Charles Gates Dawes.

A journal of the great war (Volume 1) online

. (page 22 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

before we took our motors to leave for the next point, the
General said that he had not asked for the aviators to fly,
as when he and Baker were there before one of the men lost
his life in exhibition flying. But our young eagles came out
notwithstanding and flew for a long distance over and beside

1 Telegram


March 9, 1919 (1.30 P.M.)

General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F.


It is with deep regret that the officers and men of the Seventeenth En-
gineers bid farewell to their former Lieutenant-Colonel. Each and every
member of the original Seventeenth, as well as the replacements, consider
you as their own true friend. Your personal magnetism, combined with
your rare executive ability, has won for you the friendship and admiration
of all. We are unable to express in words the thanks which we owe to you
for the service rendered to the regiment. We wish you continued success
in your great undertaking. Good-bye.



our automobiles. It was not until evening on the train that
we learned that one of the boys who flew alongside our ma-
chines made a dive and was killed. It seemed so unnecessary.
We were greatly grieved. I did not learn the name of the

The Peace Conference moves slowly along. McFadden,
whose work with it naturally grows more important with
time, complains that when Wilson is away our delegates,
since there are several of them, generally remain compara-
tively silent during important discussions, since in Wilson's
absence leadership is not established among them. The for-
eigners, therefore, shape the trend of things for the time being.
I do not know how the peace conferences are conducted, for
I have too much to do to concern myself with securing in-
formation about them. As time passes and public opinion
presses for a conclusion, it will operate to hasten agreement.
During the war in our inter-Allied conferences, whenever I
happened to represent our Commander-in-Chief and our
army, which was frequently, I soon came to employ certain
methods to secure early decision. Where the conference was
confronted with the necessity of agreement on something in-
volving a sacrifice to one of the parties and a bitter difference
was inevitable, I always endeavored to precipitate immediately
the issue in the clearest and most distinct way. By smoking
cigars, by great emphasis, by occasional profanity no matter
how dignified the gathering or impressive the surroundings, I
generally got everybody earnestly in discussion of the very
crux of the question in the first half-hour. My disregard of
the conventions was studied and with a purpose. It was not
only to save precious time by dissipating that atmosphere of
self -consciousness in which men so often commence their
negotiations, but by having the session start in comparative
acrimony the foundation was laid for a natural reaction to
good feeling later in the session which would cause every one
to leave the conference in comparatively better humor than
if the fight occurred just before the ending.


If the difference between conferees is vital and important
enough, it will be strongly contested. A perception of this at
the beginning of a conference and a courageous meeting of the
situation creates rough sailing for a time, but steadily smoother
until the end; whereas weak men, or vain or conventional
men, or even strong men at times, by over-politeness, by
over-deference to a non-essential environment or strange and
dignified surroundings, carefully avoid ruffling the waters at
first only to ride later into the inevitable storm. In such cases
all leave the conference annoyed, some by the decision and
some by the others. In a common cause and a common
emergency men should come out of a conference not only with
a decision, but as friends. Among sincere and honest men in
an emergency involving the common interest, the quicker
disagreeable truth involved in decision is met, the surer will
be an honest and quick settlement of respective duty.

In the above I am not speaking of ordinary conferences
among ordinary men, but of vital conferences upon which
hang great events.

Paris, Sunday
March 30, 1919 (10.30 P.M.)

TO-DAY I handed to General Pershing my Report as the
American Member of the Military Board of Allied Supply.
We read over the more important parts together and he
seems satisfied with the Report over which I have very care-
fully worked. We had a meeting of the Board during the
week. I regard the Report as my most important contribu-
tion to the military literature of the war, and the most im-
portant document which I have ever prepared. However, it
may be years before anybody digs it up and appreciates it for
what it is. The world is in a crisis and Europe will remain in
one indefinitely, so that the minds of this generation will not
largely concern themselves with retrospect.

