"A Most Efficient Officer In Every Respect"
George C. Marshall in World War I (1916-1919)
By Blaine A. Horton
Col. Marshall at War's End
George C. Marshall's service to the United States is well documented, and in the minds of most historians there is no doubt that he was a great soldier and statesman. However, little attention has been given to his accomplishments prior to World War II. In 1915 the United States was heading into a war for which it was totally unprepared, but that war would make George Marshall one of the greatest staff officers in American history.
As far back as his undergraduate education at VMI (1897-1901), Marshall's promise as a leader was recognized when he was named First Captain of the Corps of Cadets.(1) In 1906, when he was a student and instructor at the Army Service School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was praised by one of his superiors as "one of the best minds I know. He is mentally very mature for his years. Possesses tact and good judgment. A most promising officer."(2) Brigadier General Hunter Liggett, who very much admired Lieutenant Marshall, made him an aide-de-camp after the former became the commander of Fort McKinley. When Liggett was made commander of the Philippines Department, Marshall continued as his aide.(3)
By 1916, the United States had managed to keep itself out of the Great War despite public outcries about Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare. With the loss of American lives, public opinion turned against the Kaiser. Other factors compounded the negative image of the Germans, such as their violation of neutrality treaties and the overly dramatized reports in American newspapers of German brutality against French and Belgian citizens.(4) Nevertheless, most Americans favored President Woodrow Wilson's stance of neutrality. Many Americans believed that the United States would be totally unprepared for war. This concern led to the increase of citizen-soldier training camps and the passage of the 1916 National Defense Act, which enlarged the size of the Regular Army to 175, 000, the National Guard to 400,000, and created an organized army reserve.(5)
Military officers and government officials were concerned about the threats posed to the United States in other places, including fears of Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the problems with "Pancho" Villa in Mexico and the American southwest. National Guard units that had mobilized along the Mexican border were ill trained, poorly equipped, and few in number, all prime examples of U.S. unpreparedness. Federal arsenals contained less than a million rifles; heavy artillery and airplanes were in even shorter supply. Additionally, the army was not organized into units big enough to fight in Europe. Even when the decision was made to enter the World War, the number of men in the U. S. Army, including National Guardsmen, was no more than 310,000.(6)
In 1916 George Marshall returned to the United States for a new assignment, this time to serve on the staff of General J. Franklin Bell, commander of the Western Department. Marshall recalled that Bell "had lost almost all of his officers to . . . duty on the Mexican border, and he only had retired officers helping him out. . . . So he held me by the means of getting me detailed as an aide."(7) Bell sent Marshall to Monterey, California to assist in the organization of an officers' training camp. Most of the candidates were, as Marshall remembered, "the hot blood of San Francisco. I saw more Rolls Royces and other fine cars around there than I had ever seen collected around before." Nevertheless, he was very tough on his trainees. Disgusted with their nonchalant attitudes, Marshall told them, "I'm going to go out here and drill you again, and if you can't drill, I am going to march you right in and report you are wholly ineffective." The men, although "humiliated," responded by buying Marshall a big dinner that night and labeling him "Dynamite" Marshall.(8)
General Bell soon opened another camp at Fort Douglas, Utah. There, Marshall served as adjutant to camp commander Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Hagood, who wrote of Marshall that he would have preferred "to serve under his command." Hagood also opined, "In my judgment there are not five officers in the Army as well qualified as he is to command a division in the field." He also recommended that Marshall "should be made a Brigadier General in the Regular Army" and warned, "Every day this is postponed is a loss to the Army and to the Nation." Marshall was promoted to captain on October 13, 1916.(9)
The United States finally was drawn into the European bloodbath in the spring of 1917. With the declaration of war, the United States Army received a shot in the arm as thousands of young men sought to join the adventure. As war clouds loomed on the horizon, Captain Marshall, now serving as adjutant of the Western Department, was preoccupied with the tasks associated with the rapid mobilization. For example, he helped to assemble several dispersed National Guard units and get them into position to guard conspicuous landmarks, such as bridges, tunnels, or railroads that might serve as targets of subversion.(10)
On April 26, 1918, Marshall was posted to Governors Island, New York to assist in the reorganization of the Eastern Department. In addition to handling an endless flow of paperwork, Marshall also faced a steady stream of men who sought a billet in an officers' training camp. Twenty training camps had been set up across the country and where candidates were given three to six months of officer training. "Tremendous pressures were brought to bear to secure the designation of favored sons to attend the training camps," Marshall recalled. "Everybody who was anybody, in a sense, was trying to get in. . . ."(11) There was also the problem of obtaining supplies for the newly organized camps in the department. Marshall was particularly stressed by the shortages of mattresses, blankets, and pillows for the camps near Plattsburg, along New York's northern border. Another problem demanding Marshall's attention was the geographic location of cantonment sites, which "proved a complicated and exacting duty." The area where these sites were needed was in the densely populated northeast. Satisfactory railroad facilities, decent water supplies, and a sufficient amount of land on which to camp were hard to find. Once again Marshall noticed the lack of preparation on the part of the former department staff because no arrangements for sites had been made before his arrival. Marshall repeated the process of supplying and organizing training camps for the entire Eastern Department in a matter of weeks.(12)
On May 28, General John J. Pershing, formerly commander of the Southern Department and recently picked to lead the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived at Governors Island with his staff.(13) AEF Chief of Staff Major James Harbord recommended Marshall's services to Pershing.(14) On May 2, General Hugh L. Scott, Army Chief of Staff, told Pershing of plans to send four infantry regiments and one artillery regiment from the Southern Department for service in France. Knowing that these units would comprise the first of several divisions to be sent to France, Pershing carefully considered his choices. After consultation with Harbord, Pershing chose the 16th, 18th, 26th, and 28th Regiments of U.S. Infantry and the 6th U.S. Field Artillery.(15) It was the men from these southwest units that Marshall watched flow into the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, site of embarkation for the brand-new 1st Division, under the command of Major General William J. Sibert. However, the units were about twenty percent of their original organization, and the men had just been issued their rifles on the train ride to New Jersey.(16) To fill their ranks, recruits from other regiments were transferred, and reserve officers were temporarily assigned to fill command positions. According to Marshall, "They had no knowledge of how to drill, no knowledge of how to handle their rifles, and they were twenty percent of the strength of the companies."
Marshall left for France on June 14 aboard the Tenadores as part of a larger convoy. Once aboard, Marshall and the other new staff officers found that "the organization of the troops was entirely new to us, that there were four regiments of infantry in the division instead of the nine of our previous experience." The staff officers studied every chart available and what little literature there was about the war to acquaint themselves with the organization of a division and its employment in trench warfare.(17)
Marshall was disappointed with the unimpressive lot of personnel in the division. Many men were "undersized" and "spoke English with difficulty." Nevertheless, Marshall did seem impressed with the quality of the lieutenants. "I have never seen more splendid looking men," he later recalled, "and it makes me very sad to realize that most of them were left in France." Overall, the mood onboard the Tenadores was a mix of enthusiasm and solemnity. Each man realized that "few of this first company would return unscathed."(18) The 1st Division grew to 27,000 men at its peak and suffered 25,000 casualties in France.(19)
His ship arrived on the evening of June 26. Marshall and some fellow officers spent that evening walking around for the first time on French soil. The grimness of war shook Marshall once again:
The one thing we noticed most of all was there was no enthusiasm at all over our arrival. The Canadians had come and were going to settle the war in a month or two and nothing happened. Now the Americans had come and were going to settle the war right off and nothing happened. The whole thing was a very depressing affair. The surroundings, everything about it, our first taste of the effect of war, particularly on the rear areas, left a lasting impression on my mind and a deep sympathy for the French. . . . (20)
The next day some of the troops began disembarking at St. Nazaire, led by the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry.(21) The disorganization that had existed back in Hoboken seemed to have gotten worse. The men lacked equipment, experience, and discipline. French officers had to be wondering what exactly the American government had sent to them. This was not the seasoned division of regulars that the French expected and Pershing had promised. Marshall later recalled, "Well you'd have to go around there with a microscope to find a Regular soldier in the First Division." The French could not believe that an industrialized nation like the United States did not have a suitably equipped and trained professional army. French officers were amazed that so many of the 1st Division's officers were trained in a period as brief as three to six months.(22) Despite their shortcomings, Marshall revealed his views of the division years later. "They were all good men, they were all splendid Americans--but they were not soldiers."(23) It would be Marshall's job, along with his fellow staff officers and commanders, to turn these men into the soldiers and officers that would fulfill French expectations.
