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To Brigadier General Bruce Magruder
August 7, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just this moment read your little note of appreciation of August 4th, which I in turn appreciate. However, out of my deep regard for you and your future, I want to make a few very confidential, personal comments on this new business of yours of being a brigadier general.1
You have always worked too hard; you have done too many other people’s work. This all but cost you your promotion—you see I am being very frank, but this for your eye only.
Now I counsel you to make a studied business of relaxing and taking things easy, getting to the office late, taking trips, and making everybody else work like hell. It is pretty hard for a leopard to change his spots, but you must cloak your new rank with a deliberate effort to be quite casual. I know that try as you will, it will be almost utterly impossible for you to take things too easy, and I fear it will be next to impossible for you to relax to anywhere near the degree that I think is important.
I woke up at about thirty-three to the fact that I was working myself to death, to my superior’s advantage, and that I was acquiring the reputation of being merely a pick and shovel man. From that time on I made it a business to avoid, so far as possible, detail work, and to relax as completely as I could manage in a pleasurable fashion. Unfortunately, it was about six years before I could get away from details because they were in my lap. In China I made a good beginning, and at Benning I refused to read a great deal of the material worked up, and made a practice of pleasant diversions. I have finally gotten to the point where I sometimes think I am too casual about things; but I think I have reaped a greater advantage than this other possible disadvantage.
Please take me very seriously. You have wonderful qualities, but you are too conscientious. I will be delighted to find that you have decided to take leave and do a little travelling before you report for duty, and I would be even more pleased if I had to write you later on and tell you that you were absenting yourself too frequently from your duties.
With my most sincere regard for your future,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Magruder, since 1937 the executive officer of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, had recently been notified of his promotion to brigadier general effective November 1.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 31-32.