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To Mrs. W. H. Cathey
November 20, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mrs. Cathey:
I have received your letter of November 15th, regarding your son and the conditions at Camp Jackson and in Columbia South Carolina, and have given it a careful reading. I am not only concerned over the morale of the Army we are forming, but I am deeply concerned regarding the well being of the young men in the ranks.1
For your confidential information, I am sending a copy of your letter, with a note from me, to the Commander of the First Army, General Drum, and to the Corps Commander, General Short, at Columbia, in which the 30th Division is serving. Also I am having my Inspector look into the matter. You may be sure that it will not be given casual treatment, and that we will do our best to have conditions such as you and every other mother would desire.2
In response to your request, I have avoided disclosing your name.
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. Mrs. Cathey explained that she was the proud mother of “one of your new soldier boys,” but she felt compelled to protest to the highest authority certain conditions that she had observed during her visit to Fort Jackson, where her son was in training. “The drinking that I saw there among the soldiers is too terrible to describe.” She described the problem at length, noting that her son had accepted “courageously” the army’s hardships and living conditions, which to her “seemed little better than animals.” Moreover, “there is no kind of recreation,” and her son had been tired and ill. Nevertheless, she reported, he claimed to like the life. “I wanted to bring him home on a leave & get him well but he is so interested in his new antitank gun he didn’t want to come at this time.” (Cathey to Marshall, November 15, 1940, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. Marshall also sent a copy of Mrs. Cathey’s letter to Chief of Chaplains William R. Arnold. Major General Walter C. Short replied through Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum. Drum and Arnold replied that the picture of life at Fort Jackson was overdrawn. (Drum to Marshall, November 22, 1940, ibid.; Arnold to Marshall, November 25, 1940, ibid.) This mother’s letter and similar ones received by the War Department influenced the radio address Marshall delivered on November 29. (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-311 [2: 355-59.)
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), p. 353.