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The Life and Letters 

General Tasker Howard Bliss 




* * * * 

NEWYORK, * 9 S 4 


Al<t. fttOHt'S HI , SIR VI- !> 


N *l If r f" N I ? * l to. I A I I- H I* ^ A 4 

T H A t, I. W i t* X fc n > , t ,Nt t . M t N , it A M I 


FIRST to the Carnegie Corporation, which made this biography pos- 
sible by an allowance of funds from its endowment to meet the initial 
expense of sifting the enormous mass of the unindexed Bliss papers, 
and then left further responsibility entirely to the author. 

In the name of faithful history to its sturdy disciple, Tasker How- 
ard Bliss, for having written his letters, journals and memoranda in 
which he retained the perspective and detachment of an observer, 
even of his own part, in the midst of great events and the heat of con- 

For assistance in further research, to the archives of the State, War 
and Navy Departments, the Army War College, Bucknell University, 
the Congressional Library, and the New York Public Library where 
Dr. E H. Anderson always makes one feel perfectly at home whether 
one's object is vagrant or concrete. 

For personal recollections and data: 

To Elihu Root, who was Bliss' chief in his younger days; Newton 
D, Baker who was his chief in World War days; Bliss* staff and assist- 
ants on the Supreme War Council and at the Peace Conference, Gen- 
eral B, H. Wells, Colonels S, D. Embick, U, S, Grant gd, Arthur 
Poillon and W. B. Wallace, and that accomplished field clerk, H, G, 

To Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, 
Miss Susan Bliss, Dr. W, C. Bartol, Judge Richard Campbell, Paul 
Cravath, Father J. C, Christopher, Edward M. House, Raymond Fos- 
dick, Cameron Forbes, Ralph Hayes, Frederick Keppel, Dr. James 
Brown Scott, Dr. James T. Shotwell, and Charles Warren. 

To General John J. Pershing, Generals W* W. Atterbury, John L, 
Chamberlain, W. S, Graves, W. H, Hay, James G, Harbord, Frank R. 
McCoy, Dennis E Nolan, Palmer E. Pierce, Hugh L, Scott and 
W. S, Scott, and Colonels Archibald Rogers and David S. Stanley* 
And last, but not least, to Edward R. Ames for his devoted secretarial 

September so, 1934 
















XIV AGE FOR WISDOM . . . . . 137 

XV THE LONG VIEW . . - 145 

XVI As His CHIEF SAW HIM - . . . 157 



























INDEX 467 


Tasker H. Bliss Frontispiece 


A Group of Officers at Fort Monroe, 1885 as 

At the Time of His Marriage 38 

Bliss in His Office in Havana * . 56 

The First Cuban Occupation 6a 

General Wilson's Staff at Camp Thomas, 1898 70 

A Moro Chieftain and His Retainers 86 

A Tour of Inspection in Mindanao 86 

Bliss' Father and Mother 134 

The Bliss Home in Lewisburg . i8s 

Letter from Spain to His Little Son Goring 210 

With Secretary Baker in France 246 

Mrs. Tasker H. Bliss 378 

Letter Reporting Marshal Foch's Demand for American Soldiers . 3*6 

The Eighth Session of the Supreme War Council 358 

The American Peace Commission, 1919 . . . . . , , . . 390 

Old Age , . . 4*a 


IMPRESSIVE ceremonial distinction had come to Kalorama Road. 
Many of the residents of this quiet cross street, between main avenues 
of traffic in Washington where rank is the staff of official and social 
life, learned for the first time how important a neighbor they had 
when they saw the flag-draped caisson halt before the Bliss house. 
For the fifth time in history the army was paying one of its sons its 
highest final honors. 

Yet the eminent statesmen, diplomats, soldiers, jurists and scholars 
mounting the steps and filing into the hall were not thinking of him 
in the terms of a four-star general who had won the laurel crown 
of his profession, entitling him to a blaze of first class medals on 
his breast. This seemed to circumscribe his orbit, the range of his 
mind, his career, his interests, moods and achievements; to restrict 
to a single gallery a man who had been at home in many galleries. 

He would not again pace that hall late at night in Socratic dis- 
course threshing out all sides of a question only to descend from 
high polemics to conclude that it was all too absurd and it was time 
to go to bed. But some of those present who thought they knew him 
well had never heard him in one of those characteristic soliloquies 
in which, if the occasion warranted, he might indulge in his office 
as well as at home. 

Some thought he had mischosen his profession, and others said 
the answer to that was the use he had made of his opportunities as 
a soldier, and in any occupation he would have been the same Bliss. 
Those who thought they knew all sides of him became aware that 
there were sides they had missed. A great teacher of Greek said, 
"He kept on improving his Greek to the last and how he liked a 
good detective story I" Others had never heard him quote from the 
Greek or Latin, but recalled how he traced the likeness to the Br'er 
Rabbit stories in the folklore of all primitive peoples, and he was 
given to quoting an old lady of his home country who said, "Some 
pork will bile that way/ 1 


A few saw him as a rather formidable, extremely painstaking and 
gruff commanding officer with his feet always on the earth; others 
saw him as remote from the concrete in the realm of general ideas. 
Admiration of him as a master of military science and history in- 
cluded scepticism as to whether he knew how to drill a company of 
infantry, although he was a graduate of West Point. Some said that 
in his study of all angles of a question he was slow to come to a 
decision, others that his decisions were so well sustained that they 
marched in league boots straight to the goal. 

Those in awe of his knowledge might compare notes with those 
who regarded him as primarily human, warmly and serenely so, or 
had heard him in passionate outbursts in which his expletives ranged 
from Olympian thunders to doughboy language. The contradictions 
which sprang from affection or respect, from personal intimacy or 
close association in some period of his career, never carried a whisper 
that he thought too well of Bliss. The white-haired Scott, as he 
looked into the face of his dead friend, said aloud to himself: 

"Bliss! We were classmates. We leapfrogged each other through 
the service. He was Chief of Staff and I was Chief of Staff. Ih the 
old days of the West when I toiled along the trail, at war with the 
Indians or trying to keep peace with the Indians, I always wanted 
a mountain in sight for my guide. Bliss was the mountain on my 
life's trail. Good-bye, Bliss." 

A mountain may have a varied landscape with dark forests, cas- 
cades, laughing brooks, bold rocky escarpments and recesses which 
call for expert exploration. Those who had known the Bliss moun- 
tain when sun shone on the peak, or when it was above the clouds 
or when storms raged about it, agreed in saying, "He was a great 
man/' He would have been that to them if he had never had the 
official rank of town clerk or a sergeant of the militia, but had been 
the sage who lived down the road to whom one went for advice as 
a counsellor of the same wisdom in small affairs that destiny set for 
him in the affairs of the nation in critical times. 

All wondered why one who had held such high place and had 
had so powerful an influence on our history should be unknown to 
the general public. All deeply regretted that a soldier who was so 
capable in the use of words should not have written his reminis- 
cences, enriched by his philosophy. To urgings his answer had been, 


"There are the papers." 

Upstairs in a back room, after the funeral cortege was on its way 
to Arlington, one could imagine a thousand voices breaking the 
silence, some half strangled, some no more than the faint cries of 
miners imprisoned by the collapse of a shaft. There were papers 
stored in every available niche of the little study, buried at the 
bottom of piles of overflowing envelopes or under bundles tied with 
a string. When the weight which completely silenced them was lifted 
from documentary diaphragms they joined the chorus of the bulging 
one hundred twenty loose-leaf volumes on the shelves. There was no 
index; the same subject was not always comprised in one part, 

To be loosed in that study was to have the freedom of search on an 
island where the treasure had not been buried in a few places but 
scattered about in hundreds. There are nuggets which shine with 
prophecies that have been fulfilled; there are memoranda, letters and 
notes which would have saved the world from much agony past and 
to come. 

As the American Chief of Staff in the early period, then as our 
representative on the Supreme War Council and as delegate to the 
Peace Conference, we have the record of the military statesman whose 
experience is an invaluable and unique contribution in continuity 
of inside personal knowledge of the American effort in the World 
War and its sequence. Yet this was far from the beginning and the 
end of the interest and value of his papers, which tell the story of his 
close touch with the making of history in his younger days and how 
in his old age the man who had once labored to civilize a savage peo- 
ple strove to keep civilized people from reverting to savagery. 

One voice came from a small brief case which might have cost as 
much as a dollar. Within its single chamber was the four-star general's 
itinerary when he spoke for the cause of peace to the students of in- 
land schools and small colleges on what eminent statesmen, scholars, 
churchmen or actors of one-star rank would have pardonably re- 
garded as a tank-town tour beneath their importance and dignity, 
and quite too exhausting for a man past the army's retiring age. 

Included with the itinerary and railroad folders were two small 
volumes of Thucydides. He had passed the time between stations, or 
waiting for connections at junctions, by making marginal notes of 
his own rendering of words and phrases. He might buy detective 


stories while traveling, but newsstands and drug stores were not to 
be depended upon for the original texts o Latin and Greek classics. 

And under that black brief case and crowded behind the loose- 
leaf binders were letters and talks out of his broad and deep ex- 
perience which are unrivaled in their sound and practical reasoning 
on the subject of war and peace; a legacy in aid of all who fight 
on to end the curse which man has continued to raise against himself 
in his bursts of destructive passion. Primarily his r61e had been 
that of peace maker. It was as attach^ in Spain before the outbreak 
of the Spanish War; again on the Mexican border before the World 
War. Possibly the best epitaph he may have is the fact that the por- 
trait of him as the founding President of the War College, the house 
of war, was copied for place of honor in the home of the Council on 
Foreign Relations, the house of peace. 

His knowledge of history was his guide in his part in making 
history; his vision in his time and the immutable permanence of 
ripe philosophy which remained young and observant are singularly 
applicable to our time; his long career as a public servant is a text- 
book for public servants in the future. Even as he has grown in the 
minds of his associates, while many great reputations of his era 
have waned, so he grew in the mind of the explorer among the 
papers in his study, bringing the conclusion: 

"He was really a great, capacious, lovable human being who 
never forgot that he was just another human being himself; that while 
there are so many human beings of so many kinds in the world one 
ought never to trifle long with the personal doctrine of the in- 
fallibility of his own judgments; and that one never ought to yield his 
convictions where common honesty or immemorial principles are 
at stake." 



To JUDGE by Bliss* letters to inquirers who would establish a fam- 
ily connection with a four-star general genealogy had only a casual 
interest for a mind which was so fond of knowledge for its own sake: 
he considered that the characters of his father and mother were a 
sufficient patent of a noble inheritance. 

"Quite a number of years ago a gentleman of the name (I think) of 
Homer Bliss of Hartford, Connecticut published a genealogy of all per- 
sons in the United States of the name of Bliss whose ancestry he could 
trace. I think it is very possible that you will find that a copy of this 
genealogy is in any large public library in New York or Brooklyn most 
likely in the Public Library of New York at the corner of Forty Second 
Street and Fifth Avenue. I would suggest that you consult this book. I 
regret that I cannot give you any further details." 1 

Tasker Howard Bliss sprang from the old fecund New England 
stock of farmers, mechanics, merchants and rulers, with a sprinkling 
of clergymen, which bred the recruits for pioneering beyond the 
seaboard. Thomas Bliss, the paternal ancestor, came from England 
to Boston in 1635, then removed to Braintree, and then to Hartford. 
On the maternal side there was descent from William Bradford, 
founder and Governor of Plymouth Colony, and Thomas Dudley, 
Governor of Massachusetts Colony in 1634. Ruggles, Warners, Wood- 
bridges and Ripleys appear among the family names, and William, 
John, Hezekiah and Elijah, and Mercy, Mary and Lucy among the 
given names, while the sixth in direct descent from Thomas is down 
in the genealogy as Gad. 

The paternal grandfather, Elijah Worthington Bliss, farmer and 
school teacher, a devout Baptist and most convinced Jeffersonian, 
had migrated to northern New York State. The General's father, 
George Ripley Bliss, tried his fortunes at seventeen on the frontier, 
which was then in Indiana, There he may have heard as strong 

i Letter to Mrs. J. Philip Munch, February so, 1922. 



language as his son, Major Bliss, used when he caught some of his 
subordinates grafting in the Havana Custom House. Anyhow, this 
bold adventure was brief, and his only one. He countermarched 
against the westward movement and clerked for a while in a country 
store before entering Madison College (later Colgate) to prepare for 
the Baptist ministry. 

After seven years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of New 
Brunswick, New Jersey, he became professor of Greek at the Baptist 
university at Lewisburg, in Pennsylvania, now Bucknell, where he 
was to remain for twenty-five years until 1874, when he became 
professor of Biblical Exegesis at Crozer Theological Seminary. He 
was described as having a "singular power in prayer meetings" by a 
clerical colleague who considered the prayer meeting as the "spiritual 
thermometer." 1 He could be passionate at revival meetings and dur- 
ing a revival, soon after his arrival in Lewisburg, won sixty converts. 2 

Young men had come to Lewisburg to get an education and he 
was determined they should have one of the orthodox kind in this 
young orthodox Baptist college. 

"When he was not present we called him 'Bossy' Bliss. He would lead 
us boys to true penitence for indiscretions and transgressions, to higher 
purposes, to worthier lives. A sage old saint was 'Bossy* Bliss." 8 

"Dr. Bliss was no reed shaken by the wind, no child tossed to and fro, 
carried about by every wind of doctrine. . . . He was near God. . , . 
There is no better example of a heart of fire, subdued and controlled 
by judgment/' 4 

"He was the strictest close communionist I ever knew. He held the 
Lord's Supper to be an institution of the individual church; and, when 
a pastor, he did not invite to participation in it, as almost all Baptist 
pastors do, 'members of the same faith and order/ any more than he 
invited them to vote in church meeting/' * 

Yet this did not interfere with his personal friendship and esteem 
for that great church liberal of the time, Henry Ward Beecher, who 
"went to the other extreme as regards the ordinance itself, inviting 
to it the unbaptized and even the unconfessed Christian. And the 
two, thus widely sundered on the ceremonial point, were thoroughly 

1 Rev. Dr. Spratt at the Baptist Ministers' Conference, April, 1893. 

2 Rev, Dr. John Humpstone. Baptist Ministers' Conference, April, 1893. 
Dr. W. C. Bartol, reminiscences in The Buckndlian, May 17, 1928. 

* president J. H. Harris, of Bucknell, at the memorial services to Dr. Bliss. 
5 Letter by Rossiter W. Raymond after Dr. Bliss' death on March 27, 1893. 


at one in the underlying spirit"--which may have been partly 
ascribed to the temporal influence in a violent public controversy. 

Dr. Bliss had become an apostle of a young cause. He was himself 
an orator in the days of oratory, when Beecher was recognized as 
the most eloquent of preachers. Beecher's philippics against slavery 
glowed with divine fire to the Lewisburg professor who rejoiced in 
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Beecher's sister, Mrs. Stowe, as being one 
novel as worth reading as Pilgrim's Progress. 

It was through his marriage with Mary Ann Raymond when he 
was at New Brunswick that Dr. Bliss was brought into personal touch 
with Beecher. Her father, Eliakim Raymond, prosperous hatter and 
furrier, having moved from Norwalk to Brooklyn in 1822, founded 
at his own expense the first Baptist Church in the then little suburb 
of Manhattan, which was growing fast since the advent of the steam 
ferries. One son, Israel Ward Raymond, was connected with the 
Pacific Steamship Company. Another son, John Howard Raymond, 
founded the Brooklyn Polytechnic and became the second President 
of Vassar College. 

At the age of twelve, upon the death of her mother, Eliakim' s 
daughter Susan became head of her father's house. She married John 
Tasker Howard, who led the movement which, founded Plymouth 
Church and brought Beecher to Brooklyn as its pastor. It was said 
of him: "You might wake up Tasker Howard at midnight and he 
could tell you off-hand the market price of any commodity in any 
part of the world without stopping to think." * 

After the gold rush of '49 he profitably extended his shipping 
interests to California. Word came to Lewisburg that the enterpris- 
ing Uncle John had become the friend and partner of the famous 
pathfinder, John C. Fremont. Uncle John gave his time and energy 
to the nomination of Fremont as the first Presidential candidate 
of the new Republican Party. 

Its champions, in conquering zeal, were gathering in Aunt Susan's 
salon on Brooklyn Heights, in which Beecher continued to be the 
spirited central figure until his death. Still adhering fast to the reli- 
gious creed of his fathers, Dr. Bliss, after due deliberation, forsook 
his ancestral inheritance and became a Republican. 

The Howards had money; they were the rich and important rela- 

i Remembrance of Things Past, John Raymond Howard, 1925. 


tives in touch with the great world. They made the "grand tour" of 
Europe; they spent months in Rome, where they met Robert and 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Susan exchanged letters with Mrs. 
Browning. In the phrase of the day, she had "epistolary charm." 

To the Bliss, Raymond and Howard families she was a glamorous 
hostess who appeared to be all but immortal with the passage of time. 
She remembered the illumination of New York in 1815 in celebra- 
tion of the peace in conclusion of the second war with Great Britain; 
she saw Lafayette lay the corner stone of the Apprentices' Library 
which afterward became the Brooklyn Institute. When she was not 
entertaining she was "always to be found with a book and a baby." x 
She bore nine children, all of whom "did well." One son she named 
after Beecher; another, Joseph Howard, became as famous a jour- 
nalist as any columnist or Washington correspondent of a later time. 

When her sister, Mary Raymond Bliss, sought a name for the 
seventh of her thirteen, a boy, she had only to turn to her sisters 
and brothers and aunts and uncles, with a broad choice exclusive of 
Biblical first names of grandfathers and great uncles, which were 
going out of fashion. There must be a Susan for Aunt Susie and a 
Tasker Howard for Uncle Tad. Tasker Bliss, born on the last day 
of December, 1853, was to hear a great deal about Uncle Tasker, but 
more about blithe Aunt Susan who never overlooked Christmas and 
birthdays with welcome gifts. She arrived like a burst of light, and 
the glow of it remained long after she had gone. 

Tasker's early memories were of the repercussions in his home 
of the rising sectional and party emotions which were leading to 
fratricide. He saw his father leave his study with apostolic fire in 
his eyes to make speeches for Lincoln, the triumph in his eyes when 
Lincoln was elected; he heard his father's prayers for divine guidance 
for Lincoln in his hours of trial after he took office, and saw his 
father's face go stern when Sumter was fired on. It was God's will 
to the grave man whose elder pupils were going to the drill-ground; 
the cause must be won in the ordeal of fire; we had been patient; 
God was on our side. 

The father was too old to enlist, Tasker a boy of eight. Tasker saw 
the troops marching forth; the knots of people gathering at the 
telegraph office for news when a great battle was being fought 

i Brooklyn Eagle, June 14, 1906. 


news of battles lost, of battles that were a draw, with fewer and fewer 
students on the campus as the war grew old. He knew the alarm of 
a little community when word came that the enemy legions were 
marching toward Harrisburg, that they might soon be in Lewisburg. 

He saw his father depart for the field of Gettysburg in the Biblical 
role of the Good Samaritan. There Dr. Bliss met southern chaplains 
who also thought that God was on their side, but they had no time 
to discuss differences of opinion as they labored side by side. And 
the father returned footsore and exhausted to tell for the first time 
the story he was so often to tell of how he had kept on searching 
until he found food and drink for a badly wounded Alabama soldier, 
who had been misled by the rebel leaders to fight for the wrong, but 
was a fine boy. 1 

Five years passed. Andrew Johnson's torment in the Presidency 
drew to a close. Tad had been graduated from the Lewisburg 
Academy, the "prep*' school for the University, and in the fall would 
go "up the hill" into that higher world of the University itself, which 
was ruled by a faculty of five who taught the Greek and Latin lan- 
guages and literature, mathematics and natural philosophy, and the 
natural sciences. The system in applying a curriculum which was in 
no wise elective, as described by Dr. Bartol, who was a classmate 
of Tasker: 

"The college bell called us to chapel at 7.15 A.M. Chapel lasted just 
fifteen minutes. The roll-call of all the students was called, a short scrip- 
ture lesson was read, a short prayer was offered, a hymn was sung, and 
then each professor and student rushed to his classroom, and promptly 
at 7.30 the morning recitation began. 

"Then each professor, each student, was free to do as he pleased until 
9 A. M. At that hour, Joe Bogert, the bell ringer, stood at his big chapel 
bell. He listened, and with the first nine o'clock tap of the town clock he 
began to pull his bell rope. That was the signal for study hour. It ordered 
every student to his room and to spend the next two hours upon the next 
lesson. Then, again at the first stroke of eleven o'clock, Bogert began to 
pull his bell rope. Then every professor and student rushed to his class- 
room. Again at twelve o'clock all recitation rooms were emptied. 

"At two o'clock, the bell rang out; 'Study hour till four o'clock every- 
body in his rooml' The campus grounds cleared rapidly. Recitations fol- 
lowed from four to five o'clock. Bogert rang his bell again at seven for 
a study period ending at nine. 

i Rev. Dr. John Humpstone, Baptist Ministers' Conference, April 24, 1893. 


"The rule that we be in our rooms for study during study hour was 
strictly enforced. President Loomis once thought he had caught a class- 
mate of Tasker's breaking this rule, and so it was. One morning in chapel 
service we were kept over time. The President had an important message 
for us. We listened attentively. He was telling us in his sleclge hammer 
way about the wickedness of breaking the rule for study hour, and how 
he hoped he would never be called upon to punish severely anyone for 
such a grave offense. 

" 'And yet/ he went on, 'it now becomes my painful duty, as President 
of the University, to place upon Freshman Frank M. Higgins the full 
censure of the college for this offense. It is reported to me by an un- 
doubted witness that he engaged in playing croquet during study hour/ 
The faculty sat there with stern faces endorsing every sledge hammer 
stroke which the President made on the shrinking culprit." x 

Yet Higgins had passed the highest entrance examination next to 
Tasker, and was studying for the ministry. Dr. Bartol relates how this 
fractious freshman once remarked to a "dressy" classmate: "Do you 
think that the Apostle Paul would ever have worn a suit like yours?" 
President Loomis did not limit disciplinary action to public censure. 
Once he caned a student whom he caught intoxicated at night on 
the campus. 2 

Dr. Bliss had seen a sectional rebellion suppressed only to face 
an intellectual one which was international. The orthodox were 
scandalized by Darwin's Origin of Species, with its popularly con- 
strued hypothesis that man was not divinely created, but descended 
from a monkey. 

Fewer young men were studying advanced Greek, many con- 
vinced that the dead languages were less useful than chemistry, 
physics and engineering as a preparation for their future in a living 
world in which a transcontinental railroad was being built, elec- 
tricity harnessed, suspension bridges swung across rivers, and science 
turning its light on religious faith and forming a new mundane 

Dr. Bliss would always listen to the sceptics and inquirers among 
his students. Once, when he noted that one was foundering, owing 
to his superficial knowledge, he said: 

"I you are interested in such questions, there is a recent book 

1 Letter to the author, May 31, 1934, from Dr. W. C. Bartol, Professor Emeritus of 
Mathematics and Astronomy at Bucknell University. 

2 Ibid. 7 


which has attracted a good deal of attention, and which it is worth 
your while to read Mr. Herbert Spencer's First Principles." Spencer, 
if not Darwin, was permissible, and Dr. Bliss read Darwin, too, in 
order to keep posted on the new movement. In reply to views that 
were heterodox to him he was described in an anonymous character 
sketch in a church paper as saying, politely if not convincedly: "It 
is likely that what you set forth will be the general opinion of edu- 
cated Christians some time, but I am too old to accept it." 

Out of his annual salary of five hundred dollars he always gave 
fifteen, twenty or twenty-five to the church. 1 The recently built 
Baptist church being crippled for funds, he served as its pastor with- 
out pay, in addition to his professorial duties. The family had little 
outside income. Meanwhile the stork continued his visits to the 
Bliss household. In those days keeping faith with the Biblical in- 
junction to increase and multiply had an economic warrant in the 
opportunity of undeveloped national resources, but this left mother 
with an acute and growing economic problem. "She felt the pressure 
that hampered men of his class in those days." 2 Small, ceaselessly 
active, ever present minded, she was the general, the executive di- 
rector of the offices and works in contrast to her deliberate, slow- 
spoken husband, shut up with his books, keeping up his correspond- 
ence with fellow theologians and studying modern languages and 
other ancient languages as well as Greek and Hebrew. 

Her hoopskirts must be of a moderate size if there were to be 
room for them among all her offspring in that small house; and 
she were to go up and down the stairs on the run, make sure the 
meals were on time, the little ones ready for school, all on hand for 
morning prayers, none made the most of the excuse for escape from 
the one bathroom, and all marshaled in their best for their march 
with father in his old broadcloth and mother in her old alpaca to 
church on Sabbath morning and to the evening services, too. The 
best for the younger children was made over from the clothes the 
next eldest had outgrown. Enforced application of the privilege of 
primogeniture allowed only the very eldest to enjoy new clothes. 

The mother was the active disciplinarian acting under the general 
orders of the father in council, her r61e that of a busy coach with 

1 Rev. Dr. Spratt at the Baptist Ministers' Conference of April 24, 1893. 

2 Remembrance of Things Past, John Raymond Howard, 1925, p. 43. 


her, "Harriet, you are big enough to know better," "Ward, what 
will the other professors say if Dr. Bliss* son slips in his lessons?" 
"Susan, if nobody did anything but what they wanted to do, the 
world would fall to pieces and you would go hungry," and "Robert, 
that sounds to me like whining." In those days "Spare the rod and 
spoil the child" had not entirely passed out of vogue. On rare occa- 
sions, after all the evidence had been taken and reviewed, maternal 
judgment decreed a trip upstairs to a secret executive session in 
which the victim underwent, in the days when legs were called limbs, 
corrective paddywhacks on bare surfaces. 

In the custom of the large families of the time, Mary, the eldest 
daughter, became the second mother, who had periods of rest when 
she visited Aunt Susan in Brooklyn. It was Mary who appeared in 
tears one day to say that she had heard one of the boys use a word 
too terrible for her to repeat. Father looked up from his study of 
the ancients to concentrate on economic discipline. Meanwhile, 
mother encouraged Mary to write the word. When she saw it was 
"Thunder," she stifled her mirth and hastened to the study to stay 
the hand of unmerited punishment. 1 

When each cent spent must get a full cent's worth of a necessity 
of life, a croquet set was a luxurious concession to the ruling pastime 
on the Bliss lawn. We may imagine father joining in the game, tak- 
ing deliberate aim and enjoying quiet triumph over a good shot, 
while mother, with her quick stroke, got as much thrill out of missing 
a wicket as making it. 

There was no tennis yet, but Badminton, from which modern 
tennis sprung, was much played in England and somewhat in Amer- 
ica. There was no gymnasium, no basket ball at this freshwater 
college, and the game of rounders had only recently expanded into 
the complex game of baseball. 

Reports reached Lewisburg that some men were actually playing 
baseball for pay just as prizefighters fought for purses and horses 
ran for stakes. But sports were for the sporting; the purpose of a 
college was no more to produce gladiators for the arena than song 
and dance artists for the stage. It was as incredible that a college 
graduate should ever become a paid athletic coach as that the grad- 

i Mrs, Adolph Knopf (nde Eleanor Bliss) to the author. 


uate of 'a first class medical college should dress up as an Indian 
and sell corn-killer on the street corners. We were only on the edge 
of the movement to tan the pale cast of thought and relate leanness 
to physical fitness rather than to the scanty rations of the student 
grind who accepted his dyspepsia as the penalty, not to say the dis- 
tinction, associated with scholarship. The time was not yet when 
Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, the pioneer instructor of a new gospel 
as revolutionary as Darwinian evolution, would be admitted to equal- 
ity of fellowship with the Harvard faculty. 

However, the students of conservative Bucknell did play baseball 
and, eighteen years after the first Harvard-Yale boat race, they made 
up two boating crews. President Loomis, to show that he was not 
unreceptive to the talk about the importance of exercise, set the 
students to the task of filling in and grading the campus. They could 
blister their hands at something constructive just as well as at mere 
games. Tasker had his share of this. Much of his spare time was spent 
in earning spending money. 

He must have been well liked. Both of the two Greek letter fra- 
ternities then in the college "did their best to win him into member- 
shipsomething that seldom happens to a freshman. He chose to 
join the Phi Kappa Psi. . . . Tasker often came into my room to 
chat a while. 'Big Bill' Schooley, another fraternity brother, about 
fifty pounds bigger and two years older than Tasker, too, was a 
frequent visitor to my room. It chanced that Bill and Tasker got 
together in a friendly wrestling scrap. Bill had much the better of it, 
and advised Tasker to shout enough. 'Hold on, Bill/ said Tasker 
(who was six feet in height), 'and just recall how it came out with 
David and Goliath/ Tasker never gave up. He may have been down 
at times, but he never admitted that he was out." * 

His favorite exercise from boyhood had been walking, which cost 
only shoe leather- "From the time we could walk a quarter of a mile 
our greatest pleasure was to go with father for a walk, especially 
when we were little things and he took us in the evenings down the 

river." 2 

In the days before we talked of metabolism in the terms of vitamins 

1 Dr. W. C. Bartol to the author. 

2 Miss Harriet Bliss, the General's sister, in a letter to Mrs. Adojpn Knopf. 


or even calories, the maternal general of the Bliss household must 
have managed on her meager budget to provide enough of these, 
or any other elements in proper nutrition not yet discovered. She 
lost only one of her offspring, and him by accident a remarkable 
record before the era of preventive medicine and surgery and the 
others became healthy men and women who did as well in after life 
as Aunt Susan's brood. In spite of having borne thirteen she lived 
to be ninety-one, which might be said to be relatively as good a 
record as the ninety-four of Aunt Susan who had borne nine. 

The mother's most frequent admonition to Tasker was, "Hold 
your head up, Tad!" She did not want a son who drooped his head 
between round shoulders. 1 Tasker was the tallest of her boys, over 
six feet at seventeen as a sophomore at Bucknell, with so huge a torso 
that in the nineties of beef in football the incline of his enormous 
shoulders would have been a welcome sight on the scrub as having 
already qualified with the football slouch. 

He always looked forward to the summer visits of Uncle John 
Howard Raymond, champion of the higher education of women at 
his young Vassar. Lewisburg had its own female seminary; but the 
girls were forbidden to walk across the campus of the men's uni- 
versity. The headlines of the co-educational Bucknell of a later day, 
with the college paper carrying such headlines "B. U. Co-ed Debaters 
Win One, Lose Two," "Bell Hop Publishers Hot Exchange No." 
and "Co-eds Start Spring Physical Education" would not have been 
in atmospheric harmony with the views of the Bucknell faculty in 
the late sixties and the early seventies. 

Uncle John's bold plan, as he stated it, was to "make an honest 
effort at organizing a liberal education for women and taking stu- 
dents at the point where thorough education leaves off at existing 
ladies' seminaries, and carrying them through a well digested, well 
balanced course of higher culture adapted to the sex." 2 On the 
thesis of his then advanced views, "God created woman to be a com- 
panion of man, because it was not good for man to be alone. Herein 
the creator determined her general relations to man to be that of 
an auxiliary. But He said nothing of limits within which this as- 
sistance was to be confined, and beyond which it was not good for 

1 Miss Susan Bliss, the General's sister, to the author. 

2 Letter from Dr. Raymond to Dr. Bliss, July 10, 1864. 


man to be alone. . . . Wherever it is right for man to go it is right 
for woman to accompany him." 1 ... Millions had been spent 
on colleges for young men at home and abroad "while not a single 
endowed college for women existed in all Christendom." 2 When 
Dr. Raymond said he had some girl students at Vassar who would 
hold their own with the boy scholars at Bucknell, this was carrying 
his enthusiasm as a pioneer too far. 

Uncle John was boyish, companionable, fresh from a living world 
to the young Tasker in his isolation. His interests were as manifold 
in his days as Tasker's were to be. He had long been known for a 
lively way of expressing himself for his time: "By the way, Arnold 
was a delightful fellow, was not he? Rather fast to be safe, perhaps. 
Race-y as well as racy, eh? What an idea of the church 1 'A brave man 
struggling in the toils of superstition. Longing for liberty, but 
missing the way out/' 8 

Again: "We watch with unabated interest the progress of public 
events, and trust that the Lord means good for our poor nation, 
whose prosperity threatens to destroy her. Poor old Scott 1 I should 
have pitied him if he had not made such a donkey of himself that 
poetic justice, to say nothing of political, required such a 'walloping' 
as he's got. 4 And of Whiggery ditto. Gone to the shades, long may 
she stay there." 6 

Tasker had this fellowship in general ideas in the prime of Uncle 
John's years, learning and philosophy. Uncle John quoted as freely 
from Shakespeare as father quoted from the Bible and Greek. He 
was a lover of nature. When he set forth on a day's tramp with 
Tasker he repeated passages from Shakespeare and gave every tree, 
stone, and flower a message. 6 Uncle John was great, father was 
great; but Uncle John's greatness was different from father's. 

If Tasker were on the way to be a scholar, he was saved from 
being a prig by his companionship with Uncle John, his fellow 
students, and by his abundant physical activity and his mental 
curiosity. He had more hours a day to spend than other boys. He 
could sit up until three in the morning talking and be fresh for 

1 Baccalaureate sermon to the Vassar Class of 1871 by Dr. Raymond. 

2 From a biographical sketch of Matthew Vassar by Dr. Raymond, 1868. 
s Letter from Dr. Raymond to Dr. Bliss, March 2, 1846. 

* This refers to General Winfield Scott's candidacy for the Presidency, 
o Letter from Dr. Raymond to Dr. Bliss, November 31, 1851. 
e Miss Harriet Bliss to the author. 


class at 7.30. If he were out of touch with that day's lesson in class, 
because he had been reading or thinking about other subjects, he 
would concentrate successfully on the next day's text. 

There was a lot to learn, and he would get at the truth of it 
as well as he could from the information accessible in Lewisburg. 
He took Darwin and Huxley in his stride, not by hearsay, but by 
reading them for himself. With youth's enthusiasm in discovery he 
launched new ideas which carried a suggestion of agnosticism in 
the home circle, where agnostics were classed with atheists on the 
other side of a sharp dividing line. 

As the father carved at dinner he answered a question from 
Tasker only to have it followed by another and another, each be- 
coming more penetrating, until the paternal brow contracted and 
the white paternal beard stiffened in concluding the discussion and 
returning to the didactic method. 

There was time yet; Tad was young; he could not learn all in a 
day; he would yet see the value of the wisdom of experience as 
guide. Meanwhile, the other children must have some attention. 
The father would know how they were getting on with their lessons. 
Quotations from Greek and Latin took the place of slang around 
that table where the teacher had more pupils than in his classes 
in advanced Greek. 

He taught good usage of English, with admonitions not to burst 
out with an idea until it was clearly framed in mind, and to use 
the correct word to express your meaning. Even if it kept Dr. Bliss 
from his studies, no pains was spared to do exact justice, as he under- 
stood it, in the smallest affair. The most moderate shading of the 
truth was abhorrent to him. Squirrel answers were never acceptable. 
They received more censure than frank confessions in the forum of 
benevolent despotism. 

At times Tasker must have been conscious of a certain repression 
in that patriarchy where demonstrativeness was never in order. Still, 
we do have a record that Dr. Bliss could make his little joke in 
mild departure from the serene formality that governed his life. 

"Once in later years he visited my home for some clerical convention. 
Coming home that same afternoon from New York, I found him placidly 
enjoying the coolness of the front piazza, and asked him about the day's 


doings, adding, 'I suppose the chief address of the day was interesting.' 
'Yes, yes/ he gently replied. 'I should say, however, that it did not seem 
to exhibit any unusual ability. Indeed, one might omit the word unusual' 
and he gave me a quiet humorous smile/' x 

i Remembrance of Things Past, John Raymond Howard, 1925, p. 43. 



TASKER saw how his father had to conclude sadly that he could give 
only ten dollars to the church this year; how closely his mother had 
to reckon to meet the increasing demand for food, clothes and shoes 
while the cost of education mounted; and how the absence of the 
largest of the birds from the crowded nest would make room for the 
younger ones. 

He had never been farther away from Lewisburg than he could 
walk. 1 Train fares were so far beyond the limitations of the family 
budget that Philadelphia was as out of his reach as New York or 
Boston. He had learned that there were two institutions which from 
the day you entered paid all the expenses of instruction and main- 
tenance. He had traveled in imagination with Uncle Tasker's ships 
across the seas to foreign lands; he had seen the pictures of Farragut 
at Mobile Bay. His first choice was the Naval Academy, but no ap- 
pointment was available. 2 

The alternative was West Point. The stress then* laid upon 
thorough mastery of rigidly prescribed fundamentals gave both 
West Point and Annapolis high prestige for their general as well 
as professional education. The high commanders in the Civil War had 
been graduates of West Point; theirs were the glorious names of its 
annals on both sides: Grant, who was now President, Sherman and 
Sheridan, and Lee and Jackson. 

On many nights Tasker had gone to the room of John C. Cooke, a 
student who had entered college after serving through the Civil 
War. Enlisting when he was seventeen in 1861, Cooke had been 
in the great battles of the Army of the Potomac from first to last. 
He had been wounded in the Bloody Angle at Gettysburg, again at 
Spottsylvania, again at Cold Harbor and for the fourth time at 
Sailor's Creek, three days before Lee's surrender. 

Raptly listening far into the morning, Tasker could not have 

1 Bliss to the author. 

2 Bliss to the author. 



enough of the details of Cooke's experience, which summoned up 
actions and scenes that Tasker seemed to live in reality for himself. 
He pressed Cooke with questions about the war which no soldier, 
no general, not even Abraham Lincoln himself, could answer. After 
a long session in which Cooke had called to mind many incidents he 
had all but forgotten, Tasker asked: l 

"Jack, what kind of a soldier do you think I would make?'* 

"Tad, you'd make a good professor at West Point." 

Tasker did not want to be a professor. He could not quite see 
how depth and breadth of knowledge might not be most useful to 
an officer of the army. 

We may look behind the scenes on that family when Tasker talked 
about going to West Point. The father would be sure that Tad had 
definitely made up his mind that he wanted to be a soldier. If so, 
well and good. There should be no difficulty in his passing the 
entrance examinations. They required no Greek, but it was to be 
hoped that Tad would not give up his Greek. He had more Latin 
than he needed, and was well advanced beyond the requirements in 

The other children pictured him in that impressive cadet uniform 
with the bright round buttons, the claw hammer coat tails, and the 
hat with a plume; they saw him making a journey up the Hudson 
almost as far as Poughkeepsie where Uncle John lived. But he 
would not be allowed to visit Uncle John and see him with all his 
college girls, never allowed out of uniform or away from the Point 
until his furlough at the end of the second year. 

The shade of the sternest pedagogue in American history, 
Sylvanus Thayer, father preceptor of West Point, would not have 
been displeased at the widespread idea that the cadets were virtu- 
ally prisoners, saluting and standing rigid when they recited in 
class, and often fainting in their tracks in the course of merciless 
drill. It was not so terrible as that, but the reports limited the 
number of applicants to those who were really in earnest, automat- 
ically warning off mother's pampered darlings, among whom cer- 
tainly Mary Ann Raymond's upbringing had not classed Tad. Now 
he would be taught to hold his head up. 

After his home training and the Spartan regime of Lewisburg 

i John C. Cooke to the author. 


University, West Point's Spartan regime could be no shock to him. 
With the equal rights of so many brothers and sisters to consider, 
he had learned thoughtfulness for others and gratitude for kindness 
accompanied by frequent reminders to mind your manners. 

He walked sixteen miles barefoot, with his new shoes tied around 
his neck to keep their blacking fresh for the occasion, in order 
to thank the Representative in Congress who gave him his 
appointment. 1 

And one day he stood in line with other aspirants from all parts 
of the land, boys of proud southern families, and proud northern 
families, and old army families, and the sons of the poor of all 
classes, who were to surrender their free will to the moulding process 
which would make them officers of the army ever under orders and 
fast bound in the equality of pride of corps no matter what their 
origin. Many had crammed hard to pass the elementary examination 
of that day. No one had had so much preliminary school instruction 
as Tasker, but he would not be hazed for that if he were not fresh 
about it. His real distinction was his size, the big Bliss. 

And it pleased his father that he had in his valise on his odyssey 
from home the text of another Odyssey by his father's favorite poet, 
Homer, which possibly had never been before in the baggage of a 
West Point cadet-to-be, 

"Look how Jhie holds his head up!" said his mother when he re- 
turned on his furlough, shoulders squared, after two years' instruc- 
tion in that institution which from its inception had made its phys- 
ical training no more elective than its mental. 

The younger sisters wanted him to wear his uniform about Lewis- 
burg. 2 Wouldn't he walk just once across the campus in it with them? 
He would not consent even to that limited display, although he did 
yield for an elder sister's wedding, and thus gave the occasion a 
resplendent martial touch for the younger sisters. 

He might be alive to the military importance of having all his 
shiny buttons buttoned, but he took little interest in them as a 
personal adornment. Distaste for "side" was ever inherent in him. So 
it had not to be deflated or his rough edges as a pleb sandpapered 
and later polished by the class next above his own in an institu- 

i Bliss to the author. 

a Miss Susan Bliss to the author. 


tion in which the much advocated self-expression of a later day 
had no preceptorial encouragement. It taught automatic obedience 
by a cadet to his superiors in order that as an officer he might know 
how to exact and appreciate obedience. 

But classroom records and the close relations of an isolated world 
reveal natural bent and character, and these become a guiding 
heritage which are ever remembered in future by fellow graduates 
who spend their lives together. Thus a general on one side in the 
War Between the States knew the character of the general opposite 
him from having served with him, and so formed a judgment of his 
probable action. 

Bliss had high standing in all branches, but excelled in languages, 
mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, tactics, engineering, 
law minerals and geology: his best records being in French and 
ordnance and gunnery, and his lowest in drawing and discipline 
in which he was about twentieth on the list. History, which so deeply 
interested him, was not classed as a separate branch at the time. 
Among his demerits, which were not numerous, was carelessness 
when his mind was evidently busy with some subject which led him 
to overlook some military detail. 

One report against him would have astonished his father. It was 
for "using profane exclamations 4:45 and 5 p. M. July 20, 1872," 
but whether they were classic or modern is not recorded. Evidently 
he was not of the type chosen for cadet officers, since in spite of his 
standing in his studies he was never made a cadet corporal or ser- 
geant, although in his final year he became a cadet lieutenant. 1 

His fellow cadets recognized his reserve mental and physical 
powers which he had never to exert to the full to keep pace. He 
had a prodigious capacity for mastering a lesson quickly; he was a 
storehouse of knowledge which those who would might tap. 

When the fundamentals of military science, as taught in the 
classroom, did not go deep enough for him, he read further in 
leisure hours on the subject, or possibly studied some subject ex- 
traneous to the curriculum, just as at Lewisburg. 2 

But for his outside reading his classmates said that he would have 
been at the head of his class. This goal did not touch his ambition; 

1 Records of the United States Military Academy. 

2 Colonel Archibald Rogers, a classmate, to the author. 


indeed, no one thought of him as ambitious, but rather as taking 
things as they came, and getting a great deal out of life in his own 
way. To have been number one would have been a little too con- 
spicuous for him. But word that he had been graduated near the 
foot of his class would have been a family tragedy in which the 
father saw son Tasker as a failure. 

Tasker stood eighth, yet his classmates ranked him as the scholar, 
the brain of the class of 1875, in their recognition that he knew a 
lot more than ' recitations required. He was regarded as being by 
nature more of a scholar than a soldier. This reputation followed 
him in the army through his career as the simplest way of classifying 
a man who did not seem to fall into any definite classification but to 
be a law unto himself. 

In linear promotion number seven would always be on file above 
Second Lieutenant Bliss, who was assigned to the old First Artillery 
stationed at Fort Monroe, and he would always be one file above 
number nine. Number seven might become a brigadier general be- 
fore retirement when there was no vacant brigadiership for number 

The members of the class of '75 realized the then poor prospects 
of the calling of arms in the United States. They knew that if a 
single one of them ever rose to a brigadiership he would be lucky: 
for they had the inside view of the popular reference to cadets as 
future generals, which sprang from the Civil War days when grad- 
uates of the fifties, even of the late fifties, won their stars in action. 

Then youngsters had commanded thousands of men. Now those 
on the Confederate side were commanding a mule ploughing cotton 
and cornfields in the struggle for a livelihood. Those who had been 
in the Federal army and remained in the regular service were re- 
duced to majors and captains and even lieutenants in small garrisons 
scattered through the West, as a protection against outbreaks of 
Indians restless in face of the extensive railroad building and the 
rapid influx of settlers not to mention the rapacity of Indian agents 
which made it even harder for a proud savage to be what the Great 
Father classed as a good Indian. 

There was not a wisp on the horizon of our foreign relations 
which might develop into a future war cloud. The thought of the 
country was entirely concentrated on peaceful development, the 


Congressional tendency toward further whittling of the tiny force 
of regulars. If war should come we reasoned that we had in the Civil 
War veterans, who were mostly still young, a trained force which 
had only to be issued the Civil War arms we had in storage to form 
a large effective army. For high command we had General Grant 
in the White House, and he could summon Sherman, Sheridan, 
Hancock and Schofield as leaders in the field. 

The military science learned at the Academy had no application 
on the frontier where the boredom of life in the isolated posts was 
much the same as in the days which drove Captain Ulysses S. Grant 
to misery and resignation. Alarms that the braves were preparing to 
go on the warpath were the only excitement breaking the monotonous 
routine. There was nothing to look forward to except the arrival 
of the next mail; no relaxation except poker playing, drinking and 
gossip, if there were no buffalo, elk or deer in the neighborhood for 

Only a succession of Indian wars, or an epidemic, which removed 
superiors, could hasten the torpid processes of promotion which 
whitened the hairs of first lieutenants and made captains venerable. 
In face of this one may wonder why a man of Bliss' mental capacity, 
who would have become a distinguished counsellor at the law or a 
great consulting engineer, did not resign and turn to civil life 
which then offered such rich opportunities to educated young men 
who were numbered only by dozens relative to the thousands of a 
future era. But it never occurred to Bliss that he had exceptional 
capacity. This was not an idea that his father encouraged among his 
children. It might incline them to ignorance's excuse that they al- 
ready knew a great deal. And duty came before knowledge in 
Bliss' lexicon. 

He did not forget that he had a free education from his govern- 
ment to prepare him to be one of its servants. He had a debt to pay, 
an obligation to fulfill until such time as the government indicated 
that it had no further need of him. 1 He liked the service, its fellow- 
ship. He need not worry about money or struggle for money, which 
had ever been the haunting problem at home. His pay, the same as 
other second lieutenants', was secure, enough for one brought up to 
simple living. He had more time at old Fort Monroe than as a 

i Bliss to the author. 


cadet for outside study; and he was to have time for it in his four 
years' assignment, 1876-80, as an assistant professor of French and 
artillery tactics at West Point. While he improved his Spanish and 
German as well as his French, he began studying Russian. By this 
time his parents had removed to Chester, Pennsylvania, where his 
father had become professor at Crozer Theological Seminary, The 
singularly strong Bliss family tie was not the only attraction that 
called him back to Pennsylvania for his holidays. He was in love. 


Now IT is the Hill family's turn for attention in its influence on 
Bliss* career. If the voices in his study after his death had been 
hushed by an usher's warning Place aux Dames, a voice from an old 
pastel would have floated airily down the stairs. A stroller, who took 
only a passing interest in old portraits, might have paused and 
exclaimed at the sight of this pastel in the window of an antique 
shop, "What a charming person 1" 

A collector who bought the pastel might have sought later in the 
pride of his possession to learn the name of the lady and where she 
held court. For certainly she must have held court. This was clearly 
an inherent gift as well as a right. 

She was Anne Maria, the daughter of Sir Harry Goring, 6th 
Baronet; but her life had not been bound by provincial English 
squiredom of the late eighteenth century. She was at home on the 
banks of the Seine as well as the banks of the Thames, and she had 
seen naked swords flash in the hands of spur-jinglers and revolution 
wrought in blood by the gamble of arms. It is quite unlikely that 
she was as beautiful as the artist portrayed her in her youth. It 
was not in the custom of the portraiture of the day that she should 
be. Time and the turmoil she had seen, it is said, left her very cor- 
rect and a little austere in her old age, this great grandmother of 
the girl with whom second lieutenant Bliss fell in love. 

Her daughter, Lucy Frances Lewis, married Thomas Finimore 
Hill. An old photograph of him, in the days before retouching and 
photographer's tricks simulated the painter's free hand in making 
an ancestor appear seemly, show him with the distinct masculine 
lines of a broad mouth, commanding nose and chin and the in- 
telligent eyes of a man of the world, of parts, of responsibilities. A 
large property owner in Exeter, England, he had also extensive in- 
terests abroad, which took him frequently to Paris. 

He judged and guarded his investments when financiers were 
listening for the latest word about the policy of the rising house of 



Rothschild, trying to foresee what Napoleon's next move would be 
and what effect it would have on the price of consols and wondering 
whether or not Britain could retain command of the sea. If she lost 
it her disaster would be as complete as the Emperor's triumph. 

Thomas Hill knew the French almost as well as he knew his own 
people, for he had to deal with both peoples in their bitter enmity. 
His sister married a Colonel Pr^tot of Napoleon's army. He knew 
Spain, too. Once on a mission there he had to fly before the invading 
French army. Spanish securities, which had been gilt-edged, were 
among the economic casualties of the Napoleonic marches and 
changes. As executor Hill had invested in them for the daughter 
of a friend. When he made up the loss out of his own pocket his 
fortune was exhausted. 

He would renew it in the new land and, it is said, opportunity 
was located for him there through meeting abroad a Mr. Barlow, 
an American. Mr. Barlow had married a Miss Preble, who had 
been educated in a young ladies' school in Paris, and taken her to 
the remote hills of western Pennsylvania. Miss Preble had been a 
friend of Mrs. Hill, who had succumbed to pneumonia, contracted 
from sitting over-heated after dancing at a Paris ball. Mrs. Hill's 
death, while still young, left the care of the Hills' five children to 
the grandmother, the lady of the pastel. 

One daughter was named Anne Maria for the grandmother. Be- 
fore Matthew Vassar had supplied the funds for Uncle John to start 
that pioneer college of Christendom for the higher education of 
women, Maria had had tutors to make her proficient in all branches 
from dancing, embroidering and music to languages and the sciences. 
She spoke French just as fluently as English, which she brought 
with an English accent to a region which was still on the edge of 
the frontier. She had been transplanted to a world where culture 
centered around the local clergyman and schoolmaster and finance 
around the local merchant and banker; and in that world her name 
became shortened to 'Ria, with the i hard, although not by the 

The girl who had been used to the ritual of the Church of England, 
who had seen the Archbishop of Paris conduct the impressive and 
sumptuous high mass at Notre Dame, and had friends who found 
security without question in the mother church, now heard ser- 


mons from bare pulpit facing bare walls and no music except the 
singing of hymns. She was evidently different from the other Hill 
girls, less bound by convention, more intellectually inquiring, and 
adapting herself more readily to the new life. She met a studious and 
devout young Baptist preacher, Reverend George W. Anderson, the 
clerical "catch" of the region. They fell in love and were married. 

Her father, who wore the thin gold band wedding ring in memory 
of his own romance with the wife who died in her youth, was not 
unsympathetic with his daughter's romance. He had moderately 
prospered in the new land. His family and his friends always called 
him Monsieur, but to the end he remained the traveled English- 
man, who was at heart a little more English for being a man of the 
world. His home was in America where his children were rooted in 
the soil, but he often visited England taking them with him. After 
his death Anne Maria usually spent a few weeks every year with 
her relatives in Sussex. 

The Bliss and Anderson families were first brought into associa- 
tion when Dr. Anderson became professor of Latin at Lewisburg 
in 1849, t ' le niembers of the faculty at Lewisburg being almost in- 
variably clergymen, as they were in denominational colleges of the 
time. Anne Maria never ceased to think that her husband was the 
greatest of ,men, but even in that rarefied classic atmosphere of 
faculty circles at Lewisburg, where her name was not shortened to 
'Ria, she must have called up pictures of her girlhood in Paris 
and London, of fashion's show in Hyde Park and on the Champs 

Dr. Anderson left Lewisburg long before Dr. Bliss, but the fam- 
ilies kept up their friendship. Maria Anderson brought an influence 
in Tasker's life different from that of his home, different from that 
of Uncle John of Vassar, and of Uncle Tasker, the friend of Fremont 
and merchant and shipping master who had been in California. 
From her lips he heard the French accent and idioms to the manner 
born. She knew German, too. She opened the album of her mem- 
ory about other peoples, their action and thought in stirring days 
this mother of the girl he was to marry, this daughter of the quiet 
reserved Monsieur who had been close to history when Pitt and 
Napoleon were making it. For this receptive pupil, who was one day 
to see her old world in another epoch of alarm and violence, she 


tapped a cosmopolitan wisdom which was as alien to her surround- 
ings as the realities of life in America to the faculty of the Lyce 
of a small French city or of an English select school for young ladies. 
He always addressed her as Madame. 

She was most interested when General John M. Schofield, super- 
intendent of West Point, asked him to expand his lecture on the 
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 into a monograph for publication. 
It was then he first took up the study of Russian. He delved into 
the history of the Balkan peoples, which was as exciting as a detective 
story, thus adding another chapter to his knowledge which was to 
be useful to him on the Supreme War Council. Thoroughness in his 
task, in addition to his duties as instructor, required he should trans- 
late many German documents. She bade him pass on some of them 
to her, and we read his notes of gratitude to her and also his plea 
that if she had not time to spare for the latest he had sent to her, 
to send it back and he would do it himself. 1 

By this time she knew that her translations were only auxiliary 
to a livelier interest in the Anderson household on his part than a 
history of any war. 

Daughter Ellen did not have to go to college to learn French and 
German. She had that from the maternal instructress who sought to 
give her the same kind of education that she, herself, had received, 
with the exception of dancing, which would have been quite 
heterodox for the daughter of a conservative Baptist minister in the 
eighteen-seventies. Her schooling had been seclusive, even in the 
year spent in Germany studying music. She was shy and studious; 
she was slight and delicately formed in contrast with the huge sol- 
dier son of Dr. Bliss. On closer acquaintance she revealed a sense of 
whimsical humor to match his own. She said: 

"I always told Tasker that he only took me because my mother was 
not available. I was just second choice. He married me to get a charming 
and learned mother-in-law." a 

It was a long courtship, a real siege, in which she appeared at 
times most discouragingly uninterested, before he won her, with 
the aid of Mrs. Anderson. 

i Letters from Bliss to Mrs. George W. Anderson, 1878-81, among the Bliss family 
*Mrs. Bliss to the author. 


"Last night I sat up until some time after midnight working my way 
blindly through a mass of German. I got up early to continue the same 
work. To-night I have been at it again, not because my heart was in it, 
but to give employment to my thoughts which were making me very rest- 
less and uneasy. When Nellie's letter came yesterday telling me that Dr. 
Strawbridge had spoken of the advisability of sending Edward to Florida, 
I felt quite sure of what the next word would be." 1 

Nellie accompanied her ill brother to Florida, and while Tasker 
wrote every day to Nellie he wrote almost as frequently to Mrs. 
Anderson asking her for any news about Nellie, and picturing old 
St. Augustine, with its historical memories, as he saw it in imagina- 
tion with her. 

The pair were now engaged; they were looking forward to mar- 
riage when Ellen was stricken with partial deafness. Experts said 
the affliction would be permanent. She insisted upon breaking the 
engagement. She would not be a deaf mate for any man no matter 
how much she loved him, she would not hamper his career when 
she could never hear anything that anybody had to say unless it 
was shouted the deaf wife of Lieutenant Bliss, of Captain Bliss, the 
deaf first lady of the post which one day Colonel Bliss might 

So she wrote to him; so she told him when he came to see her. 
A most eloquent logician, now, he insisted he had not fallen in love 
with her ears, but her mind and heart and the dearest face in the 
land. He could not take back the love he had given her and he 
would not allow her to take back the love she had given him be- 
cause, at twenty-nine, he was already getting bald. Would she desert 
him if he also became deaf and rheumatic? Was that the kind of 
soldier she was? And wasn't he understanding every word she said? 
He always would. They would be united the more firmly. He 
stormed, he was gay and she yielded. 

No treatment, no new instrument, was ever to bring her positive 
relief, and ever when the two were in a group of people he made 
it a practice to stand or sit near her. Thus he was able, in clear 
familiar enunciation and a moderate tone which she understood, to 
repeat deftly anything said to her and take the effort out of the oc- 
casion for the pthers present. 

i Letter from Bliss to Mrs. George W. Anderson, January 15, 1878. 


She trained herself to make her affliction unembarrassing to 
others, sought to avoid the monotonous tone of the deaf; for she 
understood that there was sympathy for the blind but not the deaf, 
who were inclined to irritability over having missed something in 
the conversation. She must appear interested but not talk much 
herself lest this require that people strain their voices in talking 
to her. Now her natural shyness withdrew her into an isolated world 
to look out of the window upon the procession. She must ever make 
a smile take the place of normal hearing. 

The effect upon Bliss' career was to stabilize him in his natural 
bent; he had a new duty in conflict with one he thought he owed to 
himself and the service in rounding out his professional training. 
When the Custer massacre occurred he became restless as an in- 
structor at West Point and sounded possibilities of transfer to the 
cavalry, but General Schofield did not encourage this plan. Bliss 
had a four-year appointment at the Academy, and ought to see it 

After the punitive sequel to the Custer massacre Indian alarms 
lapsed. Still Bliss thought that he ought to have a tour on the 
frontier, which he hoped to arrange. If he had gone his garrison 
might have missed action in the final Indian campaigns of the Black 
Hills and against the Apaches. At least, his preparation for his 
future unique r61e would have been halted. It continued because 
he hesitated at the prospect of taking his young wife to a remote 
frontier post where she could not easily withdraw herself from un- 
ceasing contacts and she would be more sensitive about her 

They were married quietly in her father's home, May 24, 1882, 
their bridal trip in keeping with many before and since in the 
army. They crossed the continent on his way to Fort Mason, Califor- 
nia. This detail was quite brief. The next year they settled to house- 
keeping back at Fort Monroe under the casemates with eighteen feet 
of earth over their heads, which required fires in midsummer to dry 
their moist quarters. 

In the course of army routine he served as adjutant and honor 
graduate of the artillery school, and as recorder of a board to study 
the military value of our inland highways, which meant travel in 
his own country. So marked had his reputation as a broad student 


become in the inner army circles that he appeared the obvious selec- 
tion in answer to a request from Admiral Luce in 1885 for an army 
officer to teach military science at the new Naval War College at 

The Adjutant General had already written out the orders when 
Bliss called on him to explain why he did not want to accept the 
detail for two years as settled. There was no doubt of the attractive- 
ness or the honor of it. He would have a free hand for study, he 
would be his own master. It was equivalent to the separate command 
which appeals to every young officer. 

But Bliss thought it best that the Naval War College try him out 
in a series of introductory lectures. If these promised well he would 
be invited to remain; and if not, Admiral Luce would not have to 
retain him. 1 He said that all he had learned about military science 
was from books and from talks with Civil War commanders; other 
students had the same opportunities. 

Not only did the Naval War College want him to remain, but his 
lectures had shown such a profound understanding of the subject 
from Cannae to Appomattox that it was concluded to send him 
abroad to observe European military systems and bring his knowl- 
edge up to date. Mrs. Bliss followed him with their infant daughter, 
Eleanor, and her invalid brother, Edward, on a visit to Sussex, and 
he joined them in Edinburgh after his tour. 

The officer of the little army of scattered posts, with its out-of-date 
arms, studied the living text books of the great armies of Europe 
which were trying out new tactics, new formations and new weapons 
in the field of maneuver. He had his first contact with the play 
of the forces toward the day when they should cross his desk at 
Versailles in 1918. A new Germany looked seaward, her young 
navy rising on the tide of her industrial expansion. Bismarck was 
still Chancellor, old Kaiser William I on the throne, and they had 
the counsel of von Moltke, the military scholar, the victor of Konig- 
gratz, Gravelotte and Sedan. It always seemed that physically von 
Moltke's and Bismarck's position should have been reversed; von 
Moltke's to have been cast for the quiet, suave, silent chancellor be- 
hind the throne in an ancient monarchy, and Bismarck for old con- 
vention's thundering part of the soldier. Von Moltke had com- 

i Letter from Bliss to Colonel Michael J. Lenihan, March 16, 1923. 


manded the largest armies that ever had taken the field; he was the 
preceptor of the military system which made Europe a continent of 
hostile armed camps under conscription. 

It was after Bliss' retirement, after he had seen the machine that 
von Moltke founded beaten and reduced to a fragment that he wrote 
in a letter, which recalled his meetings with the German command- 
ers of the war of 1 870-7 1 : 

"All the old men, except von Moltke, who had served in the war, and 
were still living, were retired, but in spite of their age they all impressed 
me as men who were in remarkably good physical and mental condition. 
A number of them, including von Moltke himself, were military members 
of the Reichstag. I often heard them play their parts in debate showing 
the mental activity, the quickness of perception of very much younger 
men. Any morning when I went for an early walk in the Thiergarten, 
I would see von Moltke browsing over a secondhand bookstore near the 
Brandenburg gate. He was so spare that he looked as though his frame 
were held together by his uniform." 

Bliss, himself an old man when he wrote this, but busy working 
for the cause of peace with the ardor of youth, added: "And so it 
behooves youth to qualify in other respects than youth. If it does 
so it holds the world in its grasp. Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse 
pouvait!" * 

General John M. Schofield had read Bliss' reports from abroad 
with the knowing eye of his own mind and experience. As lectures 
they became classic at the Naval War College. Schofield had first 
sounded his depths as an instructor at West Point. And Schofield 
was the type to appreciate Bliss. He, too, was a scholar whom no 
soldier might dismiss as theorist, this favorite young commander 
of General William T. Sherman. In his youth he had been assistant 
professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point 
and later, resigning from the army, became professor of physics at 
Washington University in St. Louis. A brilliant and daring tacti- 
cian in battle, a master of troop movements and organization, he 
rose to command of a Federal corps before he was thirty. When 
Schofield succeeded Sheridan who, in turn, succeeded Sherman as 
commanding general of the army, he summoned Bliss to his right 
hand as aide, and kept him there for seven years, 1888-95, until his 
i Bliss to Major General E. F. McGlachlin. 


own retirement. He was always sure that whether the problem was one 
of principle or of detail in the direction of the army, he could de- 
pend on Bliss* thoroughness to miss no item and lay a luminous 
analysis on his desk. 

The active commander of the past had both a companion and a 
disciple. After desks were clear and it was not much trouble to keep 
them so as army posts did their sentry go after the last of the Indian 
wars general and aide could range far from the day's work in -their 
discussions, which they might continue at home, since that useful 
aide lived near his chief. They could talk about peoples as well as 
wars. Bliss was fond of this. He liked all peoples; the French were 
the French, the English were the English, the Germans were the 
Germans. He did not know the Spanish or the Russians yet, but he 
hoped to. 

Schofield deplored the condition of our army with no war college 
or staff schools to teach young officers how to think for a large army 
in case we had to go to war. That had been the difficulty in the 
early stages of the Civil War just a mob of regiments without or- 
ganization, with generalship having to be learned in the field of 
action at the cost of soldiers' lives. Schofield foresaw the mess which 
became inevitable in the Spanish War, when we found that drilling 
a company of infantry or a battery of artillery, or feeding a regi- 
ment is not all there is to war, no more so than being a conductor 
of a train is all there is to railroading. 

Under the present system, as Schofield said: 

"All that a major general, as well as an officer of lower grade had to 
do, was to execute such orders as he might receive from the brigadiers 
at the head of the several bureaus in Washington. It was not even neces- 
sary for those mighty chiefs to say that their mandates had the sanction 
of any higher authority. Their own fiat was all-sufficient for a mere 
soldier of the line or for his commanding general of whatever grade or 
rank or command." l 

That frustrated veteran commander in the tape-bound doldrums 
of the time found that Bliss was not only an intellectual relief but 
that he had a way of keeping peace among the autocrats of the 
bureaus. Schofield was the first high superior who knew that he 
could 'leave it to Bliss" with perfect confidence. 

i Forty -six Years in the Army, Lieutenant General John M. Schofield, p. 535. 


With one side of his mind Bliss did his official duties. The other 
side was free to give all its parts full range. He had a home, he had 
children, and he had a study where the desk was never clear, the 
study of the scholar littered with papers. He insisted that no bearer 
of a broom or a dust brush should enter it except under his per- 
sonal supervision. 

Never prone to take the lead in conversation unless his views 
were requested, he would draw others out on their special subjects 
which interested him. Was the subject China? Was it the brewing 
of beer? Then let us hear about how the mandarins rule China or 
beer is made. He spent hours learning every detail about the oyster 
business and the life of the oyster from an oysterman. The next time 
he met an oysterman he would be able to talk to him as intelligently 
as to a professor of Greek or a soldier. Not only this, but he had 
looked up the oyster in books and there learned some points the 
oysterman had missed. 

The one who knew all his sides was Mrs. Bliss, who always called 
him Tasker. He loathed the contraction of Tad, which was never in 
vogue after his Lewisburg days. She knew him in his storms and his 
silences, and when he paced the floor, reinforced by a night cap, in 
high council in which he spoke the views of General Schofield, a 
commander of a western post, an Indian agent, a missionary and 
the local congressman on a given problem. She knew him when he 
admitted he had made a lot of fuss over nothing, when he stroked 
his mustache as a sign that here was a question that opened up 
an appealing line of thought, when he was gruff, and when his upper 
lip twitched in a characteristic half smile over something which 
amused him. She did not need the information from others that 
she had a philosopher for a mate, or that he belonged to the numer- 
ous band of human and temperamental husbands. 

There was the incident of the Russian exercises which had its 
place in the family annals. 1 Bliss had met a polyglot Russian em- 
ployee of the Treasury Department who would give him lessons 
in Russian. One evening he appeared in the home living room in 
volcanic indignation. Who in the devil had been in his study and 
taken his Russian exercises? Mrs. Bliss remarked that his study was 

i Mrs. Bliss to the author. 


such a disgrace that she had told the maid to sweep up the floor but 
to touch nothing above it. 

"That's where I put them, on the floor, so I would know just 
where they were when I was ready to finish them this evening." 

He was up for examination tomorrow and all this labor lost! 
It was a damnable outrage that a man could not have personal lib- 
erty in his own home. Mrs. Bliss, smiling at the mountain of wrath, 
did not consider the catastrophe quite as serious as the fall of the 
Roman Empire, but she made a diligent search only to find that 
the exercises had been burned with other waste paper. 

Bliss muttered and countermarched back to his study to renew 
the battle. There the light burned far into the night. But this was 
not unusual. He might be interested in the life of Epaminondas, 
Caesar, Mozart, George Washington, Voltaire, an Indian pundit, or 
of a whale, or having one grand time with Horace, or determined 
to learn if his conclusion as to the man who did it was borne out by 
the finish of a detective story, or pacing the hall in one of his solilo- 
quies. Nor was it unusual that he raided the ice box to sustain him 
as he kept up his siege against the difficulties of the Russian tongue. 
When he appeared for breakfast in the morning, he was fresh and 

"It's all right, Nellie/' he said, "I did them over again, and I 
know I did them better." 

Later, official evidence of his proficiency appeared: 

"The following on the resistance of guns to tangential rupture by 
Colonel Pashkievitsch, professor at the Michael Academy, St. Petersburg, 
Russia, translated from the Russian by Lieutenant Tasker H. Bliss, ist 
Artillery, Aide-de-camp, is published for the information and use of the 
artillery by command of Major General Sdiofield." * 

At first, the Judge Advocate General ruled against General Scho- 
field. There were no funds for its publication, but singularly enough 
we find that it was printed by the Government Printing Office in 
1899. Another item in the War Department files shows that the 
General was more successful about Bliss* memorandum that the 
army should have for its information Captain Alfred T. Mahan's 

i A.G.O. Artillery Circular A. February 12, 1892. 


new book, The Influence of Sea Power on History, which became 
so renowned in Great Britain at the time when the overseas expan- 
sion of the colonial era was in its full tide. Funds were allotted for 
the distribution of one hundred and fifty copies among army posts. 

In 1892, at the age of thirty-nine, Lieutenant Bliss had become 
a captain, but in the commissary. Otherwise he would have remained 
a lieutenant of artillery several years longer. Under the bureau sys- 
tem the commissary bought the army's food supplies and the quar- 
termaster transported them. In a sense General Schofield's insistence 
upon keeping Bliss at his side promised to handicap Bliss 1 profes- 
sional career, or would have if there had been any opportunity for 
action, or any prospect of relief from slow promotion. To line of- 
ficers Bliss had become one of the bureau men in Washington, "a 
Manchu," a "swivel chair artist/ 1 which would leave him with the 
confirmed reputation of a desk soldier; but restless and ambitious 
line officers sought assignment to the bureaus, which were a perma- 
nent detail, as a means of advancement. The pay of a captain was 
welcome to Bliss to support his family. 

However, not only did his position with Schofield keep him in 
touch with army organization, with political Washington and give 
him opportunity for study, but he was also Inspector of Artillery 
and Small Arms Practice, which kept him in touch with the line. In 
a small army he had personal knowledge of its personnel. 

One day a young second lieutenant, George O, Squier, just out 
of West Point, called on Bliss. He had run up from Baltimore, 
where he was stationed at Fort McHenry his duties occupied him 
only a few hours a day in the same city with Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, with its eminent teachers gathered under President Daniel 
Coit Gilman. He was at the doorway of the banquet room with no 
right to enter. Couldn't Captain Bliss arrange it so he would be al- 
lowed to take the course in physics and chemistry? From what he 
had heard about General Schofield this seemed possible. 

"Have you leave to come to Washington?" And Bliss appeared 
very gruff. 

"No, sir/' 

"Well, you better get that from your commanding officer next 
time." Bliss smiled. He was captivated by Squier's studious enthusi- 


"Suppose you wait a year, and then well see if you are in ear- 
nest." i 

In due course Squier received an order detailing him to study at 
Johns Hopkins. He won fame in the scientific world by his con- 
tribution to multiple telephony and his inventions, and afterward 
became Chief of the Signal Corps in the early period of our par- 
ticipation in the World War. 

Bliss had not only done what was known in a later day as "ghost 
writing" for that portly old sage, General Schofield, but we find 
him drafting a farewell letter for President Cleveland to the veteran 
general upon his retirement. 2 

When Major General Nelson A. Miles succeeded Schofield, Bliss 
felt sure his long Washington service was at an end; but Secretary 
of War Daniel Lamont wanted him at his elbow, and so assigned 
him on special duty in the War Department. Since he was in the 
commissary, Bliss characteristically thought that he ought to have 
some first-hand experience in "counting the beans," which for him 
would mean studying the history of the classic article of food in the 
American army. He requested that a part of his leave might be spent 
at the quartermaster's office in New York learning how to keep 
records and about the purchase of bacon, sugar, and all the other 
items the army consumed. 8 

By this time our new steel navy, which had taken the place of the 
Civil War side-wheel relics, was building battleships, which were to 
be needed soon for the Spanish War. The army, on its part, was in- 
terested in a new smokeless powder repeating rifle of the European 
type in place of the old black powder Springfield; and, since our 
population, wealth and industrial power had been gaining so rap- 
idly, we had become further aware of our defenselessness, and agita- 
tion had begun for modern guns for our coast defenses in place of 
antique cannon. Secretary Lamont asked Bliss to prepare a mem- 
orandum over night on European coast defenses, when informa- 
tion about them was given out to military attaches anything but 
freely, and the subject was so immense and technical. However, by 
sitting up two nights, Bliss managed an exposition which appeared 
most comprehensive to the Secretary, if it would not have to the 

i Major General George O. Squier to the author, 
a Letter to Mrs. Bliss, September 13, 1895. 
Letter to Mrs. Bliss, May 28, 1896. 


German General Staff. 

When it came to drafting Lament's final report before the incom- 
ing of the McKinley administration, Bliss "made it give full credit 
to his predecessor/' a Republican, for the foundations he had laid, 
"although most of the work had been done under Lamont"; and 
Lamont, in that era of strong political partisanship, gallantly ac- 
cepted the paragraph. 1 

With the close of Lament's term, March 3, 1897, Bliss was de- 
tailed in his forty-fourth year back to familiar ground at Fort Mon- 
roe as commissary officer. In his nine years in Washington he had 
something like a permanent home. His father had died on March 
27, 1893. A second child, a son, Goring, had been born in 1892. 
Before him on his captain's pay was the prospect of educating his 
children and of continuing to count the beans for the rest of his 
army career, while the only hope of a star before its conclusion was 
to be made the commissary chief of the army. But now a black patch 
had appeared on the national horizon, a patch which grew into a 
cloud as Spain shipped more and more troops to Cuba and her cam- 
paign became harsher in suppressing the Cuban rebellion. 

The McKinley administration faced our growing resentment 
against the interference with our trade and against the methods of 
"Bloody Weyler," the Captain General in Cuba. In those days, be- 
fore Hay and Root began the reorganization of our diplomatic serv- 
ice, after the Spanish War gave us place as a world power with new 
responsibilities, the practice that to the victor belonged the spoils 
had exceptions only in a few veteran secretaries of legations and 
consular clerks who had been for many years. Henry White served as 
Secretary of Legation in London from 1886 to 1905, and Henri Vi- 
gnaud in Paris from 1885 to 1909. 

We must have a few knowing nestors who spoke the language 
to instruct the new comers in diplomatic etiquette and provide a 
thread of continuity through administrations. Yet even secretaries of 
legation were often changed with the change of party in power in 
Washington. Outside the army and navy, which kept intrenched in its 
technique, especially the navy, the only permanent servants were 
the force of government clerks. 

For Minister to Spain McKinley chose that robustious and stal- 

i Letter to Mrs. Bliss, November 9, 1896. 



wart party man and Civil War veteran, General Stewart L. Wood- 
ford, who had a sound common sense and willingness to listen to 
an adviser, which might better have equipped him for his mission 
than the lack of it if he had had knowledge of Spain and the Span- 
ish language. On June 27, 1897, Secretary of State Sherman had 
protested in the name of humanity against Weyler's concentration 
order. 1 In her answer on August 4, Spain had protested against the 
mischievous action of the Cubans and pointed out that Weyler's 
measures were no more severe than Sheridan's in the Shenandoah 
Valley or Sherman's in Georgia, which it was hardly politic to pub- 
lish in the United States. 2 This answer came ten days after Wood- 
ford sailed for his new post, and meanwhile public agitation in the 
United States had reached a point which literally demanded that 
Weyler should go. If he did not, war seemed inevitable. 

When the army canvassed personnel for a military attach^ to ac- 
company Woodford, it chose one low in rank for the post, the mas- 
ter of military science familiar with army organization, who was in- 
cidentally a commissary captain. 

Not only limited family finance and the care of her children pre- 
vented Mrs. Bliss' going with her husband, but he was very posi- 
tively advised by the War Department not to take her, in view of 
the serious crisis which might bring war before he had been many 
days in Spain. On the occasions when they were separated not only 
was he her ears but her eyes, picturing in the smallest detail what 
he saw and where and how he lived. In his first instalment of a long 
letter, written on board ship, he said: 

"I am afraid to send all my love on one ship lest it be more than it 
can carry." 

But he was surprised to find that four women, Mrs. Woodford, her 
daughter, and two cousins, were in the Woodford party to see Spain 
under official auspices. The prophet foresaw that this might prove em- 
barrassing, and so it was, especially to him. 

1 Spanish Diplomatic Correspondence and Documents, 25. 

2 Ibid., 28. 


To AN officer war meant promotion, opportunity, the expansion of 
the army. Bliss wrote on board ship to Mrs. Bliss: 

"This evening, after dinner, General Woodford asked me to smoke a 
cigar with him, and we had a long talk about the Cuban situation. He 
asked my opinion of it and that of army officers generally. 

"I told him that I did not believe the matter was worth a war under 
any circumstances; that I thought we should convince the Spaniards that 
we meant to deal fairly with them; and that it was infinitely better for 
us to persuade them to grant such reforms as would restore peace and 
prosperity and revive our trade relations with Cuba, leaving the island 
under Spanish control, than to force an issue merely for seizing the 

In London, where Woodford paused, Bliss wrote pages of descrip- 
tion to son Goring, then aged five, of all the sights, including the 
Beef Eaters and the Tower, as though they were new to him. And 
the son's grandmother Bliss, who was still living and sprightly, said 
to Goring: "You will certainly know that Charles I had his head cut 
off," and in her thrift she wondered how many pairs of shoes Tasker 
would wear out tramping about the old world. - 

He blamed hims,elf for a mistake in the ship's sailings which would 
leave Mrs. Bliss for a week without a letter from him. 

"I was getting my papers in order," he wrote to her from Paris, 
"and feeling pretty blue. When Dyer x brought in a letter from you 
I could have danced a pas seul." He visited P&re la Chaise "to see 
the graves of your grandmama and the members of your family 
buried there." The kindly clerk in the bureau ran his eye "over a 
couple of hundred volumes of records, and finally pulled down the 
one desired and showed me the original entry somewhat faded on 
a page quite yellow with age. 

"He made out a transcript which I enclose. The graves are in the most 
pleasing part of the cemetery. Close to them is an exquisitely beautiful, 

i Lieutenant George L. Dyer, naval attache" to Spain. 



tiny park-like space, with the greenest possible grass and the prettiest 
flowers. Moreover, as no recent interments have been made in this part, 
there are none of the harrowing evidences of grief which often oppress 
one in such a place. . . . One feels as if he were looking on a healed 
scar that carries no suggestion of pain. ... I bought three little pots of 
flowers to put on the graves as a tribute from you." x 

The Spanish authorities, fearing that Woodford might be met 
with a hostile demonstration owing to the assassination of Premier 
Canovas by an anarchist, requested that he postpone his arrival in 
Spain. This delay in Paris extended to three weeks. 

"I am like the man in the rhyme that Eleanor and I used to repeat 
when she was little, who said he 

'was going to the North Pole to see the great white polar bear; 
and whether I like it I will let you know when I get there.' " 2 

But he was not wasting his time or spending it all in sight seeing. 
He had begun brushing up his Spanish as soon as he received his 
appointment, and had found a good Spanish teacher in Paris. 

"I finished my Spanish lessons on Saturday. My teacher said that in a 
month after getting to Madrid I should be speaking Spanish as well as 
English. Indeed, I was surprised to find I could carry on a conversation 
on simple subjects and both understand and make myself understood. I 
shall work hard at it and try to get that much good out of this detail." 8 

On August 30 he wrote that Woodford had told him that the Con- 
servative Party, of which Canovas had been the chief, would try to 
force an issue with the United States in order to retain power. Such 
was the state of public opinion at home under the goad of the agita- 
tors that this would mean war. Two days later, when the Woodford 
party started for Spain, it looked as though the minister's stay might 
be brief but exciting. Bliss had no sleeper; he had to sit up all night. 
He wrote that he looked out on the same stars which were shining 
over Nellie and the children, and he saw "the sun rising magnif- 
icently through great banks of gold and purple tinted clouds." 

Ten thousand descriptions of the part of France he saw from a 

1 Letter to Mrs. Bliss from Paris, August 16, 1897. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss, August 24, 1897. 
* To Mrs. Bliss, August 28, 1897. 


car window did not preclude the thoughtful soldier from seeing 
it with a fresh eye. 

"Everywhere there were vineyards kept with the most scrupulous care, 
and every here and there, generally perched upon the summit of a hill, 
was a typical chateau such as one sees in pictures, with steep roofs and 
towers and pinnacles, each of which has given its name to some more or 
less celebrated wine, which comes from the vines beneath the walls. Some- 
times the chateau has in its vicinity a church and a cluster of houses. 
Sometimes the church and houses were there without the chateau, but 
almost invariably on little sugar loaf hills, showing their origin in a time 
when the hilltops were places not only against the violence of over- 
flowing waters, but against the violence of man as well." x 

In apprehension of the "violence of man," Spanish soldiers and 
police were placed on Woodford's train at the Spanish frontier and 
drawn up in force for his protection upon his arrival in San Se- 
bastian. In 1886 the Spanish court had made San Sebastian the sum- 
mer capital, and therefore the resort of the diplomatic corps and the 
fashionable watering place. It thrived and grew, providing enter- 
tainment for its generously spending guests in other pleasures than 
the new bullring, which Bliss remarked were also supported "by 
Christian men and women from America who wanted to see the 
sights." * 

No movement of an American minister had ever been watched 
with more European interest than that of Woodford to Spain. He 
had the center of the stage in that old Europe where the young 
United States had as yet only legation rank. Diplomatic circles had 
reason to believe that he was bringing an ultimatum to Spain; and 
this might mean that modern ships of war would have their first 
test; a strange war which Europe would see as detached spectator. 
The general view was that the land which sent out inexperienced 
political leaders as diplomats who spoke no language but their own 
might have a surprise for its wealth against an old and gallant martial 

With the government as well as the Queen located at San Sebas- 
tian, the American minister remained there for three weeks in which 

iTo Mrs. Bliss from San Sebastian, September 2, 1897. 
2 To Mrs. Bliss from San Sebastian, September 9, 1897. 


he had many conferences which brought little encouragement. Bliss 
told Mrs. Bliss to read the papers but not to worry. He assured her 
in his description of the enormous meals provided at his hotel that 
he had enough to eat when the fruit season was at its height. 

"The breakfast is simply a big dinner, and the dinner about three 
breakfasts in one. But the desserts I mean the fruits would almost make 
you forswear your allegiance to the United States. The grapes and the 
figs are direct from the gardens of paradise. You take off the rind of a 
fig, and put it in your mouth, and instantly it is gone: you don't know 
where, but while you are wondering you find yourself being permeated by a 
sense of sweetness as if (I shall speak for myself now) all the smiles that 
you have ever smiled have been liquefied into one precious drop. It is 
an imponderable barbarism to say that one eats a fig here. In some way 
one absorbs it, makes it a part of oneself, but one might as well talk 
of eating an evanescent dream or the hue of a rainbow." 1 

Meanwhile the soldier who had been sent by the War Department 
to Spain to make military reports had become the counselor of 
General Woodford in diplomacy. 

