Charles Gates Dawes.

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see them often. I can understand now after three months
with them why army associations are so binding. The life
makes intimate all acquaintance among officers. There were
about fifteen at the dinner.

At camp all night very windy and wet.

Paris, August 28, 1917

TOOK train for Paris. Had sent Francis Kilkenny on the
night before. On train all day, arriving at Paris about 8 P.M.
Chauncey McCormick and Francis met me at the train and
took me to the Ritz Hotel where I had engaged rooms.
Chauncey took dinner with me. He has done splendid work
at the front caring for French children.

Paris, August 29, 1917

CALLED on General Pershing in the morning. Spent an hour
with him. He tells me he wants me to organize and head


a board which will coordinate all purchasing for the United
States Army in France, including the Red Cross; that he ex-
pects to publish for the use of the army my report on "boat
drill " and method. Went over the method of handling freight
on line of communications and gave him what ideas I had
gathered, chiefly from the experts of our regiment Colonel
Sewell, Majors Atwood and Gushing, and Captain Causey.
He had already anticipated to a large degree the situation.
He is fully alive to the dangers of congestion. Agreed en-
tirely as to necessity for wooden docks; for one supervision
of entire process of unloading from ship to trains ; for author-
ity to rest in a railway expert. Thinks Wilgus is equal to it.
Agrees that American equipment must be used to large ex-
tent and gave me the number of engines and cars he has
already ordered. He is selecting men for results and holding
all to a rigid accountability to produce results. He issued
order attaching Francis to me as an orderly.

Pershing is the man for this great emergency. He has an
immense faculty for disposing of things. He is not only a great
soldier, but he has great common sense and tremendous

Went to Morgan-Harjes office. They were very kind. Mr.
Carter called in his purchasing experts and I asked them some
questions as to their methods. Wish I had time to discuss the
appearance of Paris, etc., but cannot get my mind upon de-
tails to-day.

Since I apparently am to be closely associated with head-
quarters as a member of Pershing's staff I am going to have
this book deposited under seal at Morgan, Harjes and Com-
pany so that I can write freely and contemporaneously in it,
and yet not run any risk of losing it and thus doing injury. I
will probably be able to write in it once a week anyway.

Paris, Sunday, September 2, 1917

Now that I have a little breathing spell this afternoon I will
struggle at this diary. On reaching Paris I reported to Gen-



eral Pershing. He has made me head of a board of ten officers
representing all the purchasing departments of our army, in-
cluding also the Red Cross and Army Y.M.C.A. In addition
he has made me General Purchasing Agent in Europe for the
American Expeditionary Force in France. He gives me prac-
tically unlimited discretion and authority to go ahead and
devise a system of coordination of purchases ; to organize the
board; to arrange the liaison connections between the French
and English army boards and our own; to use any method
which may seem wise to me to secure supplies for the army in
Europe which to that extent will relieve our American trans-
ports in their enormous burden. He gives me authority to se-
lect my assistants from within or without the army. He will
ask for commissions as Captains of such civilians as I may de-
sire to impress into the service. He gives me such authority
as I may deem wise to execute in regard to all methods of pur-
chase and general supervision of them. In other words, he
makes me an important element in this war.

As I proceed to build up the organization, the communi-
cations which pass between me and the Commander-in-Chief
will contain the best record of what I shall or shall not ac-
complish and these will be available after the war. I called
the first meeting of the board yesterday (Saturday). The
following reported to me for duty:

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkins, Quartermaster Corps.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles E. Stanton, Quartermaster Corps (Gen-
eral Disbursing Officer).
Major D. P. Card, Medical Corps.
Colonel Thomas A. Jackson, Corps of Engineers.
Major Edgar S. Gorrell, Aviation Service, Signal Corps.
Captain James B. Taylor, Signal Corps.
1st Lieutenant Olney Bonar, Ordnance Department, U.S.R.
1st Lieutenant J. H. Matter, Signal Corps, U.S.R.
Carl Taylor, Purchasing and Disbursing Officer, Red Cross.
F. B. Shipp, Purchasing and Disbursing Officer, Y.M.C.A.

representing all purchasing departments of the army in
France. Announced to board its functions and my purposes


in connection therewith. Appointed James E. Dunning, Cap-
tain Quartermaster Corps, Purchasing Agent for England.
General Pershing later in day issued him orders to report to
me. Ordered Red Cross to make all its English purchases
through him. Instructed Corps of Engineers and Red Cross
to take joint action in lumber purchases to avoid competition.

