Copyright
Charles Gates Dawes.

A journal of the great war (Volume 1) online

. (page 9 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


chloroform, sugar, picks and shovels, forage, clothing, etc.,
existing in France, England, and the United States are being
marshaled in Foch's rear by the quickest routes to proper
' points, to warehouses built or to be built, considering both
present and future needs and the present military emer-
gency? In this present great military emergency shall we
again pursue the time-worn policy of appointing an Allied
board to secure this information, and then, after long delay,
suBject the self-evident conclusions arising therefrom to the
discussion of three separate authorities, influenced by per-
sonal or national considerations, personal ambitions, and
counter-purposes?

1 In writing this way I almost feel as if I was insulting your
intelligence, who have been the chief leader and have made
the greatest personal sacrifice in the effort to apply remedies
for this sort of business. If the suggestions herein you cannot
force into adoption with the weight and prestige of your
country and your own personal power, then we must go
back at this time to a new effort to concentrate authority
in a new board of the Allies, to do by common consent and
town-meeting methods that which should come at once from
central military authority extending over all. No one knows
better than you what this means in delay, and what delay
may mean in a time like this, in a war like this. Can you not
force the Allies to agree to adopt immediately the principles
involved in the relations of your own military purchasing
board to the entire service of supply of your own army, through



UNIFICATION OF SUPPORT 89

which this entire Allied supply and transportation situation
shall be placed in the hands of a French military officer with
the same kind of authority over the Generals in command of
the different services of the rear of the Allies that your Gen-
eral Purchasing Agent has over the separate purchase and
supply services of the American army? The authority for
the French command of these services could be created by
the same method through which you have placed authority
in me for our purchase and supply situation in the A.E.F.
The three Generals in command of the Allied rear should
be coordinated and controlled by French military authority
as are the members of the General Purchasing Board by the
General Purchasing Agent. As in the case of the purchasing
board of the A.E.F., this does not mean the radical interfer-
ence with the conduct of current activities. It does not even
mean the lessening of current activities. It means their
proper coordination and intelligent direction, and above all
it means that when once a necessity is determined, the
authority is in existence to compel its immediate relief. The
influence of such unified military command of the service
of the rear of the Allies upon the question of tonnage, use
of material, economy of construction, and general betterment
of conditions, must be self-evident. To go with unified mili-
tary action at the front must come unified military support
at the rear. You are the only man that can bring this about.
If it was anybody else than you, even under the tremendous
pressure of the present emergency, I should hesitate to sug-
gest it ; for human nature is weak. Nothing but the weakness
and ambition of human nature prevented the unification of
military command which you have always advocated until
the 'death of hundreds of thousands, and continued military
failure brought individual and national ambition under the
yoke of a common necessity involving existence itself.

General Harbord took dinner with me last night and spent
the evening and I presented these views to him. He did not
express himself, but I judge from his demeanor that he was



90 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

not entirely unimpressed. I understand from Harbord that
you may be here within the next few days. I had intended
to come to Chaumont to present verbally what I am writing
here. There is probably nothing in this letter which has not
already been considered by you. However, now that unifica-
tion of military command at the front has been secured, I am
sure that the application of your General Purchasing Board
idea to the service of the rear of the Allies is that which will
go further just now in bringing a successful conclusion to this
war than any other thing.

CHARLES G. DAWES

Colonel, Engineers, N.A.



Paris, Monday, April 15, 1918 (11.10 P.M.)

I AM tired, but I know that if I do not make some notes of
this time of crisis I shall always regret it.

Colonel Boyd called me up and arranged for General
Pershing to come to the hotel for dinner with him and me.
We discussed my letter of April 13 1 relative to placing or
rather having the United States make an effort to place
all the Allied service of the rear under one (French) military
command to correspond with the military unification of the
front, already accomplished chiefly through General Per-
shing's insistence and self-effacement.