Newly Arrived American Troops in France
General Pershing had been given only four days notice that the 1st Division was on its way and thus proper preparations had not been made for its arrival. Muddy roads and lack of transport made getting supplies to the troops one of Marshall's biggest headaches. Marshall obviously was frustrated when he wrote on July 5, 1917: "Absolute lack of any transportation, except one small French automobile and a limited number of French trucks, makes the efficient organization and administration of the Division unsatisfactory and difficult."(24) Things got worse before they got better.
Marshall knew that much hard work lay ahead before the 1st Division would be ready for the trenches, but there were few training areas available. The nearest open field from St. Nazaire was nine miles away. The troops had to march 18 miles a day in order to get to their training area and return to their billets. "The best that we could do . . . was to teach the men how to march with a minimum of fatigue and road expansion," Marshall remembered.(25) To add to his difficulties, General Headquarters (GHQ) and the developing organization known as the Services of Supply (SOS) began to strip the 1st Division of its officers in order to fill their own needs.(26) "Men were ordered away almost daily to new assignments and we never saw them with the division again."(27)
A training area for the 1st Division was established in the area around Gondrecourt, a "quiet area" about 30 miles south of St. Mihiel, where the 47th French Chasseur Division was to assist. These chasseurs had proven themselves in battle and revealed to their American allies "one of the finest martial displays we had ever witnessed." Their commander, General de Poudrygain, had clear instructions from the French high command to put the 1st Division through a rigorous training program and get them into the trenches as soon as possible. Despite the attempts of Marshall and other division staff officers to convince the general that more time was needed, de Poudrygain continued his compressed program.(28) To make matters worse for the 1st Division, the French did not at all understand the mindset and characteristics of the individual American and thus were ignorant of ways to motivate him. According to Marshall, "A Frenchman does not readily adapt himself to new ways - in fact, he feels the French method is the only method." GHQ did not approve of the French training methods, but Pershing and his staff had not been in France long enough and did not have enough experience in warfare to disagree with their advice. All they could do was offer suggestions to the American division staff on ways to improve their part of the training. Caught between the different opinions and programs was the lowly 1st Division soldier. "He worked overtime and all the time," Marshal wrote, "He sang French songs and was virtually a Frenchmen during the forenoon and spent the afternoon being 'cussed out' as an American 'rookie.'"(29) Slowly but surely, the 1st Division was transformed into a formidable fighting force.
Gondrecourt became the destination of many prominent individuals between late July and early August 1917. Government and military officials as well as newspaper correspondents from France, Great Britain, and the United States arrived to gauge the progress of the 1st Division. As Marshall recalled, "We were 'Exhibit A' of the AEF, and there was no 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.'" The troops were scattered over a 25-mile area. It took several hours for Marshall and the staff to prepare orders to have the troops assembled for any kind of demonstration. Three automobiles, three motorcycles, and two trucks provided the only transportation. GHQ did not seem to understand this problem. Staff officers made constant calls late in the evening to say they were sending someone to inspect the division the next morning.(30) As a result, Marshall developed a bitter attitude towards GHQ's bureaucratic staff officers.
Marshall received a telegram from GHQ in late July directing him to organize cantonment sites and training areas for three newly arriving divisions: the 2nd, 26th, and 42nd. Recalling the tasks he faced, Marshall later stated, "I had to figure out what was required in the way of mess halls and bunkhouses and headquarters and hospital buildings and everything of that sort." Marshall juggled his time between performing these new duties for other divisions and continuing to train his own division. "I had a pretty large order for a young officer there, and I proceeded to undertake it in as large a way as I could."(31)
The Neufchateau region was designated the training and cantonment area for the three new divisions. Marshall was content with the selection. In a report to Pershing dated August 1, he wrote, "In short, it [the region] appears to be healthful, is beautiful and seems to be admirably adapted to the training of troops as compared to other sections of France with which I am familiar."(32) Over the next few weeks he traveled more than a hundred miles a day to insure that conditions for the divisions were acceptable. Several times he received orders that the size and organization within each division had changed, disrupting his calculations and requiring more work. Perhaps Marshall could take solace in the fact that his hard work was being recognized. He was promoted to the temporary rank of major on August 5.(33)
Marshall faced many challenges as Acting Chief of Staff when the 47th French Chasseur Division, which had grown accustomed to the problems of the 1st Division, was to go into the line and would be replaced by the 18th French Division.(34) General Bordeaux, the division commander, initiated an instruction program that was similar to the one in which the Americans already had undergone. Training was more rapid, and the troops of the 1st Division were performing their exercises at a higher level. They progressed so fast that Georges Clemenceau, who was set to assume the role of Premier of France, suggested to General Sibert that these American soldiers enter a quiet sector of the Allied line northeast of Luneville. General Sibert knew GHQ already had plans that would put the 1st Division in the line. He was sure that the future French Premier would put constant pressure on American officials to get them there quicker than expected. He and Marshall thus saw to it that division training was intensified and that supplies and transportation were secured.
It was during this period that Marshall became more fed up than ever with GHQ and their practice of showing up to inspect the 1st Division on short notice. AEF headquarters recently had been relocated from Paris to Chaumont, only an hour's drive from Gondrecourt. Pershing expected the 1st Division to be a model of professionalism that all other arriving divisions could emulate. Consequently, his inspections occurred more frequently and with shorter notice. Pershing was displeased with the results of his inspections, thus marking the beginning of the end of Sibert's career with the 1st Division.(35)
General Pershing returned to inspect the 1st Division again on October 3 when the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry was set to conduct an exercise in trench warfare. After the demonstration, Pershing assembled the division's officers and asked General Sibert to conduct a critique. Sibert had not seen the exercise before that day. Pershing was not satisfied with his evaluation and "just gave everybody hell." He proceeded to accuse the division of being ill trained and its staff of being incompetent. When he severely castigated Sibert in front of the division staff, Marshall could take no more. He remembered the incident in a later interview: "I decided it was about time for me to make my sacrifice play.
