Statesman – Chapter 29 – Retirement

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

Marshall’s last day as Secretary of Defense began quietly. At a staff meeting that September morning, he casually remarked, ‘‘At eleven o’clock I cease to be Secretary of Defense.” He explained that originally he planned to serve only six months but that President Truman had asked him to continue until the last day of June 1951, then asked him to stay until September 1. There was always a new crisis and no good time to go. Off the record, Marshall said he was resigning for personal reasons, in particular because he was worried about Mrs. Marshall’s health

He noted that he had just completed fifty years of government service, which included a year with the Red Cross, during which he traveled 35,000 miles. The past year had been marked by remarkable-cooperation with Congress, something he felt that we easily lose sight of. He praised the press in the Pentagon-his relations with newspeople had been fine. He paid special tribute to the outstanding Defense Department staff-the most efficient group, its work marked by integrity, competence, and genuine loyalty-that he had ever seen in time of peace. He had been very fortunate to have Lovett. There was no one in the United States with Lovett’s understanding of and competence for the job.

In conclusion, Marshall said that he could not take credit for what had been done. He had pushed a few things. Now he proposed to sit down and reflect and see what others were going to do.

Mrs. Rosenberg insisted that he review a group of service women before he left. Otherwise, he and Lovett, who succeeded him, saw the occasion as a simple changing of the guard. They had worked together and thought so alike that Marshall’s departure was regarded merely as a drive home to Leesburg. Lovett would now sign himself Secretary rather than Under Secretary, and continue to


work exactly as before. General Carter remained on Lovett’s staff, and Marshall asked Colonel George to work part time for the new Secretary.

Before World War II Marshall would have reverted to his permanent rank, major general, when he retired, and have been entitled to a pension based on his Army service. But in 1948 President Truman had recommended that Congress make permanent the rank of five-star officers-Leahy, Marshall, King, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Arnold, Halsey, and Bradley were to be retained on active duty with full pay and all benefits of a five-star general or admiral. Truman added that each man should have a government office, an aide, a secretary, and an orderly. The law establishing five-star rank provided that the order of priority set forth in December 1944, with the temporary five-star position, would continue. Admiral Leahy was the ranking five-star officer in the Navy, and Marshall held the same rank in the Army, a priority each kept until his death. 

Unlike most retiring officers, Marshall did not have to find a new home. He still had the house at Leesburg, Dodona Manor, bought by Mrs. Marshall in 1942, and the cottage at Pinehurst, which she had purchased during the closing months of the war. Within two weeks after he returned from the China Mission in January 1947,  Marshall wrote friends that he was working as a “common laborer” at Leesburg under the strict supervision of his wife, cleaning out gutters, among other things-persiflage revealing his pleasure in such long-deferred domestic activities. He returned from Moscow in April of that year in time to put in a vegetable garden. While he was in Walter Reed Hospital after his operation at the end of 1948, Madame Chiang Kai-shek was a house guest at Dodona Manor and wrote him from there that she was doing coolie labor to help cultivate the garden. In the spring, when Marshall was recuperating and the garden prospering, he wrote Madame that he was sorry not to be able to send her some of the fruits of her labor.

B0th the General and Mrs. Marshall liked to relate that when he came home to Leesburg after his operation, some of their neighbors asked Mrs. Marshall what they could give him for a welcome-home gift. She replied that the only thing she could think of that he would really appreciate was a load or two of manure for the garden. It was duly delivered.

This story always prompted the General to recall that while he was Secretary of State someone told him that a way to improve the soil of his garden was to imitate early American Indian cultivators by placing a fishhead under each seed or slip planted. Marshall’s


inquiries resulted in the Friday delivery of baskets of fish heads that he put in the back of his car in the State Department garage, forgetting momentarily that he would not be home over the weekend By Monday there was considerable dismay among those park- ing in the vicinity of his car. Later the Italian Government sent Marshall a beautifully decorated peasant cart filled with pungent cheeses. The cart, for some reason, remained so long in the State Department reception area that it became necessary to remove the contents. “Between fishheads and strong cheeses,” Marshall like to say, “I’m afraid we were in bad odor at the State Department.”

After saying this, he always stopped the laughter to add that the story had a sequel. He took the fishheads to Leesburg and planted them according to instructions. That night, the Marshalls heard an extraordinary amount of cat yowlings and of course the next morning revealed that the stray cats of Leesburg had dug up and presumably consumed every fishhead, leaving his seeds and seedlings wilting in the sun.

Leesburg and Pinehurst responded well to the Marshalls. They went regularly to the Espicopal Church and some of his jackets and suits turned up for sale at church bazaars. They went to local festivals and clubs. One year Senator Harry Byrd, Sr. succeeded in getting Marshall to crown the Apple Queen at fall festivities near Byrd’s farm.

At Pinehurst, lacking gardening opportunities during the winter months, Marshall became an interested spectator at golf tournaments, riding in a golf cart to follow the players. He developed friendships with visitors who came during the cold months. One acquaintance was John Marquand. Some people who read his Melville Goodwin U.S.A. were sure that the writer had incorporated Marshall’s characteristics. Also nearby was the cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Ives. Mrs. Ives was the sister of Adlai Stevenson, whom Marshall had met when Stevenson worked for Navy Secretary Frank Knox during the war, and knew latef when Stevenson was Governor of Illinois. Stevenson often stopped to see the Marshalls when he visited the Iveses.

Marshall’s presence at meetings of the Pinehurst Rotary Club had a disconcerting effect on guest speakers who were to talk on military affairs or foreign policy. Theodore Ropp, professor of military history at Duke University, well remembers speaking there on World War II strategy, with the U.S. Army Chief of Staff during World War II listening intently directly in front of him. Ropp was greatly relieved when the General congratulated him warmly on his handling of the topic.


