Ordeal and Hope – Chapter 05 – Civilians in Uniform

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

Marshall’s speech at Fort Benning articulated his strong feelings on the subject of leaders for his enlarged Army. He was equally concerned with those who would have to follow the leaders. The task of making an efficient force, of maintaining morale, and of developing discipline in all the soldiers now entrusted to his care was more than an obligation for the Chief of Staff. It was an article of faith.

In 1939, when the Chief of Staff had enlisted volunteers to fill vacancies in the Regular Army, he had been able to find a sufficient number of them who could adjust fairly easily to pay of twenty-one dollars a month, primitive housing, and inadequate recreational facilities. The National Guardsmen, many of whom had signed up for weekly training sessions in their hometowns to make a little extra money or because they enjoyed the two weeks of field training each summer, and the new selectees, called from every walk of  life, were of a different breed. They resented the great, gulf that existed between their former status in the community and the low estate they now held as recruits. Especially galling was the gap between their Army pay and the rising salaries men with exempt status or uncalled draft numbers were drawing at home. The problem, as General Marshall knew, was that in wartime most soldiers recognized their duty to the nation and raised no outcry since most  of their contemporaries were engaged in similar service. The Army now faced the resentment of men who felt that the luck of the lottery had imposed on them an unfair sacrifice. In their discontent they had the sympathy of their families, their hometown newspapers, and local political leaders, all prepared to blame the Army.


Marshall saw clearly the risks that he faced as soon as the Selective Service Act was passed. Rather wryly he wrote General Craig in September 1940: “You were good enough to predict that the coming twelve months will not be so hard, but I rather anticipate the next three months as being the hardest of all because it will be the first experience of a troop concentration of the National Guard and probably compulsoryiservice trainees in the time of peace.” He expected trouble from the press and that, “captious criticisms” were bound to come his way. “However,” he added, “I will continue to follow your scheme of ‘doing my damnedest and to hell with the result.’ ”

The next four months proved him to be a more accurate prophet than Craig. In one of his occasional informal reports to his old mentor and longtime friend, General Pershing, he wrote of the rapid increase of the Army and the problems it had brought. “We had about 600,000 Jan 1; we have about 775,ooo at the present time, and I understand we should approach 950,000 by the end of February.” Problems had multiplied even faster than men. “With rain, mud, storms, peacetime press supervision, flu, new National Guard units of varied efficiency and preparation, and a tremendous battle on the Hill, things are pretty busy.”

Of all his difficulties, the greatest in the early months of preparations was housing. For months before the passage of the Selective Service Act he had struggled in the toils of post construction, a constant barrier to progress until near the end of the war.  The temporary buildings on World War I posts still owned by the Army had so deteriorated during a long period of nonuse or neglect that Marshall complained that an umbrella was often “as useful inside a building as it was outside.” With thousands of men coming in weekly, even these inadequate buildings were soon overrun.

Soldiers in the field can and often do sleep in the open, in tents, ditches, or improvised shelters. After months of hardening, men can live and even thrive under extremes of discomfort and exposure that ordinarily would be intolerable. But the transition from decent homes to the rigors of the field would scarcely have been tolerated by draftees and National Guardsmen even if the Army had been willing to risk the serious outbreaks of illness and the chorus of protests that would come  from the men and their fami-


lies. Marshall warned congressmen as the Selective Service bill neared passage in the summer of 1940 that “shelter is a serious problem.” To all who would listen he argued: ‘‘We have known for some time where we want to put these people. We [have] decided on the type of shelter to be erected and have plans and specifications for it. . . . We have neither the authority nor the funds, and time is fleeting.”

As he spoke it was already too late to let contracts for buildings to be completed that fall. In September when the legislation was finally approved, he was faced by bad weather and poor working conditions, which imposed endless delays and vastly increased the costs estimates. An attempt to speed u p the construction program led inevitably to rising expenditures, and unexpected requirements for roads and streets and laying of drains added to the outlays. The War Department had escaped censure during the winter of 1939, Marshall believed, only because he was dealing with Regulars who were old-timers and “didn’t make any reclamers to the press and nobody heard about it.” The new men were more vocal, and the Army was soon under attack. In the spring of 1941 Marshall was forced to delay inductions until new barracks were completed, and he faced the unpleasant task of telling Congress that he had to have more money for camp construction. It was a ticklish subject, and he discussed in detail with his staff the best way to approach the committees waiting for him on Capitol Hill. Realistically he decided that the only course was one of complete frankness. With the candor that usualIy disarmed his toughest critics he accepted the blame for the delays and the increased cost. But he reminded the congressmen of their failure to act speedily on his requests when some of the delays might have been avoided.

