2-008 To Colonel Charles C. Haffner, July 12, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 12, 1939

To Colonel Charles C. Haffner1

July 12, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Haffner:

I have just received your long-hand letter of July 10th, and while I have not had an opportunity to give it a very careful reading, I think it best for me to answer immediately, and possibly write more later.2

In the first place—and this is most confidential, I did not anticipate that Keehn would introduce my name into the matter. We were discussing the qualities desirable in a Chief of the Bureau, and I mentioned you as a type. He said there was no possibility of your considering the matter, that you would not have it. I replied that I was not so sure about that, and let it go at that.

Now the facts in the matter, so far as I am concerned, are these: I will be delighted to have you because I feel that you would not only courageously represent the best interests of the Guard with high intelligence, but that also you would be able to establish a desirable intimate and understanding contact with the General Staff. What I had in mind in tipping Keehn off was that you might be brought into the thing as an unexpected candidate after the numerous inevitable contestants had about neutralized each other. I assume that vigorous efforts will be made by the generals of the National Guard to secure the appointment, and I rather anticipate that they will make it very difficult for each other. I do know that it is going to be exceedingly difficult for the War Department to exercise the proper freedom of selection based on efficiency and other aspects of suitability. One can never tell what influences will work in these matters, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that your political affiliations might prove a difficulty beyond our control here. I do not imagine so, but from what I can learn the pursuit of this particular office is ruthlessly aggressive. It is for that reason in particular that I had in mind that your name should not be mentioned in the early stages, and then should be solidly backed by Illinois at the psychological moment.

Now, as to you personally: I do not want you to feel a patriotic obligation, as it were, to make a great personal sacrifice. You know the measure of what that would be, and I think it only right that you should consider your own situation as of primary importance, unless conditions grow more critical.

I am rather strongly of the belief that the early mention of your name would be harmful, and that it would be much better to keep it out of the picture for the time being. These organized campaigns do not seem to lead very far. Witness General Leach’s collection of resolutions and endorsements and association from practically every Governor and high National Guard official.3 A little later, if you seriously consider the matter, then a few of the more powerful people, quietly tipped off, might be the best maneuver; to be followed, of course, at the proper moment by heavy Illinois pressure.

I am writing you most confidentially—for your eye alone.


Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Haffner commanded the 124th Field Artillery Regiment, a Chicago unit of the Illinois National Guard.

2. Haffner wrote that Major General Roy D. Keehn, commanding general of the Illinois National Guard, had suggested that Marshall “might want to talk to me some time about the National Guard Bureau.” The incumbent head of that office, Major General Albert H. Blanding, would complete his four-year tour in January 1940; consequently a group of Guard officers had recently asked Haffner to permit them to mount a campaign to secure that office for him. He had never sought to be any group’s candidate, Haffner said, and he did not desire the position; but “no one who can afford it has the right to refuse governmental service if drafted and I could afford it.” He asked for Marshall’s advice before replying to the officers. (Haffner to Marshall, July 10, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

3. Brigadier General George E. Leach, commander of the Minnesota National Guard’s Fifty-ninth Field Artillery Brigade, was the mayor of Minneapolis. He had been chief of the National Guard Bureau from 1931 to 1935.

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. 8-9.

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