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To Colonel John N. Greely1
February 13, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just this moment opened your letter of February 10th, and will answer immediately.2
In the first place, I should tell you that I know little or nothing about these makes, except information picked up from time to time, which would indicate that the matter is handled on a very exact basis as to age, position on the Eligible List, probable period of availability for the grade of major general, and allotments to arms. As you have not been passed by anybody in the Field Artillery, my advice would be, by all means, to continue business as at present. I must make it perfectly clear to you that I have no information of any kind on the subject. But I should add one more item to the foregoing—from what I have been able to learn influence has been completely negligible and only an irritation. General Craig tells me that every make is his, in other words, that he is completely responsible for each one.
I want to ask you to treat the foregoing as highly confidential, and I question whether I should have commented this freely. He has had to take a terrible beating in the feeling aroused by the procedure followed in going down the list for brigadiers, and this feeling grows more, I imagine, with each successive announcement.
I wish that I had had an opportunity to see you when I was flying through San Antonio last August, but you were on maneuvers. Maybe I will get down there by air again before the year is out, but certainly not this winter as things are terrific here in the way of business.
With affectionate regards to both of you,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Greely, at this time commander of the Fifteenth Field Artillery at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was the son of noted Arctic explorer Major General Adolphus W. Greely. During the World War he served with the First Division’s Seventh Field Artillery in 1917, before moving to the division’s Operations Section to work for Marshall. Subsequently, he served as head of the Operations Section, then division chief of staff, and as a member of the Operations Section at A.E.F. General Headquarters. Between 1921 and 1924 he was detailed to the Operations and Training Division of the War Department General Staff.
2. Greely wrote that he was worried that the promotion to brigadier general of an officer in another branch who was junior to him meant that he was being passed over for promotion. If so, he thought he might “turn to writing with a view to retiring as soon as I can afford it, to give my whole time to this. I believe that I would be financially and mentally better off than hanging on in a futile hope that lightning would some day strike. I had a lot of big jobs in my time, and I should hate to see them get less and less important. Please let me know your advice if you feel free to do so. Say either—hang on—or—you better prepare to get out." (Greely to Marshall, February 10, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 697-698.