2-254 To Major General Claude V. Birkhead, September 9, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 9, 1940

To Major General Claude V. Birkhead

September 9, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Birkhead:

I received your note of September 3d, enclosing a memorandum of comments to your brigade, regimental, and separate unit commanders following the Maneuvers. I had not seen General Williams’ red ball letter, but I can guess what he had to say. I was much interested in reading your comments, and appreciate your very positive endeavor to quiet down the unfortunate effect of all these unnecessary and baseless rumors.1

I find that about three quarters of my time is occupied in meeting such things, not only as to the Guard but as to production of equipment, as to selective service, and as to every phase of national defense; it is a very difficult business.

My first objective is to see a genuine team developed, but it is a terrific job under the give and take procedure of a democracy. Just at present we are struggling with the uncertainties of selective service, when we will obtain the money for their training and shelter, and other matters of that kind. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in at the last moment in the munitions program appropriation of five billion, the money required for the construction of shelter for the National Guard. You can imagine how difficult it has been to make the necessary preparations under the conditions of uncertainty and lack of funds, and at the same time to guard against the inevitable assaults that would be or will be made if there should be any delay in conforming to a tentative schedule discussed before Congress a long time ago on the basis that definite action both as to authorizations and as to funds would be taken without the long delays that have since developed. However, I think we are getting the situation in hand, but the first requirement is that we have a team, and I thank you for your contribution to that idea.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Birkhead, commanding general of the Thirty-sixth Division, Texas National Guard, had sent his subordinates a memorandum congratulating them on the progress the division had made in its training. He also noted that Major General John F. Williams, chief of the National Guard Bureau, had recently sent Guard commanders a letter suggesting that he had heard numerous false rumors and unjust criticisms of the Regular Army were circulating. In his memorandum, Birkhead said that the rumors that the Regular Army intended to use rigorous physical examinations to eliminate the Guard’s higher commanders and that it intended to destroy the Guard, after its mobilization, by highly critical inspection reports were without foundation. He directed his commanders to instruct their officers to “prevent the building up of unfounded apprehensions and resentments which, if they exist, will in themselves have a very adverse effect on our efforts for National Defense. I cannot conceive of gentlemen of the high standard of the officers of our Army doing so dishonorable a thing and one so subversive of real National Defense. On the contrary, I believe that the Army is going to do its best to shoot square over the table with the Guard and not repeat the mistakes of the World War which sent so many civilian officers out of the service with bitter resentment towards the Regular Army.” (Birkhead Memorandum to Brigade, Regimental, and Separate Unit Commanders, August 31, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

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. 300-301.

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