To Leo A. Farrell1




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To Leo A. Farrell1

September 2, 1937 Vancouver Barracks, Washington


My dear Farrell:

I found your letter on my return last evening from the 4th Army Maneuvers at Fort Lewis. You would know that I was greatly surprised to hear from you, but to find that your letter was inspired by a note of mine written fifteen years ago, was even more surprising.2

Your letter was a very moving document and touched me deeply. Few things that I have ever done have repaid me so fully as my brief action in your case, and never have I been so repaid in thanks and gratitude. As you probably have found out on many occasions, people have short memories, and those in deep trouble seem later to have the shortest memories of all. You, on the contrary, seem to magnify what little I did, with each year until now you almost have me thinking I am quite a fellow. General Mosely is the man; he did for you, as he generously met my request, without hesitation and in full measure.

Your remarks about your father and mother made the deepest impression for, strange to say, I had not thought of their connection with the brief tragedy of your army career. What you tell me of them makes me glad indeed that I had some part in straightening things out for you.

Your career seems fine, with still brighter prospects ahead. I knew Clark Howell and admired him.3 He must have been an ideal boss in your particular field. Incidentally, my room mate for four years at school is the head of the Times Picayune in New Orleans, Leanord Nicholson.

Going back to your early difficulty, you will appreciate one I have just been trying to solve. My gardner here, a prisoner who had had his temporary blowup, was a young fellow about your age when I first saw you. Mrs. Marshall and I became interested in him and finally got his sentence of dishonorable discharge cancelled and had him restored to duty.4 Then I had him as my orderly on the recent maneuvers, to take the place of another boy I sent down to the Presidio to prepare to take the examination for West Point. Which reminds me that I got an appointment for the orderly I had at Benning, and he is now a second lieutenant.5 I’m afraid this last boy will not go that far, but I think he will make a useful citizen.

We are delighted with the northwest, and my duties with the CCC enable me to see every part of Oregon and southern Washington. The country is magnificient—and the fishing fine. I take my pole every where I go on inspection trips and have had some wonderful times. Horseback riding fills in the gaps, and altogether we find life out here a very pleasant business.

Please do not allow so much time to elapse before I next hear from you, for I am interested very sincerely in your circumstances and success.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall


Document Copy Text Source: Leo A. Farrell Papers, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Author-typed letter signed.


1. Political editor for the Atlanta Constitution, Farrell had worked for the newspaper the past ten years.
2. In August, 1937, Major General George V. H. Moseley sent to Farrell a note he had received from Marshall written December 8, 1923. “I received a most grateful and appreciative letter regarding you from that boy, Leo Farrell,” Marshall had written. “He told me that you had him tried by Summary Court, which certainly indicated a very generous attitude on your part. Who knows, you may have saved to the world a very celebrated journalist, even if erratic, though perhaps that is merely temperament." (Marshall to Moseley, December 8, 1923, GCMRL/L. A. Farrell Papers.) A summary court-martial is headed by a single officer, disposes of cases briefly and less formally, and imposes less severe penalties than special or general courts-martial. The incident involving Farrell (a charge of desertion was reduced to absent without leave) occurred in 1923 when Moseley commanded Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
3. Clark Howell had been president and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution. Farrell wrote, “I had long years of training under Clark Howell, who died last year, and I sure feel like he taught me the ropes." (Farrell to Marshall, August 23, 1937, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)
4. “Private Jones,” a pseudonym Mrs. Marshall used for the man in her memoirs, had been a school teacher prior to joining the army. He had been serving a sentence for desertion and was to receive a dishonorable discharge. (K. T. Marshall, Together, pp. 31–32.)
5. Second Lieutenant Clarence E. Gooding (U.S.M.A., 1936). See Marshall to Pershing, June 2, 1936, (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-406 [1: 493]).
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 557-558.


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