1-127 To Colonel Hamilton A. Smith, June 12, 1918

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 12, 1918

To Colonel Hamilton A. Smith1

June 12, 1918 [Tartigny], France

My dear Colonel Smith:

I have just received your note regarding memorandum on raids.2

The memorandum had a two-fold purpose, first: to have each regiment prepared so that if the Corps or Army made one of its sudden calls upon us as has been done in the past the regimental commander would have some chance to carry out a raid which had been carefully thought out; and second: to get the raid business started all along the front—that is, to have them doing in each regiment what you did in your regiment when you carried out your raid the other day.

What you say about the time required to arrange for a raid after it is planned is well understood. Our trouble has been that the demand has been made upon us in the afternoon to get prisoners the same night. Similar demands will probably be made in the future; but if all the plans have been prepared it will not be quite so unfair for the men. However, we have already established a great reputation with the Corps and Army for the daring patrolling that is continually carried out on our front and if we add to that, without any orders from the Army, frequent raids made at times chosen by the regimental commanders, I doubt if we receive many eleventh hour requests.

I do not think that there can be any question but what these raids are a military necessity at the present time. Every prisoner taken has contributed to the killing effect of our artillery fire, and has either reassured us as to the conditions in our front or given us some form of warning of what might be expected.

I think everyone here agrees with you about going to the Avre. Certainly the men would prefer to do something active rather than sit and take what is handed to them. However, no replacements are in sight. All our divisions are fast being employed and it is going to be pretty strenuous business pulling thru the next two months and if the division gets badly knocked about just at this time there is nothing to relieve it.

Here are some points that were reported by one of the Staff officers inspecting in the BELLE ASSISE region early yesterday morning:

—the wire in front of the line of resistance needs strengthening as there are only a few strands in most places;

—a great deal of paper (probably hard tack boxes, etc.) is strewn along in the vicinity of occupied trenches. This would photograph distinctly and give quite a clew as to our disposition;

—there were no alternate emplacements, or selected positions without emplacements, for the machine guns in LA LONGUE HAIE. As these woods would probably be heavily gassed the M.G.s to defend the draw would probably be put out of action;

—telephone wires were lying on the bottom of the boyaux where they are much more easily cut by shell fire or broken by passing men than if fastened to little stakes against the side of the trench.3

In connection with the above please do not think that we feel back here that no one is working up front, for we believe we have a pretty fair appreciation of how much everyone has done and how tired the men are.



Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of the First Division, Historical File, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed letter signed.

1. Smith (U.S.M.A., 1893) had been with Marshall on the Tenadores and at Mme Jouatte’s in Gondrecourt. At this time he commanded the Twenty-sixth Infantry. He was killed at Soissons in mid-July.

2. The memorandum could not be found.

3. Boyaux were zigzag connecting or approach trenches.

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. 141-142.

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