Marshall's Career was
Linked to Pershing's
. . . I went up and started to talk to General Pershing . . . . He shrugged his shoulders and turned away from me." Infuriated, Marshall grabbed the general's arm and "practically forced him to talk." Seeing he was not going to get away from the staff officer, Pershing turned to listen. One of Marshall's assistants later recalled that when Marshall got angry, "his eyes flashed and he talked so rapidly and vehemently no one else could get in a word. He overwhelmed his opponent by a torrent of facts."(36) There is little doubt that Marshall let loose with just such a torrent when speaking to Pershing, who remained calm during the confrontation, promised Marshall to look into the troubles of the division, and told him, "Well, you must appreciate the troubles we have." This was not good enough for Marshall who was "mad all over." "I thought I had gotten in it up to my neck," he remembered, "I might as well not try to float but to splash a little bit." He therefore replied to Pershing's statement: "Yes, again, General, but we have them every day and many a day and we have to solve every one of them by night."(37) Marshall's fellow staff officers were stunned by his outburst and felt sure he would be "fired right off." Actually, his ability to present an honest and straightforward argument earned him the respect of Pershing. During later visits, the general sought out Marshall and discussed with him the conditions in the division.
It was time for the 1st Division to finish up their preliminary training and enter the trenches, replacing French troops in what was called the Einville sector, northeast of Luneville, extending from Aricourt to the Rhine-Marne Canal. Marshall was involved in negotiations with that area's French commanders to determine how the Americans would be put into the line. It was agreed that one infantry battalion and one artillery battalion from each regiment would take their turn on the line for a ten-day tour of duty. Then, the next set of battalions would replace them. This process would continue until all the men from the four infantry regiments in the 1st Division had spent their time in the mud. The battalions would be under the direct control of the French 18th Division, commanded by General Bordeaux.(38)
On October 20, the first contingent, with much enthusiasm, left for the front. The Einville sector had been relatively quiet for three years. The first set of battalions took their place in line on October 23, 1917. They were dispersed among the French regiments and under the command of the French major whose battalion they would relieve. General Bordeaux issued guidelines to the French officers regarding the role of the American troops. One instruction restricted American activity beyond their own barbed wire defenses, thus allowing German patrols complete control of no-man's-land. This had a disastrous effect for one unit in the 1st Division almost immediately.(39)
Marshall accompanied the second set of battalions going into the line. The Americans were widely distributed over the Einville sector, forcing him to travel long distances by foot every day just to keep in contact with them. He later remembered this tedious routine: "Starting at daylight I would generally be occupied until late in the afternoon tramping from one center of resistance to another." The only things connecting the scattered companies of the 1st Division were "deep bands of barbwire." While on these rounds, Marshall also discovered that the men who had been so excited for frontline duty were already sick of the mud and monotony of trench life.(40)
Marshall was notified on November 3 that the first American troops had been killed. Early that morning, German artillery bombarded American lines for almost an hour. During the barrage, the Americans took shelter in their dugouts, and German infantrymen cut through the wire in front of the American trenches, opening a gap through which they approached the men of the 16th Infantry. Three soldiers of Company F were killed; many other Americans were wounded and twelve captured. General Bordeaux questioned the resistance put up by the men in the 1st Division. Marshall did not appreciate the inference and said to Bordeaux,
General, I understand you are trying to find whether the Americans showed fight or not. . . . I don't think that is the thing to investigate. I think it would be very much more to the point if you look into the fact that you forbade the Americans to go beyond the wire in any reconnaissance, and now they are surprised by the assault right through the wire. I think General Pershing is going to be very much interested in that reaction of a French commander to American troops.(41)
Early American Casualties Having experienced their "first baptism of fire in modern warfare," the 1st Division completed its tour in the trenches and returned to Gondrecourt in late November.(42) The depression that settled into the 1st Division was reflective of the general mood of the Allies at this point in the war. In October the British army suffered 250,000 casualties in their Flanders offensive. There were no longer enough men back home to restore these losses. France was experiencing similar shortages; more than a hundred separate battalions were be split up due to lack of replacements. On other fronts, the situation was just as bleak. Using newly developed open warfare tactics, the Germans won a decisive victory over the Italians at Caporetto and took an astounding 275,000 prisoners. As for the eastern front, the Bolsheviks had succeeded in overthrowing the Provisional government in Russia and wanted out of the war without further delay. Germany thus began the process of transferring all of its armies in the east to face the Allies in the west.(43)
Under pressure to deliver American troops to the front, General Pershing had only one experienced unit that could be considered for action: the 1st Division. Sibert was relieved of his command and replaced by General Robert L. Bullard. Marshall was furious with GHQ after Sibert's dismissal, feeling that they did not understand the situation that existed in the division. Bullard had taken notice of Marshall's temper and passed on making Marshall his chief of staff. Instead, the position was given to Lieutenant Colonel Campbell King. Marshall learned a valuable lesson from this incident that he never forgot. He remembered, "I think I delayed myself a great deal. I think I'd have been chief of staff of the division, and I would very quickly have been made brigadier general." Marshall tucked away his temper and began to make preparations for the reentry of the 1st Division into the line in the Ansauville subsector, about 25 miles north of Chaumont.(44)
The first set of battalions from the 1st Division again took their place in the trenches on January 18, 1918. Division headquarters was established at Menil-la-Tour, just north of Toul. It soon was discovered that the German army was training in tactics of open warfare and was preparing to carry out a great offensive, termed "a maneuver of rupture," on the Western Front in the hopes of defeating the Allies before American troops could fully organize to fight. This caused the French army to change its defensive organization. Instead of putting all their forces in the lines closest to no-mans-land, a defense in depth was planned. Thus, the Germans would not be able to simply punch a hole in the defensive line, and the Allies would have a stronger position on which to fall back. Summing up the significance of this change in a later speech, Marshall reflected, "It meant, in brief, that a regiment which had occupied a deployed depth of about five or six hundred yards, would be disposed over a depth of a mile or more, and that the regiments, the companies, the individuals, could be much more widely dispersed."(45) This was the first time in over three years of warfare that the French had adopted such a system. It caused major planning problems for the 1st Division staff, and the troops had to dig new trenches during the bitter cold of winter.
