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To Westbrook Pegler
March 22, 1941 [Washington D.C.]
My dear Mr. Pegler:
Your recent column regarding War Department officials and their civilian attire has added materially to my mail. Richardson was forced to turn his prayer meeting suit over to the porter at his hotel.1 Seriously, your reactions on Fort Bragg have proved to be very helpful, and I hope that you visit Benning early in your tour, as I think the varied interests there will be helpful in broadening your background.2
If you can prolong your tour, I would suggest that you include these phases of the present activities: A GHQ Air unit (the Air Base at Savannah affords a convenient point), a new school for air pilots, bombers, etc. paralleling Randolph Field (Maxwell Field, Alabama is convenient for this), Artillery School of Fire (the Fort Sill, Oklahoma school), one of our new Replacement Training Centers, which once well established should metamorphose the development of our Army (there are a number of these scattered about the country, and commanding officers wherever you are can tell the most convenient for you.) They are getting under way this month—22 of them, to be of 12,000 each.
Your recent effort to explain the complexity of Army organization should be helpful. Incidentally, we found that Germany has eight different types of divisions, and a new type has just appeared in Tripoli, a fractional part of the heavy armored divisions that operated in France and Belgium. Until we have more experience in operating our present organizations in strength in genuine free-handed maneuvers, it does not appear wise for us to standardize very much.
We never have had an opportunity in our army since the Civil War, to handle seasoned complete divisions of any type at full strength and in corps formations. The first opportunity of this nature will come this summer. The pressing problem now is to discipline, condition and develop in the fundamentals the National Guard divisions we have recently inducted into active service. Changes in type later on would be a comparatively simple problem compared to the present task.
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. Pegler, who wrote the syndicated column “Fair Enough,” had commented that high ranking army officers were more likely to “go around posing as suburban taxpayers and leaders of the P.T.A.” than to wear their uniforms. “George Marshall . . . is so bashful that he doesn’t wear his soldier suit regularly, and any officer who should dress up in the quaint costume of his trade in Washington, except for a fancy-pants party at the White House or a high-class scuffle at the home of some refined millionaire, would be accused of insufferable swank and might be sent back to the soldiers for making himself conspicuous in public.” Major General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., director of the army’s Bureau of Public Relations, “wears a black suit and looks as if he were fixing to clear his throat and say, `Brethren, let us bow our heads in two minutes of pious meditation.’” (Washington Post, March l, 1941, p. 7.) Marshall later commented: “I was in favor of remaining in civilian clothes at the War Department and the big city headquarters as long as possible, though I was much opposed in every way. I know how quickly the worm turns on this, and while I was asking for large forces and asking for billions [of dollars], I didn’t want a lot of uniforms plastered around Washington. I remember in the First World War we came back and we found one of the acrid comments on the army then was the number of officers around Washington . . ., and I was trying to play that down as much as possible.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 444)
2. Marshall had written to Major General Jacob L. Devers: “I note in the morning’s paper that Westbrook Pegler is searching for words to properly appraise what is being done at Bragg. This reversal of form is almost revolutionary. The greater part of the reason is your capable management and leadership.“ (Marshall to Devers, March 19, 1941, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 451-452,