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To Brigadier General Frank R. McCoy1
April 13, 1929 Fort Benning, Georgia
Thank you for your nice note of April 10th. I am glad to learn from you of Thompson and Ross, not knowing either one of them personally. I had been told that Major Thompson was especially efficient, but knew nothing of Major Ross. What you wrote of them is very reassuring.2
Thompson, in particular, has an exceedingly hard job here in connection with the school. There are a great many excellent instructors in equitation in the army, but none within my knowledge have produced anything like the results secured by Major Smith, of the Cavalry, here at Benning. His work has really been unique, in that he has developed a tremendous fondness for riding in practically everyone with whom he has come in contact officially. No one is frightened or scarred up during the early stages, and most of them usually become surprisingly bold cross-country riders. This refers to all of the students, even the most hardened horse-haters, and to about 200 women. The ladies’ equitation class has 180 members, and the first two platoons would make the Italian Cavalry envious of their daring riding, particularly up and down slides.3
I wish you could stop here enroute to San Antonio. We are making many changes in the teaching of tactics, and particularly of technique, and I think we are developing a very practical system suited to officers who will be responsible for the development of a hastily raised war time force.
As to the post itself, you would hardly recognize the present Benning. The place is growing very lovely in appearance and remarkable in the facilities offered for outdoor diversion. It is a thoroughly well groomed and presentable post with an unusually happy garrison, an entirely different affair from what I saw in 1924 before my departure for China. I have a large and quite delightful house, and excellent servants who are accustomed to guests continuously. I would be delighted if you and Mrs. McCoy would pay me a visit on your way to Texas.
G. C. Marshall, Jr.
Document Copy Text Source: Frank R. McCoy Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Typed letter signed.
1. Marshall and McCoy had been friends since 1917. During the World War, McCoy had commanded the 165th Infantry of the Forty-second Division and later a brigade of the Thirty-second Division. Following the war, he held a number of military-diplomatic assignments in Armenia, the Philippine Islands, Japan, and Nicaragua. In 1928 he was appointed a delegate to the Pan-American Conference. At the time Marshall wrote, McCoy was heading a commission investigating the dispute between Paraguay and Bolivia over the Chaco region.
2. McCoy wrote to praise two men who were to be assigned as instructors at the Infantry School: Major John B. Thompson (U.S.M.A., 1914), who was to teach equitation; and Major Frank K. Ross—McCoy’s cousin—who was to be an instructor in artillery.
3. Major Henry J. M. Smith, an equitation instructor, was a graduate of the Cavalry School Advanced Course (1924) and the Command and General Staff School (1925). Equitation was a required course for all student officers, but Marshall also encouraged their wives to ride. One student officer later recalled: “The school had a large stable of horses for the use of students, and Marshall was instrumental in promoting riding for the personnel of the post, both male and female. This included riding privileges, horse shows, paper hunts, etc. It was said that Fort Benning was the `horsiest’ post in the Army." (Colonel Charles S. Ritchel to Forrest C. Pogue, October 24, 1960, GCMRL/Research File [Benning].)
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. 341-342.