I feel that the General can now, with the prestige of our
country and his own prestige, successfully initiate military
control of the rear and the rear means England, France,
and the United States, and perhaps Italy. My contact is
very close with the whole supply and transportation system
of the Allies behind the front. Emergency is forcing us to
joint action now reached incompletely through a common
perception of necessity all along the line of command. The
time has come for joint action compelled by one military
authority. National and personal ambition must make way.
A unified front necessitates a unified rear. Our backs are
1 See ante, pp. 84-90.



PERSHING A GREAT LEADER 91

against the wall. England is fighting not only for Calais, but
for Paris and a free New York. The time has come to abolish
Supreme War Councils, Allied boards, town-meetings, and
common consent discussions, and relegate discussions and
diplomacy to their proper place substituting military con-
sideration and action. One man must control the rear, sub-
ject to one man who controls the front a General, not a
civuTafiT even though he be a prime minister.

I am sure that John agrees with me that for the Supreme
War Council should be substituted a French General. I be-
lieve that John can and will bring it about and that he must
bring it about if we are to win the war. He has devised in his
own army, in my position, the plan which the Allies must now
adopt for the control of their entire service of supply, in-
cluding transportation. These matters are so important that
I know what I write here must hereafter be discussed. I hope
that my use of the personal pronoun may not create the im-
pression that these ideas are more mine than John's. They
are his ideas for which ever since he has been here he has
fought, for which he willingly sacrificed his independent
command, for which to-day, if necessary, he would step aside.
He is a great leader. I love and revere him. Whatever may
be the outcome his country has had his best unselfishly
and unconditionally. Surely greatness requires no harder
test than the willingness in an historical crisis to suggest
supreme power for others at the expense of our own. But
John never thinks of that only the best way to accomplish
it for victory's sake. He arrived from Chaumont last night.
Sergeant Kilkenny delivered him my letter of the I3th on
Sunday the I4th (yesterday noon). It contains a discussion
of the steps which should be taken. To-morrow I am going
with John and Boyd to the front, where John will address the
officers of the 1st Division before they go into battle.

During the week was at Tours arranging plans for the
labor corps of the A.E.F. which I am collecting and will com-



92 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

mand. So far we have gathered 12,000 men, but we should
add at least 2000 per week to this number, perhaps many
more. Ran down to St. Nazaire and visited for a day my old
regiment. It was there that the thought occurred to me that
only military unification of the rear could bring about a
proper perception and then take the action called for by
it of the relation of what we are doing and propose to do
for our army as a unit to what we should do and propose to do
for our army as merged with the other armies. I knew that
as French warehouses were emptying we were building new
ones, and that no one was in position to authoritatively
coordinate the situation immediately as should be done.
This idea must cover all supply effort if we are to win.

Paris, Tuesday night, April 16, 1918

GENERAL PERSHING sent his automobile for me at 8.30 A.M.,
and at 9 A.M. we left for Chaumont-en-Vexin, the present
headquarters of the 1st Division, Major-General Bullard
commanding. Colonel Boyd and Captain de Marenches fol-
lowed in a second automobile. Arrived at about 10.30. In
the rear of General Bullard's headquarters were gathered the
commissioned officers of the ist Division about 1000, I
should say. 1 The General (Pershing) addressed them, as they
leave for battle (any time probably to-morrow night)
our first division to be engaged in the great struggle which
is now going on. It was a solemn occasion and an historical
one. It marks the real entry of our nation into actual battle.
General Pershing, in a few simple words, gave his message,
and that of the President and the American people, of con-
fidence in them and what they would do to uphold the tradi-
tions of their country. General Bullard afterwards said a few

1 As I saw these young men there came to my mind the following
words from Gen. Sir A. W. Currie's order to the Canadian troops who
were about to go into action: "To those who fall I say, You will not die
but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate but
will be proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be revered for-
ever by your grateful country, and God will take you unto Himself."



