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To General John J. Pershing
March 17, 1925 Tientsin, China
My dear General:
We were much concerned to read in the wireless news that you had been ill in Cuba. However, I am hoping it was merely some mild stomach trouble brought on by too many banquets.1 Since the first press notice we have read that you had recovered and were again attending official functions. Juding from the trips I have taken with you, I imagine your recent tour was the most strenuous of your experience.
Things go on here without any special excitements, tho it looks as tho there might be trouble again this summer. But out here you can rarely judge by surface or apparent conditions. The real scheming is entirely beneath the surface; apparent foes are intriguing friends, and friends are doubtful propositions. So far as I can judge, the various provinces run almost independent of Pekin and all government is nothing more than martial law. They permit the courts or officials to function or they ignore them and take arbitrary action just as they, meaning the momentarily “top” men, deem best for their purpose. Nothing is safe from seizure or confiscation. Personal liberty is always in jeopardy.
I think I made a wise decision in selecting China for station as there appear to be more prospects for interesting events here than elsewhere. I have done my best to perfect myself in Chinese and last week caught up with the first class to start Chinese instruction in February, 1924. At my present rate I should be well ahead of them in another month. Yesterday, while conducting a summary court trial, I drew a Chinese witness who could not speak or understand English. Rather than hold over the case until an interpreter could be secured, I took his testimony in Chinese and did not have very much trouble in handling him. If any one had told me last summer that I would soon be able to grunt and whine intelligible Chinese I would have ridiculed the idea.
We are now having interesting little maneuvers based on our local defense plan. I have steared clear of “Red” and “Blue” states and all circumstances and situations not probable in any difficulties out here.2
With affectionate regards from Mrs. Marshall and myself,
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. In a letter dated May 29, 1925, Pershing told Marshall that he had had “a very bad case of amoebic dysentery.” (LC/J. J. Pershing Papers [General Correspondence].)
2. It was common United States Army practice for the opposing forces in war games and maneuvers to be designated by colors. For example, see the Brown Force versus White Force maneuver in the Philippine Islands in January, 1914, above (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-063-#1-066 [1: 77-79]).
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. 274-275.