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was, it was so much less important than my work here, which
I would have to leave, that the General was compelled to de-
cline the request, much to my relief, for it would have been
impossible for me to leave even for a week without endanger-
ing most important tonnage-saving negotiations. Was at
Chaumont on this matter New Year's Day, and stayed as
usual at the General's house. I had my nephew William
visit me at the house, and he came fresh from his hard work
as a private soldier up to General Pershing's bedroom, where
before a wood fire he talked with the General ancf myself. I
also took him to General Harbord's room. After a long con-
ference with him gave my approval of his desire to go into
the artillery, and Harbord ordered him to the artillery offi-
cers' training school. William has made a splendid record and
wants only to be useful. He is a fine and brave boy.

My Auxiliary Advisory Committee joined in a "round-
robin" attack 1 upon our department of army service this last
week, for "purposes of record" among other things. They
accomplished it all right; but I am doubtful if they will be
pleased with the "record." I dissolved the committee in
consequence. General Pershing has recommended me for
promotion to rank of Colonel, cabling really more than I
deserve. William spent the evening with me. Worked at
office most of day. Wired the General about my advisory
(civilian) committee revolt. In preparing my answer to
their letter I kept in mind that that defense is best which
is concurrently planned with aggressive attack.

Paris, Friday, January u, 1918

THE following may sometime be interesting. John Pershing
called me over to his house yesterday and after a conference

1 The committee really did not realize what they were doing, in my
judgment. They were badly advised, and had been treated so well by me
that they became a little unbalanced, and misconstruing my amiability
as weakness, tried a little horseback riding. The great majority of them
did not mean to do anything detrimental to the service.



68 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

we went to the Ritz for lunch. He was passing through the
city. After disposing of business relating to my department
of the Staff he told me that he had ordered the American
troops into the line on January 15 that is, a large part of
them. Told me the British and French wanted them divided
between them, and discussed this, deciding at least it was
my inference that he decided to keep them together as an
American unit. America has a pride which should not be
ignored unless extremely strong military considerations de-
manded it. These do not seem to exist. Our country would
be disappointed at any loss of what might be termed the "in-
dividuality" of our troops. I strongly urged him, for its moral
effect and for its expediency, to immediately announce this
movement to the world. It should have a strong effect if
Germany is wavering. He was inclined to agree, but said
he must have due regard for the War Department in the
method of announcement. I pointed out that peace seemed
in, Hie. air; that I diagnosed Wilson's address to Congress as
an able modification of his former positions to place him and
our country in proper relation to an early armistice request
from Germany and a peace to result from it on the general
lines of the Lloyd George proposals. Wilson omitted former
references to the impossibility of negotiating with present
German authorities. His present address will always be con-
sidered properly as one of the causes of what seems to me to
be a rapidly approaching peace; but in making it I think the
President had in mind, nevertheless, the wisdom of the an-
cients who understood so well the working of the public mind
when they coined the phrase, "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc." I
told John he could well think of the same thing in deciding to
move quickly. And yet, who knows how long the war will
last!

In my dealings with the higher French authorities I notice
an accession of spirits, an increase in activity, and promptness
in business cooperation, which have been especially marked
the past two weeks. Somehow I think, like myself, they feel



A COLONEL'S EAGLES 69

victory in the air in other words, internal collapse in Ger- j
many. With all the world war-weary except the United
States, our entrance into war has tipped the balance.

Sent Colonel Sewell and Major Atwood to the Belgian
front in Harjes's automobile and by arrangement with my
friends Van de Vyvere and General Ruquoy the latter
wiring that he was sending two officers to meet them at the
Belgian frontier.

Called my officers of the General Purchasing Board to-
gether in the morning to consider proposal of methods of
expediting the filling of requisitions submitted to me by the
French.

