1-463 To Lieutenant Colonel Walton H. Walker, December 21, 1937

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 21, 1937

To Lieutenant Colonel Walton H. Walker1

December 21, 1937 Vancouver Barracks, Washington

Dear Walker:

I appreciated very much your letter inclosing the clipping.2 What you have told me is all that I have heard aside from the newspaper reports.

Confidentially, there appears to be a little more to this than is evident on the surface. Fox Conner and myself were on the original organization board immediately after the passage of the National Defense Act in 1920. We stood out for a division of not to exceed 13,000 [men], but were finally forced to compromise with the proponents of a division of 27,000 on a limit of 18,000. For a time Conner contemplated submitting a minority report, but I persuaded him not to do this. In the end, we drafted a letter for General Pershing’s signature which set forth our views, in which he concurred. As he was not Chief of Staff at the time, this was the only way we could legislate, and he was embarrassed in his action by reason of the fact that an AEF Board in 1919 recommended a large division.

Now, it would appear that this special board with only Conner and myself named, is sort of a “stacked deck” to secure the smaller division against the almost certain opposition of a large number of influential officers. Please treat this as for your eyes only, as it is only a mere conjecture and might seriously embarrass General Craig.3 But it may serve to enable you to tip me off in advance of the course of events.

It is very good of you and Mrs. Walker to ask me to stay with you and I appreciate your hospitality. Moore told us that you had a beautiful and spacious apartment.4

I am giving Mrs. Marshall a surprise tomorrow by bringing on her elder boy from Chicago, for Christmas. He is driving out in order to sell his car out here; I have been much concerned about his crossing the continental divide in this season of the year, but he jumped from Cheyenne to Rupert, west of Pocatello in one hop yesterday. So I imagine he will spend tonight in Pendleton. He is picking up a friend in Boise, and no one in the house has any intimation of their approach.

With my Christmas greetings to you both and best wishes for the New Year, and a slap on the seat for Sam,5

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Walker (V.M.I., 1907-8; U.S.M.A., 1912) had been The Vancouver Barracks post executive (August, 1936-August, 1937) before being assigned to duty with the War Plans Division in Washington, D.C.

2. Neither the letter nor the clipping was found in the Marshall papers.

3. The New York Times had reported that General Craig was expected to set up a board composed of Marshall, Major General Fox Conner, and one other general officer to study the results of the reports of the “streamlined” division at Fort Sam Houston and to establish the organization for the new division. The new division was to be about half the size of the current twenty-two-thousand-man division, have increased mobility, and use modern equipment and arms. (New York Times, November 12 and December 13, 1937.)

4. Major William C. Moore was stationed at Vancouver Barracks with the Seventh Infantry.

5. Sam S. Walker, Lieutenant Colonel Walker’s son.

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. 572-573.

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Holding ID: 1-463

Rights: Public Information