"You may be sure that I will advise nothing that is not right in the 
sight of God and all reasonable Americans." 2 

More Americans were becoming unreasonable every day; and the 
Spanish attitude more hostile. Bliss heard remarks in the street 
about the infernal Americans, accompanied by angry glances. On 
September 23 Woodford presented a formal note to the Spanish gov- 
ernment setting forth the urgency of the situation, tendering our 
good offices, and adding the reminder that our Congress, which had 
passed a strong resolution the previous year 8 would convene again 
in December, with public opinion calling for prompt action. An 
early answer was requested. 4 The next day Bliss wrote: 

"Mr. MacArthur is taking all the ladies to Biarritz until the situation 
clears up, and the General, Lieutenant Dyer expect to leave tomorrow 
for Madrid. Your letters to me are not touched, but mine to you may 

1 To Mrs. Bliss from San Sebastian, September 9, 1897. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss from San Sebastian, September 15, 1897. 

Spanish Diplomatic Correspondence and Documents, 28. 

* Foreign Relations, 1898, p. 568. 

s To Mrs. Bliss from San Sebastian, September 24, 1897. 


On the same day Woodford sent this cable to Secretary of War 
Russell A. Alger about our military attach^ to Spain: 

"His services have been simply invaluable. An admirable linguist, a 
cultivated gentleman, a trained officer and a most thorough and wise 
man, he has been my trusted adviser." x 

From Madrid, five days later, Bliss wrote: 

"Our work is most serious, and I am at it night and day. For reasons 
you can understand General Woodford does not have work done by the 
regular personnel of the legation. So I do the typewriting." 2 

Vigilantly and earnestly Woodford strove to prevent war, in keep- 
ing with President McKinley's hope, and this must have been one 
reason why he found Bliss' own attitude so valuable. Woodford took 
great care to observe all the amenities. When the court officer who 
acted as "the introducer of ambassadors" told him that it was not 
obligatory, but a courtesy, that the diplomatic corps should be at 
the station when the Queen returned from San Sebastian, Wood- 
ford replied in his gallant fashion: "All acts of courtesy are obliga- 
tory on the American Legation/' 8 Bliss was affected by the careworn 
look of the Queen Regent, accompanied by the little Alfonso. 

She returned to a chaotic political situation while the American 
note awaited answer. Until this came the legation marked time in 
the midst of calls for information from Washington and the prepara- 
tion of extensive reports. Bliss could rejoice only over the inex- 
pensiveness o his quarters, which permitted more money for the 
home budget. He had the feeling that the legation was under siege. 
He met no Spaniards except officially. He was in Spain, but having 
no chance to be friendly and study Spain. 

"It is strange how thoroughly homesick this country makes me. In 
England, France, or even in Italy, especially Germany, I find so many 
things that are like home and the things that are different are attractive 
enough to reconcile the difference. I long for the chance to see the rest 
of Spain and take the taste of Madrid out of my mouth. Perhaps this is 
due to the bullfight I saw last Thursday, the sights and sounds of which 

1 War Department Records. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss from Madrid, September 29, 1897. 


I cannot get out of my head. God forgive me for going. I can think of 
nothing that would take me to another." x 

Sagasta and a Liberal ministry came into power on October 14. 
Three days later General Blanco was named in place of General 
Weyler as Captain General of Cuba. All this seemed encouraging. 
On the 2 grd came the answer to the American note. It promised 
autonomy to Cuba, but asked the United States for better enforce- 
ment of her neutrality laws. 2 

The autonomy decree having been signed on November 27, Presi- 
dent McKinley could say in his annual message to Congress that 
it was only fair to give the new regime a test, and he stated that no 
American citizen, so far as our government knew, was then in arrest 
or in Cuba. 3 

The present crisis was over; it looked on the paper as though war 
might be averted. Certainly the legation had a breathing space. The 
ladies of the legation returned from their not unpleasant exile at 
Biarritz to Madrid in time for the royal reception. At this ornate 
ceremony of the ancient and formal court only Minister Woodford 
was not in uniform, as Bliss remarked, his black on the background 
of gold and silver. Bliss' picture of the arrival of the guests, which 
he described so minutely for his Nellie, is worth quoting for its 
contrast with White House functions in McKinley's day and Secre- 
tary of State Sherman's shirtsleeves diplomacy when so soon the 
democracy was to expel Spain from the last of the possessions of her 
once mighty empire on the western hemisphere. It was manner's 
echo of past greatness, which preceded by twenty-one years its end 
by the World War in Vienna, Potsdam and Saint Petersburg. 

"At the ends of every other step, facing inwards, stood the halbardiers 
of the royal guard motionless, with their long pikes surmounted by the 
axe and spear. Looking up from the foot I saw numbers of gentlemen 
and ladies ascending, but so long is the stairway that they seemed like 
scattered people climbing a lofty but gentle hill. Here I had my first 
lesson in Spanish court etiquette. The people walked with the slowest 
and most grave and sedate pace. They seemed to glide rather than walk. 

"I can give you no idea of the exquisite coloring. The stairway was 
lighted, not brilliantly, but almost as though a soft moonlight were fall- 

1 To Mrs. Bliss from Madrid, October 9, 1897. 

2 Foreign Relations, 1898, p. 582. 

Richardson, Messages and Papers. X, 131. 


ing on it. The ladies' cloaks were some dark, some white, and occasionally 
there was a flash of jewels from under the lace head covering. Most of 
the men wore long cloaks coming down to their feet, which looked ex- 
ceedingly graceful. The four great military orders of Spain, of ancient 
foundation, are distinguished, among other ways, by the color of their 
cloaks, being of white or purple or scarlet or black velvet satin. And, 
as the men are generally tall and fine looking, you can imagine the 
scene which that great stairway presented, with those grave figures in 
long brilliant cloaks and nodding plumes ascending in the soft light, 
with the motionless halberdiers guarding the way. And to get the full 
effect of the picture you must bear in mind that it was not a throng, 
but only one or two figures from a past age. . . . " z 

This had been for Mrs. Bliss, but he also wrote a letter to his 
daughter Eleanor, aged fifteen, about this royal reception in honor 
of the Saint's day of the little king, which had in reality all the 
sumptuousness and resplendency of later motion picture royal func- 
tions in simulation. 2 

"We were about the middle of the line, almost directly opposite the 
throne. On our right was the English embassy and beyond that the 
Chinese; on our left the Turkish embassy, then the French, German, 
Austrian, Russian and the Papal Nuncio. ... I think I have already 
described the Russian ambassador's court dress. He wore white trousers 
laced with heavy silver embroidery and a dark blue coat that was one 
mass of frosted silver lace. As he is an immense man he looks quite like 
an impersonation of the Polar bear. . . . Hardly were we in position, 
when by the same door that we had entered, came the Grandees of Spain, 
some thirty or forty in number. All, of course, were in court dress, knee 
buckles and silk stockings, and wearing an infinity of jeweled decorations 
among which, but not numerous, was the great chain and order of the 
Golden Fleece. Among them was the Duke of Tetuan who did not seem 
to look upon the party with much pleasure. These were followed by the 
Captains-General and they by the Cabinet ministers. These all passed 
slowly and gravely through the room, and ranged themselves on the 
right of the throne, facing the diplomatic corps, the ministers being near- 
est the throne. 

"By the lower lion on the right of the throne, Premier Sagasta stood 
during the entire reception, leaning on it with his arm resting on its 
back, his shrewd, fox-like, dried up face, like yellow parchment, turned 
toward us, and his black piercing eyes roving over the throng. I am 
told that this is his usual attitude at such receptions when he is a Min- 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, from Madrid, January 23, 1898. 

2 To Miss Eleanor Bliss, January 24, 1898. 


ister. Immediately after this party came the Queen Regent with the King 
walking at her right. The King wore the uniform of a Spanish cadet. 
The poor little fellow will not be twelve until the i7th of next May. 
He looks very delicate and I fear he has not a happy life before him. 
They approached the throne from the left and reaching the lower step 
they turned and bowed. Then we all made a profound bow, and then 
stood motionless. The Queen Regent wore a magnificent tiara of dia- 
monds. The train of her gown must have been twenty feet long and was 
carried by a gorgeously dressed officer of the household. As she ascended 
the steps of the throne he allowed the train to fall, so that when she 
turned and sat down the train fell in graceful folds and laid several 
feet on the floor." 

And so after them came the other princesses and the great ladies, 
"some of whom were beautiful and some of whom were not/' as 
Bliss remarked. It interested him that the superior of the convent 
opposite his window at the legation, although a grandee, might not 
be present since she might never leave the convent. 

"It was very amusing to watch them, as I could not help doing, since 
they were directly opposite me. The long ceremony became very tiresome 
to me, and I knew it must be more so to them. They had to stand per- 
fectly still the King, Queen, Infanta Isobel and Don Antonio were the 
only ones who sat down and I noticed one fat lady with a splendid 
dress and a perfectly tremendous weight of jewels on her who finally 
looked as though she would topple over. . . . All the ex-Cabinet Min- 
isters, the officials of Madrid civil and military, the knights of the great 
military orders of Santiago, Alcdntara, Colatrava and Montesa, with 
their splendid robes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and monks, 
abbots and priors went by in solemn procession. If you really wish to 
understand what the scene was like you must read a page of Froissart. 

"Each as he passed made four profound bows; one to the King, one to 
the Queen Regent, to the Infanta Isobel and Don Antonio. Then they 
straightened up and went slowly and solemnly out of the room. At times 
I felt almost as if I were at the Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. , . . 
The strangest sight to me was the cowled monks, with their coarse robes, 
their rope girdles, and with bare feet in sandals that only covered the 
bottom. They looked handsomer and prouder than any of the others. 
. . . When the last one had filed through the room the King and Queen 
Regent descended the steps and spoke to all the diplomats in line. As 
they addressed each one the secretaries and attaches bowed. Tell mamma 
that the carpets are more than one hundred years old and that it is very 
likely that I have stood where her grandpapa did if he ever visited the 


But of the functions on the little king's saint day Bliss seemed to 
get the most personal pleasure out of the gala performance of "La 
Gioconda" at the Royal Opera. "It has never been sung in the 
United States, and I wonder at it." 

He was sensitive to the contrasts of court pomp and the poverty 
and misery. "It is a sad sight to see the beautiful shops and the poor 
starving women looking into the windows with longing eyes." l From 
Corunna, the leading Spanish port for traffic with Cuba, he wrote: 

"I watched the procession of boats landing the sick soldiers who re- 
turn by every steamer from Cuba. There were 750 of them and long 
lines of ambulances and men with litters stood waiting for them. Women 
on shore, wives, mothers and sisters, I suppose, of the sick, were crying 
and some screaming at the sight of the death-like forms being landed 
from the boats." 2 

And again when he was traveling: 

"Most of these gloomy, forbidding and almost wretched looking houses 
had at one time been the residence of noble families. Over the doors, and 
at corners, when on street corners, were coats of arms carved in the stone. 
Some of the doors themselves were exquisite bits of Gothic or Byzantine. 
But within now live wine sellers and carpenters and washerwomen (for 
they wash clothes in Spain though they seldom do their faces) and in 
and out of these doors were passing the poorest of the poor." 8 

For, after the first crisis was over with the decree of autonomy 
for Cuba, Bliss had his opportunity to learn Spain by travel in which 
he saw more than the Spanish army. He had leisure when in Madrid 
for hours in the Prado, to know the Spanish as human beings. He 
need not go to the bull fights, but he could study their origin and 
how they were related to Spanish history. He might indulge his 
propensity for cathedrals and old churches, and win the favor of 
priests and archivists to show him old manuscripts. 

"You will think that I credit myself with ubiquity," he wrote to 
Mrs. Bliss, "for I have already left myself at two places: first, the 
door of the Escurial church, second at the cathedral of Luzo while, 
as a matter of fact I am writing here in Madrid." 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, December 17, 1898. 

2 To Miss Eleanor Bliss, November 17, 1897. 
s To Mrs. Bliss, December i, 1897. 


We have a picture of the famous "Bloody Weyler" as Bliss saw 
him land at Barcelona. 

"He is short, inclined to be stout, with black beard (except on the 
chin which is smooth), with eyes rather closely set together, and I thought 
an unpleasant face. He is evidently a cold, rather repellent man, which 
explains the lack of enthusiasm, for it seems to be the man, and not 
his methods, which are disliked." 

One of Bliss' letters from Spain was twenty pages long, all in his 
legible hand. Those for young daughter Eleanor were to interest her 
and for little son Goring to interest him. He wrote to Eleanor from 

"I have seen a woman, with a basket as wide and long as your dining 
room table at home coming along a crowded street with it on her head, 
she being in either bare feet or pattering along nursing a baby. . . . 
Sometimes I have a desire to bump up against a fat woman who has 
a huge basket on her head, or a big can of milk or a jar of wine, and see 
what would happen. I suppose that I should hear some vigorous Spanish, 
for these people know how to handle their language. . . . While at 
Corunna I sent a telegram to Mr. MacArthur at the Legation saying in 
English, 'I am at the Hotel Ferro-Carolina.' On reaching here [Madrid] 
he showed me the enclosed. It means a lot of chumps have come to wait 
for another one. Telegrams here are received on a machine which prints 
the words. A large number of telegrams are sometimes on one strip of 
tape. The operator takes his shears and cuts them off, but not always at the 
right place. You will notice that the past participle of venir has the d 
omitted. That is universal in Spain outside of Castile." 

He wrote very rapidly with a soft pencil or with a broad pointed 
pen. If a hard lead came to his hand by mistake there might be an 
Olympian expletive. In his latter days, when he received a suggestion 
that his handwriting was becoming less legible, he immediately 
began practicing to reform the tendency, with the proven success 
that his letters to the last were almost as easily read as print. 

"I wrote you a ten page letter this afternoon and now 111 begin 
another," and the second on the same day was also ten pages. 1 "It 
is hard to see how I can ever finish my descriptive letters unless I 
get out of Spain and stop seeing things to describe." 2 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, January 8, 1898. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss, January 21, 1898. 


But in Mid-February sight seeing was over; his letters became 

"The situation here is very critical. Within 48 hours I hope we 
will receive a note that will start us on plain sailing again. . . . Our 
social position has become very disagreeable. The Americans are 
practically 'cut* by everybody except officials/' x 

On February 9, with the Spanish cruiser Viscaya paying a friendly 
visit to New York harbor and the American battleship Maine to 
Havana harbor, tension had eased when the New York Journal had 
published the fac-simile of a letter by the Spanish Minister in Wash- 
ington, Dupuy^de Lome, in which he called President McKinley "a 
bidder for the admiration of the crowd" and "a would be politician 
who tries to leave a door open behind him while keeping on good 
terms with the jingoes of his party." The next day Woodford con- 
veyed the President's demand for Dupuy de L6me's immediate re- 
call. The answer was regret for the indiscretion and that the min- 
ister's resignation had been already accepted by cable. Four days 
later Washington instructed Woodford to request a formal disavowal 
of the minister's language. The answer to this is the note to which 
Bliss referred. Spain considered the resignation sufficient amend; 
Washington accepted the incident as closed. 2 

But on the evening of February 15 an explosion destroyed the 
battleship Maine in Havana harbor, killing two of her officers and 
two hundred and fifty-eight of her crew. The United States sent a 
naval board of inquiry to Havana to determine whether the ex- 
plosion was from an internal or external source. 

"We have had two days of terrible suspense," Bliss wrote two 
days after the explosion. "I fully expected that it would lead to the 
breaking off of diplomatic relations with Spain." He mentions the 
calls of Spanish officials at the legation to express sympathy. "The 
Spanish government is alarmed about the effect in the United 
States." Spanish press dispatches from the United States said that 
sentiment in Washington and New York veered toward the view 
that the explosion had not been accidental, "and so the Spanish 
editorials today assume a nasty tone." 8 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, February 15, 1898. 

2 Foreign Relations, 1898, pp. 1007-1020; Spanish Diplomatic Correspondence and 
Documents, 80-85. 

a To Mrs. Bliss, February 18, 1898. 


Meanwhile the American government sought to restrain public 
indignation until the result of the investigation was known. 

' 'Early this morning General Woodford sent for me to come to his 
house where I have been all day writing," Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, 
March 6. 

"Yesterday the General decided to send Mr. Mac Arthur to Wash- 
ington with dispatches," Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, March 13, "but 
changed his mind." 

"All the information we get here," he wrote March 16, "points 
to a speedy end to our stay in Madrid. The Spaniards expect that 
war will come and are making preparations to meet it." 

On the igth MacArthur started for Washington. With him absent, 
Bliss wrote in pencil on the soth: 

"I have written so much with the pen today that I can scarcely make 
another intelligible word with it. ... Things are looking gloomy here, 
but there is still hope. I have tried to persuade our party to get some of 
their ladies away, but they will not/' 

On March 21 we had the report of the American board of in- 
quiry. It ascribed the explosion to a submarine mine, which caused 
the partial explosion of some of the magazines on the Maine. 1 A 
Spanish board of inquiry from the examination of witnesses con- 
cluded the Maine had been wrecked by an explosion in her forward 
magazine. 2 A plot by Cuban insurgents to bring America into war 
with Spain may have been responsible. 8 

Americans in their horror accepted the American board of in- 
quiry's conclusion as proof of Spanish complicity in the assassina- 
tion of the crew of a great battleship by its planned destruction. 
The conservatives were swept along with the tide of public anger. 
"Remember the Maine!" had already become a battle cry, while re- 
ports agreed that conditions in stricken Cuba had not improved and 
the grant of autonomy was only a futile and hypocritical gesture. 
Still President McKinley kept the door open for negotiations. Bliss 
wrote to Mrs. Bliss A March 27: 

"For the last three days and nights I have been working the cipher 
code, translating dispatches and putting others into cipher for Wash- 

1 Senate Documents, 55th Congress, 2nd session, No. 207. 

2 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, VII, 900. 
s Long, New American Navy, I, 144. 


ington. One came this morning of twenty-five pages of figures. . . . To- 
day it is generally said that chances are 99 for war and i for peace. . . . 
The Minister has just come in with another long dispatch to be de- 

Woodford spoke for Washington in saying that we did not want 
Cuba, but peace there, and suggested an armistice until October i, 
to which Sagasta seemed favorable if the insurgents asked for it. 
Two days later Sagasta made a counter proposal which Woodford 
informed Washington meant "the continuation of this destructive 
cruel and now needless war''; but Spanish assent to an armistice 
would bring a revolution in Spain. 1 Then, April 2, Woodford said 
he hoped against hope and he could not bring himself "to the firm 
belief that Spain, in the closing years of the nineteenth century will 
finally refuse on a mere punctilio, to offer immediate and effective 
armistice.' 1 

To Mrs. Bliss, Aprils: 

"I am writing a hasty line to say that a crisis is expected by Monday 
or Tuesday, I am getting all my papers in order so as to leave at a 
moment's notice. ... If trouble comes we can all at the Legation say 
that we have done our best for peace." 

Public opinion at home was rapidly forcing McKinley's hand. 
Washington informed Woodford, April 4, that the Spanish reply 
was unsatisfactory. 2 

Now Minister Woodford had become alarmed about the situation 
of the women of the legation. And who but that useful military 
attach^ should be sent to accompany them across the border? Bliss 
did not relish the assignment, which took him away from his post 
on the threshold of war. European correspondents in Madrid turned 
a few gibes at his expense. He worried over his ridiculous position 
if he were on a railroad train returning to Madrid when relations 
were broken off. 

On the gth he was back in Madrid after leaving his charges at 
Biarritz, where they were told to remain while the legation waited 
on the President's message to Congress. Two days later the Presi- 
dent's message in reviewing the whole situation proposed forcible 

1 Foreign Relations, 1898, p. 727. 

2 Ibid., p. 731. 


American intervention as the only solution of the difficulty. Further 
action was left to Congress. Its decisive action still hung fire on 
April 17, the while diplomacy made its last gestures. 
To Mrs. Bliss, April 17: 

"Yesterday afternoon, after finishing my weekly letter to the Adjutant 
General, General Woodford brought me a letter which he had just 
written to the Marquis of Valdeiglorias, the Gentleman of the Bed- 
chamber. His badge of office is a gold key and he has the right of en- 
trance to the Queen's or King's apartments at all hours. The letter was 
in answer to certain verbal questions propounded by the Marquis the 
day before and made certain suggestions to be communicated informally 
and unofficially to the Spanish government. As soon as I read it I pro- 
tested strongly against sending it. I said that at this critical stage he 
could not write anything that would be unofficial, that while favorable 
action was being taken on his suggestions, the American Congress might 
do something that would run counter to them, and then the people 
here would say that they had been shamefully deceived and would 
have this letter in evidence. I advised him to send for the Marquis and 
talk with him as one man to another, because it was perfectly proper 
that the Marquis should be acquainted with the ideas of the letter. . . . 
After a long discussion, the General agreed that I was right and asked 
me to rewrite the letter for him in the form of a memorandum." 

But he mentions how he had some relaxation from the legation 
problem that evening when he had a talk with Sir Donald Mac- 
Kenzie, the veteran foreign editor of the London Times, about Asia, 
world politics and the future of India. 

Two days later, April 19, the Congress passed its resolution author- 
izing the President to employ the armed forces of the United States 
to establish the independence of Cuba. The Spanish Minister asked 
for his passports; and Woodford for his. 

Bliss had had his first training as a diplomatist; he had been on 
the inside of negotiations when two governments were trying to 
prevent the inevitable, which was forced by events, influences and 
emotions beyond their control, while either sought to place the onus 
of responsibility for it upon the other. As a soldier, his clear, 
balanced reports of the Spanish army, its organization, character, 
reserves, arms, supplies, transport, capabilities, training and tactics, 
in which there was then such intense interest in the War Depart- 
ment, now seem as professionally remote as those of the army of 


Peter the Great. 

In the evening, as the train put at the legation's disposal passed 
out of Madrid, then raging with war anger against the American 
bullies who were seen as having unjustifiably intervened in an affair 
which was not their own, a mob threw stones at the General's car 
from the parapet where it passed under a bridge. As the stones rat- 
tled on the roof, Woodford sprang out of bed in a very abbreviated 
undershirt, six-shooter cocked in hand, his moustache bristling, pre- 
pared to fight the whole Spanish army. He made a picture which 
Bliss relished in every detail. In Paris Bliss sent a cable to the War 
Department, "Nothing to do here." 

What of the future of the commissary captain? He could hardly 
expect field action; his part would be to count the beans. He re- 
ceived orders to report to Washington; and in the War Department 
he found General Schofield's prophecy of the chaos that would come 
in the next war owing to lack of staff organization being abundantly, 
pathetically and ridiculously fulfilled, and to be tragically fulfilled 
in our disease-ridden home camps and the ill-equipped Santiago ex- 
pedition with its heavy mortality from sickness. Officers' commissions 
were being passed out as social and political favors to the sons of 
influence who had no military drill. It was uncertain whether real 
command rested with the commanding general or the adjutant gen- 
eral. The regulars were hurrying to Tampa, an impracticable loca- 
tion owing to poor railroad facilities, and the volunteers, in the first 
flush of war enthusiasm, were being gathered in camps for training. 

Bliss gave the benefit of his advice fresh from Spain to the various 
bureaus. Major General James H. Wilson, who had been one of the 
brilliant young leaders of the Civil War, wanted him as Chief Com- 
missary of the First Corps at Chickamauga, and then made him 
Chief of Staff of the First Division. He missed Santiago but his di- 
vision was in the Puerto Rican expedition. 


"You have no idea how wearisome it is to work, work, work with a 
constant succession of orders involving change and finally counter- 
manding everything," Bliss wrote from Charleston, where General 
Wilson's troops were to embark. The situation in Charleston in 
July, 1898, is testimony to how lucky we were to be against the 
Spaniards and not the Germans in the gay nineties. 

"I told you a little about our work in fitting out the Rita and getting 
her to sea. We began to fit her out for General Wilson, then she was 
ordered to make ready for General Garretson's people, then to carry 500 
Negro laborers to build wharves at Santiago. The work proper for our 
case was different from the others, and yesterday came a telegram from 
the War Department that was simply stunning. It shows the frightful 
state of confusion in which everything is. 

"We telegraphed for authority on Wednesday night of last week to fit 
out the Rita. We got the authority and a large sum of money to do it 
with. A score of telegrams must have passed each way on the subject. 
We worked day and night until 7 p. M. when we cast off our lines and 
started seaward. Most of the work was done in a gale and downpour. 
Most of the staff except Colonel Biddle and myself were sick as soon as 
it was over. When the steamer sailed we telegraphed the fact to Washing- 
ton and also at once mailed a written report recommending certain per- 
manent changes to equip her as a troop ship as soon as she returned from 

"Now will you believe this? Yesterday General Wilson received a tele- 
gram from the War Department saying that it was understood that a 
Spanish prize called the Rita was in Charleston harbor, that it had been 
recommended to the War Department that she might be used as a trans- 
port, and directing General Wilson to examine her and give his views 
on the subject. And she was nearing Santiago with 500 troops on 
board." x 

After more confusion Wilson's corps was sailing tropic seas in 
midsummer to join the Puerto Rican expedition. The windscoops 
for the portholes of the transport had not been delivered. 

i To Mrs. Bliss from Charleston, July 15, 1898. 



"When the officers," Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, "could not stay 
in their staterooms, you can imagine what it was for the men below. 
Everyone would have been prostrated if we had not brought them 
on deck." 

The troops landed at Ponce; American soldiers had their first 
surprise in the excellent Spanish military road under their feet in 
the days before the advent of the automobile lifted the United 
States out of the sloughs onto hard surfaces. They marched on after 
the retreating Spaniards who were falling back for the defense of 
San Juan. 

On the morning of August 1 1 it looked as though the Spaniards 
were about to make a stand. When General Wilson viewed the front 
neither he nor any member of his staff present had a pair of field 
glasses. Many officers of our little army before the war felt that they 
could not afford a pair; and, after the war began, the supply was 
unequal to the demand. So Lieutenant Palmer E. Pierce loaned his 
glasses to the General who gave orders to develop the enemy, but 
the Spaniards soon developed themselves by some volleys from a 
trench. 1 Before we formed for attack, Bliss appeared, and rode on 
toward the Spanish lines. 

"Colonel Bliss of General Wilson's staff went forward to the enemy 
line with a flag of truce, and explained that peace negotiations were 
almost concluded, and that their position was untenable and demanded 
their surrender. The Spanish had no communication with the outside 
world, and the commander asked until tomorrow morning in order that 
he might communicate with Governor General Macias at San Juan." 2 

As Bliss described it to Mrs. Bliss, "I fixed up a flag of truce from a 
bed sheet, and rode up the road." 

On August 12, the next day, the peace protocol was signed. The 
pomp which Bliss saw at the royal reception in Madrid had now be- 
come the completely empty relic of Spanish dominion in America. 
Her final salute to it had been the last volley her troops had fired 
on the road to San Juan. She had kept faith with her honor, and 
the proud memory that did not pass with her empire, by not yield- 
ing suppliantly to the inevitable on the demand of the new power; 
and the noble bearing of gallant Admiral Cervera in defeat had 

1 Brigadier General Palmer E. Pierce to the author. 

2 Richard Harding Davis, dispatch in the New York Herald, August 11, 1898. 



touched American imagination in revival of old time chivalry which 
gave wars a polite and gentlemanly aspect. 

Our soldiers had learned to like the "old Spaniard" personally; 
they had found the Cuban insurgents hardly the brave idealists of 
our public imagination in our early war emotion. While Spain might 
live with her memories, unfretted by any overseas rebellions except 
of the Riffs, we must turn, when war enthusiasm was dead, to the 
onerous and unromantic task which her maladministration and 
Caribbean inheritance had left us in indoctrinating in democracy 
the peoples we had delivered from her rule. 

American character faced a more acute challenge after the Spanish 
War than in the war. The provisional period of reconstruction and 
induction into civil rule must rest with our army. Our officers, who 
had been lifted out of the ruts of peace routine, must expand their 
minds over a new field in a strange experience. Their varied degrees 
of capability had the common quality of honesty which we expect 
from them. We were committed to Cuban independence, but we 
would retain Puerto Rico. Since Bliss was to be one of the chief bur- 
den bearers in the next ten years his comments on the Puerto Rican 
conditions, written on the day that the peace protocol was signed, 
are interesting. 

"The hatred of the different classes for each other is worse than for 
the Spanish. They seem to regard our coming as only for the purpose of 
putting the outs in and enabling each individual to get even with his 
neighbor. The mayors are government appointees. The native radical 
party thought all these would be turned out of office. 

"But these mayors are generally the most solid men in the country. 
They are all natives, pro-Spanish in their sympathies. . . . But their 
property and interests are here, they will live here, and our object must 
be to make them good Americans . , . also to make all the people feel 
that our coming does not mean a domestic revolution, but that things 
are to go on pretty much as before without any upheaval. Changes will 
come in the system in time, but all that will be done when heated pas- 
sions have cooled." * 

Returning from Puerto Rico in late September, after having had a 
few days with his family who were at the old Bliss home in Rose- 
mont, Pennsylvania, he was sent as one of the board to select camp- 

iTo Mrs. Bliss from Ponce, Puerto Rico, August 12, 1898. 


sites for our army of occupation in Cuba. Only an appeal to the 
imagination can bring home to a later generation the conditions of 
Cuba at the time, which must be realized in order that we may have 
at least a thrill of national pride for our work after the Spanish War, 
although we are now inclined to take a light view of the war itself 
as an exotic and picaresque adventure. 

The Havana which tourists of a later time saw as a clean city 
with modern hotels and golf courses had been the pesthole of yellow 
fever, that scourge of the tropics at our very door, which had been 
another reason for intervention in Cuba. The discovery that its 
germ was communicated by the mosquito did not come until after 
our occupation of Cuba, and this led to the Rockefeller campaign 
which eventually eliminated it from the western hemisphere. It was 
in Cuba that Bliss had his first real contact with human perversity 
as exemplified in war's destruction. 

"The insurgents have destroyed everything that belonged to Spaniards 
or Spanish sympathizers and the Spaniards have destroyed everything 
that belonged to the Cubans. Every hill top is crowned with a block 
house, villages surrounded by block houses, and the line of railroad 
bristles with them. . . . 

"We came back by the village not far from which are the hospitals 
where there are over three thousand yellow fever patients. It is this 
disease that makes our problem so difficult. The fever always exists here. 
The records show that for 160 years there has been only one month with- 
out yellow fever. These cases occur among a comparatively small part ot 
the population which is not immune. If we bring over thousands of men 
from the north there is no reason why they should be exempt from 
epidemic. ... As for me I shall protest against bringing troops here 
until the healthiest sites are selected and every possible precaution 
against infection has been taken. 

"The harbor of Havana is indescribably filthy. You could not believe 
that sea water could get into such a condition. The harbor is so situated 
that no current can get in and out of it, and there is the accumulated 
filth of centuries. There are parts of the city where it is said that no 
person not immune has ever passed a night and escaped yellow fever. 
The best protection seems to be to live temperately and not to go out 
doors at night" * [when the malign influences of the bad air had not 
been ascribed to the nocturnal forays of the mosquitoes]. 

"No description can give you any idea of the filthiness of this city 
[Havana] and the whole country as far as I have seen it. Indeed, 'man 

i To Mrs. Bliss from Havana, October 13, 1898. 


alone is vile/ Nature does her best. The air swarms with scavenger vul- 
tures. As I write they wheel in circles over the public square in front of 
the hotel, every now and then swooping down to the ground. And this 
in the most fashionable part of Havanal Residents tell me it has always 
been so. The arrangements in the best houses are such that you would 
not live in them for twenty-four hours. . . ." 

And then a family matter back in the land which boasted of its 
leadership in the new era of sanitation! 

"I am glad Eleanor changed her algebra class. Tell her she need be 
in no hurry. The object for her in such a study is to strengthen the 
reasoning process in certain directions that languages do not reach. That 
is done by going slowly and understandingly." 1 

The campsites selected, what next for the captain of regulars who 
held a commission as a commissary lieutenant colonel of volunteers? 
We were occupying a Spanish speaking country; he spoke Spanish; 
he knew Cuba through his recent investigation; the commissary rep- 
resented the business side of the army. When the army chiefs looked 
over the lists, Bliss, who had shown his adaptability to any task, 
seemed the best fitted for the collectorship of customs in Cuba, with 
its thankless and harassing detail. This became the turning point of 
his career. 

He must proceed immediately to his post; and he was thus pre- 
cluded from spending Christmas with his family. 

i To Mrs. Bliss October 29, 1898. 


THE custom house had been the center of corruption; and Bliss 
was also told, as he wrote to General Schofield, that it was the center 
of the yellow fever zone, and that he had a little chance of his life 
if he went to his office before ten in the morning and left after sunset. 
Inclusive of the two hours out for luncheon, this comprised the 
former Spanish collector's working day, when he did not abridge it 
by departing at four, or when his noon siesta had been so prolonged 
that he concluded it would not be worth while to return to his office 
that afternoon. In the early period of Bliss* tenure he arrived at six 
in the morning and often remained at his desk until midnight. 

He had to deal with "the root of all evil" where it was deeply im- 
bedded in the muck of centuries; to collect the money for reconstruc- 
tion in a devastated land. In a large measure he had become responsi- 
ble for the financial probity of our occupation, at a time when Span- 
ish war scandals were having their airing at home and that kindly, 
elderly Secretary of War, Russell A. Alger, had become the scape- 
goat of the mismanagement out of which military victory had been 
fortuitously won by the guns of the navy and the charge up San 
Juan Hill. It was not enough for Bliss to be honest. He must have a 
hawk's eye and a hound's scent. 

When he took charge, January i, 1899, "the outgoing Spanish 
officials had taken the hat racks and most of the other office furniture, 
but they had been good enough to leave the chairs and the desks." * 

If grievously hampered for quality, he need not lack for assistance 
in quantity. There were many Americans who were conscious of the 
gratitude Cuba owed them for her freedom and thought they would 
make excellent collectors and appraisers, although they did not speak 
Spanish and had no experience in customs work. We had told the 
Cubans that we freed Cuba for the Cubans. They sought the places 
of the vanquished at the crib. They had heard that Bliss was an 

i Havana correspondence, Washington Evening Star, January 7, 1899. 



exception to the majority of American officers; he knew their lan- 
guage; he was simpatico. Hopefully the giant who had come to the 
custom house would be a congenial Father Christmas. 

"I write this with a constant stream of people passing to and fro," 
he wrote on the fourth day he was in office, and General John R. 
Brooke, the Commanding General, had asked him also to take a hand 
in reorganizing the Cuban treasury. 1 He did not miss the lack of 
chairs in his office. He stood as he faced the rush of problems 
brought in from the wharves and the procession of job hunters, im- 
porters, customs brokers, American and Cuban go-betweens and in- 
surrecto leaders who had turned politicians and wanted places for 
their followers. 2 They looked upward to his bald domed head sweep- 
ing down to his bushy eyebrows, the bristling moustache and the 
square jaw above the big neck and huge body. He would never pass 
for a handsome man, but there could be no doubt he was a power- 
ful one. 

When he stroked his mustache he had heard something really 
worth listening to and thinking about; when his upper lip twitched 
with a puckish smile he might look really simpatico, but in a remote 
and puzzling manner. For his appraisers and clerical working force 
he must depend upon the veterans who knew the complicated sys- 
tem of Spanish schedules and gradually replace them with Cubans 
who, hopefully, could be won back to something approaching the 
energy of the restless Spain of the conquest away from the traditions 
of the generations of procrastination and corruption which had 
greased the descent of Spanish power. When his lip was firm he was 
anything but sympathetic. 

Whether his negative was in a single word as he turned to the 
next visitor, or he paused for an instructive explanation of the ethics 
of the new regime, depended upon how many times he had care- 
fully read that lesson to the same person. As much as it is universally 
admired, he found it very difficult to make some callers under- 
stand the meaning of honesty as it was taught to him by his father. 
An administrator of the most complicated tariff schedules in the 
world could not afford to spend an hour as a teacher cramming an 
unresponsive pupil in the value of a practice which that pupil still 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, January 4, 1899. 

2 Major General William H. Hay to the author. 


persisted in regarding as purely an ornamental theory for human 
conduct. After Bliss had failed in three or four repetitions, he would 

"Senor, I've told you no, no. That's not the way we do things, and 
we're not going to change our policy. I don't see why a brave insur- 
recto like you who fought to free his country from such abuses should 
expect it." 

If this "no" failed, he spoke a no in army language with all the 
energy of his two hundred pounds, which concluded the interview. 
The classicist was using dynamite, spade, shovel, broom and hose 
in cleaning the Augean stables. 

The custom house itself, which had been the old convent of San 
Francisco, was a reminder of that old Spain and of the Spain of the 
nineteenth century. 

"To the right and the left is the front gallery of the two cloisters, not in 
a straight line, but broken at about the main entrance. On the right is 
the entrance door of the chapel. This in its time must have been a beau- 
tiful room, and there is still left the handsome timber roof. . . . There 
still remains a painting representing Saint Francis in paradise. It is now 
my appraising room. . . . 

"When I took charge the warehouse, the church, chapel and front 
corridor were covered with a heavy timber floor which was all rotten and 
the resting place for disease germs. The archways had been filled in so 
that the corridors were dark as a cellar, damp, slimy, covered with green 
mold. The patios were thus nothing but great chimneys into which every 
kind of filth was thrown, and in an indescribably nasty condition. 
Through the building in various directions ran open sewers and drains 
covered by the rotten floors. Even in winter the stench was unendur- 
able. 1 

Yet this olfactory offense did not dull his historical sense which 
had its turn in the same letter. 

"I never enter these old corridors without thinking of the time when 
they were peopled by men gowned and cowled, looking wistfully out at 
the sky-like sea through the cloister windows and up through the cloister 
arches at the sea-like sky, one seeing in that sea the far off blue and 
purple waves that lap the rocky coast of Tarragona, another thinking of 
the sky over the gardens of Valencia, and yet another hearing in the 

i To Mrs. Bliss, July 17, 1899. 


Mr. Frye 

Sup't of Public Instruction 
Elihu Root Leonard Wood 

Secretary of War Governor General 

Collector of Customs 


noonday droning of tropical insects the bleating of sheep on the parched 
plains of old Castile." 

The government allowed Bliss $65,000 for repairs and sanitation. 
He hastened the work while he had reports that all his assistants but 
one planned to desert him before bad weather came. 1 By April 
he could report real progress. "I want to get everything running so 
smoothly that I can ask for a leave of absence to come home. There 
was no truth in the statement in the newspapers that I wanted to 
leave Cuba. I do not like it but I shall not desert my work/' 2 

By July he could feel that he was really working in clean quarters. 
The rotten timber flooring had been replaced by solid concrete and 
Sicilian rock asphalt. He had made toilet rooms "the like of which 
had never been seen in Cuba/' and taken out the fillers of the arches 
and restored the old cloisters. 

"Now the hot sun at one hour or another during the day searches out 
every corner. When a tropical thunderstorm pours down in a flood, the 
asphalt pavements of the patios, which all slope toward the center con- 
nected with the water drains which have been made separate from the 
sewers, carry off the water as fast as it falls, and in a few minutes after 
the storm everything is dry." 8 

In the course of the excavations fragments of skeletons had been 
unearthed, and in each instance Bliss had said he should be informed 
so they could be interred in the ground where they were found. 

"One afternoon a little after four o'clock, a messenger brought me a 
note from the Spanish Consul, the Marques de Arguelles, asking if I 
would stop the work in the church long enough to permit the removal 
of the bones of Velascol I was dumbfounded. No discovery had been re- 
ported to me. But I knew that there was very little that was sacred to 
the Chicago plumbers who were doing the work. I don't think they 
would have bothered themselves much if they had found the bones of 

"And who was Velasco? Then it all flashed in my mind. While I was 
in Spain I had read myself to sleep one cold winter's night with a book 
about Velasco, the officer who had made a gallant defense of the Morro 
Castle against the English in 1762, and how Charles III had ordered that 
there never should be a time when there should not be a ship in the 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, February 5, 1899. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss, April 15, 1899. 
a To Mrs. Bliss, July 13, 1899. 


Spanish navy named after Velasco. And I remembered that on the morn- 
ing of May i last year, the day after I had sailed out of Havre on my 
way home from Spain, Dewey had sunk the last vessel bearing that name 
in Manila Bay!" 1 

Tradition had it that Velasco had died of his wounds at the Morro 
and had been buried in the church of San Francisco. One of the 
workmen had dropped his pick and hurried to the Spanish Consul 
with the news of the conclusion he had jumped to. The other work- 
men had not been interested in a fresh find of bones and said noth- 
ing about them to that fussy Colonel Bliss who insisted that all bones 
exhumed must be preserved and reverently interred. Yes, the workers 
said, the bones had been in a tomb, and they did not know what had 
become of them; there were not enough to fill a cigar box. Bliss 
found the stone slab over the tomb. On this he was able to trace the 
letters NTO and a vague outline of an unidentifiable coat of arms. 
Eventually he located the bones, and had them guarded and sealed 
in a box. 

Meanwhile the news had traveled so fast that a crowd was gather- 
ing. The local newspapers had a sensation, too. Their reporters 
wanted to see the bones. Reports that the Americans had been open- 
ing tombs and tossing bones away as refuse were now confirmed. The 
Cuban police insisted upon an investigation to learn how "the man 
came by his death." They wanted possession of the bones, but Bliss 
refused this, being convinced that they would be turned over to a 
dealer for sale to relic hunters; for the Cubans generally had none of 
the respect of the Spanish Consul for the hero of the tyrant race. 

If the Cubans desecrated the bones, "then all Spain would be con- 
vinced they were Velasco's, and the feeling would be bitter/' Bliss 
sent for the Consul, "thinking it would be a graceful act to let him 
take possession and conduct an investigation to determine the gen- 
uineness of the relics." But by the time the Consul appeared Bliss 
had to change his mind, the controversy had become so acute and 
so fraught with political consequences. 

Negotiations continued, with public interest unabated when a note 
came from a Cuban judge directing Bliss to turn over the bones to 
two physicians sent by the court. Bliss refused to comply. The Judge 
indignantly replied that: 

i To Mrs. Bliss, July 7, 1899. 


"I had violated a section of the Penal Code and was liable to some 
terrible punishment. So I told the Judge that if he would send his med- 
ical gentlemen to me at a given hour (they had already appeared several 
times and been turned away) I would have the Spanish Consul also 
there and they could make an examination together. 

"So, after poor Velasco, or whoever he was, had been locked up for 
six weeks in the bondroom, the consul and the doctors appeared. I told 
them I was glad they had come, for the resurrection day was approaching, 
and the first thing they knew they would find Velasco walking out of 
the bondroom as they walked in. The fact was that I had become irritated 
at the senseless delay and the endless palavering. The doctors looked 
grave at my irreverence, but the Spanish Consul laughed/' 

One might wonder if the valiant and strenuous Velasco, could he 
have looked down from on high, might not have laughed, too, at the 
scene, but he might have been as capable as Bliss was of showing 
his irritation when he saw that a man from the English colonies in 
the chilly north ruled the Havana customs house. 

"Together we went into the bondroom, a windowless cell which opens 
off from the chapel. The storekeeper solemnly unlocked the huge iron 
grated gates and ushered us in with a dimly burning candle. . . . The 
storekeeper held the box, the attendants held aloft the dim candle. The 
Spanish Consul stood a little apart while the two old doctors, very solemn 
of visage, peered through their spectacles, with their heads close together 
over the box. Then one of them slowly took out a little fragment, not 
more than an inch long, turned his eyes toward me and glancing over 
his spectacles with his head still bent over the box, solemnly tapped his 
skull to indicate that the fragment he held in his hand was a piece of a 
cranium. Then the other, with equal deliberation, took out another piece 
and in the same attitude and manner tapped his cheek to show that what 
he held was a piece of a jaw. And so they went through the poor anatomy 
in a way that no serio-comedy could do justice to. 

"Then they got down on hands and knees and examined the piece of 
the tombstone, one of them unbending from his solemnity to utter an im- 
patient 'Carrambal' when the attendant singed his nose and beard with 
the candle. 

"When it was all through I made them seal up the box again, and we 
filed solemnly out into the dim chapel, where nineteenth century ap- 
praisers were quarreling over merchandise. They looked gravely at each 
other for two or three minutes, and then slightly tipping my hat, I in- 
quired if there were anthing further. They said 'Nothing more/ I es- 
corted them to the door where they said that, on making their report, 
the judge would probably write me a letter informing me that there 


was no evidence of crime with the taking off the deceased, and that I 
could deliver the remains to the Spanish Consul." 1 

It all made a story of the kind that Bliss liked to tell and he wrote 
on in the enjoyment of it in a letter to Mrs. Bliss of eight closely 
written foolscap pages which he had begun with "It is a hot, sultry, 
damp night, and I cannot sleep." Two days later he wrote that he 
had his first attack of malaria. "It is not much ... I want to stick 
to my work until the end of summer." Then he hoped to come home 
for a month. 

He had no time to refresh his Greek, his regular duties kept him 
completely occupied. His outside reading was about articles which 
were dutiable. Petitioners and protesters found that he had knowl- 
edge of everything from shoestrings to silk pyjamas, from razors to 
sewing machines and sugar mill machinery. This study could be 
made just as interesting as taking up another language. 

Petitioners asked him to make a more liberal ruling in a present 
instance; protesters asked relief from a harsh past ruling. The Spar- 
tan answer was that the law was on the books to be obeyed; he could 
not change it, 

"It is difficult to express the absolute contempt for law in this 
communication," he wrote on one occasion; and again, "the custom 
house cannot act as a guardian of the public and at the same time 
as the guardian of the interests of the express company." In his de- 
fense of J. J. Rafferty as deputy collector, "who bore the entire brunt 
of the efforts by the brokers to secure favorable action to their in- 
terests and consequently unfavorable to the government," he added, 
"you cannot make friends with a customs broker." 2 

He set a personal example himself to prove that profligacy was 
not in order in the collection of funds to restore a stricken land to 

"Sometime ago the War Department issued a confidential order giving 
three officers in Cuba, of whom I was one, extra pay to be paid out of 
the customs revenues of Cuba. I declined mine on the ground that I was 
not inclined to accept extra pay merely because I was doing unusual 
work. The amount was $3,500. a year. But I said that there were certain 
unusual expenses incident to my position and they ought to be paid, . . . 

iTo Mrs. Bliss, July 7, 1899. 

2 Memorandum in the Bliss papers. 


On March 25 came another paper making me an allowance of $1,800. a 
year for extraordinary expenses. After thinking this over a long time" 
[three weeks in fact] "I have decided to accept it." x - 

He stopped the pleasant custom which prevailed in other depart- 
ments by allowing no customs boats to be used for personal junkets. 
It was not for the government to provide holiday transportation for 
its servants. He became logically tart when others wanted to take 
his boats for a department that spent money, when his boats, he de- 
clared, were needed for official business by the force that collected 
money. American officials and army officers found him relentless 
about favors on anything dutiable they brought into the country. 
He was convinced that he was gradually gathering the nucleus of a 
trustworthy force, including Cubans who had seen the light. He 
had a stalwart deputy in Rafferty, and a tower of strength in Major 
William H. Hay as a second who reflected the mind of his chief in 
organizing other ports, 

A round faced young War Department stenographer had ideas 
which soon lifted him out of the routine of taking down Bliss' dicta- 
tion. W. Morgan Shuster knew Spanish, too. He brought a plan of ac- 
counting to Bliss by which the baffling Spanish system could be made 
intelligible to the American mind. 

"You're caught," said Bliss, after examining it. "I make you chief 
of statistics/ 1 2 

One day a loyal Cuban clerk came to Shuster saying it was very 
embarrassing, but he knew the chief wanted everybody to be honest, 
and something was going on which the chief ought to know. He 
said that a group of young Cubans, who belonged to well-to-do 
first families and had taken clerkships in the custom house at low 
pay for what appeared as patriotism's sake in aiding Bliss to promote 
an honest administration, were receiving bribes for passing fine 
cigarette paper, of which large quantities were used in Cuba, as 
wrapping paper, which paid a relatively infinitesimal duty. 3 

The secret service man of our Treasury Department refused to 
believe the charge, at first. It was incredible that men of such stand- 
ing could stoop so low. But the clerk was circumstantial, the records 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, April 15, 1899. 

2 Shuster to the author. (Later, Shuster became Deputy Collector.) 
a Shuster to the author. 


seemed to confirm his statements. Shuster undertook a part in an 
old method to get further proof. He approached the suspects in 
amiable confidence, intimating that he was aware of their game, and 
inquiring if the price of his silence was not worth their considera- 
tion. They agreed that it was, to the amount of a thousand dollars a 
month, while the secret service man jotted down the evidence be- 
hind a door. 1 

When Bliss had this the thunderous wrath of all the gods broke on 
high Olympus. Money for which he was responsible had been stolen 
under his administration. He had met these men at functions and 
heard their phrases of patriotic idealism. There was no room in 
his philosophy for such foul deceit and deliberate theft by men who 
ought to know better. He would brook no alternative advice and 
counsel. He sent for a squad of soldiers and marched the convicted 
ones off to jail; and then began a hunt for other malefactors. His 
faith in human nature had been momentarily cut from under him. 
He was never in a more unforgiving mood, never so inclined to 
condemn a people as a whole. 

"You have no idea of the commotion that has been stirred up ... 
I had already dismissed 150 men ... I did not send any of these men 
before the court because I could not trust the court. . . . The courts are 
rotten with corruption. . . . Nothing would have any effect except pub- 
lic disgrace. So when I discovered the infamous cabal I determined to 
strike hard. . . . 

"Another arrest will be made today which will cause a sensation. It 
makes me sick in body, mind and heart. I have tried so hard to get 
honest men. But it makes no difference; as soon as a man who may have 
been honest until he is appointed to an office he thinks it perfectly right 
to steal. This is no exaggeration, but the literal truth; not a man, Cuban 
or Spaniard, but thinks it perfectly legitimate to rob the government and 
to commit forgery and felony in doing it." 2 

Three days later he wrote: 

"People here are without any moral sense. They knew I had dismissed 
scores of men for crime. But the crime did not disgrace them, nor had 
I publicly disgraced them by sending them to jail. They believed and 
still believe that a man has a perfect right to cheat and steal. They almost 
admit that the collector has a right to dismiss him if he catches him. But 

1 Shuster to the author. 

2 To Mrs. Bliss, January 6, 1900. 


to disgrace him, No! And so when I had these men arrested the whole 
town was up." x 

This collector of customs, who had appeared at first as a culti- 
vated and traveled gentleman, had turned out to be a bully wholly 
inconsiderate of his class. The carriages of the rich and influential 
rolled up to the Governor General's palace, and then on to the jail 
to sympathize with the poor wronged victims members of Cuba's 
best families actually put in jail as common thieves. Undeniably, 
Bliss* action had been somewhat embarrassing to friendly relations 
with powerful private and social interests. But he replied that he 
would make an example of men who were not entitled to as much 
consideration as a common sneak thief. It was no use to argue with 
a mountain when a little prospecting showed that its stubbornness 
was set in an all round rock base. 

By this time the honest and able among our representatives in 
Cuba felt the support of the firm and knowing touch of Elihu Root, 
who had succeeded Alger as Secretary of War. Another great chief 
had learned that he could depend upon Bliss. Root assessed the pro- 
tests of American and Cuban interests against Bliss* regime at their 
true value and saw the motives behind the intrigues to displace him. 

Bliss had given up his leave on the discovery of the thefts. He 
would not run the risk that absence from duty might leave further 
thefts undetected. He was an exile from home and family in Spartan 
mood. Mrs. Bliss remained at home with her little son Goring and 
her old and ill father who could not bear to part with her. 

Spanish tradition made it very undignified for a chief collector to 
go sweating about the wharves, summoning appraisers to learn what 
valuation had been placed on certain lots of merchandise, but in 
this way he learned that he had not yet conquered corruption. Solid 
brass beds were being undervalued as being iron coated with brass. 

In one of his nightly inspections he found that the chief of the 
night force was absent with a member of the harbor police. He 
ordered a list of assignments for night duty to be placed on his own 
desk every afternoon with the warning that any one found absent, 
unless in pursuit of a criminal, would be dismissed. 2 Dismissal for 
dereliction by those who had had time to learn better was one of the 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, January 9, 1900. 

2 Executive order, June i, 1900. 


cardinal points of his system in that duty he took so very seriously 
of impressing American ethics upon the Cubans. 

Meanwhile rumors spread about our conduct of the Post Office 
which was more shameful for us in Cuba, where we had committed 
ourselves to set a good example, than at home. In the summer of 1900 
the scandal broke in the revelation of an embezzlement of $130,000 
from Cuban postal funds under Director General of Posts, Estes G. 
Rathbone, a time-serving politician. If Rathbone and his assistants 
did as well as this out of the posts they could have made a bonanza 
out of the customs, which might have proved them more greedy 
than Spanish officials. 

Cubans had a lesson in comparisons of two American types and 
their ways of living. "As honest as Bliss of the customs'' l had its 
partisans. "Collector Bliss lives quietly in a single room at the Hotel 
Telegrapho, going to and returning from his office in a hired vehicle 
of the most ordinary description." 2 

The industrious plowman continued on his straight furrow, mind- 
less of what the magpies were saying. His colleagues had a little 
joke on him over an incident which revealed his unfamiliarity with 
a most notorious scandal sheet of the time which was the bane of 
people high in official or social life. 

"The other day a woman of the bleached blonde type came to my 
office. I did not see her, being excessively busy. She wanted to be present 
at the examination of an express package of valuable jewels that she 
said were coming from New York. Of course that was her right and I 
sent my principal secretary with her to the officer in charge of the ap- 
praiser's division. It seems that she there demanded some privilege which 
could not be granted. So, threatening dire vengeance, she wafted herself 
off to General Wood, the Governor General. He did not see her, but 
sent her back to me. 

"This time, not being very busy, I saw her. She demanded a written 
permit from me allowing her to bring in anything, not only without pay- 
ing duty but without being inspected. This I declined to do, telling her 
that I had several people in jail for doing that very thing. 

" 'Don't you know me?' she asked. 

" 'No, Madam,' I said, 'I have never seeji or heard of you before.' 

" 'Well/ she said, 1 was never treated so rudely in my life. I'll give 
you a roasting that will drive you out of here/ And so forth, and so forth. 

1 Havana Journal, May 4, 1900. 

2 Havana correspondence of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 29, 1900. 


"When the office closed I went over to Headquarters and told the 
story. They all laughed and asked me if I didn't know who she was. I 
did not, although it seems she has made herself pretty well known in 
Havana during the few days she has been here. But as my time is all 
taken up with work I have no time for gossip. 

"They said, 'Don't you know the Widow?' 

" 'No. Who is the Widow?' 

"Then they told me that her name is Dean and that she writes in Town 
Topics over the nom de plume of 'The Widow.' 

"The next day a newspaper man told me that he and some of his 
colleagues had dinner with her. She tried to get them to combine and 
give me a roasting in the New York papers. But they told her it would 
not be a wise thing for her to do. I should think it laughable were it 
not that constant fighting against every kind of corruption has worn out 
my temper." 1 

i To Mrs. Bliss, January 14, 1900. 


THE doorman knew the routine in response to the exactions of tropic 
heat when Bliss arrived at his Havana office in the morning. No 
matter how late he had sat up the previous evening he came in under 
full sail with his quick steps which bore his weight so easily. After 
he tossed his hat to the doorman and wiped his perspiring brow 
the doorman knew what was coming next. It was a call for lemons 
and a siphon. Bliss would pour down the glassful and then call for 
another glass. At length he concluded that this unnecessarily delayed 
the public business and the satisfaction of his tropic thirst. 

Why not a single glass of adequate size? A search through the 
shops brought in one that medieval barons would have found large 
enough for their mead. It, too, was empty when Bliss set it down. 
Considering the straight line of Bliss* waistband, in spite of his 
size, this remained an amazing feat which never lost its wonder to 
the little doorman, when in fact it was no more remarkable in re- 
lation to capacity than if he himself had swallowed a regulation glass- 
ful at a single draught. 1 

All subordinates and all petitioners learned by lessons in practice, 
which were edged with sharp words, clarified by analysis or softened 
by the comprehensive philosopher's smile, that however late he had 
worked or talked, however brief had been his sleep in the punishing 
climate o midsummer in Cuba, his mind took off at full speed 
on all twelve cylinders after he had drunk the lemonade, his eye- 
sight clear for jokers in documents or rats in holes. 

It was in Cuba that we first hear of him taking his home habit of 
thinking out loud to his office, as he paced back and forth threshing 
out a problem, necessarily not for immediate decision but one which 
had appeared in the offing and which he would be prepared to solve 
through being fortified with all round information and understand- 
ing, should it not be disposed of by events. He rehearsed the Cuban 

i W. Morgan Shuster to the author. 


view, the American view, and looked on both from the windows of 
the War Department. 

His momentary bursts of pessimism did not prevent him from 
eventually developing an honest force. The men whom he inducted 
into the permanent service had the feeling of knights under a ro- 
bustious preceptor who personified his own teachings. His influence 
endured in Cuba in a branch of government which normally would 
have been the first to feel the pull of politics. "I served under Bliss" 
became a proud memory, "It was not done under Bliss** armor 
against temptation to theft. This spirit of corps became so deeply 
rooted that it singularly resisted the growth of corruption under 
succeeding Cuban dictatorships. 1 

At the end of his second year in Cuba Bliss became a member of 
the Maestranza mess of the officers of Governor General Leonard 
Wood's staff. Life was never dull for them for want of employment 
or irritations. They were training and forming a Cuban army and 
police force, nursing the provisional civil government, arranging for 
popular elections and sanitating cities, and beginning the scientific 
study of yellow fever. 

At the head of the table sat Colonel Hugh L. Scott, the classmate 
of Bliss, who now ranked him. Scott had had enough frontier ex- 
perience to round out the professional career of a half dozen officers, 
if it had been apportioned among them. To him Indians were not 
only people, but the people close to his heart. For five years he had 
commanded a cavalry troop of Comanche and Apache Indians at- 
tached to our army; for three years he had been in charge of 
Geronimo's Chiricahua Apaches; and he had investigated the famous 
ghost dances. The ancient and modern languages which interested 
him were combined in the Indian sign language in which he was an 
unrivaled expert. He had had a happy detail in writing a definitive 
monograph on his favorite subject for the Smithsonian Institution. 

Listening to the lore of Bliss and Scott, 1 when the talk turned from 
shop, was a young cavalryman and polo player, Lieutenant Frank 
R. McCoy, Wood's aide, close friend and adviser. McCoy was to 
have a thrilling record as a regimental commander in France, to 
serve in a civil role in the Philippines, to direct the Nicaragua elec- 

i The author's visit to the Havana Custom House, September, 1933. 


tions, and represent his country on the League of Nations Commis- 
sion for the investigation of the Far Eastern situation, in the course 
of his services as a genius of a handy man on the army lists to whom 
any national administration might turn with "McCoy's the man for 

In later years he always liked to go to Bliss for advice on an in- 
ternational problem. The last time was after McCoy had been named 
Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry and Conciliation in the 
Bolivia-Paraguay dispute, just before Bliss' death, Bliss being "very 
feeble physically, his mind as strong and clear as ever." l 

McCoy wrote of the days of the Maestranza mess: 

"After every round of talk by Bliss however lightly tossed off, and 
however keen your sense of enjoyment of his point, there was the added 
feeling, at least on the part of the young cavalryman at the table, as 
though he had been sitting at the feet of a philosopher as well. 

"On one night that I still remember, Bliss with his gift for vivid de- 
scription and his power of pointing a moral unobtrusively by an engag- 
ing tale, was responsible for a graceful gesture on the part of our govern- 
ment and for late justice being done to the family of a Spanish admiral. 
He had brought to the mess the recently arrived Spanish consul-general. 
The latter was very simpatico, and sat long with us, but even so, after 
his departure we remained at the table and talked about his charm and 
easy nicking-in to our interest so much so that I brought up the subject 
which had been taboo during the stay in Cuba of the former Spanish 
representative." 2 

It was supposed that Admiral Villamil had gone down with his 
ship which had been sunk by a shell from the battleship Iowa in 
the naval battle of Santiago. But it happened that just before the 
final big shell struck his ship his sailors had lashed Villamil, who 
was badly wounded, in a deck chair, put him ashore in a small boat, 
and lelt him in a cave just above the surf line where he could not 
be seen by Cuban troops ashore. 

"Some months later, General Wood heard about the admiral still 
sitting there and made a search and found him, quite undisturbed, still 
wearing his uniform and insignia of rank. He was taken to Santiago. 
General Wood informed the Spanish consul-general and offered to turn 

1 Major General Frank R. McCoy to the author. 

2 General McCoy in a letter to the author. 


him over to Spain. The consul-general showed no interest, stated that 
the admiral had gone down with his ship, and so General Wood had 
him placed in a casket and in the arsenal at Santiago, where he 
remained for most of the next four years, carried by the ordnance 
officer in charge of the arsenal as 'one Spanish admiral dead,' and was 
transferred for that period from one officer to another as though he were 
any other piece of government property. 

"When Bliss made the suggestion to us at the mess we agreed that some 
Spanish family should have their admiral back. So, the next day, the 
inevitable record was gotten out of the files giving the official account of 
one Spanish admiral dead,' and General Wood sent for the consul- 
eeneral who was greatly excited and touched and exclaimed, 'I was a 
classmate of Villamil and know his family and shall take it up with my 
government at once.' 

"Shortly diplomatic representations were made to Secretary ot State 
Tohn Hay in Washington and General Wood was directed to turn over 
the body of Admiral Villamil to a Spanish admiral sent to Havana for 
the purpose The Admiral was buried with due form and ceremony in 
Madrid; his forgotten widow was pensioned by the Spanish government 
and his son ennobled." 

McCoy, who was charged with the initial ceremony in Havana, 
knew how to make it agreeable to Spanish sensibilities. 

After Bliss had the organization of the custom house in hand he 
had more leisure for mess talk, for study, and for his delight of 
dining with chosen companions in a little Spanish restaurant on the 
water front where the food and wine were cheap and good. There 
he heard from the proprietor a story about the destruction of the 
battleship Maine which he never failed to mention in his rem- 
iniscences of Cuba. He would go into a story teller's dramatic detail 
about it, picturing the proprietor half drowsing at his desk on a 
dull evening, while three diners at the same table seemed to have 
little to say, their thought attuned in suspense. 

Above the clatter of falling glass after a tremendous explosion 
shook the building, the proprietor heard the exclamation "that's the 
Mainel" from one of the men as they rushed into the street. Bliss 
always regretted that he could not have been present and have 
followed the three men, thus confirming his suspicion that they 
were in a plot, and thereby his view from the start that the Spanish 
government had been in no way party to the destruction of the 


Maine, but it had been the work of insurrectos who hoped that it 
would arouse public indignation in the United States which would 
force us into war with Spain to free Cuba. 

In spite of our predilection for soldiers in character playing ad- 
venturous parts, it has been found worth while dwelling on Bliss' 
detail for two and a half years as master and arbiter of the Cuban 
wharves, when again predestination had taken him in charge for a 
most important link in the chain of preparation for his future. He 
was continuing his education at forty-seven, as he was to continue 
it until the day of his death. 

The threads of commerce had run through fingers sensitive to 
each one in the weaving of their complex network. He had learned 
how the goods which make up the world's traffic from ships' holds 
to local delivery wagons are produced and sold, how honest creative 
commercial enterprise is under the continuous sniping by the 
crooked and parasitic, and how racial jealousies and character in the 
struggle for livelihood and profits are reflected in competition for 
world markets. He had gained invaluable practical knowledge to 
serve him in high place in the day of madly spurred production of 
all the articles which were needed to feed the maws of the mightiest 
war of all history; the day when sound judgment between the dif- 
ference of promise and fulfillment of production, between patriotic 
zeal and actual efficiency, might decide the fate of battles; the day 
when the propitiation of the jealousies of Allies in the fluctuations 
of their prolonged mortal struggle became vital to secure the pooling 
of supplies as well as the unity of command to prevent common 

Even the alertness he developed against the cunning and daring 
of smugglers this had the thrill of a detective story in the life for 
him- had its value in preparing him to sweep away the concealing 
fog and dig under the tinsel carpeted muck of World War propa- 
ganda for the truth by which to guide policy on the straight road to 
the goal. 

In the closing months of his customs work Bliss came nearer to 
being discovered by the nation at large than at any time in his career. 
The soldier out of a soldier's r61e in a civil task became almost a 
public hero in his victory over an enemy whose arms were not shot 


and steel. His administration held up a mirror in which our public 
saw our national character in the agreeable image of the ideals 
which had been inscribed on our banners as we made war to free 

Few stopped to think whether he was an officer of regulars or 
volunteers, a West Pointer or a National Guardsman. The philos- 
opher, the student of the classics, military science and history was 
seen as a square-jawed business type, a terror of evil doers. If he had 
had the art of publicity he would have had real fame. But publicity 
was so alien to his nature that his natural adherence to the rule that 
army officers must not talk for publication meant that he never fed 
the reporters with items about himself. The man who loved talk 
in free play around a table was generally regarded as taciturn. 

But what effect would his detail to the customs have upon his pro- 
fessional future? What could he look forward to in the army when 
he stepped back into its routine? If he chose to leave the army, the 
reputation he had won assured him a high salary in the business 
world. No such offer interested him. Thinking in the terms of the 
whole, trained to serve the whole, as his personal destiny, it was 
not in his nature to become the servant of a private interest. If army 
pay were not high, this, too, was what he had bargained for the day 
he entered West Point. The main appeal of more money would 
have been to enable him and Mrs. Bliss to buy more books instead 
of having to go to the library so often. They would have left their 
path scattered with books they did not consider worth retaining 
while those that they did accumulated. They would have been the 
booksellers' delight. 

His associates were given to saying from the days of his youth until 
his retirement that he kept his light under a bushel. As he expressed 
it about his customs detail, "I am in a barrel." * Upon the outbreak 
of the Philippine rebellion, and again when we dispatched troops 
against the Boxers for the relief of the besieged foreign legations in 
Peking, he let it be known that field service would be welcome to 
him. But never had superiors been so set against any suggestion of 
detaching him from the work he had in hand. As a reward for his 
services in Cuba he had been made a brigadier general of volunteers, 
April 25, 1901. 

i Letter to Lieutenant General John M. Schofidd, June 10, 1901. 


In the course of the expansion of the regular army after the 
Spanish War his classmates of the line now outranked him in the 
regulars; and rank is the symbol of standing on the regular list. After 
his volunteer commission expired, he faced the prospect of remain- 
ing a commissary major long after some of them were colonels or 
even brigadiers. At best, in routine advancement he might not have 
his star for thirteen years. 

The blade of Secretary Root's logic, cutting away the adipose to 
the skeleton of essentials, had revealed the basic error of our army 
organization which had been responsible for the confusion of the 
Spanish War. Against powerful opposition in and out of the army 
he asked Congress to establish a general staff which, at least by 
studies, would learn how to direct, feed and munition large bodies 
of troops in the event of a future war. General Miles threw the 
weight of his prestige against a plan which would curtail his im- 
portance as commanding general, but the venerable General Scho- 
field, with his greater prestige, was brought to Washington by Root 
and appeared before the Congressional committee in favor of the 
reform which he had not hesitated to advocate when he was him- 
self commanding general. 

If we had not had a small body of officers, who had had at least 
theoretical training in how to think in the terms of the whole, 
imagination can hardly exaggerate the plight when we applied the 
old system or rather lack of system, which had broken down in 
landing twenty thousand men in Cuba to the gigantic enterprise 
of supplying and training an army of nearly four millions of men 
and dispatching two millions to France. Bliss' studies and experience 
had made him a strong partisan of a general staff. Of course his 
conviction was unaffected by the fact that the merging of the com- 
missary and quartermaster branches in the reform of the antequated 
bureau system would further delay his promotion. 

Secretary Root, after having taken counsel of the elders in work- 
ing out as progressive a staff plan as the Congress would accept, 
picked for its leading personnel promising young men in the forties 
who would have time to learn the duties of high command before 
their retirement or before age had dimmed their receptivity for new 
ideas. He had Bliss in mind as one of the chosen group. 


Under the law the President might propose any officer for a 
brigadiership but no other promotion, except through a special act 
of Congress, of an officer for a higher rank below the rank of 
brigadier. Leonard Wood and Frederick Funston had won their 
laurels in the field, but there had been bitterness in the army and 
public resentment over their promotion to be brigadiers. It seemed 
inevitable that there would be far greater commotion if a commissary 
major were thus elevated over the heads of many for his services as 
customs collector when he had not been in the charge up San Juan 
Hill and never fought Indians. 

When any officer's promotion is being considered the Secretary of 
War sends for his record from the files. Bliss' revealed his prodigious 
industry and faithfulness to duty; he had put in his leaves in the 
study of some professional subject. He had a tribute from every 
chief under whom he had ever served, and Schofield repeated his 
in a letter which made it appear that Bliss 1 promotion to be a 
brigadier was no less than a national duty. But most important of 
all for present purposes was the view of Bliss' present chief. As 
Secretary Root afterward expressed it with characteristic and telling 
brevity, "Bliss was a great comfort to me." 1 In days of trial for a 
high executive, the while he brought an army out of chaos and 
formulated the policy for the government of the lands we had taken 
from Spain, this is a perfect tribute to a subordinate who had passed 
on no embarrassments to his superiors from a caldron of trouble 
which might have easily boiled over frequently into the official 
channels to Washington. 

When Bliss' name was sent into the Senate there was little public 
criticism. The respect for his mental powers, his professional ethics 
and his success in every detail he had had, took the edge off the 
professional antagonism of the regulars. This time West Pointers 
saw a West Pointer being honored, not Wood the doctor, not Funs- 
ton, the captor of Aguinaldo, who had never been even a lieutenant 
of regulars. Senators had heard Bliss' answers as a witness in their 
hearings on the Cuban situation. They recognized him as an expert 
upon whose knowledge they must largely depend in shaping our 
future economic relations with Cuba. The Senate confirmed his 
nomination; he had his star. 

i Elihu Root to the author. 


Soon he was acting in relation to a new chief, Secretary of State 
John Hay, in negotiating the reciprocity treaty with Cuba. This 
added another link to the chain of his experience, that of the diplo- 
mat between American and Cuban political and economic pressure 
in which our home sugar growers must allow Cuban sugar preferen- 
tial access to our markets if her canefields were not to go to waste. 
In the bargaining for differential to pay for differential he had to 
deal with the demand for a market for American linens and hun- 
dreds of other American products which the Cubans might be able 
to buy cheaper abroad. Business men accepted his judgments as 
honest; Cubans, in their sensitiveness to American domination, 
would yield to him where they would to no other American. 

There were practically no changes made in his final draft of the 
Treaty. This job finished, he had tribute from another chief, from 
Hay, and from President McKinley ind President Palma of Cuba. 
The philosopher and handy man might have been spoiled by the 
praise of his superiors if he had had the time. 

Reporting back to Secretary Root, without a holiday, he was as- 
signed to aid in the organization of the new General Staff system and 
its advanced schools, particularly the new War College of which he 
was to be the first president and to father in its character and cur- 

His conception of the plan, profound in its knowledge of history 
and military science, recognized that the fault of our system had been 
in the lack of advanced training for the graduate of West Point or the 
young man who won his commission from the ranks or civil life. 

"Even the youngest officer must know something more than drill, 
army regulations and the Articles of War. This additional knowledge the 
officer could acquire for himself if he would, but it was noticed that 
there was a tendency for officers, whether from West Point or elsewhere, 
to lose gradually and not slowly the habit of study except as connected 
with the simple routine of their work and with it not only to fail to 
acquire the daily increasing knowledge to keep them abreast of their 
profession, but actually to lose much of what they had already learned. 
In short it was a case of steady decadence culminating in complete dry 

"The only remedy is to surround the officer in his daily life and through- 
out his life with atmosphere which he must breathe into his mental and 
moral being, whether he will or no, and which shall be a never relaxing 


stimulus to continued endeavor. The fact that an officer was qualified 
yesterday does not mean that he is qualified today. 

"And it does not require much to provide this atmosphere. It does not 
require an advanced curriculum for study. The first and main thing is 
to keep everybody at work all the time. When the annual leave of absence 
comes, it should not be a mere change of scene, but a well earned rest 
from eight hours' work a day for eleven months.'* x 

His two years detail as President of the War College was a grand 
period for him. He had a home in Washington, family life again 
and access to the Congressional Library for taking a street car when 
the day's work was over. Daughter Eleanor, now at Bryn Mawr, 
was majoring in geology. It behooved father to study geology himself 
in order to hold up his end and retain her companionship of which 
he was so fond. He studied her chosen subject to such purpose that 
he was a trial to her knowledge at times. 2 Together they took long 
walks in which he might be silent for an hour, and then he would 
break into talk, as he revolved around some subject, or dug into the 
heart of it, or passed in random mood from one subject to another, 
or asked Eleanor more questions about geology as they continued 
their education together. When she received her doctorate he con- 
cluded, with the smiling twitch of the lip, that he had crammed 
enough to show her that he was not entirely ignorant of the rocks 
under the foot of man as well as his history. 

With the conclusion of his term at the War College, his prepara- 
tion for his future was practically complete except for the wisdom 
which was to come with age. He could not now enlarge it by fighting 
Indians. The Indians were permanently off the war path. 

1 Memorandum to Secretary of War, Elihu Root, on the plan for the War College, 
August 3, 1903. 

2 Mrs. Adolph Knopf to the author. 



"I AM on a little coast guard cutter sailing out of Manila Bay over 
the same route that Admiral Dewey sailed in by when he came to 
fight the Battle of Manila Bay," x he wrote as he began his first in- 
spection as commander of the Department of Luzon, which was his 
next detail after he completed his term as President of the War 

But he was not yet through telling Mrs. Bliss, his son and daughter 
about the few days he had in Japan, to which he reverted for weeks 
to come in his letters home. He had traveled with the famous Taft 
party. Its members, official and unofficial, under the wing of Secre- 
tary of War William H. Taft, were guests of the Japanese govern- 
ment at the Shiba Palace. They were the recipients of most elaborate 
official hospitality and the cheers of the people at the time when 
America promised to be the great and good friend who would assure 
the Japanese most advantageous terms at the coming Portsmouth 
Peace Conference as the reward of their valor on the fields of Man- 
churia in their war with Russia. 

One wonders how the most faithful of reporters could have ob- 
served as much as Bliss in so short a time, and if all the other mem- 
bers of the party together got so complete an impression. The fact 
that he had been studying Japanese history and customs on the long 
voyage across the Pacific did not dim the freshness of his discover- 
ing eye in his discriminate pictures of the scene which has ever held 
travelers in their first visit to Japan under its spell. His description 
of the presentation at the court of the rising nation was as detailed 
as that of the royal reception in Madrid of the court of the descend- 
ing nation, with a historic appreciation of the coaching in court 
etiquette he received and the stately deliberation of the formalities 
by which the guests were advanced in stages of cumulative awe to the 
presence of the Emperor who was descended from the goddess of 
the sun. 

i To his son, Goring Bliss, August 18, 1905. 



"I bowed down until a long nose would have touched the knees!" 
He had been placed next in line to Taft and our Ambassador, Lloyd 
C. Griscom. The Emperor had asked him many questions. "You see 
I was the principal military man in the party and that's what counts 
in this part of the world." * His philosophy required the support 
of all his sense of humor when he doubled up his large frame into 
the small berth of a Japanese sleeping car. 

Life in the Philippines as well as in Japan interested him. 

"Here in the Philippines is a village I mean to visit where the trans- 
planting of rice is done to the sound of music. The entire village turns 
out with the village band. At a certain tap of the drum each one bends 
over, and makes a hole with his thumb in the mud. At the next step 
they insert the stalk; at the third they put the mud about the roots; at 
the fourth they stand erect, look very much pleased with themselves and 
are ready to do it all over again." 2 

No special incident marked the routine of his eight months de- 
partmental military command in Luzon, 1905-06, under civil rule. 
It was established garrison duty with no new problems of administra- 

But no servant of the nation could have had more complete sov- 
ereignty over a more primitively picturesque world than he had in 
his next detail of nearly three years as ruler of the Moro Province. 
He could not have been more remote from the seats of the mighty 
in Washington and the centers of western civilization. Knowledge 
of the Koran became more useful to him than of the Bible or the 

His isolation as ruler of the southern seas glowed in his memory 
as a kind of enchantment. It would make a book of a thousand tales 
in tune with the strange trick destiny played us when it included 
as our wards Mohammedan tribesmen who were farthest away of 
any of the Faithful from Mecca. From the sands of Arabia the 
Prophet's word had flamed across deserts, over mountain barriers, 
the length and breadth of India and through the jungles to the tip 
of the Malay peninsula, and then from island to island until it 
reached the western shore of Mindanao, the second largest of the 
Philippines, facing the Pacific. Spain came to Mindanao bearing 

1 To Miss Eleanor Bliss, October 27, 1905. 

2 To Miss Eleanor Bliss, August 13, 1905. 


the cross, but there she found the religion of the crescent firmly im- 
planted and could impress the religion of the cross only upon the 
natives of the northern islands. 

The Christianized natives of the northern islands became sus- 
ceptible to our indoctrination as a means to their independence, 
which they had failed to win by armed rebellion; but the aversion 
of the wild Moros to prompt education in the virtues of our repub- 
lican system soon became apparent. Even among the Malays and 
Mohammedans the Moros were a law unto themselves. Spanish gar- 
risons in the Philippines had had almost as frequent punitive wars 
to keep their hand in against the Moros as with the Riffs across the 
Straits of Gibraltar. They had really never extended stable authority 
beyond the coast line of Mindanao, with its dense jungles, their 
eternal moisture feeding its rivers and lakes under the shadow of 
mountain ranges rising to a height of four thousand feet, with one 
extinct volcano of ten thousand. 

Rule was patriarchal by the sultans and datus, who were in con- 
tinual vendettas. Cattle stealing was so established an occupation 
that Moros used to keep their cattle in the house overnight. Bur- 
glary of everything transportable was justified by your having left 
some small article behind on a call. Therefore you were only taking 
your own. The first lesson our army had to inculcate was that the 
killing of an American soldier brought killing in return. 

"The result of the first few years of American occupation, under a form 
of government if it was a government not adapted to the situation, 
was anarchy and chaos. On the very spot where you are standing, wanton 
and cruel murders were committed; here in the capital city, cholera and 
other epidemic diseases raged unchecked, property was insecure and 
business at a stand still. An historian of the time well described the 
situation as a 'seething hell/ " * 

Bliss' predecessor in the Moro Province, Major General Leonard 
Wood, who was now in supreme military command in the Philip- 
pines, had formed the Legislative Council. This substituted civil 
for martial law, imposed light taxes, created municipalities and 
municipal codes, boards of health, tribal wards and ward courts. 
Bliss* r61e would be that of the peacemaker in the extension and 
development of the new system. He was military commander, civil 
i From an address by Bliss opening the First Annual Zamboanga District Fair, 1907. 


governor and chief of the Council. The Moros could not yet under- 
stand the division of authority in which a chief white datu, who was 
not a soldier, could be superior to another white datu who was a 
soldier. The soldier datu could hardly be a real fighting man if he 
submitted to this. Army authority was supplemented by the new 
native constabulary formed on the principle of that in the other 
islands, but with special adaptation to Moro needs. 

The new governor must be pedagogue as well as lawgiver and 
policeman; for we made no exception of the Moros in our faith that 
the doorway to self-government was that of the little red school 
house, and learning their abc's the first step in the intelligence and 
character which would make them capable citizens of a future 
democracy patterned on our own. 

His headquarters and capital were at Zamboanga on the south- 
western peninsula tip of Mindanao across from the little Sulu archi- 
pelago which formed a partial bridge of islands to Borneo, and 
which was also in the Moro Province. Upon his arrival he found that 
the honeymoon of the new system was over; the datus had begun to 
resent reforms in their interest and also the taxes which paid for 
the reforms. They had their own codes and their own kind of judicial 

"If a bachelor or widower commits adultery and is killed by a 
non-Mohammedan, the non-Mohammedan shall be put to death. 
But a Mohammedan who may kill such an adulterer shall not be 
put to death." "If a creditor begets a child of a slave held as security 
he shall buy the child from the debtor; otherwise the child shall 
become the slave of the debtor." "If a married man commits adultery 
with a free woman, both shall be stoned to death. The punishment 
of the man may be reduced to imprisonment. The woman shall be 
buried up to the chest and stoned with medium sized stones." "The 
minimum amount of blood money for a deep stab wound of a 
Moslem shall be eight hundred and sixty-eight and one-quarter 
pesos; of a heathen or pagan fifty-seven and one-quarter pesos." "If 
a free man kills a slave, the free man shall not be put to death. If a 
slave or other servant kills a free person he shall be put to death." x 

One of the first items of bad newsit took seven days to reach him 

i The Mangindanao code of laws from Studies in Moro History, Law, and Religion, 
Saleeby. Department of the Interior Ethnological Survey Publications. Vol. IV, Part I, 
Manila, 1905. 


told of the murder of an American official by a Tazacado chieftain. 
The Davao district was restless. Major Boyd, the governor of the 
Cotobato district, had been ordered back to Manila. Bliss* classmate, 
Major Hugh L. Scott, whom Bliss now ranked in the regulars, and 
Captain Reeves, the Provincial Secretary of the Sulu District, had 
been recalled. This was a heavy handicap when the "Moros are in a 
state of savagery where they know a man but know or care nothing 
about a government." He could not understand this relief of im- 
portant men just at a critical period. "Or rather I think I do under- 
stand it, and the reason is not pleasant to contemplate." * 

If the situation were not brought under control promptly the 
reforms would have a serious setback, and lives would be lost before 
order was restored. 

"The authorities forget that the most critical time is after the slaugh- 
tering has stopped. Then is when we need here men of influence and 
power to get the people started in the right way, to get them to cultivate 
their fields, and to make them understand that peace is better for them 
than war." 

He must move rapidly from one seat of disaffection to another. 
However, on the boat on the way to Jolo he softened his irritation 
over the troubles which had "all come at once when in this country 
of no telegraphs and roads it is very embarrassing when one wants 
to know what has happened at various times in various places." 

