Charles Gates Dawes.

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Spent much of Wednesday afternoon with General Per-
shing discussing important problems, the chief being the rela-
tions of our purchases to those of France in connection with
the effort I have inaugurated to centralize all Continental
purchases of the Allies. The General has placed the Claims
Settlement Bureau, to adjust the claims for supplies cur-
rently furnished us by the French Government,, under my
board (G.P.B.).

My organization is now well in successful operation, and
the General is inclined to constantly extend our responsibil-

Commanding First Division


ities. This is gratifying in one way, but as our army opera-
tions grow, our energies are going to be heavily taxed. The
executive ability of Pershing impresses me more and more
as time passes. He is the man for the place. He has just
returned from the French offensive which was so successful.
Nothing counts with him but results. The law of the sur-
vival of the fittest among his officers and the army is at work.
It is cruel, but inexorable. In war no excuses count. Per-
formance alone answers. Conducted as this war is, no repu-
tations will be made by accident. But whether it is the mili-
tary method or not, I am trying, where I find men unfitted to
carry out certain lines of work assigned them, to change
them, without breaking their hearts and spirit, to work
better adapted to their abilities. In proportion as power has
come to me in life, I seek to avoid its ruthless use. Its exer-
cise is no less effective indeed, I have found it much more
effective when with it is exhibited patience, reason, and
moderation. The law of compensation is ever at work. Un-
happy will be the man in power who for one minute forgets
it. God keep us all humble in mind.

Paris, Saturday evening
November 3, 1917

How to save shipping space from America that is the
greatest problem which engrosses me and my office. I am
trying to effect this, first, by locating supplies in Europe
which otherwise would have to come from America; second,
by ordering prime materials like sheet tin which can be man-
ufactured here with resultant saving in space; third, by en-
deavoring to substitute in army use articles of less bulk for
greater serving the same purpose. I requisitioned ten thou-
sand and fifty tons of sheet tin the other day for manufac-
ture into milk cans and other bulky articles which will save
from sixty to ninety thousand tons cubic capacity shipping
space. In our work there can be no cessation of effort. Every
ship sunk increases its importance. In the meantime I am


securing a steadily increasing coordination in the work of
securing and purchasing supplies. My efforts to make this
coordination inter-Ally are progressing. My official corre-
spondence indicates the steps taken. General Pershing has
| now ordered the entire volume of European purchasing
through my office. I have prepared for him a statement of
the conditions which surround us which General Harbord
tells me he is going to place in the official war diary. It is for
the purpose of having a contemporaneous statement pre-
served of the reasons for important decisions in supply mat-

General Pershing took a trip to St. Nazaire and other
ports last week and part of this. He was here two or three
days, leaving for Chaumont Saturday morning. Was in
daily consultation with him. Thursday night we had planned
to spend alone in going to dinner and the theater, but a party
of fourteen Congressmen arrived, and the General gave them
a dinner at the Ritz which I attended. We then all went to
the circus.

Friday night General Harbord dined with Major Atwood
and me. Friday afternoon the delegation of Congressmen
called on me at my office. In the early part of the week Colo-
nel Sewell and Coe were also here. Had Pershing invite
Sewell to his dinner. John is in good spirits. He is gratified
at the way things are progressing. Says Haig is nervous all
the time over the politicians at home, but that President
Wilson, the censorship, and the distance home all unite to
save him such worry.

The Italian reverse is sobering. Eighty-five thousand
French and English troops have been rushed there. But it
seems to me that this war will be won or lost on the western
front. No reverse elsewhere will shake the morale of the great
English troops soon to be joined by Americans. And the
splendid French are advancing. Next year Germany should
be conquered in the west. In my judgment she will not have
time to organize for great military assistance her conquered


territory. It seems to me that in unconquerable spirit will
come the final test of victory. Who will break first in spirit
under the tremendous punishment both sides must bear? Not
the Allies in the west with America just entering the war. In
the meantime into the maelstrom is pouring a large part of
the best life of the earth.

