4-303 To General Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 20, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 20, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General Dwight D. Eisenhower

March 20, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Personal and Confidential

Dear Eisenhower:

I have felt that we should make a special effort to give you a few more men who have had battle experience and who have demonstrated on this side that they are in an aggressive mood and have developed well in the training program. McNair is going over all of his units, particularly those not due to sail before May to see who among Regimental, Brigade, and Division commanders might be detached from their units and sent over to you to be immediately available as replacements for men regarding whom you have any doubts.

Without waiting for his more detailed report I shall mention the names of two men who I am told are excellent material, Brig. General Edmund B. Sebree, who was Chief of Staff and then a Brigadier General in the Americal Division fighting at Guadalcanal, and Brig. General Robert C. Macon, who is in the 83rd Division due to sail for your command in May, who was in the Tunisian Torch only fighting. I told McNair that I wasn’t so much interested in the Ground Forces appreciation of their tactical skill as I was in having sturdy, aggressive fighters who would stand up during moments of adversity. I referred to the fact that we had had to relieve two Corps commanders in the middle of a landing and we couldn’t relieve any more without a most serious loss of prestige. What seemed to be lacking in each case was aggressive qualities, though due to different reasons, Lucas’ being fatigue.

If you want either of the above men they will be sent to you immediately. Meanwhile McNair is digging up the names of others in the three grades I mentioned which I shall radio to you, on the basis that you may wish to have them there available for quick assignment where you have any doubts about the aggressive, sturdy fighting capacity of men now on your hands.1

I checked up on Terry Allen but McNair is not enthusiastic. He doesn’t like Terry’s tactics, though to what extent he still has drive, I don’t know. I also looked up Alec Stark and found he had gone to the Pacific and was not favorably reported upon.2

The point I wish to make is, it is my desire to provide for you all the skill that we can muster for the first four weeks of your battle and you will not be involved in quibbles with G-1 for personnel, but radio to me direct if you have any ideas on the subject.3

Faithfully yours,

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 March 21 General Marshall sent to Eisenhower a list of major generals, brigadier generals, and colonels who had been selected by Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair for their battle experience and favorable leadership prospects. (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio No. 349, March 21, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-8872)].)

2. Major General Terry de la M. Allen had been commanding general of the 104th Infantry Division since October 1943. See note 1, Marshall to Kelland, February 5, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-227 [4: 266]. Brigadier General Alexander N. Stark, Jr., had been regarded by Marshall as “one of the outstanding field soldiers in the Army.” Marshall had written in February 1940 that Stark “demonstrated successfully in the War in the Meuse-Argonne, and gave me a peacetime demonstration with the CCC. He, Terry Allen, and one or two others, there are very few of them, are of that unusual type who enthuse all of their subordinates and carry through almost impossible tasks.” (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-134 [2: 172].)

3. Eisenhower replied that he would take Macon. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1795-96.) In January 1944 Macon had assumed command of the Eighty-third Infantry Division. Sebree was assistant division commander of the Thirty-fifth Infantry Division. He accompanied the division to the European Theater of Operations, and he commanded a task force composed mostly of Thirty-fifth Division troops reinforced by tanks and corps artillery in combat at Saint-L

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Holding ID: 4-303

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