Charles Gates Dawes.

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derating military necessity. I cannot emphasize too strongly that for the
preservation of a requisite system of supply for an army in action, the feel-
ing of responsibility on the part of a supply procuring agent must be first
to the officers needing the supply. From my experience with the field sys-
tem of army supply and purchase in this war, the only reason I can imag-
ine why anybody suggests the contrary is because a large portion of the
supplies for our army is being collected by the War Department in a coun-
try of large resources which, when collected, are shipped from America to
the army in France. Business principles, for obvious reasons, can be given
a wider application by the War Department in the United States than it
is possible to give to the purchase and supply organization of an army
in the field. In the business organization of an army in the field, nothing
must prevent the immediate application of the greatest possible pressure,


Reached a very satisfactory understanding with Kernan and
feel that our relations will be extremely cordial. He has a

directly from the point of military and emergency need, upon an agent of
purchase and supply directly responsible to it. Therefore, the central
business control of purchase and supply activities of an army in the field,
while operating in all normal cases, must not interfere with a perfect de-
vice for the operation of a collateral independent system controlled by mili-
tary necessity. Only in this way can all the needs of an army in time of
action be properly met.

Let us assume for purposes of illustration that the American Expedi-
tionary Force in France, at a time when military operations are under way,
had an existing central purchase and supply organization for all depart-
ments of the army without there being in existence machinery for independ-
ent collection of supplies. To that central organization would come a se-
ries of demands which we might epitomize as follows: From "A" on the
line, two thousand blankets by night-time which if not supplied meant
that soldiers would perish from exposure; from "B," one thousand shells
for an expected attack the next day; from "C," one thousand cots for
wounded soldiers lying on the floors of hospitals; from " D," certain medi-
cines and surgical apparatus with available supplies entirely inadequate,
and wounded still coming in; from "E," food for men who had been with-
out it for two days. The central organization, in transmitting to its pur-
chasing and collecting agents these demands, would use an emphatic tone
of voice, but that tone of voice would not be the same, nor interpreted by
the agent in the same way, as the voice of each officer responsible for the
situation at each point of necessity speaking to a man directly responsible
to him, and located at a point of possible supply. If a demand came for
timber to build a bridge necessary to carry 100,000 troops across a stream
for reinforcement of a sorely pressed army corps, questions of the price to
be paid, or the manner in which it was to be secured, would not, advan-
tageously, be first referred to a central agency for consideration of the busi-
ness bearings of the transaction. It is no reply, in such a situation, to main-
tain that an emergency supply and purchase organization can be created
for use in times of war which can function when and where it would be im-
possible for the central organization to do so. A purchase and supply ma-
chine, to function well, must function continuously. In this war the use of
troops in restricted localities, the transportation to masses of stationary
troops of large shipments of supplies, the fact that the different units of
the army, as a rule, are not separated by long distances or isolated by lack
of railroad or other means of communication, all make more plausible the
demand for the abolition of the great army system of independent de-
partmental supply and purchase. But if any other system is put in its place
which does not recognize that the first responsibility of the supply and pur-
chase agent must be directly to the responsible officer nearest the point of
necessity, the system in time of military emergency will fail; and the whole
object of the military system is not to fail in time of war. In order to give
our army organization in France the benefit as far as possible of all the



difficult place none more so and he shall receive my
undivided loyalty and help. He is giving me the same wide
discretion as the Commander-in-Chief and the General Staff.
The latter (through Colonel Logan) wires, however, to-day
that the Commander-in-Chief is issuing special instructions
that in all my work involving negotiations and relations

admirable safeguards and advantages of normal business organization,
and yet not destroy that which is above all things important, the system
which, irrespective of business considerations, supplies most quickly ar-
ticles at the point of use during military operations, General Pershing
originated the idea of the General Purchasing Board, American Expedi-
tionary Force, which, while operating under some disadvantages, has
applied to the purchase of army supplies in France the safeguards of nor-
mal business. It has insured collective purchasing, prevention of com-
petition, and coordination of effort without interfering with a principle
firmly established in legislation and military procedure as a result of
thousands of years of evolution.

If nothing is added to the foregoing, it may seem to overemphasize
the relative importance of independent agencies of army purchase and
supply, as compared with the coordinating and controlling central sys-
tem, which must function with it. In the American Expeditionary Force
certain large conceded and evolved powers of central control, arising
out of the exigencies of war and confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief,
are being exercised by the General Purchasing Agent, which powers are in
effect direct and not negative. It is these direct powers not used to im-
pede, but to regulate, expedite, and widen the action of collateral agencies,
which are largely responsible for what results have been accomplished
through the organization of the General Purchasing Board.

