1-052 Report to the Chief, Division of Militia Affairs, January 1, 1912

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 1, 1912

Report to the Chief, Division of Militia Affairs

January 1, 1912 Boston, Massachusetts


I have the honor to submit the following report as Inspector-Instructor on duty with the Organized Militia of Massachusetts, for the quarter ending December 31, 1911:

During October my office hours were occupied in preparing a report on the maneuvers of the past summer, in preparing data for the correspondence schools, and in assisting in business connected with the Adjutant General’s Office. My evenings were occasionally devoted to conducting schools.

From October 26th to November 30th I was engaged in visiting the majority of the infantry companies in the state. Where it was not possible for me to visit a company, its officers were present at some other company’s armory. The principal purpose of these visits was to observe the manner in which company officers conducted their armory instruction; to start them off properly with the new drill regulations; and to give the noncommissioned officers a proper idea of their duties, how to give commands, lead their squads, platoons, &c. An effort was made to explain to all the officers and noncommissioned officers the possibilities of their position at the present time in connection with the National defense, emphasizing the suddenness with which they might be called out for active service; the consequent necessity for developing the discipline of their organizations during the armory season by properly conducted close order drills, &c; the meaning of discipline and its test in actual campaign, etc. I also conducted several schools on evenings during this month. During my office hours I was engaged in routine business and preparation of problems, &c., for schools.

In December I was occupied in preparing problems, solutions, and other data for six school courses, four purely correspondence and two correspondence supplemented by personal instruction. It was necessary for me to prepare this work in advance for January, February and March, as my time will be occupied from January 22d to the first week in March with the annual Federal inspections . . . .

I was also engaged during December in delivering lectures to officers and noncommissioned officers on the recent maneuvers, pointing out in detail the mistakes made, their effect, and methods for avoiding them in future.

I also visited the drills of three battalions of the high school boys. I deem this matter of sufficient importance to merit a separate report, which will soon be submitted.1


Observation of the state of efficiency of the National Guard organizations when they first arrive in camp in the summer, and of their methods of work in their armories, convinces me that the most serious defect in their system of training is a failure to properly understand the purposes of the close order drills. The latter are rarely ever conducted in such a manner as to develop discipline, and, as a matter of fact, they are usually so conducted as to hurt discipline and waste time. If the time now devoted to armory instruction is properly utilized, I am convinced that organizations can report for their summer tours of camp duty in such a state of discipline and so instructed in squad, platoon and company leadership, map reading, sanitation, supply, and minor tactics that their field instruction can be conducted along lines much further advanced than in the past.

To sum up: The present position of the National Guard in the first line of our military force demands that their field efficiency be greatly increased. They cannot undertake more complicated field exercises while reporting for summer camps at the state of efficiency they have in the past. The change must first be effected during the armory season; and to me it is apparent that during this period almost fifty per cent. of the working time has been wasted. Therefore the principal problem before us is to devise ways and means of obtaining more efficient armory instruction.


Obtaining recruits is one of the greatest difficulties with which a company commander has to contend. Of the methods employed in this state I think the scheme whereby corporals are charged with keeping their squads properly recruited is the best. This is made one of the most important of the corporal’s duties and if he cannot obtain suitable recruits, it is understood that he is not capable of being a corporal.

I think some clever mind must devise a scheme whereby a member of the National Guard is by law given some status, privilege, or position which gives him an advantage over other civilians eligible for enlistment in the National Guard. Exemption from jury duty is an unsatisfactory example of such a privilege. The other extreme would be the right to vote, others being ineligible. This last is, of course, wholly impracticable, but between the two something might be determined upon which would operate without cost to the state, would not make service compulsory, and yet would make it distinctly desirable for a man to have honorably served one enlistment in the Regular Army or National Guard. An addition of ten per cent. to the percentage obtained in a civil service examination has been suggested as an advantage to be given every man who is serving or has served an enlistment in the Regular Army or National Guard, but this would only be an advantage to the few who were desirous of obtaining a civil service appointment and therefore would not be sufficiently general in its application.


I have been contemplating the preparation of a memorandum for The Adjutant General of this state recommending that a special enlistment contract be prepared to present to a man on his discharge from the present state force. This contract to obligate the man for a period of three years to report to a designated rendezvous in case the state troops were called out by the Federal Government for active service. The average man always feels that he would enlist in case of war and also feels that there is little chance of a war occurring. For this reason I do not think a man would ordinarily hesitate to enter into a contract which required no service of him, other than his advising the proper office of any change of address, except in case of war, for which he would probably desire to enlist in any event.



I have already referred to the schools being conducted in this state. The present system of courses is probably more elaborate and comprehensive than in other states and it is still too early to report on its success. The school for enlisted candidates for commissions is apparently a splendid idea and is intended to offset the evils of promotion by election. This course is to be carefully prepared for next year in the form of pamphlets similar to those used in the commercial correspondence schools.

In all tactical problems an especial effort is being made to teach the officers the details of troop leading—how to execute orders in all the various details involved, from fighting to cooking. A weakness in this respect was apparent throughout the recent maneuvers.

The majority of the problems are being solved on the map used during the maneuvers and the problems themselves are frequently reproductions of situations that arose during the maneuvers. A war game map of a portion of this area is being prepared.

I think it exceedingly important that every state should have a map of ground with which the officers are personally familiar. This makes war games far more feasible and instructive, and the officers unconsciously learn how to read a map.


I think all the infantry organizations, and particularly some of the staff officers, have made good progress in their practical and theoretical work this fall. They take their work seriously and are laboring to correct all the weaknesses developed by the maneuvers.

Last summer after observing the many and surprising difficulties of company, battalion and regimental commanders, and of all the staff officers, in handling their organizations, when part of a large force moving as a unit from bivouac to bivouac, I am convinced that ordinary prudence demands that all state troops which have reached a fair state of efficiency should be maneuvered for about two days every summer as part of a reinforced brigade, bivouacing two nights, carrying everything with them, and not having a standing camp to return to.

Very respectfully,

G. C. Marshall, Jr.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the National Guard Bureau (RG 168), Camps, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Author-typed report signed.

1. This report was not found in the records of the National Guard Bureau (NA/RG 168).

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. 65-67.

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