2-112 To James F. Byrnes, January 25, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 25, 1940

To James F. Byrnes1

January 25, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Senator:

In thinking over our conversation of yesterday afternoon, when you were good enough to give me an opportunity to discuss the 1940 Deficiency Appropriation bill, I am inclined to think there were several matters which I did not make sufficiently clear.2

In the first place, the length of the maneuvers has no bearing on the expense, but what is more important, the prolongation of the period is due entirely to the delay in receiving the necessary motor transportation. We had hoped, and I had given instructions, that the maneuvers in the Southeast would be completed by April 15, not as a matter of economy—because none would be effected, but in order to get these troops back to their home stations in time to undertake the heavy program of civilian military training for the summer. However, I found that we would be seriously defeating the purpose of the maneuvers if we did this, because the troops would be forced to operate with such a limited portion of their transportation that the lessons of the maneuvers would be lost to a serious extent. The undertaking involves too much money and is too important to the Army and national defense to be so seriously limited by premature termination of the exercises.

In order that you may have a clear picture of this, I am attaching a list of the scheduled deliveries from the various manufacturers who are involved in the motor transportation question. In this connection, aside from the heavy pressure being exerted by the Quartermaster General’s Department, I have personally been in communication with the heads of the various firms, and while they are doing everything they can to expedite deliveries, and we are assuming that they will make some gains, yet you can see to what extent we are embarrassed, notwithstanding the fact that the advertisement for the bids was circulated last October.3

There is also this further consideration, that after the date of delivery, the vehicle must be received, broken in and integrated into trains and tactical organizations.

The second matter to a certain extent relates to the foregoing in that it has to do with transportation. I gathered from what you said that there had been a confusion of understanding with relation to the charges for transportation. I feel that the War Department is at fault in this matter because it used the same word “transportation” to refer to two different items, one was a ride in a common carrier or by Army transport, or for gasoline to propel a truck; while the other item under “transportation” referred to the purchase of vehicles which had heretofore been lacking, and which are needed to tow or carry the heavy weapons and the crews for the same, and to transport supplies, tasks formerly performed by horse and mule teams.

The third point relates to the acquisition of land in Puerto Rico. I radioed General Daley, as you suggested, and hope to have an answer from him very shortly. I find that the settlement of this land is or was to be determined on the basis of condemnation proceedings, so if any excess should be appropriated, it would revert to the Government in any event. I also find that during my absence on the West Coast, General Daley had reported that in order to effect a reduction in the property cost of this land, he was planning to permit the owners to harvest their sugar cane so far as would be practicable without interfering with the urgently needed temporary construction.

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. A Democrat from South Carolina, Byrnes served on the senate Appropriations committee.

2. Marshall was referring to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation sill for 1940, [H.R. 7805] which was enacted on February 12,1940.

3. The transportation problem is discussed in Marshall to Kaufman T. Keller, December 18, 1939, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-089 [2: 117-18].

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 147-148.

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