1-159 Memorandum for the Deputy Chief of Staff, A.E.F., March 20, 1919

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 20, 1919

Memorandum for the Deputy Chief of Staff, A.E.F.

March 20, 1919 [Chaumont?], France

Proposal of Brigadier General Evan M. Johnson,

79th Division, regarding lectures.1

1. I concur with General Johnson that some action is necessary to bring the personnel of our army to a proper appreciation of what has been accomplished by the American Expeditionary Forces, in order that the petty difficulties, grievances and jealousies may be submerged by a proper appreciation of the wonderful accomplishments achieved by our military forces in France. To develop in officers this just appreciation of the American effort, it is necessary that they should have a picture of the extent of the organization built up over here, the character of the difficulties overcome and the magnitude of the active operations of our armies.

A lecture tour on which General Drum, Colonel Howe [Howell] and myself have been engaged has the foregoing for its purpose, and I believe is accomplishing its object.2

2. I think it very important in carrying out any effort to educate our officers along the above lines, that great care should be taken to avoid giving the impression that G.H.Q. is on the defensive and is endeavoring to explain away the various criticisms which are now arising. For this reason I would hardly be in favor of presenting the matter quite after the fashion proposed by General Johnson. I believe the best way to achieve the results desired is to make a plain statement of the facts, covering a period from the arrival of General Pershing himself in France, up to the day of the armistice; first making plain the tremendous task which confronted him because of the lack of any plans or organization, which in itself is the best concrete example of our lack of preparedness, and culminating with a more or less detailed description of the operations of the First and Second Armies and of our divisions on other fronts. From such a talk, officers will unconsciously draw definite and, I believe, just conclusions, which will strongly tend to change their ideas regarding the efficiency of the Regular Army.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of General Headquarters (GHQ), Adjutant General File (AG), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Johnson’s letter of March 16 to Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, Second Army commander, reflected a growing concern among Regular Army officers over what they considered politically motivated “bitter attacks upon army administration and army officers.” Johnson wanted picked Regular officers to give lectures to National Army and National Guard units on the “remarkable” results the A.E.F. had achieved despite poor peacetime preparation. Such lectures, he supposed, would help prepare the men, when they returned to the United States, “to do their part in counter-acting any antagonistic sentiment which may be encountered, and to play their part in the creation of a proper system of national defense.” (NA/RG 120 [GHQ, AG File].)

2. Brigadier General Hugh Drum, First Army chief of staff, was transferred from the lecturing assignment in mid-April. Colonel Willey Howell, First Army G-2, ceased lecturing in early May, leaving Marshall to finish the series himself. Howell disliked lecturing and thought the troops regarded the talks as “G.H.Q. propaganda.” (Howell to Eltinge, May 14, 1919, NA/RG 120 [GHQ, AG File].) However, the commander of the Seventy-ninth Division wrote to request that Marshall deliver his lecture again. “Only a limited number of officers and non-commissioned officers could be present at that time, and they were so favorably impressed by this lecture that all considered it very desirous to have more officers and men in the Division hear the lecture.“ (Major General Joseph E. Kuhn to the Adjutant General, A.E.F., April 30, 1919, ibid.)

Marshall’s lectures were delivered from notes which have been lost. The slides he used are in the National Archives (RG 111). In 1942 a former sergeant and shorthand reporter in the A.E.F. sent Marshall a copy of the record of the lecture given on April 2, 1919, near Montabaur, Germany. (Patrick C. Kelly to Marshall, April 7, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Speeches].)

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), pp. 183-184.

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