However, it will bejmpossible for me to make any compre-
hensive record of my military activities. They will relate to
many outside matters, as, for instance, I found and brought to
Pershing's attention that probably three ships instead of one
could be used in transporting supplies from England to our
army in France. He will immediately ask for such additional
ships as I find can be effectively used a matter I am now
engaged on. Each boat working from England to France will
do the work of three from America to France if we can fill
them. We must have from the ist of September (to 1st of
June), for instance, 30,000 tons of coal per month. We hope
to get all this from England and in my judgment shall if we
can furnish the transports.

General Pershing expects me to study and make decisions for
reference to him of questions relating to what shall or shall not
be requisitioned from America in the matter of supplies. It is
a man's work, but I am thankful beyond words that, now that
I have come here instead of remaining in America, it is work
which will count for my country in its time of greatest trial.

In the occupation of work I find little else to write of.
Colonel Harbord, Pershing's Chief of Staff, took dinner with
me at the Ritz and spent the evening Thursday. I have been
with General Pershing each day, taking lunch on Friday at the
house (or rather palace) at which he is staying. Dear fellow,
and loyal friend. I hope I do not fail him. We have both
passed through the greatest grief which can come to man. As
we rode up together there occurred an instance of telepathy
which was too much for either of us. Neither of us was saying
anything, but I was thinking of my lost boy and of John's loss
and looking out of the window, and he was doing the same


thing on the other side of the automobile. We both turned at
the same time and each was in tears. All John said was," Even
this war can't keep it out of my mind." 1

We lunched in a house owned by Ogden Mills which was
formerly the palace of Marshal Lannes. Colonel Harbord
and the Adjutant-General Colonel Alvord and Captain
Collins were with us. As I looked around me I said, "John,
when I contrast these barren surroundings with the luxu-
riousness of our early life in Lincoln, Nebraska, it does seem
that a good man has no real chance in the world." To which
John meditatively replied, "Don't it beat hell!"

Colonel Sewell arrived Saturday morning. Took him to see
General Pershing. Am getting even with him by degrees for
all his kindness and forbearance with me. Got him to agree
to let me have James, Ryan, and Graf ton from the regiment.
Am going to send Ryan to Spain and Grafton to either Swit-
zerland or Italy as representing me. Pershing is issuing the
orders for them to report for duty.

In the evening my ankle broke down and I endured the tor-
ments of the damned until I got a physician who reset the little
devil of a bone which every year or so will persist in slipping
out of place for a few hours. Why it does not do this during
a ten-mile march, but only when I am quiet, is an anatomical

My nephew, Beman Gates Dawes, dined with me on two
days. Called at an American Field Service office for him and
my nephew William, but the latter was at the front somewhere
at work. John Pershing moved his headquarters yesterday to
the front. My headquarters will be in Paris. We shall have
quick telephonic communication, Harbord says. The hand of
death seems laid on this city. Can hardly realize it is the same
Paris I visited twenty years ago this year. Pershing has or-
dered my "boat drill" report printed for the benefit of the
American army.

