1-390 To Major Benjamin F. Caffey, Jr., October 25, 1935

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 25, 1935

To Major Benjamin F. Caffey, Jr.

October 25, 1935 [Chicago, Illinois]

My dear Caffey:

I was much interested in your letter of October 8th regarding the Fourth Army CPX.1 What you say is much what I saw in New Jersey September a year ago. As a matter of fact, I have had to be increasingly careful in expressing my views, because they are so antagonistic to what seems to be the thought and practice in the army today. The truth of the matter is, I think you and I had an unusual opportunity to see things in France, over a long enough period of time and through a sufficient variation of situations, to give us a little bit different viewpoint than the average officer. I recall that during the Meuse-Argonne I found my ideas at decided variance from the ideas of most people, and I still find them so.

This question of the liaison at the front, or transmission of information to the rear, has been a special point I have been taking up with the 33d Division this year in preparing for the army maneuvers to be held in this Corps Area next summer. In our maneuvers last summer, in which we had skeleton division staffs on both sides, they followed very much the practice of the First Division at Soisson—with you in an advanced CP, to keep in better touch with what was going on. Also, I had them follow the practice I used to use at Souilly—that is, sending someone to find out what was really going on, and, in particular, to find out if the orders and plans of the Division were practical and could be really carried out.

I know if I have a division in war, I will have around me a group of three or four young officers and about ten sergeants—the latter accomplished communication experts—whose sole business in life will be to keep me informed as to what is actually going on. I know of no other way to meet the situation which is bound to arise, and will be greatly exaggerated in mobile warfare situations, which we have never yet experienced.

I declined an invitation to go to Santa Fe with the National Guard Convention delegates, though I went to Nashville last year. Possibly you went along with your Nebraska people.

With warm regards to Mrs. Caffey and yourself,

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. Caffey wrote that the Command Post Exercise was “discouraging, indeed, most discouraging, because it resulted in straight frontal attacks for three days or until the Army itself made an envelopment of the enemy north flank with a mechanized cavalry brigade and a motorized infantry brigade; it was discouraging because logistically the movements ordered were impracticable; it was discouraging because of the immense amount of paper work involved." Moreover, Caffey wrote, “I have become rather a “nut” on the question of commanders getting information of their subordinate units. We know what a difficult time we had in the World War and if it were difficult then, what will it be in a war of movement?” (Caffey to Marshall, October 8, 1935, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Illinois National Guard].)

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. 476-477.

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