The success of his appeal was not lost on Mrs. Marshall.  In the following year when she took advantage of the General’s absence to make major repairs on their home in Leesburg, she found that costs rapidly outran her largest estimates. On the General’s return she showed him the improvements and then added shrewdly, before showing him the bills, “Remember your testimony . . . on the construction of camps. It costs more to do things in a hurry.” In her case candor also paid off. “There isn’t going to be any investigation of this job,” he said with a grin.

The mounting criticism of the Army’s construction program led


indirectly to the establishment of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National defense program, which brought to public recognition its chairman, Senator Harry S. Truman, Democrat of Missouri. Concerned over charges of waste and favoritism in the building of Fort Leonard Wood in his home state, the Missourian in March 194 1 proposed his special committee. Roosevelt, Stimson, and Marshall recalled the Joint Civil -War Committee, established by Congress to oversee the conduct of that war, which had ended by interfering actively with operations. Recognizing the problems that a politician intent on advancing his own fortunes could create by irresponsible charges and indiscriminate hauling up of military and civilian leaders before the committee, the White House and the War Department were alarmed by the proposal. On reflection, General Marshall argued that it was not prudent for the Army to take a defensive attitude toward the Truman Committee or any other that might be established by Congress. “It seems to me,” he declared, “that a free and easy and whole-souled manner of cooperation with these committees is more likely to create an impression that everything is all right in the War Department, than is a resentful attitude, and that it must be assumed that members of Congress are just as patriotic as we. . . . My guess is that in the current investigations, no one is going to hurt the Army and I do not believe that we should adopt an attitude of official nervousness.”

His healthy attitude toward Congress and Truman’s handling of his duties created an atmosphere in which the Special Committee helped protect the War Department against outside attacks and found and permitted the correction of many abuses before there was chance of scandal.  What might have been a serious embarrassment became an asset, and the responsible action of Senator Truman helped to place him in line for the vice-presidential nomination in 1944. His cooperation with General Marshall in this period helped lay the basis for mutual trust between the two men that resulted in the closest friendship of Marshall’s later career.

Delays in construction and excessive costs severely tried the patience of the Chief of Staff, but he saved his choicest profanity for the War Department system and the lack of imagination of a staff that permitted generations-old inertia and an antiquated set of  regulations to delay the movement of mat6riel to troops in the


field. His first showdown with the foot-draggers of his own organization came during his first winter as Chief of Staff.

The explosion grew out of a visit to Fort Benning soon after units of the 1st Division had moved there from New York and attempted to adapt to the rigors of an unusually cold winter. Seeing the men standing around in the cold, he ordered rough lumber sent down so that the men could build shacks “where they could open their mail or have a first-aid shelter.” As he visited various units during his inspection, his orderly – Sergeant James W. Powder – was approached by one of the first sergeants for aid in getting extra blankets or quilts to meet the severe shortage that they faced.  The General at once promised to see that additional covers were shipped and instructed Powder to remind him of the matter on their return to Washington. Some weeks later, once again at Benning with the General, Powder was approached by the same first sergeant, who said, “You’re a helluva of a fine friend.” When he asked, “Why?” the sergeant retorted, “We are still waiting for them quilts.” As the Chief of Staff was going into dinner that evening Powder told him of the incident. The Chief of Staffs mouth hardened and his cheeks grew red. “That was the first time I had ever seen anger in his face,” Powder recalled. “We’ll find out why they weren’t sent,” Marshall snapped.*

Back in Washington a few days later, Marshall called in members of the Quartermaster staff. He was “outraged” to find that the officials, unable to find proper authorization for the blankets and  quilts, had handled the matter in a routine way, demanding through the frozen channels of normal communication that proper requisitions forms be submitted. When he asked for a report, one of the officers responsible for the delay said that he had “fixed up” the matter and nothing more would be heard of it. This combination of formal washing of hands and sweeping the dirt under the rug infuriated the General. “I am not worried about not hearing any more about it,” the General exploded, “I want the matter arranged.” Bluntly he ordered, “Get these blankets and stoves and  every other damn thing that’s needed out tonight, not tomorrow morning, and not two weeks from now. I don’t care what regulations are upset or anything of that character. We are going to take care of the troops first, last, and all the time.”