My prediction of a year ago that if the Allies won they
would have no more of a government in Germany to deal with



than Germany had in Russia, bids fair to be realized within
sixty days. The war has broken up the central control of the
Continental Empires, and left the alien peoples to define
their own relations, which they will proceed to do by the usual
process of wars. The phrase-makers, politicians, idealists, and
pacifists may now realize that whether democracy is safe or
not depends upon the people in question, and that in parts of
Europe self-government is as impossible in certain stages
of development in the life of a particular people as in the

Self-government in our own dear land is safe, but right-
minded people, and not alone the demagogues and time-
servers, must be active to keep it so. The ultimate judgment
of the American people is sound, provided the checks and
balances of our Constitution are kept in existence so that ulti-
mate and not hasty or temporary judgments may pass into law.

My two Reports are now finished. My work on the Liqui-
dation Commission is important, but as responsibility is
divided and life and death for others is not involved, the
mental strain under which I have been so long is lifting.

On Friday, for the first time in my army service over here,
I faced an American audience at a banquet given to a delega-
tion from the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce by Homer
Johnson, of our Commission. General Pershing, Secretary
Daniels, M. Loucheur, and others spoke.

Last night (Saturday) I entertained at dinner at the Ritz
and afterward at the Olympia Vaudeville the Generals of the
First Army whom Harbord had taken over the S.O.S. Gen-
eral Pershing was present; also Lieutenant-General Lig-
gett, commanding the First Army ; Major-Generals Warner,
Bailey, McNair, and Smith, Brigadier-General Hulit, and
in addition Major-General Harbord and myself and aides of
the party in all twenty-six. My friend General Payot was
present. Before dinner General Pershing conferred the Dis-
tinguished Service Medal on George McFadden, which he
certainly has brilliantly won.


During the week, under the direction and delegation of
General Pershing, I pinned the Distinguished Service Medal
of the United States upon the uniform of my associate,
Major-General Reginald Ford, of the English army a
brave and successful officer of the line on the Somme and
afterward a most efficient member of the British General

Paris, Friday
April n, 1919 (10.30 P.M.)

I REGRET that the disinclination to write has prevented me
from commenting on the many interesting and historical
characters whom I constantly meet. To-night I have been so
interested in my talk with the Grand Duke Alexander of
Russia that I will try to make a few notes of it. The Grand
Duke lives here at the hotel and met me because of his in-
terest in an interview of mine in the Stars and Stripes in
which I spoke of the cooperation of the French with our
army supply efforts. He has had me at dinner with him twice
this week, to-night having also Mr. and Mrs. McFadden
and Countess Olga. Alexander is a brother-in-law of the
late Czar. Three of his brothers have been murdered by
the Bolshevists. He told me seventeen of his family had
met this fate. His son-in-law, Prince Yusopoff, murdered

Alexander is in a position to know what he is talking about,
and to-night being in distress of mind about the Crimea where
the Bolshevists are advancing, and where a number of his
children are living still, he opened his heart freely to me. He is
outraged because the Allies are taking no steps to restore order
in Russia. He says that while the Germans were there they
at least preserved a semblance of order. He says that the
abandonment of Russia by the Allies means only one thing
the future cooperation of Germany and Russia ; that within a
year or so the old regime must be established in Russia by the
force of events and the reaction against the present terrible


anarchy. He is an intelligent, forceful talker. Wilson declined
to see him; England will not allow his family to go there. He
thinks America would not receive him if he asked permission
to take his children there. His property has been confiscated,
and he is tired of "Grand Duking." He is an extremely likable
man, and though my short acquaintance with him does not
enable me to pass judgment upon him as a statesman, I would
trust him as a man.

The home papers announce the arrival in America of my
old regiment.

We are hard at work on the Liquidation Commission.
Warren Pershing, the General's boy, is on his way here. I
am so glad for John's sake. Tardieu has cabled a resum6 of
my Stars and Stripes interview to America. If it is published
there it will be the first time the fact has been made public
that we secured two thirds of the tonnage consumed by our
army on this side of the ocean. Harbord asked me to give
the interview and same was first submitted to him.