"I am reminded of the story the Duke of Wellington used to tell about 
an Irish orderly he had and of whom he was very fond. The orderly 
used to get tipsy whenever he had a chance. Early one morning while 
the Duke was in his tent (it was during the Peninsular campaign) he 
heard his orderly outside trying to mount his horse. The orderly was a 
bit heavy and stupid from too much Spanish wine the night before and 
he fell back each time he tried to spring into the saddle. Finally he began 
to call on the saints. 'Holy Saint Peter, give us a boost!' (followed by an 
unsuccessful jump). 'Holy Saint Patrick, give me a lift!' (another un- 
successful jump). After exhausting the calendar of the saints, he gathered 
himself for a supreme effort, gave a mighty leap and went clear over the 
horse and flat on his back in the mud on the other side. The Duke heard 
him get up muttering, 'Dam yezl Not all togetherl One at a time/ " 2 

It must have been a personal disappointment to have missed a 
reunion with Scott at Jolo. Scott's work among the American In- 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, July 9, 1906. 

2 Ibid. 






dians had stood him in good stead among the Moros of Sulu, who 
had been "getting into a plastic condition ready to settle down to 
the arts of peace." 

"The farewell of the Moro chiefs to Scott must have been quite affecting. 
They came from all points of the island the day he left: the Sultan, 
Indanan and their followers and their old time enemies, Jokanain, Kalbi 
and others. Scott had from time to time loaned out a number of guns. 
These he had to call in, in order to close his papers. Kalbi had a Mauser 
rifle he was very loath to part with. He begged Scott to give it back. Scott 
said, 'I no longer have any power; you must ask my successor.' Kalbi 
turned to Steever and repeated his request. Steever glanced at Scott and 
Scott said sotto voce, '1 loaned it to him a year ago and he has never done 
any harm with it. For a year he has been faithful to us. But you must 
decide for yourself/ Steever said to Kalbi, 'All-right, take the gun/ 

"Kalbi burst into tears and went into the street in front of the Gover- 
nor's house, where there was a great throng of Moros of lesser degrees. To 
them he preached for half an hour saying that the justice of the Amer- 
icans was like the justice of God, that he had not believed that such men 
could be, etc., etc. All this had a good effect on the people. 

"I agreed to come back to Jolo as soon as I had visited Davao. Then I 
could make a six or ten days' trip through the island, visiting all the prin- 
cipal men and confirming them in their attitude of loyalty to the gov- 

"I want to establish new schools in Sulu we have only three and 
build some roads. Schools and roads will be the islands' salvation. But I 
want trade schools. I want to start blacksmith shops, carpenter shops and 
that sort of thing. The Moros like that sort of work. We must teach them 
first what they like in order to secure our first influence over them. The 
other things will gradually follow. For its immediate effect one of the 
best things will be good roads. When the time comes the Sultan of Sulu 
can bring his carriage over from Singapore and ride in state from Maim- 
bun to Jolo, and when Indanan and the other chiefs can turn out in 
their carromatas (which I have promised to give them as soon as they 
complete their roads), the situation will greatly change. 

"Now each chief travels with his retinue of armed followers fifty or 
sixty of them, according to his dignity looking for a fight with some 
hereditary enemy. When the time comes that they ride in their carriages 
they will have to do away with the small armies of personal attendants. 

"I brought over with me last night a cultivator and a 12-disc 
harrow as a present for Indanan. He used to be one of our most im- 
placable enemies. He it was who, in Colonel Wallace's time here, offered 
to bring out a thousand of his Moros and fight a thousand Americans to 
determine who should rule in Jolo. Now he "boasts that he is the first 


farmer in Jolo. He has beautifully cultivated fields and is raising much 
hemp. . . . 

"This morning I visited the Moro Exchange and the Moro School. 
The Exchange is doing very well, indeed. It was filled with men and 
women selling their waresdried and fresh fish, woven cloth, tobacco, 
etc., and evidently will be at least as successful as the one at Zamboanga. 
The civilizing effect of these exchanges is immense by getting the people 
together, by teaching them the advantage of selling their wares for cash 
and getting them out of the clutches of the Chinese whose object has 
been to keep them in perpetual debt. 

"The school under Mr. Miller is doing very well. The children read 
English passably well and did their arithmetic very creditably. It is a 
great pity that more Moro schools have not been established. My inten- 
tion is to start as many as I can in purely manual training lines. I do not 
believe in wasting labor in teaching these people English. I intend, if the 
law does not prevent, to get Mohammedan Malays who speak English to 
take charge of our Moro schools. I intend also to take enlisted men, 
soldiers, who have a facility for managing natives, and put them in 
charge of schools." 1 

Conditions and various frustrations limited the fulfillment of the 
enthusiastic plan of the late President of the War College for Moro 
education, which was no more remarkable in the contrasts of en- 
vironment and duties than the picture of American school teachers 
scrubbing the filthy floors of their schoolhouses and trying by object 
lessons to get betel chewing mothers to wash their children and rid 
them of lice. 

The character of the teachers differed. Some were college gradu- 
ates, but Bliss found that one wrote very bad English and included 
profanity in his letters demanding an increase of pay. 

"I have not the slightest faith in the education we are trying to 
give the Moros," 2 he wrote after a year's experience of that passive 
and, in this instance truculent resistance in the East that wears the 
white man down. "Such schools as I have seen since I came to the 
province, with the exception of the one at Parang in Jolo, are prac- 
tically futile/* 

He kept on insisting on industrial training and the consequent 
simple mental discipline as the first step in a land where it was con- 
considered sufficient scholarship for all if an occasional man could 

1 This is from a journal, July 8, 1906, which Bliss began after his arrival in the Moro 
Province, but did not continue. 

2 Letter from Bliss to Brigadier General Charles L. Hodges, November 16, 1907. 



read the Koran. Life must be safe up in the Lake Lanao district be- 
fore any kind of schools could be started there. 

"Practically all the chiefs of this section are murderers and slave 
dealers, and it is the intention of the government to bring them to order 
and have such of them as are guilty of crime punished by the courts. 
We have enough object lessons to know what the native jefe will do to 
the tribesmen if we put him in power and protect him. It is the sole 
cause of the pillage and murders that have been going on in this 
section for an unknown number of years." * 

It was difficult to get competent trade teachers for the small pay 
that many college graduates would accept; but in face of discourage- 
ments which gave him low moments, he persevered the more dog- 
gedly, and could see real progress at the end of the second year of 
his rule and rejoice in the increasing enrollment of pupils. 2 

Any false move might strike the match to religious fanaticism. 
Earnest missionaries from home appeared in the hope of disproving 
the experience of missionary societies that the proselytization of 
Mohammedans is practically impossible. As ethical instructor and 
policeman Bliss was up in arms against the suggestion that a native 
Filipino bishop be sent to Mindanao, 3 where there were many Chris- 
tian Filipinos from the northern islands in the port towns, espe- 
cially in Zamboanga. A Spanish bishop would be a much better 
assignment, if another bishop must be sent. "The Filipinos here 
hate and fear the Moros, and have no interests or associations with 
them; the Moros respond to this feeling with contempt." 

The answer to the Filipino bishop might be the Moro kris. This 
two-handed sword, which all Moro warriors carried, need not be 
unsheathed for its downward stroke. Contact clove the cords that 
bound it in its two part wooden scabbard. To insist that a Moro 
give up his kris was almost equivalent to insisting he give up his 

"It has gradually dawned on the Moro that the Americans possibly 
meant what they said when they declared that they meant no attack on . 
his religion or no unnecessary change in his customs. He has wanted to 

1 Bliss' annual report as Governor of the Moro Province, 1907. 

2 Bliss' annual report as Governor of the Moro Province, 1908. 
s Letter to Archbishop Herty, July 10, 1908. 


see and remained waiting. . . . He is as ready to fight now as he ever 


' i 

Bliss' governing creed as the American satrap was concretely ex- 
pressed when he received the news of the murder of two traders and 
lumbermen in the interior: "There are two things to keep in mind: 
first, that the natives must realize that murder can not be done 
lightly; second, to establish a system of justice here that will ap- 
proximate the even decrees of the Almighty/' 2 The simple minded 
Moro ought to be able to understand that, if consistently practiced 
for a reasonable length of time. 

The American datu personified the central government both in 
direct dealings with all native datus from Mandi of Zamboanga, and 
in settling the disputes between them without bloodshed to the 
most remote jungle chieftain. The astute Mandi of Zamboanga had 
become conspicuously occidentalized and sophisticated by associa- 
tion with foreigners in the capital, deserting the turban and loose 
pyjama blouse of brilliant colors for the white jacket with the gold 
studs in the collar, which the European then wore in the orient. 

Bliss wrote in his journal which he started on his arrival but did 
not continue: 

"Datu Mandi is very anxious to get rid of his wedding guests, who 
are eating him out of house and home. On July 4 his daughter Gapas 
was married to Abdullah, the son of Datu Piang from Cotabato valley. 
On the grd I had brought the wedding guests over from Cotabato. They 
came down from Piang's rancheria in a magnificent war canoe with one 
hundred rowers. They were dressed in their most gorgeous clothes and 
filled the air with their wild yells and the beating of tomtoms. At the 
mouth of the river they embarked on my steamer launch. 

"I was invited to the wedding, and a most curious affair it was. The 
ceremony consisted of the 'courting/ A big bamboo arbor had been 
constructed to hold the bridal party and guests. Gapas, the bride, sat in 
the midst of a high pile of gorgeous silk cushions. Behind her were a 
couple of female slaves who steadily fanned her. On her left were the 
women of her father's harem (among them her mother) while in front, 
reclining on silken cushions, were some thirty female slaves. Gapas' 
hair was done up with great art, and she wore it in a sort of gold tiara 
studded with pearls. Her arms and ankles were covered with gold bands 
and she wore many pearls and a number of diamonds. 

1 Bliss* annual report as Governor of the Moro Province, 1908. 

2 Judge Richard Campbell to the author. 


"On her right, also on high cushions, sat Abdullah, the bridegroom, 
but four or five feet away from Gapas. The two sat with their backs to 
each other, she with her eyes downcast, occasionally lifting them ever so 
slightly when one of the women of the harem or one of her handmaidens 
spoke to her, but never saying a word in reply; he now and then glancing 
over his shoulder at her. He also had his fan bearers, and also the slaves 
who carried his beautifully decorated kris, his betel boxes, etc. 

"In front of him, in corresponding position to Gapas' slave girls, sat 
the principal retainers of Abdullah's father and his friends, and in their 
midst were the three Mohammedan priests. After a long while the priests 
moved up and sat down on the floor directly in front of Abdullah and 
began to read to him out of the Koran. 

"Meanwhile the friends on both sides were using every art to get the 
couple to look at each other. He looked readily enough, but it was three 
long hours before she turned one lightning quick glance at him and 
then cast down her eyes again. Then everybody shouted for joy and 
Abdullah looked very happy. By the way, they seemed to be only chil- 
dren, they are only fifteen years old. 

"After a while her father said something to her and she got up smiling, 
lifted her silken petticoat, showing her silken trousers and her bare 
sandaled feet and stepped over the cushions and through her slaves and 
came to where I was standing. She had learned a little English, and I 
talked with her for some time. I told her she was going to live among a 
different people, and she could do a great deal of good by teaching them 
the good American habits she had learned at Zamboanga. 

"While I was talking to her, Abdullah got up and came over smiling 
and extended his hand to me. Then I asked Gapas to tell him that I was 
glad to meet him, etc. But she shrugged her shoulders, turned her back 
partly on him, and wouldn't say a word to him. Then everybody shouted 
with laughter and Abdullah looked a bit sheepish. Finally, they went 
back to their places. 

"After about four hours of this, I got tired, and went out, stopping only 
to see a spear dance. I asked Mandi how long before his daughter would 
be really married. He said it would take about three days of this courting. 
This is the party I am to take back on the Sabah to Cotabato. . . ." 

Data Piang, the father of Abdullah, was the most powerful of the 
datus, part Chinese, who had risen from humble birth and poverty 
to marriage into the nobility and great wealth. He had many slaves, 
fourteen wives and thirty children; but probably his proudest pos- 
session was an eighteenth century muzzle-loading brass Spanish can- 
non which he brought forth with much pomp to salute the governor, 
who said to his aide that he would prefer to stand in front of it 
rather than behind it, if this would not be offensive to his host's 



Another datu, who could blow off no gunpowder in Bliss* honor, 
offered him a more substantial proof of loyalty and efficiency. He 
had been told to bring in some murderous raiders. Bliss on a tour 
of inspection asked him what progress he had made. In answer a 
henchman opened a bag and rolled three bloody human heads on 
the floor. There the philosopher's tact failed him. The datu could 
not quite understand, when he had tried so hard to please, why 
Bliss should cry out, "For God's sake, take them away!" x 

On one occasion the necessities of high Moro politics led Bliss 
to favor the contractual practice of European royalty in keeping the 
balance of power stable. The Princess Putri, aged about forty, was the 
childless widow of old Datu Utu. She was of the same family as Man- 
ginin, the Sultan of Magindanao, whose first ancestor, according to 
an old manuscript, translated by Dr. Najeeb M. Saleeby of our 
ethnological survey, was descended from the Apostle of God. Man- 
ginin was the twenty-first in descent from Sharif Kabungsuan, who 
converted Mindanao to Islam, and who, as his second wife, married 
Putri, who had been begotten by Mamulu out of a bamboo and 
become human. The Putri of Bliss' time required just as much 
courting as the daughter of Mandi, and all the invocations and the 
beating of toms failed to bring her a child to continue the royal line 
in the pure ancient royal blood. 

As military commander Bliss held throughout his term that order 
for the present among the fractious chieftains depended upon the 
wise show of sufficient armed force to prevent its employment in 
action; as civil governor that it depended upon another kind of 
wisdom, the art of keeping the balance between the two so adjusted 
that there would be no slipping back in the steps of progress which 
was our mission in the Philippines. Therefore, he opposed the re- 
duction of the regular garrisons because the province seemed peace- 
ful, until it was certain this would not bring on another "slaughter- 

"The Moro does not regard acts of piracy as resistance to the govern- 
ment. It is a legitimate source of income to be worked if it can be done 
without detection. Where the danger of detection is great he does not 
attempt it. There is no trouble along the Cotabato River in former days 

i Judge Richard Campbell to the author. 


a hive where pirates swarmed because a Moro cannot travel there a 
half a day without running into an American garrison." x 

The former customs collector of Cuba wrote to Major G. M. 
Barbour, who was about to become collector at Sitanki, that he 
should so perform his duties as to avoid the use of force. 

"You will proceed on the assumption that these people will be found 
to be densely ignorant of the nature and object of the tax which is col- 
lected from them in the form of customs duties. From the very beginning 
you will therefore explain to them what the law is, telling them that it 
applies without exception or distinction to all people in the Philippine 
archipelago who import merchandise from foreign countries. You will 
find that this will tax your patience to the utmost." 

The people were as resistant to the cedula as to customs duties, 
their protests and excuses why they should not pay it just as in- 
genuous. The following is among the examples in point: 

"You mention about the cedula. It is very good. I cannot comply at 
once because the people living here belong to Pang Opao and to Salli 
Bangsuan Opao. As for myself and my two sons, we will not pay just 
now because my brother was killed on account of the cedula tax. The 
persons who killed my brother are known. Grandson of Pang. Anti was 
the leader. As for myself, I am powerless. I depend upon Panglima and 
the Governor of Jolo, and especially upon God who made heavens and 
earth. Greetings to all." 

Yet customs duties were collected honestly; yet some of the taxes 
were paid. American, European, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino 
merchants were protected in their clash of racial prejudices; but the 
Filipinos on the west coast were deprived of their arms. If a Filipino 
shot a Moro the massacre of Filipinos would begin. The laws about 
the pearl fisheries required as much explanation as the taxes. Ques- 
tionnaires were sent out to learn what articles the Moros would 
buy; trade slowly increased. Roads were being built into the in- 
terior. The natives who deserted their villages on stilts at the first 
sight of an American, perhaps later to creep up on an American 
at night, were brought under authority and instruction; the wild 
taught to cultivate patches of ground and live a settled life. An un- 
remitting siege continued, against cholera which the native habits 

i Bliss* annual report as Governor of the Moro Province, 1908. 



To Moro fatalism a pestilence was Allah's will, and if you died 
from it, or fighting, you stepped into paradise. Datus said they could 
not control a fanatic subject who in the conviction that the more 
people he killed then the higher place he would have in paradise 
broke into insane frenzy which started him on a rampage of ran- 
dom murders in a village street; but datus changed their minds 
when American soldiers or gunboats could run amok against the 
datu himself. 

Bliss' father, who shared Beecher's fervor for the northern cru- 
sade, might have held that his son should have used fire and sword 
to destroy slavery in the Moro provinces, but Moro slavery was a 
sacred institution in which education had to be the handmaiden of 
force. In the little Sulu island group conditions favored action 
against it. But in spite of its legal abolition it was difficult, in the 
recesses of the jungle, to tell which of a datu's subjects was a free 
man and which a chattel. The datu might say that he had no slaves, 
and his slaves would not admit they were. An American census- 
taker might have had no entries under the heading of slaves if we 
left it to the slaves' own testimony. We could prevent only open 
practice and sale, which had previously been common. Our coun- 
try, after all its expenditures in the Philippines, had no funds to 
spare for the thorough and punitive measures which abolition 
would have required against native sentiment expressing itself in 
"I am Pang Opao's man/' 

Bliss studied the folklore of the Moros, he learned to speak Malay 
well enough to be understood. In response to the Moro story of 
the monkey on the back of the crocodile defying the crocodile to do 
his worst, he could tell a datu a Joel Chandler Harris Br'er Rabbit 
story. He had a traveler's appreciation of the long journey of a 
proud Moro who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. He might tap 
Confucius out of the memory of his reading in a talk with a Chinese 
trader. A squabble between datus received just as much attention as 
between French and Italian military representatives at Versailles in 
the World War. He would say out of the memory of the rural homi- 
lies of boyhood days, as he did at Versailles, "Some pork will bile 
that way," or "the hoofs go with the horns and hide." 

Reports of officers and teachers, who had leaves from their posts, 


and of explorers, adventurous, official, scientific and commercial, 
who came out of the jungle that had been less known than the heart 
of Africa, fed Bliss* insatiable mental curiosity. He had his little 
steamer the Sabah for his inspections up the rivers and along the 
indented coast line and among the Sulu Islands. A new pastime held 
his attention. The spiral, chambered shell of the nautilus had many 
tales to tell him. The tetrabranchiate cephalopods were numerous 
on the shores of Mindanao. He made a collection of their shells. 

We lack more of his observations and experiences in his own 
words about his rule of the Moro country because soon he did not 
write them to Mrs. Bliss. She joined him soon after his arrival at 
Zamboanga, and he had both his son and daughter with him a part 
of the time, a home again, this time under the palms in the climate 
which is the most agreeable in the Philippines. Mrs. Bliss learned 
to know Malay better than he, but could not keep up with him in 
his knowledge of seashells. 

In the afternoons, when he was not absent on inspections, he 
would have his walk over a three-mile course in the environs of 
Zamboanga with his aide, Lieutenant Arthur Poillon, who retained 
his youthful joie de vivre as a member of his staff at Versailles, and 
return, his pores cleared to the joy of the shower in the tropics as 
the furnace sun swept down toward, the rim of the sapphire sea. 
Breezes rustled the palm trees, whetting the healthy appetite of the 
giant for dinner. In the growing cool of the night he would read 
until the cool of the morning, or sit up talking with Judge Springer, 
the district judge, or a group which often included Richard Camp- 
bell, the Provincial attorney, who was still too close to his mother 
Ireland to allow conversation to die for want of a tale or a flash of 
wit on his part. 

"I never had a detail so agreeable," Bliss wrote afterward. 1 

Others had the same recollection of service at Zamboanga in those 
days. The call of the East to them was in the close companionship 
in a land of rich, glassy, tropical green and gorgeous sunsets, and 
of a mission in which each might see the growing results of his in- 
dividual effort as one sees the growth of a tree on his grounds. They^ 
were apprehensive lest progress be arrested or their labors lost. Bliss 
would guard against this. The civil and military ruler spoke in the 

i Letter from Bliss to Colonel James A. Irons, May 12, 1909. 


same voice when he said in answer to a suggestion that, so orderly 
had the province become, garrisons might be reduced: 

"We have killed many Moros and produced peace. Why should we 
tempt them to war by the withdrawal of the evidence of our power, the 
presence of which is the only thing that will keep the Moro at peace 
during the present generation?" * 

In turn, he said to his comrades of the army, after tribute to 
its work and to the men who had given their lives: 

"We must recognize the supremacy of the civil law. We must remember 
that we will be judged by a severer and stricter standard than is applied 
to others." 2 

He told the Moros that peace in this generation, as elsewhere in 
the world, meant hope for a future generation in which if any one 
was a slave it was his own fault. 

"To produce more we must work more. Among some people, and 
they are not entirely confined to the orient, though they may be found 
here in unusual numbers, there is a false idea prevalent that manual 
labor is not honorable, and that it is beneath the dignity of men. . . . 
You should lay aside your weapons and rather spend your money on 
implements to till the soil and increase your wealth." 8 

Thus spoke the paternal counselor in the simplest of philosophy, 
to which little need be added in warring Europe a few years later. 
And to the Filipinos from the northern islands who lived in the 
Moro province: 

"You must bury all petty social and religious prejudices and meet to- 
gether with the government on common ground. You now have the lib- 
erty to worship God according to your conscience, liberty to work and 
enjoy the fruits of your labor, the right to appeal for any measure you 
desire enacted into law or against any measure repugnant to you. Your 
false teachers preach to you the delights of the time when you shall rule 
the Moro and the pagan. How will it be if the Moro and the pagan 
rule you?" 4 , 

1 Bliss' annual report as Governor of the Moro Province, 1908. 

2 Address, opening of the Zamboanga District Fair, 1908. 

* Ibid. 

* Ibid. 


Filipinos in the Moro province dreamed of the day of their na- 
tional independence when the ten million of their race should turn 
to the conquest of the half million Moros. Bliss and his co-workers 
feared that then their labors would be lost in the bitterest imagin- 
able of unending racial and religious warfare. 

If it had happened, as it well might to a man more ambitious and 
not so careful as he in his day in the Moro province, that the news- 
flashes carried the report of a Moro uprising and the massacre of 
American soldiers, there would have been a day's thrill for the home 
public in picturing a giant Bliss of square jaw and pugnacious nose 
leading a punitive expedition. Since bloodshed wins the headlines 
where peaceful administration attracts no attention, he would have 
won a reputation as field soldier which might have publicly quali- 
fied him as a front line commander on the front in France against 
the skillful German hosts. 

As it was he had again the praise of his superiors when the best 
news in official channels was that he was "keeping 'em quiet" those 
fanatic wards of ours which had come in the bundle which we re- 
ceived through victory and purchase with the signing of the Treaty 
of Paris. Major James G. Harbord, later the first Chief of Staff 
of our army in France, had confounded the pessimistic prophecies 
of old hands by making a successful Moro constabulary. 

Our people might read stories of romance about neighboring 
Borneo and Java, but we were not interested in stories about the 
Moros. This was too much of a reminder that we had neglected to 
examine the bundle on the doorstep before we took it into the repub- 
lican house. 

However, the way that our servants had to deal in so unprece- 
dented a fashion in colonial rule with a problem so alien to our in- 
stitutions, and on so exotic a background, makes a page of history 
which is worth some attention for its own sake. In dealing with 
Moro feuds or later with the great European feud, the reading of 
the Peloponnesian wars made Bliss feel historically at home. Inci- 
dentally, the Moro province was a strange training ground for men 
conspicuous in the World War. 

Bliss' successor as Governor of the Moro Province was Brigadier 
General John J. Pershing who had come to a familiar scene. Pre- 
viously Captain Pershing's success in controlling the datus of one 


of the most recalcitrant sections of Mindanao, new to outside au- 
thority, had won his brigadiership, and thus opened the way for 
him to become the fifth four-star general, as the collectorship of 
Cuban customs opened the way for Bliss to become the sixth. 

From Zamboanga Bliss went to Manila, where for four months 
he served as army commander in the Philippines. 


HOMEWARD bound in the summer of 1909, that honesty with which 
he never compromised in official or private life had its expression 
when, although Brigadier General Bliss had been given freedom of 
the port in San Francisco, he said: 

"But I have some silk from China, which is dutiable. I must pay 
the duty'' and he paid it. Should the former collector of customs, 
in the days of the army occupation of Cuba, who had irritated some 
army officers by his ruling against military class exceptions, fail to 
obey it himself? 

His next detail was to the presidency of the War College which 
does not appear to have been as welcome at the time to the military 
scholar as his colleagues supposed. 

"You say you hope that the work in Washington will be congenial 
to me," he wrote. "Your wish is very kind, but I do not like Wash- 
ington and shall be glad to get away again." * 

Assigned to command the red contingent which attacked Boston 
in the Massachusetts maneuvers, he had such practical experience in 
directing troops as is afforded by a war game with actual troops in 
place o war college games on paper. He had two companies about 
to march on the Boston Common when time was called. Those who 
never visualized him as a field commander thought he could not 
have worked out the strategy for himself; he must have cribbed it 
from a book of history. He was far from thinking he had qualified 
as a future Grant or Lee, but his upper lip probably twitched with 
his philosopher's smile. 

After a year with the War College he was sent to command the 
Department of California with his headquarters at San Francisco. 
Now the keeper of the peace among the Moros became the keeper 
of international peace. We had the first of the alarms of war with 
Mexico which sprang from the Mexican revolutions. For thirty-five 
years dictator Porfirio Diaz had been the master of Mexico in an 

i To. W. Cameron Forbes, September 27, 1909. 



era of economic progress and security which had accumulated a huge 
American interest in mines and railroads and other developments. 
President Taft decided on previsionary military preparation owing 
to "Ambassador Wilson's report to me that Mexico was boiling: 
that General Diaz was on a volcano; that ninety percent of the peo- 
ple were in sympathy with the insurrectos; that a general explosion 
was possible at any time; that forty thousand or more Americans 
would be assailed and American investments of more than a bil- 
lion of dollars would be injured or destroyed because of the anti- 
American spirit of the insurrectos/' 1 

Our naval and marine forces received their orders for concentra- 
tion at San Diego. Wood, who was now Chief of Staff, bade Bliss 
have thirty days' supplies packed and ready for transport without 
attracting public attention. The business of forming a provisional 
brigade and then moving it to southern California under Bliss* per- 
sonal command was conducted in a manner neither to alarm the 
Mexicans nor to stir the adventurous spirit in Americans that our 
object was offensive. 

The President did not want to intervene unless absolutely neces- 
sary; he had taken a great responsibility in ordering the mobiliza- 
tion which might serve as useful training; and "I beg you to be 
careful to prevent friction." 

Once the brigade was established on the border that responsibility 
became Bliss'. It was a test not only for him but for the officers and 
soldiers under him. Our army had its tradition of conscientious and 
patient subordination to the civil branch in keeping peace with the 
Indians on the frontier. This had been reinforced for the younger 
officers in their half-civil and half-military duties in Cuba, Puerto 
Rico and the Philippines. 

There were American interests, with confidential relations with 
the leaders of Mexican factions, which would have welcomed our 
occupation of Mexico. This an incident might precipitate. Amer- 
icans might be killed, and our public indignation demand reprisals. 
Mexicans might fire on American soldiers; a Mexican chieftain in 
distress might seek refuge with his followers by crossing the im- 
aginary line on stretches of sand; his enemy might pursue him, thus 
spilling their armed guerrilla action over on to our .side. 

i President Taft, from Augusta, Georgia, March i, 1911. 


Bliss* singularly tireless concentration on any mission that fully 
challenged his powers was bent in all the close watch of detail of a 
company commander in confining the Mexican family quarrel 
within its own yard; in detecting any spark which might burst into 
flame, and promptly smothering it. His knowledge of Spanish en- 
abled him the more quickly to learn Mexican ways as he had learned 
Cuban and Philippine ways. 

Officers sometimes found him irritatingly painstaking in his pre- 
cautions. Perhaps it was his consciousness that he was not known as 
a field soldier that led to his intensity in being very soldierly and 
a little gruff when serving with troops, with the result that many 
officers who served with him are surprised to learn that he had a 
sense of humor or ever told stories or indulged in light conversa- 
tion. They were in touch with only one compartment of his mind 
when the others were closed. But all compartments were now pre- 
occupied with the President's instruction to prevent friction, and 
he avoided any incident which might have required armed action 
and which would have won him fame but made his country a lot 
of trouble. 

His next command after the Department of California, from 
which he was transferred July 29, 1911, was that of the Department 
of the East, with headquarters at Fort Totten, until February 13, 
1913. As this detail drew to a close his family rejoiced over father's 
talk that he really contemplated a holiday. Indeed, they had reached 
the Panama Canal when the War Department recalled him Febru- 
ary twenty-sixth. The waves of Mexican revolution were again lap- 
ping our border, this time in the region of the Rio Grande. The com- 
mander who had ably kept the peace so successfully on the western 
Mexican border was seen as the one who could keep it on the eastern. 
Leaving his family to continue the tour, he took a steamer to New 
Orleans in hastening to his new post at Fort Sam Houston. 

Funston in taking command at Fort Sam Houston said to his 
staff: "Gentlemen, you each have your own duties. Attend to them 
and regulate your own hours/' Bliss said: "Gentlemen, office hours 
are from 8 A. M. to 4 p. M. I expect you to be here when I want you/' 
To some officers the philosopher appeared to be a martinet. 1 

Now he had the same problem as with the provisional brigade, 
i Brigadier General W. S. Scott to the author. 


but on a larger scale. American adventurers were crossing from our 
side and refugees from the Mexican, American travelers being mur- 
dered and property destroyed as the fighting became more bitter 
and chaotic. Again he had the reward of industrious watchfulness, 
of his faculty for foreseeing contingencies and forestalling dangerous 
emergencies. Again he had the tribute from a high superior: 

"It would be difficult to conceive of more embarrassing circumstances 
than those existing along the border during the time in question; even 
slight mistakes were likely to have momentous consequences. The service 
called for intelligence, courage, activity, and the exercise of a rare degree 
of vision. You have had under your jurisdiction over a thousand miles of 
border patrol, and have had to dispose of questions of the most difficult 
and delicate character daily. That you have done so in a way to win uni- 
versal approbation of your course entitles you and all those under you 
not only to my thanks, but those of the country I and you represent in this 
regard." 1 

It was while he was at Fort Sam Houston that public attention 
turned from the Mexican troubles to the outbreak of the World 
War, from Mexican to French and Belgian refugees. There, over 
the details of patrol, he read the news of the Marne, of Lublin and 
Tannenberg. Meanwhile, his old classmate, Hugh L. Scott, had leap- 
frogged him. Scott, a major general, was now Chief of Staff. On 
February 13, 1915, Bliss became Assistant Chief of Staff, but was 
not to receive his second star until November 20, 1915. He was 
sixty-one, within three years of retirement, and yet on the threshold 
of his supreme responsibility and achievement. 

i Letter from Secretary of War, Lindley M. Garrison, to Bliss, January 28, 1914. 


"How are you, Bliss?" said Scott. "Fine. We started together, and 
we go out together/' and Bliss took his place behind the desk in the 
office adjoining his classmate's. 1 

It had been Scott's turn to leapfrog Bliss when President Wilson 
had appointed him Chief of Staff in 1914 for the usual four year 
term. Bliss might now entertain no hope of ever attaining to the 
highest position in the army. In brotherhood the two classmates 
would share the seats of the mighty until they were sixty-four. 

Bliss had been summoned to Washington not only as Assistant 
Chief of Staff but as chief of the Mobile Army Division, which he 
was to organize on paper, looking toward Mexican complications, 
and with his back squarely turned toward the European trenches. 

.When the classmates met in the morning, after they had read the 
communiques from the war fronts, Scott might say to Bliss, "The 
Germans are apparently starting a great drive against Russia," and 
Bliss might reply, "Yes, they plan to end the job on the eastern front 
this year to be ready for the British new army when it comes into 
action next spring." 

Their exchange of glances implied the consciousness that it was 
forward of them to say as much as this. As for one asking the other, 
"Do you think well be drawn in?" (the time being early in the year 
1915) this was not done officially, although it might be personally 
between two classmates, especially if Scott should put it in the In- 
dian sign language or Bliss in Latin or Greek. As for any reference 
to what the army would do if we were drawn in, this was as heretic 
as for an American soldier to take sides in partisan politics. It practi- 
cally amounted to insubordination. 

In his effort to keep our people neutral-minded at the outset of 
the World War President Wilson had bidden army and navy of- 
ficers not to talk about the war. He had repeated his order later, 
although naturally the soldier-mind would regard the fluctuations 

* Scott to the author. 



o the European struggle in professional detachment while the 
civilian public was subject to propagandic appeals to emotion and 
inherited racial animosities. 

To Bliss, at least, the Presidential warning was hardly necessary. 
He knew politics through service in ten administrations, under the 
eye of a secretary of war in six, his long experience in Washington, 
and the varied positions he had held. The more he learned of poli- 
tics the more strictly he held to his rule, the more inclined he was 
to say to young officers, "This is a matter of political policy, the mili- 
tary has nothing to do with it." 

President Wilson deprecated any military preparedness as prej- 
udicial to his policy in making a new world of reason in place of 
force after the military conclusion of the World War. Bliss never 
forgot that the Constitution, the President and the Congress were 
supreme. His private letters, as well as official reports and memo- 
randa, are singularly free from any criticism or slighting reference 
to the executive or law making power. Citizen Bliss might think 
there were some unwise men loose with too much authority in any 
administration, but it was not for officer Bliss to say so. 

Officer Bliss would take no side in the World War until he was 
under orders to act. Although he had no word of advocacy of our 
entry into the war, it is evident that he was convinced that events 
would force it. Even after this the philosopher would be unable to 
think that one side or the other could be altogether right or wrong, 
which might be construed by some minds as inevitably dulling his 
military enthusiasm, not to say compromising his probity as a par- 
tisan. However, this quality made him the more valuable as a frank 
adviser whose view of public passion would be unclouded by shar- 
ing it. 

Lindley M. Garrison, Wilson's first Secretary of War, who had 
discovered Bliss' wisdom in command on the Mexican border, 
wanted him near at hand. In turn, Garrison soon learned to recog- 
nize Bliss 1 extraordinary power in bringing forth out of a confu- 
sion of arguments and contradictory precedents a lucid exposition 
of all sides of a problem, to which he might or might not add his 
own recommendations. Thus the chief had the land mapped not 
only in the immediate vicinity but into the distances where he had 
to travel; the chief could see the forest for the trees. 


Once the chief had decided on a policy, although it was against 
Bliss 1 view, he knew he could turn to Bliss to write a brief in its 
support because he knew that no points in its favor would be left 
out. It was said of Bliss that he could take one side or the other with 
equal controversial interest. 1 To some partisans this facility sug- 
gested that he had no convictions of his own. To lawyers, it was all 
in the course of serving your client, to philosophers it was simply 
developing a subject. 

Bliss' memoranda often led to the inquiry if he had studied law. 
He had not in any set law course, but he had had enough decisions 
to make as an administrator, he had read enough opinions by judge 
advocates general and had enough discussions with eminent law- 
yers and the great legal expert of the army, Major General Enoch 
H. Crowder, to make the equivalent of more than many lawyers 
get out of the best law courses. Crowder said Bliss had a legal mind. 2 
Certainly Bliss' career, from the day his head was above the edge of 
the family table, had grounded him in a sense of equity and a 
taste for dialectics, but it was not his interest in the intellectual ex- 
ercise of writing a brief for a chiefs policy and thus making it his 
own which appealed to him. When in doubt between two roads 
leading to the same goal, it is preferable to get started on one than 
to hesitate at the forks. 

This applied only when there was little to choose between two 
roads. When Bliss saw morasses ahead, or unbridged streams which 
could not be forded, and history and ethics were being defied in 
violation of basic principles, he became an embattled advocate who 
parleyed with no qualifying doubts. Now he had no use for his 
familiar gesture which implied, "This amuses or interests me." The 
mustache bristled over a set lip, as he said: 

"It can't be done" or "It's absurd" or "It will raise hell and get 
us nowhere except into trouble," or "It's running around in circles 
when we better save our energy by standing still" or "It's been tried 
thousands of times since it failed under the Romans and the same 
elements which made it fail in the past apply in this situation." If 
reasons were wanted he gave them in cumulative sequence to an 
impressive conclusion. A chief who had had much experience of 

1 Major General W. S. Graves to the author. 

2 Crowder to the author. 


Bliss usually accepted Bliss' view when Bliss was in this messianic 
mood. Some critics thought Bliss was disinclined to try experiments. 
On this score he once remarked that he did not think that there was 
any use of trying again the juvenile experiment of lifting yourself 
by your bootstraps. But he once surprised a young man by saying, 
' 'Let's take a more youthful view. A lot of fresh water will run over 
the old millwheel yet/' 

As the World War sank its steel fingers deeper into the vitals of 
all peoples, and German victories continued, the student of mili- 
tary science did some deep thinking, and out loud, to classmate Scott, 
as well as when he paced the floor at home visualizing the war's 
horrors and its lessons to soldier and civilian in the pictures of the 
wrestling armies in blood soaked mud and dust. It was against his 
nature to fool himself in these soliloquies. 

Our army must limit its official cognizance of Armageddon's 
spreading havoc to reading the meager reports of our military at- 
tacMs who had to remain in the capitals at the rear of the forces 
of action trying to keep abreast of the progress of arms and tactics 
which were so rapidly changing. Since the sinking of the Lusitania 
the majority of Americans had turned against Germany. Public 
passion brought on wars, America's was rising, and calling for better 
national defense. Bliss shared the restlessness of army councils at 
the ban on even normal staff provision for an emergency in which 
our public would expect a prodigy of achievement from the army 
for which it was utterly unprepared. He made this memorandum for 
record's sake: 

"It was early in the autumn of 1915. I was Acting Chief of Staff. Mr. 
Breckinridge was, for a day or two, Acting Secretary of War. He came 
into my office early one morning and said that the President had sum- 
moned him a few minutes before. He found him holding a copy of the 
Baltimore Sun in his hand, 'trembling and white with passion/ The 
President pointed to a little paragraph of two lines in an out-of-the-way 
part of the sheet, evidently put in just to fill space. It read something 
like this: It is understood that the General Staff is preparing a plan in 
case of war with Germany/ 

"The President asked Mr. Breckinridge if he supposed that was true. 
Mr. Breckinridge said that he did not know. The President directed him 
to make an immediate investigation and, if it proved true, to relieve at 
once every officer erf the General Staff and order him out of Washington. 


Mr. Breckinridge put the investigation up to me. 

"I told him that the law creating the General Staff made it its duty 'To 
prepare plans for the national defense'; that I was President of the War 
College when the General Staff was organized in 1903; that from that 
time till then the College had studied over and over again plans for war 
with Germany, England, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, etc I said that 
if the President took the action threatened, it would only make patent 
to everybody what pretty much everybody already knew and would create 
a great political row, and, finally, it would be absurd. 

"I think the President realized this in a cooler moment. Nothing 
further was said to him about the matter, nor did he again mention it. 
But Mr. Breckinridge directed me to caution the War College to 
'camouflage* its work. This resulted in practically no further official 

The War College was Bliss' own child; World War or no World 
War, it proceeded with the work which it was its duty to pursue if 
we were to have an army and a war college. A certain number of 
officers were kept on general staff duty in Washington by act of the 
Congress. The President, discontinuing their duty, would be step- 
ping as much out of bounds as if he appeared on the field of battle 
and took direction of the troops out of the hands of the command- 
ing general. Bliss' offended logic expressed itself in an Olympian in- 
dignation which his words but faintly convey. 

How could a war college study practical movements of troops 
and supplies and their tactical disposition without at least a con- 
crete problem on paper? The President's scholarship did not include 
military technique. Sorely pressed and harassed by the racial ani- 
mosities which the war had aroused at home, and the cross fire of 
propaganda, he had happened on that item at a moment when it 
was the added straw's weight to rouse his anger. 

In a few months he met the rising tide of demand for some pre- 
paredness by his call for heavy naval appropriations and strengthen- 
ing our land forces. Out of the conflict of plans Secretary Garrison 
decided on that of the "continental army." * Bliss gave this the law- 
yer's support but, to judge by his memoranda, he did not personally 
believe in it. Three years would elapse before it would give us 500,- 
ooo men, and the Mexican or World War emergency which should 
require them would not wait so long. 

i Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I, 42, 53. 


In the sheaves of war department documents on the subject no 
word appeared suggesting that the proposed preparation had any 
purpose except that o repelling invasion. We were to resist con- 
quest by the Teutons or Allies, whichever won the war. To Bliss 
this was another absurdity. The prospect that the war worn victors 
would have the ability to overcome our navy, and then the martial 
enthusiasm to cross the Atlantic, was to him starting from false 
premises. It roused his dislike of quibbling with facts. 

If we should need a larger army, it would be to occupy Mexico, 
or if its action were related to the World War, to throw our weight 
in the balance on the continent of Europe. He opposed the Swiss 
system which had been much advocated because it was based solely 
on defense; he objected to the continental army plan as wrong be- 
cause it added a third element to our forces, when we should aim 
to make the regular army and National Guard more homogeneous. 

The memoranda which an officer makes for his chiefs, become 
records of his own proposals or his views when the chief requests 
them. Bliss* memoranda during the two years before our entry into 
the war have a remarkable foresight which might have appeared 
clairvoyant six months after our entry. A memorandum which he 
wrote before he left Sam Houston for Washington is a piece of mili- 
tary logic, as valuable for soldiers to read as his letters on peace after 
the World War for unreasoning pacifists and unreasoning mili- 

Clearly he had the possibility of our entry into the World War 
in mind, or the possession of a sufficient force to compel such Eu- 
ropean respect that we might win a peaceful victory to insure the 
President's "peace without victory." With the passage of time he 
had forgotten that he had written this memorandum. 1 When re- 
minded of it, he remarked, "This was how I saw it as a veteran of- 
ficer at the time/* He stressed the long period of preparation neces- 
sary before our men would be available for modern action, not less 
than a year; the need of guns which took so long to manufacture, 
when artillery had become so important. In reviewing all the plans 

i Bliss to the author. 


suggested for strengthening the army he said that no plan could 
be perfect, the essential being to proceed at once with some plan. 
This could not be based on any expectation that Congress would 
appropriate a large sum of money for its execution. In the mem- 
orandum from Sam Houston, January 15, 1915, he said that the 
answer to whether this plan or that plan as worked out by the War 
College would be adequate was not "susceptible to mathematical 

"Every day, in the war now going on in Europe, the lives and limbs of 
thousands of men are staked, as though on the throw of the dice, on this 
question. Every day, at some place or another, the commander of some 
force, large or small, advances to an attack in the execution of a plan 
which he must be supposed to believe to be adequate for his ultimate 
purpose. He determines as accurately as he can the number of his op- 
ponents, the strength of their position, the power of their artillery and 
other adjuncts of defense, the probable amount of their ammunition, the 
courage and tenacity of their men as previously demonstrated in his own 
experience or in that of others communicated to him. 

"With all these assumptions in mind he gathers what he believes to be 
the necessary force of his own, he brings up his reserves, perhaps borrows 
artillery and reserve ammunition from the troops on his right and left. 
Meanwhile, the commander of the defense, with more or less knowledge 
of what his opponent is contemplating, makes his own assumptions and 
his corresponding plans. 

"The commanders are of equal intelligence. They are assisted by 
equally intelligent staffs. Each of them knows that the lives of his men, 
his own reputation, possibly the very life of his nation, depends upon 
the adequacy of his plan. Every available human agency has been em- 
ployed to guarantee that adequacy. You and I, with complete foreknowl- 
edge of these plans and of the means of executing them, might be unable 
to pick a flaw in either of them; each plan is apparently perfect. Yet it 
is a foregone conclusion that the event cannot be a draw; either the attack 
or the defense must win, and a few hours after the execution of the two 
plans has begun the event, with its terrible losses to both sides, will prove 
that one plan was adequate and the other inadequate." 

Again the founding President of the War College warned the 
students of the staff in their controversies over plans in theory, for 
which no appropriation might be forthcoming, that they were only 
advisory to their civilian chiefs, and that rather than stall progress 
by their search for adequacy, as the proponent of each plan under- 


stood it, they should be ready to go ahead with any plan, although 
it might be made by civilian chiefs, which the Congress would ac- 

"It cannot be assumed," he wrote, "that all the intelligence of 
the army is embodied in the General Staff. It would be a small pack- 
age to contain such a large amount of goods." 

Whether Bliss was born to be a lawyer, a professor, a statesman, 
a soldier or a sailor, this masterful document, covering all technical 
points as well as those of policy, is one of the many contributions 
which accounted for the later tendency of the American staff to turn 
to Bliss for sound reasoning as a chief of staff as they do to Root and 
Baker as secretaries of war. He concluded: 

"As for us, I think that we are justified in accepting the adequacy of 
any plan, to be carried into effect in time of peace, which gives the rea- 
sonable hope that it will hold off whatever enemy we assume as probable 
and as the most probable long enough for us to organize the resources 
of the country, after war threatens, to such a degree as will reasonably 
assure our ultimate success. In other words it is a plan which confines 
as far as possible the burden of war to the time of war." 

Thus, in a sense, this memorandum which was written by Bliss 
in the midst of his duties on the Mexican border shepherding refu- 
gees and guarding against bandit invasions envisioned the trenches 
of the Allies on the western front as providing the wall behind which 
we should prepare for the ultimate success. We should have this, 
the ultimate success, sooner if we went ahead with some plan which 
the civilian leaders found that the Congress would accept instead 
of wasting time on staff polemics. 

Meanwhile it is interesting to note an example of Bliss* pungency 
in the course of official routine when we had an alarm about Japan. 
Asked for his view as to whether we should withdraw or reinforce 
our Philippine garrisons, he replied that we were under present 
obligations to maintain order and our sovereignty in the islands, he 
had heard of no contemplated action by the Congress to change this 
status, and he thought that withdrawal under these circumstances 
would be a national humiliation. 1 He was for "standing pat." No 
reinforcement was needed for the requirements of peace. 

i Memorandum, May 15, 1915. 


"If it is needed for war I ask, 'What war?' " He saw none in sight 
with Japan allied to Britain and France who wanted our friend- 
ship against Germany, "If we cannot hold everything let us lose 
with honor what we must, but save the most important if we can. 
If we must weaken our home forces by further drafts, let them go to 
Hawaii and the Canal zone." But, as it appears elsewhere in his 
papers, he held it was our duty to keep our pledge of eventual with- 
drawal from the islands. 

Bliss' real concern through 1915 was to prevent our having to 
make war on Mexico, which had for him no martial or adventurous 
appeal. In tracing the influence of unconsidered events upon great 
events, in following the main stream's course back to the provincial 
freshet which adds the weight of waters which break the dam, place 
must be given to our Mexican policy in the next few months. It per- 
mitted the earlier exercise of effective military power and support- 
ing morale in France; it gave us the lesson which led to an earlier 
public acceptance of the draft. In the World War, which an assassi- 
nation in the little town of Sarajevo precipitated, our patrol of the 
Rio Grande was related to the future of the Seine, the Vistula and 
the Rhine; the mood of a Mexican chieftain, or the defeat of the 
schemes of a German propagandist in Mexico, may have chosen 
which side should have the imperious mood and which the peti- 
tioner's in the remapping of Europe. If we grant that the American 
effort through the balance in favor of the Allies, then an error by 
Baker, Bliss or Pershing in dealing with the situation between our 
own and the Guatemalan frontier in 1916 might have meant 
that Pershing would have been too late in France. 

In February, 1916, when the President, finding Congress unfavor- 
able to Secretary-Garrison's continental army plan, rejected it, and 
Garrison resigned, the advocates of preparedness were astounded 
when they heard that his successor was to be Newton D. Baker, for- 
mer mayor of Cleveland, who had been classed as a pacifist of the 
capital P group. 

On the morning that this quiet, physically slender man took his 
seat at his desk, there stood before him the giant white-haired Scott 
and the giant Bliss. Their respectful attitude to their new chief 


masked their curiosity as to what kind of a fellow he was, which 
his action on the dispatches Scott held in his hand must decide with 
a prompt yes or no. 

The dispatches had news proving how warrantable had been 
Bliss' own vigilance in command on the Mexican border, which had 
been regarded frequently by subordinates as captious, not to say 
pinpricking. Our garrison at Columbus, New Mexico, asleep and 
unwarned, had been surprised in a night raid by Francisco Villa 
and five hundred men who had killed and wounded eight civilians 
and seven officers and soldiers. 1 If we failed to make any forcible 
response to this violation of international law it would encourage 
further raids and massacres of civilians and lead to serious com- 
plications. The faces of both Bliss and Scott said what Scott said in 
words. In answer to their recommendation Baker said: "Let us 
proceed." The expedition under Pershing with orders to pursue 
and break up Villa's band was immediately mobilized. 

A counselor's foresight of the consequences of action, his "if you 
do this," or "having done this," then "you must expect this," is the 
real test of his worth. If he is right five out of six times, then the 
chief is not inclined to replace him until he is sure of a successor 
who will be right six out of seven times. Three days after the Villa 
raid Bliss pictured for his chief the responsibility we had undertaken 
in crossing the border with an armed force; he saw the Pershing ex- 
pedition as the Mexicans themselves would see it. 2 

They would not distinguish between our action and an act of 
war. They would consider that the invasion by the Gringos had 
begun. There were a hundred thousand Mexican troops who were 
used to their kind of warfare, under the different chieftains, who 
might unite or, if they did not, some of them make further raids 
into our territory, which they would justify by our own expedition, 
and which our small scattered garrisons from the Rio Grande to 
the Pacific could not prevent. He visualized Pershing's future situa- 
tion even before Pershing had entered Mexico. It would be very 
different from that of the seizure of Vera Cruz in 1914. 

1 Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I, 12. 

2 Memorandum, .March 13, 1916. 


"They will soon be beyond assured communication with their home 
government. They will be in hostile country surrounded by enemies, and 
they will do as soldiers in the circumstances must do. If they think that 
Villa and his band is in a certain town and refuses to surrender they 
must attack that town. If Villa retreats they must follow him; if he breaks 
up into small bands our people must more or less scatter in order to 
follow them. 

"It was very easy to say to the commander of that expedition 'When 
you have seized the city, go no farther with your troops, do nothing 
unless the enemy actually attacks you/ But when you tell an American 
general, with 4,000 or 5,000 troops, to go into Mexico and break up cer- 
tain bands of bandits, you can put no such limitation on his action/' 

If there were further raids across our border and we should have 
to send further expeditions, where should we get the men for these 
or the men to reinforce Pershing if need be? As a safeguard to our 
policy of avoiding actual intervention Bliss favored increasing our 
forces on the border by calling for volunteers. 

"If we do not make these preparations the Mexicans are the more 
likely to take such action as will eventually force intervention against 
our will after we have suffered initial disaster that will embitter our 
people and make their attitude toward Mexico more uncompromising 
than it otherwise would be/' 

Our policy prevented our taking the offensive on a large scale but 
in order to assure its success by escaping forcible intervention, we 
should avoid the appearance of softness which would invite any 
chieftain to win popular glory by the prospect that he could safely 
beard our army. Chieftains must be assured that we should be able 
promptly to repeat the pursuit of a Villa in response to further in- 
cursions. The maintenance of our military prestige should be the 
proof of our good intentions through sufficient force to make a gen- 
eral invasion if we chose, while our action should be strictly con- 
fined to police duty against offenders. 

Under the law at the time the President could not send the Na- 
tional Guard to the border. The Congress would not make other 
provision for reinforcements. On June igth it passed the National 
Defense Act which gave the President power to assign the Guard to 
border patrol, and provided for increments which would double the 
regulars and raise the militia arm to over five hundred thousand 


provided that men enlisted. The crisis that Bliss had foreseen came. 
The President, as soon as he had the authority, ordered the state 
troops south. Bliss did not think that in the times of high pros- 
perity many men would enlist under the new law. Very few did. 

We might have preparedness parades, hold great preparedness 
meetings, summon the business men of the country in an Advisory 
Commission to co-operate with the new Council of National De- 
fense, but there was disinclination to take a dollar a day for patrol- 
ling the hot valley of the Rio Grande or the stretches of hot sand 
of Arizona and New Mexico, when Mexico was our real patriotic 
problem of the moment. 

Bliss would hasten the prompt movement of the Guard to the 
border, and worked out the plan for their dispatch. "Any place on 
the border is better than remaining for an indefinite time at their 
mobilization camps/* x 

Pershing, having scattered Villa's band, was bidden to stand fast 
in camp. His communications were in danger, he must be rein- 
forced. Carranza, after President Wilson's recognition of his gov- 
ernment as de facto, turned controversial if not hostile. The other 
chieftains, each holding his own fief against his rivals, were against 
us. There were threatening movements along the border. It ap- 
peared that our policy had failed; the Guard would arrive too late 
to enforce it, and to find that we were at war. German propaganda 
had organized a powerful, widespread and subtle anti-American cam- 
paign to influence the Mexican leaders. If we had to send an army 
of pacification to Mexico, that would divert our attention and our 
force from joining the Allies. 

Pershing's request to take the city of Chihuahua before he re- 
ceived reinforcements was refused. He and his men bore them- 
selves in face of continual baiting with the patience which is the su- 
preme test of discipline. The valorous and spirited Frederick Funs- 
ton was now in command of the Southern Department. He had en- 
dured inaction at Vera Cruz before that of the border; he longed to 
get the jump on the enemy. 

"The plan outlined by General Funston in his No. 1787," Bliss 
wrote, "indicates a desire to begin fighting at the earliest possible 
moment and to capture something, some place, anything, without 

i Memorandum, June 22, 1916. 


any clearly expressed idea as to what the ultimate object is. 1 I am 
led to believe from conversations with the Secretary o War that 
the administration has a very definite policy." 

Pershing was in a position to strike either right or left within 
Mexican territory; he must be supported if in danger; and in case 
we had to advance, then as soon as the Guard and the few regular 
reinforcements we could summon had arrived, we could if neces- 
sary send in two converging columns, one from Nogales and the 
other from Brownsville. 

On July 2, Bliss, in consultation with Baker, prepared a telegram 
to Funston in elucidation of that very definite policy. It hoped "by 
the proposed concentration of our troops with the minimum of 
fighting, or without any at all, to force the Mexicans, if practicable, 
to evacuate the widest possible strip of their territory from the bor- 
der south." This would insure no further raids and necessary pur- 
suits. "But the Secretary of War orders that no general movement 
across the border will be made until specific instructions are given 
by him. This must be clearly understood. In case of actual conflict 
brought on by Mexican aggression you may occupy and protect all 
international bridges. You may occupy the Mexican towns immedi- 
ately adjacent to our border where necessary to protect our side 
of the line." 

Secretary Baker had long since discovered Bliss and sounded the 
depth of his wisdom in the course of the Mexican crisis. Their 
minds were immediately in tune. Baker, too, was a student of his- 
tory. He could understand the Bliss who turned from Mexican 
problems to write to a correspondent: 

"To study the world's history by studying merely the parallel histories 
of artificial states is to study from viewpoints which are constantly shift- 
ing. The only permanent elements upon which history can be based are 
those great human families which have peopled the globe, pushing for- 
ward the limits of civilized or occupied territory and at the same time 
making their imprint on the parts of the globe occupied by them. Today 
we are witnessing the artificial barriers of a large part of the world re- 
moved or shifting as the strengths of the families of the peoples in contact 
vary at the different points of contact. 

"In studying history on a universal basis the student is properly 
grounded. He is able to coordinate correctly the work of mankind and 

i Memorandum, June 16, 1916. 


to understand the relative development which has taken place in each 
great family of the human race. Races may be antagonistic or they may 
be disposed to live side by side in peace. To those who look forward to 
a time of universal peace the study of history from a universal standpoint 
should be particularly attractive, for the ultimate consummation of such 
an idea means that all artificial barriers of states must disappear and that 
the world must be viewed as one state composed of the races of man- 
kind so grouped as to live together in peace and harmony." x 

The meeting of the Root and Bliss minds, after the Spanish War, 
had given Major Bliss his opportunity, and the meeting of the 
Baker and Bliss minds broadened General Bliss' opportunity. Root 
took him up to the crest of one range and set him on his way when 
he was forty-six, and Baker took him to the crest of another range 
when he was sixty-two and set him on his way in the midst of a 
civilized world in savage riot. 

Baker set all Bliss' faculties in a glow in which affection was the 
warp to the woof of their close official relations. Until 1916, and 
more especially 1917 and 1918, after we were in the World War, 
Bliss* papers often give the impression that while one part of his 
mind was occupied by his faithful performance of official duties, the 
other parts were veiled to his associates. In Baker he had a chief 
with a mind as inherently active as his own from bedtime to waking 
after a brief sleep; in Baker a conversationalist who found rest from 
official duties by turning to a discussion of any subject within the 
orbit of human interests. The day's work over, they could talk for 
talk's sake and to add to their general information. 

On July 7, 1916, when any hour might bring the word of the 
outbreak of fighting which would wreck the administration's peace 
policy, Baker sent Bliss to the border, because "Bliss sees with my 
own eyes." Aside from his other qualifications for this mission, Bliss 
had the basic essential that his judgment would be utterly alien to 
the influence of the appeal that, in case of war, he might so shape 
events in favor of his own fortunes that one day he would be in 
command of an army of occupation in Mexico and look down as 
governor general from the ancient seat of power on Chapultepec 
upon Mexico City. Bliss took it for granted that Funston would 
command in the field unless Scott was sent. 

i Letter to Irving C. Scott, June 9, 1916. 


Bliss the soldier going from camp to camp, from post to post, 
headquarters to headquarters of regulars that wanted action if only 
for the relief of boredom, of guardsmen who had reason to be more 
restless than the regularswould make sure that we were ready for 
any military emergency; that Pershing had sufficient supplies, that 
the soldiers did not lack facilities for relaxation which would keep 
them from becoming fractious, and that their health was safe- 

As the keeper of the peace on that border where such contrasting 
racial civilizations met he would insure provision that the military 
emergency should not occur to give his fellow-soldiers a chance to 
hasten what they thought was the inevitable, and what the nation 
feared was the inevitable. As the listener he met Mexican chieftains 
and their agents, whose sensibilities and vanity, in face of the north- 
ern threat, were factors in their ingenuous and prolonged palavers. 
He had to cool hot heads on both sides of the border. Some of our 
commanders had a taste of his messianic finality as he laid down 
the law and of his hot outbursts as soldier to soldier; and some of 
the Mexican chiefs, who put on a bold and truculent front, had 
the brutal facts of their own military weakness revealed to them in 
Spanish maxims they could understand. At the same time he took 
care to weaken German propaganda rather than to give it support 
by our attitude. 

While Bliss acted as instructor in our policy he held up the mirror 
in third person detachment to enable his chief to see the situation 
in the large and in illuminating detail. And to the world he was 
the Assistant Chief of Staff on an inspection tour. 

It did not interest him what part he had in the success of the 
peace policy. It was enough for it to prevail. 

The military emergency did not occur. We did not have to cross 
the border. German propaganda was balked. Through the torrid 
heat of the Mexican summer and on into the late fall Pershing held 
his position and the soldiers continued their patrols, their lot for- 
gotten by our public after the July crisis passed, as we turned our 
attention to the Presidential election and back to the World War 
which day by day was drawing us closer into its toils. 

Bliss became the obvious choice to represent the War Department 
in the parleys with the Mexican Commissioners at Atlantic City to 


establish a secure basis for Pershing's withdrawal and that of our 
forces on the border and resumption of normal relations between 
the two countries. There he was associated with the venerable Judge 
Gray of Delaware and with Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the In- 
terior, as civil commissioners. Judge Gray took Bliss' measure at 
once; and Lane eventually found that in him he had a colleague 
who did not take what is called the narrow, provocative soldier's 
view, but knew his subject to the depths. Bliss kept free from politi- 
cal policy, but he understood political implications. 

He saved his colleagues, who were unfamiliar with Mexican meth- 
ods, from many pitfalls. He opposed a suggested plan of American 
and Mexican military cooperation in guarding the border and in 
Pershing's withdrawal as being bound to invite friction and more 
trouble, for no one Mexican commander controlled all northern 
Mexico. He wrote to Scott that "the only safe thing for either gov- 
ernment is to stand squarely on the international obligation to hold 
its own bad men in check and, at the same time, for each side so 
to dispose its military forces as to enable it to punish most effectively 
bad men who may slip over from the other side." 

After all our soldiers had endured and all that Mexico had suf- 
fered from the broils of its chieftains, he sought a permanent in- 
stead of a patchwork peace. Pershing's force was withdrawn without 
any unpleasant incident and, finally, in February, 1917, only two 
months before our entry into the World War, the guardsmen were 
brought home. This put the seal on the end of the Mexican danger. 
Since the public sees fighting as the soldier's business, there had 
been no glory for Pershing, none for the patrols and certainly none 
for Bliss in his greatest service yet as the nation's unadvertised coun- 
selor. People have no visual proof of a soldier's statesmanship in 
preventing wars, as they have of his military achievement in the 
march past of his victorious veterans after a war which possibly 
might have been prevented. 

If American troops had had to cross the border in force then we 
should have doubtless had to keep on advancing in subduing guerril- 
las in the course of pacification until we had taken the Mexican 
capital. Then the Mexican people would have been embittered 
against us. Other Latin-American nations would have accepted our 
occupation of Mexico as confirming their view that our national 


policy meant imperialistic expansion at their expense, thus alienat- 
ing them from support of the Allied cause. German propaganda 
would have warned all the weaker peoples that our action in Mexico 
represented our true purpose in contrast with our public talk about 
rescuing the world from the Prussian war lords in the name of 
democracy and the self-determination of peoples. So no biography 
of Bliss is complete without attention to this forgotten crisis. 


WE come to the period in which Bliss' counsel had the most direct 
effect upon all our lives. Our neglect o this period in general has 
the aspect of a loss of national historical consciousness. We have 
been inclined to hold up the back of the mirror to ourselves. Some 
of our historians have taken such care not to appear parochial that 
they have largely disregarded our own very important influence in 
the World War before as well as after we became a combatant. They 
have ranged foreign fields, which were already well explored, with 
too little attention to the treasure chest of our own archives. 

This particularly applies to those who were not interested in the 
fighting but in the origins and conflicts of policies. Admittedly our 
casualties were small in comparison with those of the major Allies. 
However, the courtship of our power, long before our entry into 
the war, had become a vital factor in shaping the policies of both 
groups of belligerents. They painstakingly scrutinized and measured 
the fluctuations of our moods and the play of our home politics. 
With skillful and adaptive variety they flattered our national vanity. 
Our disillusionments, after our entry, through the succeeding honey- 
moon, marital troubles and informal separation, if not official di- 
vorce, may have led to our own forgetfulness of our frantic and 
gigantic national effort. 

In debating the declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare 
in relation to whether it would bring war with the United States, 
Germany had to answer the question of whether the Teutonic pow- 
ers, if we did go to war, could win the day before our military po- 
tentialities became effective. 1 After the declaration, outrages on our 
shipping would inevitably stir up public anger to the breaking point 
and sooner or later we should take up arms. The later, the better it 
appeared to Germany, but this judgment was subject to the depth 
of our conviction when we declared war and with what military 
energy and force we should prosecute it. President Wilson would 
i Bethmann-Hol^weg to Bernstorff, January 16, 1917. 



have our conviction complete before the decisive step, and this was 
the mood of the Congress. 

Professional soldiers, who cut through the public propaganda to 
cruel and sanguinary realities, saw that the campaign of 1916 had 
left the odds decidedly in favor of the Teutonic powers on land, 
with Allied sea control seriously endangered. Whether we should 
send an army to France or not, expend lives by tens or by thousands, 
the professional execution of our military policy and the direction 
of the raising and equipping and training of an army would be with 
the little staff group under Scott and Bliss. To put it clearly and 
briefly, we should give our youth into their hands. 

In this process an unknown young American staff officer, no more 
than a major in rank, might exert far greater personal power over 
his countrymen than one in key rank in one of the army hosts of 
continental Europe. The European military machines were the 
product of forty years of organization and regimentation since con- 
scription had become universal in Europe. Their leaders had the 
drivers' seats over forces which were literally bred in military tradi- 
tion and team play, and which were accepted as institutions in peace 
no less than police or sanitary forces or associations of employers 
or employees. 

Our little group, under a civilian chief as Secretary of War, must 
create its machine, officers, men and material, out of the raw and 
then pit it against a machine which had had forty years of peace 
preparation, a machine which had fathered and developed the 
hideous complexity of modern warfare; and this after that machine 
had had two years' experience in action, steel grinding on steel, wit 
on wit in a bloody mire, in battle with another great war machine, 
in which the lesson of the present month antedated the tactics of 
the previous month. 

In considering our military potentialities, aside from our numbers 
and our industrial and transport resources, the Germans had in 
mind our Spanish War chaos against an inferior foe near our doors, 
and our present small force of regulars and militia. They were alive 
to our racial prejudices inherited from nations on both sides of the 
war as a disturbing factor to national military unity and determina- 
tion. A Kaiser, a Hindenburg or a Ludendorff, in his warranted 
majesty as an expert in the supremely technical business of mass 


killing as he looked across the Atlantic at a controversial Congress, 
a professor in the White House, a former civil official as a Secretary 
of War, and Scott, Bliss or Pershing, with no experience in large 
commands might well conclude that the German army would have 
no more serious task than that of mob suppression in dealing with 
any American army which should reach the shores of France through 
the submarine zone. 1 

The author has already published a work on our achievement 
under Secretary Baker, which serves as a background for a biography 
of Bliss. Later, when Bliss became the American representative on 
the Supreme War Council, his letters to Baker were reportorial 
classics from subordinate to chief. His memoranda and letters while 
he was Chief of Staff shed further light on the general subject of 
home preparation, which yield us some surprises and clarifies some 
cloudy points; but his written legacy during the ordeal of prepara- 
tion is relatively meager, since his office was only two doors away 
from Baker's, before Scott's departure for Russia, and one door 
later, and Baker could summon him at any time. Their verbal con- 
ferences were unrecorded. 

With singular adroitness Baker did what might be done for 
preparedness before our entry into the war under restrictions in 
which the Presidential policy of patience was only one factor. Baker 
had a gift in winning the President's favor to any quiet forward 
step of prevision. A chess player, himself, the War College games in- 
terested him, and he convinced the President they were not un- 
neutral unless openly directed against Germany. 2 

A memorandum by Bliss about a detail is potently illustrative of 
one of the difficulties. We had a small military mission in Paris, which 
sought to keep professionally abreast of the military situation and 
the latest developments in tactics and weapons. It required real 
juggling of War Department finances, at a time when the Congress 
had delayed the annual military appropriation, to get an allotment 
of a few hundred dollars which the mission needed for its work; 
but the mission would have to get on without an additional stenog- 

1 Ludendorff's Own Story. Ludendorff, I, 374-376. 

2 Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I, 37. 


rapher whom we could not afford to send to France. 

The dollar-a-year men of the Advisory Commission of the Council 
of National Defense, after they had become familiar with govern- 
ment methods of the time, could understand that the instance was 
not unusual. Just what were they to prepare for? Vaguely national 
defense was against an invasion which they might secretly conclude 
would be made by the German army after the destruction of the 
British navy and the taking of London and Paris. It could not be 
against the Allies when the large majority of our people were now 
calling for war on their side. 

Business men, when they decided for a project, were accustomed 
to issue bonds, borrow from banks or draw on reserve funds to 
finance it. They had architects draw up plans and specifications 
for contractors, ordered material and proceeded with construction. 
Now they were adrift in conferences without the premise of any 
of these normal essentials in civil enterprises. The best they could 
do was to list firms and their capacities for making war supplies 
when the Congress should unloose the purse-strings. 

They got little satisfaction in asking the professional soldiers for 
more definite information as to what they were to provide. As 
every day brought the inevitable nearer, the professional soldiers 
were in worse plight than the civil warmakers, when the Congress 
had not provided the funds for administrative routine and it was 
difficult to get requisitions for blue-prints honored. 

Indeed, outside of professional military circles, only Americans 
thinking in terms of adventure and passionate loyalty to the Allies 
of which they would give active proof, considered the possibility 
of our haviiig to send an army to France. The propaganda of the 
Allies to bring us into the war did not include the whisper of such 
an intimation. It gave the impression that our financial and eco- 
nomic aid and the moral effect of our weight in the balance would 
win the day. 

The Congress had limited the number of general staff officers 
on duty in Washington to twenty-seven. This seemed to the Con- 
gress more than enough to be occupied in wasted war studies while 
they enjoyed life in the capital. It is a fair statement of the situa- 
tion to say that twenty-seven was as inadequate a number for the 
going concern of a European army of the size which we were to 


train and command as one-fifth of the normal teaching or executive 
force for a great university or industrial corporation which had 
long been established. 

Not only this, but in the National Defense Act of 1916 there 
was a clause which might be construed as restoring the old bureau 
system to much of the compartmental power it had before the 
Spanish War. Baker reversed the judgment of the Judge Advocate 
General. As the chief executive of our army effort in 1917-18, he 
always considered the saving of the staff as one of his most im- 
portant services. 1 

Moreover, in the intervening years since its creation, the staff 
had drifted away from the conception of Root and of Bliss, the 
founding President of the War College. Of this Bliss had soon be- 
come aware after his return to Washington from his service at 
Fort Sam Houston. 

In home or foreign counsels Bliss favored mutual cooperation 
and understanding. He was a spokesman for teamplay. His repu- 
tation for brusqueness among some of his fellow officers had its 
origin partly in his tendency to make a small allowance for men 
who would not yield on minor points for the sake of the major. 

As far back as July 10, 1916, on his way to report on the acute 
Mexican crisis he had written to Scott in reference to the present 
needs of the staff "which should have the utmost simplicity" that 
it had split up "into minor groups (confirming the Congressional 
view about its habits) which, as experience has shown, for one 
reason or another, had become more or less antagonistic." 

He would have a small board of direction and review coordinate 
all functions and tie the War College division in close relations with 
the rest of the staff. Thus there would be unity of action on one 
plan, instead of devising many plans. This would secure respect 
from the Congress, which naturally expected unity from a group 
of experts. It turned out, once we were in the war, that progress 
and delay were frequently related to the ability of the soldier to 
look into the civilian mind and the civilian to look into the soldier 
mind in mutual understanding that must bridge a broad gulf. 

In a letter written in later years when, in classic mood, Bliss 
looked back on his own experience, he wrote: 

i To the author. 


"The making of war plans by a general staff the arriving at the sound 
opinion of an army through the medium of its general staff all that is 
one thing; quite a different thing is the idea that the function of com- 
mand, high or low, is obsolescent that a staff is to absorb it all because 
that is little less than sovietising an army. Sound training should teach 
the proper place and part of each function. The ancient fable, in profane 
and sacred story, of the quarrel between the organs of the human body 
is perennially instructive. As Livy tells the story the stomach says to each 
of the others 'I am greater than thou.' Whereupon all the others strike. 
The hand refuses to convey food to the mouth, the mouth to receive it, 
the teeth to chew it, the throat to swallow it. The emaciation of approach- 
ing death brings them to their senses. In an army, when the functions of 
command lose their proper place, the work of a general staff loses its co- 
ordination and the machine 'runs wild/ In such a case, the principal 
lesson of war will be found in the answer to the question 'Whose fault 
was it?" i 

With the turn of the year from 1916 to 1917, Brigadier General 
Joseph E. Kuhn, who had been our military attach^ in Germany, 
became head of the War College. In bringing his observation of 
the war to bear in reorganization he was hampered by the old re- 
strictions of meager personnel and lack of funds. 

iTo Major General E. F. McGlachlin, December 14, 1921. 


MEANWHILE through the months preceding our entry into the war 
peace routine continued. We may turn to some of Bliss' views 
which had to do with army discipline and ethics. 

"It goes against my grain to recommend that an officer be ordered 
before a retiring board with a view to his being placed on the retired 
list, which ought to be a roll of honor, for sheer incapacity and unfitness 
as reported in this case. The Adjutant General states that this officer 
should be retired 'by reason of an infirmity of discretion, judgment and 
decision which makes the reasonable fulfillment of his military duties 
impossible for him, notwithstanding an honest desire and firm purpose 
on his part to fully discharge them/ 

"This is a contradiction in terms which I do not understand. A firm 
purpose to discharge one's duties is shown by trying one's best to discharge 
them. In this case his commanding officer says that he has failed to 
properly supervise the instruction, training, supply, equipment, and ad- 
ministration of his command. An officer of whom this could be said 
should have been brought to trial by court-martial. This officer has been 
allowed to remain on the active list for over forty years. He can retire 
now on his own application without officially and ostentatiously discredit- 
ing the retired list by having it appear that he was retired for mere 
unfitness. I recommend that he be informed that his application for 
retirement will be immediately approved. If he shows a 'firm purpose' 
to remain on the active list, then I recommend that General Funston 
be directed to place him under a proper disciplinarian with instruction 
to bring him to trial whenever such facts can be alleged against him 
as herein done by Colonel Glenn." 1 

Bliss was thrifty about the spending of government money if not 
about his own when he wanted a book. He became indignant over 
"the annually recurring scandal in the appropriation for mileage 
to which the attention of the Secretary of War is especially in- 
vited. . . . 

"We make no distinction between journeys which are desirable but 
not necessary; between those which are permissible under the law, but 

i Memorandum by Bliss to Scott (Chief of Staff) January 9, 1917. 



not mandatory; and, finally, between the foregoing and those which are 
mandatory under the law. We change the stations of many officers be- 
cause it is a pleasing thing to do so and very agreeable to them, although 
we know beforehand it cannot be done and leave money enough to effect 
the changes that are mandatory under the law. 

"Staff officers of ability and long experience are stationed at distant 
places from which perhaps they submit plans calling for the expenditure 
of public funds. A doubt arises in Washington in regard to some such 
plan and not infrequently it is held that the only way to resolve the 
doubt is to send an officer from Washington to that place to see for him- 
self. It is believed that much of this travel is unnecessary." 1 

This might have saved some money to pay for military informa- 
tion from abroad or for blue-prints of practical war plans, but it 
did not serve to make Bliss popular with some of his fellow officers 
who were not averse to breaking the monotony of office routine by 
a journey. If Bliss had taken more interest in being popular he 
might have been better known. It frequently disturbed his col- 
leagues that such a good story teller off duty could be such a rigid 
fellow officially. 

With the public clamor in the fatalism of a Greek chorus driving 
us into Armageddon, and the Congress still providing no funds while 
the President clung to his hope for a peaceful solution. The indig- 
nation of the forwards grew over the inactivity of the War Depart- 
ment, which was seen as doing nothing when its business was to 
prepare for war, while a supposedly incorrigible pacifist sat at the 
desk of the Secretary of War and the professional force spun red- 
tape. Few men might be enlisting to fill up the increments allowed 
for the regulars and state forces, but the urgent, who took our entry 
into the war for granted, had put on their military boots and were 
volunteering freely as spursmen. After we broke off relations with 
Germany, February 3, the waves of suggestions, which later be- 
came an inundation, began lapping the War Department. The staff 
became a reception committee which was precluded from being 

The human weakness of all who would start early to do their bit 
in civil preparation naturally called for some official recognition. 
These included many who were interested in some kind of welfare 
service for the soldiers before we were in the war and had an army 

i Bliss to Scott, February i, 1917. 


to be kind to, and when no army officer might say that we were going 
to war, and therefore we must have soldiers. Bliss wrote: 

"You say that the writer of this letter, from which you enclosed an 
extract to me, is one who has had much experience in connection with 
'free canteens' at R. R. stations in England and that this experience 
proved that such canteens were of the greatest benefit to the soldiers. I 
should not, myself, want anything more than such experience to indicate 
what would be a satisfactory course to follow in time of war. It was just 
what was done at many places along the railroads in the recent move- 
ment of our militia troops to and from the border. I do not know that 
the people who did this talked much about it; they just went ahead and 
did it. I think it goes without saying that such a thing will be beneficial 
for troops moving along the railroads." 1 

Bliss added that he was very busy, as all in the War Department 
were (in previsionary preparations without further warrant or funds 
after Germany had been gaining time by flirting with President 
Wilson's peace proposals, which were abruptly rejected upon the 
application of unrestricted submarine warfare). 2 

The old Congress, which had been elected in 1914, was in the 
last days of its session in face of the great crisis of the second month 
of 1917. It did not accept the breaking off of relations with Ger- 
many as an irretrievable step toward war. The opinion largely pre- 
vailed that it carried a threat which would make Germany hesitate 
and conclude she could not risk the open hostilities with our enor- 
mous power. Germany should have time to get the repercussions 
of our growing public anger and determination in influencing her 
to adopt a more considerate policy. 

After we broke off relations with Germany Secretary Baker had 
confidentially bidden the War College to prepare a plan for not 
fewer than a million men. In their peace preparations for war the 
European staffs knew on what terrain they were to fight, its distance 
from home bases and all details necessary to concrete preparation. 
But this would be decided for us after we had the army. 

The old Congress, marking time in discussion as its swan song, 
passed on responsibility to its successor which had been elected in 
November, 1916, and normally would not meet until December i, 

i Letter to Henry L. Harris, February 26, 1917. 
sBernstorff to House, January 31, 1917. 


1917. When the old Congress died, March 4, without appropriation 
for even routine running expenses for the army, the President, 
March 9, summoned the new Congress to assemble, April 19, in 
order to provide them. 

Still Germany proceeded with her submarine warfare, mindless 
of the suggestion that the new Congress might have more serious 
business to conduct; and she gave no encouragement to the last hope 
when the President advanced the call for the meeting of the new 
Congress to April 2. By the middle of March no one, who had any 
knowledge of the movements of great public passion through per- 
sonal experience or historical reading, might doubt the certainty 
of the event for which we were preparing ourselves in spirit if not 
in force. 

The inundation of the War Department had begun in earnest. 
All roads for those who would have their bit assigned led to Wash- 
ington. The Advisory Commission of the Council of National De- 
fense met frequently. Without funds we were making the gestures 
of preparation with closed fists in the quandary of "What can I 
do?" and urgent appeals of "Tell me what to do!" The War Depart- 
ment was expected to answer the question and give the directions. 

Without depending upon human memories, when events came 
so thick and fast that retention of them was difficult, we do have in 
Bliss* official memoranda a record of foresight as an adviser which 
entitles him to honor as a prophet in his own country. Again and 
again vital policies in the conduct of the war may be traced to his 
suggestions. These may be technical reading for others, but they 
have a special interest, which cannot be disregarded, for all officers 
and men who were to be suddenly changed from civilians into 

The professional soldier side of Bliss, for which his country had 
trained him, was now uppermost. It was that of the practical expert 
in military science, in armed force. Weak as our army staff was 
in numbers and in experience, subject to failures of scholastic ex- 
cellence in a war test, it was the only one we had. If we had had 
none, the confusion which was trying enough to all concerned, 
would have been greater than in the Spanish War, in ratio to the 
magnitude of our task in 191718. 

The additional burden of peace red tape, once we were in action, 


lay heavy on Bliss* mind. He would cut it as one of the first items 
of preparation which required no funds. 1 He would stop "all formal 
reports and papers of any kind where the information therein is 
not necessary for preservation/' But as only six out of seventy-five 
commanding officers agreed with him, this change had to wait. 

"In view of the great increase of business now to be expected ... so 
much of the general business is made to center in the office of the Chief of 
Staff that delay here means delay in the business of the entire depart- 
ment." 2 

Papers written "under the direction of the Secretary of War" 
about details that might have been settled days before had to wait 
on the formal signature of the busy Secretary, who had to accept the 
decision of the subordinate or he would have no time to study ques- 
tions of major policy. 

Four thousand papers were already leaving the Adjutant General's 
office every day. 

"Suppose that he gave an average of one minute to each paper. Sup- 
pose that he were to close the door of his office, deny access to anyone 
except to his officers bringing him papers and that he sat at his desk for 
eight consecutive hours each day in the year. Suppose all that, yet he 
could scrutinize only 480 papers a day out of more than 4000. And then 
he would know nothing about the 480. 

"In the office of the Chief of Staff there are approximately about 175 
papers (before our actual entry into the war) to be handled each day, 
including those which may have to pass to and from the desk of the 
Chief of Staff two or three or more times. 

"If the Chief of Staff were to lock his door and sit at his desk for three 
consecutive hours, he could give only one minute on an average, to each 
of the 175 papers. Many of them require many minutes, some of them 
hours, for reasonable consideration. It would require him to sit at his 
desk eight consecutive hours and forty-five minutes, seeing no one except 
the person bringing him papers, to give an average of three minutes to 
each paper. 

"In such a case the head of any big business must be guided by the 
judgment of others. If not, sooner or later, he must himself study the 
details of each question, which is a physical impossibility. 

"Is it not wiser to confine one's personal responsibility to that business 
which one can personally attend to, and hold responsible in other matters 

1 Bliss to Scott, April 5, 1917. 

2 Ibid. 


the person on whose judgment reliance is placed? The one who is re- 
sponsible for an opinion is the one who makes himself responsible for 
it by accepting it and taking action on it. It is not impossible that opin- 
ions may sometimes be given that would not be given were the person 
who gave them responsible for the action based on them." 

He had put himself on record in a memorandum which he had 
exploded at the foot of the ancient institutional mountain which 
he knew could not be moved yet. Baker might be against red tape, 
he might share the concern of his chief advisers that he had to meet 
so many people and sign so many papers that he had little time in 
which to think; but that governmental tradition of shifting deci- 
sions about detail to higher rank, that "passing of the buck/' which 
often wagged a paper along its slow course with its tail of endorse- 
ments, was to persist through the early months after our entry into 
the war and even against Pershing's sword slashes in clearing his 
path to the enemy. 

We proceed with Bliss* memoranda. With promotion already 
beckoning to officers of the army from the prospective war expan- 
sion of personnel, he refused to approve a plan for promoting at 
once nine hundred regular officers by name and in the order pro- 
posed. 1 This would only make more confusion. "The first thing 
that would be done in practice would be to violate the plan. I do 
not think that the discretion of the President and Secretary of War 
should be bound by the cast-iron rule of promotion proposed." 

