1-211 To General John J. Pershing, January 18, 1924

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 18, 1924

To General John J. Pershing

January 18, 1924 Washington, D.C.

My dear General:

I was in Baltimore the night of the 10th to talk to the Reserve and National Guard officers on the Mobilization of the Citizen Army. Several officers from the Third Corps Area Staff were there, and my mode or style of address was considerably cramped by the presence in the front row of General Muir.1 However, the talk seemed to create a favorable reaction.

On Monday, the 14th, I left for Culver at General Gignilliat’s invitation, and on the following day talked to the Corps of Cadets and the faculty, on The Organization and Operations of the American Expeditionary Forces, inspected the school, reviewed the Corps of Cadets, and that evening talked to the First Class and the faculty on matters pertaining to the R.O.T.C., Reserve Corps, Citizen Army, and the effect of our school histories and methods of teaching them, on the National Defense.2 I had a very busy day there and was much impressed by the institution. They all are still enthusiastic over your brief visit. Tuesday night General and Mrs. Gignilliat gave me a dinner, followed by a dance. I left the next morning for Washington, arriving here yesterday.

On my return I found your two notes with the Plates for the band uniforms, and I have sent the Quartermaster General a memorandum regarding the making of a model cap and uniform in accordance with your instructions. I will keep you advised of developments. I also received your note regarding the tailor-made uniforms for enlisted men and am now checking up on that and will send you the data tomorrow or next day. I plan to inspect one unit in the uniform, but I do not think they have been received yet,3 for it was only about three weeks ago that we were able to get in our orders for the men in your detachment. General Hines is now absent, but I will bring up these uniform questions with him as soon as he returns.

Your messages regarding the Christmas cablegram, condolences to General Hart, etc., will be delivered.4 I intend taking the liberty of telling General Wells what you had to say about the boots.5

Now as to the date of your return to the United States, the bill before Congress regarding your status on the active list, and the possibility of your resigning as Chief of Staff. I have been following the bill in Congress and up to the present time have not received a very definite reaction. There seems to be no possibility regarding its failure of passage by practically unanimous vote in the Senate, but the attitude of the House of Representatives is not clear. There has been some talk about the danger of establishing a precedent which might be harmful in the future; and there have been references to the adverse effect of Admiral Dewey’s conservative attitude during the latter years of his life. However, I am inclined to the belief that the points just mentioned, have been advanced to disguise other motives; for example, the hostility of the New England group. This, however, I have not been able to verify. It has been my intention to “let Nature take its course” for a time, and then if it did not appear that the bill would be pressed for passage or would be passed by practically a unanimous vote, I intended, without your knowledge, to bring pressure to bear in the proper quarters through the medium of every warm supporter of yours I know in the United States. I feel certain that it would be possible for me to force this bill through by a highly complimentary vote, and I feel that nothing else should be tolerated, the bill having once been introduced.

In view of the foregoing, it seems to me that your absence in Europe places you in a good strategical position at this time, and if at all practicable, you should not return until this legislative matter has been cleared up. I cannot see any urgent reason why you should return to this country within the next two or three months, but as soon as General Hines returns from Panama, I will talk over the matter with him;—confidentially of course, and without disclosing anything regarding your letters to me and mine to you.

As to your resignation as Chief of Staff immediately upon the passage of this bill, I am not prepared to give you my opinion at this time, as this particular thought had not occurred to me until your letter arrived, and I will want sometime to consider the matter.6

The plans for the maneuvers or test mobilization (National Defense Day), are going forward apparently in good shape and according to your ideas. Drum has immediate control of the affair and you can depend upon its energetic development under his direction and his resourcefulness in finding ways and means.7 The Secretary of War formally approved the project about two weeks ago. I will send you a copy of the formal instructions to the various Sections of the Staff and the Chiefs of Arms or Services as soon as it is issued, which will probably be within two or three days.

I just sent back to Leavenworth this morning the final check of the page proof of the First Army Report. They will probably begin printing for publication in a week or ten days. If any errors develop in the published report I will be sick at heart, for we have taken infinite care in checking over the last two page proofs. If none develop, I will feel vastly relieved to have this out of the way.

I am delighted that you have worked so hard on your Memoirs, and your dissatisfaction with what you have done is but a normal reaction for you. The longer you work on it, undoubtedly the less you will be pleased with it, because the monotony of the operation will dishearten any one.


G. C. Marshall, Jr.

Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document Format: Typed letter signed.

1. Major General Charles H. Muir (U.S.M.A., 1885) commanded the Third Corps Area.

2. Brigadier General Leigh R. Gignilliat (V.M.I., 1895) had been superintendent of Culver Military Academy, Culver, Indiana, since 1910. During the war one of his assignments had been to the General Staff at A.E.F. General Headquarters at Chaumont, France. Since 1921 he had commanded the Reserve Corps’ 168th Infantry.

Marshall’s talk to the first classmen and faculty was a longer version of his lecture given on February 10, 1923, printed above (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-196 [1: 219-222]).

3. In the margin beside this sentence, Marshall wrote: “They have not been received yet.”

4. The sister of Major General William H. Hart, the quartermaster general, was buried December 7, 1923.

5. Brigadier General Briant H. Wells, commandant of the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, had irritated American bootmakers by suggesting to his officers that they order their boots from London’s Peal and Company. Marshall remarked: “The next time I imagine he will do the thing less directly.” (Marshall to Pershing, December 7, 1923, LC/J. J. Pershing Papers [General Correspondence].) Pershing responded: “I am glad that Wells took up the question of boots even at the expense of bringing down upon his head the wrath of American bootmakers who are generally speaking far inferior to the people over here.” (Pershing to Marshall, January 2, 1924, ibid.)

6. “Confidentially,” Pershing wrote to Marshall on January 2, 1924, “if this new provision to retain me on active service should prevail, it seems to me that I should resign as Chief of Staff at once unless there appears some very grave reason for not doing so.” Pershing solicited Marshall’s views on this and on the advisability of staying longer in France. (Ibid.)

7. Brigadier General Hugh A. Drum had become assistant chief of staff, G-3, on December 4, 1923.

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. 249-251.

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