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To Colonel Chester R. Davis
July 20, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just this moment read your letter of July 18th, regarding your visit to the business men’s training camp at Sheridan, and your reactions, particularly the comment that “none of them seem to know exactly why they are there or what the purpose may be of their training.”1
The Business Men’s Training camps were instituted at the request and under the heavy pressure of the New York branch of the Military Training Camps Association. The original request was for a very large number, twenty-five or fifty thousand I believe. We compromised finally at 3,000, but the instructions were specific that these camps would not in any way involve the Government to bestow commissions on the trainees. The Training Camps Association thought that this would crystalize public opinion as to the urgent necessity of all citizens doing a part toward building up National Defense. They are now urging a minimum of 18,000 men for similar camps in September.2
Please treat the foregoing, in so far as an expression of the Chief of Staff is concerned, as confidential.
I note your renewed offer of service and I shall certainly keep you in mind, but I was astonished to be reminded that two years had passed since your resignation; it seemed a matter of a few months to me.
With my warm regards to Mrs. Davis,
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. Davis, a Chicago banker, had been a colonel in the Illinois National Guard until he resigned in 1938. He wrote to Marshall that he had recently visited a company at the Citizens’ Military Training Camp at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. “For the most part I was very much impressed with the caliber of the men and their sincerity, although none of them seemed to know exactly why they are there or what the purpose may be of their training. . . . Most of them seemed to feel that their training will lead to a Reserve Commission of some sort.” (Davis to Marshall, July 18, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Grenville Clark of the Military Training Camps Association was particularly displeased with Marshall’s opposition to holding the camps. Clark’s friend, John McAuley Palmer, wrote a lengthy defense of the chief of staff’s position, asserting that Clark was wrong. “If Marshall opposes it [i.e. the September camps program], it is not from timidity or lack of imagination but because he believes that the War Department’s limited resources can be used to better advantage.” (Palmer to Clark, July 26, 1940, Dartmouth/Grenville Clark Papers. This document is published in I. B. Holley, Jr., General John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldiers, and the Army of a Democracy [Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982], pp. 597-99.) On July 18 Secretary Stimson received information that enthusiasm for the September camps was less widespread than he had believed. On August 8 he had a long talk with Marshall about the camps after which he noted in his diary that the conditions which the army insisted upon imposing on the camps, the delay in passing the draft bill, and the other work the army had to do made “it very questionable whether we ought to have them.” Finally, on August 14, Stimson told Clark that he was “inclined to think that whole project had better be abandoned for the present.” (July 18, August 8 and 14, 1940, Yale/ H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 30: 19, 74, 87].)
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. 273-274.