At Pinehurst the Marshalls were visited by old friends going to or returning from Southern vacation areas, and, in turn, they were invited to vacation homes. Margaret Emerson, who had a home in the Poconos sitting amidst its guest houses like a mother hen with baby chickens (the place had been once owned by J. P. Morgan), was sometimes hostess to the Marshalls. The Marshalls urged Erskine Wood, the General’s old fishing friend from Portland, Oregon, to join them there shortly after his wife died. Wood liked to tell, as an example of Marshall tact and thoughtfulness, that on his first morning with them he had gone for a walk without straightening up his room. When he came back, he found that the General had made his bed.

On a coastal fishing trip, Marshall found a fishing partner in Corty, young grandson of a retired political scientist. Corty later sent him letters, decorated with pictures of fish and real fishhooks Marshall’s delighted reply to Corty’s first letter called forth more examples of the boy’s drawings.

In 1951 President Truman offered to reappoint Marshall to the American Red Cross position, but the General declined. He did accept the nonpaying chairmanship of the American Battle Monuments Commission that had once been held by his old chief, General Pershing. He also accepted the nonpaying position of Chairman of the V.M.I. Foundation, fundraiser for his alma mater. But Marshall did not go on boards of corporations. Early in 1950, his old friend Edward Stettinius had persuaded him to become a director of Pan American Airways, headed by Stettinius’s brother-in-law, Juan Trippe. Marshall received a director’s fee for attending one or two board meetings but he resigned when he was appointed Secretary of Defense.

Marshall was also careful about investing, undoubtedly due to an embarrassing experience that occurred not long after he retired as Chief of Staff. Louis Marx, the toy manufacturer, decided to establish a small cosmetics company and invited several friends to make small investments. Like many self-made men, Marx sought the friendship of prominent people, and when the General became Chief of Staff, Marx sent toys to the Marshalls at Christmas to be distributed to children on the post. He expanded this practice to include Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Bedell Smith, and they were all offered an opportunity to buy stock in his cosmetics company. Soon after Marshall went on the China Mission, Marx asked him through his secretary for $100 for stock, which she sent out of his account. Marshall was happily surprised at the end of the year to receive a dividend. The company flourished, amply repaying


investors, but Marx found that this sideline was robbing him of time for toy manufacturing. He dropped the project, compensating stockholders several times over for their stock. The transaction later caught the attention of Westbrook Pegler, radically conservative newspaper columnist, noted for vigorous attacks on labor unions, President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and members of the Roosevelt administration. Pegler trumpeted that the military investors, at least Eisenhower and Bedell Smith, had been favored by Marx because for a short time after the liberation of Paris, the U.S. Army had controlled the opening of American businesses there, and Marx had been permitted to do business in Paris. Pegler wrote the generals, demanding explanations. Marshall replied in detail, indicating the nature of his investment and denying any quid pro quo in the transaction. Pegler announced that he was satisfied that Marshall had come clean, and demanded that the others do the same. After this episode, Marshall was wary of any investments that might be considered as a conflict of interest.’

Marshall firmly declined to write his memoirs. Rumors continued for some years that he refused a million dollars for his autobiography. He supposedly told one publisher that he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post. A representative of a large agency seeking book and newspaper rights related that he was authorized to offer the General “a six or seven figure price,” but Marshall said when the agent approached him, “I know why you have come. I am not writing my memoirs.” He told some publishers that if he wrote his memoirs he would have to tell all the truth and that would hurt too many people. It was Marshall’s conviction that books written by important commanders could stir controversies damaging to the Army. This conviction grew out of Marshall’s own experience after World War I after he had submitted a manuscript on his experience in the war to a publisher and was told that at the moment there was no interest in books concerning that conflict. He left the manuscript with the publisher and it remained there until he became
Chief of Staff years later. The publisher then proposed publication, but Marshall declined and asked that the manuscript be returned to him to be destroyed. Marshall never meant to imply that he was hiding secrets. Several years later, a copy of the manuscript that he had given his stepdaughter in 1939 was published. The contents of his memoirs of World War I prove that he was oversensitive about causing controversy. The book was an excellent summary of the problems of planning and training in the early days of the AEF and was incapable of giving offense.


In 1946, Mrs Marshall wrote an account of her life as an Army wife from her marriage to Marshall in 1930 until their return to Leesburg froni Fort Myer in late November 1945 She had not been lured by offers from large publishing houses, but by the suggestion of her brother, Tristam Tupper (magazine and motion picture script writer), who had founded a small publishing house, Tupper and Love, at the end of World War II. Mrs. Marshall’s book was one of their first publications. She had kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and radio broadcasts, which she used as background material, and gave a lively account of her own experiences and of a very human  Marshall. The book was adopted by a major book club and provided her with a comfortable financial nest egg.

After the fall of 1952, the Marshalls settled down to the enjoyment of a simple life. Each year they stayed in Leesburg from May until their annual checkup at Walter Reed Hospital and then went to Pinehurst for the winter.

Marshall was to find it difficult to avoid notice in the 1952 fall Presidential campaign between Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Initially, Marshall must have thought that his only participation would be his congratulatory note to Eisenhower when he won the nomination in June 1952. Thanking Marshall for his “fine note,” Eisenhower wrote that if he, when working with the General on war plans in 1942, had suggested that he would be leading his party in a fight for the Presidency ten years later, Marshall would have had him locked up as a dangerous character. He thought that Marshall must have had similar thoughts when he was called back to duty in late November 1945. Eisenhower felt he was performing a useful service. “But the whole atmosphere is so different from that to which soldiers of long service become accustomed that I sometimes find it difficult to adjust myself. Since you are well aware of this through your own experience, I will not belabor the point.”