Requests were already coming in from regular officers or through 
governors for assignment with higher rank to volunteer forces. 

"When the emergency comes it may be that this captain can be least 
of all spared," Bliss wrote, "or it may be that his services will he more 
needed with troops from another State than the one he now asks to serve 
with, or in a different arm, or in the staff rather than in the line. Never- 
theless, the approval of his request by the War Department commits the 
latter to granting his assignment at the request of a Governor of a State, 
whether it should be advisable to do so or not. ... I recommend that 
this and similar requests be disapproved; that the writer be informed 
that his application is filed with the War Department and permission 
to transmit it to the Governor of Connecticut is denied/' 2 

1 Bliss to Scott, April 3, 1917. 

2 Bliss to Scott, March 10, 19x7. 


We must have the plan for raising an army settled before we pro- 
ceed to make rules conceived to apply to contradictory and unac- 
cepted plans. Bliss continued to urge a concrete plan by the military 
experts for submission to Congress. 1 

"The essential thing to note is that in any admittedly imperfect plan 
(from the purely military point of view) there are varying degrees of 
imperfection; and that, if we give no aid to the Congress, it may adopt 
the most imperfect plan, whereas had it known it it might have as 
readily adopted the least imperfect one." 

How to convince perfectionists, military or pacifist, that there was 
no such thing as perfection was always one of Bliss' tutelary prob- 
lems. Nothing could be so wasteful of time in the preparations for 
war, which must deal swiftly with the unexpected, as delay owing 
to search for perfection or discussions as to just what constituted 
perfection. The scholar disapproved this scholastic tendency of mili- 
tary theorists who waged paper wars with the armies of their dreams. 

In the vague harassing situation, while waiting for the new Con- 
gress to assemble, Bliss strove for the concrete things which must be 
done on the basis that we must raise an army and that army would 
have to be fed, clothed, housed and armed. He had long been con- 
vinced that this army would have to serve abroad to win the deci- 
sion against Germany. Two weeks before we declared war he sought 
this information from the Quartermaster General: 

"i. Have working drawings been prepared, and blue-printed in ample 
number, for the construction of the simplest form of frame cantonment 
buildings sanitary and comfortable such as would be needed to shelter 
raw troops at regimental, brigade or division training points? 

"2. Can these blue prints, with bills of material, be at once (meaning 
by that, today) placed in sufficient numbers in the hands of Department 
Commanders (if not already done) so that their quartermasters may 
familiarize themselves with them, study the resources of local markets in 
the Department for the supply of the material, and in general be prepared 
to adapt the plans to particular sites as rapidly as the latter are deter- 

"3. Has the Quartermaster General lists of firms on which we must 
rely for the large part of the bills of material which cannot be supplied 

i Bliss to The War College Division, March 24, 1917. 


locally, for lumber, iron piping, patent roofing, etc.? 

"4. Has the Quartermaster General prepared, ready for immediate 
sending at a moment's notice, all telegraphic orders giving the exact 
quantities of various materials that we know would be needed; to be 
followed by letters also now prepared? 

"5. Can the War Department, without committing itself financially, 
open communication with probable large contractors and tell them now 
what the War Department will immediately order if the necessity arises? 

"6. Are there any contractors, of this fiscal year, for clothing, tentage, 
and equipment and supplies generally, who, for lack of appropriations, 
have not been called on for delivery up to the limit permitted by their 
contracts? If so, is the Quartermaster General prepared at a moment's 
notice to wire the necessary orders? Can he properly tell them in advance 
that such orders may be sent them at any moment? 

"7. If large numbers of men have to be trained before they can be 
equipped with regulation uniforms, etc., is the Quartermaster General 
prepared to at once recommend some kind of comfortable uniform cloth- 
ing, from hat to shoes, which can be purchased commercially in quantities 
sufficient for, say, 500,000 men?" x 

The word "properly" encountered the restrictions which still ap- 
plied. Five days later Bliss began a memorandum with a discreet 

"It is possible that in the near future the War Department may be 
placing huge orders for supplies of all kinds needed in the military 
service. It will sometimes happen that material of a certain kind will be 
required in different classes of articles supplied by the different purchas- 
ing departments of the War Department. Two departments may require 
great quantities of leather, or of woolen doth, or of canvas. If the matter 
is not properly coordinated it may result that one bureau of the War 
Department requiring great quantities of such material will find that 
the manufacturers supplying it have tied themselves up for a long time 
in contracts with another bureau of the War Department. 

"I think that this matter should be brought to the attention of bureau 
chiefs with the view to their arranging some sort of a 'steering com- 
mittee* among themselves to insure an orderly and uniform acquisition 
of supplies." 2 

In view of the later conflict of overlapping orders and the troubles 
over priority, it was clear that the lecturer on military science, who 

1 Bliss to Scott, March 21, 1917. 

2 Bliss to Scott, March 29, 1917. 


had studied European and our Civil War army systems and the 
errors of the Spanish War, had not forgotten his lessons. 

On April 2, four days before our entry into the war, Bliss had 
word from Quartermaster General Henry G. Sharpe that, including 
the regular army and National Guard, five hundred thousand men 
could be equipped by July 31, 1917, and their equipment could be 
maintained. 1 "An additional 500,000 men can be equipped by De- 
cember 31, 1917, provided the orders are given now." The orders 
could not be given before we were at war, no increase of forces 
authorized, and the annual routine appropriations for peace not 
yet passed. But the Quartermaster General Sharpe had already vio- 
lated the law by committing himself to some initial orders with 
Baker's approval. 

Bliss took little interest in the rearrangement of territorial army 
departments before our entry. "The very first problem we have to 
solve," he wrote, "is the raising, organizing and equipping of a 
sufficient force to do anything with/' 2 But he would also look ahead 
to the means of getting this army to Europe and earnestly suggested 
that precautions be taken against sabotage of the German ships 
interned in our ports. 3 

It would take longer to build ships than to make the army. The 
army would be helpless when it was ready if it had not sea trans- 
port. Months before public attention centered in the drive for a 
"bridge to France" he asked the War College experts to make a study 
of this question, 

"How long would it require to transport 500,000 troops, infantry, 
cavalry, artillery, auxiliary arms, horses, guns, ammunition, etc., from 
the United States to, say, the port of Havre, France? We could assume 
that for this purpose all of the present interned German vessels could be 
put in order and used. Also, whatever other shipping of our own or 
that we might charter from abroad that could be found available, but I 
think that it ought also to be assumed that we can not afford to divert 
any shipping which is now needed for the necessary trade of the United 
States including the shipment of supplies of all kinds that we are send- 
ing to the Allies. The foregoing being worked out, how much tonnage 
must be set apart for constant service in transportation of supplies of 

1 Bliss to Scott, April 2, 1917. 

2 Bliss to Scott, March 27, 1917. 
a Bliss to Scott, March 31, 1917. 







all kinds for this force of ours in Europe, for bringing back sick and 
wounded, etc.?" 1 

In answer the college said it had previously made a study of land- 
ing an American army in Macedonia, to operate on the enemy flank, 
which is interesting in view of Bliss* attitude on the Supreme War 
Council toward the diversion of any of our forces to Macedonia 
or elsewhere from the western front. The college also had just made 
a study of a landing in Holland, probably in response to the talk 
of the time that Holland might be drawn into the war by unre- 
stricted submarine warfare. The college strongly opposed sending 
regular units with their full complement of regular officers abroad, 
since many would be needed for home training, or any piecemeal 
reinforcement of the Allies. We should have at least five hundred 
thousand men ready before we began our movement. Our theater 
of operation must depend upon counsel with the Allies after our 
entry, and based on the understanding that for the two years re- 
quired for our effective preparation (which would have brought 
the date set to March, 1919) the Allies must expect only naval and 
economic aid from us. It was estimated that for each hundred thou- 
sand men abroad we must have seven hundred thousand tons of 
shipping, or three million five hundred thousand tons for five hun- 
dred thousand. Not enough for an hundred thousand was in sight. 2 
Such was the outlook for Secretary Baker and his little group of 
advisers less than a week before the Congress declared war. 

On the day of the declaration of war, Bliss wrote to a friend in 
answer to a question: 

"For years I have advocated raising the strength of an infantry com- 
pany to 250 men. I have never seen any reason that convinces me that 
American officers cannot train American men in companies of that size 
as easily as they do in Europe. If we could organize our infantry com- 
panies in that way it would increase our total regular army at war 
strength to the vicinity of 375,000 men. However, the beginning of a war 
is a bad time to effect a radical reorganization. I suspect that whatever 
we begin with we will have to carry through to the end," * 

Bliss was only ahead of the event in this as in many other mat- 
ters. When Pershing's authority as field commander backed the re- 

1 Bliss to Kuhn, March 27, 1917. 

2 Bliss to Scott, March 31, 1917. 

a To Judge George Gray, March 31, 1917. 


quest for large companies, after his study of European armies, we 
hastened to change our organization, at the cost of a good deal of 
trouble, which might have been avoided if we had accepted the mod- 
ern idea at the start. 


ON the day they voted for war there had been no change in the 
view of members of the Congress, which was warranted in a strictly 
literal sense by the attitude of the Allies before our entry, that only 
our financial and economic aid was required to win the day for the 
Allies. The pilots of the War Department might hope for favoring 
winds but must be prepared for hurricanes on uncharted seas. They 
alone could realize their responsibilities and the range of possibili- 
ties in an uncertain future. They had no illusions that their pre- 
vision could be sufficiently equal to the event to win public ap- 

If we should not have to send soldiers to France, then our army 
of a million, breaking camp without action, would appear as a 
grand and costly gesture. To make preparations only for the gesture 
might lead to a Boabdillian fiasco, to shame and humiliation, should 
the million have to turn the gestures to blows and need another 
million for their support. 

Success or failure in the formation and execution of a plan de- 
pended largely upon the kind of Secretary of War, Chief and As- 
sistant Chief of Staff we had, and then upon the kind of man we 
had as commander in the field if we sent an army to France. Public 
impatience might prevent a sound and thorough plan; it might 
handicap the prompt results which the public expected from any 
plan. Application and energy were not enough; there must be cour- 
age in following any sound and thorough plan through. 

Baker was the keystone of the arch which spanned the gulf be- 
tween the small professional military world, under such sudden ex- 
pansion, and the huge civil world in its tumult of energy in un- 
familiar channels. His approach to his task became supremely 
important in the example it set for his advisers and all men called 
to the colors. 

It was clear at once that his philosophy and temperament assured 
the instinctive practice of the good intention of being the Secretary 


of War of the whole, uninfluenced by his association with the politi- 
cal party then in power. The military experts for that whole were 
the professional soldiers we had paid and trained for such an emer- 
gency as was now upon us. Their respect for him through the past 
year had risen to devotion. He would have the crystallization of their 
best thought direct professional policy; he would secure teamplay 
out of their zeal, their professional and human jealousies in their 
day of power and promotion. 

But the door of their professional cloisters must be opened to 
the advice of the men who supplied the sinews of war, who cared 
for the welfare of the soldiers and who were, in turn, experts in 
their worlds. These, too, in their ambitions and jealousies, and their 
contradictions of ideas and methods must be brought into team- 
play. Beyond that was the teamplay of the whole to prevent waste 
motion and direct confusion away from the chaos that seemed in- 
evitable. The pioneer chief of staff of civil production was Frank A. 
Scott, Chairman of the Munitions Standards Board. 

Yet all this was only a conception as a guide in the ordeal of 
execution. How far did Baker measure up to his task? And how far 
did the two Scotts and Bliss measure up to theirs? It might also be 
asked, when the business was war and war is fighting, how much 
of the real fighting spirit was in the natures of Baker and his Chief 
and Assistant Chief of Staff? War had been abhorrent to Baker. He 
had been denounced as a pacifist when he was appointed. Scott 
had seen frontier fighting, but he had been best known as a com- 
rade and peacemaker among the Indians. Bliss had won his star on 
a peace detail and since then his greatest contribution had been in 
keeping the peace with Mexico. It took time to prove that Baker, 
once he had to make war, would be a stern warrior. 

That old maxim youth for war and action was heard among the 
restive besieging the War Department. It appealed to popular 
imagination and to the younger men of the army while the elders 
could point to the age of the first von Moltke and to Joffre and 
Hindenburg. Scott and Bliss were sixty-three. They would retire in 
a few months under our army law which sets an age limit for ef- 
ficiency in command, high or low, assuring the march's end this side 
of dotage. Why, under the weight of years, which fitted them to sit 
rather than to spring into the double-quick, should Scott and Bliss 


be retained in power in this emergency? When public impatience 
should break in a storm, as it was bound to, after we had been six 
months in the war and our army was not yet advancing victoriously 
to the Rhine, it might be said that nothing else could have been 
expected from having given professional preparations in charge of 
these two ancients. 

At forty-six Baker, himself, might naturally turn to younger aides 
when the slow pacing of army peace routine was suddenly sub- 
jected to war pressure. But the immediate question was how far 
the capacities of Scott and Bliss were fitted to the hour's need, after 
it was decided just what was the hour's need. This was not to lead 
charges in France. It was not to run races. It was integrity, poise, 
character, prestige. 

The two elders when they stood before Baker's desk had an ap- 
pealing majesty. Honesty shone out of their direct glances. Both 
had a quality which assured him that they were not time-servers 
who nodded when he nodded. They were deep wells of experience. 
They personified all the sound traditions of the army. He knew 
them in intimate association in the Mexican crisis in which they 
had avoided many pitfalls. They would be an austere barrier against 
any corrupt practices, the play of political favoritism and intrigue 
which scandalized the conduct of the Spanish War, and which would 
require very subtle covering to escape detection by Bliss. 

In forming our army the two would hold to the immemorial 
principles which had never been departed from except at the ex- 
pense of disaster or waste of blood and treasure in success. Since 
we had to build from the ground up they would build a foundation 
which would bear the great load that might be imposed. Baker had 
complete teamplay in these two classmates whose variant characters 
may have explained their mutual affection. Scott, the student of 
the Indian sign language, had a way of expressing himself in signs; 
Bliss, the student of the classics, had the gift of exposition. Scott 
would call in subordinates and tell them what to do; Bliss would 
summon them in conference, listen, and then decide on policy. 
When Scott had a baffling problem he would turn to Bliss to work 
it out before he passed the word for action. 

Scott's early championship of the draft earned his title as its 
father. He was sympathetic with the young group of officers who 


were busily but covertly feeding out propaganda to the press to 
indoctrinate our people in favor of the draft before our entry into 
the war. Bliss had no doubt that the draft was the right and fair 
system. He was sure we would come to it under the force of circum- 
stances if we had to make a large army. But he was cool to military 
propaganda in its behalf. He held that it was the business of the 
Congress to say how the army should be raised; the duty of officers 
was limited to training and commanding it. 

Scott wanted to incorporate an argument for the draft in his an- 
nual report of 1916. One day he went in to Baker to state his reasons. 
Bliss accompanied him, and seated himself in a corner of Baker's 
office while Scott took the floor. Receptive as Baker was to the con- 
sideration of all suggestions, clear as Scott's points were in his own 
mind, Scott was not making good headway with a Secretary who did 
not understand the Indian sign language. The articulate Bliss 
stepped forward to help out his inarticulate classmate with an anal- 
ysis which won the Secretary's approval for the inclusion of the 
expert view for public information in Scott's report. 1 

Regardless of the system by which the army was raised, camps 
must be ready first to receive the men and officers trained in readi- 
ness to train them. Commissions would not go by political or pro- 
fessional favor as in the Spanish War. In applying a scientific sys- 
tem, which made its test in the training record of the aspirant class, 
group as well as political influence should have no part. 

"This question has been thoroughly studied by the General Staff," 
Bliss wrote with reference to a proposal to establish an officers' 
training camp at Harvard University. 

"Without a dissenting opinion, the Staff agreed upon a carefully worked 
out plan. This plan is thoroughly democratic and puts everyone on an 
even plane. Day before yesterday the Secretary of War approved this 
plan. It was communicated to Department Commanders and work has 
begun in execution of it. Yesterday the authorities of Georgetown Uni- 
versity came to the War Department to secure a special training camp 
at that institution. The decision of the Secretary of War was shown to 
them, and they left satisfied that there would be no discrimination nor 

"The course proposed by the military instructor at Harvard is un- 

i Major General Dennis E. Nolan to the author. 


democratic and clannish. If approved it will have to be approved in many 
other cases, and result in many camps conducted under, in my judgment, 
the worst auspices for the unbiased selection of reserve officers. What 
is wanted is for these young men to go into the established camps where 
they will 'rub elbows' with the mechanics* sons and the farmers* sons. 

"I consider the course proposed to be unjust to others, thoroughly un- 
democratic and both politically and militarily unwise." x 

On the other hand, Samuel Gompers as chief of the American 
Federation of Labor, speaking for another group, would have labor 
go to war in units under its own foremen. Mr. Gompers made a 
most logical argument from his premises for this system, which would 
assure the solidarity and the spirit of corps of tried fellowship as 
opposed to the undemocratic plan of turning to college men, with 
no experience of practical affairs, for officer material. Bliss wrote 
this enlightening analysis for Gompers: 

"Most of us, before we stop to reason a bit about the matter, have 
an instinctive sympathy with Mr. Gompers' idea that a body of men 
engaging themselves to leave their homes on any such dangerous busi- 
ness as the present war should have the right to elect the men who are 
to lead and command them. And the strange thing is that even when we 
stop to reason about it and we all (including the very men in whose 
behalf Mr. Gompers writes) emphatically reject the idea in the case of 
every other dangerous occupation in life, some of us still cling to the 
belief that his idea is sound in the occupation which is incomparably 
the most dangerous of all. 

"Mr. Gompers, like many of us, is led into a false analogy by not 
carrying his analogy far enough, by not working it backwards as well as 
forwards and seeing whether he arrives at the same conclusion in either 
direction. He assumes a company of soldiers raised in, say, a mining 
town. The men are accustomed to work under certain foremen, gang 
bosses, etc.; they have come to have confidence in the quickness of wit 
of these men, their readiness in resource, their forceful character; and 
they are therefore the men that the soldiers of the company would 
naturally choose to lead and command them. It would be natural enough 
and proper, if the company was going to march to another town and 
there dig another mine such as the one they had just left. But would it be 
natural and proper for them thus to elect from their number a man to 
run the locomotive of the express train that is to take them from one 
town to another? Or to elect their foremen and bosses if they are sud- 
denly, all inexperienced, told off to work in a high explosive factory? 

i Bliss to Scott, April 19, ,1917. 


"Let us work the analogy in the other direction. Let us suppose that 
a company of soldiers, experienced in field fortification, trench warfare 
and all that sort of thing is, in the exigency of the war, told off to dig 
a coal mine. They do not know how to sink a shaft, to drive a drift, to 
support a tunnel, to guard against coal gases; but they want to elect a 
foreman because, in their previous business, he was an expert in bring- 
ing down hostile aeroplanes, a section boss because he was resourceful 
in leading them through wire entanglements against the enemy's trenches. 
Mr. Gompers would be the first to exclaim against such a thing. He would 
say 'I can give you men, some of whom are experts and all of whom 
know at least something more than these men do about digging a coal 
mine. If you take them they will at the least prevent some mistakes, will 
save some money and some lives. As the good men under them learn the 
business they will be promoted to take the places of those ahead of them 
who will fall out only too rapidly. And they will then take these 
places, not by a mere election, but by a common conviction that they 
have qualified in this particular business and not because they knew 
some other and quite unrelated business.' 

"The condition of things desired by Mr. Gompers would have been 
realized before this could the democratic views of the General Staff (and, 
recently, the views of the entire War Department) have been put into 
effect. The General Staff has long held the belief that in a democracy 
all able-bodied men should receive a reasonable amount of military 
training, for the same reason that the State trains them to read and 
write, in order that they may not only intelligently support their de- 
mocracy by their ballots but also with equal intelligence defend it when 
necessary by force of their arms. But until recently the times were not 
ripe with us for this idea. We believed that democracy could be main- 
tained by ballots alone, until we found ourselves in the midst of a world 
at war to redeem and preserve it by arms. 

"Two years ago the Secretary of War presented to the people a plan 
which, if adopted, would have given us, even in this short time, an army 
of 500,000 trained' citizen-soldiers with another 500,000 under training. 
Our arsenals would have been filled with many necessary materials of 
war and be rapidly filling with others. It would have been done under 
the schoolmastership of a regular army of less than half our present 
strength. It would have been done at a tithe of the cost we are now going 
to pay, without haste, without disruption of business, with the waste 
which comes with the expenditure of enormous sums in a short time, 
and with it all we would have been fairly ready when the emergency came. 

"Had the plan been carried out, a fair proportion of the young men 
for whom Mr. Gompers speaks would have now received military training 
and a fair proportion of their own number would have qualified as of- 
ficers for them and for training and commanding the extra numbers 
who must now be called out. 


"But the plan failed largely by the opposition of Congressmen who 
believed they were representing the opposition of this very class of men. 
And now we find ourselves confronted by a situation where we must 
train officers in order to train the men and we must take these officers 
from those who are willing to undergo the hard preliminary training. 
We intend to assign these officers, as far as practicable, to train the men 
from their own localities. We would have been only too glad if the class 
of men described on p. 2 of Mr. Gompers' letter had volunteered to 
receive this training. Unfortunately for all of us that class has held aloof. 
They are still the best men in their respective businesses to guard the 
interests, protect the rights and the health and the lives of the men work- 
ing under them; but in the totally different business of modern war the 
false democracy which would at the very outset entrust to their control 
men equally untrained with themselves would wantonly jeopardize their 
health and life and with it the military success on which the preserva- 
tion of real democracy depends/' x 

The scholar, who was averse to university and labor groups, was 
equally averse to another group plan to which he gave very extensive 
attention in a brief for Baker's information. He reasoned not only 
backwards and forwards but crosswise and through former President 
Theodore Roosevelt's eager, dynamic and highly appealing proposal 
that he should lead a volunteer division to France. If one public 
leader were to have this privilege, why not others, thus wrecking the 
idea of a homogeneous, scientific army. Bliss' arguments, as crystal- 
lized by Baker in his correspondence with Roosevelt, became a potent 
factor in balking the gallant Rough Rider's ambition. 

Among the delegated steps which kept up a continuous ringing 
on the tiles of the corridor outside the Secretary's office, were those 
directed by the enormous local expenditures in the regions where 
the cantonments for the training of the soldiers were to be located. 
A camp corporation had been proposed, leaving the selection to the 
Secretary, himself, who had troubles enough without listening to 
all the pleas of local Congressmen and interests. 

Bliss was paternally insistent that this unnecessary burden should 
not be imposed upon Baker. The selections ought to be made by 
the department commanders or commanding generals of the di- 
visional areas. "They and their staffs will be on the spot and will 
give first hand information" while they had "the cooperation of 
quartermaster, engineer and sanitary experts of the army to aid 

i Bliss to Baker, April 21, 1917. 


them in the decision as to which were the most suitable sites." x It 
is easy to imagine how the wrangles over camp sites might have 
reached the floor of the Congress for an airing and led to long de- 

With immense contracts for building, munitions and supplies 
being made and thousands of commissions as reserve officers (aside 
from those being trained for line command) being given to those 
who were to direct the work, the ugly danger of war profiteering 
appeared. Bliss held that there should be no removal of the restric- 
tion in the case of reserve officers which applied to those of the 
regular service. They must have no personal interest in any business 
which might come under their supervision. The rule, he wrote, was 
one "safeguarding the interests of the United States/' If this were 
not enough, "dissatisfied contractors are liable to make the charge 
that a firm which had some of its officials in the Reserve Corps 
had received favors. We may know that that charge is not true, but 
it is the kind of charge on which Congressional investigations have 
been ordered in the past and are likely to be ordered in the future." 2 
In short, Bliss reasoned that this apprehension ought to be con- 
vincing if the appeal to ethical standards was not. 

Meanwhile the War Department in its costly preparations as the 
nation called for speed was proceeding on a promise to pay. In 
view of the enormous grants of funds at a later President's personal 
disposition in his war on an economic depression, the Congressional 
attitude in a war against an armed enemy is surely worth mention- 
ing as a contrast in legislative moods. The Congress had supplied 
President Wilson with an emergency sum of an hundred million 
dollars which must be distributed among the departments, includ- 
ing naval as well as army preparations. The Congressional illusion 
that our mere potentiality set in the balance against the Teutonic 
powers would be sufficient was challenged by the staff experts' esti- 
mate that three billions of dollars would be needed to equip and 
place the million in the field, which the War Department continued 
to prepare for, although no further appropriation was made by the 
Congress until June 15.3 This surely required a certain amount of 
courage and patience on the part of Baker and the two elders. 

1 Bliss to Scott, May 7, 1917. 

2 Bliss to Scott, May 11, 1917. 

a Newton J>. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I, 247. 


EVERY movement in our preparations brought the reminder that 
we were not acting as a single nation but with Allies. We waited 
upon the arrival o the British and French missions of experts in 
the United States to bring the light fresh from their councils and 
the front into the darkness in which we groped with only one sure 
premise in our grasp: we must have men in organized units and 
equipped as the first step in making an army regardless of how 
or where it was to play its part. 

Our inner circle of experts knew that the situation of the Allies 
had suffered a most serious reverse in the spring offensive by the 
French on the western front; they were certain that Russia might 
be counted out of the war for any further effective action. Their 
receptiveness upon the missions' arrival amounted to humility. As 
professionals they fully appreciated the value of veteran profes- 
sional experience with the European military machines. Once they 
had the Allied plan, then they could proceed with intelligence toward 
a given goal. 

But the Allies had no common plan. If they had realized the 
value of bringing us one, instead of adding confusion to our own 
guesswork as to what they would expect of us, they had not acted 
upon it. They had not even met in counsel before they left Europe 
on different ships. Under the spell of our enormous resources, the 
vast wealth we had accrued during the war, and the immense reser- 
voir of our fresh man-power, they naturally hastened each to pre- 
sent his own case to strengthen his own hand as the best way to win 
the war for what was publicly a common cause. 

Arthur Balfour was the statesman of the British mission and 
former Premier M. Ren6 Viviani of the French. General Tom 
Bridges was the chief soldier of the British and Marshal Joffre of 
the French. Their first concern was loans from us for their depleted 
war chests. Once these were made, both sides were in agreement that 



the Allied situation was desperate, that they needed immediate as- 
sistance on the battle-field and that evidence of our good faith 
should be given promptly by the actual presence of American 
soldiers in France to show our flag. 1 They were in agreement on the 
principle that as theirs was the veterans' experience in command our 
man-power should be under their tutelage, which the British would 
have British and the French would have French. 

A most significant memorandum is that of Bliss to Scott on May 
4. If the Allies could have united on the plan it proposed, and if 
they had supplied the shipping requisite for this prompt action to 
meet the demand which they considered so urgent, the course of 
our part in the war might have been changed. We might have had 
an army of five hundred thousand men in training in France before 
the end of the summer of 1917, or eight months before Pershing's 
total attained that number. 

In reading this memorandum we must bear in mind the differ- 
ence, so pronounced in the preservation of official secrecy for mili- 
tary ends, between the outside and inside view. Our public was still 
unaware of the true situation on the western front, or in Russia, 
or of the heavy inroads on shipping by the unrestricted submarine 
campaign which had brought us into the war. Marshal Joffre's con- 
fident address before the United States Senate and on other public 
occasions was in utter contrast to his frank confession at a secret 
meeting with our war college experts, who knew what he expected 
of them while the Congress and the people did not. 2 

As background for this memorandum of May 4, more than three 
weeks before Pershing departed for France, it is also important to 
realize that the army which we were about to raise would be under 
a greater handicap in meeting the German army than our minute 
men and frontiersmen in meeting the British in the Revolution. 
Our forefathers had their own hunting rifles which were really 
superior to those issued to the British regulars. When cannon were 
not used in their skirmishes, the Americans were on at least an even 
footing in arms. But it would take more than a year, probably nearer 
two, before we could equip our army of 1917 with sufficient rifles 
of our own pattern and adequate artillery. We had the untrained 

1 War College Division Records, 9971-^-47 and 9971-04. 

2 Ibid., 9971-0-4. 


man-power, and the Allied plants were in full tide of arms produc- 
tion, more than able to meet the needs of their waning man-power 
in guns if not in shells. All this was evident at the time this mem- 
orandum was written, but the force of it could not be applied until 

If the recommendations of this memorandum could have been 
followed it might change the plans for our huge cantonments which 
were yet on paper; and in it we have an early mention of the prob- 
lem of the preservation of the independence of our army, which 
was to become the subject of such exhaustive negotiations and dis- 
cussion and to try the patience of Pershing. 

"i. Both the English and French Missions are agreed as to the neces- 
sity, if we wish to take part in the present war during this year, of send- 
ing our troops to Europe at the very earliest possible moment. Their 
proposition is no longer to send over a small division and then retain 
the rest of our troops at home until they complete their training here, 
but to send them abroad for their training as rapidly as they can be 
organized and as rapidly as available shipping can take them. So earnest 
are they in this matter that they assume the probability, at the outset at 
least, of our getting all our military equipment from existing stocks in 
Europe. General Bridges' proposition even contemplates the possibility, 
if our troops were to join and operate with the English, of our subsisting 
on their ration. 

"From this point of view, our proposed divisional training areas will 
be places to organize and clothe our troops, without the necessity of 
giving them technical training in the methods of combat pursued on the 
western front. In fact, any attempt of ours to give such instruction might 
complicate matters by teaching men things in America that they will 
have to unlearn in Europe. 

"Personally, my view has always been that if we want to get into this 
war 'with both feet' at the earliest possible day, the only way to do it is 
to follow the recommendations of the two Missions. I have not given 
it detailed consideration because I have assumed that the available ship- 
ping will be so small in amount that the great mass of our troops would 
have to remain here for months during which they might better be trained 
under the supervision of officers whom we might borrow from the English 
and French armies, and which have already been offered to us. If the 
Allies can assure us shipping in such amount that, combined with what 
we may make available ourselves, we can count on constant ferriage over 
the Atlantic, I should unhesitatingly recommend that we adopt this plan 
and do all of our training after arrival in Europe. 

"If such a plan be feasible I would move all but a small pan of our 


regular army and of the National Guard and the first 500,000 men to 
Europe as rapidly as they are organized, clothed and can be transported. 
The feasibility will depend largely upon the amount of shipping that the 
Allies can release for our steady use. The announcement of such a move- 
ment and evidence of its feasibility would produce a vastly greater moral 
effect on the combatants in Europe on both sides than the sending of a 
division or any other small force with no evidence that it was to be 
rapidly followed by a large army. 

"2. If it were announced that two divisions of the regular army and 
two of the National Guard (without indicating the composition of these 
divisions) were to go abroad as soon as shipping for transportation be 
available, it is likely that the regular army with all of its increments and 
the National Guard would be filled up by volunteers with a rush. The 
regular army, with all of its increments, would still have every regiment 
with its field officers and most or perhaps all of its captains regular of- 
ficers now in the service. They would have a small proportion of old non- 
commissioned officers and trained enlisted men. The junior officers and 
the rest of the enlisted men would be new. But as the English and French 
Missions contemplate a certain period of training at the front these 
regiments, with their considerable proportion of experienced officers, 
would be in good shape in a very short time. If we cannot follow the 
plan suggested in paragraph i above, I think that we should announce 
our intention of doing something like that which is suggested in this 
paragraph. It would result in our occupying from the beginning some- 
thing more than a very inconspicuous position and would entitle our 
commanding general to the consideration that his force would warrant. 
We could from the beginning secure our proper and independent place 
on the line and not run the risk of having our organizations fed in here 
and there and thus losing our identity as a national army under our 
own control. [Italics are the author's.] 

"3. I fully agreed with what General Bridges says as to the desirability 
of our taking the English rifle just as it is, provided we can get sufficient 
numbers of these to arm all our troops that may go into the field until 
such time as we can re-arm them in a body with our own rifle." 

Bliss favored adopting the British guns if the British could supply 
them in sufficient quantity, and we were to train with the British 
on account of the common language. He favored a six gun battery. 
Men who served in France and who remember our big divisions, 
our troubles about replacements and our system of training, will 
have their own opinions about the rest of this memorandum, which 
was approved by Scott, in its policy and foresight. 

"5. I fully agree with what General Bridges says as to the necessity of 
adopting the sso-man company. I have believed this for years. 


"It almost of necessity carries with it the recognition of the battalion 
as the fighting unit instead of the regiment. 

"This leads inevitably to a reconsideration of the present organization 
of our division. I believe that our division is too large and unwieldy. 
Both the French and English have come to a division of, in paper 
strength, 12 infantry battalions, divided in the French organization into 
two brigades of six battalions each and in the English organization into 
three brigades of four battalions each. The English add a pioneer bat- 
talion which corresponds, I suppose, to our battalion of engineers. The 
rest of their division apparently consists of artillery with, I suppose, a 
proper but small proportion of auxiliary services. They seem to have ex- 
cluded the cavalry from the divisional organization. 

"I am inclined to the opinion that our cavalry should be a field army 
organization to be attached to divisions in just such proportion as the 
work of an individual division requires, which is often nil. 

"I believe that we will come to some such organization in the course of 
this war, whether we now like it or not, and it might just as well be 
studied out now. We already provide for a fourth battalion in our regi- 
ments as a depot battalion. A demand for reinforcements (not a demand 
to replace casualties) may cause these depot battalions to be hurried to 
the front. They must be immediately replaced by others and by and by 
we may have several depot battalions for one so-called regiment. Before 
the war is over we may, like the English and French, have twenty-five 
or thirty battalions forming part of one paper regiment. 

"6. General Bridges says that we can have transport wagons, harness, 
etc. for two divisions supplied to us 'on the other side/ In order to save 
transportation and shipping the troops which first go over should carry 
nothing that can be given them by the English or French on arrival. 
I do not know whether the 'etc/ of General Bridges includes animals. 
If it does not, they must be sent. 

"7. General Bridges speaks of the desirability of our officers learning 
in advance something of the system of warfare now being carried on by 
the English and French troops. I think that the officer who is to be 
assigned to command the first expedition, together with his entire staff 
and possibly the colonels of all his regiments, should be immediately sent 
abroad in order to study the situation and methods at first hand before 
the arrival of their troops. Their presence here is not necessary for the 
movement of the command. This will be largely attended to up to the 
moment of leaving port by officers who will not form part of the ex- 
pedition. A temporary commander can be appointed with such^staff as is 
necessary, taken out of the remaining officers of the command." 

Whether or not the announcement that we were to send five 
hundred thousand men to France immediately would have speeded 
up volunteering, the response had been so disappointing the third 


week after our entry into the war that the adoption of the draft 
became a necessity, regardless of its virtues as the fair system, if we 
were to raise an army of a million. Both houses of the Congress had 
passed a draft bill by April 29, but the final act was not to come 
out of conference for three weeks. 

Pershing, who had been chosen with the recommendation of 
both Scott and Bliss, arrived in Washington on May 10, from the 
Mexican border. While he gathered his staff and listened to the 
advice of the Allied experts, he was soon to discover the truth of 
Bliss' remark that the members of neither Allied mission were even 
"allied among themselves/' They had the same variety of views 
about tactics and requirements that ever prevail in the discussions 
in staff councils. Some members of the French mission were not of 
the Joffre partisans in French military circles. Colonel Fabre thought 
that we could give no military assistance. 1 Bridges of the British 
thought we could, and Joffre that we must. They did agree that we 
must be in the war with our flesh and blood as well as money and 
factories. The British yielded to French pressure for decision that 
the troops we sent to France should be attached to the French army 
for training. The British who alone might have shipping to spare 
would supply none, and we must depend upon such as we could 
muster of our own for transport of our first small expedition. Bliss 
wrote two days after Pershing's arrival in Washington: 2 

"I understand that the original instructions of the Secretary of War 
contemplated a force which could be sent to France quickly, in order 
to secure the moral effect which its prompt arrival would, it was believed, 
produce; and further, that for this purpose a force of about 12,000 men, 
practically without animals and without arms was to be formed. Receiving 
arms in Europe, a great amount of transportation would be unnecessary 
for ammunition. 

"It appears that the French officers think that, while their govern- 
ment could supply deficiencies in armament and equipment for the first 
expedition, the moral effect of our force arriving fully armed and 
equipped would be greater. Will the moral effect be greater due to 
promptness of arrival or the possession of full equipment? If the former, 
sea-tonnage must be cut to the minimum." [For sea-tonnage did not weigh 
much in the mind of the French who thought in terms of land trans- 
port, while sea-tonnage was never out of Bliss* mind.] 

1 Major General Joseph E. Kuhn to the author. 

2 Bliss to Scott, May is, 1917. 


"Will the moral effect be due to the belief of the French that the first 
expedition is the advance guard of a large army rapidly following and 
also fully armed and equipped? If so, exultation will be changed into 
depression in a short time." On their own statements, the French 
are actually declining in numbers and must soon consolidate two di- 
visions to get one at full strength, and with the present campaign the 
British will begin to decline in numbers; but they are both able to keep 
up their original supply of material. This means that they will have a 
constantly increasing supply of rifles and that from time to time batteries 
of serviceable artillery will go out of action from lack of men to serve 

"Why should we introduce new calibers on the line while rifles and 
guns and ammunition, in increasing numbers, are waiting for us to use 
them, with no chance of confusion due to different types?" 

Bliss was as insistent on this main point as on shipping; we must 
be able to transport our men and also they must have weapons. The 
British rifle plants which had been built in the United States early 
in the war could produce their Enfield in quantitative excess of 
their own present needs as the French could light artillery. The 
British plants were able to hasten a supply of Enfields which we modi- 
fied to suit our needs. It eventuated that the amount of artillery and 
also of machine guns of our own make which was just then coming 
into huge quantity production at homewe had in France at the 
close of the war was insignificant, although mass production from 
our new plants was beginning and would have given us an ample 
supply in 1919. 

The Allied missions had given us one definite impression: we 
must prepare to send a large force to France to insure victory if 
Russia were to be counted out of the war as a combatant factor on 
the side of the Allies, when it was the view of military experts that 
only a miracle could bring back discipline and an aggressive spirit 
to her disintegrating army. 

We would send the small force to France as a gesture for moral 
effect the Allies desired, but this was little help in forming a policy 
for a large force which must strike heavy blows. Baker decided to 
send the man who was to command it ahead of the troops to France 
with a staff of experts to study the situation first hand and to make 
the recommendations which should be the guide of our home prep- 
arations. Meanwhile, the conflict of Allied advice and appeals which 


led to this had revised our own ideas and strengthened the con- 
viction that we must preserve the independence of our army. The 
situation had become quite different from when Bliss had proposed 
to do our part in the emergency by dispatching five hundred thou- 
sand men at once if the Allies would meet our offer with sufficient 
shipping. He wrote to Baker on May 25: 

"It is very refreshing to read such sound and well-considered views as 
those expressed by Mr. Moore x in his letter, herewith, to Colonel House, 
and which you have permitted me to see. 

"Of course, you know what has been the consistent and oft-repeated 
view of our General Staff. Until the arrival of the English and French 
Missions it was not assumed by anyone that we would do anything else 
than be guided by what, up to that time, had been the repeated recom- 
mendations and hopes exjltessed by many high officials, both civil and 
military, in England and France. These hopes and recommendations 
were to the effect that we would avoid what proved to be the grave error 
on the part of the English in attempting to take a decided part in the 
land warfare before they were ready. They sacrificed their regular army 
their only means for training raw levies, in the early days of the war, 
and perhaps this was a necessity. But you can imagine what a helpless 
mob a body of a million or more of men is when it has not an ample 
leaven of trained officers and veteran troops to organize and train it. And 
England found herself with such a mob on her hands after the practical 
destruction of her regular forces. It caused the larger part of the long 
delay which ensued before this mob could be gotten into shape for field 

"We assumed that, taking advantage of the experience of the English 
and believing that it would not be necessary to send away a part of our 
small regular army needed for the training of raw troops at home, we 
would have a considerable period for careful and intensive training and 
that none of our troops would go abroad until next spring. We did not 
assume that the Entente Allies were in such a condition as to make any 
other course desirable or necessary. As you know, all our estimates, carried 
in the pending large appropriation bill, were based on the assumption 
of this somewhat prolonged period of training. They did not include 
the huge expenses that will be incurred when we actually begin to engage 
in the war with its corresponding enormous loss and waste of expensive 
material of all kinds. 

"Our knowledge of what seems to be the real situation began to clarify 
shortly after the arrival of the English and French Missions. The gentle- 
men belonging to these Missions at first were very reserved in their con- 

i George Gordon Moore who had been frequently a guest of Field Marshal Sir John 
French at his headquarters when French was in command of the British Army in France. 


ferences with us. At first they laid stress only on the desirability of having 
a small body of troops go to the European theatre of war for the mere 
purpose of producing a moral effect. At first they spoke of this moral 
effect as being one to be produced on the troops and people of the 
Entente Allies. As they began to speak more unreservedly they let it 
appear that they wanted also to produce a moral effect upon our own 
people. They did not seem to think that we, as a nation, were interested 
enough in the matter, and that we needed something to wake us up. 
It was not long before they said quite openly that we would not feel that 
we were in the war until we were well 'blooded'; that what we needed 
was to have a large casualty list telegraphed home and that that would 
stir our fighting blood. 

"As you know, these views did not change the belief of our General 
Staff that we should properly train and organize and thoroughly equip 
and prepare for war a real and formidable force before we attempted to 
go across the water, but as the foreign gentlemen spoke more and more 
freely it became evident that what they want and need is men, whether 
trained or not. They have urged us to send small organizations, even 
companies, as rapidly as they can be organized, and allow them to be 
trained abroad. They have told us that while it requires a long time 
to train a large army so that it will play its part properly on the firing 
line, the recruits that must be fed in in order to keep that line at its full 
strength do not require so much training. This, of course, is quite evi- 
dently true; an untrained man between two veterans will soon get to do 
his work well, whereas if all three are untrained they are helpless. 

"It seemed to most of us that what both the English and French really 
wanted from us was not a large well-trained army but a large number of 
smaller units which they could feed promptly into their line as parts of 
their own organizations in order to maintain their man power at full 
strength. General Bridges told us that the French man power had for 
some time been steadily going down and that it will never reach its 
former strength unless it is reinforced in some such way as indicated 
above. He also told us that the English man power will never exceed 
its present strength and that with the present campaign it will steadily 
decline. He told us that if the French receive no such reinforcements 
they will now have to consolidate two divisions into one in order to 
obtain one of reasonably full strength. He said that England and France 
could keep up their supply of material but not men; that in fact they 
were sure to have an excess of material, because new rifles were unused 
for lack of men to fire them and batteries of artillery were going out of 
action not for want of field guns but for want of men to serve them. His 
idea seemed to be that we could feed in large numbers of organizations, 
going to Europe unarmed and using material already there for which 
they had no men and for which in the near future they would have still 
fewer men. 


"All of these considerations raise a very grave question in my mind; 
shall we wait to train, equip and arm our troops, or shall we feed them 
in as reinforcements to the English and to the French, taking with us 
such arms as we have and such as we may be able to manufacture and also 
using such as we can obtain in France? If we follow the latter course 
it will be at a greatly disproportionate sacrifice of life and suffering on 
our part and it is problematical whether it will, after all, produce a 
decisive result. 

"When the war is over it may be a literal fact that the American flag 
may not have appeared anywhere on the line because our organizations 
will simply be parts of battalions and regiments of the Entente Allies. We 
might have a million men there and yet no American army and no 
American commander. Speaking frankly, I have received the impression 
from English and French officers that such is their deliberate desire. 

"I and many other General Staff officers have expressed, in our discus- 
sions, the same view as that held by Mr. Moore in his letter to Colonel 
House; to wit, that the time has come for the English and the French 
to stand fast and wait until our reinforcements can reach them in such 
a way as to give the final, shattering blow. I doubt if the Allies will con- 
template with satisfaction such a course so long as they can hope to get 
our men rapidly, whether trained or not, but I think it is a course which 
our Government should urge upon them with all the force at its disposal." 

This letter was signed by Bliss, not as Assistant Chief of Staff but 
as Acting Chief of Staff. Classmate Scott, still officially Chief of 
Staff, had departed to bring the weight of his military position on 
the mission to Russia under Elihu Root, who was seen by the mili- 
tary experts as going on a forlorn hope; but he might have suc- 
ceeded if the eloquent theorist Kerensky could have been imbued 
with the strength and decision to strike as hard against the Bolshe- 
viks as Lenin and his group had struck at him. 1 In that event the 
history of our part in the war as well as that of the future of Russia 
might have read quite differently. 

On May 31, when the passage of the Draft Act led to the expan- 
sion of the original plan to more than a million men, Bliss was 
back on the subject of shipping with a leonine earnestness. In want 
of any from the Allies, who had huge piles of supplies waiting on 
our docks for shipment, the responsibility for providing transport 
for our army was with the new Shipping Board, which was in the 
throes of its own initial mad effort to hasten construction in compe- 

i Elihu Root to the author. 


tition for material with the new war plants and cantonments. Bliss 
wrote to Baker recommending that "the attention of the Shipping 
Board be invited to the following": 

"i. For the purposes of this war we are now engaged in raising an 
army which, on the addition of those called out by the selective draft, 
will number approximately 1,400,000 men. 

"2. Even if all of the training be completed in the United States (except 
the relatively small part which all anticipate must be given after arrival 
in Europe before actually engaging in trench warfare), some 900,000 will 
be awaiting transportation early in the Autumn. 

"3. Even if we had at our uninterrupted disposal the ships listed in 
your letter of May s8th and assuming (which in my opinion would be an 
underestimate) that these vessels could make one round trip with troops 
each month it would require four years to transport the above number 
of troops from the United States to France. 1 

"4. If we sent abroad only the troops of the regular army and the 
National Guard, at war strength, it would require at the above rate two 
years and one-half to transport them with the shipping listed in your 
letter of May 28th. 

"5. The situation which thus appears to confront us will rapidly be- 
come intolerable. The country has assumed and the Allies in Europe 
have assumed that the force we now propose to train would be ready to 
take its part in the war in, at the maximum, a year but it is evident that we 
cannot transport this force across the Atlantic in one year from now even 
if we were to begin it tomorrow and without any training, without a 
very large increase in the number of ships asked for by you. 

"6. Before another step is taken the War Department should know 
exactly what it can count upon in this matter. If the Allies need food and 
general supplies to the exclusion of troops it seems to me that it would 
be an inexcusable thing for us to raise this large body of men now, nor 
can we tell when it will be wise to begin raising them until the question 
of transportation is definitely settled. Until that is done we can make no 
plan whatever. I have stated above the length of time that would be 
required to transport only the regular army and the National Guard 
with the ships enumerated in your letter of May 28th. If we cannot have 
that amount of transportation constantly available that time will be 
much increased. It seems to me that it will be an act of inexcusable folly 
to call out even a large portion of these troops, and much more so to call 
out the selective draft army, with an entirely unnecessary expense of 
perhaps two billion dollars incurred after the troops are ready to go 
abroad and before they can be sent. 

i Six months later in the critical winter of 1917-18 the "turn around" averaged over 
two months. 


"7. If it be decided that the shipping interests must take precedence 
over the military ones it would be better to devote that two billion dol- 
lars to the construction of ships and wait until we see at a definite date 
ahead of us a reasonable supply of such ships for transportation purposes 
before we begin the expense of raising troops and the unnecessary drain 
of the man power of the country away from industrial pursuits. 

"8. I repeat what I have said above that no military plan whatever 
can be made until the question of transportation is settled and then our 
military plan, if it be a wise one, must be based on the amount of such 

Baker continued to stress the importance of shipping to the 
harassed Board as it came to grips with the execution of its magnif- 
icent program of swift construction which flattered pride in our in- 
dustrial speed and resource. At the time the nation's thought was 
concentrated on the draft, the building of the cantonments, and 
the summoning of the men to the colors. We must raise an army 
and prepare to arm it. Professional military opinion generally held 
that self respect and sound preparation required that we should not 
depend upon foreign arms; and professional ambition sought to 
make better arms than the Allies had. Our public hailed the pros- 
pect of American inventive and manufacturing genius demonstrat- 
ing its superiority. 

To have suggested that haste in raising an army was less im- 
portant than haste in providing transport would have brought a 
public storm at home and discouragement to the Allied publics 
who judged our good faith by our willingness to bring our man- 
power to bear in the trenches. The Allied army staffs would have 
protested against the diversion of Allied shipping to bring over un- 
trained soldiers and munitions and supplies for them when the 
Allied people were on food rations. The inconsistencies of public 
emotion and political policies is as inherent in war as the unex- 
pected. Baker saw his part as training the men promptly while other 
chiefs built the ships. 

Six months later we had the crisis of no ships for the divisions 
that were ready to embark. But we did have the divisions, when the 
Allies began calling for all we had in camp, and more, in the great 
crisis of the war. 


THE Secretary did not have to consider who should take Scott's 
place. Automatically Bliss occupied it, moving from his former 
desk to the one in the room adjoining that of the Secretary, whose 
respect for Bliss* advice had grown daily since our entry into the 
war. Bliss would remain there until Scott's return, or his retirement 
on September 22, and Bliss until his retirement on December 31, and 
then Baker planned to have a chief fresh from service in France 
whom Pershing would approve as a teammate. 1 

Meanwhile, there was no sign that Bliss* reservoir of wisdom 
would run dry in the coming months or the faucet get clogged for 
words to analyze a major problem. His memory was a cyclopedic 
reference in the essential details of army administration. Upon this 
as a background was stamped the blue-print of the great complex 
plan of 1917 as a guide in its future development. 

When asked to describe the relationship between the Secretary 
of War and the Chief of Staff, Baker said it would be very difficult 
but he undertook it in some detail in a dictated statement at the 
author's request. 

"Each day at two o'clock, an hour observed with almost religious 
fidelity by both, the Chief of Staff would come into my office with one 
or more wire desk baskets piled high with papers. Taking his seat op- 
posite me at the desk, Bliss would take bundles of papers from the basket 
one by one explaining the critical point, the decision reached, and the 
action proposed to be taken, and then hand the paper to me for signature. 

"I would suppose that in about fifty or sixty per cent of the cases, the 
papers were routine and my signature ended the matter. In another 
twenty-five per cent there would be some element of strangeness or excep- 
tion which Bliss would scrupulously point out, as for instance saying, 
*Mr. Secretary, this is almost like the case you had several weeks ago with 
regard to Officer X, but tkere is this difference between the two cases/ 
and so on. As to cases like this, there would usually be a question or two 
from me answered by brief statements from Bliss setting forth army 

i Baker to the author. 



practice in analogous matters. Some of the twenty-five per cent, thus con- 
sidered I would reserve for reflection. A whole bundle of papers would 
be left with me as to each such question. 

"The remaining papers when their character was stated would clearly 
deal with questions of policy upon which the decision was likely to make 
precedents or determine important future action. If I was clear about 
these, they were decided immediately. Wherever, however, I was in doubt, 
they, too, were reserved for further study and some of them for conference 
with other cabinet officers or the President. Each bundle of papers con- 
sisted of a number of documents beginning with the original letter, com- 
munication or report which raised the question requiring action with the 
normal endorsements upon it as it progressed through military channels 
to the office of the Secretary of War; studies were then attached by ap- 
propriate sections of the General Staff, opinions by the Judge Advocate 
General when legal questions were involved, the Inspector General for 
disciplinary matters, etc. Then generally a written review by the As- 
sistant Chief of Staff, approved by the Chief of Staff, or in matters of 
great moment, a careful written review by the Chief of Staff himself was 

"Whenever any officer member of a section of the General Staff dis- 
sented, his reasons were stated in full and all concurrences and dissents 
were included in the file so that when I came to examine it, I had the 
benefit of each point of view on the question. Many of these papers I 
took home with me and worked at on Sundays, but I rarely took any 
home at night as it was my practice to be in the War Department every 
night quite late and there were no hours left for anything but sleep 
when I finally got home. When I agreed with the recommendations of 
the Chief of Staff upon full examination of these reserved cases, I simply 
signed the papers and sent them to his room. When I disagreed, I brought 
them up at our next conference for further conversation, or in several 
instances where I was quite dear, I dictated final opinions, attached them 
to the papers, and so returned them as decided questions." x 

In another letter, which is a most valuable characterization of Bliss 
by his chief, Baker wrote: 

"Bliss had in a higher degree than anybody else with whom I have 
ever been in contact, the habit of deliberate and consecutive thinking. 
Nearly everybody else, including myself, thinks spasmodically and if a 
good idea occurs to me, I reach a good solution, but Bliss 7 mind was a 
comprehensive card index and his method of using it was like one of 
these machines they have in the Census Bureau where you feed in ten 

i Letter of July 23, 1934. 


thousand cards with various data upon them and then read at the bottom 
of the machine the total number of cross-eyed persons in the ten thousand. 
He had what I like to call a brooding intelligence and nothing is more 
characteristic of my recollection of him than to see him sitting in his 
office or mine, looking out the window making up his mind. It was a 
slow, methodical, inclusive, and consecutive recollection of each material 
element to which there was automatically given the proper weight, and 
when he relaxed he had a result which he could state, almost categorically, 
and demonstrate to anybody who doubted by instantly marshaling all 
the questions and considerations on both sides. 

"I do not know whether I have really conveyed a picture, but I have 
one in my own mind. When he had a problem to solve, he thought it out 
first from beginning to end. When he had reached his conclusion, the 
statement of the conclusion was as convincing to an auditor as the demon- 
stration of a proposition in Euclid. Our conferences, therefore, really con- 
sisted in a series of brief statements by Bliss much of the character of 
British judicial statements when a judge sums up a case." 1 

Scott might nod with fatigue under the ordeal of papers which 
army tradition still insisted upon referring to the Chief of Staff 
when they ought to have been settled by a subordinate; but Bliss 
would sometimes talk and growl to himself in his sifting for the 
Secretary as he worked his way through another batch which wasted 
the time he needed for more vital business. One night he was caught 
in a rebellious mood by Baker, who had summoned a meeting of 
staff chiefs in Bliss* office, but had himself been unavoidably de- 
tained beyond the hour set. As he entered the door with his usual 
swift, quiet step the chiefs were seated around the room in the 
shadow while Bliss, his bald dome under the drop light, his eye- 
brows and mustache stiff, was signing papers, papers, more and 
more papers. Buck-passing might be a good way to keep the army 
occupied in peace, but it was out of place in war when the worried 
Allies could not decide just what it was they wanted us to do and 
the Congress had appropriated no funds to do anything with. 

"Here we are still waiting! Why doesn't that Secretary of War 
keep his appointments?" 

Baker overheard this as he entered, unnoted by Bliss but noted 
by the other chiefs, who relished the situation. Bliss was still mut- 
tering about that tardy Secretary of War when he became aware 

i Letter of July 30, 1934. 


that someone was standing in front of his desk and he looked up to 
see that it was Baker. 1 

"Mr. Secretary/' he said, as he rose with squared shoulders in 
the attitude of a salute, "I did not mean to make any personal ref- 
erences in your presence." Baker chuckled. The incident made him 
fonder than ever of Bliss. In after years Bliss thought it could not 
have happened just as reported by Baker. He could never have 
shown such disrespect to his chief, who had drawn on his imagina- 
tion to make a good story. 

Though Bliss did not lack words for major problems, he was not 
quite true to his inheritance from his pedagogical father in patient 
elucidation for the purposes of instruction on occasions when all 
his experience told him an idea was wrong. 

"It's all rot," he remarked in returning a memorandum by a 
brilliant but highly sensitive staff officer. 2 

General Graves, who was Secretary of the General Staff, and later 
Assistant Chief of Staff, told Bliss that the officer was much hurt, 
and felt that he would be happier if transferred now that he had 
evidently become superfluous. 

"He's very valuable," Bliss replied. "If he weren't, do you sup- 
pose I'd want him around here? But that idea was all rot. Tell him 
he can't be right all the time." 

There were occasions when the appearance of some old army 
comrade whom he had not seen for years would make him spring 
up from his desk with a smile that spread over his whole face and 
radiated the glad transport of his whole being in his vigorous wel- 
come. He would forget the complexity of his present ordeal of this 
present hideous war, enveloping all mankind in its rending steel 
clutches, in recalling incidents of happier and simpler days in Cuba, 
the Philippines or on the Mexican border. Baker relates an in- 

"John Greenway and I had been school boys together. Later John be- 
came a Roosevelt Rough Rider and then went to Arizona and became a 
copper magnate. After we went into the War, John came into my office one 
day and told me that he was still a bachelor, had more money than it was 

1 Baker to the author. 

2 Major General W. S. Graves to the author. 


good for anybody to have, and that if anybody ought to expose his life 
fighting for his country, he was that man, so he had come in to get a com- 
mission. Even to John I stuck to the rules and explained that commissions 
were given only on the recommendation of the Personnel Committee of 
the General Staff, but that I would take him to the Chief of Staff and get 
him to send him to the Personnel Committee for their judgment. I opened 
the door into Bliss' office, John following me and started to make some 
introduction to General Bliss of my boyhood friend, when to my surprise 
they literally rushed into each others' arms with as fine an exhibition of 
manly emotion and affection as I have ever seen. Bliss then explained to 
me that John had been an invaluable friend when he was in command on 
the border, and John smilingly finished the narrative by saying that .one 
day he had some occasion to go to Bliss' office to meet him to confer on 
some local military problem and that having inquired where he was likely 
to find the new commanding general, he was directed out to the line of 
the international frontier where a line of bales of cotton had been placed 
to protect our frontier guard from stray bullets fired by the various Mexi- 
can factions at one another on the other side of the line. Behind one of 
these bales of cotton, he found General Bliss lying on his back reading a 
yellow backed novel which turned out to be a copy of Plato's 'Republic' 
in the original Greek with the back torn off and the yellow cover of 'Mr. 
Barnes of New York' pasted on so that he would not seem high hat to his 
staff." * 

Again such was Bliss' preoccupation with some subject that he 
might seem quite official, direct and a little offish to a man of whom 
he was very fond. Such was the experience of Brigadier General 
Palmer E. Pierce, who had nine jobs in the formative period as 
liaison officer between the army and industry, and later commanded 
a brigade in France. 2 Subsequently the high respect Bliss had for 
his ability had most material proof. Just before Bliss started abroad 
to serve on the Supreme War Council, when Pierce entered Baker's 
office where Bliss was present, Baker exclaimed to Pierce: "You 
cannot go. We cannot spare you from Washington yet." Bliss had 
chosen Pierce as the best fitted expert to accompany him abroad 
to effect Inter-Allied industrial coordination. 

Sometimes he would slip under his 'desk blotter papers which 
he was not yet ready to sign or reject, and which had better wait. One 
day Graves slyly retrieved one that a sub-chief wanted back. 

"You took a paper from under my blotter yesterday when I was 

1 Baker's letter to the author* July 30, 1934. 

2 Pierce to the author. 


in the Secretary's office," Bliss told Graves the next day. "I knew 
it was there. It might be so important soon that I was holding it 
there to keep it in mind." Delay would not break or put flesh on any 
bones. Immediate action might be important to the author of the 
paper but not yet to the whole. It might never be to the whole, but 
if it were the Chief of Staff would know that its turn had come. 

Across the hall from Bliss' office Pershing and Harbord were 
making up the list of their pioneer staff experts for France, striving 
to get good men out of the meager professional personnel, without 
robbing the home organization of men who appeared indispensable 
to key positions at home. The day before their departure they had 
as yet received no formal instructions, so they wrote a letter em- 
bodying their idea of what they should be in the form of a letter 
from the Chief of Staff to Pershing. 1 

Harbord took this to Bliss, who was besieged by papers and call- 
ers. Bliss read it, saw that it was sound and recognized the custom 
by which officers often wrote their own travel orders. If Pershing 
wanted that kind of a letter from the Chief of Staff he should have 
it. 2 Bliss signed it and passed it back to Harbord. 

On this occasion the scholar might have drawn on his extensive 
vocabulary to explain that formal instructions were being prepared. 
If he had, Pershing would not have wondered why he had two letters 
of instruction. 3 With a student of history for Secretary of War and 
for Chief of Staff the busy mills of the War Department would 
hardly neglect precedent which had particular importance when 
we were sending a commander to France to cooperate with Allies 
in a European war in which we were so uncertain of our part. Major 
General Francis J. Kernan had been assigned to draft instructions 
to be signed by the Secretary of War. 4 On the morning of May 28 
before Pershing's departure for France, Baker said at their final in- 

"Here are your orders, General. The President has just ap- 
proved them." 5 

1 Major General James G. Harbord to the author. 

2 Bliss' statement to Baker. 

3 My Experiences in the World War. Pershing. I, 37. 
* Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I. I'ya. 
5 Ibid. I, 171. /a 


They began with "The President directs" in the regular official 
form. Without giving the whole in this book, the fifth significant 
paragraph is repeated: 

"In military operations against the Imperial German Government you 
are directed to cooperate with the forces of the other countries employed 
against that enemy; but in so doing the underlying idea must be kept 
in view that the forces of the United States are a separate and distinct 
component of the combined forces, the identity of which must be pre- 
served. This fundamental rule is subject to such minor exceptions in 
particular circumstances as your judgment may approve. The action is 
confided to you, and you will exercise full discretion in determining the 
manner of cooperation. But until the forces of the United States are in 
your judgment sufficiently strong to warrant operations as an independent 
command, it is understood that you will cooperate as component of 
whatever army you may be assigned to by the French Government." 

The letter to Pershing which Bliss signed had no reference to 
maintaining the independence of our army. Its importance could 
not have been brought home to Pershing in the previous weeks as 
it had to Baker and Bliss since the arrival of the Allied missions. 
Moreover, Pershing might have taken it for granted. Later the point 
was to be much labored, but the forethought of the War Depart- 
ment became a guide in meeting the difficulties inherent in applying 
the prevision. 

Pershing had full latitude in deciding as to the character of any 
emergency in which the Allies appealed to us to sacrifice the identity 
of our forces. In this strange destiny which sent an American com- 
mander to France, he was to have at the outset power which previous 
American commanders from Washington to Grant had won by slow 
degrees. His wishes were to be supreme. The home plan was to be 
molded and adjusted to meet his plan. All Baker's knowledge of 
general history and Bliss* knowledge of general and military his- 
tory as applied to the present phenomenal situation they saw as 
casting them for parts of servants of the army in the field. 

On his right hand Baker had a military sage near retirement, 
whose advice could be influenced by no selfish interest, who knew 
he would be out of the army before Pershing was ready for action, 
who might not have a field command, and who knew that none of 
the glory of field triumphs could rub off on him. 


By July 6 Pershing had made his estimate of the situation. His 
cable made the most gigantic requisition which ever came from an 
army commander. He did not lead up to the brutal truth by piece- 
meal approaches but put the whole of it in one parcel. It was no 
shock to Bliss, who had never had any illusion that the war could 
be won by an American gesture. 

As necessary for victory Pershing's project contemplated a mil- 
lion men in France with provision for expansion to two millions. 
So the plan to raise a million had not been extravagant and the 
additional half million might not be enough. But so strained were 
the resources of the Allies that the financial and economic aid we 
were to give them must include the building of piers, supply depots, 
and railroad sidings, the rolling stock for railroads and transport 
on land a vast plant for maintenance of our army across the breadth 
of France. When Baker and Bliss met in conference they faced the 
building of a new world to be constructed overseas while the home 
world could hardly muster enough shipping to transport the small 
pioneer expeditionary force, and our production was at full tide 
to meet Allied consumption. 

At the time, more than a million tons of freight for the Allied 
governments were piled up in our five eastern seaports awaiting 
transportation overseas. Of these two hundred thousand were in 
freight cars, of which there was a shortage for land transport. "The 
office of the Chief of Staff was created and endowed with supervisory 
and coordinating powers for the very purpose of meeting condi- 
tions such as are presented by our undertaking active operations on 
a foreign terrain," wrote General Kernan, now acting as Assistant 
Chief of Staff, four days before the receipt of Pershing's cable. 

The former collector of customs in Cuba, in the midst of a be- 
wildering number of suggestions on all subjects, must probe in a 
maze of contradictory information on a most vital subject in order 
to approximate some definite method with responsible concentra- 
tion of authority to establish ports of debarkation for men and 

We were certain of a sufficiency of only one kind of material: the 
draft would provide youth enough for the hopper. Pershing could 
be sure of his million, of two millions, three, once officers had been 
trained to train them and they were equipped, armed, and trans- 


ported. This was the home problem; Pershing's to make them into 
a fighting machine and move forward the supplies, when they were 
forthcoming, from ports to the front. The division of authority was 
drawn by a line which was the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean. 


DURING the next four months of unremitting pressure, when major 
questions were decided in conference with Baker or at the meet- 
ings of staff chiefs at which Baker presided, the relative meagerness 
of the counselor's written record leaves a void which could have 
been filled only by his personal reminiscences. 

Our people were quite unaware of the magnitude of our unprece- 
dented enterprise, which grew with each day's exploration, after 
Pershing's original stupendous requisition with its remarkable fore- 
sight as to the needs for victory which time was to confirm. At the 
time, Pershing's countrymen at home were still thinking that our 
funds and stiffening counsel placed at Russia's disposal would gal- 
vanize her enormous soldier mass into a fresh effort. We read that 
Pershing and his staff were in London; we heard whispers that we 
were sending over a small expeditionary force to France to show the 

When our troops had departed for the Civil War fronts and for 
Cuba we had cheered their march forth; but on this occasion we 
were warned of the tightening of realities under modern military 
secrecy which precluded us from knowing the reasons for actions, 
or drinking stirrup cups and waving flags in the godspeed of an au 
revoir which we knew, in many instances, meant farewell. The fog 
of war had moved across the Atlantic beyond our ports to our camps. 
Bliss wrote, 

"It is a little difficult for people in civil life to understand that, under 
present conditions, the safety of our troops goes hand in hand with a 
possible temporary discomfort or inconvenience or even hardship. For 
their sake the War Department has to lay stress on the former rather than 
on the latter. I am sure that Mrs. Drexel will understand what I mean 
from the following: 

"Not long ago we organized the first expedition to France. The troops 
were moving from various parts of the country on confidential schedules 
of the railroads. Of course, when people in any community saw a troop 

166 r 


train going through they knew that we were moving troops but the object 
of it they could only guess nor did they know the exact routes or scheduled 
times of arrival at various places. We all know that there are many 
half-insane 'cranks' in the country; and there are undoubtedly many alien 
spies and enemies who would do harm if they got a chance. We have now 
over 60,000 troops guarding railroad bridges, tunnels, and other im- 
portant points. Nevertheless there are a vast number of places which 
cannot be guarded. 

"If the general community knew the exact time of arrival of troop 
trains at given places there would be great opportunity afforded t6 
criminally disposed enemies to cause some great disaster. We may not be 
able to guard against this absolutely but it is evident that our favorable 
chances are increased by having as much secrecy as possible. We all think, 
and I have no doubt the troops themselves think, that it will be better 
to go without the refreshments which Mrs. Drexel and her organization 
so kindly wish to offer to the soldiers rather than to take the unnecessary 
risk that would result from allowing the railroads to give her the informa- 
tion which she desires and which could not possibly be kept secret from 
the general public. 

"Another thing that we are trying to guard against and that is to keep 
alien enemies from knowing that we are assembling troops at a particular 
place and time, because it is very possible that information may be 
conveyed abroad in time to enable the German submarines to prepare 
an attack." 1 

When the Committee on Public Information wanted permission 
for newspaper men to accompany the Navy, Pershing's attitude 
meant a War Department refusal. The Navy was the trustee for 
their lives until they were through the submarine danger zone. It 
was for Pershing to announce their arrival and with the approval 
of the exacting Allied censorship, which was insistent on the point 
to supply such news of their doings and of all succeeding rein- 
forcements as he thought wise. He was the trustee for their lives in 
the coming ordeal which outsiders thought might be brief, even 
only a display march for the sake of Allied morale, and which the 
insiders in the urgent company of the stark truth, knew must last 
a long time. It was certain only that it could not end until the sur- 
vivors on their return voyage would require no naval convoy but 
cross a free ocean in peace. 

This secrecy numbed or intensified suspense among the people 
according to individual mood. It eliminated the old glory and emo- 

i Letter to Jefferson R. Kean of the American National Red Cross, June 27, 1917. 


tional compensations of war which we had enjoyed in the minor 
affair with Spain, when we had pen pictures of the character and 
actions of leading personalities in the Santiago campaign which 
we had followed as if it were a football game in which the Spaniards 
stood for the deadly rival of our own alma mater. 

Then, if the Spaniards had spies, we did not bother about them; 
we had no Allies to circumscribe the satisfaction of our public curi- 
osity. Now, we might not know our heroes in order to acclaim them. 
The A. E. F. was an entirely anonymous institution into which we 
were to feed all our strength. But this was the way of this record- 
breaking war in which we must justify our national character with 
some record breaking of our own. We would play the game and 
conform to the changing rules which the European masters of the 
art made out of the latest lessons of the exclusive news which they 
had from the front or the munition factories. But the commanding 
general in France seemed a very remote person and the War De- 
partment, which gave out so little information, moved in mysterious 
and often incomprehensible ways. 

Bliss' well of sentiment was rarely tapped in a written communi- 
cation, but it appears in a manner which his father would have ap- 
proved in the following letter: 

" 'What shall the conscripted man do between now and his going to 
the cantonments to mentally fit himself for the war?' you ask. He has 
no time now to study books and learn the theory of what he will soon be 
learning by practice. But it is the mental and moral attitude in which he 
approaches his new duty that will constitute his best preparation for it. 
Let him read and do whatever will strengthen his devotion to the ideals 
of his country; that will make him realize that in his individual hands 
has been placed the honor of his family and his people and that he 
must bring it back unstained except, perhaps, it be reddened by his blood 
in defense of it; that will make him resolve that, in fighting to the end 
a war for justice and humanity, he shall not come back with the knowl- 
edge that he has wantonly done anything to add to the brutality and 
savagery of it; and, more than all, let him read those things that were 
read to him at his mother's knees, that will help him to keep a clean 
spirit in a clean body, so that if the time should come when he has to pay 
the last full measure of devotion it will be a sacrifice without stain or 
blemish that he will lay on his country's altar." x 

i Letter to D. C. Vandercook, August 7, 1917. 


Once the soldier was trained his power should not be diverted 
from Pershing's army on any tangent adventure. As Chief of Staff, 
just short of a year before he counseled against the Siberian expe- 
dition in the Supreme War Council, Bliss wrote in answer to a 
suggestion which appealed to our Pacific slope: 

"Any attempt to send a force to Russia at this time would be in viola- 
tion of the military principles of concentrated effort. While it may well 
be said that the sending of a small force is not dispersion in great enough 
degree to cause any appreciable harm, it should be understood that this 
force, even though small, must be supplied and must be furnished with 
replacement troops. Thus the danger is that from a small psychological 
force (that is, a force sent to produce merely moral effect) we might be 
forced by circumstances to send more and more troops to back up this 
force. We would thus arrive at dispersion with the added disadvantage 
of starting without proper organization for the forces which may ulti- 
mately be required. If we send a small force it would be wasted; we 
cannot send a large force without entirely changing our plan for operat- 
ing on the Western front nor could we get a large force over the Pacific 
in time to produce any effect." 1 

At the time we had no shipping to spare on the Pacific and not 
enough on the Atlantic to transport and supply a hundred thousand 
men for Pershing. 

It was Pershing's position that Bliss kept in mind. He had the im- 
agination to put himself in another's place. Out of his own experi- 
ence with the contradictions of Allied advice and his understanding 
of the swift change of tactics and situation he envisioned Pershing's 
difficulties as one sound reason why Pershing should have unre- 
stricted authority. Later Bliss said in tapping his recollection in 
answer to an inquiry: 

"It was after General Pershing left that Marshal Joffre had a con- 
fidential interview at the War College with the President of the War 
College, the Chief of Staff, and myself. At this interview he described in 
the most grave manner the depressed condition of French national morale. 
He insisted that the main object of his own personal mission would be ac- 
complished with the arrival in France with General Pershing of 'one small 
American division* showing the American flag in Paris. He said that it 
made no difference whether this division was properly organized or not; 
that the main thing was to show the American uniform on American 

i Letter to Julius Kahn, Representative in Congress from California, August 4, 1917. 


soldiers in France. 

"At this interview I reminded him of the necessary slowness with which 
we would get our troops into training camps; would get them clothed, 
equipped and trained; and I then asked him whether the exaltation of 
French national spirit that he anticipated would be aroused by the 
arrival of the first 'small division' would not be followed by an even 
greater depression when the French people realized that that small di- 
vision, instead of being the advance guard of a continuously arriving 
column, was not to be followed by any more for an indefinite time. At 
this he hesitated for a moment and then said, in substance, 'Well, per- 
haps it will be desirable to send a couple more such divisions at proper 
intervals in order to keep up that French spirit. But/ he added, 'you 
can then take your time in training your troops.' 

"In short, nobody then knew when our troops would be ready nor what 
their organization was to be." x 

In the cable of July 6 we had Pershing's own view that the morale 
we must supply was a million combatant troops. This was simple to 
the lay mind. But its very important corollary in adjustment of the 
home plan, which was not so simple to the lay mind, would be his 
plan of technical organization, the size of companies, battalions, reg- 
iments, brigades, divisions, corps and armies, the number of smaller 
units in each larger unit, and the character and strength of auxili^ 
aries, which were most suitable for us in warfare on the western 
front. Here Pershing was not only subject to Allied advice, but to 
the discussions of his own staff of experts. 

On July 21, two weeks after Pershing's call for a million men and 
possibly a million in addition, Bliss wrote to Kuhn, President of the 
War College: 

"The ideas of General Pershing and his officers are rapidly changing 
as to the divisional organization they require. ... It would seem that the 
only practicable way now is to let our divisions go to camp as originally 
contemplated and after they are shaken down, direct the Division Com- 
manders to proceed with the formation of a division within their respec- 
tive commands as having the organization that the Commanding General 
in France desires." 2 

Joffre had told our staff that we should make a division of the 
same size as that of the French, 17,000-18,000, which was practically 

1 Letter to Major General E. F. McGlachlin, November 14 1021 

2 War College Division Records, 8481-28. 


that of all major European armies. Late in July tables came from 
France, not only providing for the sso-man company but for a di- 
vision one and a half times the numbers of the European. Within 
two weeks our first series of officers' training camps would turn out 
their first twenty-five thousand graduates to receive commissions, 
and already the material for our divisional cantonments was or- 
dered, the plans drawn, the space allotted, and building begun in 
some instances on the basis of the European division. Our regular 
divisions were in camp and our National Guard divisions were in 
camp or having their camps prepared.* 

In general the new organization was the one Bliss had favored 
before our entry into the war, but he had been for the European 
size of division. However, it was Pershing who was to form the army 
for combat, who was on the ground where it was to fight, and had 
evidently learned that special conditions applied in our Lorraine 
sector for us which did not apply to the European armies. His de- 
cision became the War Department's, without a single reminder to 
him, when he had troubles enough of his own, of the difficulties 
entailed in other major arrangements than adapting the camps to 
the enlarged division. All was accepted in the course of a non- 
military nation's determination to make a military machine of the 
first rank. As Bliss wrote in a letter after the war: 

"It involved first of all the breaking up of our National Guard organiza- 
tions so that they could fit in with his recommendations. This led to a 
long and most harassing struggle with the Governors of nearly all the 
states, supported by the National Guard officers, against the necessary 
breaking up and reorganizing of the National Guard." 2 

And at the time of the controversies: 

"I am a Pennsylvanian, myself, and have always taken the greatest 
pride in National Guard organizations. I have served with them repeat- 
edly and think I fully understand their feelings. But the reorganization is 
controlled by all-compelling military necessity. ... In effecting this 
absolutely necessary reorganization the problem that has confronted each 
division commander has been, among other things, to reorganize nine 
regiments of infantry of a certain strength each into four regiments of 

1 Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. I, 254. 

2 Letter to Major General E. F. McGlachlin, November 14, 1921. 


infantry of double that strength. This makes it absolutely necessary that 
the personnel of five regiments must be absorbed in the remaining four. 
. . . Certainly the division commanders, who were appointed by the 
governors of their states are better able to do this than anyone from the 
War Department. . . . And the divisions which are to be left at home 
will be the ones least ready to go abroad." x 

And to Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania: 2 

"I am afraid that it will be entirely impossible to intervene in the case 
of a single company. ... I sincerely trust that the gentlemen who com- 
pose the historic company to which you refer will take the patriotic view 
of the matter, and if they want to get into the war allow themselves to 
be organized for the purpose/' 

And to his old army friend, Barry: 

"Every organization which has to be broken up or amalgamated with 
some other is protesting and unloading on the War Department Gover- 
nors, Congressmen and State officials who can with difficulty be made 
to understand that without the new organization the division cannot go 
to France. ... We will not have this trouble with the National Army 
because those men do not come to us with a legal organization which 
has to be modffied later. ... My solution of the whole difficulty is to 
get the army to France as rapidly as we can, clothe it and reasonably 
equip it, and conduct its principal training there. ... I believe that a 
month's training there would be equal to three months here. They would 
be in the very atmosphere of war. Their training would be conducted 
almost within the sound of the guns. They would not have their friends 
and relatives swarming about the camps. They could and would work 
from morning until night, because they would feel that at any moment 
they were up against the real thing. Even if not fully equipped they might 
as well train there with deficient equipment as here. More than that, I 
believe that the moral effect of the presence of a million or a million 
and a half of our men on French soil would have a greater moral effect on 
the morale of the Germans than if they knew the same number were over 
here being slowly put into shape to fight." 8 

But how to get them to France? When Baker turned to the Ship- 
ping Board or to the Allies he got little encouragement. Receptivity 
to sound professional advice did not include the means to apply it. 

Nor could Bliss, as their chief, make all the regular officers happy 

1 Letter to Governor Martin G. Brumbaugh of Pennsylvania, October 23, 1917. 

2 Letter, October 8, 1917. 

3 Letter to Major General Thomas H. Barry, September 28, 1917. 


in a military enterprise in which the professionals had a measure 
of authority never accorded to them before in our history. Their 
professional philosophy, which held that there must be regulars 
drilling and organizing the recruits at home as well as leading them 
at the front, did not apply individually when they looked seaward 
where comrades were on transports bound for France. They had 
been trained for war and the war was "over there." When the na- 
tional color of fashion had become khaki and insignia indicated rank 
in that world, so rapid was the advancement in the expansion of our 
forces that no sooner was a colonel's eagle at home on a major's 
shoulder than a brigadier's star took its place. 

By what system would promotions be made? Under the old sys- 
tem it would have been in order of rank on the list, the weak 
mounting with the strong to bear the burden of an unprecedented 
strain. This time the abstract ideal of promotion by selection was 
applied in practice. Their regular superiors decided who was fittest 
among the officers from civil life who went through the mill of the 
officers' training camps. The civilian Secretary of War, who had for- 
sworn all the old influences of favoritism through political or other 
influential outside channels, also turned the strictly professional 
problem of the promotion of the regulars to command the new 
National Army over to the regulars who knew the regulars. A com- 
mittee of four, with Bliss as chairman, was appointed to make the 
selections. He shared the loss of old friendships with the members 
of the board who not only took into consideration an officer's past 
record but how fit he was physically and mentally to be jumped 
into the command of ten to twenty-five thousand men, when he 
had never before commanded five hundred. There were inevitable 
complaints to Bliss, which included those from the wives of old of- 
ficer friends. He covered the subject in this memorandum, 

"A list was first prepared by the War College of the General Staff of all 
officers by grades and arms of the service. This list was placed in the hands of 
four general officers who scrutinized it as carefully as was in their power 
to do. A list was finally made up of those on which this committee 
unanimously agreed for recommendation to the Secretary of War. The 
committee may have made mistakes. It is a human weakness to do so. 
And I have never heard of a general officer being appointed when the 
friends of the many who failed to receive the promotion did not think 


that a mistake was made. But by the method adopted it is fair to assume 
that fewer mistakes were made than would have occurred had the recom- 
mendations been made by one man not gifted with the power of omnis- 

"It goes without saying that good men were passed by. But the real 
question is 'were the best men passed by?' There were not enough places 
for all the good men. The committee had the invidious task, the most 
unpleasing one that could have been imposed on any group of officers, 
of deciding who, out of an abundance of good men, should be recom- 
mended. The committee had its own differences of opinion. Had each 
member of it submitted a separate list of recommendation these lists 
would undoubtedly have largely agreed but in respect to some names 
each would have differed from the others. An interested officer whose 
name appeared on one of the lists would have said that list was a wise 
one. Had it appeared on none of them he would have said they were all 
wrong. The committee wisely decided to be guided by the rule of 

"If we are going to have a real war, other than a siege and capture by 
storm of the public treasury, a war in the trenches and on the battle- 
field, there are many more appointments yet to be made. And of the 
generals thus far appointed, whose appointment unfortunately could not 
be dictated by a superhuman knowledge and wisdom, some will probably 
come back in the discard. That is the experience of all wars. War develops 
weaknesses unsuspected in peace; and, in many cases, strength and ability 
equally unsuspected. Every good colonel has his future in his own hands. 
None of them has a right to complain of injustice because his name was 
not included in the appointments first made. He may complain of it if, 
after demonstrating his fitness in active service, during the present war, 
which he has an opportunity to do if he is able to do it, he should be 
still passed over." 

In further explanation to an objector he wrote: 

"I began at the top of the list but passed over every name that I did 
not consider fit for service in the field in this war. I passed over the ones 
that had a colorless record. . . . When two names appeared equally 
good, but one of them was that of an officer approaching retiring age, 
I passed it over (just as I would recommend mine to be in a similar 
case) in favor of the younger one. ... If I could have done what I 
considered preeminently desirable, I would not as a rule have recom- 
mended a general officer over 45 years of age nor a colonel over 40; but 
that was impossible. 

"Unfortunately, the Regular Army either does not know the rules that 
governed us or it does not approve them. Every man whose name is 


passed over regards himself as wantonly humiliated. I know of no 
remedy." x 

The philosopher of Athenian inclinations had turned Spartan in 
keeping with this spirit. 