Paris, Friday evening, November 9, 1917

THE last two days have been ones of progress. I met M.
Metin, the French Minister of Blockade, at the office of the
American Ambassador, and arranged to start our purchases
in Switzerland. We also discussed the plan for the coordina-
tion of all Allied purchases in Spain and Switzerland, and
arranged for a meeting at 6 P.M. Saturday at which the repre-
sentative of the French army and the representatives of the
French War Office and Treasury will be present. There we
expect to complete the plans for inter-Allied cooperation in
the securing of supplies. We shall start with an agreement
between France and the A.E.F. to which we shall ask the
acquiescence and cooperation of England and Italy later. Am
in constant contact with the American Ambassador, who is
helping in every way possible in my efforts to secure an open-
ing for supplies for our army in Spain and Switzerland. Much
depends upon the action of our State Department in connec-
tion with embargo negotiations.

During the week spent a time with the Commander-in-
Chief, who asked me to lunch. We took a long walk. When
we rode my nephew Gates, a private soldier, was our chauf-
feur. Italy seems breaking down, but the English and French
troops are rushing to her assistance. This afternoon read the
final proof of my "Boat Drill" soon to be standard for the
American army. The torpedoing of two transports adds to its
importance. My official correspondence indicates how con-
tinuous is the procession through my office of important de-
cisions. To help the Commander-in-Chief my dear friend
to carry his burden, to help my country in this time of


need, to push onward and look upward, to be patient, to
get things done, to count for something in every way all
this is my weary but happy lot. But it is not difficult to be
happy when one feels the sense of progress.

I miss my dear ones on the other side of the ocean sorely.
I have little sense of the passage of time. The weeks pass like
days. The disinclination to write grows with the sense of the
impossibility of delineating the magnitude both of our task
and our accomplishments. With the latitude John gives me
I feel as if I were exercising the powers of one of the old mon-
archs. To negotiate single-handed with governments comes
to but few men!

Paris, Friday, November 30, 1917

AM fighting a disinclination to write due to weariness at
night which, unless conquered, will be a great source of regret
to me after the war when I look back on things. So much
happens I talk and negotiate with so many people of im-
portance on things of importance that the temptation is
to make of these brief notes a catalogue of names and con-
ferences. To-night I shall try and picture the situation as the
thinking heads of our army look at it, just stating matters
of apprehension and then matters of encouragement.

ist. We fear invasion of France by the Germans through
Switzerland. Eighty per cent of the Swiss army is said to be
pro-German. If Germany starts through, it is doubtful if
Switzerland will fight them. She may fight for Germany.
The situation there seems bad.

2d. If the Germans come through Switzerland the frontier
defense calls for troops which it will be difficult to furnish.

3d. France is "fed up " with war. Only the entrance of the
United States into war prevented her from going to pieces
before this. In the case of invasion through Switzerland the
effect on the morale of France may be disastrous.

4th. In getting troops and supplies from America we are
not as yet handling the shipping problem right. We are not


loading ships to fifty per cent of their carrying capacity
laclcing coordination on the other side between the source of
supply and the docks, and proper handling of the docks. We
are not unloading ships expeditiously on this side. In America
the control of ships is still considering commerce with South
America, for example when we are in a death struggle.

5th. Military coordination between the Allies is sadly

6th. Revolution is feared in Spain which will much lessen
France's current supplies if it occurs.

7th. Our line of communications is delayed by lack of
equipment (engineering, etc.) from the United States. In
this our danger lies in our being blocked with freight when
its real movement commences, say three months from now.

8th. The release of the German divisions from the Russian
line, the capture of over 2000 Italian guns, means increased
pressure on our French lines eventually.

9th. Peace seems in the atmosphere.

The matters of encouragement are these :

ist. France will probably hold for another season. If she
does, especially on the western part of the western front,
a general retirement of the Germans can be forced. This
should greatly impair German morale and perhaps cause in-
ternal and political collapse in Germany.

2d. English morale is in no danger. The United States is
new in the struggle, and if she gets in in time will greatly im-
prove the general morale.

