2-421 To Major General Walter Krueger, April 14, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 14, 1941

To Major General Walter Krueger

April 14, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Krueger:

I returned to the office this morning and found your note of April 2d, which I much appreciate.1

I had hoped for an opportunity to talk to you at some length while I was on this recent inspection trip, but circumstances prevented. Therefore, I am forced to discuss matters with you by letter which, in the circumstances, is rather difficult.

I do not anticipate any difficulty in securing approval for your promotion to command of the Third Army, and I will try to settle the matter conclusively within the next few days, so that you can be certain as to your course for the immediate future. Incidentally, we have in mind the assignment of George Strong to replace you as Corps Commander. But more of that later.

Now, I intend to be entirely frank with you because in this great emergency my purpose is purely objective, and only personal in so far as is vital to the maintenance of morale. I want you to accept my comments in this light, because they are directed entirely to the purpose of the efficient development of the Third Army.

While I have known you for many years and have been well aware of your mental ability and of your tremendous capacity and willingness for hard work, there are several reactions of yours which have come to my attention from a number of directions during the past year which give me concern. In the first place, and the factor that possibly exercises the dominant influence I am troubled about, is the fact that you are very sensitive to criticism, to suggestions, and to anything that you think might not reflect to the best advantage for you personally. You are a man of decided opinions, along with great ability cultivated through many years of hard work, and as a partial result of this there has grown up the impression that you have a hard time hearing other people’s views and adapting them to your own use—and that you are evidently unaware of this reaction of yours. In the big picture of this emergency, you will have to follow another pattern if the best results are to be obtained.

Another phase of this same matter is your sensitiveness to possible or assumed criticism involved in any suggestions, coupled with your reaction to any course of action which you think might involve you unfavorably. There is much these days that those at the top have to take on the chin, and I must be certain that you will carry your full burden of the task in a self-effacing manner.

Finally, I have gotten the impression from a number of directions that where you do not fully agree with a policy you have a hard time working yourself up to a state of whole-hearted acceptance. I am not talking about a mere difference of views. Everybody has that about pretty much every new thing that comes up. I am referring, for example, to the desire of the War Department to have National Guard officers placed in command of Regular divisions last spring; I am also referring to the situation during the maneuvers of last May.2 It is quite possible that you would not even be able to determine just what I am referring to. That doesn’t matter, and I would not enter into any discussion of this with you in any event. I am merely trying to make my position clear to facilitate business during the coming critical period. And I want you to accept this letter as a frank statement with a sincere and a friendly purpose. I am telling you exactly what I think for the sole purpose of facilitating the development of this new army of ours, on which so much may depend.3

Faithfully yours,

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. The editors have not found Krueger’s April 2 note. Krueger commanded the Eighth Army Corps at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, from October 9, 1940, until becoming Third Army commander at San Antonio, Texas, in May 1941.

2. Marshall was probably referring to the critique of the maneuvers. On May 25, 1940, Lieutenant General Herbert J. Brees, chief control officer for the Third Army maneuvers, thoroughly criticized the leadership of the participating generals. (See Memorandum for General McNair, June 18, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-485 [2: 538-39].)

3. Krueger replied: “I offer neither explanation nor excuse, but accept your comments without reservation, in the same spirit in which they were offered, and will profit by them. I appreciate fully that, no matter in what capacity I may serve, I must obviate the impressions to which you refer. I shall do that. . . . You shall have no cause hereafter for anxiety on my account in this connection.” (Krueger to Marshall, April 20, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) On Krueger’s promotion, see Memorandum for the Secretary of War, May 3, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-439 [2: 492-93].


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. 473-474.

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