When his anger subsided he concluded that the trouble lay less


in bureaucratic indifference than in “the pinchpenny policy” the Army had been forced to follow for years. Many of the officers had become so sensitive to criticism directed at them by congressional committees that they seemed convinced that “the main purpose of  the War Department was to operate in a way that no congressman could possibly criticize [the Army] for ‘spending any money.’ ”

Until the reorganization of the Army in 1942 permitted him greater control over the situation he pounded unceasingly at his supply staff to move clothing and equipment to the field. He laid down his most famous dictum on supply when he learned during one of his trips to the field that most of the units had shortages in supplies of clothing. When he complained to his supply chiefs they showed him inventories of well-stocked warehouses and stacks of requisitions being processed. He was not impressed by the lists, reminding them that recently, after he had been told by the Quartermaster that the Fort Myer Post Exchange had socks, he had been unable to buy a pair for himself. He suggested that they deal with units in the field as if the War Department were a mail-order company trying to dispose of surplus stocks. He declared crisply, “I am interested in the soldier having his pants.”

From the major task of moving basic supplies to field units he turned to the knotty problems of meeting complaints over food and clothing and recreation. He was haunted by the recollection that thousands of soldiers at the close of World War 1 had believed the Army had no interest in their welfare and made no effort to better their conditions. Their bitterness remained with them on their return to civilian life, where they became critics of the peacetime Army. He wanted no battalions of discontented veterans to fight the War Department in the years to come. Some officers misread his purpose, saying that he listened too much to “cry-babies.” But he was not being naive or soft-headed. He had served long enough in the sun and the cold and the battle to know the difference between a private’s “beefing” and justified protests. All soldiers complained about their food, the hours of drill, the unfairness of inspections, and the stupidity of their officers. This type of complaint he took for granted and joked about it with civilians who took it seriously. He took great pleasure in informing anxious parents and clucking congressmen that the “starving” recruits over whose waistlines they were worrying had gained fifteen or twenty


pounds during their early weeks in service. Propaganda to get a cake or cookies from home, he laughingly told members of the American Legion in 1941, was responsible for many of the complaining letters.

His natural skepticism as to the seriousness of complaints so long as they remained on the level of those expressed by college students or boys away at summer camp for the first time did not blind him, as it did many of his subordinates, to the importance of guarding against subtler causes of discontent. “Soldiers will tolerate almost anything in an officer except unfairness and ignorance,” he told his colleagues. “They are quick to detect either.”

From long experience and instinctive sympathy for the feelings of the individual he struggled to eliminate small things that could build dissatisfaction and resentment. He protested when a member of his staff suggested that the War Department save on construction costs by following the World War I practice of leaving barracks unpainted24 Years before, as a young officer in Oklahoma, he had been able to develop pride among the sergeants’ wives who lived on Soapsuds Row by offering to paint kitchens in return for  clean front yards. He said in 1940 that soldiers in World War I, moving rapidly through camps to overseas billets, had paid little attention to the nature of the barracks. In these times of peace when they might have to live for months in the same drab buildings, it was essential to provide some element of dignity in the men’s surroundings.

Having been burned black by the sun in a Texas summer and nearly frozen in northern New York and in unheated quarters in France, he knew at first hand the discomforts men had to suffer. He saw no reason, while there was no fighting, why the Army should not eliminate those unpleasant elements of training that added little or nothing to the soldier’s preparation. When pertinent, he authorized and praised training in the California deserts or in the mountains of Colorado for men’ who were to fight in these environments. But in the prewar period, when a well-wisher proposed that men wear: steel helmets in training, he wrote that this article of apparel “was developed and worn in the climate of Europe, and you can fry eggs on it in Arizona and could have broiled a steak on it in August at Manassas.” For the moment he preferred to forgo this item of realism.


He recognized the soldier’s distaste for uncomfortable and ill-fitting clothing, and he campaigned for tailor shops on each post to make uniforms less ridiculous in appearance; he also encouraged experiments with caps and jackets and shoes that combined comfort with neatness. In these efforts he and his associates were often defeated by cost or tradition or the sheer lack of time. He sometimes received officers while sitting on the floor, with members of the Quartermaster Corps, examining a new shoe or a jacket that had been ripped open so that he could check it personally for service and comfort.