3d. Germany probably cannot organize any considerable
system in her conquered territory which will prove of im-
mediate military importance to her. She is wearing down in
man power. The Allies are still increasing.

4th. We probably underestimate the extent to which the
German army and morale has been affected, and also the
strength of the internal desire for peace which, with a proper
basis such as an important military reverse, should crystal-
lize into revolution.


5th. We have the best of the food and supply situation.

6th. Coordination is improving, though far from what it
should be along all lines.

7th. Only about 40 of say 1 60 German divisions released
from the Russian lines will probably be effective military

8th. Italy is holding.

9th. The status quo is against Germany.

The commission headed by Colonel House is here. The
members have been in constant consultation with me as the
authorized spokesman for the supply needs of the army. So
far as advice as to how to coordinate our army business, they
seem to realize, being able business men, that we have it
accomplished. I am impressed with their ability. Mr. Vance
McCormick is a clear-headed, practical business man. The
commission should carry home information as to our needs
which should enable the work of coordination there to be ex-
pedited. Mr. McCormick having the embargo treaties in
hand is getting a grasp of the situation which should enable
him to force supplies to us from Spain and Switzerland if
they do not collapse as governments. McCormick was broad
and wise enough, however, to recognize that our steps to co-
ordinate Spanish and Swiss purchases with the Allies were,
well taken, and instead of objecting to them at the conference
with the Ministry of Blockade, when the French Government
officials read my note and their answer of November 13 mak-
ing full provision for the matter, adopted them. The French
have promised to name their members of the Franco-Ameri-
can board this week (to-morrow). Mr. McCormick's visit
expedited this action I am sure. His commission cannot,
however, help us in handling purchases, but in making Spain
and Switzerland agree to let us buy and ship from there.

Have furnished Perkins and his statistician my collected
estimates, just being completed, of the needs of the army
for the next three months. When I met formally the mem-



bers, many of them at McCormick's room at the H6tel
Crillon at first, I took occasion to express the appreciation of
the A.E.F. of Ambassador Sharp's cooperation with army
activities. Have not met House yet, but expect to meet him
at Harjes's at dinner to-morrow night with Pershing and

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I took about my first
half-holiday since coming to Paris. General Harbord, also
a little in need of rest, of whom I have become very fond,
came to the office in the morning. Took him, Major Gushing,
Wade Dyar, and Dean Jay to lunch at Frederic's. Then
Harbord and I dug into second-hand books at Brentano's for
an hour; then we went to my hotel room after a walk to read
them; then at 5 P.M. we went to a reception of United States
Army officers at Ambassador Sharp's ; then to the hotel ; then
to John's (Paris) house; then to dinner with Colonel and Mrs.
Boyd ; then with the Boyds to the circus. When it was over
made up my mind I had not rested much. Everybody has
a bad cold including myself. Have moved a piano into my
bedroom at the Ritz, and will get my mind off work a little
with it in the evenings. Also got a fox terrier for company
which the servants at the hotel take care of for me.

Paris, Monday night, December 3, 1917

I FEEL weary and ill from this cold which for weeks seems
sapping my strength, but so far I am able to keep the pace.
The last two days really deserve attention for their accom-
plishments. But first merely interesting things!

On Saturday night I went to dinner at Harjes's, which he
gave for Pershing and House only the latter did not come,
sending word at the last minute. Those present were the
General, Colonel and Mrs. Boyd, Mrs. House, Frazier of the
Embassy, Carter (Harjes's partner), his wife, her cousin (a
naval Lieutenant) , and myself. During a lull in the dignified
conversation at a wonderful table in a wonderful house, I said
in an earnest way so that all could hear, "General, I know


Mrs. Harjes will be interested if you tell her about the old
Spanish nobleman, Don Cameron, who used to entertain us
in this same way in the old days." (Don Cameron kept a ten-
cent lunch counter at Lincoln, Nebraska, where John and I
used to eat in our days of poverty.) John never relaxed his
dignity, but entered upon a forcible statement of the im-
possibility of properly militarizing an old friend. He then
told her in detail.