Coblentz, Germany, April 24, 1919

HAVE been on a trip with General Pershing since Sunday.
In the party besides the General are the Secretary of War,
General Harbord, Leopold, the Crown Prince of Belgium,
the General's aides, and myself. General Harbord and I left
Paris Sunday morning, April 20 (Easter), and arrived at
Chaumont in the afternoon. Dined with the Commander-in-
Chief and the Secretary and left for Is-sur-Tille Sunday
night with the party.

Of the events of this unusual trip I will mention the
march past of the 33d Division (chiefly from Illinois) which
took place in a magnificent natural amphitheater near
Die Kirch. It took about six or seven miles of walking to
complete the inspection which the General made, his party
including myself accompanying him. After the decorations
were conferred among them one to Colonel Sanborn, of
Evanston the review took place. The ground was so level


that the entire division in movement could be seen at once.
The setting sun shone upon the blue steel of the bayonets of
the twenty-three thousand men as they approached us, and at
a distance it gave the appearance of a bluish mist just above
the brown of the helmets. The massed regimental bands
played well. It was unquestionably the most impressive and
inspiring sight of my life. The review next day of the 8gth
Division was also very wonderful, but not so many men by
about one half were in line.

This trip is the first the young Prince Leopold has ever
been allowed to take alone. He is seventeen years of age
a very natural, modest, dignified, and altogether likable
boy. He is greatly enjoying himself and tells me he is writing
all about it to his mother.

Am finding the Secretary of War an extremely agreeable
companion. His speeches to the men are admirable. His
critics will pass into oblivion, but his accomplishments under
great disadvantages will always be remembered in our history.

The week before I started on this trip at Paris was a busy
one. Spent much of two days with General Pershing. Went
with him to the studio of Jo Davidson, an American sculptor
who is making a bust of the General. Was so pleased with it
that I purchased the first one finished. I think it will become
the standard bust of General Pershing, as it is by all odds the
best yet made of him especially when looked at in profile.

One night last week dined with General Botha, the Prime
Minister of South Africa. We were both guests of General
Bethel of the English army.

Our great army is rapidly being reduced in numbers. This
sojourn on occupied German soil, however, may continue
some time for the Third Army.

Paris, Sunday, May 4, 1919

OUTDOORS this morning for the first time in three days, hav-
ing been down with a mild but exasperating case of ptomaine
poisoning. Took lunch with Generals Harbord, Drum, and

(Clay model by Jo Davidson)


Hagood, Grand Duke Alexander, and Mrs. George Mo

The early part of the week was at Tours, where with other
officers of the A.E.F. was made a Companion of the Bath at
ceremonies, Lieutenant-General Henderson, of the B.E.F.,
conferring the decorations. Harbord was made a K.C.M.G.

Our Liquidation Commission is immersed in its difficult
problems. Am much impressed with the abilities and high
characters of my associates. They are high-minded, practical
men, and influenced only by the highest motives. Am much
impressed by their earnestness and sincerity.

On our return from the trip to Germany I had the party
on the train excepting General Pershing and Secretary
Baker at dinner and afterward at the theater. General
McAndrew and Colonel De Chambrun were also with us,
as was the young Belgian Crown Prince Leopold.

At Tours on Tuesday at Harbord 's house, where I stayed,
Julius Kahn, the new Chairman of the House Committee on
Military Affairs, was a guest. He is able and constructive
and should be a great asset to our country in the new army
reorganization which should follow the war.

The peace treaty is about ready for the signatures of the
Germans which probably will be forthcoming, since if they
are not our armies will march forward. But when the peace
treaty is finally read the world will know that peace-treaty-
making is not an exact science.

Received cable that my brother Beman will be here this
month. Shall be rejoiced to see him, as I should be the
other dear members of my family from whom I have been
separated now for nearly two years. Have been worried
about my dear mother's health, but a letter this week from
her reassures me.