From the time of his first command in the Philippines when, as a  twenty-one-year-old second lieutenant, he had tried to find means of providing amusement for a company in a remote part of Mindoro, he knew the importance of proper recreation to morale. Shortly before he came to Washington, when he was dealing daily with discipline problems at isolated camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Oregon, he drew up a recommendation that places be provided reasonably close to posts where men could get away briefly from the routine of barracks life. His transfer to the War Department came before he could put the plan into effect, but he recalled it two years later as men began to flow into Army camps throughout the country. Often located in isolated areas or near small towns because of the need of placing them in sparsely settled country that afforded open fields for training and maneuver, the camps at the beginning provided no recreational facilities. Often the nearby towns were helpless to cope with the thousands of restless soldiers who came on pass over the weekends. In 1940, before the large expansion of the Army began, the Chief of Staff ordered the construction of tented recreational camps some miles away from large posts. These simple accommodations were free, and their meals set at prices ranging from fifteen to thirty cents. Nearby communities cooperated in providing local entertainment.  The first camps were located along the Gulf Coast of the United States; by midsummer 1940 plans were on foot for similar centers in other parts of the South and in the Middle West. By mid-July The New York Times was praising General Marshall for solving the Army’s recreation problem, announcing that by fall he would be able to provide room for 20,000 men.

Before the end of the year the Chief of Staff had an alarming


situation on his hands. His modest recreational centers were hopelessly inadequate to accommodate the tremendous influx of National Guard and selective service troops. Soon the General was confronted by the same problems of drinking, prostitution, and disorder that he had fought in Tientsin as a regimental executive fifteen years before.

In an effort to judge the seriousness of the situation for himself, Marshall had set off some time earlier on a Haroun al Rashid trip to a small southern town near a large military base. Wearing civilian dress, he checked into a downtown hotel and then at about 6:30 that evening walked out to find a place to eat. Milling crowds of soldiers jammed every restaurant, and scores of men stood waiting for every available seat. It was nearly four hours later before he found a place at a lunch counter where nothing was left save “some warmed-over biscuits and things of that sort.” After finishing his unpalatable meal he sought fresh air in the central part of the town. Every bench in the city square was filled, and hundreds of men wandered about aimlessly. Marshall was disturbed at this complete lack of any recreational facilities. He returned to Washington convinced that without some improvement there
would soon be “an outbreak of some sort or other” in towns overwhelmed by thousands of soldiers on pass.

Near Christmas, 1940, Marshall and Stimson took the first step toward solving the problem by appointing members of a War Department Community Service Committee to plan recreational activities for soldiers. Frederick Bsborn of New York, an old friend of Franklin Roosevelt’s who had worked with the Army Red Cross in World War I, was selected as its head. He joined the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel William Draper, and Charles P. Taft on January 3, 194 1, in a careful survey of what had been done in World War I and what could be set up to meet current problems. T o achieve coordination on the broadest basis possible, Secretary Stimson and Secretary of Navy Knox appointed a
Joint Committee on Welfare and Recreation. Out of their efforts eventually grew the United Services Organization-the USO-  with its program for providing halls where servicemen on leave could buy light refreshments at reasonable prices, find a congenial spot to write letters, listen to records, or dance with partners selected by local committees. Later the organization sent out travel-


ing shows to camps throughout ehe country and eventually to every theater where American soldiers, sailors, fliers, and marines were in combat. Once the program was established, General Marshall left the supervision of the Army side of it to Secretary Stimson and his civilian aides, but he never lost interest in its activities or discounted its tremendous importance in maintaining morale.

The USO was a brilliant triumph, but Marshall never forgot that the morale of troops in training and headed for combat had other more basic foundations. Matters of heaI th, food, promotion, mistreatment by superiors, housing-any one of these could cause sullen resentment within the ranks and ultimately break out in severe criticism by parents, congressmen, and the press. By the spring of 1941 he had concluded that many commanders in their proper concentration on training had allowed it “to cloud the issue of cause and effect as to morale.” T o stress the degree to which he valued this function, he made the Morale Officer, formerly an assistant to the Adjutant General, a brigadier general and head of a special branch. “Morale,” he reminded his generals, “is primarily a function of command,” putting them on notice that they would be held strictly responsible for eliminating those, issues that created special problems.