During these developments, Marshall stayed very busy: "My time during this period was divided between working on the new plans for the dispositions of the troops and familiarizing myself with the sector by frequent tours of the front." He realized that American soldiers would come face to face with the enemy much more often and may even have to contend with gas attacks, something for which they were ill prepared. Marshall was, therefore, intensely vigilant when making his inspections. The men of the 1st Division reaped the benefits of this diligence. One day Marshall noticed that heavy-caliber German artillery was being concentrated on the Bois de Remieres, near Seicheprey. That the concentration continued for many days could only mean that the Germans were planning a raid in this area. Marshall worked up a set of instructions for the troops. General Bullard accepted his proposals and issued orders. Infantry commanders were to keep their companies away from the forward trenches at night, and the artillery was ordered to prepare a special bombardment of the area in front of the woods.(46)
The Germans launched their attack with a force of 220 men including a detachment of flammenwerfers (flamethrowers) on the Bois de Remieres at dawn on March 1. The Americans were ready for them. The men of the 18th Infantry, who occupied this sector, gallantly counterattacked, and by the end of the morning the German raiders were, according to Marshall, "badly cut up," leaving a few of their flammenwerfers behind. Marshall was proud of the American performance and later wrote, "Our men fought beautifully and viciously, and covered themselves with glory." He was not the only one impressed. The next morning, Georges Clemenceau arrived at 1st Division Headquarters to pin the Croix de Guerre on many of the men who had proven their bravery.(47)
In retaliation for the raid, Bullard carefully planned a series of small
raids to be conducted by the division. Both he and Marshall knew that the raids had to be carried out with some success because GHQ was constantly looking over their shoulders. Marshall was involved in drafting some of the orders for the raids and took the time to write out every detail about how each should be conducted. Nonetheless, not all the raids produced good results, and some were downright disappointing.(48)
Orders came in March directing Marshall to make his way to Langres, site of the AEF General Staff College, to lecture on the management of the 1st Division. A day after his arrival, the enemy launched the first of five major offensives against the Allies in an attempt win the war before the Americans could get actively involved. Their mission was to split the lines of communication between the French and British forces, roll up the British right flank, and proceed to Paris. Marshall had to pick up the slack when several British officers at the college were forced to return to their units. He recalled, "There was not much time for personal thoughts with this variety of new duties to be assimilated, but I did have a feeling of great depression over being separated from the First Division just as the active fighting began." Marshall's somber mood changed on March 29 when he was ordered back to Menil-la-Tour.(49)
Since it was the only American unit whose training had been fully completed, the 1st Division was ordered to leave the Ansauville subsector to get closer to the fighting. By April 26, the 1st Division was moving into line in the Cantigny Sector. The two French divisions that they replaced had been sent hurriedly to the area to deal with the initial crisis. Consequently, there were no trenches--only foxholes in which individual men seek cover. Protective barbed wire entanglements were nonexistent, allowing the careless soldier to wonder into no-man's land without even knowing it. Gas attacks, raids by German airplanes, and constant artillery fire in these unsafe positions caused many 1st Division casualties. In response to the German fire, the division's artillery fired as many as 30,000 rounds per day.(50)
By mid-May, arrangements were underway for the division to make its first major attack of the war, intended as a response to an expected German offensive in Flanders. Its objective was the heights extending north from Montdidier. The German offensive never occurred, and the division's objectives were changed. It now would carry out an operation to seize the heights of Cantigny. The reasons for this attack were twofold: take the high ground near Cantigny, which had served as an observation post for German artillery, but more importantly to show that the Americans were ready and willing to fight this war to a finish. Colonel Hanson Ely's 28th Infantry would carry out the operation-without the aid of French infantry. Marshall was involved in the basic planning of the attack, issuing orders to coordinate the activities of the division's infantry and artillery, and inspecting the terrain over which the battle would take place.(51)
Over the Top at Cantigny
Jump off for the 28th Infantry was 6:45 a.m., May 28. Preceded by an hour of artillery preparation and reinforced by the 5th French Tank Battalion, one section of French flamethrowers, and a company of American engineers, the attack was successfully carried out. In his operations report for the day, Marshall modestly described the outcome: "We successfully attacked and took CANTIGNY." The Germans had been surprised by the attack, and all American objectives were reached within 40 minutes.(52)
Marshall's operations reports between May 29 and May 31 focused on one thing: "Enemy reaction against CANTIGNY." By the end of the month, the Germans had launched seven counterattacks to regain what their opponent had taken. The situation was growing very serious for the 1st Division troops at the front. Just one day before the 28th had jumped off, the Germans launched a third major offensive, this time in the Chemin des Dames region. To halt the enemy advance, the French army needed every bit of help it could get and removed from the Cantigny sector some of the artillery that had been used in the American attack. Thus, there was not enough artillery to suppress the German guns, and casualties in American units grew by the day. By the time they had consolidated their position, the 1st Division had suffered losses of 199 men killed, 625 wounded, and 16 missing. In a June 2 memorandum to units in the forward trenches, Marshall emphasized the American mission: "To fight on the spot without movement to the rear. To counterattack properly. To check and reorganize detachments of our advance troops which might fall back from the Intermediate Position." This mission was carried out despite the fury of German machine guns and artillery. The 1st Division held Cantigny. The Germans would never occupy it during this war again. Several years later, Benjamin Caffey, Marshall's assistant since January 1918, described his boss as being "at the height of his military prowess." It is this characteristic that most troubled Marshall in 1918.
Although he was proud of the accomplishments of the 1st Division and was happy to be part of it, he possessed the abilities of a field commander. In a request dated June 18, 1918, Marshall asked to be assigned to duty with troops, citing that he had grown "tired from the incessant strain of staff work." He got a new assignment soon, but it was not what he preferred.(53)
Due to the effects of the German offensive, the 1st Division line had been stretched to fill the gaps left by the French troops who were needed to fight elsewhere. The size of their front had doubled. The division's next month in the trenches was relatively quiet, and by July 8, the Americans had withdrawn completely from the Cantigny sector. Marshall stayed behind a day longer to insure the smooth transition of the trenches from American to French control. On July 12 he received orders to report to Chaumont for service in the G-3 Section (Operations) of General Headquarters. Quickly packing, Marshall was faced with having to say goodbye to the 1st Division. He wrote about the emotional farewell in his memoirs: "Thus ended my association with this great combat organization. Bigger problems were to come - but never again that feeling of comradeship which grows out of intimate relationship among those in immediate contact with fighting troops." Marshall had watched and participated extensively in the growth of the 1st Division. Even 21 years later, he looked back and was grateful for the time he spent with them: "The greatest inspiration and experience of my life as a professional soldier remains in my recollection of those days and my contacts with the splendid young lieutenants and captains of the First Division."(54)
George Marshall arrived at Chaumont to begin a new chapter in his career as a staff officer. He would now work under General Fox Conner, Chief of Operations of the AEF. Marshall felt out of place at General Headquarters. "I found myself in a strange atmosphere," he remembered. "These new associates had been working for a year on the plans and organizations for an army of several million men." This meant that the staff had to worry about things like ports of debarkation, dock construction, and tonnage calculations. These concepts were unfamiliar to a soldier coming from a division-level staff. Marshall recalled that the concerns of the division staff had been centered on finding "trained replacements to fill the thinning ranks" and "more ammunition and horses." When sent with other staff officers from General Headquarters to investigate the outcome of a raid conducted by the 77th Division, Marshall confronted another startling realization. He had become a member of the group of people he had disliked so much only months before. He had become a GHQ inspector-a military bureaucrat.(55) The initial shock of being in Chaumont quickly wore off, and Marshall settled into his new role.
In late July, the Germans launched their last offensive on the Western Front, which culminated in the Battle of Soissons. General Pershing temporarily shelved his dream of commanding an independent American army and placed some of his divisions, including the 1st and 2nd, at the French army's disposal. The tide was now turned. French General Ferdinand Foch, who had been named Supreme Allied Commander in March, felt the time had come for the Allies to launch offensives of their own.(56)
Marshall had been at GHQ less than a day when he was instructed by Fox Conner to gather information about the St. Mihiel salient-a bulge in the Allied line south of Verdun-and begin devising plans for its reduction. If this could be done, the railroad running from Nancy to Paris (behind German lines) would now be available for Allied use. A general attack in that area could also threaten German access to the iron fields of Briey, which were vital to their war effort. However, the German position in the salient was strong.(57) They had repelled several French attempts in 1914 and 1915 to get it back. Eventually, Marshall drafted a plan that included the use of 16 American and six French divisions. Together, the Allies would flatten the bulge in the salient and advance all the way to the outskirts of Metz.(58)
Despite that he was involved in the planning of an operation that could end the war, Marshall again found himself fed up with staff work. In his memoirs, he wrote, "My state of mind at this period is impossible to describe. I seemed to be getting farther and farther away from the fight, and it was particularly hard to work on a plan and not be permitted to attend its execution." Instead of leading troops, Marshall was ordered to the 1st Army HQ to become assistant chief of staff.(59)
In this new capacity Marshall worked with Colonel Walter Grant to put together the "order of battle" for the St. Mihiel offensive. They finished it in a few hours. Marshall then created a set of combat instructions for the 1st Army. He borrowed from his experiences working with the 1st Division, but he also borrowed information gleaned from copies of the German Army's current tactical instructions issued by their Chief of Staff, General Erich Ludendorff. These new tactics involved the use of a rolling barrage of artillery instead of the usual extended barrage.(60) Following the barrage (and using it as a shield) would be small groups of storm troopers armed with light machine guns, automatic rifles, flamethrowers, and mortars. Their mission was to find a way between the enemy's strongest positions, making it easier to be broken by larger waves of infantry supported by airpower. These innovative ideas had allowed the Germans to make great gains in their recent offensives, particularly against the Italians.
