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Memorandum for General Pershing
June 3, 1924 Washington, D.C.
I have read through this translation.1 It gives an inadequate idea of the American achievements in the war, especially in the Marne salient. The treatment of our operations in the St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne is patronizing in tone, and certainly does not err on the side of over-statement of what we did.
In the description of the Meuse-Argonne operation in conjunction with Gouraud’s Fourth Army, it seems to me everything about the latter is stated so as most to impress the reader and is devoid of any criticism, while the description of the First Army’s operations is very moderate in regard to achievements and in several instances includes pointed criticisms. No mention is made of the services of American divisions with the Fourth Army, but there is no failure to mention the French divisions with the First American Army. The reader would be led to believe that Gouraud’s army acted throughout with great dash and success, while we lagged decidedly behind, but did very well considering the limited amount of training our troops and staffs had had. In the finale of this battle General Fayolle ignores the presence of any American troops between Mouzon and Sedan. He gives the impression that General Maistre controlled your operations as well as those of the Fourth French Army from November 1st to 7th.2
I do not think there is anything to be said about this paper and I do not suppose they exaggerate their performances to our disadvantage much, if anymore than future American historians will exaggerate our performances to French disadvantage.
My own idea is that we should be scrupulously accurate in recording the achievements of the American army, leaving to the French their propaganda of astute depreciation. Then the historians of the future will take care of the matter.
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, Book File, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. The Army War College’s Historical Section had sent Pershing a copy of the translation of La Guerre Racontee par Nos Generaux.
2. Henri J. E. Gouraud commanded the French Fourth Army on Pershing’s right during the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne operations. General Marie Emile Fayolle commanded the Armies of the Center. General Paul A.M. Maistre commanded the Group of Armies which included Gouraud’s Fourth Army.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), p. 258.