Paris, Friday, May 9, 1919

THE Liquidation Commission is struggling with its great
task. Roughly estimated at the heavy war costs, we have on


hand army supplies and installations of a nominal value of
$1,500,000,000. It is scattered all over France. Our nation
is pressing for a return of our soldiers. The United States
has also a surplus of war supplies at home estimated at
$2,000,000,000. Great Britain has about $2,000,000,000 or
over in France. Frarice itself has a tremendous stock.
Transportation facilities are limited. The value of the stocks
is lessening with time. France as a government is in financial
straits, and yet it is the only logical purchaser of our property.
Our negotiations are rendered more difficult by the compli-
cated inter-governmental credit situation. It is necessary to
deal upon the highest plane and with great energy. What-
ever we do will be criticized, but I want to be criticized for
doing something rather than nothing.

Johnson, Hollis, and I met Tardieu last night. Tardieu
is now over his hardest work with the Peace Conference and
can put his powerful shoulder to the wheels of our cart. He
fully agrees with us as to the necessity of a sale of the whole
to France both for the interests of his country and our own.
The member of our commission who has shown the earliest
and clearest appreciation of the wisdom, indeed necessity,
of dealing with France in bulk has been Johnson, for whose
abilities I have a constantly increasing admiration. The
country is fortunate in having three such able and clean men
on the commission as Parker, Johnson, and Hollis. I do not
pretend to take the laboring oar; but am trying to be of
some help to my associates who are doing most of the work.
General Pershing called me by telephone yesterday about
the liquidation situation. It concerns the question of the
time when we can release all our troops. Earlier in the week
the General gave me a sword which he had personally se-
lected and had duly engraved which I shall always
value, it is needless to say.

On Wednesday I dined with Major-General Thwaites, of
the B.E.F., at the Hotel Majestic. After dinner I met
Lloyd George. I told him that when after a few months he


got time to read it, I wanted him to look over my Report on
the Military Board of Allied Supply which he had helped
to create. Told him he would be interested because it was,
with its unanimous-consent provision, practically a "League
of Nations" operating just behind the Alfieb! line of battle.
If anybody hereafter (and this is probable) maintains that
the League of Nations has no real power because unanimous
consent must be the basis of its effective action, the record
of what our military "League of Nations" actually did do
and was about to do will refute them. He agreed. I now
reflect that if I had allowed him to do more of the talking
these notes would be of greater moment.

The peace terms have been handed to the Germans. They
are certainly stiff enough to satisfy the extremists. But I
am free to say that this commission has probably done the
very best it was possible to do in the environment in which
it acted. When the environment is forgotten and the un-
conquerable necessities of an actual situation do not confront
the critic, there will be much international literature de-
voted to the demonstration of how much better a treaty
would have resulted if the nations had summoned the critics
to the conference instead of their greatest men. The highest
art in criticism as a rule is developed only in those personally
incapable of constructive accomplishment.

Paris, May 23, 1919

THESE notes have become a more or less perfunctory matter
with me, but I realize that hereafter I shall regret it.
Harbord and I were talking last night about the "after-
the-war" adaptation of ourselves to the usual environment of
humanity, and he referred to having used the expression to
General Pershing, "only eight hundred thousand troops now
left in France." His idea of size in armies has altered in
two years. The fact of the matter is that we all are passing
every day through intensely interesting situations and ex-
periences which, measured by our old pre-war mental atti-


tude, would have been engrossing. But this after-the-war re-
action makes people and things seem relatively unimportant.
When in a year or so we "come to," so to speak, we shall
regret not having made a better record of these armistice

Harbord has again become Pershing's Chief of Staff, much
to his gratification and that of all of us. W. D. Connor be-
comes Commanding General, Services of Supply. There are
no better men made than Harbord. A great soldier and a
great man, he is a faithful, loyal friend to those in whom he
believes, and the waning fortunes of a friend only make
him his stronger advocate. The world is filled with fawning
sycophants these days, and they only emphasize the natural
majesty of sincerity and naturalness. The true friend is
always the most active in our greatest need of him. General
Pershing has been here most of the week. Have taken lunch
nearly every day with him and his aides at 73 Rue de

Owing to the fact that peace is still hanging fire the Gen-
eral had to cancel the trip to England on which I was to
accompany him. Accordingly had to telegraph Mr. William
C. Dawes, at Mount Ephraim, Faversham, Kent, postponing
the date of the christening of my English godson.

