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Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary
of War [Patterson]
October 28, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have arranged to move two units (one the 155mm gun regiment CAC, and one separate battalion, antiaircraft) from Fort Barrancas, and there will remain there only one Coast Artillery unit raised to war strength. It has been rather difficult to arrange this because we are already embarked on the construction program, and it is very important that no shelter be abandoned and that none be duplicated elsewhere. However, we think we have caught this in time to make such arrangements.
I feel that Commander Read’s statement regarding possible interference with Naval pilot training was a sound one, that there would be interference if antiaircraft and 155mm gun firing were carried out in that vicinity. However, for your confidential information, I would like you to know that when I talked to Mr. Forrestal over the `phone about this he remarked that one of the serious objections was the presence of the 155 gun regiment because it was a colored unit.1 I am passing this information on to you that you may see the contrast between what the Army is taking in this matter, and how firmly the Navy is standing to protect itself. Here we have an objection by the Navy to the presence of an Army colored unit in a nearby post, at the same time that the Army is being called upon to mix white and colored troops in the same unit or companies in the same organization.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. The Pensacola Naval Air Station Auxiliary Landing Field was 2.5 miles from Barrancas, Florida. Commander Walton R. Read’s statement is not in the Marshall papers. James V. Forrestal, under secretary of the navy, had written to Marshall on October 26. “Thank you very much indeed for your help to us on the situation at Fort Barrancas. We appreciate it a lot because we shall have to put a much greater strain on the facilities of Pensacola in the coming months, and the additional Army personnel, particularly with regard to the use of the ranges, would have made our problem difficult.” (Forrestal to Marshall, October 26, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) The Fifty-fourth Coast Artillery Regiment (155-mm gun) was scheduled to be activated at Fort Barrancas, Florida, but was transferred instead to Camp Wallace near Galveston, Texas. In mid-1941 it was removed from that post at the insistence of local whites. (Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 99-100, 146.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 342.