Marshall warned the members of his own staff in Washington that they must be vigilant in removing causes for complaint and in improving conditions at posts throughout the country. No matter how hurried his visit to a distant camp, he asked what Washington could do to improve conditions. He deliberately tried to find at every headquarters some deficiency he could correct or some item that could be supplied. A part of his technique, as he stood near his plane ready to depart, was to question a commander, penciling the request in his pocket memorandum book. On the day of his return to Washington the items were transferred to a list that was quickly circulated to the staff sections concerned. “I reached my office this morning,” he wrote one division commander in a typical communication, “and have immediately taken up the matter of getting some additional authorization for construction at your camp.”  He did not add that his staff knew that the best way to gain forgiveness for its previous sins of omission was to break all records in filling the request.

At the end of one of his quick sweeps across the country in late


March and early April he showered on the chiefs of his principal staff divisions demands for investigations of complaints or corrections of problems that he personally had spotted. His questions were sharp, pointed, and demanded immediate action: Why was there a shortage of shoes at the Reception Center at Monterey, a shortage of hospital equipment at Fort Sill, a delay in the delivery of laundry machines at Camp Beauregard, a delay in construction of recreation facilities for Negro troops at Camp Glaiborne-a service club, a tent theater, and a guest house-a failure to reply to the 367th Infantry’s request for field manuals, a lack of basic issues for the 18th Field Artillery, and no books for the new recreation halls at Camps kivingston and Glaiborne? He had also noticed conditions that could be improved or solutions adopted to improve morale and passed them on for further study. Was it feasible to have
air-conditioning in hospital rooms in the Louisiana camps? How about more general use of the shoulder patch to improve unit pride? Send some oil to Camp Bowie, Texas, to keep down the dust. Look into the matter of sun helmets for flying cadets and, while checking on that, note that newly inducted men at various camps are showing severe sunburn for lack of proper field headgear. On trip after trip, the list grew in length and diversity.

He was equally vigilant in dealing with complaints from political sources. One evening the wife of a Whode Island senator leaned across the dinner table to say she had heard that 80 per cent of the men in Camp Stewart, Georgia, were sick. Next morning he requested a report from the commanding officer. By the following day he was able to assure her that there were forty sick out of an enlisted strength of 1516. A congressman called to report that visitors to the headquarters battery at Fort Hancock, New Jersey, had found the men were being served bad eggs, not allowed cereal for breakfast, and fed from unsanitary kitchens. At once he demanded an investigation and improvement of c0nditions.

Few complaints received the special care that he and Secretary Stimson gave those forwarded by Mrs. Roosevel t. Although interested in any case of neglect or mistreatment, the President’s wife acted as the special advocate of Negro troops. Hundreds of Negro parents considered her office a special court of appeal for their problems. She made no effort to pass on the correctness of their complaints but quickly sent them on to the War Department for


proper action. On arrival, all such letters were “flagged” with a  distinctive slip of paper, indicating that these must be acknowledged immediately and action taken at once to investigate the matter. If basis was found for the complaint, the report also had to indicate what, corrective measures had been taken. As the Army grew and the number of complaints increased, with Mrs. Roosevelt’s extension of her inquiries to cases of alleged discrimination against enlistees formerly active in liberal or radical organizations who were now seeking commissions in the Army, General Marshall assigned one or two members of his staff to see that all complaints from the White House were carefully examined.

In order to sample for himself the woes and complaints of men in uniform General Marshall early in his tour at the War Department directed the Secretary, General Staff, to prepare a summary of all messages received from men in the service and from their families, giving names and addresses and the main points of their letters. He estimated that he spent twenty minutes a day on these in the prewar years and personally answered at least six of them daily.  If a gripe had merit he sent it on to the soldier’s division commander, directing an investigation and correction of any abuses that might be found. Perhaps the high point of his leniency came when a soldier mailed him a tough steak as undeniable evidence of the poor cooking inflicted on his company. In passing on the letter to the man’s commanding officer, Marshall said that he could not send the steak since it had reached a point “where it has to be disposed of” but that it hinted at a poorly run mess “for which I find few excuses.” Noting that he was putting the man out on a limb by revealing his name, he warned the
officer that there might be something in the complaint, adding, “So do not kill him until you have looked into it.”