As the campaign got under way in the fall, Marshall had letters from Eisenhower backers wanting to know why he was not actively backing his old protkgk. His usual reply was that lie never voted, sometimes adding the old wheeze that his father was a Democrat, his mother a Republican, arid he was an Episcopalian.

The anti-Marshall tirades of Senator Joseph McCarthy continued, even though the response froni Leesburg was silence. In his avidity to attack the Truman Administration and get himself reelected, McCarthy harped continually on Marshall’s anti-Americanism.

Many of Eisenhower’s friends were sure that Eisenhower would


eventually disavow McCarthy’s increasingly blatant attacks, and in the fall of 1952, when he prepared to campaign in Wisconsin, Eisenhower decided to make a strong defense of his former chief. Emmet Hughes, a Time-Life writer on loan to write speeches, was asked by Eisenhower if this part of the campaign could be made an occasion for paying tribute to Marshall “right in McCarthy’s backyard.” Hughes gladly drafted praise of Marshall’s selflessness and patriotism, noting that charges of disloyalty were “a sobering lesson in the way freedom should not defend itself.”

Someone leaked to Governor Koehler of Wisconsin what Eisenhower planned to say. The Governor, Senator McCarthy, and the Republican National Committeeinan from Wisconsin, flew to Peoria, which Eisenhower’s campaign had reached, to talk with the candidate. Koehler argued that an Eisenhower rebuke to McCarthy on his home grounds would damage the whole Republican Party and adversely affect the Republican majority in Wisconsin. Sherman Adanis, one of Eisenhower’s chief political advisers, also insited that the offending paragraphs be removed. They were deleted. McCarthy sat on the platform with Eisenhower and escaped unscathed. The damage was done, and it was Eisenhower who suffered, although Wisconsin went Republican and he won the election. He wrote former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen that he did not see how he could campaign if he went against Koehler’s wishes. Eisenhower later wrote that he would never have withdrawn his statement if he had known that his attitude toward Marshall would be so distorted.

Marshall never made any public comment about the whole affair. When he heard that his former chief, Harry Woodring, one time Secretary of War, had attacked him, Marshall shook his head and said, “Poor fellow. They used him. They took him to McCarthy’s office and got him to sign a statement.”

It was becoming-had become-more and more a part of Marshall’s nature, this man who had found it hard to control his temper half of his life, to wish that people would behave well but to see calmly that they often did not. He was resigned but not bitter. It was Mrs. Marshall who was hurt and angry on his behalf. Gradually, over the years, she, too, mellowed. In her nineties, she said to Marshall’s biographer, “Don’t attack President Eisenhower about the McCarthy thing; he did everything in the world to make it up to George and me.”

President Truman was outraged over Eisenhower’s failure to defend Marshall in Wisconsin. Truman’s accusations of Eisen-


hower’s ingratitude to the man who had made him became a fierce drumbeat against Eisenhower for the rest of the 1952 campaign and, indeed, for the rest of his life.

When the Marshall Library was dedicated in Lexington, Virginia, in May 1964, Eisenhower was one of the speakers. He paid a glowing tribute to Marshall that was enthusiastically received. Later Eisenhower expressed to Marshall’s biographer his surprise at the crowd’s reaction, because he had been a little ashamed that his speech was not better. The author replied that people were pleased to see how high Marshall stood in his estimation. Eisenhower replied, “But everybody knows that! ”

“No, sir, not everybody.”

After a second’s pause, he countered, “Oh, that damned Wisconsin thing. You know about that. It was a political matter.”

After Eisenhower’s victory over Stevenson, Marshall wrote out in longhand on November 7 to the new President:

Congratulations on your triumph seem rather futile in view of the immensity of your victory.

I pray for you in the tremendous years you are facing. I pray especially for you in the choice of those to be near you. That choice, more than anything else, will determine the problems of the years and the record in history. Make them measure up to your standards.

I hope the severity of the campaign did not wear you down seriously, or Mrs. Eisenhower. I thought she did a wonderful job for you.

Eisenhower replied:

Nothing has touched me as much as your letter of congratulations. I know that the months ahead will be difficult ones-I am counting heavily upon the help of the finest and most dedicated men and women in our country

I agree with you that Mamie was a wonderful help in the campaign. Both of us have bounced back with surprising vigor-and at this moment we are trying to catch up on rest and relaxation.

Mamie joins me in best wishes and warm regard.

Marshall also had a kind word for the defeated candidate. To Adlai Stevenson, he wrote:


I send you my sympathy in the results of the campaign.

You fought a great fight. In my opinion your political speeches reached a new high in statesmanship. You deserved far better of the electorate and you will be recognized increasingly as a truly great American. [Marshall to Stevenson, 7 Nov 52]

When time came for the inauguration, Eisenhower invited the Marshalls to the swearing in and to sit in the reviewing stand at the White House for the parade. These were not new experiences for Marshall, for as Pershing’s senior aide, he undoubtedly attended Harding’s inaugural ceremonies for which Pershing was the marshal. In Washington on business in 1933, Marshall saw the Roosevelt inauguration. In 1941 he led the parade as marshal, and in 1945 he attended the brief swearing-in at the White House. Marshall had resigned as Secretary of Defense the day after Truman was sworn in as President in 1949, and this inauguration of 1953 would be the last one he would attend.

At the Capitol rotunda, Marshall missed seeing President and Mrs. Truman in the crowd, but mentioned meeting Margaret in a warm letter of farewell he wrote the outgoing President. Truman replied:

I don’t remember when I have received a letter that I appreciated more than I did yours of January twenty-fourth. Margaret told me she had seen you in the Capitol Rotunda. I must have passed you without seeing you-it was unintentional. Margaret had quite a time high-hatting Mrs. Truman and me because she had a chance to speak to you.