1 The death by fire of the General's wife and three children at the
Presidio and the death by drowning of my son.


Paris, Monday evening, September 3, 1917

I ONLY hope that I will persevere in keeping this record con-
temporaneously with my connection with events here. iThere
is such a field for my useful activity that the evenings find me

Discovered this morning that the arrangement that req-
uisitions for our army upon the French Government on pur-
chases had to pass through our Chief of Staff, which resulted
in two to three days' delay, which would be increased now that
the Chief of Staff has moved to Chaumont. Discussed this
over the telephone with Harbord (C. of S.), and then person-
ally with General Pershing, which resulted in orders being
issued passing all these requisitions for approval through my
office instead of that of the Chief of Staff. This will save much
delay, as my headquarters will remain in Paris. To consum-
mate this arrangement General Pershing took me with him
this afternoon to call upon the French Minister of War,'M.
Painleve, and acquainted him with the arrangement. General
Pershing told him that I was to centralize all our army pur-
chases in Europe, taking control of them, and would organize
a system in Europe for locating and transporting supplies to
our army. The Minister expressed his satisfaction at this
arrangement and said that the French Government would
cooperate, notifying me of their prospective purchases and
appointing a French liaison officer to attend my headquarters
in furtherance of our understanding of unity of purpose and
action; that in some cases he would wish me to represent the
French Government in purchases outside of France. He and
General Pershing arranged for a review of the American
troops by the President of France. He also urged the impor-
tance of getting our engineers at work as soon as possible in
cutting the French forests, stating that the need of lumber for
the winter could not be overestimated.

Through Pershing and his War Department route wired
W. T. Abbott, C. H. Sabin, and Clarence Dillon in America
with the purpose of getting Abbott, Dean Jay, and Dillon to


accept Captains' commissions and join my staff. These tele-
grams will appear in the records of my office which I am keep-
ing. Took lunch with Colonel Sewell. My foot was so much
better that I commenced to walk in the morning without
crutches. Met William Allen White at breakfast.

Spent so much of the day with General Pershing that he
had time to fully discuss the situation as it was when he came
and as he sees it at present. What I write he has said to no
one else, but it will be safe in Morgan-Harjes's vaults until
after the war. He said that when America entered the war
the wonderful French spirit was enduring its greatest strain ; ;
that it almost seemed to him, after he had met the French and
English authorities, that they realized that through exhaus-
tion the end was near; that matters were better now since
the recent offensive. He said that one trouble which he saw
was the difficulty the French, English, and Italians experi-
enced in securing between themselves the best methods of
cooperation ; that this condition was improving, but that the
recent offensives of the French and English, though arranged
to be simultaneous practically throughout, failed to be so, and I
as a result after one offensive was through the Germans could \
move and did move their troops over to combat the other. '<'
He stated that the Russian situation was bad, and that it
might result in the releasing of more German troops for the
western front. He stated that Spain was under great internal
strain ; that if strikes or revolutions tied up their transporta-
tion the Allies would run out of lead within a short time;
that German influence was strong in Spain. While he called
attention to these difficulties, however, he said the encour-
agement to our allies from America's entrance in the war was
tremendous. He emphasized the necessity and importance
of my work to increase the volume of European purchases
for our army so as to save as much ship space as possible, and
thus get his army and American supplies over as soon as
possible ; that he could hope to have twenty divisions over by
spring, but had told Haig and Petain that he could not do any-


thing effective before that time. He felt, however, that now
there was no question, whatever happened in Russia or Spain,
that the Allies would hold out and that the aid of America
would inevitably bring a victory. He predicted this would
come by Christmas, 1918. He thinks we may have to bring
e ,660,000 Americans over, and believes that the United States
is equal to the task of in some way providing the transporta-
tion. He especially praised Cadorna whom he said he had met.
He said he had told him and Haig and Petain that the United
States was in this war to the finish with all its resources of men
and material, but that America, like England had been, was
unprepared when it entered the war, and it would take time for
its full strength to be felt. He believes that everything he said
in connection with the exhaustion of strength of France and
England applied in as great if not greater degree to Germany ;
that in estimating his difficulties he never forgot that; that
victory for the Allies is certain.