PERSHING CONFERS WITH FOCH 93

words. There was no effort on the part of either to be dra-
matic the scene and occasion required no emphasis. They
were a magnificent body of men. They are to give of their
blood and young lives in the cause. They were as every
American would expect them to be calm, intensely earnest,
and confident. I met many friends among the officers
Bertie McCormick among the others, who asked me to do
certain things if anything happened to him. Young Mayo
of Evanston was there. There we were joined by General
Harbord and went to General Duncan's headquarters for
lunch.

After a hurried lunch we left for General Foch's head-
quarters at Sarcus. He had asked Pershing to get there as
soon as possible, as he had to leave at 3 P.M. to meet Haig
at Abbeville. On arrival at the little town and small brick
building where Foch was, the General took me in with him
and introduced me to General Foch, who strikes me as very
alert and very cool. I was not present at the conference, but
John told me about it as we rode back to Paris together. It
was in reference to our troops what we should give and
when. While we were there the guns of the French were
sounding in the distance. Foch is confident.

On the way back General Pershing and I discussed military
unification of the Allied rear much of the time. Harbord had
written John of my views, but seems hesitant in his opinions
of them. It must come, if we are to fight at our best. In this
I believe the Commander-in-Chief fully and entirely concurs;
but as the responsibility is upon him he must consider the
matter in all its phases. No one in the A.E.F. is more in
touch with the Allied supply situation than is my office, and
I am feeling now a pressure of a great emergency. Let the
Germans advance ten more miles and there will be no argu-
ment then. It will be done immediately. It will have to be
done then. Then surely it ought to be done now. If it is
the best step for relief after disaster, it is the best step now
to avert it.



94 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

We arrived at John's house at about 6.30 P.M. Harbord,
Boyd, and de Marenches went to dinner with me. The Gen-
eral went to work. He has every confidence in Foch. On
most of our long ride we talked over war matters. He says he
is ordering combatant troops rapidly to the front, trusting
to me to fill their places by our rapidly recruiting labor corps.
It was an important and solemn day. In a few days the splen-
did 1st Division will be in the fiercest and greatest battle of
history. No one who knows them can doubt them. God be
with them, and those of them so soon to die. I shall never
forget them, whatever may become of them, as I saw them
to-day.

Paris, Wednesday, April 17
(Night, II P.M.)

I THINK I should keep notes, for General Pershing's sake, of
what he is considering and the environment under which he
plans. Upon some of his decisions, soon to be made, depends
the outcome of the present war, in all probability. Whatever
may be the result of his decisions, this contemporaneous
record of what confronts him should be made by some one.
It cannot be made by him, for a man cannot be General and
historian at the same time.

In the General's bedroom to-night (Rue de Varenne)
he is suffering from a cold contracted on our trip yesterday
he went over matters fully. Haig is calling him for a confer-
ence. What Haig wants is men Americans to be fed
into his hard-pressed army. He maintains that unless he has
a minimum soon of 150,000, and more later, his army may
not be able to withstand the tremendous onslaught of the
numerically superior enemy. He is being pressed in around
the Channel ports. General Pershing must decide for him-
self Haig's real situation, and the full nature of the apparent
emergency. The rate of destruction of men is so great that
once in, the American 150,000 will be so reduced in numbers
by counter-attacking that the foundation of the American



HAIG'S SITUATION 95

military organization now forming will be largely destroyed.
If the emergency is such that it seems necessary, the men will
be fed in; if the emergency seems less acute than represented,
more care can be had for the relation of present American
losses to the future military effectiveness of the American
section of the Allied forces. The General, and he alone, must
decide in the next few days to what extent immediate amal-
gamation of American forces into the English army is nec-
essary. With the natural intense desire of an American and
an army commander for the preservation of national and
personal independence, he yet will fearlessly make any de-
cision inconsistent with their preservation which is necessary
to ultimate victory or the escape from an immediate Allied
defeat. If the emergency, in his judgment, does not involve
immediate Allied disaster (after a personal inspection of the
battle area), he must preserve from unnecessary destruction,
as far as possible for the future of the war, the existing vital
germ now here of the future vast army of the United States.
This is what he tells me and whatever his action, these are
the principles which will control it. It is due to him to state
them now "in medias res." His head is very cool. His judg-
ment will be formed from conditions and facts uninfluenced
by emotionalism, politics, ambition, or personal considera-
tions of any kind. After three hours of a visit with him alone,
all of which were devoted to a discussion of the situation, I
came away knowing that he is the one American to be in his
present place. He says again that Foch is very confident.

