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To Douglas S. Freeman
December 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Dr. Freeman:
Thanks for your thoughtfulness in sending me Nehring’s book. I had the pages you recommended translated and was much interested in reading what he had to say.1 Also, I sent translations on this to McNair and to Devers—the latter the head of the Armored Force.
I don’t believe I had read your “Lee’s Lieutenants” when I acknowledged the book.2 I did read it within a few days after receiving it and was intensely interested. It made the following reaction on me: That my griefs over the personal feelings of leaders and subordinate leaders these days shrank into insignificance beside those of Lee; and that the resume you gave of the state of feeling among the various generals at the close of the Seven Days’ Battle is one of the most astonishing and instructive revelations of Civil War matters that I have seen. The miracle of the rapid and quiet adjustments effected by Lee between Malvern Hill and Second Manassas is possibly the strongest evidence of his capacity to command citizen-soldiers. I was so impressed with this, in connection with the present difficulties, that I gave the book to Sir John Dill to read and asked him to start with the paragraph that summarized the results of the Seven Days’ Battle. He has not yet had time to do this, but I will be interested in his reaction.
Sometime later on I will tell you of my own experiences of this character in the light of what you have written of the bitter dissensions among the Confederate generals during a period of successes, compared to the military dilemma of the North.
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. On November 14 General der Panzertruppen Walther Nehring, commander of the German Africa Corps, arrived in Tunisia to command a new corps being formed there to stop the Allied advance. In 1936 he had published Panzerabwehr [Antitank Defense], and Freeman sent a copy of it to Marshall with the observation: “It seems to contain some of his theories and some important facts on tactics. You might find it worth while to have somebody translate immediately pages 39-45.” (Howe, Northwest Africa, pp. 261-62; Freeman to Marshall, November 18, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. In early October Freeman had sent Marshall an advance copy of the first volume of his trilogy Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1942). Marshall replied: “I took it home with me and shall introduce it into my night reading course beginning today.” He also noted that he had just completed rereading Henry Kyd Douglas, I Rode With Stonewall (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1940). (Freeman to Marshall, October 2, 1942, and Marshall to Freeman, October 5, 1942, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 472-473.