Sunday I worked hard explained in detail the army
system to Perkins of the War Industries Board for his use
in the United States and also arranged with Van de Vyvere,
who is here representing Belgium at the Inter-Allied Con-
ference, an effort to get Belgium to turn over to the A.E.F.
600 locomotives which are now rusting on the tracks idle, and
which Belgium declines to give to England or France, having
already given them noo and wishing to retain these so as
to be sure to have them to start business with in that poor
country when the war closes. He took me to a dinner given
i by the Belgian Minister to France Sunday evening. Here, let
me add, that England and France (that is, their War Offices)
are very angry with Belgium for not turning over these last
600 or 700 engines. At this dinner was the Belgian Minister
of Transportation (Paul Segers). (Also General Ruquoy, the
Belgian Minister to The Hague, and other leading Belgians.)
Both he and my great and good friend Van de Vyvere agreed
to my representation that here was the opportunity for Bel-
gium to show her appreciation of what the United States has
done for her in Tier distress, and, to make a long story short,
agreed to give us the engines on the same terms as the other
ones had gone to our Allies.

Realizing that we must turn them over at first to France
(and perhaps a part to England), since we are not yet in
charge of any operating railways, I secured their agreement
that we could so turn them over if we desired ; in other words.
the A.E.F. by this initiative settled something desired by all
the Allies. Monday (to-day) Segers called on me and we closed


the matter. I took him to Pershing who formally thanked
him; also to General Patrick who did the same. Took lunch
at Harjes's with Van de Vyvere (dear man), Tom Lament,
of New York, and young Whitney. Am sick and tired to-
night but "got there" as the official records will show.

Just a little more: Harjes saw Joffre I think it was on
Friday. Joffre is very apprehensive about the military situa-
tion. Is feeling aggrieved because he is not given "unique
command"; that is, over all the Allied armies. Says Lloyd
George prevents also blames Clemenceau for not demand-
ing it. Says Military Committee of Allies is not sufficient.
Says Lloyd George is influenced by political considerations,
which, however, Joffre does not underestimate. Says Pain-
lev had no right to agree with Lloyd George in Italy on
committee programme when he (Painlev) knew he was about
to go out of power.

The labor problem is still a matter of discussion between
the Commander-in-Chief and myself. I dread, and yet want,
to take hold of it.

Paris, Sunday, December 9, 1917

THE reason why valuable contemporaneous comments on
war are scarce is because so many important things happen
in such a short space of time that any one in important re-
lation to them loses the sense of their importance. One be-
comes so accustomed to the unusual that it seems the usual,
especially when one becomes fatigued. The Belgian loco-
motive matter the series of interesting things about it
I should like to write about, but I shall let my official files tell
the story. What I do must be forgotten or some one else
must tell about it that is, must tell about the details.

I am finding so much material in Europe for our army that
we really run the gauntlet of criticism from the different de-
partments that we are finding them too much too quickly.
They say now we have found too many machine tools. Of
course we do not have to take them if this is the case. Not-


withstanding 400,000 ties (railroad) are at present under
requisition from the United States and 2,400,000 are needed
in all, the Engineer Department seemed dazed when I got
them an offer of 145,000 in Portugal, 50,000 in Spain, and
some from France which they had not located, just as a
starter. But it is a gratification unspeakable to feel that if
you make criticism, it is by doing work well instead of poorly.

The regular army is a magnificent organization. I work
with it incessantly and without friction. One of our officers
has been criticizing Belgium, saying it is not playing its part.
"Belgium not playing its part!' 1 Belgium twenty miles
long by six miles wide all under bombardment holding
the line as Russia did not! Belgium, ground to atoms under
the heel of Germany because it did "play its part " and fought
like a tiger against overwhelming odds until a battle of the
Marne could be fought, and a world saved !

My cold is better. But I stay in my room in the evenings,
and outside of my business endeavor in every way to save
my nerves. They have got to last through the war and
then, if we win, I guess they will remain in my possession.