Paris, Saturday night, September 8, 1917

THE operations of my office are so vast, the matters of vital
importance with which it is concerned are so varied, the de-
mands it makes upon my time so pressing that of necessity
this record can only be of things of a very general nature. The
record of what I am accomplishing, however, will all be kept
in the shape of my official correspondence with the Com-
mander-in-Chief and his replies thereto in the orders carrying
out my requests and suggestions. I am keeping copies of what
I consider especially involves personal decision and initiative
in a file which after the war I will have bound to accompany
this journal.

Being in a position with power to control, supervise, and
direct purchases of the army in Europe the head of each
purchasing department reporting to me for duty I am not
only coordinating purchases between the different branches of
our own army and between our army and the English and
French Governments, but I am engaged in the organization


of effort both within and without the purchasing departments
of the army to locate supplies and the transportation there-
for in Europe in order to lessen the burden upon the Ameri-
can transport system across the sea. I am therefore fighting
German submarines. In exactly the proportion that I secure
supplies here which otherwise would have to be transported
across the Atlantic, I offset the result of hostile submarine

L The General Purchasing Board of the Army which I head\
owes its existence to the resourceful mind of the Commander-
in-Chief, who overrode an adverse report upon the advisabil-
ity of its creation. To my suggestion that it, and my powers
as General Purchasing Agent, be used in the effort to broaden
and extend, as well as to centralize, European purchases, he
immediately acceded. In every possible way he is using his
vast power to strengthen and uphold my hands. Now that
he has gone to Chaumont he telephones me on important
matters, and I am in daily telephonic communication with
the Chief of Staff and Major McCoy of his staff. He has sent
word to me through Major McCoy that ng written request for
the issuance of orders from me will ever be denied ; that if they
disclose any tendencies which he believes need discussion from
his standpoint it will be verbal. He has asked me to come to
Chaumont every week, but until I have my organization bet-
ter built up to handle the volume of important matters passing
through it, I have asked him to communicate with me by tele-
phone and through his staff.

Underneath me I feel his strong support as does every
other officer who is doing his work as it should be done. Gen- \
eral Pershing demands results. Unless one can show them, he \
must step aside. ^When one does show them, the General does
not stint his appreciation either in word or act. He has told
me how much he relies upon me and how gratified he is at
what I am doing and at what his officers say of it. He will
never know how much these words mean to one in the quiet
of the night, when, weary with the work and battle of the day,


he takes mental account of himself and his task. Great is a
commander who inspires in his followers a love and devotion
toward him only second to that which they feel for the cause
of their common effort.

Paris, Sunday, September 9, 1917

'GENERAL PERSHING called me by telephone at my headquar-
ters this morning and we discussed the coal situation for the
army. I told him we needed 60,000 tons of freight space
in ships from England to France now 50,000 for coal and
10,000 for general supplies; that by the 1st of February when
our railroads here would commence to consume coal, we should
need space for 150,000 tons of coal monthly in addition. Eng-
land notifies us she can furnish coal at government regulated
prices, but can give us no transportation. Discussed form of
request to make of War Department for dispatch of colliers
or barges to England immediately to get this coal started.
Pershing sent me copy of notification he has wired War De-
partment of my appointment as head of the General Pur-
chasing Board. Logan of staff at Chaumont called. Pershing
at first wanted me to go to England at once, but finally de-
cided my presence here just now is more important. Logan
says they are working over form in which my "boat drill"
method will be published for the American army. Discussed
with Pershing idea of borrowing Great Lakes shipping during
time lake navigation is closed, to work between England and
France. Suppose American Shipping Board has already
looked into that, but Pershing says he will suggest it and be
sure in this way it has consideration.

Spent a time with my nephew Beman and we went for a
short time to the Louvre, my first "sight-seeing" in Paris.

Busy at consultations and plans most of day. Am thinking
now of sending Captain Ryan, of the lyth Engineers, to Eng-
land, keeping Captain Grafton and Lieutenant James, both of
the 1 7th Engineers, at my headquarters.