That the lessons in army supply and purchase taught by this war will
find their future legislative interpretation and expression, there is little '
question. It will be difficult legislation to frame; for unfortunately it can-
not be assumed that in the administration of the system in time of peace, it
will be characterized by the high degree of cooperation and disposition
to subordinate individual interest which exists among the officers of a mili-
tary force in active operation, welded together by the powerful pressure of
military emergency, by strong leadership, and the sacredness of the cause
of their common effort. But even though it may not as yet be possible to
frame a law recognizing the principles upheld herein without creating some
field for bureaucratic dissensions in time of peace, yet such a law in time of
war will afford the competent leadership, which always develops on such
an occasion, its proper engine of highest effectiveness.

Colonel, Engineers, N.A.
Chairman, General Purchasing Board
General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F.


with other governments I must remain in first-hand relation
to the C. in C. This is because, although still a member of
the Staff of the C. in C., I told him, when he called me up over
the telephone, that unless the General Staff and G.H.Q.
ceased to deal with me direct that he would embarrass me in
my relations to Kernan ; that if I am to work at my best
there must be no sense on Kernan's part or mine of a divided
responsibility on my part. I had before made this a matter
of record by wire, as I do not want any system to spring up
at the beginning of Kernan's and my association which later
may lead to embarrassments.

John has to be at the front. The service of the rear must
no longer divert him from his greater task. The change in
staff organization is imperative to free him for more military
and combative activity. But his success depends on the
proper functioning of the S.O.R., and I wanted to see it start
in a way that will enable me to do as good work in the future
for Kernan as I have done for him in the past.

Am busy at the labor organization. My papers at the office
tell the story. Try to walk outdoors an hour each day. Have
to take lunch on my desk, but stay quietly in my room at
night and am keeping in the best of health.

Paris, March 27, 1918

HAVE about concluded to cease these notes, as writing them
in the evening consumes more or less energy which should be
conserved for the momentous work of the days. I do not
remember when I wrote last. The Chief of Staff, C.G.S.O.S.,
has asked me officially to send each day a report of activities
and I have been doing it since March 9. These brief reports
of the general nature of my work will preserve the record
which I want to keep.

The great and long-expected German offensive is on as I
write. Two days ago matters looked dark, but they are
improving. Officials of the French Government sent for me
and asked me to get ready to receive at any moment 40,000


militarized French laborers (miners) employed in coal mines
behind the English lines from which (four mines) they said
nearly one half of the coal produced by France was being
-taken. They are under bombardment. If these mines have
to be abandoned it will be an irreparable loss. But at my
conference with the Minister of Mines and his staff this
afternoon, when I announced to him that the American army
had completed its preparations to receive the laborers and
discussed the methods, it was hoped that the emergency
would not arise. My labor organization is well under way in
its work. We have already secured about 6000 men monthly
from the French. I am now certain of success in it. From the
C. in C., the C.G.S.O.S., and General Patrick I have received
words of commendation and appreciation, all of which are
most welcome and stimulating. I try and pass them on to
my faithful associates, so much of whose efforts and abilities
are going to enhance my own prestige when it should wholly
go to their own. But thus it is always in life that credit
crowns especially the head rather than the members of the
body of organization.

I have a splendid group of men with me. Many interesting
things happen which will never be recorded. Let me register
one hope that this war will end the custom of our country
of appointing men of wealth only in our diplomatic service.

Sharp has done well. is a failure. Poor is pathetic,

from a military standpoint at least. My official papers in the A
latter case will indicate my reasons for this opinion. To pass

an ultimatum through is like trying to pass live steam

from a locomotive boiler to the cylinders through a rubber
hose. The State Department at home is virile; but their
agents, such of them as we inherited from peace-times, have
not well represented them with the exception of Sharp. 1
They have recognized this and are using others to help us.
George McFadden, who was sent by Vance McCormick, the

1 This only covers my personal opinion of those with whom I came in
contact in army supply procurement matters.


able head of the War Trade Board, is a success and is really
helping us.

In war every man who succeeds must work on his toes.
God save us from leaders of society as agents to wield in time
of war, for the assistance of an army, the mighty powers of
the civil branches of our Government.

Secretary McAdoo cabled through the War Department
to Pershing that he had recommended me for appointment as
one of the directors of the proposed government finance cor-
poration, but the C. in C. answered that my field of highest
usefulness was here. I do not think I could survive being
taken away from this great work of mine here, to which I
\ am giving and shall give all that is in me. As compared
with it, nothing that I have done heretofore in life seems

We have had a bombardment here in Paris this week, and
one morning a shell fell every fifteen or twenty minutes ; also
some air raids from time to time. But when we think of what
is going on on the western front this is not worth notice.