Have finally asked Pershing not to give me labor. I have
ten men's work now, it seems to me; and yet, evidently at the
suggestion of headquarters, I find a question relating to 9000
Italian laborers on my desk for action. Have suggested
Woods, Police Commissioner of New York, to head labor
under an organization to be attached to the Lines of Com-
munication. Tom Lament called my attention to Woods.

Paris, Saturday, December 22, 1917

NOTHING seems important any more except the tremendous
task on which I am engaged the saving of shipping space
for our army by securing its needs on this side of the ocean.
Any incidents connected with that stand out clearly in my
mind. It is, however, unnecessary to write of them here, for
official records and history must preserve them for those who
are interested in the great economic side of the greatest


struggle of the ages. Each day brings its new problems
each day, thank God, sees something done toward meeting

I think I wrote last about two weeks ago. To-night I
shall note a few personal things. Last Sunday I went to
Chaumont to place before General Pershing the Spanish and
Swiss situations relative to army supplies. He had telephoned
me to come, and that he would return to Paris with me to
insist on action along my suggestions on the part of the
French and English. I reached Chaumont and took lunch
with John and Harbord and others. With them I discussed
matters at length. I had intended to return on the afternoon
train, but John wanted me to stay and meet General P6tain,
Commander-in-Chief of the French army, who was coming to
dinner. In the afternoon late John and I took a long walk.
Petain is a very alert man. After dinner he arranged with
John for the latter to visit him at French headquarters to go
over the plans for the winter for the French army which I
understand John is doing to-day.

The following will be of interest to those who do not know
our Commander-in-Chief. When I got up next morning it
was very cold and snowing. General Harbord came to my
door and asked me to come and dress in his room as he had a
wood fire. Notwithstanding the fire it was freezing cold, and
I was quite proud of myself for forcing myself through my
morning gymnastic exercises. While I was so engaged I
looked out of the window, and there was "Black Jack"
clad only in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers, his bare ankles
showing, running up and down in the snow outdoors. I never
saw a man more physically fit at his age.

I spent the day hard at work with the Staff Harbord,
Logan, Rogers, and McCoy. In the evening went with John
in his private car to Paris. General Ragueneau, Chairman
of the French Mission at General Pershing's headquarters,
and his aide, Colonel de Chambrun (a descendant of La-
fayette), went with us. The General and I took Ragueneau


into a compartment and secured his acquiescence in the
changes we desired in the methods of handling requisitions on
the French Government by the A.E.F., all of which centralize
in the hands of Ragueneau and myself. Then John and I had
a long visit together alone going over the old times and the
old struggles and the old friends. He said the first speech he
ever made was at the dinner I gave for him in Chicago in
1903. I am so proud of him, and of his mastery of his great
opportunity. Hardship, self-denial, tragedy have all been
his lot, but work always work has brought him to the

I am in splendid health again. The Chief of Cabinet of the
King of Belgium, Comte Jehay, called on me and took
lunch with me Thursday. He invited me to visit the King,
whom I should like to meet, of course but I cannot leave
my work.

We are all expecting a great attack from the German forces.
Germany must make its supreme effort before the American
army becomes effective. Work work, always work that
is the meaning and the only meaning of time to those pre-
paring the American army for action.

To-night the sirens sounded for an expected air raid on
Paris. The lights in the hotel were extinguished, but nothing
happened. The Parisians seem very confident that the Ger-
mans will never make an air raid on Paris why, I do not
know. I have been told, however, that the French will not
allow the English to raid Alsace-Lorraine nor do they do so
themselves. Perhaps there is reciprocity here.

Paris, January 6, 1918

I DO not remember when I wrote last whether after the
first of my two recent trips to see General Pershing at
field headquarters at Chaumont or not. The second trip was
to discuss the cable from the State Department at Washing-
ton asking him to permit me to represent the Government of
the United States in negotiating the commercial treaty cover-



ing imports and exports with Spain. Important as this task

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 30)