3-113 To Thomas E. Martin, March 1, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 1, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Thomas E. Martin1

March 1, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mr. Martin:

Thank you for your letter of February 15 transmitting Mr. A. T. Wallace’s suggestion concerning the replacement of civilian guards, on the Iowa side of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, by Federal troops or State Guards.2

The issue raised by Mr. Wallace’s letter is of vital importance to the War Department. As would be anticipated, we are deluged with requests and demands for the employment of Federal combat troops not only to protect our coastal communities, but to guard installations throughout the United States. During the first weeks of the war we followed a policy of meeting practically all such appeals because we did have the troops available and it was thought wise to reassure the public in this manner, though this meant the disruption of divisions and, more or less, the cessation of combat training.

The time has now come when we must proceed with the business of carrying the war to the enemy and not permitting the greater portion of our armed forces and our valuable materiel to be immobilized within the continental United States. The enemy, calculating on public reactions, is undoubtedly employing submarines close in shore for the purpose of restraining our efforts to engage our planes, and ground troops so far as practicable, offensively in distant theaters. Further, I feel that we must expect isolated air raids of a few planes directed against us for no other purpose than to create a public reaction which will adversely affect the sound military purpose of defending America by engaging and defeating the enemy in theaters distant from our shores.

I have gone into this matter in some detail because it is of great importance, and the demands for protection within continental United States are piling up in a forbidding manner. This is a question of public morale, of the courage of our people, and I am hopeful that you gentlemen of the Congress will take the lead in offsetting the present unfortunate reactions. The American people have the courage and resolution to face the harsh necessities of this desperate struggle if they understand the situation.

As you know, under the Act of October 21, 1940 (32 USC 194), State Guards may not be called or ordered into the military services of the United States. However, the War Department, through its Corps Area Commanders, is making every effort to impress upon the owners and upon State Governments the extreme importance of their assuming their full responsibility for the protection of installations vital to the war effort.3

I will appreciate it if you will refer Mr. Wallace’s suggestions to the Governor of Iowa.

Faithfully yours,

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. Martin, Republican from Iowa City, Iowa, represented that state’s First District in the United States House of Representatives.

2. Fearful of enemy sabotage, Wallace wanted troops to guard bridges on the rivers and the Keokuk Dam, upriver from Keokuk, Iowa. (Marshall to Warren R. Austin, February 28, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

3. H.R. 10495, enacted on October 21, 1940, permitted states to organize military units separate from the National Guard. (Congressional Record, 76th Cong., 3d sess., vol. 86, pt. 12: 13602.)

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 117-118.

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