Am in good health. Am very proud of the magnificent
work done by my wife in furnishing sweaters to our troops.
By this time she must have equipped over two full regiments
one of them the I7th Engineers. Our men would have
suffered much without them. My nephew William has gone
into the artillery. Gates is hard at work. They are both fine
soldiers. My nephew Charles has also enlisted in America.

Paris, January 16, 1918

RETURNING his hospitality to me at the Belgian front, on
Sunday took my friend Van de Vyvere and Major Harjes
to Chaumont. We went out with General Pershing in his
private car. On the way out we discussed the Belgian lo-
comotive and freight-car situation with the General. It is
possible that by furnishing the iron parts we can get a large
number of freight cars manufactured by Belgian workmen
out of lumber they furnish from French forests.

At the General's house, where we stopped, Major-General
Bell was visiting. At General Pershing's request I had not
bought any eagles to mark my promotion, as he said as a
matter of sentiment he wanted to give them to me. And so
just before we went to lunch John appeared and pinned the
eagles on my shoulders. We spent the night at John's
house, and then in the morning Van de Vyvere and I went



70 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

to Neuf chateau, the headquarters of Major-General Ed-
wards, commanding the 26th Division an old acquaintance
and friend of my Washington days. He devoted all his time
to us, entertaining us at lunch and then taking us to the prac-
tice trenches where we saw a battalion drilled in the new war-
fare. Edwards is a splendid soldier. If the Germans hit his
front they will get action even before his men are fully
trained. When he gets them ready he will lead them any-
where. Was much impressed with his qualities of leadership
and personality. Returned and had a little time with John
before leaving for Paris on the late afternoon train. John said
that Petain objected to the announcement as to the entry
into the line of American troops, as it might provoke a Ger-
man attack on his front. The troops will get into line by the
22d at least. Dullard's division will be the first, I understand.
Am suffering from a severe cold again and with my
daily burden of work find it very annoying. Junior Ames on
his way to the artillery school spent the afternoon at my
office and took dinner with me at my room at the hotel. He
is a very promising young man with high purpose and fine
ambition. He will succeed.

Paris, Monday, January 28, 1918

WE live in the midst of events. Colonel Boyd is making con-
temporaneous notes of the conferences of General Pershing
on the important question of the hour the manner in
which the A.E.F. shall continue to enter the line; but it may
be interesting to note the impressions which in his confiden-
tial talks the General gives me. The English, notwithstand-
ing their steadfast refusal to mix small units of their own
troops with others even their colonial troops with their
own and the French, are endeavoring to persuade the
United States to scatter their troops in small units through-
out the French and British line. General Bliss has acceded
to the idea. General Pershing is obdurate in his position
against it. Bliss has not yet gone to the extent, as I under-




MAJOR-GENERAL CLARENCE R. EDWARDS, COM-
MANDING TWENTY-SIXTH DIVISION. AND A. VAN
DE VYVERE, BELGIAN MINISTER OF FINANCE.
NEUFCHATEAU. JANUARY, 1QI8



PERSHING'S FIRMNESS 71

stand, of making to Wilson a recommendation contrary to
Pershing. John is therefore in one of those crises at the begin-
ning of military movements alike so annoying and yet so
valuable as establishing his unquestioned leadership. To me,
his firmness and his great strength of statement his breadth
of view and his utter indifference to the personal importance
of any one opposing him are a source of pride and satis-
faction as well as relief. The President of France, the Brit-
ish authorities, Lloyd George, General Bliss all arrayed
against John mean nothing to him except as they present
reason. This sense of the relative importance in great matters
of fact and reason and of the relative lack of importance of
personality is one of the essential attributes of greatness. No
man who unduly reverences name, reputation, title, who is
awed by pomp or circumstances, who unduly cares for the
semblance as distinguished from the substance of things, is
fit to be entrusted as a military commander and negotiator
with the lives and fortunes of his fellow-men. John Pershing,
like Abraham Lincoln, "recognizes no superior on the face of
the earth." He is the man for this great emergency and I
know Wilson will stand by him in his position, for he is right.