Now that the Germans advances had stalled, Marshall had to come up with his own innovative ideas. He had already developed tactics in open warfare that had been used by the 1st Division in the early part of 1918, so he adapted them for the entire 1st Army. He too would use assault troops for a breakthrough before sending in larger units to smash what remained. He also favored the use of the rolling barrage to support and protect the infantry. Rather than devising a defense-in-depth approach, Marshall instead formulated a system of "offense-in-depth." His assistant later described these tactics in full:
The Marshall plan was for . . . [a] division to attack with four infantry regiments abreast, with each regiment in column of battalion with two companies in assault and two companies in reserve with each company with two platoons in assault and two in support. The third line battalions of the exterior regiments were in division reserve with the interior third line battalions in brigade reserve. A regiment of light field artillery (75 mm gun) supported each brigade and the 155 mm howitzer regiment was in general support. (61)
Marshall's new strategies were a far cry from the ones used by the French and British between 1914 and 1917. The results of their military policies had resulted in stagnant trench warfare and battlefields stacked with dead bodies. General Pershing preferred the use of open warfare tactics to drive the enemy from his trenches and keep him on the run. Marshall designed plans to give him what he wanted, which eventually would force the Germans to sue for peace.
Upon finishing his battle instructions, Marshall was ordered to arrange for the American army to take control of the front from which the St. Mihiel attack would be launched. The 2nd and 8th French armies currently occupied this area, and Marshall made trips to both headquarters. By now he was more than capable of dealing with French military officials, and he worked quickly to get the 1st Army into its new positions. Marshall then moved with the rest of the 1st Army staff to new headquarters at Ligny-en-Barrois.(62)
The hour for the attack at St. Mihiel was approaching, and Marshall's work became "more pressing and extremely exacting." He made regular trips to the army corps and divisions to ensure they were ready for battle. Orders had to be especially specific, and secrecy had to be maintained. Troops from 15 divisions had to be moved under the cover of darkness into the line, 48 hours before the offensive. This process became increasingly difficult due to a shortage in truck transportation. The Americans were also without their own corps artillery and had to borrow some big caliber guns from the French. In addition to these problems, the staff at the newly organized 1st Army Headquarters was inexperienced in active operations. Marshall later recalled the biggest problems facing the 1st Army staff: "This was not the simple case of an army undertaking an offensive operation, but it was the combination of the birth of an army, the procurement of materiel and detachments for its services from virtually every point in France not occupied by the enemy, and the plunging of this huge infant into the greatest battle in which American troops had ever engaged."(63)
On August 30 and again on September 2, Marshal Foch and General Pershing met to discuss the direction of the war but found themselves at odds over the type of offensive action that should be launched. They eventually reached a compromise: The 1st Army would make their attack at St. Mihiel, but would not proceed to the outskirts of Metz. Instead their objectives would be limited enough to give them time to take over a 24-mile sector of battle between the Meuse and the Aire rivers-what would come to be known as the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In this drive, along with the French 4th Army on their left, they would push towards Sedan, a major German communications center. The attack would commence on September 25.(64)
Marshall and Grant decided that 14 hours of artillery fire should precede the American attack at St. Mihiel. In a memorandum they wrote, "There is no instance where an attack has been made against a position as highly organized as this one without artillery preparation or the assistance of numerous heavy tanks." This worried them more than anything else. Too little or no artillery preparation might mean the slaughter of thousands of American troops and might cost General Pershing his command. So many people already were resentful of his stubbornness and unwillingness to divide up his American army for command under the French or British that a disaster on the battlefield might give them the chance to demand his resignation. Pershing, however, was unaffected by their criticism and willing to gamble. He even reduced Marshall and Grant's recommendation by nine hours.(65)
Aerial View of St. Mihiel
The morning of September 8, four days before the St. Mihiel offensive was to be launched, George Marshall was called to see General Hugh Drum, Chief of Staff of the 1st Army. Here, for the first time, he learned of the Meuse-Argonne offensive that would be launched on September 25. Marshall had been designated the miracle worker who would arrange for the movement of the 1st Army from the St. Mihiel to the Meuse-Argonne front. To get the soldiers, horses, and equipment from the first front to the second by the 25th "would require many of these troops to get under way on the evening of the first day of the St. Mihiel battle, notwithstanding the fact that the advance in that fight was expected to continue for at least two days." In a classic bit of understatement, Marshall wrote later that this "appalling proposition rather disturbed my equilibrium."(66) Marshall took stock of the enormously difficult task that lay before him. He searched for an incident in history "where the fighting of one battle had been preceded by the plans for a later battle to be fought by the same army on a different front." He could find none. In his memoirs Marshall remembered how this ponderous task "was the hardest nut I had to crack in France."(67)
Note Trenches Bottom [West] & Right [South]
To accomplish the task, Marshall spread a map out on a table, organized in his head the divisions that needed to be moved, and in less than an hour completed an order. Although unsatisfied with it at first, he submitted it anyway. The next morning he was called into General Drum's office. Marshall was worried that the Chief of Staff had found something wrong with his plan, but he was relieved to hear that not only did he approve of the plan but so had General Pershing. "That order for the Meuse-Argonne concentration you sent over last night is a dandy," Marshall recalled Drum as saying, "The General thought it was a fine piece of work."(68)
Prior experience led some British and French officers to expect 50,000 battle casualties before the Americans jumped off at St. Mihiel on September 12. Marshall later remembered what conditions were like the night before the battle was to occur: "Everybody on duty in France in rear of the army, who had 'sufficient' pull or excuse, arrived to see the show." Once the news did arrive, it was better than expected. Marshall summed up the results of the offensive in three short sentences at a speech he gave in 1919: "The attack overwhelmed the enemy. It was irresistible. It demoralized him and went through on schedule." Instead of experiencing 50,000 casualties, the 1st Army suffered only 5,000. They also captured an estimated 15,000 prisoners and 400 guns. "There is no question," Marshall later stated, "that if we had not been tied down to a limited objective that the advance could have progressed to the outer defenses of Metz. And Metz would have been in American hands by the 31st of September." There was speculation that the Americans would move on Metz, but Colonel Grant and Marshall issued a joint statement in which both advised against it. Too much time had passed before the idea was proposed, and there were more important things that needed to be done.(69)
St. Mihiel was easy to plan in comparison to what Marshall had to deal with afterwards. With the salient smashed and objectives reached, he devoted all his energy to the transfer of troops to the Meuse-Argonne front.(70) In a time span of two weeks, 400,000 men, 93,000 horses and mules, nearly 3,000 guns, and 900,000 tons of supplies and ammunition had to be moved from St. Mihiel to a new sector of battle 60 miles away. Not only that, but 220,000 French and Italian troops had to be withdrawn from the Meuse-Argonne front to make room for the incoming Americans. Marshall had only three roads and three rail lines to use.(71) He wrote later, "When one realizes that the seventy-two  guns of a division occupy fifteen (15) kilometers of road space, an idea can be gained of the problem involved in the movement of . . . [three] thousand."(72) Marshall could not prepare an ordinary march table for the movements because "it was never possible to know over twenty-four hours in advance just what units would be available to put in motion."(73)
