5-054 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 6, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 6, 1945

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

March 6, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Eisenhower:

I received several letters from you, which were much appreciated and gave us an excellent idea of the general situation. Your people are certainly doing fine work and seem to be trembling on the verge of still greater things. With your successes in Europe and MacArthur’s successes in the Philippines the public is greatly encouraged; however, there is a terrific drive on against the use of 18-year-old men in combat which has been fulminated by a speech by Senator Taft on the floor of the Senate, citing the case of the son of a friend of his.1 I was impressed yesterday with the difficulties of my position in the necessity of simultaneously answering attacks on the use of these young men and alleging the inadequacy of their training, and at the same time answering several radios, one in particular from MacArthur emphatically protesting against the shortage in replacements, and further, meeting the appeal of some of our commanders against further conversions of their men to infantry replacements. The combined circumstances could hardly present a more illogical pressure.

We are under attack of course for the inadequacy of our winter clothing and now for the charge that 75% of our materiel is inferior to that of the Germans. They grant that the jeep and the Garand rifle are all right but everything else is all wrong.2 Making war in a democracy is not a bed of roses.

On February 21 I sent a radio commenting on what I thought was a failure of adequate publicity regarding a specific operation of the Third Division. Later a message from your headquarters dated February 22 recited a long series of publicity releases regarding the fighting in which the Third Division was concerned. My comment on this is that I am not much interested in the explanation. What I am interested in is the result and I go back to my usual comparison, that had it been a Marine Division every phase of a rather dramatic incident would have been spread throughout the United States. They get the result, we do not. Our technique therefore must be faulty.3

The Secretary of War told me yesterday that Mr. [John J.] McCloy would probably go to your headquarters soon, whether or not on a permanent mission or a prolonged temporary mission I do not yet know, but having to do with the plans for control of German production, etc. I know you will welcome McCloy and that he will welcome the opportunity.

I received an interesting study this morning from Stilwell reporting on a series of experiments by the Ground Forces in methods for interdicting enemy movements under cover of darkness. The experiments were carried out with the L5 liaison plane which is capable of carrying a bombload of 500 pounds. The test would indicate that not only can the planes find their way along the highways close to the front much better than our fast-moving ships but the work can be done without undue hazards from antiaircraft. I will send you a copy of his report marked for your personal consideration—not that I want you to read it but that I do want to be certain that it goes to the proper person for consideration.4

The Secretary now has in his hands the proposal for promotions to the grade of full General. There are eight on the list and I could not figure out how to reduce the number without stirring up very hard feeling here and there. He is inclined to add Patton’s name and is studying the matter now on the ground that it will give great popular support to the entire list. My hesitation in this would relate to the effect on Hodges.5

The general list of promotions will not be submitted to the President until Congress has acted on the nominations of the full Generals—if the President sends it forward. I have included in the general list most of your battlefield proposals.

Would it not be good publicity now to release some mention of Collins and McLain and their work in the advance to Cologne and Dusseldorf?6

Good luck to you in your next effort. We will all be pulling for you.7

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. “I have now heard of numerous cases of boys sent into active combat after 7 months in the Army and without the vestige of any training except the basic 13 weeks,” declared Senator Robert A. Taft on February 27. He cited the case of Private Robert R. Pogue of Cincinnati who was “inducted the end of June, only a few days after his 18th birthday, left for a port of embarkation Christmas night and was killed in France on February 3.” (Congressional Record, 79th Cong., 1st sess., 1945, 91, pt. 2: 1475.)

2. “It is pure bosh to say that 75 per cent of our equipment is inferior to the German materiel,” Eisenhower replied on March 12. “Speaking generally the reverse is true although, of course, if you take the present Sherman and the Panther and put them in a slugging match the latter will win. One trouble is that even many of our professionals do not understand that a compromise in tank characteristics is necessary if we are to meet our own complex requirements in this type of equipment.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2520.)

3. On February 21 the chief of staff observed that the Third Division’s outstanding job in the reduction of the Colmar Pocket had not been publicized. “The 3rd Division has suffered more casualties since it went overseas than any other division in your theater. Could not some reference have been made to the spectacular nature of the performance, etc. such as a Marine show invariably gets.” While resigned to the oblivion surrounding the Army Band, Marshall felt that “many opportunities have been missed in not publicly recognizing outstanding accomplishments of some of our divisions. There is a field here which, if properly exploited, will assist greatly in the maintenance of the combat efficiency of a division through recognition of its accomplishments.” (Marshall to Eisenhower, Radio No. WAR-41075, February 21, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OPD, TS Message File (CM-OUT-41075)].) Eisenhower replied, “One of our difficulties in publicity for particular persons or units is making distinctions on such a big front where all have done extremely well.” It was easier for the Marines to publicize units and personalities because “the Army here has fifty divisions on a battle front; the Marine Corps normally has one or two in an island battle.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2520-21.)

4. “Have received study on night use of L-5 plane and am pressing investigations at once both by air and ground forces,” replied Eisenhower. (Ibid., p. 2519.)

5. Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges commanded the First Army. “I trust that the Secretary of War will wait for my recommendation before putting in Patton’s name for promotion. There is no one better acquainted than I with Patton’s good qualities and likewise with his limitations. In the past I have demonstrated my high opinion of him when it was not easy to do so,” replied Eisenhower on March 12. “In certain situations both Bradley and I would select Patton to command above any other general we have, but in other situations we would prefer Hodges.” (Ibid., p. 2520.)

6. Major General J. Lawton Collins commanded the Seventh Corps, and Major General Raymond S. McLain commanded the Nineteenth Corps.

7. Eisenhower told the chief of staff of “the pleasant feeling of `misery loves company’” he had received by reading a few of Marshall’s troubles. “Sometimes when I get tired of trying to arrange the blankets smoothly over several prima donnas in the same bed I think no one person in the world can have so many illogical problems. I read about your struggles concerning the eighteen year old men in combat, and about the criticism of our equipment, and went right back to work with a grin.” (Ibid., p. 2521.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 76-79.

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