John wants his troops to go into the line in divisions, thus
preserving their esprit de corps, the pride of their country,
the support of the American public, the honor of our nation.
He has no objection to their going into the British or French
lines, provided they go by divisions. Despite Bliss's dis-
agreement on policy John regards him as a good and loyal
friend.

General Pershing spent yesterday and Saturday in the city.
Was with him in his room Sunday afternoon. In the evening
had him, Colonel and Mrs. Boyd, General Harbord, and
Colonel Bacon to dinner at my hotel, and we then went to
see "Thais" at the Opera House. As usual the General and
I talked only war and army organization. He has decided
to put labor under me and this time I have accepted. It is
my duty for an emergency exists but I am heavily



72 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

laden already. Still, "between us girls," I am glad of the
opportunity. If I only keep well! I can't understand why I
should want to risk my reputation for success in this addi-
tional and great undertaking, for, like the jumping horses at
the horse show, if one fails to clear the seventh bar the audi-
ence forgets that he negotiated the sixth. And unlike the
horse-show bars, the bar I have to jump is nailed to the posts.
If I don't clear it I shall break my legs. But I shall clear it
with space to spare.

Paris, February 5, 1918

GENERAL PERSHING has placed upon me the responsibility of
procuring labor in Europe for the work of the A.E.F., which
will require in the aggregate 100,000 men, 50,000 of whom
are needed now. I am forming a labor bureau in my office and
have appointed Major Jackson, formerly Labor Commis-
sioner of Pennsylvania, as chief. This afternoon I took up, at
a formal meeting with the Chairman of the French Mis-
sion in charge of French relations with A.E.F. (Maurice
Ganne), the subject of the French relation to our efforts. I
stated our immediate needs at 50,000 men. Requested per-
mission to import Spanish labor. Ganne is to take the matter
up with the Council of Ministers. I asked for an allotment of
the military labor about to be brought by France from Italy,
on the ground that it would result in the release of a pro-
portionate number of our troops now engaged in labor for
combative contact with the enemy in the line.

I have also established, under authority given by the Com-
mander-in-Chief, a Board of Contracts and Adjustment and
appointed F. W. M. Cutcheon chairman of the same. By
means of this board we will try and settle difficult business
questions and contracts with the French and British Govern-
ments as we go along not leaving a mass of unfinished and
complicated negotiations to consume the time of international
commissions after the war. I consider this board a very im-
portant body.



CALL ON GENERAL MARCH 73

Have also recommended an organization for the super-
vision of the technical service of the A.E.F. to function under
me.

General Pershing took dinner with me last night. Have
been much with him lately, as he has been in the city in con-
nection with the meetings of the Supreme War Council. At
his request I called this afternoon on the new Chief of Staff,
General March, who is about to leave for America, and gave
him a general picture of the work of the A.E.F. in France to
date, as General Pershing asked me to do. Had the pleasure
of telling him our European purchases now amounted to
2,690,000 tons, and that in my judgment 300,000 tons would
cover our replacement agreements, making the tonnage from
America saved net 2,400,000 tons. To try to keep aTecord of
what my organization is accomplishing is comparatively use-
less. Have made up my mind that everything is so important
these days that our work will always be comparatively ob-
scure. But so far we have done " our bit " all right. It is rela-
tive and not abstract importance nowadays that deter-
mines what should be a matter of public consideration. I
liked General March very much. He is a friend of my good
friend General William H. Carter.

Major Belmont got back from Spain after a very effective
trip representing the State Department in the Spanish com-
mercial treaty matter. Sent him to the United States to make
a verbal report to State Department and War Trade Board.

Am in splendid health again. Colonel Sewell is in the
city. Wayne Stacey, one of Rufus Fearing's classmates and
friends, called on me to-day. He is a Major. I do not seem
to get over the loss of my dear, dear boy.

