1-231 To General John J. Pershing, January 30, 1925

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 30, 1925

To General John J. Pershing

January 30, 1925 Tientsin, China

Dear General:

Knowing how little time you have at your own disposal, particularly between a return from Europe and departure for a long voyage to So. America,1 I appreciated tremendously your long letter of November 18th with an account of your arrangements in the War Department and your plans. I was glad to have Warren’s address and I wrote him something of what was going on in China that I thought might interest him.

I grow more and more satisfied with service in China. The officers of the regiment rate unusually high—as do their wives—and the training and school work is very interesting. They do a tremendous amount of athletics—soccer, rugby and American foot ball, basket and base ball, ice hockey, field sports, boxing and wrestling, &c. Most of the officers excell in one or more sports and several are outstanding stars. Just now we get a great deal of exercise and amusement out of our ice rink. They had not taken up skating for several years, so I got a big covered rink built, electric lights installed, warmed dressing rooms and a band room included, and we have fine sport. Three evenings a week we have music for the skating. Occasionally we have ice carnivals or ice athletic sports.

The war situation quieted down the latter part of November, but while it lasted we had very interesting work, which we really utilized as a training affair and polished up on all the details.

Today is “pay day” and we are up against the problem of cheap liquor and cheaper women,—Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Korean. I am relearning much about the practical side of handling men, but it seems much the same old problem. It is in administration that I find the greatest changes,—also in the thoroughness of the training.

With only five months of experience to judge from, I am more and more firmly of the opinion I held in the War Department, that our equipment, administrative proceedure and training requirements are all too complicated for anything but a purely professional army. I find the officers are highly developed in the technical handling or functioning of weapons, in target practice, in bayonet combat and in the special and intricate details of paper work or administration generally, but that when it comes to simple tactical problems, the actual details of troop leading, they all fall far below the standards they set in other matters. I suppose this is due to the fact that the application of the principles of troop leading and tactics is largely a matter of judgement, therefore the War Department, thru its inspectors and overseers, is more exacting about those questions which are matters of fact and can be determined in figures or percentages—or in matters of administration.

I have seen several references in local papers to your tour of South America. You must have had a splendid series of welcomes and a very interesting trip. Quek and Peter, no doubt had a fine time. I am sorry to hear that the latter intends to resign.2

I will be interested to hear how much work you have done on your book. Probably not much while traveling. But in Europe you will get down again to hard work.

I am coming along well in my Chinese. So far they only have prepared 75 of what they call lessons. I have reached No. 60, tho I started almost a year behind those who have just arrived at 75. Evidently my Chinese will be much better than my French.

I repeat again, how very much I appreciated your two letters.3 Please don’t forget me when ever you feel in the mood to dictate.

Affectionately yours,

G. C. Marshall, Jr.

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

Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.

1. Pershing had been in Europe during October and November, 1924. When the general returned to the United States, President Coolidge asked him to make a tour of Latin America, beginning with the celebration of the Battle of Ayacucho (December 9, 1824) in Lima, Peru. Pershing’s party traveled aboard the battleship U.S.S. Utah. They returned to the United States in mid-March, 1925.

2. Pershing’s former aides, Colonel John G. (“Quek”) Quekemeyer and Major Edward R. (“Peter”) Bowditch Jr., had rejoined the general for the Latin American trip.

3. Pershing’s letters of October 2 and November 18, 1924, are in LC/J. J. Pershing Papers (General Correspondence).

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. 273-274.

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