I really don't know whether anything I have written is
worth while. Everything is on such an immense scale these
days that one feels very small and humble.

Paris, March 31, 1918
(Easier Sunday} (Evening)

SOME things disquiet me; for instance, an offer wired this
morning to me from the British Government, through my
representative there, offering us 500,000 camp outfits, as the
troops for which they were intended "will not be avail-
able." Cutcheon arrived in the afternoon and telephoned
me. Cutcheon made his point, and if the events of war do
not upset our transportation as it is doing now we will get
this labor. Everything in war is liable to change overnight.
Cutcheon says no word has been received from Washington
as a result of the cable of Pershing and myself, but the fact
that we told them in Italy that we sent it may have done a

Representative in France of War Trade Board


little stimulating. Cutcheon deserves a promotion for this
service alone to say nothing of his other splendid work.

"Big Bertha" (the long-range German gun) has been
pretty active yesterday and started again this afternoon.
Went for a minute into the church where the shell killed and
wounded 160 at one shot on last Friday. As I came out of the
door of the church another shell exploded in the neighbor-
hood. The crowds were kept away from the church, but the
officers passed me through. We are being bombarded and
"air-raided" right along these days.

I was interrupted here by an officer who came to my room
with reports from the front which he said he had received
from the French. These reports may be inaccurate, but they
must be similar to those we shall receive later. He says the
69th New York is practically wiped out; that the Americans
in the line have suffered terrible losses ; that a division of the
English in front of Amiens was almost destroyed (this must
refer to the first two or three days) ; that the line is now being
held. I doubt whether the 6Qth was in the battle. Cutcheon
also telephones that Italy expects an attack on April 8 and
that we must hurry our labor shipments. But the railroads
are burdened to the limit with the English and French troops
recalled from Italy to take part in repelling the offensive on
the western front.

General Pershing made a wonderful statement when he
offered our army to the French. He made it in his own char-
acteristic way. His sincerity will ring through the world. 1

1 Au cours d'une reunion qui fut tenue le 28 mars 1918, sur le front et
a laquelle assistaient le general Petain, M. Clemenceau, et M. Loucheur,
le general Pershing s'est presente au general Foch et lui a dit:

"Je viens pour vous dire que le peuple americain tiendrait a grand
honneur que nos troupes fussent engagees dans la presente bataille. Je
vous le demande en mon nom et au sien. II n'y a pas en ce moment d'autre
question que de combattre. L'infanterie, Tartillerie, 1'aviation, tout ce
que nous avons est a vous. Disposez-en comme il vous plaira. II en vien-
dra encore d'autres, aussi nombreux qu'il sera necessaire.

" Je suis venu tout expres pour vous dire que le peuple americain serait
fier d'fitre engage dans la plus belle bataille de 1'Histoire."


He called me by telephone yesterday to congratulate me on
my labor work and I told him how the French officers had
come to my office with tears in their eyes to express their ap-
preciation of his statement to Foch. We do not know what a
day will bring forth except that men will die for duty.
Thank God for our American soldiers! They will not have
died in vain, whatever comes.

Sunday evening, March 31
(continued on arriving from Davison's)

TOOK dinner with Harry Davison and his Red Cross staff
at Perkins' apartments. He has done a great work and the
Red Cross cooperation with the army has been wonderful.
We are on the eve of great changes. My work is so entirely
engrossing that I have not time even to ask any one about
outside happenings during the daytime, and at night-time I
seldom see any one. My news from the front is never very
quick unless it concerns some need of action on my part, and
then it is immediate. One cannot be an onlooker and ob-
server and do his work right at the same time. Therefore,
as a rule I have only written about the things I know of my
own personal knowledge. Everything is on the verge of mo-
mentous change. All I know is that we have done and shall
do the best we can.

Paris, April 13, 1918

From: The General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, A.E.F.
Subject: Military control, allied service of supply.


From the time that you landed in France you have exerted
an influence for coordination of effort and centralization of
authority on inter-Ally activity which has had the most far-
reaching results. You have exerted this influence among the
Allies during the time that you were creating a coordinating


and centralizing system in your command. To carry out
the purpose of the centralization of purchase and supply in
your own army, to become connected with which effort you
called me from St. Nazaire, you have as a matter of fact
devised the plan the extension of which to the entire Allied
operations would seem now vitally essential to Allied success
in the war. What I am to suggest to you arises from conclu-
sions based upon knowledge and experience gained in the
position in which you have placed me. Even with the con-
viction which I have of the vital importance of the matter, I
should hesitate to call it to your attention, were it not for
your constant demonstration of the desire to subordinate
everything, including your own personal authority as an in-
dependent commander, to the common purpose of an Allied
victory. To willingly sacrifice individual authority and in-
dividual prestige in time of emergency for the sake of a com-
mon cause is the highest test of greatness and one which, in
all your actions over here, you have stood. The power and
influence of the great people of the United States, and their
assets in men and material with which to secure victory, are
in the hands of the President 'and yourself, and you have
rightly interpreted their spirit when you notified General
Foch to do with you and your army as he might desire. In this
offer you have already taken the step, the proper carrying-
out of which I am going to suggest in this letter. The pecu-
liar position of the United States in this situation, including
your own relation thereto, is such that upon the initiative
of our Government alone is it possible to accomplish it.