Received letter from William C. Dawes, head of the Eng-

General Headquarters of American Expeditionary Forces


lish family of Dawes, urging me to come to England ; but
anything but work is out of the question now for me until the
war is over. Decided man for Switzerland l and also for Spain.

Paris, September 12, 1917

THE more one learns of the actual conditions the less certain
he feels as to the outcome of things. I came to France believ-
ing an Allied victory was only a matter of time. Now I can
only feel that it is probable. The loss in tonnage (ships) for
two weeks has been submitted to me. It is about 240,000 tons,
or at the rate of nearly 500,000 tons per month. French offi-
cials are apprehensive as to the effect of the coming winter on
the morale of the army and the people of Paris. Unless they
can be kept warm, revolution is feared, or rather disorganiza-
tion. General Pershing has placed upon my shoulders largely
the responsibility of securing from England the coal supply for
our army the coming winter in addition to my other work. He
has ordered our officers there to wire me direct from England
to save it passing through the General Staff office with en-
suing delay. Am in contact with the French Government on
the situation. We must and shall get the coal, but we have
to get the transportation facilities for it as well.
There is a great shortage of lumber. Pershing telephones
me every day. He wants simplicity in operations of the army ;
as far as possible, and immediately puts into effect any of my
recommendations along these lines. He telephoned me about
the organization of a general supply and shipping commission
between the three allies, concerning which he had asked for
a general recommendation from me, which I had given. Says
decision should be reserved until Mayo gets here on account
of England's reluctance to release any degree of control of
her shipping, and that then he wants me to discuss matter

1 My selection for Switzerland was Harold F. McCormick, now Presi-
dent of the International Harvester Company, who as the representative
of our army there secured thousands of tons of material and supplies at
a most critical period. His service was distinguished and invaluable.


with Mayo. Lassiter has already recommended such a com-
mission to the War College. I agree as to its great desir-

The submarine figures emphasize the great importance of my
work. The official records of correspondence with the Com-
mander-in-Chief will show what I am doing in the forma-
tion of my organization. It is no use for a tired man to try and
epitomize it in the evening. There is too much of it. Spent
the evening at the hotel with Captain Graf ton, Junior Ames,
and Francis Kilkenny. My foot has given me great trouble
and pain the last two days, and I am temporarily on crutches.
General Pershing has ordered me a limousine for my use in
getting around on official business. Want to get to see the
front anyway, where I had hoped to go, but am tied like a
dog to a stake when it comes to anything not connected with
my duty.

Hope the Russians will make a stand. Everybody Ger-
many included except America seems "fed up," as the Eng-
lish put it, with the war. No wonder, for they have been in it
for three years. I shall not write of its horrors as I run across
them. Others will do that.

Paris, Sunday, September 16, 1917

OVER and above all is the problem of coal and transportation
for it for our army. This Pershing has put up to me alone at
this time. Winter is coming. France fears a revolution unless
her people and army are kept warm, and can give us no coal
and little wood. England can give us coal without trans-
portation for it. I have caught up the threads of information
from the different branches of the army. I am rapidly getting
the elements of the problem of handling the coal when we
get it from England to France. I know now what we need,
where we can get it, how we can get it from the ports in
France to the points of consumption, and it only remains
to get the transportation from England to France. That
"only" seems an inappropriate word. Some one has said that


authority like the nettle must be firmly grasped if one is not
to be stung by it. It may not seem modest (if anything I
write does I am surprised), but I must, in justice to the facts,
state that if I fail in my military career it will not be because
I have failed to firmly grasp all the authority within reaching
distance of me.

General Pershing having asked me to handle the coal situ-
ation and suggest the cable to go to the War Department
requisitioning the ships, there was so much information to get
to do this intelligently that I had to go to headquarters every-
where. Finding that Admiral Sims was in the city I called on
him and endeavored to get the navy to help us out. The min-
ute I said "coal" he started on a strong complaint that the
situation needed some one to handle it who knew it, that it
was being handled piecemeal , that "this and that ' ' was the way
to do it. What I came for was to borrow a ship, not to get a

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 30)