He concluded: ‘‘One of the things that I appreciate more than anything else that has happened to me is the fact that I have you for a friend.”

Truman was hurt and angry that men who had served under him, such as Lewis Douglas and William Pawley, supported Eisenhower in 1952, but he never felt that Marshall had been coopted by the new masters of the White House. Eisenhower grew ever more cordial to the Marshalls, but some of the new President’s advisers made clear that Marshall was not exempt from their criticisms of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Of those who had formerly been close to him, Marshall mentioned only his former Army legislative liaison officer with Congress, General Wilton Persons, who was unusually jubilant about clearing out of the White House


circles those persons associated with Roosevelt and Truman. Marshall contrasted his actions with those of Bryce Harlow, who had also served him in dealings with Congress, who became a White House insider but had no feud with former administrators. Of the new cabinet, Marshall knew Dulles best. They had worked together, but he expected and wanted no favors from the State Department, nor from anyone in the Government. As Marshall wrote Queen Frederika later when she wanted him to intercede for Greece with the State Department, he had no entree there and any attempt to intervene would do more harm than good.

During his mission to China, Marshall had been given a small office in the Pentagon for his papers, over which one of his former secretaries, Mrs Sally Chamberlin, presided. After he left the Secretaryship of Defense, Marshall was assigned a suite one floor below that of the Army Chief of Staff, near the Mall entrance, where his important papers were kept and a secretary and an aide handled his mail. Both by personal inclination for privacy and a desire not to appear to be attempting to influence military policy, Marshall seldom came to the ofice. He notified the Chief of Staff that visiting generals could feel free to use the space and he suggested that his aide, Colonel George, should work part time for the Secretary of Defense. Not until three years before his death did Marshall take back control of the office to assign it to his biographer who worked there in his files. Until Marshall’s death, his office dealt with a heavy
correspondence, much of it from veterans who felt they knew at least one general to whom they could appeal. Much of the correspondence was passed on by his staff to other Pentagon offices for action. He continued to write many personal letters, usually drafting them in longhand at Leesburg or Pinehurst and sending them to his Pentagon secretary for typing.

Whatever the administration, Marshall felt at home in the Pentagon until he died. Every Chief of Staff after he returned in November 1945 until the time of his death was a man who had served closely with him, with the single exception of General Lemnitzer, who was chief when Marshall died. Lemnitzer had served under Eisenhower and in great operations in North Africa and Italy, of which Marshall was cognizant and appreciative. Eisenhower, Bradley, Collins, Ridgway, and Taylor had all been Marshall men.

President Eisenhower always kept the Marshalls in mind for state dinners at the White House, particularly when foreign visitors came. In 1953 when Elizabeth 11 of England succeeded her father, George VI, Eisenhower appointed a distinguished commission, headed by Marshall and including Chief Justice Warren and Gen-


eral Bradley, to represent the United States at the London ceremonies. Marshall had met the young Princess during World War II, had been in London at the time of her marriage, and had seen her in Washington when she visited the city with her husband. When George VI died, Marshall wrote her a letter of condolence, and received a handwritten reply from the new Queen.

Dear General Marshall:

I was deeply touched by your kind letter of sympathy, and I do want to thank you with all my heart for your thought in writing.

I know that the King very much enjoyed meeting you, and I remember so well when you came here during the war.

It seems impossible to believe that he has left us-he was so full of ideas, of plans for the future, but we shall try to carry on as he would wish.

With again my thanks to you and Mrs. Marshall for thinking of us at this time of great sorrows.

I am, yours very sincerely,
Elizabeth R.

Accompanied by Colonel George, the Marshalls sailed on the United States and came back on the America. His first ocean voyage to England in forty-three years possibly brought to his mind the trip there he and Lily, his first wife, had made in 1910, when he was a first lieutenant. His 1917 and 1919 voyages were to France. This second trip to England by ship came after Marshall had flown to the United Kingdom several times as Chief of Staff and Secretary of State, and dealt with the British as Secretary of Defense, and it marked the shape and development of his career over that intervening period.

Although Eisenhower had sent Marshall on the journey, it was Truman to whom Marshall wrote the best description we have of the trip. T h e former President had asked Marshall to send him a letter about the ceremonies, and Marshall obliged with an uncharacteristically detailed letter, noting that while some of the descriptions might be boring to Truman, they should interest Mrs. Truman.

The Marshalls were put up in Grosvenor House with a room overlooking Hyde Park and the parade route. On the day of the Coronation, Mrs. Marshall and many other special guests not invited to Westminster Abbey stationed themselves near Lancaster House, which served as headquarters for many of the guests, where they watched the beginnings of the procession to the Abbey. After


the Queen had passed, Mrs. Marshall went into Lancaster House for tea and then General Sir Leslie Hollis, Marshall’s niilitary aide for the day, arranged for her to go back to the hotel from which she saw the parade after the Coronation. For Marshall, inside Westminster Abbey, it was an occasion that he found unique in his long life. He had seen Presidents inaugurated; now, seated with the chief dignitaries near the altar, for the first time he witnessed the crowning of a Queen.

As Prime Minister Churchill passed the General on the way to the altar, he paused. “He dignified me in the Abbey by turning out of the procession to shake hands with me after he had reached the dais.” Unmentioned by Marshall, but related afterward by Bradley and others of the American delegation, was that Alanbrooke and Montgomery followed Churchill’s example. He also made no reference to an incident which General Bradley related. As Marshall passed up the aisle to his seat near the altar, the audience stood up. Puzzled, Marshall looked around to see what dignitary had come in, and it was he. No British account of the ceremony mentions this occurrence.