Paris, February 24, 1918

THIS is a war to win. Any officer in the United States Army
who puts system above success, who does not exercise his initi-
ative and his ingenuity to adopt any and all means to secure
results, had better leave France upon his own request before



74 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

he is sent back. This is the spirit of General Pershing. In the
ultimate struggle of a war like this, system, precedent, habit
must give way to emergency. The system of military pro-
cedure is devised to win battles, and to win them because its
methods bring out the ultimate possible effectiveness of
troops and their machinery of the rear at the time it is needed
in battle. If peace-time army methods and customs fail to
do this at the test, they must be, temporarily at least, altered
to meet the test.

In connection with the transfer of my section of staff work
in certain particulars to the jurisdiction of the C.G.S.O.R.
(so that the C. in C. can take his place in the field) along
with all the other sections of the administrative and technical
staff, I discussed certain principles before the committee of the
General Staff and Staff of the C.G.S.O.R. at the request of
the C. in C. These principles will be found applied practi-
cally in my section of work set out in my orders, directions,
and correspondence, which, because of the magnitude and
importance of the transactions and their relation to the mili-
tary and business activities of the army, must hereafter be
the subject of study and discussion by students of military
science. But realizing that in the mass of documents under-
lying principles may long be buried, or misunderstood when
extracted by the student, I took advantage of a few hours'
leisure this afternoon to dictate to a stenographer some of
my conclusions, based upon a unique experience, as to the
proper principles which should govern modern army purchase
and supply. This I hope to do again and from time to time,
for I have learned from experience that mental work is best
done by me when I am under pressure and theoretically have
no time for it. Then again I am writing more than mental
conclusions ; I am only recording the principles which neces-
sity has compelled me to adopt as right. Let those who at-
tack them and there will be many who will maintain that
I am wrong about them remember that for six months I
have been (put there by General Pershing) in a position rela-




GENERAL PEYTON C. MARCH
Chief of Staff, U.S.A.



PRINCIPLES OF ARMY SUPPLY 75

tive to our army supply and purchase operations in France
to which there is nothing similar in the armies of England
and France.

I am in control of purchase and supply matters relating
to all services of the army not only one or a few of them.
The board of which I am chairman has purchased in six
months in Europe over 2,900,000 tons of material and is still
at it. In addition, I am in control of labor accumulation. I
feel the pressure from all points of demand, and am in touch
with all sources of supply. I get the viewpoint from the
mountain peak of hard and burdensome experience. It is
not a theory which has confronted me. My conclusions are
compelled by fact; and the commentator upon them, before
he condemns them because some of them seem inconsistent
with principles of business axiomatic in peace, must consider
and keep in mind the vast experience from which they are
drawn. And then it must be remembered that I am primarily
a business man and business organization man, and entered
my~great work a firm believer in the infallibility of certain
business principles in their application to any collective effort
of man, including war. I have been convinced in spite of
myself by experience. And thus convinced I have succeeded
in my task.

These remarks occur to me in connection with what I dic-
tated this afternoon, which after revising I shall attach to
these notes. 1 I keep no track of the passage of time, and do
not recall when I last wrote at these notes.

1 Principles of Army Purchase and Supply as suggested by Experience
of American Expeditionary Force in France

(Dictated February 24, 1918, and carefully revised

March 6, 1918. For insertion in War Diary of

American Expeditionary Force)

War is the oldest occupation of mankind, and the system of organiza-
tion for war has been the result of evolution for the longest period of any
collective human activity. Therefore, what seems to be in military organi-
zation an anachronism must always be considered as to whether our re-
garding it in that light is due to the different functioning of an army organ-
ization in times of peace, as compared with a time of war. The current



