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To Colonel Charles L. Sampson
March 26, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Colonel Sampson:
In reply to your letter of March 21st, I am sorry to learn that you feel the Chief of Infantry gave you an implied promise that your assignment to the Replacement Center would carry a promotion.
In the first place, promotion to a general officer passes through numerous tests and hands before final approval, and even the Chief of Staff does not have the authority to state definitely that any particular position will carry with it a promotion. Furthermore, in your case and that of the other Executives of the replacement centers, no one other than General Lynch and his immediate office had any knowledge of the selections made or that orders were being issued, except the officials handling that routine in the office of The Adjutant General. In other words, the first intimation that the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff, the Deputy Chief of Staff, and the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, had in this matter was the actual issuing of the orders. Insofar as I was concerned, I knew nothing about it as to individuals until you were ushered into my office.1
You state that “This whole experience, under the circumstances, appears to me to have been a most ruthless and unjust humiliation and not deserved by an officer of my record and rating.” You also go into details regarding personal arrangements. You introduce here detailed matters which, from the viewpoint of the administration of an army of 1,400,000 men is entirely beyond my capacity to oversee.
There are many aspects of this affair which I am not free to discuss with each individual who might be concerned, and to a certain extent, almost every colonel of infantry is concerned, and it includes some of my dearest friends. Even if I were free to go into such detail, it would be utterly impossible for me to pursue the job here on any such basis. I will say this much, which is really improper for me to divulge at this time, that I have been engaged in an effort to secure Presidential approval for a policy to take care of outstanding Infantry colonels who are above the age limit for troop commands.
Now I am going to be equally frank, and tell you that I think your letter does you a great injustice, because it inclines me to think that the state of mind you reflect may have ruined your usefulness. These are not the days for purely personal reactions, to which you have given way.2
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. Sampson, who would be sixty-two in October, was executive officer of the Infantry Replacement Center at Nacimiento, California. He wrote to Marshall that the chief of Infantry had indicated in December 1940 that his assignment would include a promotion and command of the center, but he had since learned that he was “to be superseded by a General Officer to be ordered here.”
2. Retiring as a colonel at the end of June 1942, Sampson remained on active duty through January 1944.
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. 453-454,