Marshall and The World Wars

Noted World War I scholar Dr. Edward Lengel talked about American military entry into WWI last night to open the Marshall Legacy Series sequence called The World Wars.

His talk, “Testing the American Way of War: Doughboys in Combat, 1917-1918,” can be viewed on our YouTube channel.
Dr. Lengel discussed the first American military engagements of WWI, describing how unpreparedness and bravery—as witnessed first hand by George C. Marshall and others—defined the introduction of millions of Doughboys to the challenges of modern mechanized warfare. He addressed how the Franco-American alliance was put to perhaps its greatest test, before or since—a test in which Marshall was a direct and primary participant.

Dr. Lengel, formerly of the faculty at the Univ. of Virginia, is chief historian at the White House Historical Association and the author of Thunder and Flames: Americans in the Crucible of Combat and To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918.

The new exhibition, “Six Degrees of Marshall,” opened last night as well. It uses an infographic to connect Marshall to people and programs important to World War I and World War II. Visitors will appreciate how George. C. Marshall both shaped, and was shaped by, his experience of combat in France during World War I and show how those lessons learned, and hard won, would ultimately fashion how he would go on to fight and win in World War II.

The individuals who led in World War II—Marshall, Patton, MacArthur, Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman—were involved in World War I. Their direct involvement in the first war informed their leadership and the decisions they made in the second. Marshall evolved from a battle planner and logistics genius into a global military strategist drawing on the knowledge and experience of coalition warfare and fighting on a global scale. As chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, he operated both at the head of the U.S. military and behind the scenes, establishing his reputation as the “organizer of victory” and as an indispensable man of World War II.

The World Wars sequence, including the new exhibition, continues through August.