1-068 To Stuart B. Marshall, March 21, 1914

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 21, 1914

To Stuart B. Marshall

March 21, 1914 Yokohama [Japan]

My dear Stuart-

I wrote you a short train letter on my way up here from Nagasaki, which I hope reached you all right. Tomorrow we leave for the Fujiya Hotel at Miyanoshita—a celebrated hotel in a wonderfully beautiful mountain region, with Fujiyama standing off in bold relief. We will probably stay there several weeks or a month.

On the assumption that you may be interested in the plan of the maneuvers which led up to my sick leave, I am going to give you a very brief description of them. To assist you in understanding I am enclosing a little skeleton map of the district concerned, which I tore out of one of “Cook’s” guide books.

The troops in the Islands are divided into two detachments. No. 1, and the most important, is for the land defense of the coast batteries at the entrance to Manila Bay—notably Corregidor which has been made stronger than Gibraltar. I am adjutant of this Detachment or Adjutant General as they formerly termed it. Det. No. 2 is principally composed of cavalry and is to operate against the rear or line of communication of any invading force landing north or south of the entrance to the Bay—at Batangas for example.

These detachments were first organized last September and I had been working on the mobilization, concentrations, supply plans, &c., of No. 1 all Fall. The Chief of Staff of No. 1 was absent during this period big game hunting in Indo-China, so I had all his work to do—particularly as the senior officer of the Det. (its commander) was not stationed near Manila and unfortunately was incapable of assisting and they were trying to force his retirement for mental and physical disability. All my work in this matter had to be done in addition to my full regimental duties—which used up all my evenings, Sundays and holidays.

Early on the morning of Jan. 22d I was called down to Gen. Bell’s headquarters and notified that the annual maneuvers would start that morning (no previous notice) as I was the only representative of the headquarters of Det. No 1[.] I was given the maneuver situation. In brief—Det. No. 1 was directed to embark immediately, put to sea and (representing an invading force hostile to the U.S.) land on the beach at Batangas and Lucena—and from there move on Manila (60 miles from Batangas). The maneuver was therefore to test out Det. No. 2 in its work in case of an actual invasion. My Det. No. 1 was to be theoretically considered concentrated on Corregidor.

Within fifteen minutes I had sent off the mobilization telegrams to most of the units. I then rushed out to McKinley, converted our house into an office and started to bring about the concentration and embarkation of the Det. at Manila, and its dispatch to Batangas. Some troops were 150 miles up country, others on the Islands at the entrance to the Bay.

Stalls had to be built in the transports that were in the harbor, &c. The transport “Merritt” left that same evening with _ a regiment, 30,000 rations, the advance ordnance depot and the Field Bakery.

The “Warren” had 300 stalls finished by mid night and sailed with that number of animals, and troops and vehicles at 10 A.M. the 23d. I left on Gen. Bell’s yacht on the night of the 24th. By the 27th the following had concentrated at Batangas:

24th Inf. (regiments out here are at war strength. This one for instance, had 1700 men, 30 vehicles, 170 animals, 2 machine guns, &c.)

13th Inf.

2d Battalion 15th Inf.

4 battalions of Philippine Scouts.

1st Bn. 2d Field Artillery (12 guns, 400 mules, &c.)

Troops G and H, 7th Cavalry

Co. K, Engineers (50 mtd. men, 100 dismounted men, pack train, &c.)

_ Co. F. Sig. Corps. (40 mtd men, 2 reel carts with 5 miles of ground wire each, &c.)

Field Bakery (capacity 6500 loaves of bread per day.)

Field Hospital

125,000 rations, 20 days forage for 1050 animals. There were about 100 army wagons.

You can imagine the difficulty of landing on the beach all the animals and impediments concerned, particularly when the boats could not stand in closer than _ miles from shore and no dock. The hostile cavalry was into our outpost line by the 25th.

As Chief of Staff (with a mere figure head as a commander) I had practically the entire burden of the thing, coupled with the difficulties connected with a first lieutenant’s ordering colonels, &c., in the regular army. But it had to be done and Gen. Bell told me to hesitate at nothing in the way of precedents.

There were no restrictions on the campaign, except as to real bullets. The maneuver was continuous day and night from Jan. 22d. There were countless small skirmishes, cavalry forays against wagon trains, outposts, &c., and three big fights—one just south of Lipa, one 6 miles north of Lipa and one near Calamba.

Det. No 1 chewed the other side up, captured two of their six cavalry squadrons, and smashed up their infantry. We reached Manila Feb. 4th.

Det. No. 2 consisted of:

2 troops { 7th Cavalry (less 2 of the 12 troops)1st Bn 2d Field Artillery

in all { 8th CavalryCo. Engrs.

8th Infantrysome scouts, and the

remainder of the trimmings.

In some of the brushes, particularly at night, the men became so intense on the thing that arms, ribs, heads, &c., were broken in cavalry charges, &c.

When the troops reached Manila I was exhausted from my months of overwork, coupled with this final strain, so I let down when the thing was over and was put on sick report and Gen. Bell had them give me two months sick leave in Japan.

He leaves in April to command the troops in Texas, and he told me the instant the orders came to go into Mexico he would cable or telegraph the War Department to have me on his staff. So I hope this will obviate the necessity of trying to use “pull” for this purpose.1

Most of what I have told you, you must treat as really confidential for two reasons—first because all plans for the defense of the Islands are most secret, and second because a criticism by me of my superior would ruin me if made public.

Between you and myself, I had an opportunity that rarely ever comes to a Colonel, and has never been heard of before being given to anyone below that rank, except Gen. Pershing—but he was then 42 years old and a senior Captain. I had absolute command and control of the Detachment, appointed even the adjutant and aides. The Colonel was ignored by Gen. Bell and his Chief Umpire and not even consulted. His retirement has been ordered. But they wouldn’t relieve him from supposed command during the maneuvers as they did not want a more assertive Colonel to fall into command and relieve me of actual control. I trust that you will read this to yourself, tear it up and disabuse your mind of the idea that I am rather a remarkable braggart. I don’t tell you things about myself—successes—but this one was rather unique and unheard of during peace times in our conservative army and I thought should prove an exception to my usual rule.

I weigh 170 now and feel splendidly. Lily has also gained a number of lbs. up here and looks very well. We are having such an enjoyable time. I wish you could have a share in it with Florence and Stuart, Jr.

I am still waiting to hear from my application for two months regular leave, before completing my arrangements for seeing Korea and the Ruso-Jap battle fields.

I hope Mother is feeling better now.

Lily joins me in much love to you all,

Your affectionate brother,


Document Copy Text Source: Stuart B. Marshall Papers, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.

1. The Second Division had been concentrated along the Texas-Mexico border to guard against border violence as the revolutionary groups in Mexico struggled for power. Mexican-American relations had seriously deteriorated during 1913 and 1914. United States President Woodrow Wilson refused to extend diplomatic recognition to Mexican President Victoriano Huerta’s government, which Wilson considered illegal.

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. 81-84.

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