1-184 To Colonel John McA. Palmer, April 15, 1921

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 15, 1921

To Colonel John McA. Palmer

April 15, 1921 Washington, D.C.

My dear Colonel:

I want you to know how sorry I was not to find your name in the list of renominations and I can only hope that sooner or later you will receive your just dues.1

Yesterday I handed your letter to the General and had a talk with him about it before he read it.2 Attached hereto is his note when he sent it back to me; my note in reply to his; and his final remark.3 From this you will see that he proposes using his influence to have you detailed as you desire. I will keep you advised as to what is happening. Please return the slip so that I may attach it to your letter for our record.

I was delighted to see you and Mrs. Palmer the other day. Please give her my love, keeping a fair share for yourself.

Faithfully yours,


Document Copy Text Source: John McA. Palmer Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document Format: Typed letter signed.

1. On March 10, 1921, Pershing submitted a list of fourteen men to be promoted to major general and twenty-eight to brigadier general. These nominations covered the total number of vacancies expected during 1921. Palmer’s name was on a "Supplementary List" with four others recommended for brigadier. (Pershing to Weeks, March 10, 1921, NA/RG PRSHG [J. J. Pershing Papers].)

2. Palmer, in a letter to General Pershing dated April 4, 1921, suggested that he use his writing talents to help solve the country’s confusion over military policy. He hoped to do for the army what Alfred T. Mahan had done for the navy in the 1890s: develop "a philosophy of military organization, at once satisfactory to the practical soldier and in harmony with our traditional political ideals."

Given the leisure, Palmer wrote, he would produce some articles for the popular press aimed at influencing national military policy and later a brief history of the army as a political institution. But he was financially unable to retire from the army. "Under these circumstances, I have decided to ask you whether if you think my aim a useful one, you will not arrange to have me placed on special duty in Washington, under your orders or in some other capacity for a time, so that I can have an opportunity to work up my material with access to the Staff College Library." (Palmer to Pershing, April 4, 1921, LC/J. McA. Palmer Papers.)

3. Pershing noted that Palmer would be of greater service in the army than as a civilian. To Marshall’s query—"Will you use your influence to have him detailed to duty as he suggests?"—Pershing responded, "Yes." (Pershing to Marshall, April 14, 1921, ibid.)

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. 208-209.

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