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To Major General William N. Haskell1
December 14, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Confidential
I found your letter of December 11th on my return to the office this afternoon from an inspection trip to the Southeast.
I recall Colonel Tobin, and am very glad to have your suggestion as to his possible appointment for the National Guard. So far we have done nothing in the matter and, strange to say, there has been very little pressure. I think this has been due largely to the fine attitude of avoidance of embarrassing the War Department in the present crisis. Of course there is push and pull, but I gather that it is remarkably little in comparison to previous years.2
I wish you would write me a personal note of your own reactions to this extra training we had to hand out to the National Guard. It was very difficult of management in the northern latitudes, and I am anxious to learn just what the reaction has been, as to efficiency gained, as to loss of time from absence of job, and as to employers. I would appreciate your writing.3
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. Haskell (U.S.M.A., 1901) had been appointed a major general and commanding general of the New York National Guard in 1926 after his resignation from the Regular Army.
2. Haskell recommended Colonel Ralph C. Tobin of New York’s 107th Infantry for the position of chief of the National Guard Bureau. “I am sure that he is experienced in National Guard matters; is non-political, and will cooperate with the Regular Army.” On the selection process for a new chief, Haskell commented, “I understand there are a bunch of political hacks that are after the job in Washington, but I am sure that Colonel Tobin would not enter into any such competition.” (Haskell to Marshall, December 11, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Within a week, Marshall appointed John F. Williams, one of the three National Guard colonels in the bureau’s office since 1936, to be the new chief effective January 31, 1940.
3. National Guard training had been increased to two drills a week and the troops spent seven days in the field in one- to three-day stretches starting in early November. Haskell replied that the training succeeded in improving efficiency morale was high and the improvised schedule provided local commanders with experience in planning and supply. Employers registered little opposition to the winter training; small businesses suffered the most, but corporations with large labor forces had few difficulties. He recommended that cold weather clothing and equipment be issued to the National Guard if Marshall contemplated another winter training period; the New York troops had borrowed equipment from the Civilian Conservation Corps. Haskell wanted to increase the number of annual drills from forty-eight to sixty, but cautioned that few men could attend drills two days per week. (New York Times, October 23, 1939, p. 3; Haskell to Marshall, December 21, 1939, NA /RG 407 [Classified, 353 (12-21-39)].)
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. 115-116.