1-376 To Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Davis, April 2, 1935

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 2, 1935

To Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Davis

April 2, 1935 [Chicago, Illinois]

Dear Colonel:

Your letter of April 1st was in the mail this morning and interested me tremendously.1 I am so glad you gave me your view of the whole affair, and I am delighted to learn what a great success it was. I had Captain Potter describing the affair to me, when he was in last Saturday.2 I think you are to be congratulated not only in having put over a fine appearance, but in having done some pioneer work in demonstrating what can be done by scattered units— yours are about as well scattered as any could be, outside of the State of Texas.

The matter interested me greatly, because it strikes at the great weaknesses of the National Guard—poor instructors, who in turn involve the Guard in a tremendous loss of time—aside from the fact that instructional work is inefficiently handled. I am looking forward to the write-up of the affair, because I want to play it up strong in the May issue of the GUARDSMAN. Incidentally, I may find it desirable to insert some portions of your letter to me, if this does not meet your disapproval. The photograph I will use in illustration of the article.

Speaking of the GUARDSMAN, I have heard that there have been numerous instances where my instructors have found whole months issues of the GUARDSMAN stacked up in storerooms and forgotten, company commanders not having seen to delivery to the men. In one case, I believe they found copies covering two months, not one of which had been delivered to the men. Considering that this matter is the particular desire of the Division Commander, represents a display of poor cooperation on the part of the company commander and he would probably fail to a greater degree in the field—because “The Leopard does not change his spots.”

Aside from the question of working up interest in the GUARDSMAN, I am more deeply concerned in its usefulness for general instruction purposes in a sugar-coated form. For example, the description of your Cairo School will undoubtedly lead to others of the same kind, just as previous descriptions of certain instructional methods or arrangements have led to their duplication in other units. I find that some of our little crude puzzles, which are merely tactical problems under another name, have stirred up more intelligent study and investigation than hours of routine instruction. So, we are going into a whole page of so-called puzzles.

I hope nothing interferes with the inspection of some of your units in May. I was very sorry that the plan for the end of March fell through, because of engagements General Keehn had to meet in Washington. He is now in California and probably will not be back until about the 10th, and then will probably have to go immediately to Washington in connection with the program for armory construction.

We are having a Critique tomorrow night for the Division Staff and all the field officers in town on the War Game.3 I am sorry you cannot be here, because I think it will be interesting. I have never seen in tactical problems, or in the field, a situation which so clearly illustrated the possibilities of all methods of leadership by regimental commanders, and I am trying to utilize a discussion of this to make clear what should and what must be done in the field.

Apparently our program for summer camps goes through without any changes over what has already been published in the GUARDSMAN. I am still delayed in preparing the formal program, because we are trying to locate some land within a reasonable distance of [Camp] Grant where a decent maneuver can be held in the middle of the second week.

With my regards to Mrs. Davis, believe me

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Davis commanded the 130th Infantry in southern Illinois. His letter explained the regiment’s annual school held March 22-24 in Cairo, Illinois. Marshall quoted Davis’s letter in “An Infantry Convoy and School for Instructors: 130th Infantry Initiates Winter Use of Trucks,” Illinois Guardsman 2 (May 1935): 8-9.

2. Captain Harold E. Potter was a Regular Army inspector assigned to the Illinois National Guard.

3. On March 8 the Thirty-third Division and attached troops held a Command Post Exercise in the 131st Infantry armory in Chicago, concluding a combined map problem-war game exercise initiated in the fall and resembling the New Jersey CPX held in September, 1934.

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. 465-466.

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