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1-042 Editorial Note on Air Interests and the Massachusetts Assignment

1909
1909-1910
   
Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation



Editorial Note on Air Interests and the Massachusetts Assignment

July 1909-July 1910

With the end of the 1908-9 school year, Marshall was again detailed as instructor with the Pennsylvania National Guard, July 10-30. As soon as the camp ended on July 30, Marshall hurried southward to join his wife for a brief vacation in Virginia. He arranged to stay the night at the Fort Myer, Virginia, apartment of a friend from Fort Leavenworth, First Lieutenant Benjamin D. Foulois.

At Fort Leavenworth some of Foulois’s classmates and instructors had considered him somewhat odd because of his belief that “the dynamical flying machine” would have a profound impact on military tactics within a few years. (From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts: The Memoirs of Major General Benjamin D. Foulois [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968], pp. 43-44.) But as a student in the General Staff School the previous year, when Foulois was in the Signal Corps School, Marshall had been present at a lecture delivered by the head of the Signal School, Major George O. Squier (U.S.M.A., 1887). Marshall later recalled Squier’s “startling statement that two brothers, named Wright, were actually reaching the solution of flight by heavier-than-air machines. I knew nothing of this at the time, having seen no reference to it in the press, and I have never forgotten the profound impression it made on my mind.” (Speech, September 19, 1938, Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Alabama, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Speeches].)

Marshall arrived at Fort Myer on July 30 to find some seven thousand persons, including cabinet officers, ambassadors, and diplomats, “present to see the miracle—an effort to fly twenty miles, with two passengers, at a speed of at least forty miles an hour.” His friend Foulois had been the navigator-passenger on the historic flight piloted by Orville Wright, and that evening his apartment was full of reporters searching for newsworthy comments. (Ibid.)

Following their Virginia vacation, the Marshalls returned to Fort Leavenworth for the 1909-10 school year. During his two-year duty as instructor, Marshall produced most of the small amount of technical writing he did during his career. In 1909 he collaborated with Captain Clarence O. Sherrill (U.S.M.A., 1901) in issuing a manual on Cordage and Tackle. During this period Marshall was also an associate editor of the Infantry Journal, although he wrote but one essay himself: “A Record in Military Mapping,” 6 (January 1910): 546-50.

After classes ended on June 30, 1910, Marshall reported for a month’s duty as inspector-instructor at several state militia officers’ camps of instruction. The War Department, pleased with the success it had had with militia camps since 1908, and determined to “undertake a general movement along these lines in 1910,” specified that “such instructors as will be needed should be selected from the best qualified officers of the Regular Army.” (General Orders, No. 4, January 12, 1910.) Marshall attended four such camps: July 2-6 with the New York National Guard; and July 9-30 with three different units of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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), p. 50.

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