The Papers of George Catlett Marshall
"The Finest Soldier," January 1, 1945–January 7, 1947
The war against Japan seemed far from over, however, and Marshall was deeply involved in planning for the massive and difficult redeployment of troops and materials from Europe to the Pacific. The debate with the U.S. Navy over supreme command of the invasion of Japan continued through the first six months of the year until Marshall secured Douglas A. MacArthur's appointment. In May and June, the chief of staff was involved in the decision to use the new atom bomb.
Military-related political problems continued to consume much of Marshall's time as the Second World War drew to a close, although he was only peripherally involved in the Big Three conferences at Yalta and Potsdam. Instead, demobilization and readying U.S. Army ground and air forces for the postwar era were Marshall's chief concerns. He pressed for a unified military department against navy opposition and also lobbied incessantly for universal military training for all physically fit eighteen-year-old males as the key element in the nation's military readiness and deterrent value.
After the fighting ceased, Marshall expected to retire, having served on active duty since 1902, but President Truman kept him in office until late November 1945. The day after his retirement, the president asked him to go to China to mediate in that country's increasingly violent civil war. Despite his initial success in negotiating a cease-fire between the Nationalists and Communists, irreconcilable differences soon led to renewed fighting. Marshall's continued hopes for achieving a political compromise, along with knowledge that his mission was the only hope for avoiding a disaster in China, kept him in the country until early 1947. He returned to the United States only when the president announced that General Marshall would join his cabinet as secretary of state.
From The Papers of George Catlett Marshall
"The one great element in continuing the success of an offensive is maintaining the momentum. This was lost last fall when shortages caused by the limitation of port facilities made it impossible for us to get sufficient supplies to the armies to continue their sweep into Germany when they approached the German border. Once additional ports had been captured and reopened there was a shortage of rail and transportation facilities with which to get supplies forward. Now the port facilities and the interior supply lines are adequate. Subject to the worldwide shortage of both cargo and personnel shipping, there is no foreseeable shortage which will be imposed by physical events in the field."—Speech to the Overseas Press Club, March 1, 1945
"Today we celebrate a great victory, a day of solemn thanksgiving. My admiration and gratitude go first to those who have fallen, and to the men of the American armies of the air and ground whose complete devotion to duty and indomitable courage have overcome the enemy and every conceivable obstacle in achieving this historic victory."—Marshall V-E Day Radio Address, May 8, 1945
About the Authors
"Offers invaluable perspectives upon the whole history of the twentieth-century American army, as well as upon Marshall's own development in stature."—Russell F. Weigley, reviewing a previous volume
"This perceptively selected, well-edited cross section of his papers . . . chronicles more than the development of one of America's greatest military administrators. The insight this work presents into the U.S. Army's doctrinal and institutional evolution between 1898 and 1939 earns it a place in all major libraries."—Library Journal, reviewing a previous volume
"Indispensable for any scholar of modern military history, invaluable for a reflection of social attitudes in America in the first half of the 20th century, and pleasurable reading under any circumstances."—American Archivist, reviewing a previous volume
"An important, even a necessary, event."—Times Literary Supplement, reviewing a previous volume
"Superbly compiled by the editors . . . the collection is certain to become a major historical resource on the development of the American military and foreign policies."—Parameters, reviewing a previous volume
"Almost every document the editors include is fascinating in itself, largely because of the vigor of Marshall's mind and his eye for detail . . . An enthralling study America was equipped for battle."—Hugh Brogan, Times Literary Supplement, reviewing a previous volume
"Marshall's capacity to deal simultaneously with minutia and the largest issues of national security is clearly documented in his own letters and memoranda, leaving no doubt that he was a genius at preparing for war at a time when Congress and public opinion were ambivalent and the President uncertain and devious."—Foreign Affairs, reviewing a previous volume
"Nobody who is interested in the career of General Marshall, or in World War II generally, is likely to be unfamiliar with the previous volumes in this series. The superlatives earned by those books apply here as well: the editorial approach is clear, the annotation superb—complete without being pedantic . . . It is hard for people today to appreciate the unique stature Marshall achieved in his own time. If they wish to try, they could not do better than to begin with these papers."—Journal of Military History, reviewing a previous volume
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