Of the entertainment that followed, he described to the Trumans with almost boyish pleasure those things that impressed him.

I received a very gracious and warm welcome on all occasions and was particularly favored in the seating at the great banquets-Buckingham Palace and Lancaster House. Only one member of the delegation-myself-was invited to these affairs. The banquet at Buckingham Palace was the most brilliant gathering I had ever seen. The Queen’s party of about thirty was seated at an oval table in the center of the hall, surrounded by tables of twelve. I was included at her table with the Princess Alice as my partner, and was, I think, the only commoner so honored. I sat between the Princess and the Queen Mother, and two chairs removed from the Queen.”

Later in the letter, Marshall noted that Churchill “got hold of me when we had left the ladies” at the dinner, “and had me sit with him for quite a long time and had me participate with him in the drinks they put on a small table alongside him.” Before that, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Gloucester had talked to Marshall for about twenty minutes.

Other highlights of the six-day official trip were a lunch at an annex of the Abbey, where he sat at Lord Salisbury’s table and had as his partner the daughter of Leopold of Belgium, who was “very


attractive looking and had a head on her like Frederika in Athens.” On his left was “the Emperor-King of the Himalayas-that is a pretty big one for you to swallow out in Missouri.” The Lancaster House banquet was also brilliant and he sat at the table presided over by Lady Churchill with the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Devonshire, the Queen’s Lady-in-waiting.

Marshall described some of the other social affairs, noting that Truman should tell Margaret that his Secret Service man, an ex-professor at Oxford in search of higher pay, was the same man who had been assigned to Margaret when she visited the United Kingdom. He thought that Truman might be interested that he had spoken at the English-speaking Union along with Halifax and Alanbrooke, and at a dinner in his honor at the House of Lords given by the Progress Trust, consisting of eight lords and fifteen members of the House of Commons. Marshall talked for forty minutes, avoiding foreign policy, but mentioning differences between the Americans and the British because of varying national problems , and makeup of population. Marshall was startled by the question period in which queries were posed by every member present, each one asking about the Suez Canal.

He and Mrs. Marshall sat with Churchill in the Steward’s box at the Derby, which he termed “quite an occasion.” A private luncheon that Churchill gave for the Marshalls and the Salisburys was mentioned without details. Marshall wrote more about a luncheon given by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. The Duchess was a sister of Lady Mary Burghley, described by Marshall as “my best friend over here.” Far more details were given about a visit out of London to the home of Sir John Dill’s military aide early in the war, Sir Reginald MacDonald-Buchanan, whose wife Marshall thought “was sole heir to the Guinness Stout business.” “They had a beautiful place about two hundred miles out of London. 1 think their
family has had nine Derby winners and most of the portraits were of horses.”

Marshall was struck, he wrote Truman, by the heavy pressures on the Prime Minister.

The strain he underwent during the Coronation bears [beggars?] description, because all of the colonials were meeting with him on service matters, and all of the visiting royalties and the prime ministers were seeking interviews with him on a variety of subjects. He mentioned matters in the Far East, but made no reference whatever to the Middle East, a very pointed omission.


The Marshalls returned from England full of contentment, but in ‘September they both had severe colds, which in his case hung on to become influenza. At the end of October “through heavy persuasion [Katherine] literally forced me into coming up to Walter Reed,” he wrote Truman. The projected hospitalization coincided with a White House invitation to attend a state dinner for King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece, and when Marshall explained why he would not be able to attend the dinner, Eisenhower at once arranged for his naval aide to send a two-engine plane to Pinehurst to bring the Marshalls to the army hospital. Before they left came the announcement from the Nobel Prize Committee that Marshall would be given its Prize for Peace on December 10.

President Eisenhower congratulated Marshall on the Prize while expressing disappointment that the General would miss the dinner. At times, Eisenhower added, he found it difficult to understand why some people were picked for awards, but “this time I thoroughly approve.” Secretary of State Acheson sent ecstatic congratulations: “All of us in your former command-and I hope and believe, all people-are proud and happy. The award was right and proper and just. I hope that it has brought you and Mrs. Marshall some of the joy it has brought us.”

Truman, one of those who had proposed Marshall for the Peace Prize, was almost beside himself in his delight, some of which he expressed in an evening interview with Edward R. Murrow, which Marshall saw. He wrote the former President. “I watched it with considerable interest and, as you can well imagine, was deeply appreciative of the honor which you paid me. As usual, you were most generous and kind and, while the years pass into oblivion, I will never forget your unstinting support. . . .” About the Prize itself he added:

While the award is individual in nature, it is, in effect, a tribute to the American people for their unselfish devotion to the welfare of free people everywhere. I hope you will share this distinction with me because it was through your guidance and leadership that the European Recovery Plan was made possible.

Marshall wrote Madame Chiang Kai-shek of the bouts with flu that had prevented him and his wife from attending the state dinner honoring the first visit of Queen Frederika to the United States, but they had seen her after all, for she had made a quick flight from New York to visit them at Walter Reed. “She is a very beautiful and most interesting woman and you might consider her ‘working’ royalty,


as she certainly devotes all of her time and energy to her people.” Recalling that Madame had come to see him at Walter Reed Hospital when he was recovering from his kidney operation in December 1948, he said that the thought hadjust struck him that “whenever I receive women of this stature, I am a patient in the hospital.”

When thanking the President for sending the plane and for his congratulations, Marshall said that he knew little about the ceremonies (he assumed the Peace Prize would be given in Stockholm along with the other Nobel awards, instead of at Oslo), but he hoped to go by ship by a southern route to avoid bad weather. “You have been most gracious in your thoughts of me and I am grateful. I hope you will give Mrs. Eisenhower our warmest regards.”