Forty years after the fact, Marshall still remembered how difficult his job was in the closing days of September 1918: "That was the most difficult troop movement I ever imagined."(74) When all was said and done, however, it became clear that the AEF could not have picked a better man for this grueling job. All the units involved in the movement from St. Mihiel were in their proper places by the time the Meuse-Argonne offensive was launched on September 26. One might say, when looking at what Marshall had to work with, it would take a "wizard" to achieve such a feat. That is exactly the nickname that Marshall earned and deserved for his hard work.(75) His reputation as a staff officer was growing considerably and more than just American officers were taking notice of his accomplishments. Colonel Charles Repington, a military correspondent for the London Times, wrote, "Few people in England know that this operation [the Meuse-Argonne offensive] was preceded by one of the most interesting and difficult Staff operations of the war. . . . It was a fine piece of Staff work and no other Staff could have done it better."(76) Shortly after the war's end Marshall drafted a memorandum about what he had done. With pride he wrote,
Despite the haste with which all movements had to be carried out, the inexperience of most of the commanders in movements of such density, the condition of the animals and the limitations as to roads, the entire movement was carried out without a single element failing to reach its place on the date scheduled, which was, I understand, one day earlier than Marshal Foch considered possible.(77)
Marshall was not the only one proud or amazed by this incredible undertaking. General Pershing, in his memoirs, called it a "stupendous task" and added,
American Troops Moving to the Front
|It seldom happens in war that plans can be so precisely carried out as was possible in this instance. The details of the movements of troops connected with this concentration were worked out and their execution conducted under the able direction of Colonel George C. Marshall, Jr., of the Operations Section of the General Staff, First Army.(78)
General James Harbord also paid tribute to Marshall: "The details for this concentration were worked out by the very able Colonel George C. Marshall, Jr., Chief of Operations of the First Army.
|Marshall is . . . quite universally regarded as one of the most outstanding officers America developed in the World War." Furthermore, one of Marshall's first biographers echoed the sentiments of almost all historians who study World War I by labeling the accomplishment "the most magnificent staff operation of the war."(79)
Compared to his outstanding performance through the end of September 1918, the rest of the war was anticlimactic for Marshall. The Meuse-Argonne offensive was an on-and-off affair that lasted until the Armistice. During this time Marshall continued his work with the 1st Army, and when General Pershing handed control of it over to Hunter Liggett, Marshall was named "Assistant Chief of Staff." Along with his frequent visits to the front and his sustained efforts to move troops in and out of the line as the offensive demanded, Marshall faced the enormous challenge of supplying an army outrunning its supply lines. He later recalled, "We had tremendous supplies to bring up to the front. . . . We were short of truck transportation and we had 176,000 sick and wounded to evacuate."(80) Through it all though, Marshall remained optimistic and determined as the Americans wore down the enemy that faced them.
On November 11, 1918, Marshall wrote in a set of field orders, "Yesterday the enemy threw into the line opposite our 3rd Corps his last available division on the western front. An armistice with Germany has been signed and all hostilities cease at 11 hours, November 11th."(81) With the end of the war, Marshall left the 1st Army to become the chief of staff of the newly formed 8th Corps. He would serve there under General Henry T. Allen for two months and then be asked to report back to Pershing's headquarters as an operations officer.
At the end of April 1919, Marshall traveled to Metz to receive the French Legion d'Honneur for distinguished service. As the ceremony was about to begin, James L. Collins (who had served with General Pershing in the Philippines, Mexico, and was now with him in Europe) had an offer for Marshall from the AEF commander. Whispering in Marshall's ear he said, "How would you like to be the General's aide?" With his acceptance, Marshall determined the direction of his career for the next five years.(82)
George C. Marshall returned from Europe a frustrated and disappointed 38-year-old temporary colonel. As a staff officer, he had developed a reputation second to none. His plans and orders for battle had been outstanding, but other men had carried them out. Time and again his desire for command had been denied, thus severely reducing his chances for promotion. It was an interesting contradiction: he was being "punished" for his superb abilities. General Pershing did recommend that Marshall be considered for the rank of brigadier general in October 1918, but, due to the Armistice, the War Department put a freeze on all promotions.(83) It would be another 18 years before Marshall could pin a star on his shoulder. Instead of being in the company of generals, he would go home to serve as an aide to one, performing the kind of tedious staff work he had grown to hate. Nearly forty years later, Marshall was still bitter about being held back from more challenging jobs. "I suffered all the way from lack of promotion in my early days. I had to do a great deal of work as an aide, because if I wasn't an aide, I was merely a lieutenant in a company. . . . It affected my entire career in getting started."(84) It is sad that the exceptional World War I career of George C. Marshall ended on such a miserable note, but great, unforeseeable things lay ahead.
It is worthwhile to step back and ask the question, "How did Marshall's service in World War I help him in his more important role in World War II?" When presented with this question in a 1957 interview, Marshall said the lessons he learned "were just without number." He gained invaluable experience in terms of operating and negotiating within a multi-national military coalition. He developed an ability to deal with large numbers of troops and learned how to precisely organize their movements. As his official biographer wrote of him, "In both tactics and logistics . . . he had developed a competence probably unexcelled by any other officer of his age in the Army."(85)
Marshall Observed the Birth of American Armor Firsthand
Marshall also learned the value of frequent visits to the front in order to understand how the men were feeling and what they needed in the way of supplies. He took all of the lessons he had learned in his earlier experiences and made improvements when World War II came.(86) For example, he made sure that troop commanders were younger in World War II and were therefore more vigorous in leading men. Division commanders between 1942 and 1945 were on average almost 10 years younger than their counterparts in 1918.(87) All of these things aside, perhaps the greatest lesson learned by Marshall as a staff officer in World War I was the value of strong, positive leadership. In the introduction to a book entitled Infantry in Battle, Marshall wrote, "He [the veteran] knows that he must carry on in spite of seemingly insurmountable difficulties and regardless of the fact that the tools with which he has to work may be imperfect and worn. Moreover, he knows how to go about it."(88) Although his intentions might have been different, with these words Marshall had painted a portrait of himself and had summarized all that he had been through between 1917 and 1918.
About the author:
Blaine Horton is a senior at Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia and he prepared this paper as a requirement for an individual research class under Professor Mark Snell. Blaine comes from Purcellville, Virginia. Click here to email him with your comments.
Click here for the Bibliography
Title Page The quote on the title page comes from John J. Pershing's 1922 and 1923 Efficiency Report on George C. Marshall. It was found in footnote 46 from the chapter entitled "Aide to Pershing" on page 394 of Forrest C. Pogue's Education of a General. (All further information about this book can be found in the bibliography.)
1 Robert Payne, The Marshall Story: A Biography of General George C. Marshall (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1951), 20. The author attributes Marshall's achievement "not to his brains but to his prowess as a precision machine."
