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To Major General Philip B. Peyton
March 31, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
I have your letter of March 27th, regarding the Armored Force. I agree with you completely on the question of imagination in connection with the development of that outfit—in contrast to too much concentration on carburetors and chassis. I don’t think you really appreciate what they now have, because I am frequently made the recipient of what seem to be pretty wild imaginings. So it is not a cut and dried business by any means.1
I was very sorry the other day that I had to be so hurried in my visit with you. As a matter of fact, that particular day I had to complete my inspection at Jackson, get into conference with corps and division officers at Atlanta, inspect the 22d Division at McClellan, and have a conference with the officers of the Southeast Training Center at Montgomery, not to mention the West Point broadcast. The latter part of my day was spent flying in an open plane in a rain-storm, with one leg slowing congealing. However, I managed to keep up with the schedule. I believe you have the President with you at Columbia today.2 I am sorry that you could not receive him.
With affectionate regards,
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. Peyton reminded Marshall that the latter had been chosen as assistant commandant of the Infantry School in 1927 because of his imaginative leadership. “I feel that imagination is the limiting factor in the development of the Armored Force but I think that also, as in your case, imagination has to be supported by a background of study and of experience.” Although reluctant to draw conclusions from previous maneuvers, Peyton argued: “I know most of the men with the Armored Force who are former tankers and I know some of the men who are reconditioned cavalrymen, who are inclined to regard mechanized equipment as steel horses. I think the tactical and strategical possibilities of the Armored Forces will more surely be realized by men who have not the limitations of most of the people I have referred to.” Peyton wanted men who “will do more than merely ape the Germans.” Imaginative officers would “beat the Germans at their own game.“ (Peyton to Marshall, March 27, 1941, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Roosevelt inspected troops at Fort Jackson, near Columbia, South Carolina, on the morning of March 31.
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. 461-462,