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To Major General Edward W. Nichols
May 27, 1917 Governors Island, New York
My dear General:
In compliance with your request at the Alumni Dinner the other evening in New York, I am sending you herewith a statement of my military service to date. I am also sending you a copy of my efficiency report for the year 1916, now on file in the War Department. I feel rather embarrassed in sending you the efficiency report, as it is much better than I deserve and much better than I will ever receive in the future. Colonel Hagood likes me and was extravagant, to put it mildly, in his estimate of my ability. However, as the report includes a rating of me by two of the present Major Generals of the Army, I value it very highly. Officers are not supposed to see their own efficiency reports unless they call personally at the office of the Adjutant General in the War Department. General Bell handed me mine so that I could see what Colonel Hagood had written, and I then made a rough copy. They are supposed to be confidential, but I merely wanted you to know just what was on file regarding my record for the past year in the War Department.1
I wrote to you yesterday for General Bell. Today I received a notice of the commencment exercises. I see that General Black will be present. If I can possibly arrange it I want to be there at least one day that week.
With renewed thanks for your kind offers of the other night,
Very respectfully yours,
G. C. Marshall, Jr.
Document Copy Text Source: Alumni File, Virginia Military Institute Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Author-typed letter signed.
1. Generals Liggett and Bell rated Marshall “excellent” on all points, highly praising his military knowledge, judgment, and discretion. Both thought him qualified to be chief of staff of a division or a corps. Bell remarked that Marshall was “an exceptionally rapid, systematic worker. Never forgets and is capable of accomplishing much in time available. Always cheerfully willing, never excited or rushed, cool and level-headed. A good countervail for me.”
Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Hagood, under whom Marshall served at Fort Douglas, Utah, in response to a question as to whether he would like the officer being evaluated to be under his command stated: “Yes. But I would prefer to serve under his command." Hagood also thought Marshall should be a major general of volunteers. “In my judgment there are not five officers in the Army as well qualified as he is to command a division in the field." Was Marshall fitted for promotion to the next highest grade? “Yes. He should be made a Brigadier General in the Regular Army and every day this is postponed is a loss to the Army and to the Nation." Finally, under “Remarks,” Hagood wrote: “I have known this officer many years by reputation and served with him in the P. I. during the Batangas Maneuvers . He is a military genius and one of those rare cases of wonderful military development during peace. He is of the proper age, has had the training and experience, and possesses the ability to command large bodies of troops in the field. The army and the nation sorely needs such men in the grade of General Officer at this time, and if I had the power I would nominate him to fill the next vacancy in grade of Brigadier General in the line of the army notwithstanding the law limiting the selection to Colonels. He is my junior by over 1800 files." (Marshall’s typed copy of the efficiency report is cited here. The original is in NA/201 File.)
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. 103-104.