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To Lieutenant General Walter Krueger
June 13, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Confidential
Relative to Atkins’ relief: You state in your letter, “I do not have confidence in his ability effectively to function as Chief of Staff of the Third Army and prefer a younger man for that position. Therefore, I earnestly request that he be given a command assignment.”1
I am ordering Colonel Eisenhower to your headquarters, but meanwhile I wish a more definite recommendation from you regarding Atkins. He will be sixty-two in November, far too old for a brigade command or to propose him to the President for a major generalcy to command a division. I am, therefore, embarrassed by your recommendation of a command assignment, as much as I am embarrassed with the difficulty of finding an appropriate place for Atkins. General Brees expressed the same view in this matter that you have as to Atkins’ qualifications for Chief of Staff of the Third Army. All of us are concerned to protect his reputation and avoid a hurt to his pride; however, the troops come first.
Please let me hear from you by air mail.2
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. In a letter to Marshall, Krueger had requested the relief of Colonel Joseph A. Atkins (U.S.M.A., 1904) as Third Army chief of staff. Krueger then elaborated on the qualifications of a field army’s chief of staff: “In my judgment, that position demands a younger man, one possessing broad vision, progressive ideas, a thorough grasp of the magnitude of the problems involved in handling an Army, and lots of initiative and resourcefulness. Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, Infantry, is such a man, and I urgently request that he be detailed to replace Atkins as Chief of Staff of the Third Army.” (Krueger to Marshall, June 11, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Eisenhower (U.S.M.A., 1915) had been promoted to colonel on March 6, 1941, and was chief of staff of the Ninth Army Corps at Fort Lewis, Washington.
2. In his reply to the chief of staff, Krueger recommended Atkins for an administrative command such as a port of embarkation or a reception center. (Krueger to Marshall, June 14, 1941, ibid.) Atkins retired in October 1941.
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. 533-534.