The general proposition is this, that just as there is now
a unified military command of the Allies at the front in
other words, a merging and consolidation of three distinct
independent military authorities into one military authority
(General Foch) there must be a corresponding merging
of all separate individual authority of the Allies, in reference
to the service of supply, into one military authority respon-
sible to the corresponding military authority at the front.


One is just as necessary as the other. In fact, for every argu-
ment for the necessity of the Foch command at the front, there
exist two arguments for a similar authority for supply and
transportation in the rear. I mean by this, supplies from
America, supplies from England, supplies from France, and
the land and sea transportation therefor, warehousing and
handling thereof. The Foch command at the front necessi-
tates similar control of the rear, and in this case the rear
means France, England, the United States, and perhaps
Italy. Before discussing the method of accomplishing this,
let me illustrate, in a manner which has no doubt often oc-
curred to you, its overwhelming importance. The United
States is at this time using an immense amount of tonnage for
the purpose of building enormous warehouses and dockage
facilities. It is doing this notwithstanding the warehouses of
France and England are being emptied and will continue to
grow emptier. The French Government has used to a very
large extent private warehouses for storing of supplies.
Owing to the steadily lessening amount of supplies there is a
large amount of French warehouse capacity now idle, and
at the same time we are proceeding, at the heavy expense of
current tonnage, on plans to immensely increase our ware-
house facilities. Who is there, with authority to act, to de-
termine from a bird's-eye view the relation of existing Eng-
lish and French warehouse capacity in France to the present
warehousing and transportation projects of the A.E.F.? It
cannot be done, except in a haphazard and inefficient way,
unless by one man with military authority extending over all
the Allies. This man, for the same reason that led to the
selection of General Foch, must be a Frenchman, and England
and the United States must accept him. He must be given
exactly the same authority toward the ocean and land trans-
portation, engineering and supply activities of the entire
Allied forces, which you have given me in connection with
purchase and supply and certain other activities of the A.E.F.,
his authority being created by the same method. The posi-



ition of General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F., you built up by a
system of compelling the partial cession of independent au-
thority. The weight of your own great powers and person-
ality was thrown into the effort of compelling the creation of
this authority, and when any independent head showed signs
of not recognizing the necessity for it or bending to it, you
broke him on the cross. What has made the success of the
organization of my office is its now unquestioned power and
authority over independent agencies. I never have had a
meeting of the General Purchasing Board except on minor
matters such as the distributing of office space or matters
relating to the collection of information never on the de-
termination of action. Our organization is military. The
reason why our Allied boards fail is because action has to be
by a board and not by an individual. The organization of the
entire transportation and supply of the Allies must be mili-
tary in its nature and not based upon the principles of either
oligarchy or democracy. I do not have to argue this to a
man like you. Sometime after this war is over get Herodotus
and read the discussion of the seven Persian Generals when
they were riding horseback on their way to Persia, discussing
the best form of government for them to set up in the place
of the monarchy of an assassinated king. If we do not have
military management and military control, we may fail and
a German army at the ports may save us the trouble of un-
loading some of our engineering material from ships, thus
devoted, which should have been bringing men and food to
have stopped our enemies where they are now. It may be
that our present plans may not have to be abandoned or
materially altered, but the point I make is that it is impossi-
ble, with this great multiplicity of civil boards, criss-cross
authority between the Allies, and lack of coordination in
supply effort, to properly determine the matter or properly
act after its determination. Take the question of joint sup-
plies. Impelled by the same emergency pressure that com-
pelled unity of command at the front, the French and the


English are calling upon me for information as to supplies
of our army, with intimations of the necessity of pooling,
etc. I am working the best I can in coordination with the
French and English in all these matters, but I am in a posi-
! tion where I realize that these questions can only be settled,
i in time to be of avail, by military authority, which, gathering
its information, acts, and does not discuss. Who knows to-
day, considering the Allied forces as one army, whether or
not the great supplies of steel, oil, barbed wire, rubber tires,

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 30)