2 William Frye, Marshall: Citizen Soldier (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1947), 88-96. In an April 4, 1957 interview with Dr. Pogue, Marshall makes the comment that Morrison was "outstanding. He brought us logic as to tactics, army organization, and things of that sort which was of immense value to us." No doubt Marshall learned a lot from this officer and would forever consider himself one of the "Morrison men." Larry I. Bland, ed., George C. Marshall Interviews and Reminiscences for Forrest C. Pogue (Lexington, VA: George C. Marshall Research Foundation, 1991), 160.
3 Bland, Interviews, 4 April 1957, 177.
4 John S.D. Eisenhower, Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I (New York: The Free Press, 2001), 5.
5 Mark A. Stoler, George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesmen of the American Century (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1989), 33.
6 These figures come from Brigadier General James L. Collins, Jr., author of the foreword and notes that accompany Marshall's memoirs. George C. Marshall, Memoirs of My Services in the World War, 1917-1918 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976), vi-vii.
7 Bland, Interviews, 4 April 1957, 178.
8 Ibid., 178-181.
9 Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 103-104. Emphasis in original. Marshall was recommended to become a captain by a unanimous vote and actually received his commission on August 14. He had been in the Army for fourteen years and served as a first lieutenant for nine before being upgraded. Pogue, Education, 135.
10 Much of the secretarial staff from the training camp in California had been sent to the Southern Department to help them deal with the Mexican border crisis, leaving Marshall and the Western Department shorthanded. Marshall, Memoirs, 1.
11 Ibid., 2; Bland, Interviews, 4 April 1957, 181-182; Marshall Papers, 1: 100.
12 Marshall, Memoirs, 3.
13 President Woodrow Wilson decided that General Pershing should be sent to France to set up a headquarters before any American troops were sent over. Pogue, Education, 142. When asked about his first impressions of General Pershing, Marshall replied, "he arrived in civilian clothes and a straw hat. We put him on the ferryboat at Governors Island at a secluded dock and sent him over to the Baltic which he boarded for his trip to Europe." Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 188.
14 In both his own memoirs and in the memoirs of Pershing, Harbord's rank is listed as major at the time he left for France. However, Forrest Pogue's biography of Marshall lists him as a colonel. Pogue, Education, 142. The best place to find the personnel of the Baltic party is in Appendix A of Harbord's book, The American Army, 579-583.
15 Harbord would soon become Pershing's chief of staff. Pershing did not know just what his chances were in terms of leading the AEF. Just as Marshall had done, Pershing chose to leave his assignment up to fate. Sitting down to write his memoirs he explained, "Throughout my career I have never ceased to wonder whether, after all, we are not largely the creatures of destiny." Pershing, My Experiences, 1: 3-4.
16 "The rest of the regiment had been taken to form new regiments." Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 189.
17 This is from a transcript of a talk given by Marshall at Brunswick, Maryland on November 6, 1938, GCMRL/Research File [World War I].
18 Marshall, Memoirs, 7-8.
19 Talk at Brunswick, MD GCMRL/Research File [World War I].
20 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 191. In this interview Marshall said that the French people in St. Nazaire were depressed over the news of the numbers of casualties on the Somme. However, the Somme was a mainly British offensive launched in 1916. The people, therefore, were more likely mourning the failed spring offensives of French General Robert Nivelle in the Chemin des Dames. This led to incidents of mutiny in the French Army and Nivelle was replaced by General Henri Philippe Petain. Marshall mentions this as the reason for French depression in his memoirs. Marshall, Memoirs, 12-13.
21 Marshall, Memoirs, 12.
22 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 190-191.
23 Talk at Brunswick, MD, GCMRL/Research File [World War I].
24 Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 112-114.
25 Marshall, Memoirs, 15.
26 The Services of Supply was eventually located in Tours, a town on the Loire River, approximately 120 miles southwest of Paris. It was "charged with the reception, transportation, storage, and distribution of everything the army had to have, and also with hospitalization of the sick and wounded." Pershing, My Experiences, 1: 321. Marshall was very impressed with the organization of this base of supply and recalled that it was "the largest single business organization in the history of the world, and probably, will remain so for a long time." By the time of the Armistice, the SOS had made preparations to supply an army of 4,000,000 men, constructed 125,000 miles of railroad track, and built 4,000 cars. Colonel George C. Marshall "On Active Service with the A.E.F., What was done; Why it was done; How it was done" (stenographic record of lecture at Siershahn as transcribed by Patrick C. Kelley, G-3, 1st Division), 2 April 1919, 3. This was found in the World War I research file at the GCMRL.
27 Marshall, Memoirs, 15.
28 Marshall described de Poudrygain as a "little, wiry man, with one eye, which shot sparks every time he talked." Marshall, Memoirs, 18.
29 Ibid., 19-20.
30 Ibid., 21-22.
31 Marshall, Memoirs, 22-24.
32 Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 117.
33 Marshall, Memoirs, 23-25; Pogue, Education, 149; Bland, Interviews, x. Marshall did not receive his silver leaves until after Christmas.
34 Marshall, Memoirs, 34-35. Colonel Hanson Ely, who would become a hero at Cantigny, was soon selected as Chief of Staff of the 1st Division.
35 Pogue, Education, 151-152; Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 195.
36 A paper entitled "General George C. Marshall as a Staff Officer in World War I" was sent from Brigadier General Benjamin F. Caffey to Forrest Pogue on January 14, 1961. During the war, Caffey served as an assistant to Marshall for almost the entire year of 1918. This paper was found in the World War I research file at the GCMRL.
37 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 196-198; Pogue, Education, 152-153. Marshall makes no mention of this dispute in his memoirs. Pershing, oddly enough, when discussing the exercise in his memoirs writes that he was "much pleased with the evidences of efficiency in this organization [the 1st Division]." He even notes that the officers involved in the maneuvers "handled their units with considerable skill." Pershing, My Experiences, 1: 192. This is in sharp contrast to how he felt at the time he witnessed the exercise.
38 Marshall, Memoirs, 40-42; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 123.
39 Marshall, Memoirs, 42-43.
40 Ibid., 42-43, 45. Centers of resistance were widely separated points along a sector of battle.
41 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 205-208; Marshall Papers, 1: 123-126; Marshall, Memoirs, 45-48; Pogue, Education, 155-156; Marshall's report can be found in the World War Records of the First Division, A.E.F. Regular, Volume XII: Operations Reports, First Division to September 11, 1918. There are no page numbers and also no editorial information in these volumes. There were rumors that the Germans had carried out their raid with the specific intention of killing Americans. This was not true. Tacked onto the end of Marshall's report was a postscript by First Division Chief of Staff Hanson Ely in which he wrote about new information that had been obtained from a German prisoner captured during the raid. This man revealed that the attack had been planned for over a month. Ely further commented, "They did not even know the Americans were there." Marshall did conclude in a follow up report, however, that the raid was not meant to take place on the morning of November 3, but "as American or strange helmets" had "been observed on the front it was decided to stage it immediately. Bland, Marshall Papers, 1:125-126.
42 The quote comes from Marshall, "On Active Service," 2-3. In a report, destined for General Sibert, pertaining to the First Division's tour of duty at the front, Marshall wrote, "The experiences gained by the troops of this Division during their tour of duty at the front will be very valuable and could not have been gained in any other manner without accepting the possibility of heavy losses." 27 November 1917, World War Records of the First Division, A.E.F. Regular, Volume XII: Operations Reports, First Division to September 11, 1918. Relieved from the trenches on November 20, the division had suffered thirty-six killed, thirty-six wounded, and eleven taken prisoner. Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 123.
