1-357 To First Lieutenant Charles T. Lanham, October 29, 1934

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 29, 1934

To First Lieutenant Charles T. Lanham1

October 29, 1934 [Chicago, Illinois]

Dear Lanham:

I appreciated your letter of October 25th very much and was much interested in all you had to say. The fact that you young men are concerned over my advancement is very gratifying to me—more so than a similar interest from older officers would impress me.2

As to the Mailing List.—The reason I wrote as I did to Colonel Weeks was not merely to compliment him on Volume VIII, but more especially because I feared exactly the condition you describe.3 The situation during the development of this new form of Mailing List was similar to the present difficulty—only I was very fortunate in having some highly competent men to carry out my ideas. It is exceedingly hard to break in on the standardized instruction of courses in tactics and technique. I am having the same difficulty here, but have more freedom of action.

It is fine that “Infantry in Battle” is going over in such good style. Harding sent me Liddell Hart’s comments,4 but I have not seen any other review. I proposed to him that he have Fred Palmer write a review for the New York Times. I do not know whether this is the review you refer to or not.

As to your unhappiness at Leavenworth, go pretty easy on that.5 An able officer of low rank has a hard battle to fight, particularly with himself. Do not let this effect your morale, because you can never tell what moment the “worm turns." I have had plenty of experience at this business, and have watched many sink in mental irritation over the depressing outlook. Keep your wits about you and your eyes open; keep on working hard; sooner or later the opportunity will present itself, and then you must be prepared both tactically and temperamentally to profit by it.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Lanham (U.S.M.A., 1924) was a member of the Infantry School’s Company Officers’ Course, 1931-32. During the 1932-33 and 1933-34 school years, he was an instructor in military history and the editor of school publications. He edited Infantry in Battle (Washington, D.C.: Infantry Journal, 1934), for which Marshall wrote the introduction, and volume eight of the Infantry School Mailing List. Since June, 1934, he had been stationed at Fort Leavenworth with the Seventeenth Infantry.

2. “Your many prophets throughout the service are becoming a bit restive at the War Department’s delinquency in giving you your first star,” Lanham wrote in his October 25 letter. “The `old guard’ at Benning never allowed you more than a year in your present grade. I think we are far more chagrined at this inexcusable delay than you." (Lanham to Marshall, October 25, 1934, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Illinois National Guard].)

3. It was difficult to obtain essays for the Mailing List, Lanham observed, because they were printed without identifying the author. As a result, the editor frequently had to write most of the contents. Some kind of author recognition was essential; but the individual writer could not be identified because “if a lieutenant signed an article many an officer of field rank would never read it." Unless something was done soon, the Mailing List would “shortly become moribund." (Ibid.)

4. Captain Basil H. Liddell Hart was a well-known military correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph and the author of numerous books on military subjects.

5. Lanham said that he had asked for the Fort Leavenworth assignment “believing it was a stepping stone to school. I have revised that opinion. Unless one is a student or a member of the faculty here one is considered to be several theosophic planes lower than an ass. At least that is my impression. And it certainly does neither professional ardor nor the ego any good." (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. 439-440.

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