Am a little worried for fear of pneumonia attacking him,
and made him promise to get a doctor to-morrow if he did
not feel better. He wants to start for Haig's headquar-
ters to-morrow. John expects to have fifteen divisions by
June. Men are coming rapidly. But of the men now going
into the English and French battle lines it can be said that,
though their numbers may be comparatively few, they may
yet determine which way the balance of the nations shall
swing.



96 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

Paris, Thursday night, April 18, 1918 (10.30 P.M.)

GENERAL PERSHING sent word (telephone from Colonel
Boyd) this evening to come again to his house. I had had
another conference with him at his house this noon on the
subject of military unification of the entire Allied service of
supply along the lines of my April 13 letter. Pershing in the
afternoon called on Clemenceau (also Milner). He is to meet
Haig to-morrow evening, but has not yet seen him in the
matter of the new plan. General Pershing announced to me
this evening that he had finally and definitely settled on a
demand for the central military control of the Allied supply
and transportation system ; that he had proposed it to Cle-
menceaTTthls afternoon ; that the latter had immediately ac-
cepted it in principle, wondering (he saidj'why some one had
not thought of it before; that Clemenceau had asked for a
written statement of the idea for study which he (John) was
preparing; that he (John) proposed to name me in his letter
to the French to represent him in the formulation of the
plan; that Clemenceau and he had agreed to pool for the
French and Americans whether the English would come in
or not (subject, of course, to approval of the President and
War Department) ; that he (John) would see Haig to-morrow,
but whether Haig approved or not would leave for England
to urge it on the Government immediately after seeing Haig;
that he (John) was preparing a cable 1 to the War Department

1 The following cable was sent by General Pershing:

April 19, 1918
AD j UTANT-GENERAL,

Washington, D.C.

FOR the Chief of Staff, No. 953. The matter of tonnage is so vital to suc-
cess of Allies that every possible ton is being cut from our requirements
during the next three or four months as already indicated by reductions
reported. A careful study of Allied demands for tonnage as a whole makes
it evident that further reduction can be made if we pool all supplies that
are in common use by Allied armies and certain reductions could also be
made in supplies for civil populations of Allied countries. We have at last
combined military forces under the supreme command of one man and




GEORGES CLEMENCEAU



THE SUPREME WAR COUNCIL 97

which he would send to-morrow stating his intentions and
reasons and asking approval of the extension of his General
Purchasing Board principle (devised by himself) to the Al-
lied service of supply and transportation and of his demand
for it.

We discussed the matter further. The idea is to put a mili-
tary control and military methods in the place of civil con-
trol and civil methods which have failed. The Supreme War
Council has been a supreme failure. Our idea is that a Gen-



eral one man must take the place of the Supreme War
Council. The latter never gets anywhere. Every reason in
the world exists for the creation of an authority sought to be
reached by the Supreme War Council. It has failed to exer-
cise it effectively. Therefore its authority must be placed
where it can be properly wielded. When this plan goes into
effect, it^means that military authority must practically con-
trol civil activities and civil bodies; that we shall control
tonnage as a necessary result of the condition created; that

