly everything the trainees needed. Worst was the shortage of blankets. There were none to be had from the department quartermaster. “I personally sent out to locate where we could buy blankets, mattresses, and things of that sort. Then I would send a message over to the quartermaster, the old colonel, to buy these and ship them by express.”

The quartermaster objected to the expense. “Finally, he came over to see me. . . . He wanted to bring to my attention what I was letting the government in for. I tried to make clear what he  was letting the government in for if he didn’t have the proper things there for the men.” Express bills, Marshall thought, weighed little against the possibility that the citizen soldiers might freeze to death and the Army be indicted once more by


public opinion for negligence, as it had been in the Spanish-American War. What really irritated the colonel was the implication that he and the rest of those long on the job needed to be told how to do it by a young newcomer, even if he did have the extraordinary right to speak for the commanding general.

“You must understand,” he said stiffly to the captain, “that we have been here for several years and we originally supplied these camps with what we thought was necessary. Now you come in with different amounts of all sorts of things and about every hour you want a new amount. How can you possibly believe you are right?”

Marshall believed he was right quite simply because he had studied the problems. Another of General Bell’s aides had analyzed the supply requirements of the training camps on the basis of the needs of a hundred men and had compiled a careful list of everything from pencils to kitchen stoves and rifles.  Afterward he visited the camps to check what they had against the list. He would then telegraph Marshall what the shortages were. Besides these messages, other telegrams were coming in almost hourly
from camps throughout the Eastern Department asking for all sorts of things, but mainly blankets.

When the colonel saw the captain’s list his manner softened. “He had never seen such a thing and, of course, it was a gold mine of information. He asked if he could borrow it. That made quite a change in him. . . . He was very much reassured and went ahead from that time filling the orders that came in over my desk.”

Marshall had other problems. His office on Governors Island was only a pleasant ferry ride from New York City. In the burst of patriotic enthusiasm following the declaration of war the young men who thought they might get commissions besieged the headquarters along with their political sponsors. “Everybody who was anybody . . . was trying to get in [to the training camps] and each seemed to feel that political pressure was necessary. I was trying to demonstrate that it wasn’t necessary. . . . I found myself then up against ex-President Taft and others, particularly from the wealthy of New York. J. P. Morgan and Company and other firms [like that] all seemed to think they could


get what they wanted right away. . . . I guess I stood [them] off  better than General Bell [could have] because I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me.” Nevertheless it wasn’t easy. “I  was using three phones . . . and being seen by everyone that came to the Island; . . . it was exceedingly hectic and I had to learn how to do business quickly.”

The confusion which George Marshall faced on Governors Island was typical of the turmoil in which America at last armed to fight. Nothing was ready; everything had to be done at once. Marshal Joff re, formerly commander-in-chief of the French armies, came to Washington as military head of a French mission to plead for immediate American reinforcements to bolster French forces and French morale severely shaken by the failure of the spring offensive. A British mission under Arthur Balfour was making similar pleas. More than two and a half years of trench warfare on the Western Front had exhausted the Allies. There were ominous signs of collapse on the Italian and Russian fronts. Washington was sympathetic, but, except for some cash and supplies and a detachment of destroyers dispatched under Rear Admiral William s. Sims within the first month, the President could only promise that troops would be sent as soon as possible. After signing the Selective Service Act on May 18, he decided that General Pershing should go to France to set u p a headquarters in Paris but for the moment would have no troops.

It was possible that Captain Marshall might go along. He  wanted to very badly. When Pershing arrived in New York preparatory to sailing he talked to the captain, who had been recommended by his own chief of staff, Colonel J. G. Harbord. But in the end nothing came of it. The trouble was that Pershing was unwilling to detach Marshall from General Bell’s staff, and he would not take Bell, who was also eager to go but in ill health.

Disappointed, Marshall wrote to his friend General Nichols that he would like very much to be sent to France with the first convoy of troops, due to sail soon. Nichols, on the point of going to Washington, said he would do what he could. Perhaps it was in fact Nichols who mentioned Marshall’s name at the War Department where they were picking the first troops and officers to goAcross the hall from the office in which Pershing had formed


his staff was the assistant chief of staff, General Bliss, whom Marshall had worked with two years before in the New York-Connecticut maneuvers. Finally, the man picked to form the 1st Division was General Sibert, who had been impressed with Marshall’s work at the Monterey training camp. And there may have been others who could have named and recommended him. In any case, Sibert on June 3 wired General Bell from Washington to ask whether his aide could be released as “a General Staff officer on my divisional staff and for immediate service abroad.”

General Bell was keenly aware of how much such an assignment would mean to Marshall, and he was too interested in Marshall’s career to stand in the way. It was, besides, a step toward just the kind of post for which he himself thought Marshall best fitted. “In event of war,” he wrote of his aide, “especially well qualified to perform the duty of chief of staff for corps or army or to command same.” The transfer was arranged and Marshall was already at work at General Sibert’s temporary headquarters on Governors Island when the general arrived from Washington.

The troops General Sibert was to command were to be organized as a division, but in fact neither the division nor a plan for putting it together was in existence. The four infantry regiments selected, the 16th, i8th, 26th and 28th, were all in the Southwest, some on guard patrol duty along the Mexican border. All were, of course, greatly under strength. They drew hundreds of men from other regiments and filled their command staff rosters with provisional, temporary, and reserve officers. They also drew new equipment-the 28th Infantry reported that it was “practically 100 per ce,nt new.”  The 18th Infantry observed that it had made itself over before sailing into a “strange organization, that had never existed before in U.S.”  All was done in the greatest haste, the object being to get the men across where they could at least be seen by the Allies even if it would take a long time to sort them out later into a fighting division.

Shortly before he left, Marshall found time to extend a favor to ten newly married second lieutenants who had brought their wives with them. Recalling his own honeymoon on the eve of  sailing for the Philippines, he told the men they would not be needed for a time and dismissed them, giving them two or three


days in New York. Later, when he checked on them after heavy fighting in France, he found that at least eight had been killed in action.

There was little enough time for his own preparations. He saw Lily off in early June for Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was to visit her brother. Then she would go to Lexington and remain there for the duration of the war. He had a few hours for shopping downtown-and then he was on board the Tenadores, where he shared a cabin with Frank McCoy and Lesley McNair.

Weary and disturbed by the weeks of confusion, Marshall found himself reassured by the sight of the trim sailors rigging a gun on the forward deck. At least the Navy was ready. But before he sailed even that illusion was shattered. He overheard the petty officer in charge of the gun crew announce that, alas, they had no ammunition. “I thought, My God, even the naval part isn’t organized and we are starting off to Europe!’’


Digital Downloads

VIII - The Coming of the War.pdf



Holding Rights: Public Information

Rights: Public Information

Language: english