43 Pogue, Education, 37-38; Stoler, George C. Marshall, 37-38.
44 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 210-211; Pogue, Education, 159; Marshall, Memoirs, 54, 57-59. Despite his troubles with his temper at this time, Marshall did receive a promotion to become a temporary lieutenant colonel on January 5, 1918. Hanson Ely, meanwhile, was transferred from his duty as Chief of Staff to become the commander of the Twenty-eighth Infantry.
45 Marshall, Memoirs, 61-62, Speech at Army Ordnance Meeting, GCMRL/Research File [World War I].
46 Marshall, Memoirs, 65-68. General Pershing created a system of staff organization within the A.E.F. that is still used by the American Army today. G-1 is personnel, G-2 is intelligence, G-3 is for operations and training, and G-4 is for supply. As G-3 for the First Division, Marshall could also be called its chief of Operations. Although taking on many roles in the early stages of the war, Marshall had always been G-3 of the First Division and though he would not remain with them for much longer, he would never leave the G-3 section of the AEF during his entire World War I career.
47 Ibid., 68-69; Pogue, Education, 160-161.
48 The French who were in the same sector as the First Division estimated that three out of every four trench raids were destined to be failures. Robert Lee Bullard, Personalities and Reminiscences of the War (New York: Doubleday, Page, and Company, 1925), 149, 151. Pogue, Education, 161.
49 Marshall, Memoirs, 75-76; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 136; Pogue, Education, 162.
50 Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 136; Pogue, Education, 162-163. Marshall, Memoirs, 82, 85, 87.
51 Marshall, Memoirs, 88-91; Pogue, Education, 165; 19 May 1918 Memorandum and 20 May 1918 Field Orders written by Campbell King, and 25 May 1918 Memorandum written by George C. Marshall, World War Records of the First Division, A.E.F. Regular, Volume II: Field Orders First Division to May 31, 1918.
52 Pogue, Education, 165; Operations Report of George Marshall, 28 May 1918 and Telegram from General Bullard to A.E.F. GHQ, World War Records of the First Division, Volume XII; United States Government, United States Army in World War I, 1917-1919, Volume Four: Military Operations, 301, 312. The Center of Military History, United States Army, published this set of books in 1989. They were first published in 1948. From this point foreword they will be cited as (USAWW).
53 Caffey, "General George C. Marshall," GCMRL/Research File [World War I]; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 144. Marshall had thought that he might be given command of the Second Division, but that position was filled by James Harbord. Pogue, Education, 168. In his memoirs, Marshall wrote about his admiration for Caffey. At the end of the war, when he became the chief of staff of the Eighth Corps and took Caffey with him, Marshall wrote, "The assistance of this young man [Caffey] relieved me of all concern regarding a thousand and one details in undertaking a new job in a newly organized unit. His practical knowledge of battle conditions made it possible to send him to divisions engaged in battle and obtain in a minimum of time, a very accurate forecast of just what they would be able to do and in what they would probably fail. Regular officers of many years' service, and without his experience, would have been utterly unable to size up the confused battle situations as did this young fellow." Marshall, Memoirs, 116.
54 Speech at First Division dinner, GCMRL/Research File [World War I]; Marshall, Memoirs, 101, 116-118; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1:151. On March 9, General Harbord, still A.E.F. Chief of Staff at the time, had sent Major Hjalmer Erickson to the First Division to be trained as Marshall's replacement, thus freeing him for duty at GHQ. However, with the intensification of the division's training program and the German offensives, General Bullard did not feel the time was right to release the very talented Marshall.
55 Marshall, Memoirs, 119-121; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 151-152.
56 Pogue, Education, 169-170; Marshall, "On Active Service," 10-11.
57 Hunter Liggett, Commanding an American Army (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company), 63.
58 Marshall, Memoirs, 121, 123-125; "On Active Service", 4; Pogue, Education, 170. A salient is nothing more than a bulge in an army's line.
59 Marshall, Memoirs, 125-126. Marshall continued to be somewhat rewarded for his excellent staff work. On August 27, 1918 he was promoted to the temporary rank of colonel. Bland, Interviews, x.
60 A long artillery barrage had been a strategy repeatedly used throughout the war by both sides to cut the enemy's protective wire and kill as many of their soldiers as possible before an offensive was launched. However, the results it had produced could hardly be considered successful. During the 1916 Somme offensive, for example, the British used a long artillery bombardment before they left their trenches. Many officers told their men that the job of taking the enemy trenches would be easy because the Germans could not have withstood the pounding of artillery shells without suffering thousands of casualties. Instead, it only served as a warning to the Germans that an offensive was coming, causing them to dig their dugouts deeper. When the whistle blew for the British troops to go over the top, 60,000 of them died on the first day of battle alone.
61 Caffey, "General George C. Marshall," GCMRL/Research File [World War I]; Eisenhower, Yanks, 104. Marshall's ideas on offensive tactics were not original and he knew it. There is no doubt that he borrowed many of them from Ludendorff, which he admits in his memoirs. Marshall, Memoirs, 126.
62 Marshall, Memoirs, 126-127.
63 Ibid., 128; "On Active Service," 11-12. Despite the inexperience of the staff, Marshall stated later, " I think they did very well." Bland, Interviews, 11 April 1957, 220.
64 Pogue, Education, 171; Marshall, "On Active Service," 12.
65 USAWW, Volume 8: Military Operations, 232-233; Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 157-159. Of his work with Grant, Marshall later wrote, "It was a peculiarly delightful partnership - each one aspiring to assist the other, with no thought of dominating the procedure, and with no difficulty whatever in arriving at common decisions." Marshall, Memoirs, 132-136.
66 Marshall, Memoirs, 137.
67 Ibid., 137-139.
68 Ibid., 139.
69 Marshall, Memoirs, 143-147; "On Active Service," 15.
70 Souilly was located along the "Sacred Way," which ran from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun. Marshall just happened to work in the same office that General Petain had during the famous fight for Verdun in 1916. The French leader had marched 190,000 men and 25,000 tons of supplies over the road outside his office, allowing France to win a hollow victory. Pogue, Education, 176.
71 Payne, Marshall Story 79-80; Stoler, George C. Marshall, 40.
72 Marshall, Memoirs, 149.
73 USAWW Volume 9: Military Operations, 65-66.
74 Bland, Interviews, 11 April 1957, 222.
75 Stoler, George C. Marshall, 40-41, Frederick Palmer, John J. Pershing: General of the Armies (Harrisburg, PA: The Military Service Publishing Company, 1948), 303.
76 Quoted in Ed Cray, General of the Army: George C. Marshall Soldier and Statesmen (New York: W.W. Norton And Company, 1990), 74-75.
77 USAWW, Volume 9: Military Operations, 66.
78 Pershing, My Experiences, 2: 285
79 Harbord, The American Army, 430; Frye, Marshall, 160.
80 Marshall, "On Active Service," 22.
81 Liggett, Commanding an American Army, 180.
82 Pogue, Education, 196.
83 Bland, Marshall Papers, 1: 173.
84 Bland, Interviews, 5 April 1957, 215. Marshall was so bitter about this that once he became a general, he rarely had an officer detailed as an aide. Pogue, Education, 197.
85 Pogue, Education, 189.
86 Bland, Interviews, 11 April 1957, 242.
87 Eisenhower, Yanks, 294.
88 Quoted in Coffman, "George C. Marshall in World War I," GCMRL/Research File [World War I]. The book was compiled at The Infantry School in 1934.
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