Mrs. Marshall was strongly opposed to Marshall’s making the trip because she feared for his health, and she did not feel up to going herself. When his doctors thought that a voyage by the southern route to Europe might provide beneficial sunshine and relaxation, the General decided to take the new Italian liner, the Andrea Doria, from New York to Naples. He thought his health would improve and he would have time on shipboard to write his speech. His hopes proved incorrect. As he later wrote Truman:

I had a most difficult time with the Oslo business. I left Walter Reed and started on the trip. The ocean voyage was cold and damp which didn’t help matters. It was an eight day affair and I planned to prepare my Oslo so-called lecture enroute. I found it utterly impossible to concentrate and I landed in Naples without a  line. I flew up to Gruenther’s [General Alfred Gruenther had succeeded Eisenhower as SHAPE commander outside Paris] and there, in bed, the next morning I managed to dictate for an hour and a quarter, rather in desperation as niy time was running out.

He still needed more help. Gruenther and some of his staff officers made suggestions and Colonel Andrew Goodpaster (soon to go to the White House as special assistant to the President and ultimately to become commander of SHAPE), got down on the floor in Marshall’s bedroom and’put the various sections of the dictated bits together.23
From Paris, Marshall flew to Oslo the day before the award.  On the afternoon of December 10 at a hall in the city, the King of Norway and other dignitaries gathered to witness presentation of the awards for 1952 and 1953. Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the great missionary doctor in Africa, received the first award, which was accepted on his behalf by the French Ambassador to Norway. Then


C. J. Hambro, prominent member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, spoke at length of Marshall’s record as a soldier and of his postwar achievements. He paid special tribute to his efforts to reconstruct Europe and rehabilitate the economies of countries through the European Recovery Plan. He emphasized that this first Nobel Peace Prize to go to a professional soldier was not given for military deeds but for his work in the cause of peace. Marshall was called forward to receive his prize.

As the General stood o n the platform, three young men in the balcony rushed forward and began dropping handbills that accused Marshall of military crimes, all the while screaming, “Murderer! Murderer!” Marshall looked up calmly, and the King and his party rose to their feet, followed by the entire audience, to give the General a thunderous ovation. Members of the air crew that had flown Marshall to Oslo were sitting near the demonstrators. As no guards were near, the crew members seized the young men and rushed them out of the balcony where they were handed over to guards who had appeared.

Later at the formal dinner, Marshall in white tie and tails gave his address. He had anticipated opposition to a soldier receiving a prize for peace and his address contained an answer to the demonstrators:

There has been considerable comment over the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to a soldier. I am afraid this does not seem quite so remarkable to me as it quite evidently appears to others. . . . The cost of war is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones. I am greatly moved to find some means or method of avoiding another calamity of war.

Marshall did not suggest any immediate abandonment of arms. In the present world, the maintenance of peace seemed to require military power and Allied cohesion. “But the maintenance of large armies for an indefinite period is not practical or a promising basis for policy.” Returning to a theme he had announced in his first important speech as Chief of Staff in 1939, at the American Historical Association, Marshall declared the necessity of better education in the field of history. All too often history had been used to show a highly colored national point of view. “Maybe in this case it can find a way of facing facts and discounting the distorted records of the past.”

He spoke of the great role of democracy and of the tremendous moral strength of the gospel of freedom and self-respect for the


individual, but he insisted, as he had in arguments for the Marshall Plan, “that these democratic principles do not flourish on empty stomachs, and that people turn to false proniises of dictators because they are hopeless for anything that promises something better than the miserable existence they endure.” In the end, material things are not enough. “The most important thing for the world today in my opinion is a spiritual regeneration which would establish a feeling of good faith among men generally.”

Marshall was never particularly proud of this speech-carpentered together hastily by a sick man with the last minute help of a few friends-but considering the circumstances of its construction, it had the force of sharp, personal conviction.

The trip certainly did not aid the General’s health. The day after he made his speech he flew to Frankfurt where General Thomas Handy, Commanding General of the European Command and Marshall’s former deputy, took him home with him to Heidelberg and kept Marshall there until he flew to the States a few days later. At the end of February 1954, in explaining his delay in answering Truman’s request for a memorandum on the China Mission that he wanted to use in his memoirs, Marshall said that he had stayed in bed the whole time in Europe except for the two days in Oslo. On his return to Pinehurst, he had again gone to bed and stayed there until mid-February. He hoped soon to be able to concentrate on the material he had promised.

The long siege of flu and/or penumonia marked the beginning of deterioration of his health. Minor problems became more common and he came more often to Walter Reed Hospital for
treatment. President Eisenhower always arranged for him to have the Chief Executive’s suite. Late in 1954, the President wrote that of all Americans he had known personally, “I think General Marshall possessed more of the qualities of greatness than any other.”

The year 1956 marked the beginning of a biographical project, favored by the President, which was to occupy a considerable part of Marshall’s time from September 1956 until the following spring. The project had been long urged by alumni of V.M.I. and by former members of his staff and was part of an earlier effort by his alma mater to have a special collection honoring him at the V.M.I. Museum. After the war ended, the Superintendent of the school asked General Marshall to contribute items for their collection, rich in artifacts of “Stonewall Jackson,” other leaders of the Civil War, and graduates who had made their reputations in conflicts since Mrs. Marshall suggested that V.M.I. send a truck.


At the end of 1952, when President Truman was nearing the end of his Presidency and considering a presidential library based on the Roosevelt model, he suggested to his press secretary, Joseph Short, a V.M.I. graduate, that his school should build a Marshall Library. Short talked to the Acting Superintendent of V.M.I., General William Stokes, and he and several prominent V.M.I. graduates came to the White House for a meeting. They were assured that President Truman would issue a directive for government departments to make available copies of papers pertinent to General Marshall’s career for the library. This group, and the President of neighboring Washington and Lee University, quickly formed the George C. Marshall Research Foundation to collect the General’s papers and artifacts and to plan a library and museum.