"In making the temporary assignments and promotions in the National 
Army for the purposes of this war no regular officer has any claim, as a 
matter of right, to any assignment of promotion. The interests of no 
individual will receive the slightest consideration where they conflict with 
the slightest assumed interest of the Government. . . . On proper recom- 
mendation and after due investigation such commission in the case of 
any officer held not to be qualified for his position in the National Army 
will be revoked. . . . Relative rank of today will not be the slightest 
clue to relative rank of tomorrow." 

To the disappointed and the friends of the disappointed he made 
the point that every one of the officers passed over "will still have 
his chance and excellent chance. It makes no difference whether the 
list was the same or a different one. Questions would be asked why 
those names which did not appear on it were not there/' 2 

In the same strain he wrote to his friend General Bell: 

"The men who go out with regiments are the men who will win high 
places by demonstrated fitness. Many men will get divisions and brigades 
who are good men to train their commands to go abroad. But I doubt 
if they themselves will go." [This was to be the fate of Bell himself, who 
was not on Pershing's list.] "It's the men who go as colonels (if not too 
old) who will get high commands six months after our part in the real 
war begins." 3 

In example there was Napoleon's saying that every soldier car- 
ries a marshal's baton in his knapsack; and there was the precedent 
of the rise of the youngsters in the Civil War. 

It occurred to few that the scholar, himself, wished for the youth 
which would give him a soldier's chance, the while he labored six- 
teen hours a day to prepare others to make the most of the chance. 
But this appears in his "I wish I were young enough to have a regi- 
ment" in the letter to Bell. It appears in another letter in which he 

1 Memorandum for the Adjutant General, August 29, 1917. 

2 Letter to Judge George Gray, August 28, 1917. 

3 To Major General J. Franklin Bell, October 12, 1917. 


said "The National Army cantonments have been a perfect night- 
mare to me" as an incident of his troubles. 

"One of the most heart-breaking things about my position is the ap- 
peals from every organization and officer, wherever stationed, to be as- 
sured of getting actively into the war. God knows I would put everyone 
there, including myself, if it could be done/' 1 

i Letter to Major General Harry C, Hale, October 12, 1917. 


OUR first casualties were not at the front but in preparing to get 
an army to the front. When exhaustion and frustration were mak- 
ing rapid eliminations in the deadly heat of the summer of 1917 
in Washington, the frequent whisper "He's cracking" was not 
heard about the human mountain of Scott's analogy. Mountains do 
not collapse from nervous prostration. 

Bliss* astounding mental and physical endurance, for one of his 
years, qualified him as one of the elders who wear juniors down. 
They are the survivors of the hardening processes of past great tests 
which fortify them for the present great test which, in turn, is mak- 
ing its selection from the young men who come fresh to it on the 
recommendation of creditable performance in previous minor tests. 

Bliss had the advantage of objectiveness in bearing the strain; of 
not confusing his ego with the cosmos which is often the undoing 
of the indispensable man, and of the ambitious man who finds that 
cosmos in such a stampede, as that upon the War Department in 1917 
may engulf him instead of providing him with a ladder. 

When one looks back at the files of the newspapers in 1917 it 
seems odd, considering his position, that Bliss should have received 
so little public attention, and the more so when his distinctive char- 
acter should have been a source of pithy copy for the press which 
was avid for anything about leading war personalities. He made the 
office of Chief of Staff an impersonal institution. 

Officers who had served with him often wondered how Bliss kept 
fit since he took little exercise when he had not the leisure to in- 
dulge his fondness for walking. Graves continued to warn him 
that he could not keep on drawing on his reserves without stopping 
unless he stretched his muscles. This might have been a more con- 
vincing argument if it had occurred to him that it was important in 
the large scheme of affairs whether his successor came to-day or to- 
morrow. Finally Graves did win his qualified assent to a horseback 



"I will if you will, Graves. You need it more than I do" as if 
he were doing Graves a favor at the prospect of much discomfort 
to himself. Since he had not been on a horse for months, the dis- 
comfort the next day was so much worse than during the ride that 
he concluded this would do for him until the war was over. 

"We'll walk hereafter/' he told Graves, with the brusqueness of 
a superior which excluded a further approach to this tiresome and 
painful subject on the part of a subordinate. So they returned to 
their previous routine. 

In the late afternoon when Bliss saw that he could escape for an 
hour from his desk, or was determined that he would, anyhow, he 
would appear in Graves' office. Graves knew the signs at once, 
whether it was to be a soliloquy first or the club at once. If a solilo- 
quy, Bliss began the talk on his own. As he paced back and forth 
he would free his mind about this folly of sending millions of youth 
to death but they must be sentor about some recent administra- 
tive absurdities for which another form of weakness in the human 
race of which he was so fond was responsible. This made him feel 
better. 1 

Or he might turn bolt to arguing out a problem of the moment. 
At first, when he did, and Graves put in an idea of his own, Bliss 
rarely appeared to hear him, but at length Graves learned the work- 
ing of Bliss' mind well enough not to waste his suggestions. When 
he made one that he thought had not occurred to Bliss or he had 
not dismissed, Bliss would stop short with a bluff, "What's that, 
Graves?" He listened for Graves' exposition, asked questions, the 
soliloquy became a discussion. Then, having had enough on the 
subject, Bliss would say: 

"Graves, let's go over to the club." 

On the way Bliss might quote from the philosophers and poets, 
who had nothing to do with the forming of armies, or point out 
the trees in the parks, many of which are not indigenous, and give 
their names with their home countries. They were still growing, war 
or no war. This one had grown enormously since he first knew it 
back in Grover Cleveland's time, but this old friend had not done 
so well. It did not like being an expatriate, it did not find the Wash- 
ington soil agreeable. Some of those tree experts in the Department 

i Major General W. S. Graves to the author. 


of Agriculture ought to give it a pick-me-up. 

At the club Bliss always insisted upon shaking dice to see who 
should pay for a drink, and then after a chat, much refreshed, and 
most triumphant if destiny had favored him in the shake, he was 
ready to proceed in lucid comprehension with the nation's affairs. 

New faces with new problems and new plans were ever appearing 
before his desk. There were already problems enough. Maybe the 
new plans were excellent, but the basic plan had been made; we 
must hold to that and to its problems, not further confuse it by 
changes or substitutions which would make for more problems. 

When all his experience said "No" on a hot day, he was not al- 
ways in a mood for listening. Raymond Fosdick was the subject of 
an eruption. He took it for granted that Fosdick was another busy- 
body of an evangelist and dreamer who wanted to expand an already 
encompassing bureaucratization by abstract moralization and tract 
distribution and an extra force in the camps, and would oppose 
prophylaxis or anything that recognized that the soldier could not 
have his human failings replaced by an angel's wings. When he 
learned that he had jumped to a conclusion from past precedents, 
and that Fosdick was a practical expert in the subject who proposed 
a combination of all the welfare organizations in a harmonious sys- 
tem of healthful relaxation and games for the soldier off duty, 1 
Bliss' receptivity had the customary warmth after he had found that 
he had been under a false impression. A way to win his friendship 
was to convince him that he had been wrong. 

The best approach to him officially was with your feet on the 
earth and no one knew this better than the old hands in the army 
family who had been among Root's young men and were now the 
elders around Baker. There were Major General Enoch H. Crowder, 
who directed the draft, and Major General John Chamberlain, the 
Inspector General for whom Bliss had such deep affection. The old 
hands could realize his difficulties. They did not have to be told 
that you cannot prepare for war over the week-end and win it on 

He still had clusters of papers around him, with fresh batches 

i Fosdick to the author. 


being placed at his elbow in spite of his recommendations upon our 
entry into the war to regulate the flow. 

"Every day there is brought to the desk o the Chief of Staff a mass of 
papers relating to the expenditure of Quartermaster funds, varying from 
a few of considerable importance to a majority of trifling importance. 
These papers are all passed upon by local authorities before reaching the 
office of Quartermaster General. They are there carefully scrutinized and 
revised. They are finally submitted by him to the Adjutant General, who 
makes a brief of the whole case, whether they are matters involving an 
expenditure of fifty dollars or one hundred thousand dollars and submits 
them to the Chief of Staff with a recommendation for approval prepared 
for his signature. The papers then go to the Assistant Secretary of War for 
final approval. 

"In time of peace it is possible that the Chief of Staff had time to give 
some consideration to the question as to whether the allotment would be 
made to repair a roof on a set of quarters or barracks, to repair a stable 
that had fallen down, etc. It is entirely impossible to do so now and the 
signature of the Chief of Staff on such papers means nothing." 1 

Baker would correct this delay, but the abuse might continue or 
reappear in another form, in the days before we had a budget sys- 
tem, when the Congress had imposed so many restraints in expendi- 
tures which had led to regulations which became gospel dogma. If 
reform were hastened too rapidly it developed that peculiar and 
artful protective bureaucratic passive resistance which was inherent 
in its veteran exponents who were still the instructors of the new 
personnel in paper routine. 

Those who were sceptical about Bliss as a modern executive, as 
they tried to speed administrative detail when he kept on mowing 
away the documentary hay, were in turn amazed by his continued 
power of concentration. Then, as they heard a flash of wisdom from 
him or his clear exposition of a major issue out of the variety of his 
knowledge and experience, they would conclude that he was a 
grand person, whether a modern executive or not, and it was good 
to have a solid peak in sight when the rest of the range was careen- 
ing. He was not given to the quick-fire of snap judgments which 
missed the target. Just when he seemed to be nodding and lost in 
detail, he lifted you up to the peak and revealed the plain and the 
i Memorandum to Baker, October 26, 1917. 


movements clear before his eyes, and then muttered, "More damned 

So, in intervals of orientation, he summoned the picture of the 
whole to guide him, perhaps in one of the heart to heart talks with 
Baker, or perhaps in a soliloquy late at night at home before his 
hours of sleep of which he required so few. Occasionally he would 
take an afternoon off in a trip with Baker to see how the drafted 
men were getting on at Camp Meade. After the day's work was 
done, which was often not until the early morning of the next day, 
a group frequently would gather in Baker's office. A last question or 
two might be decided. Then Bliss, who would have to sign no more 
papers or state the obvious again until after breakfast, sharing 
mental relaxation with Baker in turning from specific duties to 
general ideas, would expand in congenial company. 

Baker caught his historic and classic references on the wing and 
gave winged replies. There were moments when Frederick Keppel, 
who had been dean of Columbia University, had his scholarship 
tested; when Bliss' fresh interest in a subject left Ralph Hayes, the 
youngest of the group, feeling rather old, and when Fosdick as a 
humanist felt that he was sitting at the feet of the master of his own 

Bliss' yarning could bring laughter from the others, but he him- 
self was never given to laughing aloud. The mountain only trembled 
in merriment, and when a mountain trembles it may be said to be 
emotional. That twitch of his lip, the spreading smile, the way that 
he put his hand up to his mustache showed that he was completely 
absorbed in his enjoyment of the fun. On these occasions he was a 
touchstone of conversation. He was a monologist only in his solilo- 

When the autumn leaves were falling two more stars descended 
on his shoulder from the hand of Congress, making four. In the 
expansion of the army and the upward grading of rank, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief in France and the Chief of Staff had been made 
temporary generals. Their rank was related to their official posi- 
tions. We had never -given it permanently except for victory, and 
only to Washington, Grant, Sherman and Sheridan. The victory 
was yet to be won. 


We had reason to believe in October, 1917, that it was far from 
near; that, indeed, it must rest with the new army we were forming 
to strike the final, shattering blow. The only relief in the dark out- 
look from abroad had come from the sea front. Sinkings by the 
U-boats, which had risen so rapidly early in the year, were on the 
slow decrease. 

In spite of progress against the submarine danger the stock of 
the world's ships continued to decrease while war demands for trans- 
port increased; sinkings were far in excess of new building. It had 
become more evident that we must build our own ships to trans- 
port our army to France and maintain it there; and the larger the 
army the more ships we must build. 

Industrial requirements expanded in all directions. Pershing had 
found Allied resources for his aid more limited than his estimate 
from early information. At first he could foresee his needs only in 
the rough. They became more enormous as they became more con- 
crete, as did those of all our enterprises at home. 

Our national wish could not be father to prompt achievement. 
War's maw was more omnivorous than we had expected. The antici- 
pated public impatience with what appeared to be slow progress had 
come. The undeveloped negative of the whole made no picture, but 
only blots and blurs that seemed unconnected. 

We could not shell out Liberty motors as though they were peas, 
or build ships as fast as automobiles. We had to build the plants 
to build the ships, and a ship plant could not be put up overnight 
like a tent. American ambition, in the full swing of our old pioneer- 
ing confidence, had set out to do miracles. It might do them, but 
this did take time. 

The multitudinous projects were hampered for want of material, 
which the over-burdened railroads could not deliver on time if it 
could be produced on time. Some new and unexpected project be- 
came more vital than one already under way. Each captain of in- 
dustry thought his was the vital one to win the war. The calls for 
priority and coordination became a rumbling chorus in the land 
for which constituents relied on the members to be the public spokes- 
men when the Congress assembled. 

"We have been going through the same ordeal that your people 
passed through sometime ago," Bliss wrote to an English friend, 


"the ordeal that will try to the very quick a nation which believes 
that it will never get into a war until it is actually in it, and 
which has made no real preparation in anticipation of the possibility 
of it." l 

In another letter he wrote: 

"If we could only have made the little beginning that we tried to get 
Congress to authorize it would have aided us immensely in the prepara- 
tions we are now making because at least the initial steps would have been 
taken before the emergency came and things would have been given a 
shunt in the right direction. However, I do not complain." [He hoped 
that the army] "would soon be in a condition to render service that will 
force a lasting peace and make unnecessary the raising of such another 
army for a long time to come." 2 

And in forming that army Bliss had held to the original plan, 
never drawn off on side roads from the straight track to the goal. 
He had followed the sound system on immortal and proven prin- 
ciples. And confused as the development on the negative seemed to 
the public eye, the blots and the blurs would yet appear integrated 
in a composite picture, from which Baker, who was responsible for 
the whole, could not be diverted by the conflicts of advice and of 

The million were in the cantonments which had been built in 
ninety days. The draft, which many had thought would repeat the 
riots and individual resistance in the Civil War, had worked 
smoothly. We were sure of our flow of men and of officers to train 

Bliss, now within two months of retirement, was far from quar- 
reling with the idea, which he himself approved, that his successor 
should be a younger man, brought home from service in France 
where he would have become familiar with Pershing's problems to 
drive the machine that had been made. If his usefulness were over, 
and he was not kept on active service, why there were many subjects 
which he did not know about and which he might study. He could 
improve his Greek; there must be good detective stories h*e had not 
yet read. 

If Baker should send him to the Philippines to count coconuts, 

1 To Hon. "Wilfred Powell, October 14, 1917. 

2 To Charles S. Diehl, October 24, 1917. 


there would be no demur; orders were orders, as his father had 
taught him before he learned this at West Point; and these would be 
Baker's orders. And Baker was the great wise chief whom he "loved 
more than any man on earth/' x If he were to count coconuts, then 
he would count as many as the next man and count them accurately, 
and there must be much that was interesting to learn about coconuts. 

But, again, destiny appeared with a task for which the sage of the 
army was the obvious man. Partly our own coordination had been 
hampered by the lack of it among our European Allies. From our 
distance, which further hampered cooperation, each appeared to be 
fighting on his own. Members of the Allied missions in America 
were privately critical of our plan but still disagreeing in their 

Even the restrictions of the censorship, and its handmaiden of 
propaganda, had not altogether concealed from our people the grow- 
ing solicitude which stirred their impatience, while such dependable 
inside news as our government received often augmented appre- 
hension over the confused outlook. 

Russia was unmistakably out of the war for good; the Italian 
offensive had been stalled after slight gains which were evidently 
being yielded for more secure winter dispositions; the French had 
kept strictly on the defensive all summer; the British, taking the 
arrows to their breasts to relieve the weary French after their heavy 
punishment in their Spring offensive, had made no decisive progress 
in their hammering blows at Passchendaele, and the minor Allies 
were pleading for more loans and material from us to enable them 
to hold their lines. 

In response to the evident need it was decided to send a mission 
of experts abroad in the hope of tying the loose and flying ends of 
the Allied partnership together. Led by Colonel E. M. House, Presi- 
dent Wilson's closest political and diplomatic adviser, its heads were 
Oscar Crosby, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and Paul D. 
Cravath, finance; Vance McCormick, embargo and blockade; Bain- 
bridge Colby, shipping; Alonzo Taylor, food administration; 
Thomas Nelson Perkins, priority; and Admiral W. S. Benson, the 
navy. Clearly, the military counselor ought to be the one familiar 
i Bliss to the author. 


with our whole army plan from the start, Bliss. At 4 A. M., October 
28, he wrote to Baker: 

"I hoped to say an revoir to you this afternoon. But you had gone 
before I reached the office. I beg of you to take care of your health. It 
seems to me that the whole burden of the nation is being carried by 
you. And with all of that tremendous responsibility you have an equal 
responsibility to keep yourself able to bear it. You can snap your fingers 
and get an officer to replace any other one. The very nature of their 
work makes them interchangeable. But there is no similarity between 
your work and that of any other man in the country. If you had to be 
replaced he who replaced you would have months of work to fit himself 
to take up the work where you laid it down. And you know that that 
means disaster. Therefore, I again say, take care of yourself. 

"When I find myself getting a bit nervous about the somewhat (as yet) 
vague mission on which I am going I brace myself up again by thinking 
of your splendid example of devotion to work and duty. It is true, what 
I heard a Bureau Chief say, 'If anything goes wrong with the War De- 
partment it will be the fault of everybody except the Secretary of War.' 
I pray God to stay up your hands till the sun of this war has set," 

The bulletins from Italy, which had begun arriving two days ago, 
just as it was supposed that all the armies were settling down into 
stationary positions for the winter, did not promise that the sun of 
victory would set very soon for the Allies in the southern Alps. 
A powerful Austro-German offensive had struck the Italian army by 
surprise, and the movement of its converging flanks looked very 



THE chief who had been a fixture at his desk for sixteen hours a day 
had suddenly disappeared, leaving no word as to his destination. The 
only explanation from Baker, or from General John Biddle who 
was now acting in Bliss* place, was that Bliss would be absent for 
some time. In such instances of mystery it must be taken for granted 
that he had gone "over there." 

His baggage and his sheafs of reports of our war preparation 
from various chiefs, and time and quantity estimates of future 
progress were packed; and he was sitting with Mrs. Bliss waiting the 
ring of the doorbell. A naval officer appeared with a closed car, and 
the navy, in its sober responsibility for the safe transit of the mis- 
sion, slipped Bliss under the cloak of a sea fog of secrecy. He began 
the first instalment of his first letter nearly three hours later "On 
Board Special Train 55 minutes north of Baltimore," with an 
exactitude which was in keeping with the humorous appeal of all 
the care and time occupied in keeping any enemy spies from picking 
up his trail. 

"I don't suppose I can post this before we leave, but I'll begin it as a 
sort of diary, hoping that you will get it sometime. After we left the 
house, about 8.10 this evening, we zigzagged about town until I was dizzy. 
But I got my bearings when we reached the point where you turn from 
Maryland Avenue into the road to Laurel that we took going to Camp 
Meade. But instead of taking the Baltimore Pike to Laurel we went out 
the road that takes you to the farm where the Water Lily farms are. 

"Beyond that I lost my bearings. But finally we came to Kensington 
and then followed Kensington Avenue. We passed through a little place 
called Tuxedo and ten minutes or so after that we crossed a bridge over a 
railroad track. At the far end a couple more motors were waiting. We 
got out and carried our luggage down a flight of stairs and found our- 
selves on a short platform. No houses seemed to be in sight and no per- 
sons except those of our party assembled on the platform. It was too 
dark to see who they were, but finally I ran into Admiral Benson and 
his aide, Lt. Carter, and also Mr. Crosby, Asst. Sec'y of the Treasury. 



How we got there I don't know. . . . We backed and filled and doubled 
on our tracks (on the second motor journey) for half an hour or more 
before we reached the little station where we took the train. ... I'll 
learn more about it tomorrow. . . . 

"We are on our way to Halifax where we go by two American cruisers, 
convoyed by torpedo boats and with more torpedo boats to join us en 

"Thursday, Nov. i, 1917. 

"We reached Halifax Tuesday morning, October 30, about 9.30 o'clock. 
The trip had been somewhat stupid because we were locked up all the 
time. Most of the time all curtains were drawn and always at night as 
soon as it came time to turn on the electric lights. At the stops we could 
not get out to stretch our legs. The train ran 'without orders/ that is, 
no schedule had been arranged. At each division headquarters we were 
met by a railroad official (two that I met were the assistant general pas- 
senger agents of the road) who know nothing except that they were to 
run the train from station to station without a collision. So at each 
station they learned that the track was dear and so ran us through. In 
that way they expected to keep even the railroad people from knowing 
anything more than that a 'special' was going through. 

"At Halifax our train was stopped on the track on the side of a hill 
just above a dock at which one of our men-of-war was lying. It was on 
the train that I learned that we were to go abroad in two men-of-war, 
the Huntington and the St. Louis, with a destroyer named the Batch 
after the old admiral of that name. . . . The party was divided up, 
Col. House, his wife, his secretary and maid, Mr. Auchindoss, Mr. Vance 
McCormick, Admiral Benson and Major Wallace going on the Hunting- 
ton^ the rest on the St. Louis. . . . 

"It seems that the Huntington and the St. Louis left New York for 
Halifax with orders which made them think they were to go in search 
of a couple of German raiders that are supposed to have gotten out of 
the North Sea into the Atlantic. They did not know until a half hour 
before our arrival that they were to carry unknown passengers to an 
unknown destination. 

"We have been making only from 10 to 12 knots. It seems that they 
want to reach the danger zone when there is no moon. So we are to 
loaf along until we reach the oil tanker Arethusa in mid-ocean where 
our destroyer renews her supply of oil-fuel. Thai we are to hit it up 
because by that time there will be no moon. 

"Sunday, Nov. 4, 1917. 

"There are 1100 men or boys, rather, for they are all very young- 
two or three hundred of them are under instructions as 'lookouts/ gun 
crews, etc., and are drafted off from time to time to go on the transports, 


merchant ships, destroyers. Certainly the ship is well protected with look- 
outs. They are in groups all around the ship, with three groups on the 
mast, one very near the top, one about half-way up and one not far 
above the citadel. Small telescopes are mounted on boards fastened to 
the rail of the ship. Each one traverses through a certain small arc and 
the lookout is constantly on the watch for anything covered by that 
arc. Two telescopes cover the same arc. We have been getting radio mes- 
sages from all sorts of sources, German, French, English and the U. S. 
After deciphering them they are typewritten and passed around the 
ship. Day before yesterday we caught a message announcing the tor- 
pedoing of the Finland. Last night we worked our own wireless for the 
first time. They have avoided it because of the danger of giving our 
position to our 'friends/ But the weather has been so foggy that Cap- 
tain Robinson was afraid of losing the Arethusa in the darkness added to 
the fog. So he sent her a message to move to the eastward on our course 
to a point where we could expect to pick her up about 8 this morning. . . . 

"Tuesday, November 6, 1917, 4 P.M. 

"We have had a rather harassing 24 hours. At 4 P. M. yesterday 
we entered what they call, from the latest warnings (radioed to the ship), 
the danger zone. Everybody was then ordered to put on life preservers 
and to keep them on until we reached port! One of the officers came 
and laced mine on and uncomfortable enough I found it. I have had 
it on just 24 hours and we have about 30 hours more of it according 
to the present reckoning. 

"Yesterday afternoon it cleared up cold with a strong northwest wind 
blowing. It helps us on our way and gives a tremendous roll, but they 
all seem to like it because it is bad weather for submarines. The de- 
stroyer flotilla coming out to meet us from the other side began calling 
us last night about 250 miles away. We had a heavy sea behind us, they 
were bucking against it and it delayed them for they were late in reach- 
ing us. We met them about 8 this morning. First, one was seen on the 
horizon coming from the southeast, then another one more to the south. 
As they approached, they were scarcely visible for the foam that covered 
them from end to end. I did not suppose a boat could roll so much 
without turning turtle. The third one came up an hour later from the 
southwest. They had scattered over a wide area to find us." 

The sight of the destroyers spoke good news which was an offset 
for the bad news from Italy to the man who had chosen to go to 
the Naval Academy but could not get the appointment. An inside 
truth of the Allied situation which we had learned immediately 
after our entry into the war had been revealed in the frank sailor- 
to-sailor talk by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe upon the arrival of 


Admiral W. S. Sims in London. 1 

Reports for public consumption that the sinkings were on the de- 
crease were true as to numbers, but the total tonnage of sinkings 
was increasing at a rate so far in excess of new building that it was 
only a question of time before the continuance of the present rate 
would force Britain to yield for the want of food and munitions. 

The arrival of our first division of destroyers, their crews fresh and 
young for the war, in May, 1917, assured their British comrades, 
after nearly three years of strain, that the former neutral, who had 
once written firm notes of protest against the blockade, would now 
fight to enforce it and to clear the sea of the menace to shipping 
which had brought us into the war. We had sent more destroyers 
and further naval reinforcements; we were hastening the building 
of sub-chasers and new destroyers. The additional pressure' we had 
brought to bear had convinced the stubborn, gallant and inde- 
pendent British merchant captains to mobilize in groups at the edge 
of the danger zone for convoy to port. This and the new method of 
the depth charges were so effective that sinkings were on the decrease 
and danger of starvation of Britain by siege was past. Under de- 
stroyer escort passage now seemed reasonably secure for our army 
to France. Our navy was winning its war, which it must do, before 
our army could win its war. 

Bliss' interest in the depth charges, which he saw for the first time, 
was communicated to Mrs. Bliss with the usual detail in explaining 
anything novel to him, which he took for granted would be novel to 

"Wednesday, Nov. 7, 1917, 245 P.M. 

"I saw a group of men arranging on the deck near the stern a row of 
bright metallic cases shaped like this [with a drawing], They told me 
they were 'depth charges' for sinking submarines. If a submarine is 
sighted, the method of attack is to drive the ship straight at it. Of course 
the 'sub* at once submerges. When the ship reaches the approximate point 
where the 'sub* went down they drop two of these 'depth cliarges* over 
the stern by two chutes that are arranged for the purpose. The case 
containing the charge is in two parts very lightly connected together, 
'A' is heavy, containing about 52 or 53 pounds of TNT, 'B' is simply a 
hollow case which detaches itself the moment the case strikes the water. 
A cord connects 'B' with 'A*. 'A' sinks, 'B' floats. When 'A' has gone down 

i The Victory at Sea, Sims, 


the length of the cord, the latter fires a primer in the 'tri-nitro' and 
explodes the charge. So the depth of the explosion is regulated by the 
length of the cord. These are regulated for 40 feet. They are said to be 
fatal to a submarine anywhere within 80 feet by crushing in her sides 
or starting her rivets. I was glad to see that they were lashing these 
cases mighty fast. They would not be pleasant things to break loose, and 
go rolling about the deck. 

"The night was the most disagreeable I have ever had at sea. I sat 
up until 2 A. M. reading. Once or twice I went to the stateroom and 
found Admiral Benson asleep in a chair braced athwartship. It was im- 
possible to stay in a fore and aft bed. In the Captain's cabin where I was 
reading I braced my chair in the corner of the bulkhead and the desk 
and managed to hold on. Pretty soon the big reflecting light over the 
table came down with a crash. All the crew, including the stewards, 
were kept on deck all night, so that there was no one to make things 
fast. When I turned in at 2 A. M. the cabin was a wreck. All the chairs 
except mine were overturned and in a confused pile smashing back 
from one side to the other, mixed up with silver water pitchers, trays, 
broken glass, books, etc. 

"I managed to curl myself up on the bed, knees to chin, lying across 
the bed. After listening to things smashing all over the ship for an 
hour I fell asleep, and was awakened by the steward calling me at 8.45. 

"It seems that all day we have been in the most dangerous part of 
the danger zone. I went on the bridge about 9.30 and found the St. Louis 
almost out of sight astern. Then she began blowing off an enormous 
amount of steam. Something was the matter with her engine. We could 
not leave her and we dared not lie still to wait for her. So we turned in 
several great circles and finally learned on getting near that her 'water 
feed' was not working properly. The little destroyers were in a great 
flutter darting to and fro for distances of 1000 yards to about 5 miles. 
Finally the St. Louis began to move and we went ahead at 12 knots 
when we ought to have been making 20." 

Before his departure Bliss had not seen President Wilson. As he 
sat with House over their after-dinner coffee when the weather was 
moderate, he hoped that House might relieve him of his vagueness 
about the objects of the mission so he could conform his part to a 
joint purpose. 1 But House did not bring up the subject. He himself 
had received no definite instructions and was crossing the Atlantic 
with an open mind for an exchange of information with the Allies 
to develop plans which might well be dependent upon the news 
from Italy. 1 


Bliss wrote at midnight, November 7, from London to Mrs. Bliss: 

"Have just arrived and will try to finish the story of our trip before 
going to bed. Just before getting abreast of the Scilly Islands and too far 
south to see them the flagship of our destroyer flotilla signaled 'danger* 
and directed the two cruisers to close in abreast of each other. This added 
protection to one but we could not tell which onel The submarines try 
to attack a ship on the side. If two are abreast, she can only get one, 
but alas! we could not tell which side might be attacked. Moreover, two 
ships abreast and close together can be more easily protected by the 
destroyers. In this order we continued until about 3.30 P.M. when a 
black speck above the horizon, changing to white when the sun darting 
through the squall clouds threw its rays on it, gave us our first glimpse of 
the Eddys tone Lighthouse." 

The Americans were met by leading army and navy officers and 
officials, whose courtesy lost nothing in sincerity as the result of what 
had happened in Italy while the mission had been on the Atlantic. 
The truth, beyond what the people had learned from the com- 
muniqu^s, must be kept from them lest it have the same dishearten- 
ing effect as the truth about the large increase of tonnage sinkings 
which had greeted Admiral Sims upon his arrival in London eight 
months ago. And the truth this time was that the Italian army had 
suffered a disaster which was the more alarming owing to the final 
confirmation of Russia's complete diversion from further assistance 
to the Allies by the seizure of the Russian government by the Bol- 
sheviks, November 8, the day after the arrival of our Mission in 
London. The Italian loss of guns and material was commensurate 
with their loss of three-quarters of a million effectives. London 
expected the capture of Venice. 1 

British and French statesmen and generals had hurried to Italy 
to hold up the hands of their Italian colleagues; ten British and 
French divisions had been rushed to stiffen the defense of the Italians 
on the banks of the Piave River. 

There had been warnings in the late summer of the danger of the 
Germans turning their forces, which had been released from the 
eastern front and others mobilized for the western front, toward 
Italy; and there had been ensuing suggestions that the British and 
French forestall possible defeat for the Italians. But this ran counter 

i Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Seymour. HI, 219. 


to the practice of each Ally fighting his own war on his own front. 

When the news was good the Allies pulled apart, each bent on 
safeguarding his own national interests for the victory which their 
superior numbers and resources seemed to assure them in the end. 
When the news was bad the Allies pulled together. Unless real co- 
ordination came they might be in the position of never being able 
to follow up good news with sufficient unity for a final triumph. The 
Italian disaster rallied their unity for mutual salvation, the danger 
ever being that one day there might come so great a reverse it 
would separate them, each giving his strength strictly to self de- 
fense or turning his wits to secret negotiations to make the best 
terms he could with the enemy. 

In the presence of the stricken Italian army and people, the states- 
men and generals, meeting November 7 in the little town of Rapallo, 
formed the Supreme War Council for the future coordination of 
Allied effort, and then hastened back to London and Paris to meet 
the American mission and deal with the currents of home opinion 
rising against administrations that had permitted such a disaster 
to happen in the fourth year of the war. 

There was a dispute as to whether the credit for the creation of 
the Supreme War Council belonged to Premier Paul Painlev of 
France or Prime Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain, but I loyd 
George made the most of his claim to paternity, which is generally 
assigned to him, to save his own government from the fate that was 
to be Painlev6's as the result of the Italian disaster. 

The success of the Supreme War Council must depend upon ap- 
proval of it and acceptance of membership by the United States. 
Lloyd George appealed to House to gain the President's support. 
Bliss pressed vigorously for House to send a cable to the President 
asking that this be given. House sent the cable, and the President re- 
plied that he not only favored the plan but insisted upon it. 1 

Lloyd George was concerned lest he meet an adverse vote in the 
Commons on the unity of control issue as represented by the new 
Council, but when he announced the President's message in support 
of it he won the day and made his tenure as Prime Minister secure 
for the present. The President asked Houe to attend the next session 

i Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Seymour. Ill, 219. 


of the Council, two weeks later, December 3, in Paris, with Bliss 
whom House had recommended as military adviser. 

It was a week after Bliss' arrival in London before he wrote an- 
other line to Mrs. Bliss. 

"I used to think that at home I had work to do. But it was a time 
of pleasant rest compared with what I have had to do in the week 
just past. . . ." 

It had been a week with no bit of really encouraging news; and 
even at the end of the darkest and most frustrating day of war prepa- 
ration at home there had always been a bit or two he and Baker 
might exchange. 

A succession of meetings between the experts of the Mission and 
the British experts ensued as they searched for bases of coordination. 
Even in war large national bodies move slowly, subject to institu- 
tional processes. 

And war being the business at hand, the strengthening of the 
powers for destruction of the enemy the object of all the conferences, 
the Chief of Staff of the American army was necessarily the supreme 
expert. Never had he a more complex situation for his analysis, never 
had his influence been more sought. The statesmen and generals 
realized, if the public did not, that with Russia out of the war 
Italy and the minor allies fought to a standstill, Germany would 
be free now to concentrate all her strength on the Western front in 
the Spring of 1918. 

War shortens human memory even more rapidly than the turns 
of politics. The early view that the United States could never have 
an army ready for effective aid in France had been forgotten in the 
present eager interest in our training camps as the source of man- 
power to replace the Russian and Italian and fill the widening gaps 
in the British and French ranks. It soon became evident to the 
British leaders that Bliss, whom gossip had described as a super- 
annuated chief of staff who had been diverted to a mission to make 
room for a younger man, was in full possession of extraordinary 
mental and physical powers, a large and capacious observer cau- 
tiously restraining a certain impatience with repetition of the school- 
bov obvious about military science, a sage who listened and asked 


questions but would not commit himself until he had heard suffi- 
cient evidence. The sum of his findings will appear later in his report 

to Baker. 

Meanwhile, we shall follow him through his letters to Mrs. Bliss 
from London and Paris, when social life continued in a war at- 
mosphere which gave its contacts vivid interest if not the leisurely 
charm of old. American wives of Britons and Frenchmen had a 
special province for doing their bit in encouraging the leaders of 
the land of their origin to bring all its strength to bear in support 
of the land of their adoption. Dim memories of youthful pasts in 
America were revived; old loyalties were brought out from the closet, 
brushed and proudly worn again to save the new loyalties from dis- 
aster. Peril had repatriated the expatriates. 

A chance to meet old English friends interested Bliss more than 
the functions which he described to Mrs. Bliss. When he reached 
a point "where I had to stop work pending the receipt of certain 
information from the War Office," he hurried off to call on the Wil- 
fred Powells. 

"They were delighted and I was delighted with their delight. . . . 
They are mourning for their son who was killed. Their other son is in 
Flanders, has been twice wounded, and is well. . . . They inquired most 
eagerly after you and Eleanor and Goring. They spoke most touchingly 
of the friendship of Goring with their dead son. Mrs. Powell told me 
how much she admired Eleanor and her plucky work. And they spoke of 
you with real love. . . . 

"Tonight I dined at the House of Commons with Mr. Balfour and a 
distinguished party that he had invited to meet the Mission. I send you 
a plan of tables and list of guests and card of invitation as souvenirs. At 
5 o'clock this afternoon Mrs. Page, the wife of our Ambassador, had a 
reception at the Embassy, No. 6 Grosvenor Square, for Admiral Benson 
and myself, Lots of Americans were there. Mrs. Chamberlain, the widow 
of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the former Liberal Leader, and who is 
the daughter of Judge Endicott, who was Secretary of War, when we 
went to Washington in '88, and Duchesses and Countesses and Lords 
and Sirs galore." 

The student of history mentioned particularly having met the 
daughter of John Lothrop Motley. "Her husband is an old officer 
of the British Army and served in the Crimean War. I think he told 
me there are only six left/' 


Traveler Bliss had another description of a royal reception for 
Mrs. Bliss the next day: one when Britain was fighting for her life, 
which was in notable war-time contrast to that of the ancient court of 
Spain and the still more ancient court of Japan. 

"Today we were presented to the King and Queen and lunched at 
Buckingham Palace. The affair was quite simple, many formalities being 
dispensed with during the War. We were ushered into a great reception 
room at the top of the stairway, on the main front facing St. James* 
Park. In a few minutes we passed into another room where we were 
presented to the King, Queen, Princess Mary and the King's second son, 
the Duke of York. He is in the Navy. The eldest son is in the Army and 
is now in Italy. 

"Then we passed back through the first reception room and into the 
lunch room. Admiral Benson sat on the King's right, I on his left. He 
talked in the most animated and affable way. On my left was one of the 
(I suppose) ladies in waiting who was much interested in hearing all 
about our trip over. 

"After the lunch we went back to our first reception room and had 
coffee and cigarettes, all standing. The King stood by himself in another 
part of the room and one of the equerries in waiting would approach a 
member of the party and say that the King would like to talk with Mm. 
As he talked with Admiral Benson and myself all through the lunch he 
did not send for us. But the principal lady in waiting did the same 
thing for the Queen. She took Admiral Benson to the Queen and then 
came and talked with me. But she kept her eye on the Queen. 

"I suppose the latter made some sign, though I did not detect it, 
because in a few minutes she said that the Queen would like to speak 
with me. As I came up, the Admiral bowed and backed away, and I 
took his place. We talked about the air raids in London, the work of 
our Mission, our going to France, etc., and then it came to my turn 
to bow and retire. Later the same thing was done with the Princess and 
the young Prince. 

"The King wore the uniform of an English admiral, the Queen and 
her daughter wore mourning (all the ladies were in black) for Prince 
Christian. All the same she had a necklace of great pearls and a diamond 
brooch at her throat. The Princess was dressed like any young girl (she 
did not look more than seventeen) with no ornament whatever. The 
Duke of York looked quite as young and wore the uniform of a junior 
naval officer. He told me about the battle of Jutland, in which his ship 
was engaged. There were various other gentlemen there, Mr. Balfour, 
Lloyd George and some lords of whom I recognized one as dining with 
us at the House of Commons last night, Lord Crewe, I think, 

"After half an hour of this the Queen and Princess and her brother 


moved around the party shaking hands with each one and then with- 
drew. The King then came over and talked in a very jolly and free 
way for about 15 minutes. Then he shook hands with all and withdrew, 
We had been taken to the palace in gorgeous royal carriages and sent 
home in motor cars." 

The chill raw air of London in November had whetted Bliss' ap- 
petite, which was commensurate for the ample supply of physical 
and mental endurance he required as a legate of coordination. 

"Is it too late to get something to eat at this hotel?" he asked his 
aide when he returned from the royal luncheon. "The King talked 
fast, he ate fast, the plates were removed as soon as he was through 
with a course, and I was so interested in what he had to say that I 
got hardly a bite/* * 

His next letter to Mrs. Bliss was written the same evening he ar- 
rived in Paris, November 22. 

"We arrived at the Gare du Nord at 8.30. We left Charing Cross at 
1140 this morning. Reached Dover at 1.15 and left on a British de- 
stroyer after 2 P. M., reaching Calais in 55 minutes! The destroyer makes 
35 knots an hour. The day was gloomy and foggy* At Dover the destroyer 
started to go out on one passage through the breakwater and then re- 
ceived a signal to return and go out the other. I think it was intended to 
land us at Boulogne but this morning they found that a German sub- 
marine had planted mines in front of Boulogne and when they discover 
that they stop all movement to the port until the mine-sweepers have 
cleared the way. It seems that only this morning the mine-sweepers had 
cleared the way to Calais. ... At Paris we were met by a great crowd 
of people." 

Submarine sinkings might be on the decrease, the campaign against 
the U-boats steadily gaining, but in the unremitting surface siege 
against the underwater siege there could be no nodding in the patrol 
of the channel passage which separated the British army in France 
from its home base. 

"On the 23rd, after calling on our Ambassador, I called on M. Clemen- 
ceau who is both Prime Minister and Secretary of War. He speaks Eng- 
lish very well. He told me about his life in America from 1865 to 1869. 
He said he entered Richmond immediately after General Grant. I did 
not like to ask him what he was doing in America at that time but I 

i Colonel William B. Wallace to the author. 


fancy he was persona non grata to Napoleon III and had to leave there 
for that reason. 

"General Pershing, Mr. House and I lunched together and I spent the 
rest of the day with the former. This day I also called on the two 
generals who represent General Foch, the Chief of Staff, who is absent 
in Italy and who ought to be back today. On the 24th I called on M. 
Pichon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the Sub-Secretary of War and 
on Marshal Joffre. Then we had lunch with the President where I sat 
on his left. 

"In the evening I went with Mrs. House and a party to the Grand 
Opera where we heard the opera of Jeanne d'Arc given for a Red Cross 
charity. The British Ambassador, Lord Somebody (I have forgotten his 
name) came into our box (which was given to us by the French govern- 
ment) and the author of the opera, Mr. Raymond Rozt. He is a son of 
Marie Rozt and one of his fathers (I think his mother was married lots of 
times) was Mapleson, the operatic manager. I also met and had a pleas- 
ant talk with Madame Waddington whose recollections of diplomatic 
life you have read. This morning we all went to lay a wreath on the 
tomb of Lafayette." 

The fact that there was nothing further for Mrs. Bliss until Novem- 
ber 30 reveals how busy he was, just as, in spite of his fondness for 
music, his brief and desultory reference to the opera revealed his im- 
patience with extraneous formalities at a time when only one subject, 
that of sheer self-preservation, should engross the minds of all Allied 

"Yesterday had first session of inter-allied conference. Today have first 
session of Lloyd George's War Council at Versailles. Am about to leave 
for there. Hope to start home in a few days. Will know better after to- 
day's conference." 



ON the day that Bliss arrived in Paris with the American mission 
the rumblings of French discontent over the Italian disaster broke 
in a political upheaval which overthrew the Painlev government. 
Georges Clemenceau became Premier. 

The cheers of the crowd which greeted the members o the mission 
at the Gare du Nord expressed, as they had on Pershing's arrival in 
June, the hope for American aid. The fulfillment of this hope was 
one war policy on which all French political and military leaders 
could unite in their appeals on the background of official hospitality 
in rivalry with that of the British. 

Bliss, who had been in Paris as captain on his way to Madrid 
twenty years before, when Europeans thought the United States 
might get the worst of it in a war with Spain, had become the spokes- 
man for an army which was now mortally needed in France. In- 
stead of looking up the records at Pre la Chaise to locate the grave 
of his wife's ancestor he was a courted four-star general placing a 
wreath on Lafayette's tomb; instead of counting his pennies to see 
if he could afford a seat in the gallery he was a guest in the Presi- 
dential box at the opera, the harmony of the music dulled by the 
disharmonies of a coalition at war during the day's conferences. 

He would have been out of character as a chief of staff who kept 
his feet on the earth if he had deceived himself that all the formali- 
ties and attentions were not entirely related to his official position, 
that the audience which looked toward him at the opera was not 
wondering how many soldiers he could deliver in France to risk their 
lives for her security. By the same reasoning the British, or they 
would not have been human, were thinking for Britain's sake. 

Members of the American Mission had to deal with French cabinet 
ministers who had only just been seated at their desks. Clemenceau 
was far from being called the father of victory at that time. The 
French public accepted his appointment in the same mood as that 



of his predecessors in the war: he embodied the hope that rises with a 
change in a dark hour. France had gone to the extremes in politics 
in the choice of that lone old political warrior and iconoclast, whose 
blade had known no brother in his long siege of criticism of the con- 
duct of the war. 

He had been often at the front with his sharp eyes and his fa- 
miliar cane and cap, confident of his judgments, in keeping with 
his decisive character. What generals whom he had found stupid 
would he replace with generals whom he had found competent? He 
was said to believe in Foch whom Joffre had relieved of command, 
and was now French chief of staff under Petain. Would he favor the 
fledgling Supreme War Council which was accepted as Lloyd 
George's creation? He had railed against the censorship which the 
military men held to be so essential to the security of information. 
Would he liberalize it? Paris was more concerned about these ques- 
tions for the moment than with the next move of the German army. 

At first, Clemenceau and Petain, the French commander-in-chief, 
did not think the Supreme War Council workable; but Foch, when 
he returned from Italy, took a more favorable view, which had its 
weight with Clemenceau. The censorship continued as before, now 
that Clemenceau was inside the breastworks and no longer the critic 
but the object of criticism. Lloyd George stated his view of the value 
of the Supreme War Council when he said that at the Rome con- 
ference, before the Italian disaster, two hours had been spent dis- 
cussing the position of King Constantine in Greece, which left the 
busy statesmen only ten minutes to consider the situation on the 
Italian front. 1 The Council once it was functioning would have the 
necessary information ready for the statesmen. 

Bliss attended the second session of the Council the one at Rapallo 
being the first for preliminary organization at a time when it was 
being generally disparaged and under the shadow of the Inter-Allied 
Council which had been called to meet in Paris before the Rapallo 
agreement* All the eighteen Allies, from Serbia and Greece to China, 
were represented in the Inter-Allied Council, which divided up into 
sub-committees, to make their recommendations as how to further 
unity. This led to the same kind of procrastination in the play of 
many minds as later at the Peace Conference, while the purpose of 

i Second Session of the Supreme War Council, December i, 1917. 


the Supreme War Council was a permanent body for unity, which 
had yet to prove itself. The Inter-Allied Council made certain recom- 
mendations, among them one for an Inter- Allied Tonnage Commis- 

The technical points which had been raised were subject to further 
conferences between the American and British and French experts. 
Since the truth of the American situation was essential to a true pic- 
ture of the whole, the statesmen and generals, in considering policy, 
sought from our Chief of Staff the actual state of our preparations 
from camp to factories and to get an approximately definite idea of 
the extent of our contribution which could be relied upon for the 
immediate future. Bliss* answers must represent his own judgment 
as to how far the promises of the reports he had assembled in Wash- 
ington could be fulfilled on the time schedules they had set. 

"Like a young giant, conscious of his ultimate strength, we boasted 
unduly of what we could do within a time limit. And so, before the 
end of 1917, the European Allies, whose supreme hour was drawing near, 
began to have a reliance upon the strength, of our military effort at an 
early date, upon a speedily organized and great army of aviation, that 
was not justified by the facts." x 

Through the summer and autumn we had kept on sending driblets 
of troops to Pershing. We were far behind in the schedule of Per- 
shing's plan. He had an hundred thousand men facing the bitter Lor- 
raine winter, with less than a month's rations, and short of material 
for his service of supply across France. His prayer was for more men 
and supplies, more ships. His project for a million men in France by 
the summer of 1918 seemed hopeless of fulfillment. 

"Already" [when Bliss left Washington] "there were some in America 
who began to despair of our getting an effective man-power into the 
field in time and who were beginning to say that, instead of using our 
food, clothing, money and raw material for an American army that 
would come into being too late, this money and material had better go 
to the maintenance of the Allied armies. 

"It was at this time of uncertainty in the minds of those who knew 
and exaggerated hopes of those who did not know, on both sides of the 
Atlantic, that the American Mission was sent abroad. Other missions 
had come to tell us what we must and could do; this one went to Europe 

i From notes in the Bliss papers. 


to tell our associates in the war what we could do according to our 
optimistic schedules, within a fixed time limit" x 

One of our projects had been the building of six million tons of 
new shipping, but production had not begun yet; others had been 
for guns and planes, which had been inevitably delayed beyond the 
time limit we had gallantly set, this partly from the failure of the 
Allies to send us models and blue-prints in time. 

It was not worth while Bliss* mentioning, just to show he was a 
prophet, that the War Department had stressed the fact upon our 
entry into the war that troops would be through their initial home 
training before guns and ships were ready. Now the million men 
which Pershing had asked for were in the training camps. The War 
Department had performed that part of the miracle we had en- 
visioned in our war effort. And the Allies turned their eyes hungry 
for additional man-power toward these camps. Their own increased 
production of artillery could arm us until our guns were ready, as 
they were to be late in 1918 and in vast quantities for the campaign 
for 1919. 

Returning to London, Bliss sent a cable on December 4 as the 
result of a meeting with Pershing, Robertson and Foch, stating an 
arrangement had been made about artillery and munitions, in order 
to facilitate the arrival of twenty-four American divisions in France 
not later than the end of June, 1918. It left "everything in the hands 
of the British and Americans who must furnish the tonnage. To 
secure results there must be continued insistence by our War De- 

His experience on the Supreme War Council later led Bliss to 
say that if it had been functioning at the time his month's labor 
would have been much easier and briefer. 2 Now he hurried home 
with his report. On December 18 he was back, his report on Baker's 


The American mission by establishing various international com- 
mittees had made a start toward economic and maritime coordination. 
Aside from our further naval aid and the proposed North Sea barrage 
to pen the U-boats in their lair, we were to reinforce the British High 
Seas Fleet with a division of battleships as a further guarantee against 

1 From notes in the Bliss papers. 

2 Bliss to the author. 


any mischance should the German High Seas Fleet offer battle. But 
Britain, in doubt when our ship building program would balance 
the sinkings, was hesitant to place her ships at our disposal. The 
alarm of the Allied publics had been relieved to learn that the 
Italians were no longer in retreat. Foch had reported that their line 
woilld hold until spring. He said, "It is again glued together." * 

It was winter, and winter was not the time for fighting. The im- 
proved Italian situation gave a breathing spell. There had been a 
close call on the Piave, but the Allies had had other close calls. That 
prospective German drive on the western front was in the specula- 
tive future. The trench line from Flanders to Switzerland had been 
proof against all drives by either side Champagne, Loos, the Somme, 
Verdun, Cambrai, Chemin des Dames, Passchendaele. It was ac- 
cepted as a dependable, unbreakable institution in the World War, 
as Lee's army had been in the defense of Richmond in the first three 
years of the Civil War, and so it would sustain the next German 
onslaught, providing the United States time for preparation. 

Yet, suppose that the trench wall which protected our drill-ground 
while we formed our large army to strike the "final, shattering blow" 
in 1919, should break in 1918! Then Pershing's little army in Lor- 
raine would be the hostage of the disaster to the British and the 
French armies. That danger, which now seemed so distant, might 
become present in another three months. The fate of the war might 
depend upon whether a few American divisions arrived a week 
earlier or later in France. 

Bliss was better able than any other man to have in mind the 
whole Allied military situation. He had seen the whole. He was free 
from the jealousies, the ambitions, which unconsciously influenced 
the Allied leaders. His was the detached view while theirs was the 
close view. 

Space does not permit the printing in full of this or other reports, 
or many of Bliss' long letters which are so exhaustive and thorough, 
never sparing words in order that his chief should have every point 
before him in dealing with a crisis or forming a major policy. Yet 
the whole in each instance is tied together, and care has to be taken 
about paraphrases even at the risk of what may appear as tedious 
about a subject which is dim in the reader's memory. And the Bliss 

i Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Ill, 268. 


report of December 18, 1917, surely dealt with a crisis, and one of 
the great crises of world history. 

"From our own point of view, it is the part of wisdom to get in without 
much delay or stay out altogether. The latter is unthinkable; and so, 
if any one, influenced by consideration of minor difficulties, of minor 
deficiencies, of the unalterableness of previous programs of construction 
and equipment, and provision of transportation, says that to get in 
without much delay is impossible, the only reply is that we must do 
the impossible. . . . 

"Before leaving Washington the suggestion has been rather strongly 
made that the movement of our troops to France be suspended and that 
the corresponding tonnage be utilized in carrying food and other sup- 
plies to nations in need of them. My original opinion as to the effect of 
this was confirmed by what I heard on all sides from military and civil 
officers. Of course I did not intimate that such a suggestion had been 
made. But no conversation on the subject of our participation in the 
war could go very far without bringing up the burning^ question of ton- 
nage. Frequently in such conversations emphasis would be laid on the 
necessity for tonnage to transport food and other supplies. But whenever 
I asked what would be the effect if this necessity caused a cessation in 
our troop movements the invariable reply was that the moral effect, 
especially in France, would be disastrous. 

"I showed him [General Sir William Robertson] the data as revised 
by the English shipping people, from which it appears that by the month 
of May next, including troops now in France, we could, with the facilities 
now at our disposal, transport not more than 525,000 men, including 
non-combatant forces; that without additional tonnage we could not 
supply even that number of men, much less accumulate the necessary 
reserve supplies of all kinds for a campaign. . . . He expressed grave ap 
prehension at the statement." 

Robertson did not quite agree with Foch about the Italian situa- 

"He told me that he doubted whether Italy could be held in the war 
during the coming winter; and that should she remain in, it would re- 
quire the presence of considerable troops from the English and French 
forces on the Western front to be maintained in Italy for the remainder 
of the war. . . . 

"He said that we must not count on a campaign of 1919 and of reserv- 
ing our efforts for that year; that the surest way to make it impossible was 
to count on it; that to ensure a campaign for 1919 every possible effort 
must be made early in 1918; that if it were good for America to wait it 
would be bad for Germany to let her wait; that events on the other 


fronts were so shaping themselves as to make it quite sure that Germany 
would concentrate a powerful additional force somewhere on the West- 
ern front for a decisive blow; that the man-power of England and France 
together could probably not be increased and that they must rely on us 
for additional strength. 

"Lloyd George said, It is better that I should put the facts very frankly 
to you, because there is the chance that you might think you can work 
up your army at leisure, and that it does not matter whether your troops 
are there in 1918 or 1919. But I want you to understand that it might 
make the most vital difference/ 

"In the above will be seen lurking the startling idea that even with our 
added man-power Mr. Lloyd George, optimist though he be, feared the 
possibility of being able only to resist a German attack without inflicting 
on them a decisive defeat. Finally he said: 

" 'To summarize what I have said as to the most important spheres 
in which the United States can help in the war. The first is that you 
should help France and her Alliance in the battle-line with as many men 
as you can possibly train and equip, at the earliest possible moment, 
so as to be able to sustain the brunt of any German attack in the course 
of next year. 9 

"It will be noted that Mr. Lloyd George referred to the necessity of 
our sending at the earliest possible date as many men as we could 'train 
and equip.' He did not know that the various ministers of munitions 
were then considering a plan by which we would be enabled, if we ac- 
cepted their plan, to complete our equipment in artillery by using mate- 
rial to be furnished by England and France and without waiting for the 
production of the manufactured articles at home. 

"So the problem of American military participation in the war began 
to shape itself as follows: 

"First: Men, as many as possible and as soon as possible; 

"Second: Provision of artillery equipment and ammunition for these 
men as they arrive in France; 

"Third: Tonnage necessary to transport them. 

"General Ptain said that the French losses have been approximately 
2,600,000 men, filled, died of wounds, permanently incapacitated, and 
prisoners; and that he now had at his disposition 108 divisions, including 
all troops both those on the front and in reserve. These are in addition 
to the men of all classes in the service of the rear. Eight of these divisions, 
he said, will have been transferred to Italy by the beginning of the year, 
leaving 100 for service in France." 

This made a total of 1,200,000 French, with the reduced size of 
their divisions, "and they have no more men that they can or are 
willing to call out. 1 ' 

The British, Bliss learned, had about the same number in France. 


The German total already nearly equaled the British and French 
total; and it was considered that the Germans could transfer 1,339,000 
men from the eastern front, exclusive of the 500,000 prisoners in 
Russia released by the treaty of peace between Germany and Russia. 

"General Pdtain stated that the United States must have a million men 
available for the early campaign of 1919, with another million ready to 
replace and reinforce them. . . . He explained that for the campaign of 
1918 he would utilize the American troops in holding those parts of the 
line on which he would not make an offensive, thus relieving the French 
troops now there and making the latter available elsewhere. 

"He further stated that the English are occupying a front of about 
150 kilometers, while the French with less force are occupying about 
500 kilometers. (It is to be noted the English front has been character- 
ized by constant hard fighting while a considerable part of the French 
front has been quiescent since the early days of the war.) 

"At the War Office in London I was informed that only with the 
greatest difficulty could they prevail on the French to let them have 
additional front; at this interview M. Clemenceau said (to use his own 
words), 'We have a devil of a time to get them to take more front/ 

"One thing is certain, and it must not for a moment be lost from 
mind. If we are to take any part in the war, now, or at any time within 
reasonable future limits, the tonnage must be provided and provided 
now. Even if we are not to fight until 1919, it will require every avail- 
able ton of shipping in operation from this moment in order to get a 
reasonable force of our troops, together with their supplies, in Europe 
by the end of the year 1918. If we wait until toward the end of that 
year before making an effort to get the tonnage our troops will not 
be available for a campaign until the year 1920. 

"It is inconceivable that we can wait so long. . . . Every day of delay, 
so long as the submarines continue in action as now, reduces the amount 
of shipping available. We ought to be able to determine very promptly 
the last ton of shipping that can be made available from vessels con- 
trolled by the United States. The difference must be made up by our 
Allies. But, whether we are to make a strong effort in 1918 or a still 
stronger one in 1919, the shipping must be made available now." 

In summing up in the note of December 18 he said that the crisis 
was not only owing to the collapse of Russia as a military factor, 
but "it is also largely due to lack of military coordination, lack of 
unity of control on the part of the Allied forces in the field." 

"The lack of unity of control results from military jealousies and sus- 
picion as to ultimate national aims. 


"Our Allies urge us to profit by their experience in three and a half 
years of war; to adopt the organization, the types of artillery, tanks, etc., 
that the test of war has proved to be satisfactory. We should go further. 
In making the great military effort now demanded of us we should de- 
mand as a prior condition that our Allies also profit by the experience 
of three and a half years of war in the matter of absolute unity of mili- 
tary control. National jealousies and suspicions and susceptibilities of 
national temperament must be put aside in favor of this unified control, 
even going if necessary (as I believe it is) to the limit of unified command. 
Otherwise, our dead and theirs may have died in vain. 

"The securing of this unified control, even unified command in the 
last resort, is within the power of the President if it is in anyone's power. 
The military men of the Allies admit its necessity and are ready for it. 
They object to Mr. Lloyd George's plan of Rapallo (which, however, I 
would accept if nothing better can be done) for the reason that, on last 
analysis, it gives political and not military control. I asked Sir Douglas 
Haig and General Robertson what would happen if the military advisers 
of the Supreme War Council recommended and the prime ministers ac- 
cepted a military plan which the British commander-in-chief in the field 
and the Chief of Staff did not approve. They said that it would be im- 
possible to carry it into execution without their approval; that they 
would have to be relieved and the advisers of the Supreme War Council 
put in control. In the present temper of the English people such an issue 
could not be forced without the probable defeat of the government. In 
general, they held that the problem now is a military one and that in 
some way unity of control must be obtained through an unhampered 
military council." 

Bliss' first idea was that the commanders-in-chief of the armies 
should compose the Supreme War Council. This would have reduced 
his own importance, or perhaps eliminated him, but that was im- 
material. Later he changed his mind about this, and found political 
control the most practicable, in view of national and human equa- 
tions. He continued in his report: 

"The difficulty will come with the political men. They have a feeling 
that military men, uncontrolled, may direct military movements counter 
to ultimate political interests. They do not fully realize that now the 
only problem is to beat the Central Powers. They are thinking too much 
of what they want to do after the Central Powers are beaten. They do 
not realize, as the Central Powers do, that national troops as a body 
can only be efficiently employed in the direction in which national in- 
terests lie, with, in this war, the sole exception of our troops which 
will fight best where they get the best military results. There need be no 


political fear that great bodies of English or French troops will be 
'switched off' to help the territorial aspirations of the Italians, nor vice 
versa. It is not merely a political necessity, it is also a military one which 
any commander-in-chief must recognize, that the English army must fight 
with its back to the Channel, the French army must fight with its back 
to Paris, the Italian army must continue to fight Austria in the only di- 
rection by which it can reach her. This does not prevent troops of any 
of the four English, French, Americans, Italians being detached in ac- 
cord with some coordinated plan from their main army where they are 
less needed to operate on another part of the front where they are more 
needed. The English failure to accomplish results at Cambrai in the last 
days of November was likely due to lack of reserves which might have 
been thus furnished." 

The extent to which the statesmen could yield must be dependent 
upon retention of powers with their people. "Probably no English 
or French premier could, of his own motion, propose what would 
look to the man in the street (the men who overturn governments) 
like a deliberate surrender of control. . . . 

"Finally, consideration should be given to the question of changing 
our military line of action so as to bring us into closer touch with the 
British. This is a very delicate matter and if taken up must be handled 
with great care. But it is also a very serious matter. 

"We must take note of the deep, growing and already very strong 
conviction on the part of Englishmen, both military and the civil, that 
the war must finally be fought out by an Anglo-Saxon combination. If 
this is true, it may become evident by the driving in of a wedge into the 
French line that will cause that people to quit, not to make a separate 
peace, but to be reduced to a state of inaction leaving the others to fight 
it out. 

"But the driving in of that wedge, as our troops are now and appar- 
ently are to be situated, will separate us still further from the English 
forces. If it is likely that we may have to fight with them every purely 
military consideration points to our joining them now. It would cause a 
contraction of the French line which would greatly add to its strength. 
If the French could be brought to look upon this Anglo-Saxon unioa as 
having no ulterior object other than a more certain defeat erf the enemy, 
it would be greatly to be desired. The situation as it is, is fraught with 
possible great danger. 

"So earnest are General Robertson and Sir Douglas Haig in this mat- 
ter that in my interviews with them they have urged our amalgamating 
bodies of our troops with theirs. Sir Douglas Haig even said that he 
would give command of these mixed organizations to American officers 


and that as rapidly as our units become sufficient in number to form 
complete American divisions they would be separated for this purpose." 

It is well to mention here that the Haig proposal was the one 
eventually accepted when the anticipated crisis had become actual. 
The common language made training easier with the British than 
the French, But Pershing's sector, from which he planned to make 
his offensive in 1919, and actually did make it in 1918, was on 
the French right, far from the British line, and his service of supply 
plant across France was being built to serve his army in Lorraine. 

Petain's plan to allow Pershing to keep his divisions intact, and 
then to introduce them into quiet trenches to relieve the French 
divisions for the offensive, would give Pershing the time he wanted 
for trench training. Moreover, experience had already proven that 
it was fatal for military efficiency to mix our small units with the 
French, and this had not yet been proven with the British. The 
French were making their best bid against British competition for 
our reinforcement of their lines and nationalistic aims; for the 
British had shipping and the French had not. 

Since the British command had given the Canadians and Aus- 
tralians independent corps, which were very distinct entities, it 
could hardly refuse to keep faith by turning the divisions back to 
Pershing when any defensive crisis was over. 

"It is the only way that I know of" closer cooperation with the 
British"to secure real unity of control of shipping, to prevent waste- 
ful use of tonnage and to utilize it all to the best common ad- 
vantage, and which may prove to be necessary in order to ensure 

Bliss was convinced the British could spare the shipping. He had 
in mind how Orlando, the Italian premier who sat on the Supreme 
War Council, revealed the amount of British shipping being em- 
ployed for the transport o troops to Italy, which might have been 
sent by rail, and that six Italian liners were lying idle in the harbor 
of Genoa. Sir Joseph Maclay, the new British director of shipping, 
had said no ships could be spared, and Lloyd George had said that 
Sir Eric Geddes might work out a plan to provide some tonnage for 
us, but that would take two months. 1 As Bliss saw it, two months' 

i The Second Session of the Supreme War Council, December i, 1917. 


delay, a month's delay, might be fatal. 

On December 23 Bliss returned to the charge in a memorandum 
in order to strengthen the hands of Secretary Baker and the Presi- 

"The tonnage can be secured or it cannot be secured. We should ascer- 
tain which is the fact without delay. We cannot afford to play any part in 
the game of mutual deception which has been played so long among 
the Allies as to their relative national power as represented by the mili- 
tary force which they can put and maintain in the field. We have every 
evidence of their reliance upon us for a great effort by our man-power. 
In the war now being waged we cannot exert our man-power on this 
side of the Atlantic. If we cannot do what our Allies want us to do, we 
should tell them so frankly and let them make their plans accordingly. I 
doubt if it is an exaggeration to say that our Allies are now held in the 
war by their hope in us. If we cannot realize this hope we will be respon- 
sible for continued enormous destruction of wealth and of life and, to 
crown all, will have maintained an idle army at home at a cost of billions 
of dollars for mere maintenance. . . . 

"Is it not our bounden duty to ourselves and our Allies to immediately 
ascertain what we can do and then be guided accordingly? The question 
will be asked, How can we ascertain this? I think that the answer is a 
simple one. . . . 

"If we assume that we are to make our first effort in the campaign of 
1919, it will require to be made available now a certain amount of ton- 
nage; if we are to play a part in the campaign of 1918, it will require a 
certain greater amount of tonnage. In either case, I believe it is impossi- 
ble for the United States to provide the necessary amount of tonnage out 
of the total which it controls. That which we cannot supply must be 
supplied by our Allies, else we can do nothing. It is therefore necessary 
to determine what we can supply ourselves, which in turn will determine 
what our Allies must supply. . . . 

"In determining this, we must at once determine whether we are to 
attempt to play an effective part in the campaign of 1918 or defer our 
efforts until the beginning of the campaign of 1919. In either case, we 
must have our Army in Europe in 1918. In the former case, we will 
require a lesser amount of tonnage operating over a longer time; in the 
latter case, we will require a greater amount of tonnage, but will also 
be able to sooner return part of this tonnage to the general trade of the 
world. . . . 

"Personally, I have only one opinion as to what is the wise thing for 
us to do, if we should be able to do it. I think that we should make our 
effort on the assumption that in the latter half of the year 1918 we may 
be required to put our troops into action on a large scale. If, during that 
year, no military crisis occurs, so much the better. In any event, we wiH 


have our troops where they must be in 1918 in order that we may play 
our part in 1919. ..." 

Bliss never hesitated about repetition to press a conviction home. 
Driving this one home was perhaps his supreme service as a military 
counsellor. Otherwise, we might not have had troops in France for 
Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne. Further quo- 
tation is historically warranted from one o the most important docu- 
ments in relation to the United States' part in the war. 

"This will bring us to what seems to me to be the crux of the entire 
question. The English, interested in the maintenance of certain trade 
with their own ships and which will have to be temporarily given up in 
order to assist us in our military requirements, will undoubtedly say that 
we could, if we would, take ships of our own from certain lines of trade 
and employ them for our military uses. We will deny that this can be 
done. Who can settle this question, and in what way? 

"It seems to me that there is one, and only one, way in which it can 
be done; and that is, to throw all of the Allied shipping into a common 
pool and regard all of it as an agency to be used in common for the 
prosecution of the war, whether in carrying American or British or 
French or Italian troops and supplies, or in carrying munitions and raw 
material for munitions from any Ally to another, or in carrying food and 
other supplies from one Ally to another or to the neutrals. This can only 
be done by an Allied Commission having full power to act and, as 
practically all available shipping is controlled by Great Britain and the 
United States, the Commission should practically be an Anglo-American 
Commission. This Commission should be composed not only of the ablest 
men obtainable but who are also imbued with the idea that the shipping 
of the world is the one all-important agency for the successful prosecu- 
tion of the war and that if not properly directed to this end the war may 
be lost. . . . 

"National jealousies, which have prolonged the war beyond reason, 
must be sunk out of sight. The determination of one or another Ally 
to retain a certain line of trade must be yielded if necessary for the 
proper utilization of the common tonnage, and the restoration of former 
trade relations must be left for adjustment after a successful determina- 
tion of the war. This, of course, is the most difficult matter. 

"The Inter-Allied Conference recommended the organization of the 
Commission which I have referred to above. I have been told that, sub- 
sequent to the Conference, certain interests in London developed an 
opposition to the organization of this Commission for the reason that 
English shipping interests do not desire the interference with them that 
would necessarily result from the operation of such a Commission. 

^^ jz ^i^ 
*fa*-. *^ 

*^^ /Zt^+^C*.^ 
*--*-=* *- 





"England has set apart some two million tons of shipping to meet the 
demands of France for food and supplies of all kinds. I understand that, 
to meet the increased demands of France, a certain amount of tonnage 
has been set apart for her use by the United States and that England 
proposes to withdraw from that use an equivalent tonnage of her own 
that has hitherto been devoted to it I have heard it said that certain 
American tonnage was made available for the Italians and that England 
thereupon withdrew corresponding tonnage of her own. If this thing be 
true, the United States has diverted tonnage needed for her own military 
use without, in reality, giving any added tonnage for the use of these 
Allies. . . . 

"Of course, I am not an expert in this matter. I do not know all the 
fine points, political, commercial, economic, that may be urged for or 
against the above method of handling the tonnage difficulty. But there 
are experts who know these points and there are others above these 
experts who can weigh their views and who must make a decision. . . . 

"It seems to me to be the solemn duty of the United States to determine 
for itself which, of the various solutions proposed for the few important 
problems, are the wise ones and then exert its powerful influence in 
bringing about their acceptance. If this Government believes that the 
Tonnage Commission recommended by the Inter-Allied Conference is 
the best solution, it should announce its adhesion and designate its own 
members; because, without such action neither this solution nor the 
solution of any other difficulty is likely to be accepted. If it thinks this 
solution is not the proper one it must be because it thinks some other 
is wiser. If it urges that one it will probably be accepted. 

"Is it the most reasonable method for each Ally to determine for and 
by itself what part of its available tonnage it shall allocate to the. use of 
any other Ally or neutral? For example, England allots a certain amount 
of her tonnage for the general uses of one of the Allies. This amount of 
tonnage is, almost certainly, not all which that Ally wants. It may not be 
enough to prevent hardship. She wants all that she can get, and having 
gotten all that she can she still wants more. Naturally, she is thinking 
of her own interests without special regard to those of the other Allies 
and without much disposition to make any concession to them which 
she is not obliged to make. If she thinks that there is still some available 
tonnage controlled by the United States she will ask for it. It may be, as 
I have said, that she is suffering some actual hardship; but, all the world 
is suffering some hardship and will probably have to suffer more. . . . 

"This central body would scrutinize the movements of every ship. It 
is commonly believed that a great amount of tonnage is wasted in long 
hauls for which short hauls could be substituted, for example, coal 
should not be allowed to be carried from the United States to Italy in a 
big trans-Atlantic steamer when a smaller steamer, making more frequent 
trips, can haul the same or a greater amount of coal from England The 


time is at hand when the daily ration of all human beings within the 
limits of the Alliance must be fixed, although it may be fixed at different 
rates in the different countries. This central body, on which food experts 
and other experts will sit, can determine the allocation of tonnage to 
haul these supplies with the minimum wastage of tonnage. . . . 

"The United States is now in a position to take the lead in bringing 
about absolute unity of control in this matter and probably in the 
others which are vital to our success in the prosecution of the war. Unless 
the Government of the United States takes such action I doubt whether 
the unity of control over any of these things will be secured." 

The War Department and the nation now made shipping the most 
urgent business of the hour. If the Allies would not supply us with 
transport, except at the cost of the independence of our army, we 
would manage it for ourselves. 

With Liberty Loan and all other drives over the shoulder, the 
democracy turned to the drive to "Build a Bridge to France/' We 
were scouring the seas for ships, curtailing luxuries to make cargo 
space for necessities, cutting Great Lakes ships in two to get them 
through the Welland Canal and rejoining the parts after the passage, 
tightening our belts on rations in fashion with the other Allies as 
we ate war bread, sending non-ocean vessels to join our cross-Channel 
fleet between France and England material for ship building and 
for transport across France had priority as we determined to be on 
time to save the war in 1918 for the final campaign of 1919 to win 
the cause and end the ordeal to which we were irrevocably com- 
mitted. The draft would provide the flow of recruits to take the place 
of the trained men as fast as they departed over there from the 

The champion of unity, having made his recommendations and 
given his counsel, would return to France to act as the legate of 
unity on the Supreme War Council in ending this "particular epi- 
sode" of human history, as he called it when philosophy turned cold 
analysis on the lessons of history. Until this curtain fell he would not 
drop into Baker's office again for a relaxing period of general ideas 
after the day's specific problems. 

"I remember the shock when I asked General Bliss, in weariness of 
spirit, how long this war was likely to last. He thought about it for a 
moment and said, 'Thirty years/ 


"I said, 'But, General, it isn't possible for what is now going on in 
Europe to last thirty years/ 

" 'Oh no, of course not. This particular episode will be concluded in 
a year or two, then the war will take on a new phase and will be waged 
for a little while, perhaps with economic weapons, until nations rehabil- 
itate themselves and feel a fresh access of strength for another try on the 
military side. Unless all the lessons of history are deceptive, thirty years 
would be about the normal time for a generation that had the passion to 
breed this war to pass off the stage and let others come who have a new 
objective and a new point of view/ " x 

In his old age after his retirement he was to have his tilt against 
the windmills to break the historical precedent in a new order of 
thinking for world unity of peace; but now his business was to pack 
his bags and gather his staff for the very indefinite stay at Versailles. 
His was a small army, indeed, for a four-star general; eleven com- 
missioned officers, a state department disburser, stenographers, trans- 
lators, field clerks, and telephone operators. Again he would be in 
the role of a desk soldier in name, although even division com- 
manders in the World War were rarely under fire; theirs, too, was 
largely a thinking part. 

Devotion to Bliss and the fact they would be in France, and there 
might be later transferred to the line, which is every soldier's ambi- 
tion, were the only reward for Brigadier General P. D. Lochridge, 
executive officer; Colonel B. H. Wells and Major W. B. Wallace, 
Committee on Allies and Neutrals; Lieutenant Colonel W. S. Brown- 
ing and Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Poillon, Committee on Enemies 
and Neutrals; Colonel S. D. Embick and Lieutenant Colonel J. M. 
Coward, Committee on Material and Man Power; Secretary, Colonel 
U. S. Grant grd and Assistant Secretary Second Lieutenant P. A, 
Bedard, Supply Officer; Major C. M. Exley, H. R. Young for the 
State Department; and Captain B. A. Fuller, Military Information 
and Translations. Poillon had been Bliss' aide in the Moro Province. 

Before his departure Bliss said to Baker: 

"Now that I shall not return here you will want to make my suc- 
cessor, who has been the Acting Chief in name as well as fact." 

Bliss* retirement date had passed. He had turned the corner of 
sixty-four December 31, 1917. Once he ceased to be Chief, he would 

i Address of Newton D. Baker on the presentation of a memorial portrait of Bliss to 
the Council House of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, January 18, 


automatically lose two stars and be a major general again. 

"I shall not make a new Chief until I know my man," Baker re- 

So Bliss remained Chief of Staff until General Peyton C. March 
succeeded him. Then an act of Congress gave our Military Rep- 
resentative on the Supreme War Council the rank of General. 


THE first of "four hasty scrawls to you and Eleanor" he began on 
the Washington-New York sleeper the morning of January 10 be- 
fore sailing on the Olympic, which carried six thousand soldiers to 

"We passed the sentinels and civil guards and the secret service men 
and finally got on the pier. Motors were dashing up from various direc- 
tions and discharging parties of officers. Long lines of troops were march- 
ing on board. . . . 

"When we left the pier it was already growing dark and the huge 
buildings of the city loomed up with an appearance of almost grotesque 
mystery through the grey mist of the approaching winter night. Before 
we reached the battery the great office buildings had lost their distinctive 
forms and looked like dark tapestries dropped from the upper air and 
studded with countless scintillating stars. I think that it is a wonderful 
sight at any hour of the day or time of year; but to look back from far 
down the bay, through the frozen grey mist of a cold winter's night, 
when all details are lost, when one sees only a dark mass vaguely out- 
lined against a sky only a little less dark, a congerie of turrets and battle- 
ments and spires of an unearthly city with a fairy gauzelike curtain of 
twinkling lights dropped in front of it it is a sight to haunt the mem- 

Abandon-ship drill for the six thousand soldiers on board, most 
of whom had never been at sea before, became a test of the requisite 
speed and discipline should the ship be torpedoed. 

"The second day the word was passed that the alarm would be sounded 
within certain time limits but the exact moment was not given. There- 
after no warning at all was given. Yesterday the last man was out in a 
little over three minutes which is as good time as can be made. . . . On 
this ship the greatest stress is laid on keeping the lower ports closed and 
of course the watertight doors. Captain Hays insists that had not the 
lower ports of the Lusitania been open that vessel would be afloat 


He arrived in London January 19, bearing the latest word about 
our home situation, to learn the latest about the situation in Europe. 
In the month since he had left England the shadow of the German 
threat on the western front had become a growing cloud as Hinden- 
burg and Ludendorff formed their battalions. The conference with 
General Sir William Robertson and Lord Derby, the war minister, 
"was all on the one subject of sending over at once three battalions 
of American infantry to be incorporated in each of 50 divisions, mak- 
ing a total of about 150,000 men." 

"They stated that they agreed to the conditions laid down by General 
Pershing and which he has doubtless communicated to you. They all 
seemed to be badly rattled. They showed me their information indicating 
that the Germans have already secured a decided superiority in men and 
guns on the Western front. They anticipate a tremendous effort by the 
Germans early in the year. . . .* 

"I talked with Lord Reading till 11.30 P.M. and when I left, he said 
he was going to repeat my views to the Prime Minister. The next morn- 
ing the Prime Minister asked me to see him at 10 Downing Street at 
1145. * found him alone sitting at the great council table where the 
action was taken which caused our war of the Revolution and where 
the document was signed which recognized our independence. After a 
while Mr. Bonar Law came in and then Lord Milner and then Lord 
Derby and then Mr. Balfour and then I saw that the Cabinet was as- 
sembling. 2 

"Mr. Lloyd George went over the situation in about the same way that 
Lord Reading had done the night before and repeated the same argu- 
ments in favor of our sending over 150,000 men at once to go on the 
British line. ... He said that he would talk more fully on the subject 
that evening at dinner at Mr. Bonar Law's house . . . together with our 
Mr. Crosby and Mr. Cravath. We talked until a late hour over the 
general situation. It all came to the same thing. They want men and 
they want them quickly. The proposition is, in a general way, for them 
to take our men with simply their rifles and the ammunition therefor 
and their clothing the British to transport them and supply them in 
every way. 

"On meeting General Robertson that afternoon I told him that my 
instructions were to the effect that the proposition to bring over the 150 
American battalions was not to interfere with carrying out our own 
program which required additional assistance from Great Britain in the 

1 Letter to Baker, January 22, 1918. 

2 Letter to Mrs. Bliss, January 18, 1918. 


way of shipping. ... Sir Joseph x stated that it was an absolute impossi- 
bility and that, on the other hand, Great Britain expected assistance in 
shipping from the United States. He called in his principal experts and 
they confirmed his declaration. I asked Sir Joseph whether, if our gov- 
ernment made the sending of the 150 battalions contingent on our 
getting additional assistance in tonnage, we could hope to get it. He said 
most positively 'No/ He adhered to this statement although General 
Robertson, who was present, stated that the failure to receive the 150 
battalions would invite disaster on the British front." 2 

When she was free from other errands the Olympic might bring 
over American troops, but Sir Joseph would have no false hopes 
roused by that particular instance of generosity as his ears rang with 
British calls for ships he could not supply. Presumably his expecta- 
tions from us were based on our ship-building program, which had 
been a little overtimed as to rapidity of fulfillment, if not its magni- 
tude. Sir William Robertson, the British chief of staff, had risen 
from the ranks in the hard school of the long training of British 
regulars. Even the alacrity with which the Canadians and Australians 
had become veteran on the Western front could not convince Sir 
William that war-time concentration and long days of application by 
citizen soldiers of a land of high mass intelligence might shorten the 
requisite period of preparation. 

The question which the British posed for themselves at the end 
of January, 1918, was whether in that critical time they should spare 
the ships and the energy to bring over and train American troops 
unless they could be made effective by mixing with their own 
promptly enough to aid in stopping the most powerful offensive in 
history. From their own experts in America British leaders had in- 
formation to compare with Bliss* about the progress of the men in our 
camps. They had discouraging reports even from Americans. Major 
General Leonard Wood had been sent abroad with other division 
commanders on a tour of observation which would enable them the 
better to prepare their divisions for their coming service in France. 

"I want to tell you something of which General Barry can speak more 
in detail if you should desire to have him do so. From the moment of 

1 Sir Joseph Maclay, Controller of British Shipping. 

2 Letter to Baker, January 22, 1918. 


my arrival I have heard repeated to me from all sides many reckless re- 
marks made by General Wood in regard to our military situation. The 
sum and substance of it seems to be that he has done his best to discredit 
the United States here in Europe. He has told of everything that has 
not been done and nothing as to the things which have been done. Men 
like Mr. Crosby and Mr. Cravath have expressed themselves to me very 
forcibly as to the impropriety of his conduct. General Barry tells me 
that it has been the same during his trip in France. I think that I can 
already see the evil effect produced on the minds of British officials here. 
It is going to make it much more difficult for us to negotiate about 
getting aid in shipping if people here believe that whatever sacrifices 
they make to give us additional tonnage is only for the purpose of bring- 
ing over an unorganized and undisciplined mob. From what I am told 
as to his sayings in France, I should think that it would add very much 
to the difficulties of General Pershing's position. . . . 

"He knows that the British and French want us to do certain things 
which I am afraid the American people will be very loath to approve. 
He can tell their commanders and the heads of their governments what 
he would do were he in control, leaving them with the conviction that 
he would do exactly what they wish. I should not be surprised if you were 
to find a quiet movement initiated through diplomatic channels to sub- 
stitute him for General Pershing. I learned yesterday that Mr. Lloyd 
George had inquired at our Embassy whether General Wood had re- 
turned from France, and had expressed an earnest desire to see him as 
soon as he arrived. 

"I am not writing more fully on the above subject, first, on account 
of haste, and secondly, because I understand that our Ambassador here 
has already made a report which probably has reached you by this 
time. . . . 

"I learned from Mr. Lloyd George that the military part of the Su- 
preme War Council is waiting for me in order to formally decide upon 
their recommendations as to the general military operations to be carried 
out by the Allies in the near future. Mr. Lloyd George wants to have a 
meeting of the Prime Ministers at Versailles early next week, at which 
will be discussed these recommendations. I have therefore decided to go 
over tomorrow." * 

Then, when he was established at Versailles: 

"I am writing this in the Hotel de Trianon, the park of the Chateau 
beginning just under my window. The Hotel was commandeered as an 
office building for the Supreme War Council. General Cadorna and the 
Italian section has one-half of this floor; I have the other half for the 
American section. This is the 2nd floor and just under my office (where 

i To Baker, January 22, 1918. 