76 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR



Major-General Kernan, C.G.S.O.R., called me to Tours this
last week and we talked over the relations of my work to his

criticism of army organization is based largely upon the assumption that
it ignores certain fundamental principles of normal business organization,
which should be applied to the business system of an army notwithstanding
the ultimate purpose of an army's existence is military, as distinguished
from business, success. The conventional view of the army purchase and
supply system, held by the non-military business man, is that the system
of independent departmental purchases is a failure, because, while it is
susceptible to an outside, coordinating control, this control is not accom-
plished, as in the normal business organization, by a complete centraliza-
tion of purchase and supply through one agency acting for the army as
a whole. The argument of the business man is that if all purchasing and
supply activities were centralized in one distinct army department, created
to supply all other branches of the service, there would be obviated compe-
tition among the various departments, piecemeal and wasteful purchases,
loose methods, insufficient estimation of forward collective needs, and many
other objections now incident to some extent to the present system. It
is contended that the needs of an army and their satisfaction will be
better ascertained and accomplished by a central body, having always the
bird's-eye view of the situation, and that equally satisfactory results will
not be incident to any method of central control reached through a coor-
dination of independent agencies. It was with this belief that I took up my
duties as General Purchasing Agent of the American Expeditionary Force,
under a new system of central control devised personally by General
Pershing against the advice of a reporting army board to whom the subject
had been first referred. This report, attached hereto, with the comments
of General Pershing thereon, indicates clearly the legal limitations under
which he acted, his entire perception of the business and military
principles involved, and the final plan he placed in operation as the best
solution possible, in his judgment, under existing law, of the problem of
reconciling the existing army and supply system with the fundamental
principles of normal business organization without jeopardizing its effi-
ciency from the military standpoint in time of actual war.

I wish I could claim a share in the conception of this plan, but the Gen-
eral had worked it out fully before I arrived at his headquarters and only
selected me to put it into~effect, and as General Purchasing Agent, Ameri-
can Expeditionary Force, and Chairman, to assemble the General Purchas-
ing Board and direct its operations. My idea, as that of many other busi-
ness men, had been that the law of the United States, which so jealously
guarded the independent right of purchase and supply in departments
of the service, was on our statute books as a result of a lack of business
knowledge and foresight on the part of legislators, instead of its being, as
it is, the logical, legitimate, and necessary evolution of thousands of years
of actual military experience. Now, after six months in time of war, in
a peculiar position relative to army purchase and supply activities such
as does not exist in the British, French, or other army, so far as I know, I



TALK WITH GENERAL KERNAN 77

new position. He gave me a large portion of the day, taking
me to lunch at his house with General Patrick and his aides.

am prepared to say that any change in legislation or War Department
regulation, designed to bring the organization of army purchase and
supply more nearly into accord with the principles of modern business
organization, should provide an agency of supervising coordination, which,
while it will permit the application of rigid business principles under
normal conditions, will not take away from independent departments the
right of purchase and supply, especially during the time of actual military
activity, the preservation of such independent powers being absolutely
essential at times to military success, which of course is the ultimate
object of the whole system.

The statement is frequently made that the business organization of an
army is the same in its purposes as the business organization of any great
corporation. This is misleading. The chief purpose of the organization of
successful business is the creation of wealth; the chief purpose of the or-
ganization of an army is the destruction of enemy life and wealth. The
prime consideration, in the establishment in normal business organization
of central control of purchase, is the surrounding of purchasing activity
with checks and balances compelling due consideration of every purchase
from the standpoint of its relation to a prospective profit; in other words,
to compel the deliberate application to every transaction of the test as to
whether, if consummated, financial profit or something related to it will,
immediately or ultimately, be the result. The first purpose of the army
business organization in time of war is the securing of necessary military
supplies irrespective of any question of financial profit, yet as cheaply and
expeditiously as possible without prejudice to military effectiveness. If
the application of all the principles of normal business organization would
mean the failure of supply in military emergency, business principles, in the
last analysis, must yield, wherever necessary, to military emergency. The
principles, however, of normal business as affecting army business organ-
ization can be made to apply through a coordinating system as we have
done in the American Expeditionary Force, where these principles are ap-
plied to any army purchase or supply transaction not involving a prepon-



Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 30)