Lacking money, the Foundation could do little to develop the project until early in 1956, when they received backing from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The philanthropist greatly admired General Marshall, as did his sons, Nelson and David. Concerned that Marshall might not have adequate finances for his old age, Rockefeller made confidential inquiries through Kenneth Chorley, director of Colonial Williamsburg, who reported that the permanent five-star rank arrangement took care of the General’s personal financial needs, but that V.M.I. was searching for funds for a Marshall Library. Rockefeller got in touch with John C. Hagan, an investment banker of Richmond, who was President of the Marshall Foundation, and asked how much Hagan needed for the project. Hagan estimated that $1oo,ooo would be required and was told, “You must need more than that,” and got a personal check from Rockefeller for $ 150,ooo.

Marshall had finally convinced his friends that he would not write his memoirs or even any short article of reminiscence. When he was seventy-five, several of the officers who had been close to him, Frank McCarthy, George, and Carter, urged him to give interviews to a potential biographer. In 1956 he finally agreed to take part in such a program, making clear that he wanted someone who would not ask questions that could be easily found in his papers, that the historian not be of his choosing, and that no money resulting from a biography should go to himself or to his family. Because he had no money to endow a library, royalties from a book based on interviews and his private papers were to go to the research program.

Interviews with the historian selected by the Marshall Foundation began at Leesburg in the fall of 1956 and continued at Pinehurst and, rarely, at the Pentagon. It was evident that Marshall was


becoming very frail. He began to experience difficulty in walking. At Leesburg he set interviews for the afternoon, because his bedroom was on the second floor and he did not want to go up and down stairs during the day. But his memory was good and he enjoyed recalling the past, especially his boyhood. He joked that he had heard Mrs. Marshall saying that she had to take him for a walk in the garden as though he were an invalid. In the spring of 1957 he complained of being unable to recall details and proposed that interviews be postponed until he came back to Leesburg for the summer. But, even then, he found reasons for delays, and except for short questions involving single responses, the interviews were not resumed.

In August 1958 the General was at Walter Reed for removal of a small cyst on his eye and some dental work. As usual, President Eisenhower sent flowers to add cheer to his room Marshall told the President that he had been in the hospital for nearly a week and that all had gone well and he expected to leave soon. Then he fell and broke a rib. After a little more time there, he began rapid improvement, his appetite improved, and he gained eight pounds. He wrote the President:

I am comfortably situated in your fine suite and, again, you have my deepest thanks for this gracious gesture on your part. As usual, I am receiving the best attention, which of course is typical of Heaton [General Leonard Heaton, head of the hospital] and his people.

Marshall wrote as though he were completely well, but the medical authorities were less certain. When he returned to Pinehurst a few weeks later, they arranged for the hospital at nearby Fort Bragg to furnish medical corpsmen around the clock to sit outside his door when he was in his bedroom.

The Marshalls had a quiet Christmas. Early in the new year, the medical corpsman heard sounds of the General strangling and hurriedly entered the room to find that Marshall had suffered a stroke and swallowed his tongue. Giving first aid while the ambulance was coming, the corpsman soon had the General in the Fort Bragg hospital. The stroke was crippling, but Marshall improved enough to be taken to Walter Reed Hospital in the spring. He recovered sufficiently to sit in a wheelchair and receive visitors and could occasionally talk to old friends during the summer. But when the City of Aachen sent him its Charlemagne Prize to be awarded in a special ceremony, he sat quietly but did not understand what


was happening. When Secretary of the Army Wilbur Brucker invited him to receive one of the first flags with up-to-date campaign streamers, Marshall was unable to attend and Colonel George received it for him. A series of brain spasms then made him dependent on tubes to carry food and oxygen. Mrs. Marshall was either in his room or staying in a special cottage nearby, during the whole period.

When Marshall came for his long stay in Walter Reed, Secretary of State Dulles was there with cancer that had returned. Dulles was aware that he had the Presidential Suite, where Marshall usually stayed, and tried to give it to Marshall, but the General declined. Several weeks later Eisenhower brought Winston Churchill for a farewell visit to Dulles. Then they looked in on Marshall. Although he would outlive Dulles he seemed in a far worse condition. He did not know the man with whom he had argued for many hours over global strategy nor the protege whose rise he had favored. Churchill wiped tears from his eyes.

Get-well cards and personal messages poured in. Many Marshall detractors softened, but some kept up a litany of hate: “Old man, before you die, tell the true story of Pearl Harbor”; or “Explain your conspiracy with the Communists.” Such messages were put with other nasty items gathered over the years. Had Marshall seen them in possession of his faculties, they would not have bothered him.

In addition to members of Marshall’s family and his aide, who saw him frequently, General Eisenhower’s personal physician, Major General Howard Snyder (who had been Marshall’s Inspector General for Medical Services), made a daily check on Marshall’s condition at Eisenhower’s request. His old friend, Major General Morrison Stayer, who had watched over his health years before at Fort Benning, came down from Carlisle to check on him and finally said, “I can’t come any more. He is paying the price of a strong physical constitution.” The brain spasms had taken away his sight, his hearing, and his speech, but with the aid of machines he stayed alive.

For several months, while he was still conscious, the visitors brought back the past. To General Herron, of Leavenworth days, Marshall told a Christmas story of pre-World War I years,  lively and sentimental. General Bull, with Marshall at Benning, at the Pentagon, then with Ike in Europe, talked about old times and Marshall asked abaut Forrest Harding , a former battalion commander under him in China in the 1920s and then with them at Infantry School.