I am writing) is the office of Sir Henry Wilson who has the British sec- 
tion, while the other half of his floor is occupied by the French section 
under General Weygand, the French Assistant Chief of Staff/' * 

In 1915 Lord Kitchener had suggested the need of such a body 
as the Supreme War Council, 2 which was in no wise acceptable to 
the premiers reflecting the views of the generals and the people at 
a time when Kitchener had to yield to political persuasion not to 
make public his gloomy view that the war would last three years. 
Until the Italian disaster, Allied coordination of policy had been 
much the same as though in place of a clearing house each bank in a 
city should send out messengers with checks to each bank on which 
they were drawn. There were intermittent conferences between 
premiers and generals, suggestions were made by mail or messenger, 
which were passed on through the ambassadors from one govern- 
ment to another, or from chiefs of staff to commanders-in-chief , and 
then back again, with the danger that before agreement was reached 
the battle would be lost. Now Bliss, Wilson, Cadorna and Weygand 
were under the same roof and had only to step across the hall or 
downstairs to exchange information and discuss projects, and each 
had a staff of experts at his call. They represented the four great 
Rations on the Allied side. According to the view of the British, 
who took the lead in creating the Council: 

"The only other great power technically at war with Germany and 
her Allies was Russia. There the unrecognized Communist government 
Was in power with the avowed object of making peace at the earliest 
date, and it was therefore obviously impossible that overtures could be 
made to them to participate. 

"The smaller nations were ignored as far as permanent representation 
Was concerned though provision was made for the attendance of their 
representatives when occasion demanded. . . The Supreme War Coun- 
cil was in the first place a political and not a military body ... to be 
an instrument for arriving at a common policy in the conduct of the 
War. It was not to be an instrument for carrying out that policy." 3 

The Council was composed of the three premiers, who were to 
meet regularly once a month, or on special call, accompanied by an- 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, January 29, 1918. 

2 Historical Record of the Supreme War Council by the British section, 1918. 
s Ibid. 


other Cabinet minister. President Wilson would have made a fourth 
member, accompanied by the American Secretary of War, if time 
and distance permitted them to be present. In the December session 
House acted for Wilson. Pershing and Bliss hoped that he would 
remain, but the President wanted him nearer Washington than Ver- 
sailles. For a time Arthur Hugh Frazier, the experienced counsel- 
lor of the American Embassy in Paris, took his place, and then Bliss 
became the representative of the State Department and the President 
on the Council as well as the Military Representative. To explain 
the functions of the Council in his own words: 

"The Permanent Military Representatives are the technical advisers 
of the Supreme War Council. When the latter meets, it considers the 
joint notes prepared by these military advisers. It accepts these notes or 
modifies them, or rejects them in short, does what it pleases with them. 
The Permanent Military Advisers are in constant session, whether the 
Supreme War Council is in adjournment or not, and in their own meet- 
ings they vote on the joint notes which they propose to present to the 
Supreme War Council, but after presentation of these notes the military 
advisers have no further vote. 

*They are present at the sessions of the Supreme War Council (that 
is to say, of the three prime ministers), together with anyone else whom 
the Supreme War Council chooses to be present. All the military men 
thus present may, with the permission of the Supreme War Council, take 
part in the discussion of the notes, but they have nothing to say as to 
final acceptance, rejection or modification. 

"It is in that way that Generals Haig, Robertson, Pershing, Foch, and 
other military advisers are present, besides the Permanent Military Ad- 
visers. You can see, however, that when they take final action it is only 
after they have listened to the expression of every shade of military opin- 
ion. In short the Supreme War Council, as now constituted, is a bench of 
Jijdges consisting of the political heads of three of the Allied govern- 
ment^ before whom the military men urge the 'pros' and 'cons' of each 
case wMch is submitted to the decision of these three judges/' * 

After reading this no one in the State Department who has asked 
"Just what is the Supreme War Council?" ought to remain in 
ignorance, leaving the inquirer with no further concern than to 
watdh results. Not only were commanders-in-chief of the other Allied 
armies apprehoasive lest their powers be curtailed by the Supreme 
War Council, but there had been a Butter in Pershing's staff as to 

to Frank L, Polfc, Counsellor of the State Department, February 19, 1918. 


just what use scholar Bliss might make of his direct relation with a 
scholarly Secretary of War and a scholarly President. The presence 
of another four-star general in France, who would also be in touch 
with the Allied leaders, especially if ambition lighted his eye in his 
secret thoughts as he looked toward army headquarters, might lead 
to complications. There was the example of the frustration of Grant 
by Halleck and of Lee by Jefferson Davis, which Baker had in mind 
when he gave Pershing a free hand, while Bliss could call up scores 
of similar examples from history. 

Allied leaders might seek to gain a point over Pershing by appeal- 
ing to Washington through Bliss. The higher a man's position the 
greater his power, the brighter the light he casts for reflected glory. 
Gossips who never think of themselves as intriguers might bear tales 
about Bliss' actions to Pershing and catch him when his countless 
other irritations left him in a receptive mood. Then he might un- 
bosom himself to a friend. Charles M. Dawes wrote in his diary: 

"We live in the midst of events. 'The English, notwithstanding their 
steadfast refusal to mix small units of their own troops with others- 
even their colonial troops with their own and the French, are endeavor- 
ing to persuade the United States to scatter their troops in small units 
throughout the French and British line. General Bliss had acceded to the 
idea. General Pershing is obdurate in his position against it. Bliss has 
not yet gone to the extent, as I understand, of making to Wilson a recom- 
mendation contrary to Pershing. John is therefore in one of those crises 
at the beginning of military movements alike so annoying and yet so 
valuable as establishing unquestioned leadership. The President of 
France, the British authorities, Lloyd George, General Bliss all arrayed 
against John mean nothing to him except they present reason. John 
Pershing, like Abraham Lincoln, 'recognizes no superior on the face of 
the earth/ " * 

When Bliss* mission was Allied unity any rift between him and 
Pershing would have been a bad example. Evidently the Dawes entry 
related to reports of Bliss* attitude while in London when Robertson 
told Bliss that Pershing had accepted the terms of the British pro- 
posal for amalgamation of our small units with the British. But it 
appeared that Robertson had been in error, and Bliss deceived, as 
he learned from Pershing at Versailles. 

i A Journal of the Great War, Dawes. I, 71. 


"We met that morning In General Wilson's office in the Trianon," 
Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, January 2Qth, the day after the entry in the 
Dawes' journal, "there being present, Mr. Lloyd George, General 
Wilson, Lord Milner, Sir Douglas Haig, General Robertson, Lt. GoL 
Hankey, Secretary of the British War Cabinet, Pershing and my- 

When Lloyd George turned to Bliss, hoping his views would be 
more liberal than Pershing's, Bliss replied, according to Pershing, 
"General Pershing will speak for us, and whatever he says with re- 
gard to the disposition of the American forces will have my ap- 
proval." x This served notice in high quarters of the Bliss attitude. 
Pershing elsewhere refers, without specifying details, to a previous 
discussion between the two in which Bliss proposed that they submit 
their difference to the Secretary of War. 

"So I said, 'Bliss, do you know what would happen if we should 
do that. We should be relieved from further duty in France, and 
that is just what we should deserve/ We spent some time examining 
the question from all angles, until he finally came around to my 
view, and said, *I think you are right and I shall back you up in 
the position you have taken.' " 2 

There is no reference to this in Bliss* letters and papers of the 
time except his remark in his letter to Mrs. Bliss that "our plan" 
which Pershing refers to as a compromise was accepted, but the min- 
utes of the Council reveal his attitude in harmony with Pershing's in 
the great essential principle. Later he wrote: 

"About Dawes' book and his unwarranted assertions about splitting up 
American forces in France, I am waiting with some curiosity to see 
whether an interviewer asks Pershing about it and what he will say. I 
have letters from him, written after the campaign, thanking me for the 
cordial and unvarying support he received during the whole time we 
were together. 

'The question of the method of using the American troops came up 
only twice. The first time was at the meeting of the S. W. C. on January 
30, 1918. At the meeting on the day before, Marshal Haig maintained 
that the American forces, good as they were, were not better than the 
British; that British divisions required nine months* home training and 
six months* training in France before they could be put on the line for 

y Experiences in the World War, Pershing. I, 508. 


real fighting; that the Americans could not do better; that he 'conse- 
quently did not consider the Allies could accept the American forces, as a 
force, to be of effective support this year/ General Petain said that he 
'agreed entirely with the conclusions arrived at by Sir Douglas Haig/ In 
his opinion, the only use that could be made of American troops during 
the approaching crisis was by putting them into the lines by battalions 
and regiments along with the British and French. He said that if this 
were not done, the situation as forecast by Sir Douglas Haig would cer- 
tainly be realized, 'and the war would enter into a very critical period.' 
In the course of the discussion Baron Sonnino, the Italian Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, asked a very pointed question as to whether the Ameri- 
cans would consent to this use of their troops. Mr. Lloyd George and Mr, 
Clemenceau knew that this was a very disagreeable question to be pressed 
on the Americans. They accordingly immediately diverted the discus- 
sion in another direction. 

"At the meeting on the following day (Jan. gist), Baron Sonnino again 
pressed the question in such a way that it could not be avoided. Lloyd 
George and Clemenceau, seated directly opposite me at the table, both 
looked at me in a way to indicate that they thought I should make some 
answer. My statement, considerably condensed, was contained in the 
'Annex' to the proems-verbal of January gist. The statement as given in 
the 'Annex* does not, I think, make quite dear the point that I impressed 
on the S. W. C. I said: 

" 'You believe that a great emergency is approaching; that the emer- 
gency may result in irretrievable disaster if such American troops as may 
be in the rear of the British and French lines are not available for the 
same use that, in such an emergency, you would make of your own 
troops in a similar stage of training. Baron Sonnino insists on an answer 
to his question as to whether the American Government will give in ad- 
vance its approval of the use of our troops as recommended by Sir 
Douglas Haig and General P6tain. But, in doing this, Baron Sonnino 
endangers the very result that he wants to attain. If, before the emer- 
gency actually occurs, he insists on an answer from the American Gov- 
ernment it will probably be a blunt 'No'; because on general principles, 
that use of American troops is repugnant to American sentiment. But 
(I said) suppose he does not insist CHI an answer to his question, what 
will be the situation? There are certain American organizations behind 
both of your lines, undergoing training, just as similar organizations 
of your troops are behind your lines undergoing training. You are not 
going to put those troops of yours into the line unless you have to. 
You will do so only if it is necessary to prevent a great disaster. 
When you are ordering those troops of yours into the line to prevent 
disaster, do you suppose that similar American troops will sit by the 
roadside smoking their pipes and doing nothing? In my opinion those 
American troops in such a case would go in without orders; but I have 


no doubt that in such a case their use would be authorized from Ameri- 
can headquarters/ 

"But I made it as clear as possible that the permanent use of Ameri- 
can troops, as contemplated by Haig and Petain, would not be permitted. 
So far as the statements of Dawes are concerned, the essence of my view 
is contained in the last two sentences of the 'Annex' which I attach 

This Annex concluded with the words, "Such a thing as permanent 
amalgamation of our units with British and French units would be 
intolerable to American sentiment," 

"After I made my statement Mr. Clemenceau, the presiding officer, 
remarked 'That point is now settled.' It would not have come up again 
had it not been for the disaster of March 2ist. 

"On March syth, the draft of a Joint Note, prepared by General Raw- 
linson, the then British Military Representative, came up for considera- 
tion at Versailles. This was the one which contemplated the bringing 
over of American infantry and machine gun units (during the existing 
emergency) , leaving the artillery to follow as rapidly as practicable. I had 
insisted that the Note should not be considered unless General Pershing 
had an opportunity to be present and set forth his views. After he left 
the Council room I took Lord Rawlinson's draft and modified it so as 
to conform in general to the views expressed by General Pershing, as I 
then understood those views and understand them now," [The minutes 
show that, Pershing left the meeting not caring to go on with the dis- 
cussion, and that after he had gone, BKss said to proceed with it,] "My 
recollection is that, instead of following the usual course of telegraphing 
this draft direct to Washington, I took it in to Paris and presented it to 
you and General Pershing at his house on the Rue de Varennes; and that 
after you and he discussed it you then drew up a telegram to the Presi- 
dent with your recommendations. 

"I have not the record before me as I write but, whatever it is, I am 
content to stand by it." * 

Bliss recognized that his role was to relieve" Pershing of unneces- 
sary burdens; to act as interference against tackles while Pershing 
carried the ball. It was for Pershing to utilize Bliss* broad experi- 
ence and his continuous contact with all the Allies as a medium to 
hasten victory through unity of action. 

Bliss treasured the numerous proofs he had of Perstiing's praise 

Letter fipoia Bliss to Baker, August 295, 


of his work. There could be no real difference between the two 
when they talked the subject out together, and Bliss understood 
Pershing's purpose. Bliss, from his daily touch with the fluctuation 
of Allied views and the situation of the Allies, large and small, could 
better realize the gravity of the German threat on the Western front 
in the spring of 1917 than Pershing in his isolated ordeal of train- 
ing and forming his organization at the front and along his long 
line of communications to the French ports. Bliss could better ap- 
preciate how all the bricks had been near tumbling after the Italian 
disaster and how they might all tumble from Serbia to China in case 
of a similar disaster on the western front and on top of our little 
nest-egg of an army. Although our troops were mixed with the British 
to avert the disaster, once the danger was over, we should be in the 
master position as the final reinforcement to secure the recovery of 
the independence of our army. 

There would have been no waste of words, time and loss of tempers 
on this score if the Allies could have joined us in carrying out Bliss' 
original suggestion on May 4, 1917. With the aid of Allied shipping 
Pershing might have had already an independent army of six or 
eight of our large divisions instead of two in France ready for major 
combat action. 

The agreement of January 29 provided that 150 battalions should 
be trained with the British, then to be formed into divisions with 
their own artillery after their staffs had been trained in liaison with 
the British staffs. It was much the same as the original proposal by 
Haig on Bliss' first trip abroad. Delay had been largely owing to 
the attitude of Robertson which, in general, so tried the patience 
of Lloyd George that he was soon relieved in favor of Sir Henry 
Wilson as British chief of staff. Although Lloyd George agreed to 
supply the ships, what could a Prime Minister do if Sir Joseph 
Maclay, the British shipping controller, said he had no ships, or 
none he could spare and not endanger British security. 

"The time has come to strain every nerve to accomplish it," Bliss 
wrote, "to squeeze out the additional troop transport tonnage, and 
to assure at any cost an adequate supply of clothing and other Quar- 
termaster material. General Atterbury is convinced that we can 
handle here in France the arrival of at least two divisions per month 


with the present port and railway facilities. Warm weather will 
soon be approaching and the hardships incident to present climatic 
conditions will soon be largely removed." * 

But warm weather would also bring the German offensive. 

i To Baker, February z, 1918. 


THE conference between the British and American chiefs having 
arranged that one hundred and fifty of the battalions in our train- 
ing camps should join the British, the Supreme War Council set- 
tled to its long controversial meetings of the Third Session (January 
go-February 2) which considered not how to win the war, but 
how to keep the war from being lost. Wills clashed, angry words were 
exchanged, national tempers were lost in the pursuit of Allied 

There were the statesmen, each mindful of retaining power with 
his people, lest he be unsaddled: Lloyd George, with his supple 
mind, never at a loss for a word, his bushy hair then only just 
streaked with white, changing his attitude to suit the moment's de- 
mand, never allowing what he said yesterday, if he remembered 
it, to interfere with what was the thing to do or say today; Clemen- 
ceau, with the bright, shrewd eyes of youth, mouth hidden under 
his mustache, a tried old blade, razor-edged for a concrete phrase 
which dismissed oratorical poses in discussion, the while his cynicism 
and own brand of fatalism were but the servant of the only love he 
knew, France, in which he apparently vested his personal hopes of 
immortality; Orlando, adroit opportunist, adrift between the dis- 
tinctively French logic of Clemenceau and the winning art of Lloyd 
George's winged resourcefulness, as he looked right, left and front 
for the sustaining hands of Britain, France and America in Italy's dis- 

There were the soldiers, commanding their huge armies, each 
ambitious to safeguard his army's strength as his own and his coun- 
try's own, and to retain his command until victory. And they, more 
than the statesmen, were carved clear in racial character by the na- 
tional military tradition on barracks, drill grounds and battle-fields, 
as exponents of the class which trains for the supreme contest of 
nationalism. Fontenoy, Malplaquet and Waterloo were chapters of 
history closer to them than to the statesmen. 



For the French: Foch of the expressive mustache, the dramatic 
gesture which seemed to be brushing away cobwebs spun of words and 
which he used as substitute for words over his maps, but in council 
he could be again the Professor Ferdinand Foch, author of the 
Principles of War, drilling fundamentals into his pupils; Weygand, 
his round head compact as a diamond of what the French call in- 
telligence as peculiarly their own national gift, able to translate 
Foch's gesture into words and later, when Foch became generalis- 
simo, getting his chief so habited to him that Foch might explain 
a battle plan entirely by gestures and a few exclamations from under 
the quivering mustache. 

The British were of different types, but each a most British type 
of the amalgam of races that made the little islands the seat of 
empire: Haig, Oxford and Sandhurst, holding the manner of both 
with his British officer's slight stoop, a thoroughbred Scotch laird, 
not of the ruddy-faced and hearty type, but reserved, his even man- 
ner concealing the fire within, sensitive, formal, resolute, bearing 
himself with a certain aloof dignity that seemed to make him a British 
constitutional fixture as the head of his army; tall, angular Sir Henry 
Wilson, the map of rugged Ulster carved in his bony face, uncertain 
how to place his long arms and legs when he sat down as though this 
were his first experience in a chair, free in his talk and characteriza- 
tions in Scotch-Irish realism and Scotch humor, bound to irritate 
Haig a little as Haig irritated him, his philosophy as sympathetic 
to the flexible catch-as-catch-can of Lloyd George's philosophy as 
that of Haig was remote; and Robertson, neither Oxford nor Sand- 
hurst, who had fought and labored his way in self-education from 
the ranks to a marshal's baton, with his square jaw and beetling 
brows above his thickset draught-horse figure, who would look 
the part of a captain of Beefeaters in the Tower to the taste of 
Henry VIII. 

After a session was over the others would tarry and exchange 
anecdotes and jokes, but Haig would pick up his papers and go after 
bows and quiet parting words. The others, aware how correct and 
clear headed he was, might wonder just how human he was and what 
he really thought, only to learn afterward, when he left all his papers 
with the British Museum, not to be published for fifty years, that 
this would be the privilege of a later generation; but they did learn 


that, although he did not appear to be a very good fellow, he gave the 
rest of his life to fighting for better care of the disabled men who 
fought under him. They were all the laird's own clansmen. 

There was Cadorna, ever conscious of the Italian disaster under 
his command as being an adventitious misfortune against over- 
whelming odds of which he was the scapegoat, but which he was 
sure could have been averted if the Allies had come to his aid, and 
turned into victory if they had given him the support that would 
have enabled him to fulfil his great dream of an offensive which 
would have put Italy's ancient enemy Austria out of the war. In that 
case, he was sure that all the gentlemen around him, who saw him 
as a beaten commander, would have been engaged in dictating terms 
of peace instead of their present plight. 

From the land of the redskins overseas, which Europe had known 
had some sort of a little regular army as a national police force, 
came that white Indian, Pershing, who had never commanded as 
many as five thousand men until his expedition across the Mexican 
border in pursuit of Villa: as American as any man could be who 
went from a farm in Missouri to West Point; a man tightly laced 
together, with a head as compact of American horse sense as Wey- 
gand's of French intelligence, ears close to the head, a pattern for 
West Point cadets no less than when he was second lieutenant. His 
Allied colleagues had thought that he would bring over a slouchy 
excursionist sort of mob, buttons of blouses unbuttoned, but, lo, 
he was forming them all in the West Point mould in the rigid dis- 
cipline which his military text books had taught him was necessary 
in order to win wars. He might appear with a warm smile of greet- 
ing, but canny, watchful, the lips straightening to a thin line, he 
could be a pillar of flint at the first faint signal from afar of a plot to 
purloin any of his men-children whom he knew best how to make 
into soldiers. As their father he concealed any feeling for them lest 
that would make him appear soft enough to accept excuses. 

It would not be easy for any mind, or group of minds, of another 
nation to dominate any one of these men, each of whom had been 
accustomed to dominate in his own world from company to army 
commander, and subject only to orders from his national superior. 

Pershing was as different from Bliss as Haig from Wilson, and 
Bliss as American as the son of a poor professor in a small inland 


college could be. Bald-head, drooping mustache, he bent over his 
papers, and he could read them whether in French, German or Rus- 
sian, listening at the council table. When the lips twitched and he 
pulled the mustache, they knew he had something he might like 
to say, but that did not mean that he would say it. General Rawlin- 
son, who succeeded Wilson as British military representative when 
Wilson became British chief-of-staff, called him Buddha. 

As the American statesman on the Council Bliss had no premier- 
ship to retain, no hope that he would ever be a candidate for the 
Presidency; as the American soldier on the Council he had to re- 
tain no army command in the field. This gave Buddha advantages 
on the stage of which the cast has now been given, subject to change, 
with Bliss a permanent fixture to the end. 

But, before we proceed with the play, it is worth while to state 
further in Bliss* own words the governing rules of this unprecedented 
political and military Sanhedrim, which was in the very inner of the 
inner closets surrounded by the guards of Argus-eyed censorship. 

"The Permanent Secretarial Staffs are the secretaries of the four mili- 
tary sections. It has been agreed that each of them shall keep independent 
minutes and that after each meeting these secretaries meet and compare 
their independent minutes and from them make up one official document 
which all will agree to accept at the official minutes of that meeting. 
This cumbersome process seems to be necessary because immediately after 
its adjournment the members of the Supreme War Council scatter to 
their respective countries, and if the minutes were not agreed upon and 
approved before the next meeting, there would be interminable discus- 
sion as to what was actually done at the preceding meeting." 

In this, war-censorship turned over to those secretaries in writing 
historical records a task in elision and toning which compromised 
in discreet conventionalization that was as free from a literal tran- 
scription as from journalistic coloring. On the record no member 
said anything offensive to another member, all arguments were ad- 
vanced in courtly and amicable manner. Bliss* own view of the his- 
torical value of those troublesome proces-verbaux to the secretaries 
was expressed in a letter after the war in which he refers to "the in- 
conceivable folly of having sessions of the heads of great governments 
discussing and taking action on the affairs of the world without hav- 


ing a daily abstract of all views that were expressed." x 

He gave an example in the course of this correspondence of the 
kind of minutes that were kept of the meetings of the Supreme War 

"An important meeting of the Supreme War Council was held at the 
beginning of June, 1918. Sir Maurice Hankey recorded the minutes. The 
Germans had begun, a few days before, their drive of May syth. They 
had routed the three French armies under General Franchet d'Esperey. 
To meet the wild clamor of the French people, Franchet d'Esperey was 
relieved from his command but was immediately reassigned to a com- 
mand of the armies of the East at Salonika, where he relieved General 
Guillaumat who had been performing his duties there to the entire sat- 
isfaction of the Allies. 

"Immediately on the assembling of this Session, the British made a 
most violent attack upon the French on account of the action taken in 
the case of Franchet d'Esperey; they said that in a similar case they had 
relieved Gough, had ordered him home and had given him no command; 
that the French had rewarded Franchet d'Esperey, not merely by at once 
giving him a very important independent command, but a command 
over an Allied army in which the British were largely represented; and 
that all this had been done without any knowledge on the part of the 
British or any other of the Allies. 

"What I have said gives no real idea of the intensity of the situation 
created by these and other statements. They evoked from the French 
such a heated reply as made some present apprehensive of an open and 
complete rupture. Had such a rupture come, the minutes of that meet- 
ing would undoubtedly have been full and complete because that would 
have been necessary in order to explain the rupture, but when all parties 
concerned realized the danger that was involved, and they had cooled 
down and reached an agreement in the matter, it seemed to have been 
tacitly agreed that there should be no record of what happened. And yet 
what happened then and on other occasions would be of great im- 
portance to anyone in studying the European international psychology 
of the present moment. It would throw a great light on the real relations 
existing between two of the great powers of the Entente. 

"But it was not often that such matters came to a head at a formal 
session of the Supreme War Council. We all knew that these formal ses- 
sions were preceded by so-called informal meetings of the three Prime 
Ministers. What happened at those meetings is of quite as much impor- 
tance to the historian as what happened at the formal Sessions yet noth- 
ing will ever be known of what happened there unless Messrs. Lloyd 

i To Henry White, December 27, 1921. 


George, Clemenceau and Orlando kept their own private memoranda 
and some day publish them." x 

To have published this at the time of the Chateau-Thierry crisis 
of the third German drive of 1918 would have been equally as un- 
wise for Allied morale's sake as to have published the minutes of 
the meetings of January go-February 2, with which we are at present 
concerned, when Bliss was established at Versailles and he set for 
himself a task as definite as Pershing's in training his army, that of 
unified command. 

"Previously the Allies had held together through disaster after disaster 
greater than those which have dissolved former coalitions. ... It was 
not until after many of these disasters had occurred that the step was 
taken that might have averted all of them. It was not until it seemed that 
the last dollar was extracted, the last available man put into the field, 
that it was seen that all resources must be pooled, which meant putting 
them in one control. 

"Had there been one common unified plan the defection of Russia 
would have instantly made evident the necessity of modifying this plan 
to meet the defection. With these various war aims in view, the British 
army on the Flanders front hammered away at the Flanders front; 
France dealt her blows north and east of Paris; while Italy pursued her 
war against Austria in the Julian Alps and about Valona. In addition to 
all this, any threat against India, by propaganda or force of arms, aroused 
the greatest apprehension in all English minds. . . . Russia had mobi- 
lizedno one knows how many soldiers. Some say 20,000,000, and the 
least estimate 12,000,000, only to bring her and her Allies disaster and 
to the enemy courage and hope. More than that, the Russian collapse 
would, in time, have opened to that enemy the great granary of Europe. 

"The Central Powers had only to hold on to what they had already 
won; the burden of the offensive had been definitely imposed upon the 
Allies, and with the promises of food and petroleum supplies from the 
Balkans and Russians without which it had been possible to support the 
populations of Germany and Austria for three yearsthere seemed good 
ground for believing that the defense could be maintained almost in- 
definitely." 2 

Owing to Bliss' judicial attitude of detachment from European 
racial antipathies his own digest ought to be the most literal availa- 
ble picture when he was present at the meetings of the soldiers and 

1 To Henry White, January 5, 1921. 

2 Bliss* final official report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 


statesmen, but he does not emphasize the heat of the altercations. 
Pershing once remarked as proof of his patience that he had got 
through a session with his colleagues without having sworn 
once. 1 

No one of the statesmen and generals was a hero to any of the 
others, especially in this period when no one had any victories to 
report. Haig and Ptain had a testy set-to about the old question of 
the British taking over more line. Haig said the British army had 
active sectors while the French had long stretches of quiet sectors; 
his men got only one leave a year and the French got leave every 
four months. Ptain said that his men held the line very thinly 
against a possible heavy forthcoming attack, that the law of France 
required leave every four months. They agreed to appoint a joint 
committee to consider the matter. 

Both presented a disheartening picture of their inadequate num- 
bers to meet the German offensive, a responsibility that reverted to 
the statesmen. There were references to the importance of Allies 
forcing their slackers to fight Lloyd George said he was bewildered 
by the rapidity with which both the British and French armies were 
disappearing. He turned on Orlando. The Italians had 1,440,000 
against the enemy's 860,000, and the French and British even num- 
bers with the Germans. Why should not the Italians send divisions 
to the western front as an offset to the divisions that the French and 
British had sent to the Italian front? 

Orlando was not convinced that the great immediate danger might 
be on the western front. Why should not Italy have her share of 
American divisions? Germany might decide to send divisions to 
Rumania to force Rumania's acceptance of peace terms (which was 
being much bruited at the time). This would release masses of 
Austrian troops against Italy. 

With her discouraged troops back on the Piave, while Italy was 
short of coal and wheat, the victory, which would bring the prizes 
Italy had bargained for as the reward of entering into the war, 
seemed a very intangible promise. The secret treaty which Britain, 
France and Russia had concluded with Italy had not been published 
to the world. It would have been bad propaganda in America. The 
important clause read: 

i To the author. 


"By the future treaty of peace Italy shall receive: The Trentino; the 
whole of Southern Tyrol, as far as its natural and geographical frontier, 
the Brenner; the city of Trieste and its surroundings; the county of 
Gorizia and Gradisca; the whole of Istria as far as the Quarnero, includ- 
ing Volosca and the Istrian Islands, Cherzo and Lussin, as also the lesser 
islands Plavnik, Unia, Canidoli, Palazzuola, S. Pietro Nerovio, Asinello 
and Gruica, with their neighboring islets." x 

There were several copies of this pact in Bliss' papers. Apparently 
he kept each copy that came his way, as a reminder. It lay heavy on 
his mind through the Peace Conference, but for reasons quite anti- 
thetic to the one which kept it heavy on the mind of Orlando and 
Baron Sonnino, the Italian foreign minister, who was present at 
this session of the Supreme War Council. 

The Italians could not forget how the French and British had 
courted the Italians to get Italy into the war; how she was assured 
that her entry would turn the balance against the Central Powers 
quickly (as later America was assured that her entry would), and 
soon her conquering troops would parade in the Trieste of her 
dreams and her flag fly over the Tyrol in triumph. The Allies' need 
of the Italian army in 1915 had been almost as desperate as the 
present need of the American, 

"Baron Sonnino said that in the last speeches of Mr. Lloyd George, 
President Wilson and M. Pichon his own countrymen felt they had been 
left out in the cold. He felt bound to speak frankly on this subject. He 
thought that some announcement should be made of the Allied war aims 
which would satisfy the aspirations of the Italian nation. 

"Italy's part in the war, and what she might expect to obtain as the 
result of the war, had, he conceived, been placed rather in the .shade. 
In the speeches alluded to above, attention had been drawn to the recti- 
fication of the Italian front, and nothing had been said about such ter- 
ritorial adjustments as would give Italy definite security for the future. 
That security it was necessary to insure, because Italy came into the war 
with only this object in view. Referring to the naval situation, he wished 
to point out that although Italy was three times as strong as Austria in 
these waters, she could not yet hardly venture into the Adriatic. He 
reminded the Council that prior to Italy's entering the war, Austria 
offered her certain territory but not enough to guarantee her real 
security. He wished to conclude by saying that no declaration could be 
accepted which suggested any renunciation of Italy's legitimate claims." 

i The Pact of London signed April 26, 1915, by Sir Edward Grey, Jules Cambon, 
Count Benckendorff and Marchese Imperiali. 


Certainly it would have sounded an awkward note if President 
Wilson had supplemented his war cry "to make the world safe for 
democracy/' in encouraging our people and soldiers to their utmost, 
with an appeal to make Trieste and the Trentino Italian territory. 

The Italian foreign minister had much to say on the fourth and 
last day of the session when members were considering the public 
statement of the results of their prolonged labors to satisfy the 
world's intense interest. Sonnino "deprecated introducing into the 
declaration anything which might savour of dictation to the enemy 
nations in regard to the management of their own affairs." Lloyd 
George said that "to state that one of the objects of the Allies was 
to break down the domination of the military caste might wound the 
amour-propre of Ludendorff and Hindenburg, but there were in 
the enemy nations many who disliked militarism as much as the 
democratic countries who were fighting the Central Powers." Son- 
nino disagreed. "Any attempt to dictate to enemy countries the 
form of government they should adopt would lay us open to the 
retort, It is not business of yours; if we, wish to be slaves, let us 
be slaves/ " 

The argument continued, Lloyd George holding that the real 
barrier to peace was "an unrepentant and aggressive military caste," 
and Sonnino replying, "National amour-propre will still defy you," 
with Lord Milner agreeing with Sonnino but telling Sonnino that 
the discussion had better end as the majority were against them. 
Then Sonnino wanted to be sure that the proceedings were kept 
absolutely secret. 

After some further discussion it was decided to adopt "Mr. Lloyd 
George's text followed by M. Clemenceau's peroration, subject to 
final verbal alterations already agreed upon." 

Clemenceau, the accomplished journalist, who never indulged in 
eloquence in council where his thought congealed in logic, was 
good at the kind of language with which the world was familiar at 
the time when the high priests of counsel had a message for the 
oracle's lips. 

"The splendid soldiers of the free democracies have won their place in 
history by their immeasurable valor. Their magnificent heroism, and the 
no less noble endurance with which our civilian population are bearing 
their daily burden of trial and suffering, testify to the strength of those 


principles of freedom which will crown the military success of the Allies 
with the glory of a great moral triumph." 

It is not known whether Lloyd George or Clemeticeau, or one of 
the secretarial staffs wrote (possibly ghost-writing was responsible 
for all) ... "a unanimity no less complete both as regards the 
military policy to be pursued and as regards the measures needed for 
its execution, will enable the Allies to meet the violence of the 
enemy's onset with grim and quiet confidence, with the utmost 
energy, and with the knowledge that neither their confidence nor 
their steadfastness can be shaken." 

A realistic summary of the session might well be that little had 
been achieved toward definite measures of coordination except cheer- 
ing words as a finale of the controversies, but when we turn to the 
conclusions and decisions which were not made public we find the 
constructive influence of Bliss revealed in his use of the power and 
the war aims of the nation he represented. 


"THE great value of the Supreme War Council consisted in bring- 
ing together the political heads of the governments ... in causing 
each to consider these problems not only in the light of its own 
interests but in that of others." * 

The poison of their treasured irritations was emptied on the coun- 
cil table; their emotions exhausted, each could be sympathetic in 
the mutual narration of common difficulties as chiefs of democracies; 
then came the give and take in the consciousness that they must 
gain some agreements out of their parley; and, finally, an exchange 
of good wishes on parting, each with something reassuring to report 
to his people. 

As a first premise in deciding on a policy at the important third 
session, "it was assumed that no decision in favor of the Allies could 
be obtained before the arrival of the American army should turn 
the equilibrium; and it was further assumed that this could not 
take place until 1919." Having taken it for granted that Britain 
would be safe from invasion in 1918, the Council agreed on a 
strengthening of the Allied positions, maintaining the limit of their 
man-power and increasing their output of munitions for defense, 
with the exclusion of any offensive ventures by any Ally unless a 
favorable situation warranted it. The Allied front was to be "treated 
as a single strategic field of action and all arrangements dominated 
by this consideration." 

Then it was agreed that the war must be won on the western 
front. Any eastern campaign should be dismissed except Allenby's 
in Palestine. Clemenceau opposed this at first because it might with- 
draw troops from France, but agreed to it when he was convinced 
that it would not. Bluff General Robertson opposed the Palestine 
project by saying that "whoever prepared that paper did not know 
what he was talking about/' 

The next and most vital problem contemplated a general reserve 

i Bliss' final report to the Secretary of State, February 1920. 



which could be ready for prompt dispatch to any point in the line 
endangered by an enemy's concentrated attack. This was the issue 
nearest to Bliss* heart, this the first step in military coordination on 
which his mind was set with all the determination of the enemy in 
trying to break through the trench line. No soldier could deny the 
wisdom of a general reserve on principle. Haig and Ptain agreed to 
it, both recognizing that its movement must be subject to central 
orders. But the principle accepted, Clemenceau put the questions: 
Who will command it? Will it be a reserve for the whole front from 
the North Sea to the Adriatic? How shall it be composed? 

Inevitably a Frenchman must command it. The French, with their 
traditional experience in the command of large armies, would not 
brook any other conclusion, while the British, after their three years' 
liaison with the French, by no means had sufficient respect for any 
French commander to incline them to yield such power to him. 

The Italians saw their own adherence as impracticable and looked 
for American divisions as their own reserve. It was their idea that 
the American army best be concentrated in Italy and make the 
downfall of Austria the first step toward victory. 

The discussion continued, Bliss insisting that some central au- 
thority must be responsible for the reserve and where and when it 
should be used. So, while the German legions were forming for their 
offensive the statesmen and soldiers were making no definite progress 
toward action on Joint Note 14, the Military Representatives had 
adopted on January 23 favoring a general reserve. Then Bliss of- 
fered a resolution which had a concrete plan, and said in support 
of it: 

"It did seem necessary now to decide whence the reserve should be 
drawn. If the commanders-in-chief could agree on a single man to com- 
mand all the reserves that would be the best plan. But to select a single 
man might prove impossible, and some other solution would have to be 
found. The immediate question was not so much command as con- 
trol. . . . 

"If the Supreme War Council cannot itself solve the problem of a 
General Reserve it will have failed in the principle function which it 
was created to perform, unity of control and action; because, in the ap- 
proaching campaign, the control and direction of a strong General Re- 
serve is the only thing that will secure unity of purpose over three theatres 
of war which are now to be regarded as single theatre. 


"The Supreme War Council has already directed that the general at- 
titude on the western front shall, in general, be a defensive attitude. 
Therefore in the creation of an Inter-Allied General Reserve, the primary 
object must be the preservation of the integrity of a defensive line at the 
point or points most seriously threatened. It cannot be supposed that 
those who direct and control the reserve will use it to precipitate an of- 
fensive contrary to the accepted general plan. They can only direct it 
in its entirety or in part toward the threatened point where it immedi- 
ately falls under the sole command of the commander-in-chief of that part 
of the front. If, when the enemy had been repulsed, there should appear 
an opportunity for an offensive, it must be assumed that if there be any 
considerable force of the reserve still unengaged, those who will control 
it will immediately send it to the commander-in-chief who is in a position 
to make the offensive." x 

It would appear that no British or French commander-in-chief 
could fail to accept this reasoning in fact as well as principle. Weigh- 
ing against racial and national antipathies and jealousies was the 
significant insistence of the American representative when, as Clem- 
enceau bluntly stated it, "America must win the war." 2 There was 
another influence which touched all the Allies, as Bliss stated it 

"Napoleon was a great psychologist. He thoroughly understood the 
inherent weaknesses of national human nature. His career, better than 
any other, illustrates the point now being emphasized. He, himself, 
toward the end fought coalitions with coalitions. In some of his cam- 
paigns he brought together under his single control a group of peoples 
naturally hostile to each other, heterogeneous and dissimilar in national 
instincts and longings, but not so heterogeneous and dissimilar as the 
forces recently gathered from the ends of the earth white, black, yellow 
and brown to defeat the Central Powers. 

"When he was successful in the management of such a coalition, his 
. success was due to absolute unity of command, and, as a consequence 
of this unity, coordination of effort. He had both political and military 
control. He used the single and undivided strength of his combinations 
to take instant advantage of whatever weakness may have been developed 
in the looser combination opposed to him. And when he failed, it was 
due to the same cause that which held the Allied and Associated Powers 
together to the end and which overcame any disposition of his opponents 
to pull apart and held them together to the bitter end overwhelming 
and absolute fear. No nation any longer trusted him. They all feared 

1 American Minutes, Third Session of the Supreme War Council. 

2 Ibid. 


him. They knew that it was their ruin or his. None could have the slight- 
est hope that by a voluntary separate peace it could attain its own ends 
better than by adhering to the alliance. All knew that their sole hope was 
in the alliance." x 

At the close of the third session he wrote to Baker: 

"I doubt if I could make anyone not present at the recent meeting of 
the Supreme War Council realize the anxiety and fear that pervades 
the minds of political and military men here. If no collapse comes this 
year in Germany or Austria, or both, they believe that the most they can 
do is to prevent the Germans from breaking their line; that if complete 
peace is restored between the Central Powers and Russia and Rumania 
they doubt their ability to hold their line. They openly state that their 
hope is in the man-power of the United States. ... If we do not make 
the greatest sacrifices now and, as a result, a great disaster should come, 
we will never forgive ourselves nor will the world forgive us. If we do 
everything that we can now, and if that 'all that we can' is a reasonably 
large effort, I believe that the situation will be safe. But we have no 
time to lose." 

Lloyd George and Foch favored an executive committee to act 
in place of the Military Representatives in control of the Reserve. 
Bliss opposed this. 

"It is not wise to waste effort by doing a thing which it is not neces- 
sary to do. It is, therefore, not wise to create an organization to do that 
which another organization has already been created to do. It is not wise 
to superimpose one agency upon another doing the same thing. The only 
possible result will be to produce unnecessary confusion, friction, and 
delay, at a time when there should exisjt the utmost clearness of cool and 
unbiased vision, the utmost harmony, and the utmost rapidity of action." 

But Lloyd George persisted for the superimposed agency, with 
Foch at its head, as the man of greater experience, instead of Wey- 
gand, the French Military Representative. It also had the advantage 
of relieving the statesmen definitely of any responsibility for military 
control. But Bliss had gained the main point he had in mind in the 
amended resolution which did provide for the control he advocated 
as the most practicable form feasible at present. The Executive Com- 

i Bliss' final report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 


mittee l was to determine the strength and composition of the reserve, 
select its stations, arrange for its transportation and concentration, 
and "to decide and issue orders as to the time, place and period" of 
its employment. When moved to a critical point it passed under the 
command of the commander-in-chief of the army "to whose assistance 
it was consigned." 

Foch was chosen to represent France and as President of the 
Executive Committee; Sir Henry Wilson to represent Britain, Gen- 
eral Luigi Cadorna to represent Italy, and Bliss the United States. It 
would seem that now the Executive Committee had only to assign 
the divisions and form the Reserve. 

But there were circumstances favoring delay. In some quarters 
there remained a conviction that the German mobilization on the 
western front, which was so widely exploited in the press of the 
Central Powers, was a blind for a German movement in the East 
to end Rumania's doubt, put Serbia, and perhaps Italy, out of the 
war. In this hypothesis the Bismarckian maxim of deceiving the 
enemy by telling him the truth was to apply. That question of how 
many divisions were to compose the Reserve and who would supply 
them had yet to be answered. Bliss, holding his patience, had seen 
the Executive Committee advance as far as conferences with the 
commanders-in-chief when he departed for London on February 
10 to attend the sessions of the Inter- Allied Council on War Pur- 
chases and Finance. For the other groups for coordination, including 
the pooling of shipping, were continuing their labors at the same 
time that the Military Representatives sought to harmonize all re- 
sources in coordinate military action. 

"I think the Council has accomplished important work in the line of 
coordinating expenditures with the result, it is hoped, of preventing un- 
necessary duplications of purchases. But of all this, Mr. Crosby is keep- 
ing the Treasury fully informed. I think my work with the Council 
will finish today and I would return to Versailles this evening or to- 
morrow, were it not that I want to go with our Ambassador to Winchester 
to see our troops that have just arrived there coming from the various 

iFor practical purposes the Executive War Board was the same as the Executive 
Committee; but the author has referred to it as the Executive Committee which was 
the term that appeared in documents and references outside the records of the Su- 
preme War Council. 


places in Ireland where they were landed after the sinking of the 
Tuscania. I think that I should not leave here without seeing them." x 

The Tuscania had been torpedoed off the north coast of Ire- 
land. According to the first report, two thousand American soldiers 
on this British liner had been lost. No news could have been more 
ruthlessly convincing to the Germans of the success of their sub- 
marine warfare, and no news could have been more ghastly or dis- 
heartening for the Allies at this stage of the war, and no relief greater 
to them than the later report that all except a few men were safely 
ashore in England. 

Continuing in the same letter, Bliss wrote: 

"Doubtless you have already seen the efforts that are being made to 
throw the Supreme War Council into politics, with what success cannot 
now be said. As I told you last December, political attack is invited by 
the presence of political men on the Council, especially such men as 
Prime Ministers. Every enemy of Lloyd George, for example (and he has 
many), finds an easy way to attack him by making false allegations as to 
his surrendering British control over British troops and thus appealing 
to national prejudices. It is difficult to see how such allegations can be 
denied without making public all the conclusions of the Council." 2 

When Lloyd George took the floor in the Commons to face his 
critics and possibly a vote of censure, he was in his best form as the 
master optimist among the war statesmen in making the most of the 
Supreme War Council's achievement and of American support of 
its program. 

"It is not merely the policy of this Government, it is the policy of the 
great Allied Governments in council. There is absolutely no difference 
between our policy and the policy of France, Italy and America in this 
respect. . . . 

"I hesitated for some time as to whether I should not read to the 
House the very cogent document submitted by the American delegation 
which put the case for the present proposal. It is one of the most powerful 
documents, one of the ablest documents ever submitted to a military con- 
ference in which they urged the present course, and gave grounds for it. 
I think it is absolutely irresistible, and the only reason I do not read 
it to the House is because it is so mixed up with the actual plan of opera- 
tions that it will be quite impossible for me to read it without giving 

1 To Baker, February 12, 1918. 

2 Ibid. 


away what the plan of operations is. [Cheers.] I only wish I could. I 
hesitated for some time, because I am certain if I read that to the House 
of Commons it would not be necessary for me to make any speech at all, 
because the case is presented with such irresistible logic by the American 
delegation that I, for one, do not think there is anything to be said 
against it, and that was the opinion of the Conference." x 

There was no vote of censure. Lloyd George had temporarily 
restored confidence in the Supreme War Council and himself. Mean- 
while, nearly three weeks after the decision to form it, the General 
Reserve was still in the paper stage. The Executive Committee de- 
cided that the reserve on the Italian front should consist of six 
Italian divisions and four of the French which had gone to the as- 
sistance of the Italians. But the main problem was to get the eight 
divisions each that the British and French armies were to assign for 
the Reserve on the endangered western front a total in human flesh 
of more than two hundred thousand men, but only one-tenth of the 
grand total of the Allies in France. Instead of assigning the divisions, 
Haig and Ptain raised objections to the plan of control. 

Then, March 2, in his rsply to the joint note of the Executive 
Committee of February 27, Haig took a definite stand. 

"An enemy offensive appears to be imminent on both the English and 
French fronts. To meet this attack I have already disposed of all the 
troops at present under my command, and if I were to earmark six or 
seven divisions from these troops, the whole of my plans and dispositions 
would have to be remodeled. This is clearly impossible, and I therefore 
regret that I am unable to comply with the suggestion conveyed in the 
Joint Note." 

He foresaw a wider employment than the Executive Committee 
contemplated; reserve assistance might have to be by rotation of 
divisions, or a whole army might have to act to aid another army. 

"To meet any emergency on the Franco-British front, I have arranged 
as a preliminary measure with the Commander-in-Chief of the French 
armies for all preparations to be made for the rapid dispatch of a force 
of from six to eight British divisions with a proportionate amount of 
artillery and subsidiary service to his assistance. 

"General Ptain has made similar arrangements for relief or interven- 
tion of French troops on the British front These arrangements, both 

i Parliamentary ' Report in the London Times, February 20, 1918. 


French and British, are now being completed, and zones of concentration 
opposite those fronts are most vulnerable and likely to be attacked are 
being provided." 

Thus Haig and P6tain had struck hands, Haig taking the official 
brunt of the decision since he would be turning over British troops 
while P^tain would be turning over French troops to the command 
of Foch, the Frenchman, who was President of the Executive Com- 
mittee, and supposedly in the confidence of Premier Clemenceau. 
With the German concentration forming between Rheims and 
Ypres it appeared at the time it might strike either against the 
British or the French front, and either Haig or Ptain wanted every 
fresh shock division at his disposal if the attack came against him. 

If either found his line in danger of breaking, then he must de- 
pend upon the other *s decision that he had troops to spare to go 
to his colleague's aid. Meanwhile, the section of Allied opinion which 
favored unity of control supposed that the Reserve was already 
formed, although official whispers were passed in London by the 
British government to influential persons opposed to it that it was 
as yet only in contemplation. The subject had been completely 
veiled by the military censorship lest the enemy learn of the dis- 
position of the Reserve. At the same time it was considered good 
policy to convince him that the Reserve was already mobilized. 

"Haig's reply was before the Executive Committee at its meeting of 
March 4. General Foch was very angry. He proposed that the prospective 
governments be informed that we could not form the Reserve. I objected 
on the ground that we were ordered to form it; that if we ourselves agreed 
that it was a physical impossibility for any particular nation to contribute 
it, we would temporarily exempt it; that we could form a reserve, if neces- 
sary, without the British. 

"Moreover, I said I believed Haig did not understand the matter; that 
if we sent our British colleague (then General Rawlinson, very intimate 
and friendly with Haig) to British headquarters to explain it, and show 
our map which made it dear that not a single division would be taken 
from the British front unless a situation occurred that would convince 
Haig himself that it was proper to do so; that both the British and French 
agreed that the attack would come against either the British right or 
French left; and that all that was desired was to have a portion of the 
British contribution to the Allied Reserve to be concentrated about 
Amiens and a portion of the French in the rear of their left, that if we 
did that, Haig would probably consent. So Foch's proposition was ap- 


proved subject to the result of Rawlinson's interview for which twenty- 
four hours was allowed.' 1 1 

There could be no doubt now of the enormous force the Germans 
had mobilized. The blow might come any morning. Hours had be- 
come precious. Bliss sent a cable to the President stating the situation 
and urging him not to abandon the idea of the Reserve. The letter 
to General Sir Henry Rawlinson who had succeeded General Sir 
Henry Wilson as Military Representative after Wilson became the 
British chief of staff was a compromise to meet the commanders- 
in-chiefs' objections. 

The value of quotations of portions of it is in the foresight which 
events justified in the greatest crisis of Allied arms: 

"There are only two ways that I can conceive of as practicable for 
having an Inter-Allied General Reserve. The first of these is to have it 
by a sort of 'gentleman's agreement' between the respective Commanders- 
in-Chief. The practicability of this way assumes that^ll the Commanders- 
in-Chief will cordially and without hesitation agree as to the time and 
place where the real necessity of the Inter-Allied Reserve will come. 
The second way is to designate this Inter-Allied Reserve in advance and 
in some more or less general way, and at the same time under conditions 
which will assure, as nearly as is humanly possible, that it will be 
disposable at the time and place where the emergency demands it. ... 

"We have been informed that under an agreement entered into by 
two of the Commanders-in-Chief they have made an agreement by which 
either will assist the other to the extent of a certain number of divisions 
in case the latter is hardly pressed and needs them. But we are also 
informed that if one of these Commanders-in-Chief declines to contribute 
to the formation of the Inter-Allied General Reserve the other will also 
refuse to contribute to it although he had previously, under certain 
conditions, agreed to do so. Does not this indicate a spirit which might 
render nugatory any 'gentleman's agreement' unless it can be enforced 
by some power outside of those who made the agreement? 

"The whole question, therefore, depends upon some sort of a reasonable 
assurance that the Inter-Allied General Reserve will be available at the 
time and place required and that at the same time the Commanders-in- 
Chief shall not be hampered in the disposition of their national forces 
in the maintenance of that part of the line for which they are responsible. 
Surely each Commander-in-Chief is vitally interested in knowing that 
such a force will be available if he requires it. If he can be reasonably 
assured that his operations and dispositions will not be hampered by its 

i Letter to Baker, August 26, 1921. 


creation I should think it likely that his objections to his taking any 
part in it would disappear. . . . 

"When the critical time and place are known by common consent (and 
if it cannot be known by practically common consent, how can a 'gentle- 
man's agreement* be carried out?) it may happen that all of the reserve 
divisions on a certain front, say for example the British, have been used 
up, while there are still eight disposable divisions on the French front 
and eight on the Italian front. In that case, the British contribution to 
the General Reserve will be engaged on its own front, which is just where 
it ought to be, and the disposable Inter-Allied General Reserve will 
consist of the disposable French and Italian divisions. 

"It is conceivable that, when the time comes, all of the components 
of the Inter-Allied General Reserve will be engaged on their own fronts; 
and it is further conceivable that at that time the attack may be so heavy 
that any or all of the fronts may be broken; and, finally, it is conceivable 
that the breaking of one of these fronts may involve an irretrievable dis- 
aster while one or both of the others may, temporarily, withdraw with- 
out fatal result. But, when all the commanders are being so hard pressed, 
which of them is likely to listen to the appeals of another? Yet the fate 
of the war may depend upon there being some power able to create 
promptly an Inter-Allied General Reserve by taking divisions from those 
fronts whose retirement will not be permanently disastrous in order to 
save that front upon which all depends. . . . 

"If such a situation were to arise on, for example, the British front, 
I think it would be a most sensible thing to have the British Representa- 
tive on the Executive Committee take his station with the British Com- 
mander and there act with the full powers of the Executive Committee. 
I do not think there would be the slightest delay in acceding to the 
requests of the Commanders-in-Chief for the use of their designated part 
of the General Reserve except, perhaps, in one case. Suppose that the 
British front has used up the last division of its own contribution to the 
General Reserve; that it has become evident that the main attack is 
being made against that front; that the other fronts are also being hard 
pressed and are calling for their last divisions of the General Reserve; 
and, with all that, suppose that it is evident to all that unless the British 
front can receive additional assistance it will be broken and that the 
breaking of it will mean irretrievable disaster, while the breaking of the 
other fronts will probably mean only temporary disaster. In that case I 
have no doubt that the other fronts must give way and that the remain- 
ing divisions of the General Reserve must go to the assistance of the 
British front. What else, in such a case, would anyone do who had the 
power to do anything?'* 

Rawlinson brought back word of Haig's refusal. 

Such was the impasse on the grisly dawn of an inclement Paris 



day as Bliss waited at the railroad station for the arrival of Secretary 
Baker, and Bliss, as he looked into the distance as though he 
visualized in one glance the whole Allied front and the whole Allied 
situation, murmured to himself, "They're all so damn indifferent, 
they may lose this war yet" which was all he said, and enough to 
tell the thoughts that engrossed him. 1 

In the course of the necessary official calls the statesmen and 
soldiers did not overlook their opportunity of speaking their ap- 
peals into the ear of the civil head of our war effort who was close to 
the President. For the moment the former mayor of Cleveland was 
the most important man in the world to them, and his keen mind 
and acute observation, in spite of his suavity, did not confuse per- 
sonal with official attention. All that was told him he could check off 
with the views of Pershing and Bliss. 

As soon as the calls were over Baker went to Versailles to "talk 
business" for two hours, as Bliss put it to Mrs. Bliss; and then Baker 
asked Bliss to return to continue the conference in the evening, when 
the Secretary had an experience of one of the air raids with which 
the Germans, having their famous long-range gun in reserve, were 
aiming to soften the morale of the French for the coming offensive. 

"The Secretary took me into his rooms where we could talk privately. 
At 9:30 the lights went out. I knew what that meant. In a moment a man 
came and said that Alerte No. 2 had been signalled. That means the 
German aeroplanes are passing the barrage fire. We heard the booming 
of the guns but no bombs, which are quite distinct. The proprietor 
bustled around the Secretary like a hen with one chicken. He insisted 
that we go to the office floor, which made one more floor for a bomb to 
drop through. We were put off in a narrow corridor where it was very 
stupid, so we went out to the front under the arcade where we could 
look over the Place. Then we heard the bombs off to the N.E. of us 
toward the Place de FOp^ra. It does not take long for a plane moving a 
hundred miles an hour to cross over Paris. So we got inside. Bombs began 
to drop not far away as we could tell by sound and by concussion. 

"The proprietor insisted on our going down into the huge wine cellar 
under the hotel. He did not care about the rest of us but he was very 
nervous about Mr. Baker. I found a big vault of high-priced German 
wines (which they can't sell now) and I said that a German would think 
it a crime to destroy that winel We sat there and talked and told stories 
till nearly midnight, punctuated every now and then by a crash. Finally 

i To the author. 


all firing stopped, we went up and at 12:15 this A.M. the raid was of- 
ficially over. I had to sleep at the hotel and in the morning the Secretary 
came out with me for a couple of hours. I go in to lunch with him at i 
and at 7:30 I dine with Ambassador Sharp and Mr. Baker. Tomorrow 
at 8 A. M. I leave with M. Clemenceau on a special train for Boulogne, 
due to arrive in London between 3 and 4 p. M. the same day for a session 
of the Supreme War Council on Thursday, the i4th." 1 

Bliss* bonhomie had been in good form in the cellar, but his 
mind was bent stubbornly on his apparently losing battle for the Re- 
serve. In his cable to the President he had said: "If the entire line 
from the North Sea to the Adriatic were held by one homogeneous 
army its commander-in-chief would not hesitate to form his general 
reserve from his right and center even although he could not use 
any troops on his left for a general reserve. That should be the view 
taken in this case." 

In London Bliss received through the American Embassy the 
President's answer: 

"The government of the United States admits the possibility that it 
may be found impracticable to furnish British divisions for the General 
Reserve, because of the military situation in front of the British lines, 
but nevertheless it expresses the hope that there will be no abandonment 
of the principle established for the creation of a General Reserve, and 
that the Allied Powers who find themselves able to assist in creating the 
General Reserve will act promptly in the matter." 2 

This was not very firm; it might not have been wise to be very firm 
when we ourselves had at the best only one division which we might 
contribute to the Reserve. Bliss described the issue as still a burn- 
ing one. He determined to keep it so. It may be said that this is 
immaterial history since the Allies won the war, but it happens to 
be history related to the closest call the Allies had to an over- 
whelming disaster and related in any event to the unnecessary sacri- 
fice of many thousands of lives. 

"My letter somehow (not through me, as I think, through General 
Foch and M. Clemenceau) came to the knowledge of the political mem- 
bers of the S.W.C. at its session in London, March 14-15." 8 

1 To Mrs. Bliss, February 7, 1918. 

2 State Department, 6841, to the American Embassy in London. 
Letter to Baker, August 26, 1921. 


The letter referred to was evidently his statement to the Executive 
Committee, which was much the same in substance as the letter for 
Rawlinson to show to Haig, with the exception of this significant 
reminder to his colleagues of the Committee: 

"The Committee created by the Supreme War Council is not an 
advisory one; and it is the duty of an executive committee to carry some- 
thing into execution. This particular executive committee is charged 
with the duty of carrying into execution the mandatory will of the Su- 
preme War Council when it decreed the creation of the Inter-Allied 
Reserve. The Supreme War Council is composed solely of the heads of 
the four great governments which constitute the Alliance for the prosecu- 
tion of the war that is to say, it is composed of four governments. . . . 
This Alliance has not placed it in the power of any commander-in-chief 
to veto its will; nor has it given to the Executive Committee any au- 
thority to listen to or to be guided by any such veto." * 

When he presented the President's answer to the session of the 
Supreme War Council in London, Lloyd George said it had come at 
the "psychological moment/' But this psychological moment in- 
volved home politics. Bliss might press his point, Foch might press 
it, that in a crisis neither commander-in-chief might be able to part 
with any divisions to aid his colleague; but the British now had 
good reason to think that the offensive would be solely against their 
front. National instinct demanded that their army should defend 
their sea-moat, the English Channel, the life-line of the army's com- 
munications across the Channel, and not serve under a French com- 
mander for the safety of Paris. This time Lloyd George could not 
use American support to bolster his support of the Supreme War 
Council, of the General Reserve and his personal prestige, but had 
to ride with the tide of nationalism. It seemed no more unreasonable 
to Britons that they should want to keep the independence of their 
veteran army than that the Americans should that of their army in 
training. 2 

1 American minutes of the Supreme War Council. 

2 "It is difficult now to understand how anyone could have believed that the execu- 
tive body to control the Reserve would have been anything but a 'one-man 1 body, 
that there would be anything but a 'one-man' command of the Reserve, and that 
the 'one-man' would be anyone but General Foch. The members of the Committee 
would have been his staff. But this proved impossible. The fact remained that it was 
not merely the Chairman of an Allied Committee but the Chief of Staff of the 
French armies who was to give certain all important orders to the other armies." 
Bliss in an article en "The Unified Command" in Foreign Affairs, December 15, 


There was noticeably a defeatist atmosphere in the attitude of the 
statesmen, however cheerful their front as they passed out the door 
of the council chamber. The same alarm presided over their con- 
fused minds as over those of lesser men, their inmost thoughts cen- 
tered in the hope that the soldiers' will of steel and weapons of steel 
might hold the wall against the enemy's will which was strengthened 
by confidence of present and final victory as the climax of past vic- 

Clemenceau stated that his mind was in accord with General 
Bliss in theory; but in practice he considered it "necessary to put off 
the decision for a short time" in agreement with Lloyd George, 
whose subtle mind and ready word did not lack extensive and plausi- 
ble reasons to make his attitude logical. Now that all the battle 
strength of the Germans was massed on the western front, why should 
not Italy return the French and British battalions with her army ac- 
companied by some of her own to form the General Reserve? Lloyd 
George brought in a resolution to this effect. Let the Executive Com- 
mittee proceed to Milan and use its influence with General Diaz, 
the Italian commander-in-chief, to that end. The resolution also 
proposed that the remainder of the Reserve should be made up from 
American divisions as they arrived. 

"All this was in view of the general conviction that we were on the eve 
of the tremendous battle which would decide the war. As a matter of 
fact this battle began exactly one week from the date of the adoption of 
this resolution. Yet it was proposed to make a General Reserve which all 
wanted to contain as nearly as possible about thirty divisions dependent 
upon the arrival of American divisions which were then coming at about 
the rate of one and a half divisions a month." * 

Having thus met the American general's insistence upon a Gen- 
eral Reserve the Allied statesmen and generals decided that Ameri- 
can reinforcements could not arrive in time for the Spring and Sum- 
mer campaign; or, at best, "they would arrive insufficiently trained 
to be immediately effective/' 

"In view of the impending German attack they (the British) were 
very anxious to get back several thousand railroad cars which were being 
employed by the Americans. If this were done, the American commander- 

i American minutes of the Supreme War Cauncil. 


in-chief could not handle arriving troops and supplies. The general view 
of the British was, therefore, that the arrival of American troops should 
cease. This amazing conclusion was arrived at and expressed at the very 
time when all political and military men were urgently declaring that 
the continual arrival of American troops, and in much larger numbers, 
was absolutely essential to Allied success in the war." x 

It showed how grave was the crisis in the minds of the British 
as the event was to prove to them within a week. 

"We reached Turin on the morning of the 2oth," Bliss said of 
the visit of the Executive Committee to Italy, "conferred with Diaz, 
made a fairly good plan (if time permitted it to be carried out) and 
arrived back in Paris at daylight on March 21 too late!" 

On the morning of March 21 the most powerful and fully pre- 
pared military offensive in all history broke against the British front. 
Providentially it was not against the weary French, but against an 
army nearly if not quite in the prime of its strength. The British 
fought with stubborn gallantry. Cough's Army was destroyed. 

By the 25th the continuing advance had broken a gap between 
the British and French armies. Haig said unless he had heavy French 
reinforcements he must turn his army with its back on the English 
Channel; then inevitably the French would turn to the defense of 
Paris, and Pershing would have to join his fortunes to the retreating 
French. P6tain had not gone to Haig's assistance promptly because 
he feared the attack might shift at any moment against his line. 
When his divisions did arrive on the British field they were without 
artillery and reserve munitions. 

' 'Personally I believe the General Reserve formed and stationed 
as originally intended (all of which the British knew, because they 
had the plan and map before them) would have checked the disaster 
of March 21 at the outset. 2 Who prevented it? Who must bear the 
blame? But no good can come from talking about it now/' 3 

What Buchan calls the "iron compulsion of facts 7 ' at last broke 
down the barriers against unity. The seeds for unified control which 
had been sown by the Supreme War Council were bearing fruit. 
The Allied peoples were asking what had become of the Inter- Allied 

1 Bliss' comment in the American minutes of the Supreme War Council. 

2 The vital point where aid was needed was in front of the location of the General 
Reserve on the Executive Committee's map. 

a Letter from Bliss to Baker, August 26, 1921. 


Reserve which had been supposedly mobilized for just this emer- 
gency. Obviously Foch, the chief of the Executive Committee, was 
the general for the task which the disaster had provided. He was 
charged by the British and French governments "with coordinating 
the action of the Allied armies on the western front. To this end 
he will come to an understanding with the commanders-in-chief, 
who are requested to furnish him with all necessary information." 
Information, but not troops! 

Baker, Bliss, and Pershing were together in Paris. Baker sent a 
strong cable to the President in support of Foch's appointment with 
full powers. 

Now we could not send our troops in too large numbers or too 
fast for the Allies. Lloyd George and Clemenceau made urgent ap- 
peals. The Military Representatives agreed on a Joint Note, Num- 
ber 18, that only American infantry and machine guns be brought to 
France for temporary service in Allied divisions and corps. Baker 
approved this in a cable to the President but with the proviso that 
it must not prejudice the eventual formation of an independent 
American army. 1 The President confirmed Baker's decision and gave 
him power to act in the emergency. 2 Pershing went to Foch and 
spoke his "all we have" as at Foch's disposition, which vitalized 
Allied morale in a further proof that the fortunes of the Allies were 
our own. 3 

But Foch had not authority enough. He was in a mood to resign. 
The extended powers which he received, April 3, giving him "the 
strategic directiqn of military operations" was further confirmed and 
extended, April 24, in making him "Commander-in-Chief of the 
Allied armies." But Italy never accepted this as including the Italian 

Thus Bliss had seen the principle for which he had labored from 
the first adopted not only at the front but in the speeding up of 
transport and the quickened pooling of shipping and supplies. 
Where prevision had failed and even the threat had failed, disaster 
had brought unity. But the preservation of that unity would be a 
further drain on the patience and skill of the vigilant harmonizer. 

1 Baker through Bliss, S.P.C. to WJD.-S-67. 

2 S,P.C.-R-59* 

3 My Experiences in the World War. Pershing. I, 365. 


FOR the further account of Bliss' service with the Supreme War 
Council we depend largely, after Baker's return home, upon ex- 
cerpts from his letters to Baker. Three thousand miles from Wash- 
ington, before trans-Atlantic telephonic communication, he had to 
act on his own judgment. 

"When it comes to the discussion of these military questions which are 
also ones of far-reaching political effect, the other Military Representa- 
tives with the Supreme War Council have the great advantage of being 
in immediate touch with the political heads of their own governments. 
Each of them can, and does, pick up his desk telephone in the morning of 
any day, talk freely with the Prime Minister of his country, and receive 
his instructions as to whether or not to pursue the consideration of a 
particular question. More than once one or another of them, after we 
have considered at length a certain question, reports that his government 
desires no further action to be taken by him for the present and the 
matter is therefore dropped. Even by cable and at great expense I cannot 
do this as satisfactorily as they can by telephone, and if necessary, the 
French Representative can see and talk with his Prime Minister within 
30 minutes, and the British Representative can do the same within a few 
hours, or the latter can send someone to see him. I must rely on my best 
judgment as to what may or may not embarrass my own government." 

It was at the focal point of information from all the Allied fronts 
where his colleagues were in immediate touch by telephone that 
he received the news, after the first German offensive had been 
checked, of the second begun April 7, which had been making head- 
way for three days. At the time Foch had not yet been given full 
powers as generalissimo. Bliss wrote, April 10: 

"In the view of both the English and the French the situation has be- 
come serious. It seems that at the conference yesterday between Haig, 
Foch and Wilson, Haig wanted Foch to take over the line at least as far 
north as Albert, thus enabling him to take out six British divisions and 
send them to the more northern part of the line. Foch flatly refuse^. 
Haig then proposed that Foch should send French divisions to the ex- 



treme northern part of the line, to relieve six British divisions for use 
elsewhere. This, also, Foch refused. It was finally agreed to begin the 
movement (and it begins today) of the Reserve Army under General 
Maistre, across the Somme and north of Amiens somewhere, approxi- 
mately on the line Amiens-Doullens-St. Pol. 

"It seems that the question is coming to a head which General Foch 
indicated to me in the interview (which was the subject of a letter that 
I handed to you), in regard to the protection of the Channel Ports and 
of Paris in case the German drive penetrates a little further and threatens 
the junction between the British and French armies. General Wilson 
tells me that M. Clemenceau yesterday insisted that the British should 
be prepared to withdraw their entire line from the North Sea and swing 
it around so that the larger part of it will face nearly South. Unless such 
a movement were carried to a point which would result in a complete 
amalgamation of the British and French armies, it seems to me that it 
would be very dangerous. The French idea appears to be that the British 
should join with them even if it resulted in the complete uncovering of 
the Channel Ports, just as they did in 1914. The British say that in 
1914 there were no U-boats and that their navy, plus a certain amount 
of land forces, guaranteed the Channel Ports. As long as they have the 
Channel Ports they can bring in supplies and troops from England and 
from the United States. If by any chance the Germans could get Calais 
and Boulogne and there establish submarine bases, it would give them 
complete control of the English Channel. The English are, apparently, 
insisting that, if worse comes to the worst, they should concentrate on a 
line somewhere about Abbeville on the Somme to St. Omer and thence 
to the sea. They say that the upper part of this line can be flooded so as 
to constitute an almost impassable barrier. 

"What real foundation there is for the somewhat gloomy view that the 
British take this morning I cannot yet say. The fact, however, remains 
that the Germans are making headway at points where it will not require 
very much headway to force a complete withdrawal of the Northern line. 
Before it is time for this letter to go, we may be able to anticipate the 
future a little more clearly/' 

The next day, April 11, he reinforced a previous hypothesis in 
definite and vigorous terms which the present event and future 
events were to confirm. 

"We never will solve the problem so long as we cling to the idea of a 
campaign of 1919 or 1920 in which a great fresh American army will 
march to the Rhine or to Berlin with exhausted Englishmen and French- 
men on its left and right and with exhausted Germans in front of it. 
When two armies make up their minds to have a 'show-down' in the 
year 1918, it is most probable that the 'show-down' will come in that 


year. Because, when one or the other side has played its last card, has 
exhausted its last effort, it is almost certain that it will have won or lost. 
This is what the Germans seem to have determined upon for the year 

"And even if they should lose in this campaign and still have the 
nerve to hold out in the year 1919, the only way to assure that they will 
lose in this campaign is for America to make its man-power available 
in the quickest and most effective way that it can this year. The only way 
to guarantee a campaign of 1919 is to do our utmost in 1918. If we do 
that 'utmost' there may be no need of a campaign of 1919." 

He made a similar statement in a letter to Lord Northcliffe, 
April 16: 

"When one of the two sides in a war makes up its mind to have a 
'show-down' in the year 1918, it is most probable that the 'show-down' 
will come because, if it has so made up its mind, it will play its last 
card and make its last effort to accomplish this end. If we are going to 
take any real part in assuring that this 'show-down' will result favorably 
to the Allies, we must bring our man-power to bear effectively within the 
next three or four months." 

In compliance with Foch's direction Pershing was moving his 
pioneer First Division from Lorraine across France to the Mont- 
didier sector, Foch being convinced that the next German offensive, 
granting that the second was checked, would be against the French 
left. In this case it would appear that the theater where the Germans 
would force the show-down would be entirely in the west of France. 
The American line of communication having been formed and con- 
structed entirely to support an independent American army in Lor- 
raine for that "final, shattering blow" the transfer of American forces, 
already in France and arriving, to the west of France precipitated an 
acute problem in their supply service and transport. Bliss stressed 
the importance of the pooling of supplies to meet this emergency 
in order to bring the maximum of American troops into action in 
1918. He was sure the Allies had sources of supply that might be 
opened to us. 

In reporting a conversation with Major General Nash, the British 
railway transportation expert, who said that we might not be able 
to supply our troops in their new sector from their own bases, Bliss 


"I told him that in the course of this campaign we may find all of 
our divisions similarly situated; that in my judgment the solution of the 
problem is to rely on supplies temporarily from the Armies with which 
our divisions may be serving in this way; and that we can reimburse either 
the British or the French, or both, by turning over to them correspond- 
ing amounts of supplies from our depots here or by sending such supplies 
direct from the United States to England. However, I told him that this 
was a military detail which must be worked out with General Pershing. 
I have no doubt that it will be all satisfactorily arranged. I only mention 
it in order to show how the progress of the campaign may require com- 
plete changes in preconceived plans." 

On April 12, in a later instalment of his weekly letter to Baker 
to go by the weekly courier, Bliss wrote: 

"Both the English and French today seem to be quite worried over the 
situation. The German drive, proceeding in a northeasterly direction 
between Armentires and the Canal de la Basse, is evidently heading for 
Hazebrouck. If they can reach this point and hold it, they will cut the 
only double-track railway system running north and south in the rear 
of the British line and east of Saint-Omer. The Germans are still making 
headway in that direction. The permanent success of such a movement 
will undoubtedly force the complete withdrawal of the entire northern 
part of the British line and will put the Germans in possession of the 
northern coal fields of France in the vicinity of Bethune. To meet such a 
result, General Nash tells me that the British are already making arrange- 
ments for the diversion of additional coal tonnage in order, as far as 
possible, to make up the deficit in French coal by landing British coal 
at Rouen and Dieppe." 

And on the next day, April 13, in reporting the situation as it ap- 
peared to the men who were responsible for supply and transport: 

"Last night I had a talk with General Nash, the British Director Gen- 
eral of Transportation in France, and our General Atterbury. I found 
them still bothered about the question of the supply of our First Division 
which is now in reserve southwest of Amiens but which may at any mo- 
rnent find itself cm the battle line, and they are anticipating the possibility 
of others, perhaps all of our divisions being moved up into that part 
of France. 

"If the course of the campaign this spring and summer should see a 
gradual concentration of all the armies somewhere in that part of France 
which is the scene of present military activity, it is believed here by every 
railway expert that an independent system of supply for the American 
troops wiH be an impossibility." 


Thus it appeared that our labor in building up our great supply 
system might be partly waste when we had to go where the war was 
and the Germans would not bring it to our sector. 

In the letter to Lord Northcliffe Bliss urged that Northcliffe's 
mission to America could not do better than to stir our people to 
hasten the departure of troops and his own people to make every 
sacrifice for their prompt transport. 

"If we stop thinking of a campaign of 1919 or 1920 and think only of 
the campaign of 1918, the one problem is how to get our own men quick- 
est to the British and French lines. In the way which is now proposed 
we can get a million combatants on those two lines within a compara- 
tively short time. I do not believe that we can get them there any other 
way, because I do not believe that the Germans will give us time to do 
so. It is all very well to talk about these exhausted and war-weary countries 
holding on and continuing to suffer while the Americans at their leisure 
form a great army and then advance to the Rhine, with exhausted Eng- 
lishmen on one side and exhausted Frenchmen on the other, and ex- 
hausted Germans in front of them, but I look on this as a dream which 
cannot be realized." 

It seemed very far from it in that hour when the Allies were ap- 
prehensive lest the second German drive should separate the British 
and French armies. 

"I do not propose to make the United States a recruiting ground 
to fill up the ranks of the British and French armies/' Bliss wrote to 
Baker. But he was convinced that with the terrific losses the British 
had endured and the decimation of many divisions, including the 
practical destruction of one British army as an organization, we 
must accept the plan for reinforcing the British by sending our 
battalions for training with them and then combining our battalions 
into regiments, our regiments into brigades, then into divisions and 
corps, to be a part of an independent army as soon as the emergency 
was over. It was the only way to meet the hour's need. 

His difference on principle with Haig over the Inter-Allied E,e- 
serve could not influence his conviction that the bond of language 
and tradition made tactical cooperation and indoctrination with the 
British easier than with the French. 

Even the active Pershing, with a fast car at his disposal, could not 
be in two places at once, when he had to look after the adjustments 


to meet the latest disarrangement of his plans, which had been al- 
ready subject to innumerable handicaps. So this record in Bliss' 
serial letter to Baker, which was begun April 10, and was really a 
diary, is further reflective of the crisis of the second offensive in 
which Foch's reserves were being so rapidly exhausted: 

"April 12, 6 P. M. General Foch has just sent me a message asking me 
whether or not the First American Division now in the vicinity of Gisors 
is at his disposition for service in the battle, and whether General Per- 
shing and General Bliss need to be further consulted with reference to the 
employment of the Division; that it is his understanding that the Division 
is at his complete disposition, but that before taking steps that would 
commit the Division to battle he wishes to receive from General Pershing 
and General Bliss their concurrence. He particularly desires to be in- 
formed as to the following points: 

"i. Is the Division ready to go? 

"2. Is it at his complete disposition? 

"3. He understands that the Commanding General of the Division is 
ill and wishes to know whether another commander will be designated. 
He would like to feel that the High Command of the Division is thor- 
oughly familiar with his troops and conditions existing within the Di- 
vision before committing it to battle. I have telephoned him that I have 
wired his message to General Pershing who has sole charge of everything 
connected with the use of the American troops and have asked General 
Pershing to communicate with him direct. 

"Last Sunday morning General Pershing told me that when the First 
Division was entraining for its new station in the rear of the battle front 
he had found General (Robert H.) Bullard suffering from an attack of 
neuritis. Two or three days ago Colonel Wells of my staff (who, at the 
request of General Foch, is at the latter's Headquarters as a connecting 
officer between him and the Supreme War Council), wrote me a letter 
describing his visit to the different billets of the First Division which had 
then just arrived at its stations in the vicinity of Gisors. He said that he 
had found that General Bullard had gone to the Division Hospital for 
treatment for rheumatism. I think that Bullard is an excellent officer and 
I hope he is not going to be incapacitated at this juncture. The French 
officers who have come in contact with him at the front speak highly 
of him. 

"April 12, (12 noon) I have received another urgent message from 
General Foch saying that he has heard nothing from General Pershing 
in regard to the questions asked in his message noted in my 6 p. M. 
paragraph of yesterday, and begging me to secure an immediate answer. 
General Foch says that he is losing very valuable time. I have telegraphed 
again to General Pershing but cannot be sure whether either of my mes- 


sages have reached him. He is occupied in getting his other divisions on 
the line where they can relieve French divisions, which accounts for the 

"April 12, 3:30 P.M. A telegram just received from Pershing says that 
he sent his reply to General Foch's message of yesterday through the com- 
mander of our First Division. A telephone message from Colonel Wells, 
who is at General Foch's headquarters as a liaison officer between it and 
the Supreme War Council, says that General Foch has received the 

"April 13, 12:15 P.M. I have just received the following over the tele- 
phone from Colonel Wells: 

" '(General Foch, Commanding Allied Forces, reference to statement 
regarding First Division, transmitted through General Bliss.) I consider 
the First Division ready for active service. Division has received thorough 
training and has had considerable experience in the trenches. A brief 
program of exercises in open warfare is now being carried out at its 
present station. Permanent Commander, General Bullard, has been tem- 
porarily ill but is now on his way to join the division. Upon his arrival 
and upon the completion of the brief program of instruction in open 
warfare, there is no reason why this Division should not take its place 
actively wherever you desire to place it. In case you consider it urgent, 
Division can go in at once. Pershing/ " 

Pershing's First was ready if Foch wanted to send it in with the 
British; but it was not required as the second offensive had been 
checked by the immortal response of Haig's men to his "Backs to 
the wall" call and some French support. 

A note on another subject then asking for attention, when the 
offensives occupied the public mind, is taken from the letter by 
Bliss to Baker: 

"On your return to Washington you will find that, during your absence 
on the sea, there has been a great hubbub raised all over Europe over the 
question as to which of the two (Count Czernin or M. Clemenceau) has 
made a false statement in saying, each of them, that the other has made 
a proposal some months ago looking toward a discussion of the terms 
of a general peace. Each of them says that the other has made the sug- 
gestion. There is a good deal in which Count Czernin says, to the effect 
that it does not matter so much which of them has made the proposal 
as it does as to which of them was the one who blocked the suggested 
movement. All the Cabinets and newspapers are 'buzzing' about the 
matter. I do not see why, under the circumstances, there should be so 
much fuss made about a plain, simple, straightforward lie. A little thing 
like a lie stands out against the awful black iniquity of the war so that, 
by contrast, it has the dazzling whiteness of an angelic virtue/" 


THERE was a lull after the first and second offensives, both sides 
licking their wounds, resting, waiting for the return of the wounded 
and recruits to fill gaps in the ranks, preparing, reforming, the Allies 
trying to ascertain where the next blow, which they regarded as 
inevitable, would be struck. At the end of April the first American 
division assigned to the British had appeared behind the British 
front. In April 116,642 American troops had arrived in France, giv- 
ing Pershing a total of over 424,000, double the number he had at 
the end of January. 1 Their presence had become apparent on the 
landscape of France; and word spread from the ports among the 
people that the incoming tide was rising. 

Bliss, in traveling to Foch's headquarters for a conference with 
him and Pershing and to the Fifth Session of the Supreme War 
Council at Abbeville, had a picture of war's limitless labors and 
devastation in the congested area of the front. 

"Everywhere soldiers were repairing the roads, stringing new telegraph 
and telephone wire, cutting firewood in the forests for the troops at the 
front, cutting larger trees for the timber construction in the trenches 
and, pitiful to see, cutting down the magnificent great trees that lined 
both sides of the roads, to get out the heavy beams they need in this 
kind of warfare." 2 

The Allied peoples had been horrified by the destruction even 
of orchards by the Germans in their withdrawal to the Hindenburg 
line in November, 1916, in order to remove cover for the enemy; 
but it was also in the routine course of modern warfare that the 
French should destroy their own towns, villages, homes and groves. 

"Nearly every town and village that I passed through was filled with 
French troops in 'rest-billets/ The streets were blocked with their trains, 
ammunition parks and artillery. On the way I met other divisions coming 

1 The War with Germany. Ayres. p. 15. 

2 To Mrs, Bliss, April 26, 1918. 


back from the battle, en route to their rest-billets where they will stay 
from two or three weeks to as many months, depending upon the extent 
to which they had suffered in the fight. 

"The road led me through the most beautiful farming country that 
I have ever seen. It seemed to be all under intense cultivation. Everyone 
was at work, old men, old and young women, children, and soldiers in 
uniform. Thousands of work-troops were engaged in repairing roads in 
every direction. And it is amazing to see the excellent condition in which 
all the roads are notwithstanding the enormous amount of heavy traffic 
of all kinds constantly going over them. In fact, the nearer one approaches 
the battle-front the better the roads are. 

