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Mrs. Dorothy Cranfield Fisher,
Dear Mrs. Fisher,
I have read with interest your letter of February 7 urging the organization of a division open to all volunteers, regardless of race or creed. This matter has been given a great deal of consideration in the War Department, but reaction to it has been unfavorable for a number of reasons.
Probably the clearest lesson to be drawn from American military history is that the volunteer system is an ineffective and dangerous method of raising combat units. Used consistently until the time of the World War, it almost resulted in the defeat of our armies on several occasions, notably during the Civil War. In its place, we have developed scientific and orderly selective processes which proved their value during the World War, and any return to the old volunteer system would interfere with the proper functioning of these processes.
The formation of such a division as you propose would be highly experimental in nature. Although, as you point out, it would be an encouraging gesture towards certain minorities, the urgency of the present military situation necessitates our using tested and proved methods of procedure, and using them with all haste. It prohibits our initiating experiments except where they will lead to the fulfillment of pressing military needs.
In building the new Army, the War Department has made every effort to avoid racial discrimination, and the record shows that success has been achieved in this regard. There are negroes serving in every arm and branch of the service, eating exactly the same food as white soldiers, living in exactly the same type of quarters, and training with exactly the same weapons. Further, negroes are being trained for commissions in both the R.O.T.C. and Officer Candidate Schools, and opportunities for their promotion are being increased regularly.
I appreciate your interest in this matter and thoughtfulness in writing to me.
G. C. Marshall
Digital DownloadsReel 15 Item 548 Volunteer Division Open to All Races
CollectionAfrican-American Soldiers, Marshall Foundation National Archives Project
Call No. Reel 15 Item 548