Many of the old colleagues kept in touch by telephone even if they could not come by. One day, when he no longer recognized anyone, a visitor who went back to Lily’s day, his goddaughter, Rose Page Wilson, came hoping for a farewell word and left crushed. Queen Frederika wrote Colonel George for information and was given no hope.

Finally, in the early evening of October 16, 1959, the General died quietly. Preparations for his funeral were already under way.

It was Marshall himself who had drawn up the broad outlines of a state funeral for an Army “great” when, in 1937, Pershing seemed to be dying in Tucson. General Malin Craig, knowing Marshall’s closeness to Pershing, ordered him from Vancouver Barracks to draw up funeral plans. Pershing somehow found out about them and that a train had been sent for his body. Swearing that he would be up to serve as the best man at the wedding of his son, Pershing lived until 1948. When Marshall became Chief of Staff in 1939, he ordered additions to the funeral plans but classified them secret. When Pershing died in the summer of 1948, Marshall, as Secretary of State, was one of the chief mourners in the long procession. The General lay in state in the Capitol, there were many marching troops behind the caisson, and planes flew overhead. Despite a heavy downpour on a sweltering day, twenty top Army generals, led by Eisenhower and Bradley, marched behind the casket, completely soaked in the steaming heat, from the Capitol to Arlington Cemetery. The heat almost caused the collapse of General Charles Gates Dawes, old friend of both Pershing and Marshall.

Nothing about a state funeral was to Marshall’s taste. On his way to Oslo in late 1953, aware of his pneumonia, he talked with his aide of funeral plans for himself. “I don’t want a state funeral,” he insisted. Colonel George replied that if he died during the Eisenhower administration he would certainly get the most elaborate funeral possible unless he left definite orders to the contrary. Finally, in 1956, the General wrote out the instructions he had given orally in 1953.

Marshall forbade a funeral in the National Cathedral and ruled out lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, as had been done for Pershing and would be done for MacArthur. He did not want invitation lists made up for special guests, he wanted no funeral eulogy, interment was to be private, and there was to be no long list of honorary pallbearers. He specified that a short list was to include Sergeant Powder, his chief wartime orderly, and his, postwar orderly, Sergeant William Heffner. His postwar aide, C. J. George, and his onetime Secretary General Staff, Frank McCarthy, were on


the list, and Robert Lovett, “if it is convenient,” and Bedell Smith, “if he is in town.” Ambassador James Bruce was added, and the rest of the list was left to Mrs. Marshall and the Office of the Chief of Staff. Mrs. Marshall added a friend from their Chicago days, William Spencer, a Leesburg neighbor, Colonel Fletcher, and a friend from Pinehurst, and Admiral Stark and General Bradley. The Chief of Staff, General Lemnitzer, completed the list. The military canon of the National Cathedral, Luther Miller, who had been Marshall’s chaplain in Tientsin in the 1920s and his Chief of Chaplains at the end of the war, and who would say final prayers over Eisenhower ten years later, was in charge of the service.

Mrs. Marshall altered the arrangements slightly to have the unopened coffin rest overnight in Bethlehem Chapel of the National Cathedral, and a large crowd of visitors went through the line to pay respects. Cadets from V.M.I. joined representatives of all the services in the guard of honor.

On October 20, a radiant fall day, the coffin was brought by motor hearse from the Cathedral to Fort Myer Chapel, where the General had asked that the brief service be held. He was also obeyed in that there was no procession, but sensibly, a list was drawn up by Mrs. Marshall of members of his personal staff and others whom she and the Chief of Staffs Office knew would want to attend the service. These people were sent telegrams giving the time of the funeral. Some former colleagues, such as Lucius Clay and Robert Murphy, called to ask if they would be seated if they came and were added to the list. It included Marshall’s longtime Pentagon barber, Joseph Abbate, better known as Joe Abbott. In 1956, Abbott turned up at Leesburg to show Marshall his new wife and to chide the General over an old grudge. Marshall had been photographed at the Potsdam Conference having his hair cut by a soldier of the Berlin garrison. Marshall had never seen this soldier before, but the photograph appeared in newspapers around the world. “And now he is in the barber magazine,” declared the aggrieved Abbott, reminding the General that he had cut his hair for years and was never photographed with him. Marshall later got the Pope to bless a special parchment and brought it back to Joe, who forgave him to the extent that his son was named George Marshall Abbott.

Before the drive to the Chapel, as the pallbearers gathered in Marshall’s Pentagon office, Sergeant Wing, the Chinese orderly who had gone with Marshall to China and Moscow, came to the office and asked if he could once more be at the General’s side.


Colonel George asked Marshall’s biographer if he would see that Wing had a place, and the two were seatedjust behind the Achesons.

Shortly before the family entered the Chapel, former President Truman and his military aide, Harry Vaughan, and President Eisenhower with his aide, Robert Schulz, came in and sat side by side in the same pew at the front, across from the pews reserved for Mrs. Marshall, her daughter and family.

The service was brief and simple as Marshall had enjoined. Knowing that Marshall wanted no eulogy, Canon Miller’s only allusion to the General he had served over the years was in the prayer, “take Thy servant George.’’ Once the abbreviated Episcopal service was over, the casket was placed on a caisson, and the honor guard, the family, the pallbearers, and the honorary pallbearers moved from the Chapel to the grave, down the hill from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where Lily and her mother had long ago been buried. In the sunlit afternoon those remaining in the Chapel heard the sharp volleys of gunfire by the honor guard followed by the slow, silver sound of taps.

Five days after the twenty-ninth anniversary of his second marriage, and a little more than two months before his seventy-ninth birthday, George Marshall had completed his tour of duty.


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