"Even in that part of the country which has not as yet been devastated 
by war, it is easy to see the terrible and long-enduring effects that the war 
will have on the soil of France. I passed over miles of road where troops 
were at work cutting down splendid avenues of trees that must have been 
at least from 100 to 200 years old, but which are required to provide the 
heavy timbers needed in field fortification work. Passing up the Valley 
of the Bresle from Aumale to Blangy, I passed miles of complicated 
trenches that had been prepared to meet a possible reverse forcing the 
line back that far. All the way to the extreme front the country is dug 
over in the same way. These complicated masses of entrenchments run 
for miles through the most beautiful farm land that you can imagine. 
But the moment they pass below the top fertile soil they come to the 
deposit of white chalk which underlies all of the North of France. This 
chalk is turned up and covers the country in all directions. You can 
imagine what the country is like where the actual fighting has been 
going on, backwards and forwards, for nearly four years. Every shell- 
hole is a great chalk pit and for miles these pits are so close together 
that the edge of one touches the edge of others on all sides of it, and so 
on ad infinitum. They tell me that it will be a hundred years before the 
soil which has been thus mishandled will be fit for anything." x 

The arrival of what had once seemed to the Allies the phantom 
American army had become a fresh bone of contention which was 
to be fought over at the session at Abbeville on the first two days 
of May. 

"The Fifth Session of the Supreme War Council was held at Abbeville 
on the first and second of May. The occasion of it was a rather bitter 
feeling on the part of the French aroused by the agreement entered into 
in London, a few days before, between Lord Milner and General Per- 

iTo Baker, May 4, 1918. Soil experts expressed this opinion, but in six years after 
tlie war was over the author saw what once had been a sea of shell craters recovered in 
green fields of young Wheat by the amazing industry of the indefatigable French 


shing, in regard to the transportation of American troops. M. Clemenceau 
insisted on a meeting of the Supreme War Council to discuss this subject 
and, it being agreed to, various other matters were placed upon the 
Agenda in order to clean up the business of the Supreme War Council 
to date. 

"The first subject taken up for discussion was the agreement between 
Lord Milner and General Pershing. When M. Clemenceau told me, a 
week ago yesterday, that he had called a meeting of the Supreme War 
Council to discuss this subject and expressed very warmly his own views 
about it, I insisted that it could not be discussed without the presence 
of General Pershing. The latter was therefore requested to be present 
at this Session and he was there. In the long discussion which followed 
neither I nor any of the Military Representatives took any part as we 
were already committed to the view expressed in our Joint Note Number 
18 and we regarded the subject of the agreement between Lord Milner 
and General Pershing as one to be discussed between General Pershing, 
Lord Milner, Mr. Lloyd George, M. Clemenceau, and General Foch." x 

Joint Note Number 18, which was approved at the time of the 
crisis of the first German offensive, had implied that machine gun 
and infantry units were to be sent to the French as well as the 
British. According to the subsequent Pershing-Milner agreement 
six divisions were to go to the British, none to the French, and the 
British were to aid in the transport of divisions direct to our own 
sector. Pershing had had conclusive experience of the inadvisability 
o training our battalions mixed with the French; and Bliss held 
the same conviction, for reasons already given, now reinforced in 
practice by the fact that the first and second offensive were already 
over. When Clemenceau, employing the same parliamentary tactic 
as Lloyd George had on a previous occasion, first turned to Bliss to 
get his opinion, Bliss nodded toward Pershing as the spokesman. 

"M. Clemenceau and General Foch claimed that the original under- 
standing was that temporary assistance was to be given by American 
infantry reinforcements to both the British and the French; whereas the 
agreement between Lord Milner and General Pershing entirely ignored 
the French. They said that it was true that thus far the heaviest losses 
had fallen upon the British, but that now the turn of the French was 
coming and that their losses would soon equal those of the British. I have 
hitherto been entirely unable to get exact official data in regard to the 
losses suffered by the Allies since the German offensive began on March 
sist. Both sides have done everything possible to conceal the figures. But, 

i Letter to Baker, May 4, 1918. 


piecing together various things which leaked out in the discussion, I 
gathered that the British losses, including prisoners, was somewhere from 
320,000 to 350,000 men; and the French losses, from 50,000 to 80,000 men, 
the latter figure being as likely to be correct as the former." * 

Foch and Clemenceau had to yield to the solidarity of Bliss and 
Pershing, to which the Allies could not quite accustom themselves 
as altogether human. The Pershing-Milner agreement held. 

The relations between Foch and Bliss were interesting. Bliss had 
opposed Foch again and again, but they always preserved an under- 
standing personal friendship. The line which Bliss drew was be- 
tween Foch the commander of the whole and Foch the Frenchman. 
Therein he served unity of control by making the supreme command 

In the course of the letter of May 4 Bliss called Baker's attention 
to one of the difficulties of Allied relations when an ambassador 
sought to gain a point by going to the man at the top. 

"It seems to me that it would be well if Lord Reading were him- 
self to send a communication to Mr. Lloyd George correcting his 
statement" (which was still being repeated to the prejudice of 
harmony). Sir Henry Wilson, from the British War Office by tele- 
phone, (confirmed by letter) 2 April i, told Bliss that Lloyd George 
had word from Lord Reading in Washington that he had seen the 
President, and the President had agreed to send over 150,000 in- 
fantry and machine gun units every month for the next four months. 
This would make a total of nearly 600,000, or twenty-four divisions 
with the British, when the first 150,000 were only to meet an emer- 
gency. Bliss wrote on the back of the Wilson letter, "I told him that 
this utilization of American troops would not be permitted." Baker 
who was still in Paris queried the President by cable. 3 The President 
responded with a prompt denial: 

"I agreed upon no details whatever with Lord Reading. I told him 
that I had agreed to the proposition of the Supreme War Council in the 
formulas proposed to me by the Secretary of War by cable and that I 
could assure him that we would send troops over as fast as we could make 

1 Letter to Baker, May 4, 1918. 

2 Letter in the Bliss papers. 

8 Agwar, Washington, Number 79. 


them ready and find transportation for them. That was all. The details 
are left to be worked out and we shall wish the advice of the Secretary 
of War as the result of his consultations on the other side. 

"(Signed) WOODROW WILSON" * 

However, the persistence of the report, undenied by the British, 
that the British by some secret agreement were to have 600,000 
American soldiers while the French got none was very exasperating 
to the French, who were worried about the predominance of a huge 
Anglo-American army on their own soil. 

It was at this session that Orlando of Italy expressed a desire that 
Italy should be included in the terms of the agreement under which 
Foch had been made generalissimo. 

"When it was made clear to him that this involved the power on 
the part of General Foch to withdraw British, French or Italian divisions 
from the Italian front, he modified his proposition and asked to have 
extended to General Foch the power of coordination alone over the 
Italian front that was given to him over the Franco-British front by the 
terms of the Doullens agreement of March 26th. This proposition was 
finally accepted, although General Foch seemed to regard it as a matter 
of indifference. . . . To give him merely those same powers of coordina- 
tion, without any executive power, on the Italian front will lead either 
to the same friction, or to nothing at all." 

Orlando had another desire gratified in small measure. He had 
been importunate for American divisions on the Italian front to win 
the war by overwhelming Austria. Pershing ended this prolonged 
siege by agreeing to send him a regiment, which Orlando was sure 
would be of value to Italian morale out of all proportion to its num- 

And in the Abbeville session, after these differences were settled 
by personal contact, the "black coats" of the Council approved sev- 
eral joint notes of the Military Representatives, which covered their 
unadvertised labors in bringing out of a chaos of information con- 
crete conclusions upon which all could agree. 

"This week I have been at it night and day," he wrote to Mrs. 
Bliss previous to the session, "and that is good for my Gesundheit" 

Among the conclusions were that the Belgians should turn over 
200 locomotives to our service of supply and transfer 6,000 soldiers 
i Cablegram, Supreme War Council, Number 45. 


to transport service; that a maritime occupation in force of the 
Dalmatian coast, with Americans largely assisting was impracticable; 
and not to press an offensive from Salonika for the present. Orlando 
declared that the Dalmatian coast was within Italy's territorial 
claims. He resisted the proposed instruction by French officers which 
was intended "to correct certain notorious difficulties of the Italian 
army/ 1 As Bliss put it, "The Italians will have nothing to do with 
it unless it is made to appear that the difficulties are coequal in all 
the Allied armies." 

As usual when Bliss had a few minutes to spare, he began a letter 
home, another instalment waiting on the next opportunity if he 
were interrupted. 

"You see that the construction of my letters is like that of the 
old cathedrals here/' he explained to Mrs. Bliss. "They take a good 
while though not, I am led to say, several centuries, and I try to 
finish them in some sort of way." 

He knew that his home folk liked to know what persons were pres- 
ent at functions he attended although they had become as familiar 
characters to him as Moro chieftains. 

"It was a large meeting: Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Lord Milner, 
Sir Maurice Hankey (Sec'y of the British War Cabinet), Field Marshal 
Haig, Gen. Wilson (British Chief of Staff), Gen. Lansmann (Haig's Chief 
of Staff), Gen. Sack ville- West (Brit. Mil. Rep. at Versailles), Admiral 
Wemyss (ist Lord of the Admiralty), Gen. Foch, Gen. P6tain, Gen. Belin 
(French Mil. Rep. at Versailles), Gen. Mordacq (Clemenceau's Staff), 
Mr. Orlando (Prime Minister of Italy), Gen. Robilant (the new Ital. 
Mil. Rep. at Versailles), Admiral le Bon (head of French navy), Gen. 
Pershing, Gen. Lochridge and myself, besides secretaries galore. . . . 

"While writing the above, Col. Grant came to find me and suggested 
that we take a ride and see Abbeville before the Council met at 1 1 A. M. 
As you will see, that accounts for my continuing my letters at Beau- 
vais. ... 

"At about 10 o'clock I set out to find my lodging (at Abbeville). It 
is my first experience in 'billeting/ There are no hotel or lodging accom- 
modations. A French officer before the Council came to Abbeville, went 
to different people and told them that they would be required to provide 
lodging for one or more persons. On arrival I was furnished with a card 
informing me that I was 'billeted* on the Sous-Prefet of Abbeville. I think 
M. Clemenceau was billeted on the Prtfet. I found the Sous-Prjet and 


his wife most charming people. They were very cordial and attentive. 
The house they live in is an enormous affair around a large court yard. 
I had a very large room, handsomely furnished and with every con- 
venience. I went there on arrival in order to leave my bag and acquaint 
myself with the place. 

"Madame (I'll tell you her name tomorrow, I only know them as the 
Sous-Preset and his wife) met me herself and showed me to my room, 
called the servants and told them to do everything for me. In fact she 
was charming. You cannot think what a relief it was to me to be treated 
as though I were a looked for guest. How would you and Mamma feel 
if a gentleman walked into the house with a gripsack and said the Chief 
of Police of Washington had assigned a room to him in our house? But 
of course, as a matter of fact, in case of people in my position and of 
people like those that entertained me, it was all arranged in advance. I 
found that Madame was intimately acquainted with Mrs. Robert Bliss 
of the American Embassy in Paris, although she did not know until my 
arrival that I was in any way connected with them." x 

Then, continuing the letter from Versailles, he tells how he went 
to see "the old churches of St. Sepulchre, St. Gilles and St. Vulfran. 
The latter has a most imposing exterior which I faced through the 
window as I sat in our council room in the Chambre des Notaires." 
Then he shifts his narrative to Beauvais where he spent the night 
in an hotel. 

"Under my window in the square stood the statue of Jeanne Hachette 
who with the women of the city defended it against Charles the Bold. 
Just beyond, a block away, rise the enormous mass of the choir and 
transepts of the unfinished Cathedral of Beauvais, begun in 1227, carried 
on till about 1578, work then stopped and never finished. If completed 
it would be the most magnificent and largest cathedral in the world. On 
account of frequent air raids all lights went out early and I to bed. I got 
up early, had my coffee and went over to see the Cathedral. You can read 
all about it in your guide book so I'll not try to describe it. 

"The sun was just up and the light filtering through the splendid 
stained glass in the great windows of the eastern end bathed all the 
interior in a most wonderful light. Outside where the nave ought to be 
are the remains of part of the preceding cathedral built in 9 hundred 
and something. It also would have been torn down if the new cathedral 
had been finished. Everything stands just as the workmen left it when 
they threw down their tools one day 340 years ago. 

"Then I started for Paris by way of Meru Pontoise St. Germain. I 
have become quite familiar with the country roads north of Paris. The 

i To Mrs. Addph Knopf. 


faces of the villagers seem to have grown like those of acquaintances and 
the very dogs on the street greet me with a bark which seems to have 
grown quite friendly. And the town criers and I exchange nods as they 
stand in the little place through which the one street runs and beat their 
drums and cry out the public notices, the calling out of more soldiers 
or that some farmer has lost a horse or some old woman a cow. ... I 
enclose some wild flowers picked in my garden and some beech leaves 
from a tree in the garden planted in the time of Louis XIV when this 
garden formed part of the royal park." 


"THIS session met at a moment which was the very crisis of the war 
. . . the high water mark of the war for the Germans." x They had 
struck their third blow in their campaign for the "show down" in 
1918. "Both the British and the French believed that the drive 
would come in the North, somewhere in the vicinity of Arras, and 
that it would be a continuation of the first one." 2 The American 
section of the Supreme War Council had worked out a conclusion 
that it would be between Montdidier and Rheims; Bliss himself had 
taken this to Foch's headquarters and shown it to him in person, but 
without winning Foch away from his preconception based on the 
information he had from the British and French. 3 

Quite independently under a young American reserve officer, 
Major S. T. Hubbard, Jr., of American headquarters, who had 
proven he had a gift in this complex business, had worked out the 
same conclusion from his study of the German battle order, specify- 
ing the location a little more exactly as in the Aisne sector; but 
when this was taken to Plain's staff May 26, hardly a sceptical 
interest was shown. 4 

The morning of May 27 the French and the exhausted British 
divisions which Foch had sent for rest to "the quiet Aisne sector" 
(comprising the blood-soaked Chemin des Dames) were struck by 
an avalanche in the most complete, overwhelming and masterly sur- 
prise in the history of the western front, if not in the war. In seventy- 
two hours, by the morning of May 30, the Germans had advanced over 
thirty miles, occupied ten miles of the Marne bank and taken over 
30,000 prisoners and 400 guns. 5 

Soissons, which the French had won back in the first battle of the 
Marne, was again in German hands. Again stricken refugees flowed 

1 Bliss' comment In the American Minutes. 

2 Bliss* letter to Baker, June i, 1918. 

a Appendix E of Bliss' final report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 
* Report G-II, A.E.F. May, 1918. 
e History of the Great War. Buchan. IV, 256. 



along the road toward Paris in the company of detached soldiers 
with bloodshot eyes. Bliss* statement that this was the very crisis of 
the war had its justification in the rapidity of this German advance 
which, after the slower and highly dangerous gains of the first and 
second offensives, carried with its swift approach the mortal sugges- 
tion of a climax in disaster for the Allied arms. 

"The meeting of the Supreme War Council today was called by M. 
Clemenceau to consider some question relating to the use of American 
troops. When he notified me, officially, that the meeting would be held, 
he asked me to request that General Pershing should be present. 1 

"I learned in a general way from M. Clemenceau that the idea of the 
French is that the American troops should not form independent armies 
in France and that, practically, they should have no larger organization 
than a Division. The French General Staff are constantly harping upon 
what they claim to be the insufficient instruction of our Staff for large 
commands. I told M. Clemenceau very frankly that in my opinion there 
are only two men in France who can settle this question, namely, Gen- 
eral Foch and General Pershing. General Foch is charged with the prep- 
aration and execution of all strategical plans affecting the combined 
armies. General Pershing is charged with the responsibility for all the 
details of the training and employment of American units here. If Gen- 
eral Foch shows that the efficient execution of any of his plans requires 
the English or French or American troops to be used in this or that 
way, I do not see how any of the Governments can stand out against him 
so long as they agree to saddle the responsibility upon him. If General 
Pershing and General Foch have an irreconcilable difference of opinion 
on this subject, the only straight-forward course that I know of is for 
General Foch to formulate his views and submit them to the President 
of the United States for whom General Foch is the Supreme Commander- 
in-Chief as much as he is for the British and French." 

The night before the meeting Bliss went to Pershing's house in 
Paris for a conference. If they had had time for such vanities they 
might well have reflected that this was a strange situation confront- 
ing the two American generals who had in turn ruled the Moro 
Province. Pershing had word from eye-witnesses of the demoraliza- 
tion of the French troops as they sought to put the Marne between 
them and the enemy. It was that of a rout. 2 The breach in the pro- 
tecting wall for American training and mobilization was nearer his 

i Letter to Baker, June i, 1918. 
a The author's personal observation. 


Lorraine sector this time. We had troops arriving both by way of 
England and through Brest, divisions half formed and scattered here 
and there about France. They needed only a little time to become 
effective. Now they might be mixed in a general retreat with soldiers 
whose language they did not know. 

In the letter of June i, the morning before the Sixth Session of 
the Council began, Bliss also wrote: 

"General Pershing agrees with me as to the supreme powers of Gen- 
eral Foch. If he and General Foch are let alone, I think they will 
quickly agree on any matter of real importance. The trouble may be 
that the French General Staff in Paris, influencing M. Clemenceau and 
laying great stress on what are really unimportant matters and which 
are very repugnant to the Americans, may produce ill feeling. ... A 
great deal now depends on the political attitude. If a political demand 
should be made for the concentration of the French armies to save Paris, 
neither M. Clemenceau nor Marshal Foch may be able to resist it. We 
still hope that General Foch may make a counter stroke that will re- 
lieve the pressure/' 

It was an impressive gathering in its frontage, in the power it 
represented, and yet singularly conscious that it was in the hands of 
bayonet-studded fate, which met for this sixth session of the Supreme 
War Council. The "black coats" had with them their ministers of 
foreign affairs, their ministers of war and marine and their generals 
and admirals. Clemenceaiu was his own war minister; Viscount 
Milner came from Britain. The foreign ministers were: Stephen 
Pichon for France, Arthur Balfour for Britain, Baron Sonnino for 
Italy. Foch had his Weygand; Haig had brought his own Chief of 
Staff; Wilson, the British Chief of Staff, had come from the War 
Office in London; Pershing had brought his Chief of Staff, Major 
General James W. McAndrew, and Chief of Operations, Fox Con- 
nor; France had her Minister of Marine, Georges Leygues, and her 
Admiral le Bon; Britain her Sir Eric Geddes, First Lord of the 
Admiralty, and Admiral Sir R. E. Wemyss, First Sea Lord and Chief 
of the Naval Staff, and Italy her Admiral Thaon di Rival and her 
Rear Admiral Grassi. General Belin had now become the French 
Permanent Military Representative, General Sackville-West the 
British and General di Robilant the Italian: It took two foolscap 
pages for all the names including those of lesser rank. The United 


States had one black coat, Frazier, who was still serving in place of 
Colonel House as civil representative. His part was strictly that of 
a listener. 

Hopefully, the secretaries had all the names right, including the 
Honorables as distinguished from the Right Honorables, and the 
strings of titles of capital letters after the British to denote the orders 
they had received. Professor P. J. Mantoux continued in his part as 
interpreter. Clemenceau called the meeting to order in the Hotel 
Trianon, the while all whose imagination was not dead might 
wonder if they would ever hold another session at Versailles. The 
next might be in Havre or London while a Kaiser William II, in 
place of a Kaiser Wilhelm I, a Bethmann-Hollweg in place of Bis- 
marck and a Hindenburg in the place of von Moltke, might be mak- 
ing themselves at home in the palace of Louis XIV and German 
spurs jingling in tfce Hall of Mirrors. 

The session in London before the first German offensive had been 
gloomy enough, but this one had proximity to the battlefields and 
the added weight of three costly offensives with the third not over 
yet. The only Allied offensive in the meantime had been the Ameri- 
can First Division's local and highly successful and skilful operation 
in the taking of Cantigny. Now the heads of the Allied nations met 
within the sound of the advancing German guns. Colonel William 
B. Wallace of Bliss' staff recalls, when he returned from the front, 
the tense suspense of the groups standing in front of the Trianon as 
they inquired if he had any news and their thrill when he told 
them he had seen units of the American Second Division hastening 
toward Chateau-Thierry. 

"Even in this crisis, the Supreme War Council was able to discuss 
general subjects and policies for the futureindeed, the successful Ger- 
man drive was not specifically mentioned and the Italian representa- 
tives were able to fight the proposal for unity of command and a unified 
combined fleet in the Adriatic with their old-time fervor and for the 
same old reasons, while the British representatives were expending much 
energy in trying to get the Siberian expedition launched." x 

Civil and military heads of the old European families had the 
attitude of those in a house of prayer and grievous illness when the 

i Bliss' comment in the American Minutes. 


members, suppressing their alarm, automatically go about their 
routine as a relief from their suspense. One wonders why, in their 
published reminiscences, the men who afterward had the credit of 
being the leaders of victory overlook the emotions at this time. Any- 
how, it is interesting to know what the statesmen and soldiers talked 
about in this session, thus including a little history with biography 
about that mysterious Supreme War Council. 

Clemenceau called for the initial item on the Agenda, the "re- 
examination of the naval situation in the Mediterranean/' Reports 
from chaotic Russia, the source of so many tales since the Bolshevik 
revolution, had it that the Germans were to take over the Russian 
Black Sea Fleet and, with the good wishes of their Allies, the Turks, 
pass the Dardanelles. The French and British wanted the Italians 
to send battleships to join the French Mediterranean fleet in prepara- 
tion to meet the Turco-Russo-German fleet. 

The Italian admiral saw no reason for this; the British and French 
ministers of marine and Admirals Wemyss and le Bon pressed him 
with many reasons. Rival said that by the pact under which Italy 
agreed to enter the war the British and French had obligated them- 
selves to give Italy their naval support until the Austrian battleships 
were destroyed or the conclusion of peace. Now the Allies were ask- 
ing the naval assistance of Italy. Admiral le Bon and Admiral 
Wemyss agreed that all of di Rival's objections were of a secondary 
order; that Italy was stronger than Austria on the sea and would not 
have to fight Austria singlehanded. Rival said the Italian fleet would 
never serve under the French, accepting their command, tactics and 
fire control. He had a low opinion of the French navy and the British 
had broken faith. 

"The discussion had grown quite acrimonious," said Bliss. Since 
the technical experts could not agree, Clemenceau concluded they 
better adjourn so the heads of the governments could consider the 
matter, between now and the tomorrow afternoon's meeting, June 2. 

That evening Bliss wrote in a postscript to his letter of June i, 
"just informed that the French government is packing up its papers 
to preparing for possible removal from Paris/* The population had 
begun leaving Paris. Although the subject was not mentioned at the 
session, the one uppermost thought in every mind was the situation 
at the front. It looked better in the night's communique as though 


the German attack was exhausting itself. But in the morning it was 

As soon as the next meeting opened and by this time the Ger- 
mans were already in the northern edge of Chateau-Thierry-- 
Orlando said he wanted to challenge the decision of the heads of the 
governments at their conference. He asked that they take up the 
naval question again with their naval chiefs present. So the soldiers 
retired and left the statesmen and the sailors to their arguments. 
These had been proceeding for some time when Sir Henry Wilson 
asked Bliss: 

"How are they getting on in there?" 

"Still all at sea except the Italian Navy," Bliss replied. 1 

This was a delightful morsel for Wilson, who proceeded to pass 
it on. Bliss* sense of humor had been caught off guard. He sent 
out a word of caution lest his remark should reach the Italians and 
prejudice his good relations with them when good relations with all 
the Allies were so essential to his part as a unifier whose only interest 
was to win the war. 

However, no cozening, no baiting, no storming would lead Or- 
lando to agree to fight the Turco-German-Russian fleet. Italy had 
only five battleships, he said, and she proposed to keep them safe in 
harbor as long as one Austrian battleship was afloat and there was no 
better evidence than that now being shown on the Marne that the 
Allies would be victorious. 

There might be no unity of naval command in the Mediterranean, 
but there was for the armies on the Allied front in the person of 
Foch. It seemed to be high time for the swift combinations of the 
Napoleonic tradition, of which it was hoped that he would prove 
himself the master in the modern sense. He might not be blamed 
for the fact but there was the factthat General Franchet d'Esperey, 
in command of the Aisne sector, had neglected aerial scouting and 
had allowed thirty enemy divisions with all their artillery and trains 
to form unseen and unheard on his front. 

The British could point to this as in keeping with the repeated 
errors of the boastful French staff since their initial mobilization of 
the French army east of Rheims in August, 1914, at the cost of an 
enemy foothold deep in northern France. If there had been unity 

i Colond U. S. Grant gd to the author. 


of command before 1917 probably such a repulse as that on the 
Aisne would have ended it. The March crisis had compelled it and 
the present crisis compelled its retention. There must be one mind 
in charge, and Foch's was the chosen mind. 

Clemenceau, as usual, would see for himself. The battle ground 
was near; a swift automobile bore him quickly to the front. He had 
heard Generals Ptain, Degoutte and Duchesne, in distress for want 
of reserves, complain against Foch's error in sending troops north 
where he thought the next attack would come. Then Clemenceau 
returned to Paris to face panic in the Chamber of Deputies. But 
Foch was his man, the Frenchman. To counteract the scepticism he 
sent a telegram to the Allied governments saying Foch was conduct- 
ing the present campaign with consummate skill. 1 Foch said he had 
made his dispositions; he seemed to be unperturbed at the sessions 
and in private conversations, but it was the business of all the great 
political and military men to appear unperturbed, while each won- 
dered if Foch were equal to the crisis. 

It was Paris and not the English Channel which was threatened 
now. Neither Foch nor Clemenceau was relying upon Napoleonic 
genius for its defense, but rather upon Madame de Svign6's maxim 
that "Fortune is always on the side of the largest battalions." Clem- 
enceau's bitterness because all the troops we had sent over for train- 
ing with the Allies had been assigned to the British had its edge 
sharpened by the Aisne disaster. To support his appeals to the 
President through Ambassador Jusserand he had already sent a 
special emissary to Washington. 2 

Far away was the day before the war when the French staff thought 
that a small body of British troops in liaison with their own might 
be acceptable, but the French and Russian armies could defeat the 
Germans without further aid. Since then Britain and the British 
commonwealths had fed three millions of men into France and lost 
five hundred thousand dead. 

When this Sixth Session of the Supreme War Council met, with 
the Germans threatening Paris, the 200,000 American troops brought 
over in May had raised the total of American forces in France to 
722,000.* But this was not enough. Indeed, in the course of that 

1 Grandeur and Misery of Victory. Clemenceau. p. 54. 

2 Ibid. pp. 70-71. 

3 The War with Germany. Ayres. p. 15. 


session, Clemenceau remarked that he had been greatly disappointed 
in the Americans. To this Bliss, the unifier, made no answer except 
possibly a look which was often more significant than words in check- 
ing the extravagances of statement of emotion, pique, special plead- 
ing or poor digestion. His part was not to add to the wrangling at 
the expense of further delays, but to prevent it. 

So Clemenceau came to the great business of the session, without 
reference in the Council sessions to the present crisis, but with very 
definite interest in the policy of assigning future American rein- 
forcements. This was not a question for Bliss but for Pershing, which 
was threshed out in a long and heated discussion between Lloyd 
George, Clemenceau, Milner, Pershing and Foch. 1 In the course of 
it Foch showed himself more aware as a soldier under pressure than 
Clemenceau of the folly of infiltrating American units into the 
French army. The conclusion on which Foch, Milner and Pershing 
united in a cablegram to Washington was that at least 250,000 
American troops were to be sent over in both June and July and to be 
at Pershing's disposition for training. 

Orlando might not want to part with his battleships to risk them 
against the Turko-German-Russian fleet, but he joined gladly with 
Lloyd George and Clemenceau in a cablegram to President Wilson 
to hurry American soldiers to meet the German army. 

"General Foch has presented to us a statement of the utmost gravity, 
which points out that the numerical superiority of the enemy in France, 
where 162 Allied divisions now oppose 200 German divisions is very 
heavy, and that as there is no possibility of the British and French in- 
creasing the number of their divisions (on the contrary, they are put to 
extreme straits to keep them up) there is a great danger of the war being 
lost unless the numerical inferiority of the Allies can be remedied as 
rapidly as possible by the advent of American troops/' 

Foch wanted machine gunners and infantry to make up for the 
shortage of men. He placed the total American force required for 
this "at no less than 100 divisions, and urged the continuous raising 
of fresh American levies, which, in his opinion, should not be less 
than 300,000 a month, with a view to establishing an American force 
of 100 divisions at as early a date as possibly can be done." 

One hundred of the big American divisions, including the person- 

i My Experiences in the World War. Pershing, II, 77-78* 


nel for the services of transport and supply, would make a total of 
4,000,000 men, as a draft on the manhood from Maine to California 
across the Atlantic when the British had only two millions across 
the English Channel. The Prime Ministers were "satisfied that Gen- 
eral Foch, who is conducting the present campaign with consummate 
ability, and on whose military judgment we continue to place the 
most absolute reliance, is not overestimating the needs of the 
case. . . ." 

Surely history must conclude that the call for 4,000,000 Ameri- 
cans was a most humiliating military confession of the failure of 
the fumbling policy of a coalition in which Great Britain and France, 
with combined populations of over eighty millions, supported by the 
resources of the whole world, were held in stalemate by Germany 
with seventy millions, which had also fought the Russians, the Ser- 
bians, Rumanians and Italians, but which had unity of command 
from the first. It is strange that Allied memories should be dulled 
to this fact as though it was a reflection on the courage of their 
manhood which was so fully equal to the German, and which was 
sacrificed to inter-Allied squabbling. The reminiscences of the 
leaders have an excuse for forgetfulness but the survivors of the 
trenches and the relatives of the dead have a reason for everlasting 
recollection. Foch's statement of the relative strength of the Allies 
and enemy forces was exaggerated. 

We were expected to send into battle against that German army, 
which Foch regarded as so formidable, troops with only a brief in- 
troductory camp experience at home in spite of Haig's and Plain's 
insistence three months before that they must have a long period 
of training in France. The "but we consider the present emergency 
is such as to justify a temporary and exceptional departure by the 
United States from sound principles of training, especially as a 
similar course is being followed by France and Great Britain" of 
the Foch-Milner-Pershing cablegram was another misstatement for 
propagandic purposes. Raw French recruits were fed as individuals 
into veteran French ranks, raw British into veteran British ranks, 
while the most ardent Allied advocate of American infiltration had 
not proposed that our men should be fed in in smaller units than 
battalions into the armies of our Allies. 


Having come to a conclusion about American reinforcements 
the commanders-in-chief and chiefs of staff departed and the Mili- 
tary Representatives were left with the statesmen to look after un- 
finished business while they had the news that Chateau-Thierry had 
fallen and thence the Germans were swinging westward toward Paris. 
The value of the Supreme War Council as a forum which brought 
all the political and military and dissentients together into frank 
discussion and sifted the wheat out of the chaff had been proven 
again in the crisis of the third offensive. 

Unity of military command had been previously achieved but not 
coordination for the supply of the armies, which had become the 
more vital in view of the immense American troop program. As 
far back as January 28, 1918, Oscar Crosby, Assistant Secretary of 
the Treasury, had written to Bliss saying that the huge loans we 
had floated at home and the enormous cost of our own military 
operations required that no further loans be made to the Allies 
"unless it could be demonstrated that the high purposes of the war 
were to be served thereby/' Bliss continued to press for the pooling 
of Allied supplies which he had stressed in his report to Baker of 
December 18, 1917. At last this was approximately achieved. At this 
session of the Council a board representing all the armies was es- 
tablished "for the unification of supplies and utilities." The pooling 
of ships had also been achieved in large measure. 

Another source of recruits now had attention. Clemenceau, Lloyd 
George, Balfour and Orlando had a long discussion about bringing 
the Czech soldiers, who had been Russian prisoners of war and were 
now gathering in Vladivostok, across Canada to the western front. 
Lloyd George said their transport would mean so many fewer Ameri- 
cans and Canadians in France. Orlando said the Czechs were good 
fighters; the Italians who had fought them could testify they were. 
Clemenceau made the point they were battle-trained veterans while 
the Americans were not; and he had most definite information that 
once their movement was known there would be an uprising in 
Prague much more formidable than the last one. The objection that 
China had been promised the use of the ships to take German internes 
to Australia, and this might offend her as an Ally, was brushed aside. 
China had not proved to be of much value as an Ally. It was decided 


to bring the Czechs with any ships available. Meanwhile, no one 
was certain how many Czechs there were in Vladivostok. 

As for recuiting man-power for the Allies in Abyssinia, informa- 
tion was very vague on the subject; and this better be referred 
to the Military Representatives for further study. Then the question 
of oats came up for the extended attention which it warranted. There 
would be a shortage of 284,000 tons of oats for the numerous ani- 
mals of the armies in France for 1918. But the British and French 
experts could not agree on a standard limited ration, and further 
investigation of means of coordination was left to the Military 

Holland reappeared in the councils, and most urgently. At the 
special diplomatic meeting in London, March 15, 1918, at the time 
the Supreme Council met there, the question of the requisitioning 
of Dutch ships had been argued. Lord Robert Cecil, in charge of 
the blockade, had said he was certain this would not bring Holland 
into the war on Germany's side since that would endanger her rich 
colony of Java. The Allies stretched international law and took over 
the ships, and~Holland remained neutral. 

The new question was whether, in view of the German industrial 
exactions on Holland, the Allies should follow a policy which would 
bring her into the war on their side. After a long controversy the 
silent Bliss had something to say. The action the Allies proposed 
would certainly become known to Germany, he said. If it resulted 
in a declaration of war by Germany, "it would open to question 
both the good faith and the military strength of the Allies. Germany 
was on the Dutch borders, she could strike at Holland at once with 
her army; the Allies could not go to Holland's immediate assistance/' 

A moral issue was involved, one too potent to be the pawn of the 
compromises of military necessity with laws and ethical standards. 
The Allies accepted Bliss' counsel; the Allies would not secretly try 
to get Holland into war and leave her to be overrun by the enemy. 1 

Listening and learning, Bliss was storing up more knowledge of 
the ways of men and nations as his own country, which had repudi- 

i Resolution No. 8 on Joint Note 27, Sixth Session of the Supreme War Council, 
June 3, 1918. 



ated its pre-war contentions against the blockade, was drawn deeper 
into the vise of war. 

"It is the unhappy fact that the rules made to govern the parties in 
one war result in large part from the violations of the rules made for a 
previous one made under different conditions. When this war began the 
use of noxious gases was contrary to the rules. One side violated the rule 
and began to use it; then the other side used it; and now all the world 
contemplates its use in a future war. And so the modern blockade which 
grew out of a gradual violation of rules made for guidance in wars of a 
different character has doubtless come to stay for future wars, so far as 
the circumstances of the moment will permit it to be applied. . . . 

"In these days of war between nations in arms it is not possible for 
any of them, even one with the most varied and abundant resources, to 
store up in peace the supplies necessary for an enormous and continued 
demand in war. There is always something that must be obtained 
abroad. . . . And the character of this latest and, probably, of future 
wars, justifies the extreme blockade. It will make, and it is hoped that 
it will make, future wars more difficult in their inception because, unless 
the whole world accepts this new rule, it will require a nation or an 
alliance strong enough to defy the rest of the world in order to block 
all avenues of commercial access to the nation with which it is at war. 
But it will do it if it can. . . . 

"From 1914 to 1918 the principle of this blockade involved the shut- 
ting off of the Central Powers from everything coming from the outside 
food, clothing, fuel, material for munitions, everything. It was justified 
and necessary because the war in its actual effect was against the nations, 
against every man, woman and child in them and not merely against 
the armies in the field. . . . Everyone was drafted; the labor of some at 
the front, the labor of others at the rear in order to enable the former 
to stay at the front. Horrible as we may think it, all these have been 
treated in this war as soldiers with little distinction, and it is feared that 
it will be as bad or worse in the next war, unless the good God gives us 
the sense at least to try some plan by which another such war is made 
impossible. . . ." 1 

With 250,000 Americans a month being transported to Europe to 
fight in this "latest war," Bliss saw his duty to do his part to win it 
and save as many of their lives as he could; but no man ever felt 
more deeply or understood more clearly the cause of making this 
really "the war to end war." 

i Bliss' final official report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 


One of the subjects for which we were fighting was the self- 
determination of peoples, as voiced by President Wilson. "So the 
Allied governments at this session desire to associate themselves in 
an expression of earnest sympathy for the nationalistic aspirations 
of the Czecho-Slovak and Yugo-Slav peoples/' thus giving them a 
fighting cause against the common enemy and gratifying President 
Wilson, the commander of the immense American recruiting station. 
With Russia, which had been sovereign over part of Poland, now 
out of the war, the statesmen could go further, with a promise which 
was to crystallize its fulfillment in the Danzig Corridor: 

"The creation of a united and independent Poland with free access 
to the sea constitutes one of the conditions of a solid and just peace, 
and of the rule of right in Europe." 

The statesmen adjourned after working out a statement for the 
press that the measures taken at the Council's session assured the 
Allied peoples of victory and that the reserves of the Allies could 
not be exhausted, owing to the immense aid now coming from the 
United States. 1 

Clemenceau returned to face the French Chamber of Deputies 
with his "I will fight in front of Paris; I will fight in Paris; I will 
fight behind Paris." On the same day, June 4, Baker received Per- 
shing's cable of the previous day: "Consider military situation very 
grave. . . . The attitude of the Supreme War Council which has 
been in session since Saturday is one of extreme depression. . . ." 2 

The unity of command for which Bliss had labored came to a 
decisive test. At this session he had seen the seal put upon its corrol- 
lary, the pooling of supplies, and thrown the weight of his influence 
in favor of peace in Holland. 

1 Resolution No. la. Supreme War Council, Sixth Session. 

2 Cablegram No. 1235, S-A.E.F. 


"WE have been passing through exciting times," Bliss wrote to Mrs. 
Bliss June 8, 1918. "It seems strange to walk in the quiet and peace 
o my garden, watch the stars twinkling through the elms and the 
birch trees and at the same time hear the dull booming o the 
cannonade to the eastwards, showing how near the war is to Paris. 
But you must not worry. Our plans are all made in case we should 
have to leave and in that event we will probably go to Tours. A few 
days more will probably decide. My days pass in a more or less 
routine manner. Conferences and office work. Walks in the Chateau 
gardens. Dinner and not long after to bed. Better letter in a day 
or two/' 

The exciting times which were over referred to the third offensive. 
Clemenceau's gallant words in the Chamber of Deputies, June 4, 
were spoken after it had been halted. A unit of the American Third 
Division had had its baptism of fire in the streets of Chateau-Thierry 
and then held the bridge-head on the south bank. Foch had mustered 
reserves at Torcy to resist further advance in that direction on Paris; 
and the fresh American Second Division marched past the French 
in retreat to its stand on the Paris road. Then Harbord with the 
Marine brigade of the Second had counter-attacked and recovered 
Bouresches and a part of Belleau Wood. The American Third cap- 
tured Hill 204 opposite Chateau-Thierry. Providentially, when 
Providence so far had not been very kind to Pershing in his ordeal, 
the third German offensive had broken near his own sector and in 
touch with his own line of communications, thus averting the formi- 
dable complication of supplying his army in the congested area of 
the first and second offensives in northwestern France. 

The third offensive had taken 55,000 prisoners and 650 guns. 1 
So easy had been the advance to the southward, pa&t the resistance 
at Rheims and toward Paris, that it had overrun LudendorfFs objec- 

i A History of the Great War. Buchan. IV, 358. 


tive. 1 His gains and booty had been enormous, he had cut the Paris- 
Chalons railroad; but he was left with a huge balloon-like salient. 
Previous plans and present opportunity directed his next move to 
the west of the salient toward Paris. It was the guns of this the fourth 
offensive which Bliss mentioned at the start of this chapter in his letter 
of June 8 to Mrs. Bliss. He wrote to her June 14: 

"I will let you know in case we should ever change our headquarters. 
A few days ago we thought we should have to do so. But the German 
drive seems again to have been checked. . . . Everybody at General 
Foch's headquarters is now feeling very cheerful. The Americans are 
courted and praised. They all feel and say that it is we who are to win 
the war." 

Foch had not been caught napping by the fourth offensive. 
Whether or not Foch was the military genius his admirers credited 
him with being, a* single mind in command had reserves of French 
ready in time. The reference to how Americans were courted and 
praised had its concrete origin in the unyielding hand-to-hand 
persistence of Harbord's command in establishing mastery over the 
enemy in Belleau Wood, while the word spread that other Ameri- 
can divisions were concentrating on the Marne salient. Bliss no 
longer met in the glances of his Allied colleagues the thought of 
their eagerness in hours of gloom: "But when are you going to begin 
fighting?" His counsel of patience, the influence of our potential 
power behind him as the legate of unity had now been materialized 
by Pershing in aggressive martial power. 

"Everybody is pretty cheerful, and the feeling of satisfaction increases 
with the news of the debarkation of every fresh American contin- 
gent. . . . The conduct of the Second Division was superb. The French 
have been wildly enthusiastic about it, and deservedly so. General Foch 
has in conversation with me at his headquarters expressed his admiration 
on several occasions for the work of this division, in a way that justifies 
my belief that he was convinced at the time that our Second Division 
practically saved Paris, and that is the impression which Colonel Wells 
has received from French officers at the front, as well as from the staff 
of General Foch, with which he is constantly associated. It occurred to 
me that it was time for us to begin preparing our facts for future history. 
A year from now the disposition of the French may be to minimize 

i Ludendorffs Own Story. n, 268. 


the work of this division and I therefore had Colonel Wells prepare the 
statement which I enclose, in order that I might endorse it so that our 
records would show, in the future, exactly what was the sentiment of the 
French at the time of the action. 1 

"I took lunch on last Sunday with M. Dupuy, the owner and editor 
of the Petit Parisien. At the lunch were present a dozen French gentle- 
men, for the most part newspaper men, who spoke with the most perfect 
frankness to the effect that the withdrawal of the French after the Ger- 
man attack of May 27 was nothing less than a disorderly rout and that 
the prevention of a great disaster was due solely to the timely arrival 
and splendid work of the American troops. In fact, if you will note the 
distance passed over in the time that elapsed between the first breaking 
of the French line and the arrival of the Germans at Chateau-Thierry, 
you will see that the Germans could not have proceeded more rapidly 
if it had been a peace maneuver. 

"Everything that our troops have done since they have been actually 
on the battle-fronts, convinces me that both the English and the French 
entirely misjudged the time necessary to train our men ta play their 
proper part on the front line. They did not give us credit, nor did we 
ourselves take the credit that we ought to have taken, for the intelli- 
gence and enthusiasm, and splendid physique and morale of the Amer- 
ican troops. 

"I may say, in passing, that at lunch a few days ago at the British 
Ambassador's (Lord Derby), M. Briand spoke in terms of great severity 
of the French failure to make any efforts to get information of what was 
going on among the Germans along their front before May 27. He said 
that he knew it to be a fact that no airplane photographs had been taken 
for two months and that for a month prior to the beginning of the drive 
there had been no airplane observation at all. I repeated this today 
to General Sackville-West in my office and he said that this failure of 
the French to properly conduct their airplane observation service was 
a constant source of complaint and criticism by the British. There is 
a good deal of talk just now of a possible attack of the Germans from 
Alsace somewhere in the direction of Belfort. The British are criticizing 
the French for their total lack of airplane observation to determine what 
may be going on in the German back-country along this part of their 

"However, this mutual criticism is easy and constant between the 
French and the British. I remember reading many years ago the memoirs 
of an English lady of the nobility, who describes an incident at her 
house in Brussels just before the battle of Waterloo. The Duke of Wel- 
lington was present and there received from the hands of a messenger 
who came riding post-haste a dispatch announcing the defeat of the Ger- 
mans under Bliicher by Napoleon on June 16, 1815, two days before the 
i Colonel B. H. Wells of Bliss* Staff. 


battle of Waterloo. She says that the Duke of Wellington, on reading the 
dispatch, slapped his thigh and, chuckling as though it were a great joke 
said, 'Old Bliicher has been well licked and I am d glad of it!' When the 
English disaster commencing March 21 last, began, the French shrugged 
their shoulders and said that it showed English inefficiency and lack of 
discipline and poor general staff work, etc., etc. When the French gave way 
after May 27, the English shrugged their shoulders and said that it showed 
French inefficiency, lack of it, etc., etc, I am glad to say that one thing 
they seem quite agreed on is admiration for the American troops." x 

Every word in praise of the Americans was the sweeter morsel 
to Bliss because of his isolation from the front; and the recording 
of it in keeping with his prevision of how soon our aid would be for- 
gotten, as it was to be. However, he did get to the front occasionally. 
He records another tribute he learned at Rawlinson's headquarters 
on a visit to the British army. 

"General Rawlinson had planned to make an attack (on not a large 
scale) on a part of his sector northeast of Amiens. It was in this sector 
that the troops of the 33d Division (Bell's) were taking their second 
period of training. The front of this part of the sector was held by 
Australian troops with whom ours were training. A battalion of our 
troops was scattered by companies along the front of attack in the front 
line, and in the second line along with the British troops were six more 
of our companies. All of these men of ours were most anxious to go 
in but it seems that it was held by higher authority that their training 
had not progressed far enough to warrant this and an order was sent 
directing that they be withdrawn from the attacking troops. General 
Rawlinson told me that he was able to withdraw the six companies that 
were in the reserve but that the four companies in the front line could 
not be withdrawn without making his operation impossible, and that it 
was too late to pull them out. They, therefore, took part in the attack 
where, it seems, they did really better than anyone else. General Raw- 
linson said that when he gave the order to withdraw the six companies 
that were in the reserve there were men who actually cried with rage 
and disappointment. It seems that a good many of them exchanged 
clothing with the Australian soldiers and went into the fight without 
being recognized as Americans. I fancy that they were recognized all 
right but that the arrangement was quietly winked at by the local 
officers, but nothing was known of it at the higher headquarters until 
the list of casualties was scanned, when the fact was discovered. In fact, 
everything that I heard during the entire trip confirmed what I have 

i Letter to Baker, June 14, 1918. 


often said, that neither the British nor the French had any conception 
of the aptitude and intelligence of our men." 

Not only the 250,000 the prime ministers and the generals had 
asked for, but an additional 50,000 Americans arrived in June, mak- 
ing a total, in honor of July 4, of the million which Pershing had set 
as the goal in his original plan for the midsummer of 1918. On 
July 4 Bliss said in an address to the American Chamber of Com- 
merce in Paris: 

"From the coast of California and Oregon to the battle-front in France 
is a distance of not far from 7,000 miles. The history of war, which is the 
history of the world, shows no parallel to this coming of an army, already 
a million men, for a death grapple with an ancient race separated from 
our country by so many thousands of miles of sea and land. And, so, 
I ask myself again the question' Why has this million youth come with 
songs upon their lips to die out here, taking their transfer from the 
living army to swell the constantly increasing ranks of that army of 
immortal dead?' And why do they and we think their death so well- 
won? It sounds trite to say that it is all because of an ideal. But, so often 
as the question is asked, that alone must be the answer." 

At home our people were on rations, tightening their belts, deny- 
ing themselves luxuries to produce war's necessities, making the idle- 
ness of man or woman treasonable, drafting new levies to the camps 
to fill the places of outgoing divisions as we gave all strength and 
will to keep up the flow of men and material overseas, with General 
Peyton C. March, the Chief of Staff, applying whip and spur in ruth- 
less concentration of purpose, "America became the deciding factor in 
the war," said Ludendorff. Our troops had arrived more rapidly and 
in larger numbers than he thought possible. 1 It was now a race 
against time for him for a favorable decision, with the odds in num- 
bers already against him. 

i Ludendorff's Own Story. Ludendorff. II, 276. Also Out of My Life. Hindenburg. 
p. 386. 


As A soldier Bliss realized that easy short cuts to success were as 
rare in his as any other trade. He was a bulwark against wasteful 
tangent adventures which mesmerized amateur strategists who 
thought of armies as groups of sprinters unencumbered by artillery 
and supply trains. 

"The easterners and westerners -are hard at it/' he wrote, early 
in his service on the Supreme War Council, to Baker. With Pershing, 
March, Foch, Haig and Ptain he held that the war must be won 
on the western front in keeping with military principles which were 
sometimes harassing to the statesmen. 

It may be as much of a mistake for statesmen to think they are 
generals as for the generals to think they are statesmen. Lloyd 
George, who had Napoleonic conceptions and regarded generals as 
frequently stupid, was conspicuous among the easterners who not 
only favored Allenby's Palestine expedition against the Turks but 
a flanking movement with a great Allied army from a base at Salonika 
or elsewhere on the Mediterranean against the Central Powers. 
Clemenceau, who had been an earnest student of military science, 
but who was no less irritated by what appeared to him the limitations 
of conventional military minds, was more inclined to the western 
view. Beat the enemy in his France and the enemy was out of his 

The fault of Lloyd George's amazingly brilliant mentality, as it 
applied to military affairs, sprang from his quick shifts as a politician 
to meet emergencies, which had a likeness to the alacrity of move- 
ment, the ruses and the swift strokes in pitched battle days on small 
fields, as visible to the commander as the gridiron to a football coach. 
These, he assumed, might be applicable in the World War with 
its immense armies and gigantic masses of supplies over long fronts 
tied to ships, railroads and highways in which a commander must 
choose a line of action and hammer it out on that line as Grant did 
from the Wilderness to Appomattox. 


The easterners, who were to have disciples in the post-war "if" 
school, thought it absurd to keep up attacks with huge numbers 
against a solid trench line from Switzerland to the Flanders coast 
when the Allies might move inland from a Mediterranean base 
against an eastern front which was weakly held. There the enemy 
could be struck in flank when there was no room for a flanking 
operation on the western front. And had not all great classic battles 
been won by the flank? This plan might even allow a surprise on 
the flank. And was not a surprise by the flank, rolling back an 
enemy's wing, the very consummation of strategy? 

But this bold conception overlooked the old formula of the in- 
terior line, and more than that. Meade had the interior line on a 
three-mile front the second day at Gettysburg when Lee's army 
was bent around Gulp's Hill and trying for Little Round Top. 
Joflfre had it on a front of two hundred and fifty miles between von 
Kluck on the German right wing and the Bavarians on the German 
left in the Battle of the Marne. 

The interior line's strategic value could have been simply illustrated 
to Lloyd George if he had looked at his dinner plate and imagined 
an army on the offensive with its wings advancing along either rim. 
Once its wings have passed the point midway of the plate, its com- 
munications and troops in reserve have to cover the longer distance 
the farther the wings advance beyond the center, and the interior 
line's the shorter. If the wings get far enough to envelop the enemy, 
cutting his lines of supply, threatening his retreat, the enemy has 
to go or run the risk of being surrounded as the French were at 
Sedan in the Franco-Prussian War and as they might have been in 
1914 in the World War if von Kluck could have swung well past 
Paris and the Bavarians could have broken through the Mirecourt 

Except for the frontiers of Rumania, Holland, Denmark and 
Switzerland, the Allies, with Russia's long front, already had the 
Germans enveloped by land in the first three years of the war while 
the North and Baltic seas were blockaded. When Rumania entered 
the war the land encirclement except for the three neutral countries 
was complete. But Rumania, with Russia still in the war, was so 
far from successful in her offensive that the Mackensen drive de- 
prived her of all but a sliver of her own country. Now it was pro- 


posed, after Russia was out of the war, to effect an eastern flanking 
movement without Russian aid. 

The Germans had the shorter distances of an interior line and 
a network of railroads. They had been able to move a corps from 
the western front to the eastern before Russia could move one from 
one end of her line to the other. They would have even more ad- 
vantage against a large Allied army which had to be transported 
from the western front by ships through the Mediterranean to a 
coast with utterly inadequate port facilities, and then advanced in 
a land with a few poor roads and slender railroad facilities. 

The Germans' secret service would have promptly informed them 
of the departure of such an expedition and when and where its units 
landed. While the Allied flanking expedition was getting ashore 
and started overland, they would have the numerical superiority 
for a decisive blow on the western front and the time to prepare 
a trench line in a chosen strategic position to face the flanking 
Allied army. The situation would have been similar to that if Lee, 
with the exterior line, had had to move Pickett's men around by 
the way of Richmond before he could get them in action on the 
third day at Gettysburg, or Sherman's army had had to go by way 
of California and the Gulf of Mexico before it started on the "march 
to the sea/' 

General E. H. H. Allenby's Palestine expedition was against the 
Turks in open country and not against the armies of the Central 
Powers. It was a distant operation of the same sort as though the 
Federals had sent a force to Arizona in 1863, but most useful and 
approved by Haig, while that to Arizona would have been lunatic. 
Yet the highly romantic and appealing Palestine expedition has been 
held up as a what-might-have-been example of the success of a large 
expedition across the Mediterranean against armies of the Central 

However, if the military leaders and advisers of the Allies had 
united in recommending that an army of a million be withdrawn 
from France to attack through Salonika, we can imagine Lloyd 
George saying, "Leave the English Channel undefended! Have you 
gone mad? Do you think I'd dare stand for that in the Commons?" 
and Clemenceau saying, "Not from ray France except over my 
dead body." 


This primer elucidation of Allied strategy in the World War is 
given in place of what was so obvious to the trained military mind. 
The westerners held that it was a war of attrition to be fought 
out on the western front, when one side or the other in exhaustion 
could not bear further blows and would collapse, which is what 
happened. Haig never deviated from this conviction and as early 
as 1915 stated his belief that the collapse on the western front might 
come suddenly. 1 And so it did. When it came, then that of the out- 
lying areas of resistance would follow, as it did. 

The American plan was entirely and resolutely western, its spear- 
head Pershing's sector in Lorraine. Much of Bliss' time was occupied 
in resisting proposals which might alienate our energies. The most 
fantastic of them and historically the most puzzling, which further 
requires that history be mixed with biography, was the expeditions 
to northern Russia and to Siberia. Two decades later they seemed 
as absurd as trying to win the war at the North Pole instead of on 
the Rhine. The agitation which led to these expeditions began soon 
after the Bolsheviks overthrew the Kerensky regime in Russia. No 
social and political effect of the war had been so appalling as that 
a little group of proscribed communist exiles had taken over the 
government of that enormous autocracy. They had made peace with 
Germany; their gospel was the spread of communism throughout 
the world. 

Kerensky himself, as well as his followers and those of high estate 
in the Czar's day, who had escaped with their lives, appeared in 
Europe and numbers of these exiles moved on to Washington. They 
brought tales of unspeakable chaos and horror, of the readiness of 
the sane and loyal to rally against this bloody minority rule which 
released bands of mutinous Russian soldiers to murder and violence, 
Czech soldiers and prisoners in Russia proper and those loyal to 
the old regime were reported to be trying to form groups of re- 
sistance; and it was represented that they needed only Allied sup- 
port to save their own country from anarchy and to carry on the 
war against the Central Powers. Thousands ot Czech refugee veterans 
were said to be in Siberia asking for relief. 

Even under the Czar the Allies had combined in aid to flagging 
Russia. The Kerensky revolution, which Americans hailed as es- 

i To the author. 


tablishing Russia as a democracy, had been an influence in bring- 
ing America into the war and led to our sending the Root Mission 
to Russia and to our support in funds and material and the dispatch 
of a mission of experts to reorganize Russian transport. 

The Allies had various estimates of the number of German 
prisoners in Russia who would be released for the western front. 
Moreover, it was feared that Germany would recruit Russian veterans 
into her army. With Lenin and Trotsky reported ready to play 
into German hands, with the Germany army advancing into the 
Ukraine, the stringent Allied blockade of Germany would be offset 
now that the Central Powers might have the granary of Russia at 
their disposition. At Archangel in northern Russia, there were over 
1,000,000 tons of coal and stores which had been paid for with 
American money and which would probably fall into German hands, 
including 14,000 tons of copper of which Germany was grievously 
short. Also at Vladivostok there were 600,000 tons of stores. 

It was in desperate mood that the Allies looked toward Russia 
at the meeting of the Supreme War Council in London, March 15, 
1918, under the shadow of the first German offensive, six days before 
it came. Great Britain had an especial interest in her apprehension 
over the reports of the spread of Bolshevist propaganda toward the 
borders of India. 

Thought turned toward Ally Japan across the narrow sea from 
Siberia. Already the Military Representatives had passed a resolution 
favoring her temporary occupation of Vladivostok for recovery of 
the stores there under the advice of an Allied mission to which she 
must give guarantees. 1 Bliss had signed this, subject to approval of 
his government, but protesting that America would send no troops 
to Siberia, and the operation should be limited to the recovery of 
the stores and the rescue of the Czechs. 

When he reached London he received this cablegram from Frank 
L, Polk, Acting Secretary of State: 

"I have read to the Ambassadors of Great Britain, France and Italy 
the following communication which I am telegraphing to the Ambas- 
sador at Tokyo to read to the Japanese Foreign Minister and which I 
repeat for your information and guidance: 

" "The government of the United States has been giving the most care- 

i Joint Note No. 16, February 9, 1918. 


ful and anxious consideration to the conditions now prevailing in Si- 
beria and their possible remedy. It realizes the extreme danger of anarchy 
to which the Siberian provinces are exposed and the imminent risk also 
of German invasion and domination. It shares with the Governments of 
the Entente the view that if intervention is deemed wise the Government 
Japan is in the best situation to undertake it and could accomplish it 
most efficiently/ 

"It has, moreover, the utmost confidence in the Japanese Government 
and would be entirely willing, so far as its own feelings toward that 
Government are concerned, to entrust the enterprise to it, but it is 
bound in frankness to say that the wisdom of intervention seems to it 
most questionable. If it were undertaken the Government of the United 
States assumes that the most explicit assurances would be given that it 
was undertaken by Japan as an ally of Russia in Russia's interest and 
with the sole view of holding it safe against Germany and at the ab- 
solute disposal of the final peace conference. Otherwise the Central 
Powers could and would make it appear that Japan was doing in the 
East exactly what Germany is doing in the West, and so seek to counter 
the condemnation which all the world must pronounce against G$r- 
many's invasion of Russia which she attempts to justify on the pretext 
of restoring order. 

"And it is the judgment of the Government of the United States, 
uttered with the utmost respect, that even with such assurances given, 
they could in the same way be discredited by those whose interests it 
was to discredit them, that a hot resentment would be generated in 
Russia itself and that the whole action might play into the hands of 
the enemies of Russia and particularly of the enemies of the Russian 
Revolution, for which the Government of the United States entertains 
the gravest sympathy, in spite of all the unhappiness and misfortune 
which has for the time being sprung out of it. The Government of the 
United States begs once more to express to the Government of Japan 
its warmest friendship and confidence and once more begs it to accept 
these expressions of judgment as uttered only in the frankness of friencl- 
ship.' " * 

The prime ministers of Great Britain, France and Italy decided 
at the Supreme War Council meeting to refer the Russian question 
to a special diplomatic session at which Bliss was not present, but 
Mr. Frazier represented the State Department with his customary 
attentive diplomatic silence as a veteran career man, which was 
his role since President Wilson* had asked that he be permitted to 
be present in order to listen. A very favorable position for him, 

i Through the American Embassy, London. No. 6774, March 5, 1918. 


remarked Clemenceau, who was in testy mood over what seemed to 
him the President's doctrinaire inclination to refer to the United 
States as an Associate and not an Ally in the war against the Central 
Powers. 1 

"M. Clemenceau pointed out that before the United States of America 
entered the war, the Governments of Great Britain, France and Italy 
regarded themselves as the Governments of the Entente. They were still 
the Governments of the Entente. They had not received one single 
word to suggest that President Wilson wanted to enter the Entente. We 
had won this title with our blood and money, and it is one that was 
worth retaining. He was aware that President Wilson had complained 
because, in a published declaration, politics had been spoken of. It was 
true that what was said was almost word for word what President Wil- 
son had said before, but he was displeased when it was said on behalf of 
the Supreme War Council. He pointed out that the heads of the British, 
French and Italian Governments were the heads of the Supreme War 
Council, according to the constitution of Rapallo." 

On the margin of these minutes Bliss wrote the following com- 

"This is one of those impulsive statements often made by Mr. C. The 
constitution of Rapallo was drawn up by the heads of these three gov- 
ernments, but when they urged the United States to become a party to 
it, the President entered with exactly the same rights and powers as the 
other heads of governments." 

All manner of variant opinions were expressed in this conference. 
Balfour said Trotsky talked a great deal of wild nonsense and dis- 
played dense ignorance, but when he saw how weak Russia was he 
might become more malleable and ask for Allied assistance. Balfour 
had heard that Allied intervention would turn the Russian bour- 
geoisie toward Germany, but he favored intervention. 

All did if Wilson would Consent. Lloyd George said the Japanese 
must not be treated as an inferior race, but as an Ally and not be 
asked for too many guarantees. His view was that they were making 
preparations for intervention; but other views were that they had 
not yet said they would agree to intervene. 

Clemenceau said this was not a moment for discussion but for 

i Procts^-Verbal of the Allied Diplomatic Conference, March 15-16, 1918, printed 
for the Supreme War CouBpL 


action. We should ask America what she would do if Japan wanted 
to act. President Wilson was fighting with us but wanted to have a 
free hand for his policy in Europe and Asia. In Europe this did not 
matter. In Asia it was a different thing. There was no time to waste- 
not a day. If President Wilson refused, we must act on our own 

Then the question was raised: How far would Japan agree to go? 
How large a force would she be willing to send? It would not be 
much use unless she went as far as Irkutsk. 

The solution would have been most easy if America had agreed 
to join the Japanese in a march into Siberia; but there stood Bliss, 
and doubtless that stubborn Pershing, holding that an expedition to 
Siberia or Archangel was impracticable in a military sense and mean- 
while, as Clemenceau had said already on previous occasions, America 
must win the war by sending over vast reinforcements to France. 

This vacillating discussion, based on such conflicting information 
out of the vast maelstrom in the huge expanse of Russia, ended by 
directing the Military Representatives to make a study for an ex- 
pedition to Archangel, and in an agreement to make a French and 
British appeal to the President about Siberia which, after some talk, 
it was decided should be separate rather than joint. 

Balfour addressed the President in the name of the stricken Rus- 
sian people: 

"Her [Russia's] territory swarms with hostile agencies; such energies 
as she still possesses are expended in internal conflicts; and no power of 
resistance is left her against German domination. Since Russia cannot 
help herself she must be helped by her friends. ... It is, therefore, to 
Japan that, in the opinion of the Conference, appeal should be made to 
aid Russia in her present helpless condition." 

M. Clemenceau's text spoke of "the strangest aberration in his- 
tory" which would now subject Russia to the "will of the same Ger- 
many which for the last four years has been fighting against the 
independence of nations and against all mankind. ... As this long 
war proceeds we see more and more clearly that the freedom of one 
is linked with the freedom of all; and without attempting to 
enumerate all future enfranchisements we need only appeal to the 
general redress which we expect from justice and which we call 
'Right/ " 


In colloquial language both Balfour and Clemenceau had reason 
to think "That ought to get Wilson/' in spite of American interest 
in the Open Door policy in the Far East. 

The record of this conference has a peculiar interest in showing 
great leaders in an uncharted sea when the barometer indicated the 
approach of the mighty storm of the first German offensive of 1918. 
Meanwhile, Bliss was pressing for more shipping to get American 
troops to the western front and for the General Reserve to meet the 
crisis in the impending German offensive. 

Already British cruisers had occupied the port of Murmansk in 
north Russia. The question was whether to dispatch a military force 
to Archangel to recover the Allied supplies there and advance into 
the interior to connect with the Czechs. The Military Representa- 
tives, thinking in military terms, could not follow the statesmen. 
Their report March 23, 1918, opposed any armed advance beyond 
the port, but that Murmansk should be held as long as possible. On 
June 3 they recommended sending a force of from four to six bat- 
talions. 1 This might include a battalion of American Marines, if 
our government would consent. 

After the sixth session of the Supreme War Council, June 1-3, 
the pressure on the United States became more acute, pressure on 
Baker to influence the President, pressure on the President through 
the British and French Ambassadors in Washington, pressure on 
Bliss and Pershing whose influence was so important with Baker. 
In June the United States had exceeded its program in answer to 
Foch's appeal. Pershing now had his million men. In May we had 
drafted 373,000 to the training camps, in June 302,000 and we were 
calling out 401,000 in July, which brought the total of our youth 
withdrawn from civil employment, when industry was being strained 
to its utmost capacity for their support and our immense shipping, 
arms and munition programs, to more than three millions and a 
half. 2 

With access to so prolific and so willing a recruiting station, the 
champions of Russian intervention envisioned reserves enough for 
another great adventure. Although the fourth German offensive 
had been stopped and American divisions were concentrating against 

1 Joint Note Number 31. 

2 The War with Germany. Ayres. p. 15. 


the Marne salient, the easterners were more than ever convinced that 
the only way to win the war was the restitution of the Russian front. 
They relied on reports that there were now anywhere from 100,000 
to 300,000 Czechs who were waiting for Allied support to over- 
whelm Bolshevism and then form a line against the Germans. Hand 
in hand with this" argument went the appeal to Allied loyalty not 
to allow the Czechs who were making their way to Vladivostok to 
be massacred by the Bolsheviks. Germany was said to* be already 
recruiting Russians for her armies; to be already drawing on the 
great reserves of the Russian harvest in the Ukraine. Only time, 
from German sources, was to check this misstatement. General Hoff- 
man in command on the German eastern front stated that the Ger- 
mans, owing to sabotage and lack of lubricants, were able to run 
only two or three trains a day out of the Ukraine when transport 
of the harvests required 500 trains daily. 1 

But early in June such illuminating facts were not included in the 
mass of information glutting Bliss' files. He wrote to Baker, June 4: 

"British and French general staff bureaus and their ministries of 
foreign affairs give out nothing but that which is favorable to the idea 
of this intervention. All the papers that are submitted to me from these 
sources, to influence my action, are of this one-sided character; every 
formal discussion that takes place here and every formal document that 
is submitted, on the subject of the military aspect of such intervention, 
touch only upon its assumed advantages and make no reference to any 
possible disadvantage that might result therefrom. Then I make myself 
a sort of an advocatus diaboli and suggest conceivable disadvantages, 
merely for the purpose of assuring that the question will be fairly con- 
sidered in all of its phases. I note a feeling of irritation. In other words, 
I have never seen or heard the question rationally discussed here, as 
though the parties to the discussion really wanted to get at all of the 
'ins and outs' of it. I do not believe that the question can be considered 
in this unbiased light anywhere except in Washington." 

Two weeks later he wrote: 

"I find nothing from any source which can be regarded as giving the 
feeling among the great Russian peasant class. They have no way of 
expressing their sentiments and it is very likely that they have no well 
formed sentiment as yet on the subject. The great mass of them probably 
do not know that any such thing is in contemplation. 
i Meeting of German Cabinet, Oct. 17, 1918. Memoirs, Max von Baden. II, io. 


"But, if intervention should actually come in the form of a great 
Japanese army moving westward through Siberia, I apprehend the re- 
sult. They do not want to fight anyone; but the Germans, I fear, can 
easily make them believe that intervention coming from the East will 
simply mean widespread war all over Russia. They will soon realize that 
the Germans will not supinely wait for a Japanese army to arrive on the 
eastern border of Germany and that it will fight them long before they 
can reach that border. I fear that the European Russian peasant can 
easily be convinced that the only way to save his fields from devastation 
will be to join the Germans and meet the invasion before it can reach 

"The whole question is this: Is it better for the Allies to take this 
chance with all of its possibilities of disastrous failure and with the 
chance that Germany will be ultimately strengthened in the West, rather 
than weakened; or, is it better not at this moment to give Germany the 
opportunity for propaganda among the Russian peasants and wait for 
the little time that will be necessary in order to enable the Americans 
to turn against Germany and thoroughly to defeat her, with which de- 
feat will go the destruction of Germany's ambitions in the East/' x 

Bliss, it will be recalled, had signed Joint Note 16 with reserva- 
tions which provided for the occupation of the railroad from Harbin 
to Vladivostok and limited to that at Bliss* suggestion as a rallying 
point for the Czechs and to keep Allied stores out of the hands of 
the Bolsheviks. But since this the situation had changed and the 
new proposals for an adequate military invasion entailed a vast 
and costly enterprise. 

"At that time [of the signing of Joint Note 16] the Treaty of Brest- 
Litovsk was not fully agreed upon. . . . The present form of Russian 
government, so far as it is a government, had not developed. Bolshevik 
interests had not penetrated into Siberia. ... All of Russia and Siberia 
was a chaotic mass of whirling atoms, like those in celestial nebulae, each 
seeking a point of rest where it could consolidate itself with others of 
its kind. . . . 

"The fact of the matter is that the Russian people (from eighty to 
ninety percent are peasants) are sick of war, and apparently of all war. 
They do not want to fight anyone for anything. . . . What was one of 
the principal things, a century and more ago, which put the French 
Revolution on its feet and consolidated it against all Europe? Up to a 
certain point the French Revolution was a mad revel of brute force and 
what was called 'confiscation/ Many elements in the country were in- 

i Letter to Brigadier General Dennis E. Nolan, Chief of G-2, G.H.Q., A X.F., June 
20, 1918. 


different to the revolution or passively hostile to it. Up to that time, 
the government, naturally and necessarily, remained in the control of 
a class of men, many of whom represented the purely destructive ele- 
ments of the community. But, when invasion came, these indifferent and 
passively hostile elements found that they disliked the invader more 
than they disliked the Revolution." 

He mentioned the then policy of the Russian revolution for 
peasant ownership, which found ready acceptance in the minds of 
peasants "who had no title to the soil and to the huts in which they 
lived/' and then continued: 

"I doubt if more than a century ago all France would have sprung 
to arms at the cry of 'La patrie en danger!' if, at that time, the soil of 
France had not passed into the hands of its peasants and they felt that 
it was really their country that was in danger and not that of a few 
absent landlords. . . . 

"My colleagues here say that a great famine is impending in Russia 
[which of course contradicted the assumption that Germany would have 
an excess of Russian wheat at her disposition], and that the granaries of 
Siberia will constitute the only hope of relief. ... If the Russians have 
to choose between fighting the Japanese and the Germans to secure 
bread it is quite as likely they will fight the former as the latter. . . . 

"I have just been talking with a French officer who returned a week 
ago from Russia after a year's stay there with the French Mission. He 
bitterly denounces the British representative, Lockhart, the American 
representative, Robins, and the French representative, as being more 
Bolshevik than the Bolsheviks. He says they are misleading their govern- 
ments in favor of the Bolsheviks. I do not know, because reports from 
these gentlemen do not come to us. ... Everyone here seems to be 
imbued with a growing and bitter hatred of the Bolshevik government, 
and, I believe, would welcome its destruction. If you have any docu- 
ments which show what is accepted in Washington as present Russian 
sentiment I wish you would send them to me." x 

While British interest in the delivery of Russia from the Bol- 
sheviks centered in safeguarding India and the French were hoping 
yet to salvage their enormous investment in Russian bonds under 
the Czar, both British and French felt that it was a world duty to 
prevent the spread of communism. When Bliss remarked to Lloyd 
George, its most ardent sponsor, that he supposed the proposed 
expedition to Siberia would be a small one, Lloyd George, in one of 

i Letter to General Peyton C March, Chief of Staff, June 24, 1918, 


his blue-sky moods, said that this would be absurd under present 
conditions and that "Japan must come in with her last man, even 
to the extent of 2,500,000 men." * 

Accepting the remark as literal it might be construed that Lloyd 
George, under the spell of the American example, assumed that 
Ally Japan, also under the same spell, once she was committed to 
an overseas expedition, would be equally generous of man-power, 
funds and effort without expectation of territorial or material 

"I do not think," Bliss had said in the letter to March, "that 
either Mr. Lloyd George or M. Clemenceau (but particularly the 
latter) are very well pleased with my views. And that is because they 
attribute to me a degree of influence which I do not possess and 
which I have not attempted to exercise even if I thought I pos- 
sessed it." 

The way he must have received Lloyd George's statement that 
Japan might have to put 2,500,000 men into Siberia may have made 
Bliss' views just as unacceptable to the British as to the French 
prime minister. 

Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando had their Foreign Minis- 
ters, Balfour, Pichon and Sonnino, with them when at a secret meet- 
ing at the Seventh Session of the Supreme War Council, July 2, 
they took action which, according to Bliss' information, was based 
on a document from British sources. 

"The Supreme War Council consider that since the last meeting a 
complete change has come over the situation in Russia and Siberia, 
which makes Allied intervention in these countries an imperative neces- 
sity, . . . 

'There is no doubt that the Bolshevik power is waning. It is daily 
becoming dearer to all classes in Russia, including ex-soldiers, peasants 
and workmen, that the Bolsheviks cannot fulfill their promises of the 
social millennium, and that anarchy, disorder and starvation lie ahead 
under the Bolshevik regime. The accounts from all our representatives 
agree upon this. It is further clear that the Bolsheviks have no real 
power with which to support their rule. They have entirely failed to 
raise an effective army. They remain in office simply because Russia is 
too divided to create any alternative organization with which to supplant 

i Letter to General Peyton C. March, Chief of Staff, June 24, 1918. 


"The liberal and democratic elements urgently ask for allied inter- 
vention, and make it clear that while they desire economic assistance, 
the essential need is military support. Unless they can secure effective 
allied support in the field, and a base upon which to rally, the re- 
actionary forces, backed by German bayonets, will inevitably crush the 
movement for national freedom and regeneration. 

"Allied intervention, therefore, is urgently necessary in order to save 
Russia from the establishment of an autocracy supported by German 
bayonets. If, however, the Allies are to bring effective assistance to lib- 
eral Russia not only must they occupy Murmansk and Archangel in 
order to retain the bridge-heads into Russia from the north from which 
forces can eventually advance rapidly to the center of Russia, but they 
must also control Siberia to the Urals without delay. If the Germans 
gain control of Western Siberia as well as of Archangel and Murmansk 
they close the last means of contact between Russia and the outside 
world, and they obtain possession of the supplies of food without which 
Russia will starve. 

"The Germans have already made the Black Sea a German lake, they 
are advancing as fast as they can on the Caspian, which will give them 
control of the Volga and its water communications with Western Si- 
beria, and they are preparing to occupy the Murman coast before winter. 
If they once succeed in these objects the German domination of Russia 
would be complete. They will then not only control Russian resources, 
but under penalty of starvation they may be able to compel the Russian 
people to serve as labor and possibly even as recruits for their armies 
in the field. All hopes of the regeneration of Russia on truly democratic 
lines depends upon the seizure by the Allies of the granary of Western 
Siberia without delay. 

"Allied intervention is essential in order to win the war. There is no 
doubt that if the Germans fail to gain a decision in the West in the next 
few weeks, they will turn East and endeavor, with all their power, to 
paralyze any possibility of the national regeneration of Russia during the 
war. They know as well as we know that there is but the smallest chance 
of an allied victory on the Western Front in 1919, unless Germany is com- 
pelled to transfer a considerable amount of her strength back again from 
West to East. . . ." * 

Clemenceau had won Foch over to the plan to send an army into 
Siberia, British and Americans, but no French, to go with the 
Japanese. As the responsible military chief of the whole, his prestige 
enhanced by his effective dispositions in checking the fourth Ger- 
man offensive, Foch's opinion would carry great weight with Presi- 
dent Wilson. Having made the decision to send forces both to north- 

i Supreme War Council, \ Document Number 260. 


ern Russia and Siberia, the next step was to concoct a cablegram 
which would be successful in its appeal to President Wilson in 
time to have the expeditions in movement before winter closed in. 
The resolution, as passed by the three statesmen, had said that it 
had the support of all the Military Representatives when it had not 
that of Bliss. But this was a detail to the three in their eager conquer- 
ing mood of distant adventure. 

They found that Foch would not assent to their statement to the 
President that "there is no reasonable probability of such superiority 
over the enemy being concentrated by the Allies as will ensure 
victory on the western front in 1918." Quoting him as authority the 
three had sent a cable to the President, written within sound of 
the guns at Chateau-Thierry, only a month before, saying that 
100 American divisions would be a sufficient superiority for victory 
on the western front although the Russian front were not recon- 
stituted. So the phrase was changed "to shorten the war by the re- 
constitution of the Russian front." On the suggestion of M. Pichon 
the references to Kerensky were eliminated as it might appear to 
be favoring one party of the Russian outs to another. 1 

When a question was raised on this point Lloyd George explained 
that the reason why "considerable forces" had been used in the draft 
"was because an impression appeared to exist in the United States 
that only a very small force would do two or three regiments." It 
was agreed to change the "considerable" to "adequate," as less likely 
to alarm the President. 

The attitude of the Japanese had also to be considered. Would 
they agree to go far enough for the purpose the three had in mind? 
It now appeared that they would not go at all without the approval 
of the United States. The first draft of the resolution said they had 
agreed to go as far as Irkutsk. This was changed to read that they 
had agreed to "send an expedition into Siberia, provided they were 
assured of the approval and active support of the United States 
government, and though they have not engaged themselves to go 
beyond Irkutsk, there is no ground for thinking that this necessarily 
represents the limits of their efforts." 

The prime ministers and their Foreign Ministers had to be on 

i Cablegram Number 140, Bliss to War and State Departments, and Bliss' letter to 
Baker, July 9, 1918. 


their guard against Japanese territorial ambitions and any threat 
against America's Open Door policy in China, and at the same time 
encourage the Japanese to send a large force beyond the Urals. They 
were also in the dark as to just how much information the Presi- 
dent possessed, what had passed between Washington and Tokyo, 
and they had also to keep in mind that it tvas out of American loans, 
if not direct payments, that the expedition must be financed. Bliss* 
duty was to keep his government informed. In his cablegram of 
July 2 he said: 

"At the moment of the meeting of the Supreme War Council today 
I was furnished with the following copy of a telegram received by the 
French Minister of Foreign Affairs from their Ambassador in Tokyo: 
The Ambassador of the French Republic at Tokyo received June 24, 
1918, a reply from the Imperial Japanese Government to the proposition 
which had been made on June 7, 1918, by Mr. Balfour, in the name of 
the British, Italian and French Governments, on the subject of an inter- 
vention at Washington. From this communication it appears that Japan 
does not think that it ought to join the three powers in exerting in- 
fluence upon Mr. Wilson. Baron Goto prefers to receive from Washing- 
ton a free acceptance and does not wish to exert any pressure on the 
United States. As for the rest, Japan has decided to act if the American 
Government promises it its unconditional material and moral support. 
It adheres to the principles set forth in its memorandum, but does not 
engage itself to push military action beyond eastern Siberia. According 
to Baron Goto Irkutsk would be the extreme limit, but, he added that 
it was possible that they might go still further, everything depended 
upon events. It was this cablegram which caused the three Prime Min- 
isters to eliminate the words 'as far as Irkutsk.' " 

Bliss added that the Military Representatives had not yet been 
directed to prepare a plan for the expedition. It was so far nebulous, 
subject to American compliance which it was hoped to gain through 
Balfour, who was to send the cable to the President on behalf of 
the Prime Ministers. Bliss* own scepticism as to the value of the 
venture became rigid opposition on the part of March, the Chief 
of Staff, who was forcing every ounce of our strength to meet the 
ambitious and colossal program of reinforcements demanded by 
Foch and Pershing a month before. 

The scene of the diplomatic play now shifted to Washington where 
the Allied missions and ambassadors became the protagonists of 


intervention in Russia. Baker was in the thick of conflicting Russian 
information as to the background for the Allied appeals when he 

"We have been literally beset with the Russian question in its va- 
rious forms. I have had repeated conferences with the British Ambas- 
sador, and in the last month it seems to me more people have come from 
Russia, each knowing exactly the answer to the Russian problem, than 
happened in a previous year. . . . 

"Raymond Robins, who was a member of the Red Cross Commission 
there, is quite sure that the Bolsheviks represent 'God in Russia' at 
least to the extent of representing the only power which has achieved 
any recognition, and that the true course to follow is a frank acknowl- 
edgment of Soviet poWer, with Lenin and Trotzky as a part of it, so long 
as the Soviets continue to give them their confidence. 

"On the other hand, most of the people whom I have seen from Rus- 
sia profess to have allied themselves with what they call the Intelli- 
gentsia. To them, Lenin and Trotzky, and the Bolshevik power gen- 
erally, are anathema, and any blinking look of recognition is playing 
directly into Germany's hands. 

"I mentioned to Lord Reading that Irkutsk was too many thousand 
miles from the eastern front to be of any help. He replied, 'It is nearer 
than Vladivostok,' to which I replied that that sounded to me like say- 
ing that a man was nearer the moon when he was standing on top of 
his house, in view of the fact that he would still be too far away to have 
any chance of getting there. In the meantime, the Czech regiments in 
Siberia and Russia have brought a new element into the discussion. 
Clearly, we cannot allow them to remain unsupported and unsupplied, 
and while the President has not notified me of any determination on his 
part, I am expecting him to seek some sort of solution to the problem 
which will render substantial aid to the Czechs and at the same time 
express our sympathy and willingness to be helpful to the Russian 
people." x 

Meanwhile pressure had not ceased on Bliss; Pershing's head- 
quarters had also been flooded with propaganda. He had said in a 
cable in repeating the sense of the reports brought to him, "With 
Russia once in the conflict on the side of Germany, the man-power 
of the Central Powers would become inexhaustible." 2 But this 
cable, sent June 7, was before the situation on the western front 
had changed for the better, and had the object of keeping Washing- 

1 Letter, Baker to Bliss, July 8, 1918. 

2 Cablegram AJLF. 8-1255. 


ton informed while, of course, Pershing would not have favored any 
diversion of reinforcements from the western front to the visionary 
plan of a new eastern front. 