Until the coming of war the General went to amazing lengths to grant what he considered to be reasonable requests for changes in stations, for transfers to positions offering better opportunities, and even to requests by former patients of an Army doctor that he be transferred to a hospital where he could practice his specialty. On the day before Pearl Harbor he forwarded to a divisional commander the moving letter of a sergeant formerly assigned to Pershing’s headquarters who admitted that he had been badgered by his daughter and her mother-in-law into asking that his young son-


in-law be assigned to a base near home. Marshall wrote that the War Department usually kept its hands off individual assignments but that the letter appealed to him “as rather pathetic” in view of the fact that the poor sergeant was being actively besieged by the two women. Marshall said if there was a vacancy in Florida and the man could fill the bill, to send him down.

It was not enough to correct ills and watch for telltale indications of discontent. Marshall was convinced that men fought better and were less inclined to protest if they understood why they were in the service and what they were contributing to the nation’s defense. “Do they know what is going on and why?” he asked his Inspector General in the spring of 1941. He directed the various Army commanders to make a spirited effort to explain to all soldiers the nature of the heritage they were defending, and why it was necessary that they do their part. Special textbooks were developed on American history and international relations, and officers were appointed in each headquarters to lecture once a week or oftener in the School of the Citizen Soldier. The program was beset by difficulties in the prewar period, and General Marshall proceeded warily for fear of “being charged with conducting a propaganda service under the power of military control and in opposition to the minority group in Congress.”    It suffered also from the inability of commanders to find effective speakers in many units and the deadly effects of prepared lectures indifferently read to bored troops. A strenuous effort was made to improve the program by sending out special lecturers and by instituting discussion groups. General Marshall continued to be dissatisfied with the results until after the coming of war, when it was possible to prepare a series of movies on “Why We Fight” that proved to be almost universally popular and effective in putting across the message he desired.

The question of morale, as Marshall knew, did not stop with removing the negative factors that created complaints. There was a need for leadership and discipline and spirit to supply the element that made men fight. In a speech in June of 1941 at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, he declared: “Today war, total war, is not a succession of mere episodes in a day or week. It is a long-drawn-out and intricately planned business and the longer it continues the heavier are the demands on the character of the men


engaged in it.” It was true that war was fought with “physical weapons of flame and steel,” but it was not the possession of the arms or use of them that decided the issue. “It is morale that wins the victory.” This intangible element, he continued, is a state of mind. “It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty. I t is dun, esprit de corps, and determination.” Above all, “It is staying power, the spirit which endures to the end-the will to win.”

The elements that went to’make up morale depended heavily on the new type of discipline he wanted for the citizen army he was developing. The older type of discipline, he declared, “was the objective of all that monotonous drilling which, to be honest, achieved obedience at the expense of initiative. It excluded ‘thought’ of any kind. As an old drill sergeant put it one day, ‘Give me control of the instinct and you can have the reason.’” But that type of Army was gone. “Theirs not to reason why-theirs but to do or die” did not fit a citizen army. T h e new discipline was based on “respect rather than fear; on the effect of good example given by officers; on the intelligent comprehension by all ranks of why an order has to be and why it must be carried out; on a sense of duty, on esprit de corps.” 

To the cynical among his hearers, it may have appeared that he was still saying that soldiers must do what they are told. And indeed that was what he meant. But the individual must be given a reason for his obedience. ‘‘From a moral standpoint,” Marshall argued, “there is no question as to which of the two disciplines is finer if you admit that respect is to be preferred to fear; the white flame of enthusiasm to the dull edge of routine; the spiritual to the  instinctive.” It was a large order but worth trying.

In the days when the United States was finding it difficult to prepare for war in time of peace, General Marshall’s patience and his understanding of the problems of the civilian turned soldier eased the process of raising the Army. An able historian, Dr. Kent R. Greenfield, chairman of the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University, listening to Marshall explain his program at Baltimore in the spring of 1941, found his skepticism about some of the Army’s program being swept away as the tall soldier carefully explained what he was trying to do. Impressed by his sincerity and his humanity and understanding, the scholar who one day was


to direct the Army’s historical program recorded the impact made by this unusual officer. “If he represents our Army, the American Army is yet a part of the American people,” Greenfield wrote. “He pointed out the time consumed by working in a democracy, but with no impatience. He evidently thinks the advantages are worth the waste of time.”

The willingness of the Army Chief of Staff to listen to the complaints of the newest recruit and, more important, to correct them if they were well founded was the essence of democracy. And that, as Marshall and Stimson never let their colleagues and subordinates forget, was what the fighting was about.


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