should do the same thing as to supplies and war material. The appoint-
ment of many coordinating boards has led to confusion and loss of positive
action. Strongly urge that supply question be placed in the hands of one
military head with power to determine and decide on disposition and dis-
tribution of Allied supplies in Europe and determine what shall be shipped
from United States. Much information necessary for prompt action is
already available, but no one has power to decide. Supreme War Council
comes in the same class with other Boards in its lack of power. One man in
military control of Allied supplies is necessary. Principle involved is
foundation of A.E.F. Purchasing Board. The next three or four months
should at least be covered by this arrangement. The class of supplies such
as Aviation (which has been taken up in my cable No. 904); munitions (as
far as possible considering different calibers) ; coal, horses, gasoline, oats,
hay, meat, flour, shoes, sugar, wagons, tentage, demountable barracks,
lumber, timber, supply dep6ts, and warehouses are the principal items that
could be pooled. Such pooling would affect material saving in our con-
struction programme including railroad construction. Have presented
this suggestion to M. Clemenceau, who approves. Shall go to London to
adjust questions relative to handling our troops that go to British. While
there shall submit pooling plan to Mr. Lloyd George. Have designated
Colonel Dawes, who made this study, to confer with French representa-
tives to be named by M. Clemenceau. Shall report progress later.

PERSHING



98 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

order will come out of this chaos at the rear, and that we shall
commence to win the war.

I do not want to criticize English obstinacy thank God
for it! It saved the Marne it is saving the Channel ports.
It has justified and glorified itself in the blood of hundreds
of thousands. But that obstinacy must now be broken. It
must not lose us this war after having made victory possible.
I pray God that the English may come in with the French
and Americans without delay on this plan. If they do not,
we must go ahead as best we can. But no other man can
so forcibly present to the English their duty as General
Pershing. In every great crisis where the great principles of
human freedom have hung in the balance the great and fear-
less leader has appeared. In this one it is John.

Paris, April 21, 1918 (Sunday night)

THE General sent me copies of his letter to Clemenceau and
* his cable to the War Department before he left for England.

^ Vv-C k"* Am giving thought to the method of presenting plan to the
French if summoned in accordance with the General's sug-
gestion to Clemenceau. 1

/i^ My mind has been on so many important things that this

evening it reverts to some of the amusing things of which one
must train one's self to think in these times of horror. With
all his grasp of the great things of military operation and
organization, General Pershing by no means overlooks the
important relations of some little things to a general scheme.
His mind is certainly open to details, no matter how im-
pressive the surroundings. My own somewhat pronounced
indifference to certain military conventions, born as often
of ignorance as of intention, though not always, is a
matter at times of some embarrassment to him. After he had
finished his conference with General Foch, he was standing
across the road from me and some Frenchmen, with General
Harbord, waiting for Foch to take his automobile for his
* See Report of Daily Activities, April 19. Appendix C, vol. 11, p. 101.



AN UNBUTTONED OVERCOAT 99

trip to Abbeville to see Haig. This was last week. I saw him
looking at me, notwithstanding the sound of the cannon, and
the general surroundings, with the look of mingled friendli-
ness, admonition, and concern which characterizes his expres-
sion during some of my interviews with his better-disciplined
military associates. It led me to make a hasty self-appraise-
ment of my attitude, in which, however, I could surmise no
fault. He spoke to Harbord and the latter walked across
the road to me. As Harbord carefully buttoned up my
overcoat, which was opened, including the hooks at the
top, he murmured in my ear, "This is a hell of a job for the
Chief of Staff but the General told me to do it." Some
soldiers told me that in England there was a kodak taken of
John with one breast-pocket unbuttoned. For this picture
I am going to search that country to use it for justifiable
defensive personal purposes.

Paris, Friday, April 26, 1918

I MUST keep note of these important things. General Per-
shing returned from England and I saw him to-day before and
after Loucheur called on him in reference to his letter to Cle-
menceau relative to joining the supply services of the Allies.
It was agreed between Pershing and Loucheur that Clemen-
ceau was to answer General Pershing's letter naming Loucheur
to meet me to discuss methods. Before leaving for England,
Pershing saw Haig and told him of the plan. Haig immedi-
ately began to raise objections. I do not like to criticize
this great soldier. It may be unfair to assume that his re-
luctance to cede military authority either at the front or
rear is in any way based upon the thought of its effect upon
his personal prestige. I shall not do so I really do not feel



Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 30)