We are struggling away on the Liquidation Commission
with one of the big business trades of all time. General
McAndrew, the old Chief of Staff, has had a wonderful
career of usefulness in his position. He is respected and be-
loved by us all. He leaves to take up work in the War De-
partment head of the War College, I think. Everybody
hates to see him leave.

Paris, Sunday
June i, 1919 (10.30 P.M.)

BEMAN and Bertie arrived last Wednesday from the United
States. General Pershing telephoned from Chaumont to
bring them there for the Decoration Day exercises at Beau-



mont and Romagne. Bertie was too fatigued to go, but
Beman and I went by automobile Thursday to Chaumont,
dined with the General and Harbord, and left with them and
others of his Staff by train that night for the Argonne battle-
field. The General did not intend to speak at Beaumont in
the morning, but after the impressive ceremony conducted
by Chaplain Moody ended, and the infantry had fired the
three volleys over the long row of newly made graves marked
by their white wooden crosses, he stepped down from the
platform into the little gathering of French people before
him. An old French civilian, the Mayor of the little near-by
village, surrounded by a group of French children carrying
wild flowers, then spoke to him in a simple way saying that
the people of the neighborhood would always care for the
graves of the lads sleeping so far away from their homes who
had given their lives that the village might remain under
France. The tears rolled down the General's face as he said,
as near as I can remember: "It is very hard for us to say
' Good-bye ' for the last time to our dear comrades whom we
now leave forever. But since they cannot go home with us,
there is no land save their own in which we would rather have
them rest no people with whom we can more surely leave
their ashes to tender care and lasting memory than the dear
people of France. I thank you in the name of their bereaved
and in the name of our whole people who are mourning them
to-day and whose hearts are here."

Somehow this incident overshadowed in my mind all the
more formal ceremonies both at Beaumont and later at
Romagne, where the General made his formal address before
a great assemblage of soldiers.

Beman and I left the party at Romagne and returned to
Paris by motor, arriving about midnight. I took him to
Montfaucon where I found the observation post on the
north slope of the hill, where on October 6 poor Boyd and I
watched the battle from a spot near the Crown Prince's old
dugout. We returned through Varennes, Chalons, Rheims,


Chateau-Thierry. They are rapidly cleaning up the terrible
d6bris at Rheims.

Our troops are rapidly leaving for home. The curtain is
falling on this great episode over here.

Paris, June 7, 1919

BY July I our understanding with the French Government
as to our cession of material to them and the settlement of
reciprocal accounts will either be completed or in such agreed
state that I can no longer be kept as indispensable to their
proper completion. After long negotiations we are now
practically in accord with the French on everything and
await only the completion of certain inventories. The work
has been most responsible, but others have borne the heaviest
burden of it. Many hundreds of millions of dollars are in-
volved and I have been at times concerned as to the out-
come. I feel, however, that we have considered the situation
from every angle, and that the conclusion reached will be
the fairest and best possible under most difficult conditions.
Have kept closely in touch with all matters of policy and de-
cisions relating to it, but have not attempted detail work.

My associates on this commission are most exceptional
and strong men. They have worked hard and honestly and
shown great ability.

Will leave for Brussels to-morrow for a day or so to say
"Good-bye" to Van de Vyvere, my faithful friend, who
helped our army so much last year. He is no longer in office.

Paris, June 13, 1919

ARRIVED in Brussels last Sunday night with Colonel Gushing.
Next morning Colonel Sewell came over from Antwerp
where he is Base Commander (also at Rotterdam) and re-
mained with me during my visit. My friend Van de Vyvere

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 30)