The first decision for the War Department was whether to dispatch 
a small force to Murmansk in northern Russia. On July 9 Baker 
sent a cable asking Bliss for his view. 1 Bliss replied with his official 
and personal views. The official held that without compromise "any 
Allied action here would be impossible." A small force might hold 
the northern ports during the winter, win Russian sympathy, and 
be the nucleus of a larger force of Russians which would hold the 
railroad. The northern ports were essential to any general plan of 
intervention in Russia, in which he had little faith. But we should 
supply only our fair share of any force. His personal view was: 

"It seems to me that our Allies want the United States to commit our- 
selves to expeditions to various places where, after the war, they alone 
will have any special interests. . . . We must fight somewhere, and 
originally we selected France and at the request of the Allies themselves/' 2 

In a letter Bliss said: 

"There is no doubt that the whole enterprise is a gamble; it may con- 
ceivably put us in the position of being committed at a later date (but 
I can hardly conceive it to be before the Spring of 1919) to a larger 
military enterprise." 8 

General Bridges, military chief of the British Mission in Wash- 
ington, brought a most logical letter to bear in stating his earnest 
conviction that the war could be won only by reconstituting the 
eastern front, and that success there might save the Americans count- 
less lives in a campaign in 1919 on the western front. 4 High policy 
as represented by the prime ministers, who were the President's 
three high political colleagues in the war, and American public and 
Congressional opinion which had taken up the Russian cause pre- 
vailed upon him. He made his notable statement of war aims in 
his assent on July 22, and we sent two regiments from the Philippines 
to be followed by 5,600 men from the Pacific coast to cooperate, 

1 Cablegram Number 68, War Department to Bliss. 

2 Bliss to War Department, Cable Number 148. 
Letter to Baker, July 9, 1918. 

*To Baker, July so, 1918. 


under the command of Major General William S. Graves, with the 
Japanese and British forces in that strange expedition to eastern 
Siberia which had been bruited since the Bolsheviks had made 
peace with Germany. We also sent an infantry regiment and a bat- 
talion of engineers from the A.E.F. to Murmansk. 

A week before the President's decision, July 15, the fifth and 
last German offensive began. The Third and Forty-second Ameri- 
can divisions had a part in its repulse. On July 18 the First and 
Second American divisions had taken a brilliant part in the Allied 
offensive against the base of the Marne salient toward Soissons, 
advanced seven miles, and captured 6,500 prisoners and 143 guns. 
The day after the first British contingent arrived at Vladivostok- 
with the American divisions, Third, Fourth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty- 
eighth, Thirty-second, Forty-second and Seventy-seventh (at the end) 
in the action the Marne salient was closed. America now had 1,300- 
ooo men in France. On August 8 the British, Canadians and 
Australians made their magnificently successful thrust beyond 
Amiens. By the time the first American contingent landed at Vladi- 
vostok, August 16, Pershing was gathering his divisions for his St. 
Mihiel offensive. The tide had turned on the western front before 
the Allied army in Siberia was within five thousand miles of the 
line for a reconstituted eastern front. 



IT has been said before, and is worth repeating, that the troubles 
of the Peace Conference were foreshadowed in the labors of the 
Supreme War Council, to which historians of the Peace Conference 
might well have paid more attention. 

At the Seventh Session, July 1-4, in which the statesmen were 
united for the Russian adventure, there was anything but harmony 
on other subjects. It will be recalled that in the previous session in 
the first days of June, after the Germans had just taken Chateau- 
Thierry and Paris seemed to be in danger again, the old American 
maxim about the importance of hanging together to escape being 
hanged separately had its counterpart in the languages of the other 
Allies. But emotions suppressed then might be released now that the 
fourth German offensive had been checked, Paris had forgotten its 
alarm of a month before, and the Italians had repulsed an Austrian 
offensive. After the decision about the Far Eastern situation, which 
had the glamour of a new experiment as short cut to victory, tempers 
flashed over the Near Eastern, which was a bitter inheritance of a 
past adventure which had begun in Gallipoli and been transferred 
upon the evacuation of Gallipoli to the new Allied base at Salonika. 

Counting the Serbians and the Greeks and the French and British 
forces at Salonika, the Allies had some 600,000 troops against 400,- 
ooo Bulgars. The Allies, in their courtship of Rumania and Bulgaria, 
had succeeded in bringing Rumania in on their side, but the honors 
had been with the Central Powers in the case of Bulgaria. Sir Edward 
Grey had been criticized by practical men for having refused to 
traffic as a bribe-giver in offering King Ferdinand of Bulgaria a 
sufficiently large honorarium and territorial guarantees to interest 
him in making the world safe for democracy. 

Although Bulgaria was in on the enemy side, practical men still 
thought that she might be bought out, thus clearing the Balkans 
of the enemy's threat to the Mediterranean and parting him from 
his Turkish ally. It had been early in May, after the grave crisis 



of the second German offensive, while the Allies wondered where 
the third would strike, that General Belin, the French Military 
Representative, submitted to Bliss a document, prepared in the 
political branch of the French military section, suggesting that 
Bulgaria be offered territorial compensation at the expense of Ally 
Serbia and Ally Greece. All Serbia had been heroic to the Allies 
at the time of the Austrian invasion in 1914 and Venizelos the hero 
statesman at the time his loyalty had brought Greece into the war; 
but now Serbia had lost value as a military factor while Venizelos 
had difficulties with mutinies in the Greek army and had brought 
disappointingly little material military aid to bear. The French plan 
seemed to serve the Mediterranean interests of France, and also those 
of Italy who would not welcome a future Yugo-Slavian foothold on 
the coast of the Adriatic, which she would make an Italian sea. 

Bliss remarked that the Belin document was rather interesting 
as showing the drift of some men's minds, and continued: 

"General Belin tells me that he has shown it to M. Clemenceau and 
that he approves of the policy indicated therein. . . . After reading it 
and noting the suggested action by the President of the United States 
I asked General Belin if I might communicate it to Washington, which 
he authorized me to do. The policy may commend itself to diplomats 
who play with territories and peoples as we do with pawns on a chess- 
board, and it may appeal to some military men who may grasp at it as 
a means of beating the enemy, but to me it is repugnant. After leading 
up to the rather naive declaration that the time has come to 'jettison 
cargo' or 'throw out ballast' (by which he means Serbia and Greece), 
he suggests that this task might be assigned to our President 'who has 
no engagements of any kind with respect to Serbia.' I cannot think that 
this idea will take very strongly in the United States. 

"It would be bad enough if Bulgaria had thus far remained in a state 
of neutrality and it was now desired, by means of this bribe to induce 
her to join the Entente; but, to take one of the powers of the Quadruple 
Alliance, which has been fighting from the beginning for the same 
devilish and iniquitous things that the other three have been fighting 
for, and, in the hope of detaching it from its alliance, give it all and 
more than it was fighting for in that unholy alliance, it seems to me 
would remove the last vestige of principle for which we are supposed 
to be fighting. 

"And the worst of it is that, were we to surrender our principles in 
this matter, we might find that we had lost our honor and had gained 
nothing in return; because Germany might enter into the same game 


and offer a higher bribe. The whole policy suggested by General Belin's 
paper rests on the assumption that Bulgaria can be bribed (which is 
doubtless true); but, if so, she will take the largest bribe offered. More- 
over, when it comes to offering large and unscrupulous bribes, the one 
being bribed may think that it means a diminishing ability on the part 
of the briber to 'deliver the goods/ 

"One thing is certain, that if we surrender our principles we will soon 
be floundering deeper and deeper in a very nasty mire. I doubt whether 
England will take kindly to General Belin's proposed policy. But it is 
hard to tell what nations will do in these days if they think that their 
straits are desperate enough." x 

It was at this session as previously mentioned in quoting a letter 
from Bliss in offering the incident as an example of the difficulty 
of writing history when there were no true minutesthat Lloyd 
George and Clemenceau had their furious colloquy over the naming 
of General Franchet d'Esperey in place of General Guillaumat to 
the command at Salonika by Marshal Foch. Lloyd George said he 
had not been consulted in the appointment. He twitted Clemenceau 
about d'Esperey's utter surprise by the third German offensive, and 
Clemenceau responded by twitting Lloyd George about British 
stupidity in the loss of Gough's army in the March offensive. 

After they had cooled down both admitted some confusion about 
the Salonika situation, but when the advisability of a Macedonian 
offensive came up, Lloyd George and Clemenceau turned testy 
again. Lloyd George said that d'Esperey's own words since his ar- 
rival in Salonika showed he evidently intended to do no more than 
make studies. Clemenceau said Lloyd George had missed the line 
"assume an offensive attitude" in Franchet d'Esperey's report. In his 
most teasing ironical tone he begged Lloyd George to define with his 
usual lucidity just what were the powers of a commander-in-chief in 
the Balkans, anyhow. 

"If it was thought that the word study meant the occupation of a gen- 
eral was solely for the purpose of making studies, he [Clemenceau], for 
his part was ready to bring back the entire expeditionary force from 
Salonika. He had been the man who of all others had criticized the 
Balkan operation the most; he had been insulted and abused by all the 
journalists for having expressed his opposition a hundred times. He 
had never had any confidence in the result of an offensive there. Could 

i Letter to Baker, May 11, 191$. 


he now be suspected of wanting to let loose an offensive on a grand 
scale?" 1 

When war memories were so short it would not have been in 
order for Lloyd George to have reminded the Premier of France 
that he was a journalist himself, who had written biting criticism 
against the blunders and secrecy of the war administration before 
he became Premier. 

Finally, tempers cooling again, Clemenceau said that "complete 
confidence and trust should exist among the Allies"; and the talk 
reverted to some method of winning Bulgaria over to the side of 
the Allies, which would relieve the Salonika troops of an offensive 
and perhaps reinforce the western front. Balfour said: 

"The Bulgarians had shown themselves to be the most untrustworthy 
people in Europe. They had revealed themselves as the arch traitors of 
the war. They had outdone all the masters of intrigue of the Italian 
Renaissance. The stupendous deceit which they had played on the 
Rumanians must not be forgotten. As far as he was concerned, he be- 
lieved nothing that the Bulgarians could say. They deceived because 
they were Bulgarians. It was quite possible that they wished to betray 
the Central Powers. Perhaps they did: for a price. He must therefore 
ask 'what was the price which the Allies were prepared to pay?' This, 
however, was purely a diplomatic question and not a military one." 

When the listening Bliss' opinion was sought, he said there were 
no American troops at Salonika and therefore his view must be ac- 
cepted in this light. A solely defensive attitude was a mistake, and 
how far the commander-in-chief should commit himself to an of- 
fensive action should depend upon judgment which was formed on 
the spot. Why not invite General Guillaumat, wjao had recently re- 
turned from Salonika, to give his opinion to the Council? Guillaumat 
gave his opinion in favor of an offensive, which the British Military 
Representative surprisingly opposed, and said preparations must be 
begun soon if a general attack were to be made in October. 

Finally the statesmen, finding the problem was both political and 
military, decided against any general offensive but to keep up the 
offensive spirit of the troops by raids until the Military Representa- 
tives should make a further inquiry in conference with the diplomats; 
and that hereafter in case of any change in the commander-in-chief 

i American Minutes, Seventh Session of the Supreme War Council, July 1-4, 1918. 


in Salonika all the governments should be consulted. 1 

At the meeting of the soldiers and diplomats, July 1 1, Pichon and 
Lord Robert Cecil united in painting in even blacker tones than 
Balfour's the abominable character of King Ferdinand, who was 
left without one redeeming trait. Cecil said he wanted "no thing to 
do with him," then added, 

"But in politics one must not permit a feeling of moral indignation to 
sway him. We are charged by our respective countries with the conduct 
of the war. If we feel we should take a chance somewhere we should not 
hesitate to do so. ... We must not, therefore, slam the door in King 
Ferdinand's face. He agreed with M. Pichon that we could not offer the 
Bulgars Constantinople or any compensations. To do so would make us 
suspect to our Allies and help him in trading with our Allies. But if 
Bulgaria should conclude that it could no longer trust Austria we should 
not refuse to hear what guarantees she has to offer but the King's 
character should not blind us." 2 

Evidently the Serbs and the Greeks had heard of the plan proposed 
by General Belin to jettison cargo and they had given the French 
Foreign Minister a flutter. M. Pichon said he did not see what there was 
to offer Ferdinand which would make it worth his while at present. 
The French government had just formally announced to the Serbs 
and Greeks that they would not be abandoned. Would we abandon 
Serbia and Greece to offer Constantinople to Bulgaria after having 
previously promised Constantinople to Russia?" At length opinion 
inclined toward tentative plans for an offensive and to wait on politi- 
cal developments. 

The fractiously intricate difficulties of the Balkan situation were 
illumined in Bliss' weekly letter to Baker, July 17, in which he refers 
to another issue, which led to wrangling when Italy objected to the 
Yugo-Slav prisoners who had fought with the Austrian army being 
returned to Serbia for service with the Serbian army in the cause of 
the Allies: 

"You will note in these Minutes, as well as in the discussion (here- 
with) in the last meeting of the Supreme War Council on the question 
of Yugo-Slav recruitment in Italy, how closely connected most of the 
military questions are with political matters. In reference to the offen- 

1 Resolution Number 5, Seventh Session of the Supreme War Council. 

2 American Minutes* 


sive in Macedonia it was evident from his statements to us that General 
Guillaumat's desire to provide an opportunity for an offensive movement 
by the Serbs and the Greeks is due, to a considerable extent, to his be- 
lief that without some such action the present Greek army will melt 
away, just as, to a considerable extent, the Serbian army melted away. On 
the other hand, it has been plainly stated to us that a movement by a 
force of Serbians and Greeks, which would result in the latter approach- 
ing certain points which are viewed by the Serbians with jealous appre- 
hension, would cause the Serbians and Greeks to come to blows. 

"I believe a good deal of the hesitation of the political men to ap- 
prove a general offensive in Macedonia results from the political com- 
plications of the Balkan problem. A good many of the military men 
seem to be of the opinion that no general offensive in Macedonia can 
be really successful unless the Powers, including Serbia and Greece, come 
to a thoroughly satisfactory agreement as to what is to be done in the 
Balkans at the end of the war. Without some such agreement they think 
that the Allied army might pull apart after the first decided success. . . . 

"There seems to be no doubt that the French occupation of Salonika 
and their development of that port has been pretty nearly as much with 
a view to commercial as to the military advantages. I have heard it said 
by well-informed people that they think it would be very difficult to 
persuade the French to withdraw from Salonika and that they had no 
intention of leaving it if they could help it. This is one reason for the 
feeling of unrest among the British (and others too) over the fact that 
the Allied armies in Macedonia have a French commander-in-chief, 
except the Italians at Valona, who are independent." 

In a postscript to the same letter Bliss appears in his part of arbiter, 
in which he was so frequently successful because he never offered 
to act as one, and often refused, and because when he did act as 
one he gave the credit to the generosity of those whose differences 
had been harmonized. 

"General Guillaumat asked me to meet him in his office in Paris. I 
could see at once that his interview was inspired by higher authority 
and that he wanted to put me in the position of an arbiter between the 
French, who are now determined to have an offensive in Macedonia in 
October, and the British who are hesitating. He is one of the most level- 
headed Frenchmen I have met. ... I told him that I would not do any- 
thing that would force a decision as between the British and the French 
because that, of course, would put me in the position of one who dic- 
tated the final plan of action which would be contrary to the wishes of 
my government But I would be very glad to go over the details with 
him, which I did. 


"In the discussion that followed it appeared that all were agreed that 
it would be wise for the Allies to continue preparations which they are 
now making, as though they had decided upon an offensive in October. 
This would have the effect of holding the Greek and Serbian forces to- 
gether, because they would live in the hope that something was going 
to be done. . . . One serious thing admitted by all was that the Greek 
army would melt away before the coming winter, as the Serbian army to 
a considerable extent had done, if no hope was given them of an offen- 
sive movement by which they might win back certain lost territory. . . . 
The British said they would accept my proposal to the effect that prep- 
arations continue and the question of an offensive in October be decided 
by the Allied governments about that time in the light of the political 
and military conditions found then to exist. The French yielded and 
that is the way the question now rests." 

On August 3, after the Marne salient had been closed, the Military 
Representatives to whom the diplomats had left final action, de- 
cided definitely for the Macedonia offensive not later than October i ; 
but Bliss inserted this qualification: 

"Provided that these preparations shall not demand any assistance in 
men and material from the western front and shall not divert any ton- 
nage available and that may become available, which is necessary for 
the continued arrival, at the maximum possible rate, of the reinforce- 
ments of men and material required on the western front by the plan 
approved by the commander-in-chief." 

Of course, the Allies had sought to impress Bliss with the im- 
portance of our sending an American detachment to Salonika to 
show the flag for the sake of morale; requests came from Greece 
and Serbia; they came for men, money and material from as far away 
as Georgia and Armenia in order to aid in reconstituting the eastern 

A report was received from the Armenians and the Georgians that 
they could raise an army of 150,000 if they had the funds, which 
could not be sent through any banking house, diplomatic service or 
by plane, but must be sent as "bullion in disguise." Bliss concluded, 
after investigation, that the few Armenians, Greeks, Syrians and 
Russian emigres who could be organized would not be able to get 
through the hostile tribes and past the Bolsheviks before they met 
the Germans, and that no disguise in northern Turkey would keep 
that bullion from being dissipated before it reached its destination. 


"Bliss would have been the pillar of this or any other council, for he 
brought to the Alliance, where the members of every inter-Allied team 
always pull different ways what it needed most: rigid impartiality, even 
toward his own government. 'Very well, let Bliss arbitrate' (Eh bien, 
prenons Bliss comme juge de paix'), Foch used to exclaim when a dis- 
cussion became heated; and Bliss listened like a sage and benevolent 
pachyderm. But once his mind was made up he stuck his hoofs in the 
ground and was immovable. Even Foch dashed at him in vain." x 

He had dug in in characteristic stubbornness in the following: 

"I added that 'the Government of the United States reserves to itself 
the right and the power to decide as to whether it will intervene in any 
new theatre of war and, should it do so, when and with what effective- 
ness it would intervene; and that, whilst I could not prophesy what 
action the United States might be willing to commit itself to in this or 
that theatre, of one thing I am absolutely certain and that is that my 
government will never consent to delegate unreservedly to another gov- 
ernment or to any one man the power to determine the time and the 
place." 2 

Since the American Odyssey to France had began in earnest the 
Italians were especially interested that some of the ships packed with 
the battalions from our training camps should be diverted from Brest 
to Genoa. They made their demands commensurate with their needs 
and their idea of our resources in man-power. 

"The Italian Military Representative stated that a considerable re- 
inforcement in Italy might be necessary, either to meet an enemy offen- 
sive supported by the German divisions that might be transferred to that 
front or to make an offensive of their own. He wanted the Allies to be 
prepared to send not less than 20 divisions to Italy on the call of the 
Italian Commander-in-Chief, among which were to be 'several' (number 
not mentioned) American divisions. He wanted to have training areas 
established in Italy to which an unknown number of American divisions 
would be sent to complete their training and take their place on the 
Italian front/' 3 

Bliss* reply was the same that he gave later when another influence 
was brought to bear in favor of an American army in Italy: 

1 At the Supreme War Council. Wright. 

2 Letter to Baker, July 17, 1918. 
s Letter to BaJLeX July 22, 1918. 


"Ambassador Thomas Nelson Page from Rome stopped to see me 
some days ago on his way to London. He, like everyone else who goes to 
Italy, has become saturated with the Italian idea. He insisted that we 
should send 500,000 men to Italy. I told him I had nothing to do with 
that question. I told him to go and talk to General Pershing and Marshal 
Foch. He said that the Italians disliked the French very much and the 
French reciprocated the feeling. He did not believe he would get much 
encouragement from Marshal Foch's Headquarters. I told him frankly 
that I did not think he would get much encouragement at General 
Pershing's Headquarters." L 

In this letter Bliss mentioned the reasons why the Italians wanted 
a large force of Americans in Italy. Fear: they were mortally afraid 
of the Germans while their reports of large numbers of Germans 
massing against them were unverified. Money: they had heard of 
the large sums the Americans were spending in France, and the 
Italian politicians were being blamed for not getting their share. 
Ambition: the Italians wanted to strike a major blow for territorial 
gains and future power, while the British had been withdrawing 
strong divisions from Italy and sending weak in their place be- 
cause they did not want, as they said, to reinforce a line of rest billets 
with weak troops. 

"There is a general undercurrent of belief here that the Allies will 
not even give Italy that which they specifically promised. Italy knows 
this. Therefore she would like to have the decisive blow struck from Italy 
rather than France, with her army as the predominating factor." 

Bliss* impartiality, patience and ideals were much tried by the 
Italy of Orlando's pandering and hackneyed politics, the Italy which 
had made a secret bargain for her price in coming into the war, the 
Italy which was to give Benito Mussolini, then fighting as a soldier 
in her army, his opportunity. 

"I have recently heard a great deal about rotten conditions in the civil 
communities in Italy due to the corrupt practices of food speculators. 
What they really need in Italy is a Clemenceau, and not an Orlando, 
who would stand a few of these speculators against a wall and shoot 
them 'pour encourager les autres* as Voltaire said when the English 
executed Admiral Byng in the Mediterranean, The execution of a couple 

i Letter to March, September 3, 1918. 


of men here in France has had a tremendously good effect on both civil 
and military morale." x 

The difficulty of the relations with the Italian chiefs, who were 
so watchful of their prerogatives, when the Italian army had never 
accepted Foch's authority, is illustrated by this reference to Presi- 
dent Wilson's statement of war policy in which he had said that 
American reinforcement of the Italian front must be referred to 
the Supreme Command: 

"You will have already received my telegram in which I asked to have 
the Italian Ambassador made to understand, if he did not at the begin- 
ning, that the words 'Supreme Command' which appear in the Presi- 
dent's instructions means the supreme command of General Foch and 
is not the 'Comando Supremo' of General Diaz. You may think that 
this is a very small point, but I have discovered that most of the differ- 
ences of opinion here grow out of small points." 2 

Bliss mentioned one of the train of consequences which began 
to appear soon after we decided to send troops to Russia. 

"I have received a rather curious request from General Diaz, Chief 
of Staff of the Italian army, through the Italian Military Representative, 
for information as to what would be the line of action taken by the 
United States Government on a proposition to have a lot of Russian 
officers serve with the different commands of the Allied troops who may 
be sent to Siberia. I do not know what particular concern this is of 
General Diaz, but I suppose it comes up because of pressure originating 
with the innumerable Russian societies in Europe. In fact, he says that 
it relates to a proposition of what is called 'The League of the Regen- 
eration of Russia/ to have Russian officers now scattered all about 
Europe serve with these Allied commands in Siberia. The countries of 
the various Allies here are filled with Russian officers 'out of a job/ 
They are all anxious to get on the American pay-roll and I fancy that 
the Governments here, who are supporting a great number of them, 
would be rather glad to unload as many as possible on us. My own 
opinion is that if we were to tie ourselves up with any of these Russian 
officers, whether from motives of charity toward them, or any other, we 
might create a great deal of trouble for ourselves and for the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of any American forces that might be in Siberia." 3 

1 Letter to March, September 18, 1918. 

2 Letter to Baker, July 22, 1918. 

3 Letter to Baker, August 7, 1918. 



LIFE for Bliss and his staff at Versailles became routine with regular 
office hours which might be prolonged far into the night. Colonel 
U. S. Grant gd, whose memoranda among the Bliss papers suggest 
the inheritance of his grandfather's lucidity and brevity, was an aide 
to whom Bliss was as attached as General Schofield had been to 
Captain Bliss in the old days. Grant was at Bliss* elbow in his office 
and lived with him in the house where he was quartered; accom- 
panied him on his trips to the front, to conferences and on his walks 
in the palace gardens. It was Bliss* delight to dine at some small 
restaurant and picture the lives and characters of the people at the 
other tables out of his observation. 

"That little woman is really the boss though her husband, the fat 
man, does the orating. Do you notice that fellow is casting eyes at that 
woman? He better look out, his wife is watching him. If we wait long 
enough we may see her in action." 

When Grant was sent to Berne for the negotiations with the Ger- 
mans about the treatment of prisoners of war, Wallace took his 
place temporarily. Lochridge, Wells, Grant, Wallace, Poillon, 
Browning, Embick, Coward were members of his family. All wished 
they could be at the front and have a chance to be shot at by some- 
thing other than the paper daggers of Allied controversies. Wells, 
upon his promotion, was assigned to be chief of staff of a corps, and 
Bliss keenly felt the loss. His staff was small compared with that of 
the other Military Representatives although he was in the role of 
statesman as well as soldier. He had trained all for his special work; 
they knew his ways; and he considered that they could best help to 
win the war by remaining with the little clan. 

From colonels to privates, all the clan knew his moods, but it was 
Grant who most often heard him in his soliloquies for which "his 
brooding intelligence/' as Baker called it, had such abundant ma- 
terial in all the racial, political and military differences which must 



be harmonized. His sense of decency was as often outraged by 
political stratagems and chicane as it had been by the corruption in 
the Cuban customs; and in the privacy of his house he would let 
his indignation have full play, enforced by all the expletives at his 
command. Having excoriated the war and human folly, he then 
turned sage reviewing all the arguments of the British and of the 
French and Italians in the present impasse and summing up the 
case in his search for the wise course and how to win them to accept it. 

Since the Mexican crisis, through the ordeal as Chief of Staff and 
the crises of the German offensives, he had had no rest; still he 
retained his capacity for work, his unflagging mental interest in any 
problem. This saved him from anything but momentary cynicism in 
a task which gave so much food for cynicism. He was a trial to the 
more military minded members of his staff who tried to "get him 
to assume his full right and all the fuss that goes with four stars." 

In the summer heat he would be working at his desk in his shirt- 
sleeves when Grant would bring word that he was called to some 
meeting. Then he would put on his blouse, and labor with the hooks 
of his high military collar. 

"Grant, have I got them all in? Am I in my corset all right? If 
not, give me a hand with a hook though you choke me to death." 

Then, adjusting his eyeglasses, putting on his cap at the proper 
angle, squaring his shoulders and picking up the short cane he used 
to carry, his look seeming to say, "There! Don't I look a classy four- 
star general?" he proceeded to keep his appointment. When he be- 
came a delegate to the Peace Conference Wallace assigned three 
smart orderlies to attend on him, one always to be in front of his 
door. His order to return them to the barracks was instant and 
vigorous. But when one of his British colleagues remarked on what 
a fine looking soldier he had in one of the orderlies who attended 
him to his car, and he saw how pleased the orderly was, Bliss 
compromised. He was willing an orderly should escort him to the 
car; "but, Wallace, I don't want that ornament in front of my door. 
I never had that before, and don't want it now." 

When he went to Brest to meet Secretary Baker, he concluded, 
at sight of an army commissary, that rubber boots were in order for 
the then prevalent winter rains and mud. The soldier at the counter 
brought him some pairs for inspection, and Bliss asked if he might 


have a box for a seat as he tried them on. As he bent over the 
soldier saw the four stars and ducked back into the storeroom to say 
to his colleague: "Look! That old boy has got the whole Milky 
Way on his shoulders." Four stars! Only Pershing was supposed to 
have four in the A. E. F. They were the very top, and no other 
general had more than two then. 

American soldiers in France who saw the four stars on Bliss' car 
were often puzzled when they recognized, inside, a face so different 
from Pershing's. Bliss found a pair of boots that fitted him, paid for 
them, thanked the soldier for the use of the box in trying them on, 
and departed with his old boots in a package under his arm, which 
was not quite good form for a four-star general. 

No one who ever served under him at Versailles or before, how- 
ever, needed more than one reminder of his insistence on punctu- 
ality. He was never late for an appointment himself, and no sub- 
ordinate might be without a most vital excuse. The members of his 
staff at Versailles were kept well aware of his punctiliousness in every 
detail of his relations with Pershing's headquarters, although they 
were quite alive to the talk in the lower circles of Pershing's staff 
about those entirely superfluous desk soldiers at Versailles. 

One day Bliss found that an officer representing the American 
Section of the Supreme War Council at Foch's headquarters had 
written a report as coming from the American Mission. Bliss made it 
very clear that the only American mission at Foch's headquarters 
was Pershing's. Any officer Bliss had there was there solely by an 
"informal and personal arrangement I made with the Marshal." 

But he considered himself in his rights in protesting against the 
transfer of Private Andr Theriot to the A. E. F. Theriot's loss 
would have been as serious to Bliss as the loss of a division to the 
Italian or Macedonian front would have been to Pershing. Theriot 
spoke French well, knew all the statesmen's and generals' names, and 
was one of the three operators serving night and day shifts at the 

The colonel in charge of personnel who had made the transfer 
could not have been more prompt in canceling it if he had heard 
Bliss' protest in person; and that might have been paternally robus- 
tious in the protection of his little family from raids. When he arrived 
at his office in the morning his st^ff always had an eye peeled to 


make sure whether he had found Horace as satisfying as usual or 
he had had a good detective story the previous evening; or, after 
his nocturnal battle with a mass of documents which held quite 
contradictory information, he faced another batch which added a 
new and confusing element on his desk. 

Morning was not always the most amiable period of the day for 
him. He might warm up for the day's labors with an Olympian 
outburst on the nature of his task and the state of the world in 
general. He liked an intimate listener present who would under- 
stand that it was not Bliss, the diplomat, but Bliss, the human being, 
in action. Upon Wallace's return after an absence, Bliss said to him: 
"Take your old desk where you will be near me. I have not had 
a good cussing bee for some time and I feel I shall be fit for one 
soon." 1 

He had irritations enough, when he would never admit that he 
might be overworked and nervously tired, to warrant the name which 
the soldiers and clerks gave him, according to H. G. D wight, who 
wrote the classic Stamboul Nights. 

"I dropped into the General's orbit entirely by accident, without 
election on either side. Like everybody else in those days, I had felt it 
my duty to get into uniform. Being beyond the good age, however, short- 
sighted to boot, and a 'native' of hostile Constantinople, I was turned 
downthough perhaps I might have wangled a commission if I had 
gone about it with diplomacy. Then a friend of mine in Washington 
wrote that there was a chance for me to go overseas as an army field 
clerk, if I cared to try it. Had I known at the time that an army field 
clerk was the lowest of God's creatures, it is doubtful whether my 
'patriotism' would have stood the test. As it was, knowing nothing what- 
ever about the army, I presently found myself carrying on board a trans- 
port the locker of an officer with whom I had dined a couple of nights 
before, and soon after that climbing the back stairs of the Trianon 
Palace Hotel at Versailles. 

"I am so constituted that it amused me. Still, there was too vast a 
distance between a field clerk and a four-star general with a sense of 
discipline for me to see very much of my chief. Moreover, there oc- 
curred early in our relations an incident which made me excessively 
careful to keep in my place. One of the staff, knowing that I had written 
a book or two and thinking to do me a good turn, ordered the books, 
unbeknownst to me, to be sent to the General When they arrived the 

* Colonel Waiiam B. Wallace to the author. 


General called me in and thanked me. I was so taken aback, first at dis- 
covering what had been done and then at having the General suppose 
I had done it, that at the moment I was struck speechless; and after- 
wards it seemed stupid to make belated explanations. So I never said 
anything about it; but the consciousness that the General had thought 
me capable of so transparent an attempt to ingratiate myself did not 
encourage me to expand in his presence. Nevertheless he was very kind 
to me. Perhaps it surprised him to discover so grizzled a specimen among 
his flock of field clerks." 

Dwight's experience shows that Bliss was more familiar with his 
family's genealogy and his interest in it not so perfunctory as might 
appear from his answers to letters of inquiry. * 

"He surprised me the first time he had me in for a once-over by letting 
me see he knew there were Blisses in my family. He asked me all sorts 
of questions about them and their inter-marriages, taking evident in- 
terest in the genealogy of his house. And he quietly did a great deal, he 
and his officers, to make life in France tolerable for an elderly field clerk. 
More than once he gave me exciting papers to translate, he sent me on 
not the dullest of his errands, after the armistice he included me among 
those of his entourage who accompanied him to Paris, he finally took 
me out of uniform and made me a civilian secretary. What I appreciated 
not least was that he forbore to turn against me the rough side of his 
tongue. There were moments when it could be uncommonly rough. 
No doubt the habit of authority leads in that direction and the custom 
of obedience hardens the listener to it. 

"The orderlies and the chauffeurs used to call him their 'old growler' 
with a mixture of terror, amusement, pride and loyalty. It was of his 
preeminence and prerogative to growl louder than anybody else. They 
were more likely to savor his bons mots than to take them to heart. 
They knew that if they were punctual and kept everything spick-and- 
span he wouldn't growl. They also knew not only that on occasion he 
could look the other way but that if they got into trouble he would go 
to the mat for them. One thing about it was that he had an exceptionally 
quick mind; and while he had learned by long experience that other 
people were likely to be a lap or two behind him, he had never quite 
reconciled himself to it. 

"What he really couldn't stand, however, was for those around him to 
be lazy or dishonest. If they were, they heard about it in a way they never 
forgot. On the other hand, he was capable of astonishing patience. And 
he knew how to still knocking knees with two words of commendation, 
haply with no more than the tone of his voice, that meant more than 
a volume of compliments. 


"Tacitus, you know, was a great favorite of his, and usually lay in 
reach on his desk. One of my principal jobs, though, was to find him 
detective stories. He went to bed on those. It didn't much matter what 
language they were in, but they had to be new at least to him. 

"I don't need to tell you that he had an uncommon gift of expression. 
I never had anything serious to do with his papers, because I was neither 
an officer nor a stenographer. But I often heard him dictating, and ad- 
mired his competence. He would walk up and down the room in great 
concentration of mind, head down and hands behind his back, saying 
slowly what he had to say. When he was through it was hardly ever 
necessary to make a correction. His stenographers were grateful to him 
for that. Everything was there, in the right order, in the simple and 
cogent diction of which he was master." x 

While at every turn Versailles appealed to his interest in history, 
his fondness for music found it a desert. He relished the prospect 
that three military bands were assigned to play there on Liberty 
Day, but only one turned up, an American regimental band, which 
he made the subject of an official letter of commendation to Ameri- 
can headquarters for having played for "an hour in pouring rain 
without a sheet of music." But the letter was cold formality in com- 
parison with his words of rapture at the time. 

After the repulse of the fifth German offensive he had time to 
spare for an occasional day away from Versailles, time to visit ca- 
thedrals. It was said that when he was on a very urgent mission, as 
his car came in sight of noble spires, he might look the other way 
lest temptation overcome him. It was at Rheims, when they strolled 
apart, that Wallace found him standing before the cathedral in a 
soliloquy so intense that every rent by shell fire and every staring 
vacant window that had held beautiful stained glass seemed to be 
lacerating his mind and soul, as he damned war and all the ways of 
war and the barbarism of this supreme outrage. If the present gener- 
ation must go mad in slaughter, it might at least spare the splendid 
creation of past generations. He was in a mood of Jovian thunder 
which would have made all the mischief-making demi-gods seek 
shelter from the lightning shafts of his words. 

He had time to see his son Goring, who had been graduated from 
West Point and was now an officer of Engineers stationed at Tours. 

i H. G. Dwight in a letter to the author, June 28, 1934. 


Although Bliss was twenty years older than when he was in Spain 
as attach^, he still had the fresh eye for all he saw, and some of his 
letters to Mrs. Bliss ran to two thousand words. 

"After a number of calls, we went to see the Cathedral. "While stand- 
ing there an old canon came out of the sacristy and politely offered to 
show me around. He explained the different periods of construction, 
pointed out the special beauties of the original stained glass windows, 
took me to see the tomb of the children of Charles VII. Then I went to 
the Basilica of St. Martin and saw the tomb of that saint in the crypt. 
Afterwards I saw the two great towers, all that is left of the original 
Basilica of St. Martin and under one of which is buried Luitgard and 
the gd wife of Charlemagne." 

Having seen the Basilica of St. Martin he looked in on a scene 
strictly of the 1918 period, the salvage plant of the American army 
at Tours. 

"There come all the old uniforms, shoes, tents, equipment, etc., of our 
first 500,000 men in France. Everything that is hopelessly beyond repair 
is torn up and used to patch up the repairable articles. Worn out shoes 
are cut up into shoe strings for good ones. Soles are used to make cloth 
shoes for hospital attendants, etc. I saw 3,500 French women at this work, 
many of them refugees from the parts of France now held by the 

He found that Goring had stuck so hard at his work that he had 
not seen as much of Tours since his arrival as his father had in three 
hours. So he insisted on Goring taking a half holiday. 

When Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss took Bliss to a chateau where a 
number of people of the old French aristocracy were present, and 
were gayly attentive to the American general in the glad days when 
the American army was attacking in force and the enemy retreating, 
she wondered just what he would have to say about them as they 
rode homeward. He said he had had a very good time, they had been 
nice to him and such people helped to make this an interesting 

Many invitations came to him, and his acceptance depended on 
official duty or the personal appeal of the host. 

These are excerpts from his letters to Mrs. Bliss: 

"I told you some time ago of my visit to Esdimont, 8 or 10 kilometers 
beyond Rambouillet, to visit the Duke and Duchess of Rochefoucauld- 


Bissacia. Some weeks ago I received a note from her saying that she was 
here for that and the following day, to visit her grandmother who was 
occupying a house in Versailles for the summer, and she said she wanted 
to present me to her. She asked me to come to tea the following day, 
which I did and I there met one of the most charming old ladies, after 
your dear mother and mine, that I have ever had the pleasure of know- 
ing. She is the Baronne de Berckheim, 93 years old, as bright as a new 
pin. Her husband was a French general, of an old Alsatian family. I met 
her two sonsone has a title and the other is a retired General. There 
was also the Count and Countess de Segur. He must be over 60 and she 
not far from it. They sang old-fashioned duets in a pretty old-fashioned 
way. . . . 

"Most of the Chateau Plessis-les-Tours is gone but one fine building 
containing the room in which Louis XI died is still perfectly preserved 
(with a little restoration here and there) and is still used for State pur- 
poses. I went into the ruined tower and saw the place where Cardinal 
Balue's cage was hung when his lord and master Louis was in residence 
here. You remember Louis used to carry him around with him for (I 
think) eleven years or was it nine? . . . 

"So we were off for Loches, a most beautiful drive, partly along the 
left bank of the little river Indre. Here we saw the Chateau dating from 
800 and something, the one time home of the Plantagenets, the Church 
of St. Ours, very, very old, and what not. But I'll not attempt to tell 
you all we saw. Is not the world full of Baedekers? At least, all except 
France; here you can't get one for love or money. 1 But you have one and 
if you read it and just think that I saw everything it tells about you will 
know what I saw. It was a most glorious day and the view from the 
tower of Agn6s Sorel (under which is her tomb) was glorious. From 
Loches I went north through the Forest of Loches (full of deer and 
wild boar) and through Blere, and thence to Chenonceaux. The Chdteau 
is built on the bridge spanning the river Cher. Here I met Madame 
Menier, the wife of the celebrated chocolate man, whose husband owns 
the chateau. He is now a corporal in the French army one of the richest 
men in France! She is said to be the most beautiful woman in France 
and she really looks it." 

He found the old-fashioned duets of Count and Countess de 
S6gur much to his taste, and he mentions having gone several times 
to hear them in repertoire. They made him feel at home. 

There were other scenes not so pleasant in the course of the grim 
business of protecting players of old-fashioned duets from the sound 
of German boots on the pavements of Versailles, 
i Since it was a German book Baedeker had been barred in France during the war. 


"On that day I went with the American Ambassador, Mr. Sharp, and 
Dr. Morton Prince, who is here as the representative in France for the 
State of Massachusetts in connection with the troops of that state, to 
Aumont to visit an Allied hospital there, part of which is set apart for 
American soldiers. The hospital is conducted and its expenses paid by 
the Baronne de Rothschild. One of her assistants is an American lady, 
Miss de Wolfe. The hospital is devoted entirely to the treatment of cases 
of burns, either from gas or from explosions of gasoline or of powder. 

"They employ a special treatment which they call the 'Ambrine Treat- 
ment/ Until recently this treatment seems to have had a black eye in the 
medical services here because the essential part of it is a proprietary one. 
But it seems that the Baron de Rothschild bought the rights to its use 
and then made it free. I watched the process of dressing wounds in a 
number of cases, resulting from frightful burns, some of which, ap- 
parently, removed the skin from the whole surface of the body. The 
treatment consists in spraying the burned surfaces with a liquid which 
I understand to be composed of certain proportions of paraffine and 
rubber. The rubber gives a tensity and flexibility which prevents the 
paraffine from breaking. Apparently after this is applied, all suffering 
ceases and the dressings can be removed and renewed without causing 
the slightest pain." x 

He might not have his family in France. As Chief of Staff he had 
stood fast for the rule against any officer's wife receiving a passport, 
which included wives who tried to slip past the guard through serv- 
ice in the Red Cross or Y. M. C. A. 

"I want you and Eleanor," he wrote to Mrs. Bliss, "each to look 
after the other's health, and each of you to do what the other thinks 
is bestl Each of you is a better judge of what is good for the other 
than the other is. From all I hear you are doing finely and that is 
splendid. Make Eleanor drop her work the moment she leaves her 
office and not take it up until she goes back the next day. Shell do 
better work in the long run." 

Eleanor was in the Geological Survey. When she received a pro- 
motion the members of Bliss' staff were immediately informed o 
the source of his elation. "I have just been talking to Bishop Brent, 
and I told him." 

He had to live economically at Versailles as in the past. Appar- 
ently another reason why he did not accept many invitations was his 

i To Mrs. Bliss, August i, 1918. 


inability to entertain on an extensive scale ,in return. Solicitude 
about the provision for home needs appears in all his letters from 
Madrid to Versailles. When it was bruited that the next meeting of 
the statesmen might take place in London, he wrote to Mrs. Bliss 
that he would like to have it there "for a personal reason, because, 
if I am to be here the coming winter, I must get a new overcoat and 
I can get a better and cheaper one there than here/* 


THERE was a far more significant historical interest related to the 
world's future than appears on the surface in the fact that the states- 
men put off and continued to put off the next monthly meeting at 
Versailles which was due early in August. No shadow of a German 
offensive served to bring them together. The most dour of alarmists 
could no longer say that Paris, the English Channel or Venice was 
in present danger. 

The statesmen found it convenient to revert to the old system of 
the interchange of messages instead of personal contact in group 
counsel. Good news drew them apart in differences they could not 
easily settle. Better news made the differences more pronounced, and 
might postpone or endanger victory. 

Although Bliss had the relief of half holidays away from Versailles 
in midsummer heat, he did not want for work. There was always 
enough of that provided on the industrial side of the war by the 
Inter-Allied Aviation Committee, the Inter-Allied Tank Commit- 
tee and the Inter- Allied Transportation Council, which were allied 
to the functions of the Military Representatives and the Supreme 
War Council. 

The Military Representatives had brought about an agreement 
for the unification of the various models of tanks and worked out a 
future plan for unified aviation and bombing forces. Now that the 
American Liberty motors were coming into production there was 
not enough to meet the sudden demand of the Allies for their 
shares; the great tank plant at Chiteauroux had been a source of 
vexation in its slow progress; and the tanks must have Liberty 
motors, too. All these were technical and economic problems which 
Bliss had to master as well as those which were more strictly mili- 
tary. Shipping and transport were again to the fore. Every additional 
soldier brought to France meant more shipping from our own to 
French ports and more transports across France. Our men were 
arriving at the rate of ten thousand a day as we kept faith with the 



call by Foch, backed by the prime ministers, in the June meeting 
at the time of the Chateau-Thierry crisis, for a hundred divisions in 
France by July, 1919. 

At the July meeting, a month later, the statesmen had wrestled 
with the shipping problem, but without finding a solution. The 
nimbled-minded Lloyd George had become testy with the nimble- 
minded Andre Tardieu as interfering with a subject which was 
Britain's own prerogative. 1 Britain and not France supplied the ex- 
tra shipping America required for the gigantic loo-division pro- 
gram. The French were very interested in its fulfilment by British 
shipping, the British thoughtful since they had to supply the 

We had made no promise to comply in full with the ioo-division 
program, which meant four million men and probably more in 
France, including all the services of supply. On July 23 the War 
Department informed Bliss by cable that the limit of our 
capacity would be eighty divisions, and we would not have enough 
ships of our own for them until the spring of 1919. Even the 80- 
division program waited on the extension of the draft age and the 
appropriation of more billions by Congress. When Bliss told this 
to his colleagues their disappointment included the polite implica- 
tion that we were not keeping our bargain. 

Although the offensive had passed from the enemy to the Allies, 
all the talk Bliss heard and all the inferences he drew from their 
present mood showed that they were relying upon a great American 
army to get in action in 1919 and then to finish the war in 1920. 
He might have quick irritations over small matters, but in large 
matters his heat was slow to rise, and the very deliberation with 
which it rose under cumulative pressure made it the more convinc- 
ing and determined. This appears in his letter of August 9 to Baker, 
with its suggestion that the time had passed for the United States to 
be a complaisant partner in giving of its man-power and funds, and 
the time had come to take the leadership which this investment 
warranted. In short, a crisis between the United States and its 
Allies was approaching: 

"I believe that the United States should aim at a successful termination 
of the war in 1919, aixl should make that the paramount question and 

% American Minutes. 


in all of its dealings with its Allies should keep that question to the front. 
You may think that this is purely an academic question; that our Allies 
will say that they are as much interested in ending the war in 1919 as 
we can be. That of course is what they would say; but in practice they 
may not be ready to do the things and to make the sacrifices which will 
be necessary to end the war in that time. They all agree that it can be 
ended only by American troops, supplies, and money. But I can see it in 
every discussion at which I am present, and in nearly every paper that is 
submitted to me, that when the end comes they want certain favorable 
military situations to have been created in different parts of the world 
that will warrant demands to be made of the United States which they 
think will be, perhaps, the principal arbiter of peace terms. If these suf- 
ficiently favorable military situations are not created on certain secondary 
theatres by the beginning of autumn of next year our Allies may be 
willing to continue through 1920, at the cost of United States troops and 
money, a war which may possibly if not probably be ended with complete 
success, as far as we are concerned, by operations on the western front in 

"If the mass of the people in Europe knew that the United States was 
demanding that the Allies should make every effort to end the war in 
1919, our government would be supported by the common people of 
every nation, and I believe that they would endure any possible sacrifice 
to carry it through. Now they do not see even a suggested time for the 
end. The time has come to plan a campaign with reasonable hope that it 
will be the last one and not merely one that will lead to another. What 
warrant will our government have in proposing that its Allies should 
agree to such a policy? 

"If the proposed 8o-division program can be carried through, the 
United States will have in France before the middle of next year more 
than the rifle strength of all our Allies on the western front combined. 

"Our losses are beginning now. Next year, instead of hearing of the 
losses of many hundreds of thousand of our Allies on the western front, 
it will be hundreds of thousands of Americans and a constantly reducing 
proportion of our Allies. They have lost frightfully in the past, but that 
does not require the war to be prolonged until our losses equal theirs. 
It is safe to say that already our American troops have saved the situation 
here. No Englishman or Frenchman with whom I talk but admits that 
were not the Americans already here in considerable force the war would 
be now over, and settled adversely to the Allies. We have already saved 
France and Europe, We have a right to demand that the hundreds of 
thousands of young Americans, the present hope of their country and 
the future hope of the world, who are now ready to give their lives for 
the common cause, shall not be sacrificed unless it be an absolute necessity. 
It is not worth while to save the blood and treasure that must be spent 
in 1920 if we can, by any possibility, end the war in 1919. 


in all of its dealings with its Allies should keep that question to the front. 
You may think that this is purely an academic question; that our Allies 
will say that they are as much interested in ending the war in 1919 as 
we can be. That of course is what they would say; but in practice they 
may not be ready to do the things and to make the sacrifices which will 
be necessary to end the war in that time. They all agree that it can be 
ended only by American troops, supplies, and money. But I can see it in 
every discussion at which I am present, and in nearly every paper that is 
submitted to me, that when the end comes they want certain favorable 
military situations to have been created in different parts of the world 
that will warrant demands to be made of the United States which they 
think will be, perhaps, the principal arbiter of peace terms. If these suf- 
ficiently favorable military situations are not created on certain secondary 
theatres by the beginning of autumn of next year our Allies may be 
willing to continue through 1920, at the cost of United States troops and 
money, a war which may possibly if not probably be ended with complete 
success, as far as we are concerned, by operations on the western front in 

"If the mass of the people in Europe knew that the United States was 

demanding that the Allies should make every effort to end the war in 
1919, our government would be supported by the common people of 
every nation, and I believe that they would endure any possible sacrifice 
to carry it through. Now they do not see even a suggested time for the 
end. The time has come to plan a campaign with reasonable hope that it 
will be the last one and not merely one that will lead to another. What 
warrant will our government have in proposing that its Allies should 
agree to such a policy? 

"If the proposed 8o-division program can be carried through, the 
United States will have in France before the middle of next year more 
than the rifle strength of all our Allies on the western front combined. 

"Our losses are beginning now. Next year, instead of hearing of the 
losses of many hundreds of thousand of our Allies on the western front, 
it will be hundreds of thousands of Americans and a constantly reducing 
proportion of our Allies. They have lost frightfully in the past, but that 
does not require the war to be prolonged until our losses equal theirs. 
It is safe to say that already our American troops have saved the situation 
here. No Englishman or Frenchman with whom I talk but admits that 
were not the Americans already here in considerable force the war would 
be now over, and settled adversely to the Allies. We have already saved 
France and Europe. We have a right to demand that the hundreds of 
thousands of young Americans, the present hope of their country and 
the future hope of the world, who are now .ready to give their lives for 
the common cause, shall not be sacrificed unless it be an absolute necessity. 
It is not worth while to save the blood and treasure that must be spent 
in 1950 if we can, by any possibility, end the war in 1919. 


''No one, in my opinion, but the United States can bring this question 
to a head. . . . 

"And so, in a nut-shell, it is this: Do we want to end the war in 1919 
or not? If we do, the first step is to get a declaration from the responsible 
military men as to what effort the United States must make in order to 
so end the war, and then demand of the Allied world that every other 
secondary interest, trade, food, clothing, etc. be sacrificed to the last 
limit in order that this effort can be made." 

On the day, August 9, that Bliss wrote this letter, he had not yet 
received the news showing the complete success of Rawlinson's 
attack with the British, Canadian and Australian troops southeast 
of Amiens. A German division staff was captured; a whippet tank 
surprised a German regimental mess breakfasting. The Germans 
had not shown their accustomed tenacity in resistance. The Amiens- 
Paris railroad was freed for traffic. 

And while Bliss was writing his letter on the second day of this 
advance, a regiment of the American Thirty-third Division, in 
training with the British, captured three villages and cleared the 
whole of the Chippily bend; American troops reached the Vesle, 
continuing the advance from Chiteau-Thierry; and Pershing was 
forming his army for the St. Mihiel attackall illustrating how 
widespread was the location of American divisions along the front. 

Afterward Ludendorff referred to August 8 as the black day of 
the German Army in the war, 1 but to the Allies it represented the 
clearing of salients and cheering news which gave them heart for 
the mighty task of forcing the German hosts out of France and then 
to capitulation, which was still seen as an enormous and prolonged 

On August 14, while the Allies continued to organize their new 
lines, Bliss covered his letter of August 9 in a cable, pressing the 
points in the letter: 

"If sufficiently favorable military situations are not created in certain 
secondary theatres by beginning of autumn next year the governments of 
our Allies may be willing to continue through 1920 ... I had a long 
interview with Marshal Foch on this subject today. He left me with the 
distinct understanding he would definitely inform our President of the 
definite efforts which we must make by next summer to give good hope 

i Ludendorff s Own Story. Ludendorff, II, 336. 


of ending the war by next winter. ... If Marshal Foch should not sub- 
mit a definite proposition my present opinion is that it would be wise 
for our government to force this issue at the next meeting of the Supreme 
War Council." 1 

No sign came from the statesmen as to when the next meeting, 
now two weeks late, would take place. In this dispatch Bliss asked 
that the War Department cable him the requirements in shipping 
and Allied aid for the 8o-division program. 

Baker wrote to the President, August 17, that Bliss' cable "not 
only disturbs me but surprises me very much, because it seems to 
imply that General Bliss has not received the cablegram which I 
sent him August 5 containing full and detailed statements with re- 
gard to the subjects about which he inquires." 

The reason for the interception of the cablegram remained a mys- 

Baker told the President that he considered the suggestion by 
Bliss "essentially wise. There must be a showdown on the subject." 
Bliss was bidden to take up the whole matter with the military 
advisers; and then it was decided that Baker himself should go to 
Europe to effect further coordination and to appeal for sufficient 
shipping to assure an American army strong enough to end the war 
in 1919. 

Meanwhile favorable news, as ever, turned the Allied thought 
toward peace terms, each Ally seeking a favorable position to for- 
ward its own interests. Bliss' colleagues, reflecting the influence of 
their governments, were pressing political issues upon his attention. 
A British memorandum suggested that a group of diplomatic repre- 
sentatives should sit together to work out agreements on political 
questions the same as the soldiers counseled on military questions. 
It asked: 

"What is the policy of the Allies with regard to Poland? Is it their 
object to reconstitute the old historic kingdom of Poland as it existed 
before the first partition? Have the Allies got any policy at all?" 

And about Alsace-Lorraine? The Adriatic? Turkey? Russia? But 
Bliss was not at Versailles to be an arbiter of peace terms before the 
war was won. On August 22 he wrote to Baker: 

i Cablegram, Bliss to Baker, Number 180. 


"It cannot be denied that in certain of the campaigns in which our 
Allies are deeply interested, world-politics play an important part. I have 
already told you that it has been more or less openly said by prominent 
political and military men that they look to the United States to settle the 
Balkan question and my colleagues were inclined to shrug their shoulders 
when I showed them my number 66 of July ist, from Washington which 
was to the general effect that the United States has no interest in the 
Macedonian question. 

"Of course, when the peace-terms come to be discussed I suppose that 
questions relating to the Balkans will have to be considered by us, as 
well as other questions; but what people here are now interested in is 
getting the United States involved in these political questions for the 
purpose of enabling them better to shape their military campaigns. For 
their purpose, they want certain questions settled before peace comes, 
instead of after. . . . 

"And that confirms me in the opinion which I have several times ex- 
pressed to you that what concerns some of the Allies is not so much a 
political agreement as being a necessary basis for sound military strategy, 
as it is a pure and simple political agreement which they think can be 
arrived at only under enemy pressure and before the final victory. 

"In other words, their apprehension increases the closer that victory 
comes without an antecedent political agreement having been reached as 
to what they will do after the war. Personally, I cannot see what military 
bearing a political agreement as to the future of Poland will have on the 
successful progress of a campaign to which the Allies are now devoting 
every possible effort. I cannot see the bearing a political agreement as to 
the future of Russia will have on the progress of the war except a possible 
unfortunate result from some such political agreement that would oblige 
the Allies to divert an increasing part of their strength from the western 
front. A political agreement as to the settlement of all European political 
questions after the war might have a bearing on the military conduct of 
the war; but an unsuccessful attempt at such an agreement might have an 
unfortunate effect; for example, it might be that, at the end, the Allies 
may be unwilling to grant to Italy all that was promised in the secret 
treaty of April 26, 1915, and if that fact should develop in an attempt to 
now reach a political agreement, it might seriously affect the attitude of 
Italy toward the war. 

"As I have said to you before, I shall take no part in these political 
matters, knowing that my sole function is to give what help I can in the 
immediate problem of beating the Germans, Of course I cannot abdicate 
the functions of my mind; these questions are intensely interesting to 
anyone who is in the least concerned about the future of the world; but 
whilst I think about them and listen to discussions about them, I shall 
speak of them only in this personal way to you." 


From August 8 to August 15 the British had taken 22,000 and the 
French 8,000 prisoners on their advances. By August 20 Mangin had 
taken 8,000 prisoners and 200 guns in his offensive toward the Ailette. 1 
The next day it had been Haig's turn in a stubborn movement to flank 
Roye. Bliss did not know, Lloyd George could not have known that 
on August 13-14 Ludendorff in conferences at Spa had urged the 
Kaiser and his Chancellor to obtain peace on the best terms possible, 
but they had refused. If Lloyd George, who had made many ven- 
turesome suggestions, had known he would not have protested in 
alarm against Haig's rashness in continuing his offensive. The Ger- 
man army had fallen back before this to tactical positions only to 
recoil in powerful and successful counterblows on an over-extended 
and too ambitious antagonist. 

Clemenceau could not have known, for Foch did not know, the 
apprehension in the German High Command. By August 26 Haig 
had taken 26,000 more prisoners in his new offensive, and it was on 
this day that Bliss had an interview with Foch who had been made 
a Marshal for his successes which, as time passes, will have a more 
curious place in history, although Foch overlooks it in his memoirs. 
This letter to Baker was written August 27: 

"I do not want to dictate the following, and therefore I shall have to 
ask you to put up with a few lines of my handwriting. 

"I told you in my letter of yesterday, by the Washington courier, that 
Marshal Foch had asked the Military Representatives to come to his 
headquarters that afternoon. The Supreme War Council had directed 
that, in consultation with the Marshal, we study and report on what 
seemed the desirable military policy to be followed on the entire western 
front in the autumn of this year and the spring and summer of next. The 
assumption is that the Allies would then determine whether they could 
and would do what might be recommended. Accordingly, each Military 
Representative (except the Italian), after full study by his Section, had 
submitted in writing, some ten days ago, his views to Marshal Foch. 

"When we arrived the Marshal had these papers on his desk. He said 
that they were in substantial agreement with each other and \NJth his 
own views, on essential points. The main point was that every effort must 
be made by the Allies to thoroughly and crushingly beat the Germans 
on the western -front in France next year. This for various reasons, some 
of which I have already indicated to you. 

i History of the Great War. Buchan. II, 325-328. 


"Marshal Foch then made a statement that was somewhat disquieting 
to me. In the main it was 

"a) That British and French divisions must be maintained at, at least, 
their present strength through next year, at all costs; 

"b) That 100 American divisions must be in France by July i, 1919; 

"c) That tonnage must be provided at any sacrifice to enable the U. S. 
to do this. 

"He constantly reiterated that it was man-power that he wanted; that 
he wanted as much artillery, tanks and aviation as he could get, but that 
it was 'man-power* and again 'man-power* that he wanted. 

"In answer to my question he told me that he should make this decla- 
ration at the next session of the Supreme War Council. If he does this, 
the Allies will have the issue clean-cut for their decision. Can they do it? 
Will they do it? 

"Marshal Foch holds these views in full light of the success he is now 
meeting in his present offensive against the Germans. 

"I write this very hastily. You may get it before the Supreme War 
Council meets and will know what is in the air. General Pershing told 
me on Sunday that he was sure that the Marshal would make these de- 
mands. As he and the Marshal worked out the loo-division program 
together they may still be in accord as to its necessity. This I do not now 

By August 29 the British had spread their advance north of Arras, 
and even the Belgians had moved out of their trenches for a gain. 

But the continuance of the Allied offensive on the western front 
did not relegate Russia to the background. There had been a warm 
controversy between the French and British as to which should have 
the command of the land advance beyond Archangel, the French 
insisting upon a French general as an offset to a British admiral, and 
the British replying that there was a French commander at Salonika. 
Again Bliss acted as arbiter: the British retained the command. The 
Military Representatives had decided that General Poole should not 
advance beyond Archangel unless he was certain of support. Later 
Bliss reported: 

"He had been told in his instructions not to go forward unless the 
Russians rose with him and he got in contact with the Czechs. The Rus- 
sians had not volunteered and he had not got in contact with the 
Czechs." i 

i Letter to March, September 3, 1918. 


Trotsky, who had at first appeared at least disinterested, now 
turned hostile. Poole wanted to keep on with the offensive, and the 
British, in response, asked for more reinforcements. 

"Having our foot in the door, the Allies will think that the whole body 
will follow. Nobody knows what the Czechs will do if they once unite. 
... In any event I do not see how we can do anything more in Russia 
even if we wanted to. ... If our Allies have any axes to grind, let them 
go and do it. I think that the war has got to be ended on the western 
front, and I fully agree with you and Pershing." x 

Bliss saw signs again that we might be asked to send troops for the 
coming Macedonia offensive. He said that, in this case as in the others, 
we would be asked to put up the ante in the expectation that we 
would make the ante good. 

The American Ambassador to Russia, David R. Francis, with 
other members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Petrograd, 
who were in exile at Archangel, united in an appeal "To the 
Russian people." After reading it Bliss wrote: 

"In reference to this address it is to be hoped that the Russian people 
will not analyze it very carefully, because there are some things in it 
which are scarcely consistent. In it the Diplomatic Corps say 'We hold 
to the belief that all civilized people have the right themselves to de- 
termine their own form of government.' Immediately after they say 'We 
will never recommend to our Governments the recognition of any Russian 
Government which has not a national character, which disregards Russia's 
solemn bonds of alliance and which observes the Brest-Litovsk Peace 
Treaty.' Suppose a Russian Government is formed which has a national 
character, but which also disregards the obligations of the Alliance and 
which observes the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty; if we do not recognize 
it, what becomes of our declaration as to the right of civilized peoples to 
determine their own form of Government? I doubt if it would be possible 
to form in Russia any government whatever, with the consent of its peo- 
ple, which would recognize the obligations of the alliance entered into 
by the Czar. The declaration of the Diplomatic Corps in their manifesto 
to the Russian people is almost equivalent to a statement that we will 
recognize no government except that of the Czar." 2 

Ambassador Francis said General Poole had word that he was 
to receive 10,000 American reinforcements and it was vital they 
should be sent at once. Bliss wrote to March: 

1 Letter to March, September 3, 1918. 

2 Letter to March, September 14, 1918. 


"It begins to look to me as though the explanation is that the diplo- 
matic mission at Archangel is afraid of being captured by a German- 
Bolshevik advance, because if they do not get out of Archangel before the 
port freezes up in November they cannot get out before next summer." 

Bliss informed the Military Representatives definitely that the 
United States could commit itself to no further effort in Russia and 
Siberia without further endangering the 8o-division program for 
the western front. 1 

The incident of northern Russia was closed on September 27 
when Bliss received this cablegram: 

"The President is today informing all Allied nations that he will send 
no more troops to northern ports in Russia." 2 

General Poole's force and the diplomats who remained at Arch- 
angel were frozen in for the winter, while the Siberian expedition 
in its adventurous career, which General Graves has so interestingly 
described in his book, was to go as far as Irkutsk. 

On September 12 Pershing in the first offensive under American 
command, with the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty- 
sixth, Thirty-fifth, Forty-second, Eightieth and Ninetieth American 
Divisions, closed the St. Mihiel salient, taking 16,000 prisoners and 
470 guns. He began mobilizing for the Meuse-Argonne. Harbord, 
whom he had taken from the command of the Second Division to 
meet the crisis in the Service of Supply, which was dangerously 
short of material, was able to speed it up to meet the unexpectedly 
heavy demands when so large an offensive had not been anticipated 
until 1919. 

Foch still pressed for the hundred American divisions. The Allies 
had cut out salients, they were making steady headway, but Luden- 
dorff, as we know, had recovered confidence in his legions who were 
making a stubborn and skilful retreat. Foch, who had reason to re- 
spect German tactics, which he had studied and practiced, was fully 
aware the Germans might be biding their time for a counter blow. 
Beyond this possibility, which became slighter every day, as they 
yielded prisoners, material and strategic positions, was the danger 

1 Minutes of the 46th meeting of the Military Representatives, September 14, 1918. 

2 Cablegram Number 129, March to Bliss, September 28, 1918. 


that they might be able to reform on the shorter Antwerp-Meuse- 
Strassbourg line for prolonged defense. 

On September 26 Pershing began the wicked business of striking 
up hill toward the German line of retreat, which Ludendorff must 
hold to prevent a grave disaster. Pershing, himself, still called for 
the hundred divisions. 1 His would be the heavy task in 1919 and he 
had reason to consider, in face of the prestige of the German army, 
that he was only at the outset of the Wilderness on the way to 

The British, with the American Twenty-sixth and Thirtieth 
Divisions assisting, September 2629, conquered the Hindenburg 
line. Rheims was free, Pershing had Montfaucon, the British, re- 
peating offensive blow on blow with the same stubbornness that they 
had stonewalled against German offensives, recovered Cambrai and 
St. Quentin. The blaze of their fire swept steadily on toward the 
French frontier. The offensives in Macedonia and Turkey brought 
further welcome news of successes. 

On September 29 the German Supreme Command asked the 
German government to request an immediate armistice and the 
acceptance of Wilson's Fourteen Points. 2 Five days later, October 3: 

"The Supreme Command insists on the demand of Sunday, 
September, that a peace offer to our enemies be issued at once. The Ger- 
man army still stands firm, and successfully wards off all attacks. But the 
situation daily becomes more critical and may force the Supreme Com- 
mand to make momentous decisions. . . . Every day wasted costs thou- 
sands of brave men's lives." 8 

Foch did not know of the secret councils of the German Supreme 
Command, but he did know that Prince Max von Baden, a liberal, 
had become Chancellor as evidence of a political crisis in Germany. 
When Foch met Baker on October 3, he told him that he did not 
require a hundred American divisions. The 2,000,000 Americans 
who would be in France before the end of the month would be 
enough. 4 

When the German arch of the Quadruple Alliance on the western 

i Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. II, 346. 

* Amtliche Urkunden, Number 13. 
8 Amtliche Urkunden, Number 33. 

* Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. II, 348. 


front began cracking, this gave heart to all the Allies large and small 
and took the heart out of Germany's allies. The sweep of the Mace- 
donian offensive concluded in the capitulation of Bulgaria, Septem- 
ber 29. Without waiting on American reinforcements the Italians 
began their advance against the breaking Austrians and joined the 
race for victory, while the remnants of the Turkish army fell back 
before Allenby's intrepid campaign. The end of the war had come 
as swiftly as its beginning. Germany had sought the showdown in 
1918 and it had come. 

As the curtain fell Pershing's grim hammering, with divisions 
only a few weeks overseas fighting beside his veteran divisions the 
First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-eighth, 
Thirty-second, Thirty-third, Thirty-fifth, Thirty-seventh, Forty- 
second, Seventy-seventh, Seventy-eighth, Seventy-ninth, Eightieth, 
Eighty-second, Eighty-ninth, Ninetieth, Ninety-first and Ninety- 
second-~had reached the edge of Sedan, stormed the heights on the 
way to his objective, and he had another army forming for the thrust 
toward Metz. 

For weeks political considerations had been predominant among 
Bliss* colleagues. The prime ministers did not appear for another 
meeting of the Supreme War Council at Versailles. They met in 
Paris October 7, with their foreign ministers, without an American 

Baker started for home free from further worry about how to 
get shipping for eighty divisions to win the war in 1919. That un- 
assuming gifted executive had given a marvelous example of states- 
manship in the teamplay he had developed in the military leader- 
ship of Pershing, Bliss and March; in the teamplay in all our 
chargers, military, industrial and political, pulling their weight on 
the main road to the goal on the western front. And Bliss, that 
veteran public servant, had been as completely objective and imper- 
sonal as Baker. There was a characteristic touch in these lines in a 
letter he wrote to March, September 18: 

"From there I went up to General Pershing's Field Headquarters and 
found him, naturally enough, up to his ears in work. He kindly insisted 
on my staying to lunch with him, but I told him I had too much sense to 
waste the time of a man when he was fighting a battle." 


It did not occur to him that in a sense, aside from what he had 
done to get them in France in time, Pershing's soldiers were his 
own in that he had fathered them in the formative days when he 
was Chief of Staff. 


Bliss' rejoicing was tempered in the hour of military triumph. The 
completion of one task in sight, his mind turned to a future task in 
which, as a soldier, he anticipated that he could have little part. 
Failure by the nations to achieve unity in peace meant that his 
labors in war had been a failure. 

"It is true that we, that this generation, can feel only a subdued happi- 
ness, even now. Not until our children's time can the former joy of life 
come into the world. And it can come then only if our culminating work 
makes it impossible for them ever to see another such a war." i 

It seems in order to make the above quotation from a talk he 
made three weeks after the armistice, lest his early attitude about 
terms for the Germans should be misunderstood. He was ill in bed 
with "the grippe or a very bad cold" anyhow, he found it "bone- 
wracking" when Clemenceau sent word to him asking his view as 
to armistice terms. He replied that he was for unconditional sur- 
render, pending other instructions from Washington. 2 

At the secret meeting, October 7, in Paris, Lloyd George, Clemen- 
ceau and Orlando, with their foreign ministers, had drawn up terms 
which required the evacuation of all Allied territory held by the 
enemy and the end of submarine warfare; and on October 8 the 
Military Representatives acting as a committee, and not in their 
official capacity in relation to the Supreme War Council, had elabo- 
rated the terms in military detail in counsel with naval experts. 
Bliss* doctor would not permit him to attend this meeting. So he 
was represented by members of his staff as listeners. 

In the afternoon the French Military Representative brought to 
Bliss a copy of the "joint opinion" of the other Representatives and 
said the prime ministers wanted him to sign it by three o'clock. He 

1 Remarks at a dinner given by the American Section of the Supreme War Council 
to its colleagues, December z, 1918. 

2 Colonel William B. Wallace to the author. 


refused to sign it without instructions from his government and sent 
a copy of the joint opinion by cable to Washington with his state- 
ment that his government had been in no wise committed to it. If 
he had signed it, of course, this would have been a card in the hands 
of the statesmen who were already shying away from President 
Wilson's Fourteen Points. On the next day, October 9, Bliss wrote 
a long and a great letter to Baker, who was on the way home. In this he 
referred to this incident more at length and then rose to prophetic 



"I had taken note of the fact announced in the daily journals that a 
proposal had been made direct from Germany to the government of the 
United States. I did not know to what extent, if any, that government 
was conferring on the subject with its European associates in the war. 
I had to assume that, even if such had been the case, no definite common 
agreement had been arrived at; else, why should the three Prime Ministers 
take this matter up by themselves? It is evident that they were not acting 
as members of the Supreme War Council of which the President of the 
United States is the fourth member. 

"The document which they presented to me, as well as to the other 
military representatives, was prepared at a 'Conference of Ministers at a 
Meeting,' etc. It was not merely a conference of Prime Ministers but one 
in which other ministers of the respective governments took part. It was 
not acted on by the Military Representatives at Versailles in their capacity 
as Military Representatives on the Supreme War Council, but was acted 
upon by what was in reality a committee of those representatives together 
with certain naval representatives who have no connection whatever with 
the Supreme War Council. . . . 

"Of course it may be that Germany feels beaten to such a degree that 
she will accept such conditions as a precedent to an armistice, but I doubt 
it. Of course it is not an armistice in the ordinary sense of the word. It 
looks to me as though it were intended to say, 'We will not treat with 
you on the terms of President Wilson's fourteen propositions or on any 
other terms. Surrender, and we will then do as we please.' It looks to me 
as though it were intended to say to the United States that these are the 
conditions which the United States must inform Germany are the neces- 
sary precedent to considering any proposition for an armistice." 

At this time, October 9, the British had not yet taken Lille, 
Pershing had been temporarily stalled against the Romagne and 
Meuse heights, the Germans were making stubborn resistance on 
the western front and the Italian offensive was only in its first incon- 


elusive stage. Moreover, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando 
knew that America was committed, by her huge army in France, to 
see the war through and that the reports of heavy American casualties 
in the Meuse-Argonne and the war strain on our people had brought 
us into the indomitable and uncompromising stage of emotion known 
to experts in military psychology as "war hate/' Bliss continued: 

"I myself believe that the laying down of arms by Germany is a neces- 
sary precedent to any conversation with her. Whether it is wise to impose 
such other conditions as may make it impossible for her to lay down her 
arms, even though by her doing so she puts herself in such a position 
that we can demand from her all of our war aims, I leave it for others to 

And then, while all the world looked eagerly for each commu- 
niqu to see how far the Allied pins had advanced on the map since 
the previous one, he opened his heart to Baker on the future of the 
world and the proposed League of Nations. 

"Judging from the spirit which seems more and more to animate our 
European Allies, I am beginning to despair that the war will accomplish 
much more than the abolition of German militarism while leaving Euro- 
pean militarism as rampant as ever. I am one of those who believe that 
the absolute destruction of all militarism, under any of its evil forms, is 
the only corner stone of the foundation of any League. (I like better the 
French term Soci6t6 of nations.) I think that the present war will prove 
a doubly hideous crime if it does not result in something that will make 
another such war, or anything faintly approaching it, an impossibility 
for a hundred years to come. I look no further than that, because if the 
world, the civilized world, can be made to stop fighting for a hundred 
years there is some hope that it may stop fighting forever. 

"What is that 'something? There are some who say that it is the de- 
struction of Prussian militarism; others, that it is a League of Nations. 
There are few, so far as I can find here, who lay stress on the Fourth (I 
think it is the fourth, but I have not the document by me) of President 
Wilson's declaration of fourteen war aimsthe limitation of armaments 
to the necessities for the maintenance of internal order. Yet I think that 
that fourth declaration will be found to be the very essence, the health- 
giving principle, of any attempted remedy for the cure of this war-sick 
world and without which the remedy will prove nothing but well-meant 
quackery. It will be an attempt to cure an ulcer without purifying the 
poisoned blood. 

"In looking to the future peace of the world it is a mistake, I think, to 


lay so much stress on Prussian militarism. It may soothe our guilty souls 
by doing so, by saying that Trussia did it first/ That kind of plea was 
first made in the Garden of Eden, and it no more clears our skirts of sin 
today than it did then. Looking to the future, the curse of the world today 
is European militarism. Prussia, or rather a Prussianized Germany, has 
given us a present exhibition of what this curse can be; but it is a German 
ulcer on the European body growing out of the rotten European blood. 
And for practical purposes, for the purposes of the scientific physician, it 
makes no difference that it was Prussia that introduced into the European 
system the evil, blood-putrifying germ. It is there, in the blood of all 
Europe, and it must be gotten out. 

"And, that what I have said is in the back of the head of the average 
American at the plough-tail, at the counting office desk, at the throttle of 
a million engines, would, I believe, appear if you were to announce that 
our main war aim is to destroy German militarism. I believe they would 
say, We are in this war to destroy MILITARISM not merely militarism 
camouflaged as German or French or Russian, or under any other of its 
evil aspects. We want to guarantee ourselves against the necessity of hav- 
ing to take up that burden under which Europe, and not Germany alone, 
has been staggering. 

"What guarantee have we that if we crush one giant out of a dozen 
some one of the others may not acquire his powers, and with his powers 
his spirit, and use his giant's strength like a giant? If we take his revolver 
away from one man on Pennsylvania Avenue or Broadway because he 
has misused it and leave theirs in the hands of 99 other men, what 
guarantee have we that one of these, by himself or in combination with 
others, may not misuse his revolver? After having determined that none 
of them needs a revolver we will take it away from all of them; and un- 
willingness of any one to submit will be an evidence of his intent to mis- 
use it. 

"And when the time comes for cold-blooded international politicians 
to sit around a table to consider the future condition of the world it is 
possible that we will see some unexpected developments if their discus- 
sions are not to be conducted on the basic fact that all militarism in its 
present development is definitely a thing of the past. 

"There has been, as it seems to me, a curious revival of French ambi- 
tions. France has a growing desire for possessions in the East or Near East; 
and the ultimate disposition of German colonial territory is as much a 
subject of anxious thought with her as it is with England and Japan and 
even Italy. She looks to a reconstituted Russia under a government that 
will make her what she was before. This may be a dream; but dreams 
sometimes come true especially with sufficient time. And world- 
politicians look a long way ahead. But with Germany reduced to a military 
nullity and every other nation militarized or navalized or both, who is 
to stand between her and a reconstituted Russia? Who can she play off 


against England in disputes, backed by force of arms, about over-sea 
possessions? What reason have we in history for believing that if world 
conditions continue as they have been, except that Germany will have 
been reduced to military helplessness, the alliances and ententes which 
have grown out of fear of Germany's overweening strength will not dis- 
solve and that other alliances will not grow out of other fears and with 
like results? Countless questions will arise which never would arise if 
this war could end with the abolition of military power in a form that 
can be directed readily and quickly by one nation against another. 

"But, it is when we come to consider the practicability of a League of 
Nations, that is to say a League for Peace, that a radical change in existing 
world conditions, as respects world-militarism becomes especially evident. 
What can be more inconsistent, even absurd, than to imagine a League 
of Nations for the maintenance of peace composed of nations all armed 
to the teethagainst whom? against each other? That cannot give the 
slightest guarantee of peace. That will not relieve the world of its present 
intolerable burden. And what do we want such a League for unless it 
be to relieve us from this burden? 

"Suppose such a League had been formed five or six years ago. Germany 
and Austria would have been members of it. What would prevent them 
from saying, just as they did say to each other, 

" 'We want certain things that the League will not let us have. We, to- 
gether, are stronger than they; we have more and better trained soldiers, 
better weapons, and a greater accumulation of military stores than they. 
We can whip the League, we can whip the world; let us do it/ 

"Suppose as a result of this war, that Germany is reduced to military 
powerlessness for a generation to come while other world conditions re- 
main unchanged; what guarantee have you that some other nation, or 
combination of them, may not do what Germany and Austria have done? 
What agreement, what form of constitution or articles of federation can 
be made by the nations of a League that will prevent this? Have constitu- 
tions prevented rebellions? Have articles of confederation prevented 

"But, you will say, our war aims look to the prevention of larger 
military establishments than are necessary to maintain internal order. 
Rem acu tetigisti! I come back to what I said before, that the realization 
of the President's declaration as to the reduction of armaments is abso- 
lutely vital to any proposition for the destruction of militarism and the 
effective creation of a League of Nations. 

"It seems, off-hand, a declaration easy to realize; but it is not. We have 
to hammer the idea into the minds of the world while the common peo- 
ples are in a receptive mood for it, or the governments of the world will 
defeat it. It is now, while the prestige and influence of the United States is 
predominant, that we should do this. The peoples just now are sick of 
the whole thing. I do not mean, of course, that they want to stop, because 


they realize the necessity of going to the end. But they are sick o the 
conditions that cause this necessity. Now is the time to hold out hope 
for the future and to create a popular sentiment that will dominate the 
Congress that is to adjust affairs after the war." 

On October 20 Chancellor von Baden replied to President 
Wilson, saying Germany was ready to accept an armistice as 
arranged by the military chiefs of both sides, but trusting the 
President to approve of no arrangement "irreconcilable with the 
honor of the German people." Pulses beating higher with each 
cheering communique from the front, the statesmen of the Allies, 
with all manner of selfish interests besetting them, continued to 
ponder how best to exploit the victory which now seemed to be 
within their grasp, while Bliss was isolated from their political coun- 
sels and without instructions from his government as its lone represen- 
tative in the matter of armistice terms. But his ears were open and, 
as he had previously said, he had not abdicated the functions of his 
mind. He wrote to Baker, October 213, in order to have his letter 
taken by the weekly courier who was going that day: 

"I wish to God that the President himself could be here for a week. 1 I 
hear in all quarters a longing for this. The people who want to get a 
rational solution out of this awful mess look to him alone. I have already 
told you that I have heard it repeatedly said that he alone can settle in 
any permanent way the Balkan questions. I have even heard my British 
colleagues say that they believe the only solution will be an American 
protectorate there. In this dark storm of angry passion that has been let 
loose in all quarters I doubt if any one but he can let in the light of 
reason. It will be ex Occidente lux, and not ex Oriente lux. 

"I hope to get off a telegram today, as I promised in my cable to you 
last night. I have begun it and torn it up several times. It is a perplexing 
question to handle, at this stage, in writing. My views are, I think, pretty 
well understood here by inference although not by direct statements on 
my part. There are so few people with whom one can reason and state 
views without leading to an outbreak of passion. 

"I think that the English are by far the most reasonable and that it is 

i His later view of the changed conditions led to a change of mind. Ralph Hayes 
wrote to Baker, November 18: "The announcement of the President's visit has raised 
various emotions here. Keppel thinks that Jove should not come down from Olympus. 
Bliss believes that the problems of the green table will have been so much preadjudi- 
cated and predetermined, or will require so very much time for their solution, that 
the President's presence at some or all the actual conferences will not maximize his 
influence. The feeling is quite general. I believe that if he does come he ought not 
to stay too long." 


with them that our government can most probably come to an agreement 
as to what is right and just for the present and which will tend to the 
future peace of the world. The trouble is that the military element is 
on top, and if they are allowed to work their will they will do that which, 
if done by Germany, would shock the sense of justice of the world. And 
the worst of it is that what they would do would lead to a perpetuation 
of armaments and the standing threat of war. 

"When I send my telegram you will note that I do not believe that, 
in this peculiar case, the question of conditions of a so-called armistice 
should be left to the military men alone. The trouble is that it is not an 
armistice. It is an absolute surrender that we must have. But in order to 
get that surrender the conditions which are to follow it should be de- 
termined in advance and made known. 

"All of the military propositions for an armistice that I have seen 
plainly embody or point to the political conditions which will exist after 
the so-called armistice is agreed to. These political conditions, imposed 
in the armistice, will be doubtless demanded by the political people in 
the discussion of final terms. At the same time, these political conditions 
imposed by military men alone may be such as to keep the world in tur- 
moil for many years to come. 

"If the President's idea of rational disarmament can only be realized 
it will simplify the whole problem. If all the nations will disarm to the 
extent that they properly can, there will be no necessity of taking away 
this or that, or the other part, of the defeated nation merely for the 
purpose of rendering it militarily weak. An international sense of justice 
can readily agree on taking away of such territory as does not justly be- 
long to that nation whether it is armed or disarmed. 

"But no two men think alike, apparently, about these things. Every- 
thing is drifting. The military party is demanding more and more with 
every day's success. There is nobody to impose any check. There is no 
free speech here and no free press in our sense of the word. I think that 
the time is ripe for our government to immediately take the lead; to 
recognize that there are certain things that it is right and just and con- 
ducive to future peace to demand now; to recognize that there are other 
questions which can only be settled by the prolonged and earnest consider- 
ation and discussion of honest, reasonable, intelligent and just persons. 

"If in this bewildering darkness a way can be pointed out and accepted 
by all, which will put a stop to the fighting under such conditions that it 
cannot be resumed I believe that Germany, still with a formidable army 
at her disposal, will agree to rational disarmament. Then there will be 
hope that all will disarm. But if certain elements of the military party 
have their way I fear that the rest of Europe will have to remain armed 
for an indefinite time in order to keep Germany in the position in which 
it is desired to put her and in order to defend their own spoils against 
each other. 


"In my opinion the time has come for the United States to act swiftly 
and determinedly. I think that it should formulate its own views of what 
is right, right not only now but also for all time to come, and boldly put 
these up to its associates as a basis for their own agreement. In these, I 
think, should be included the doctrine of rational disarmament. I doubt 
if the governments are ripe for this but I believe that the common people 
are. And I think that the governments, knowing this, will listen to reason." 

The talk of peace might not be allowed to delay the preparations 
of the Military Representatives to continue the war indefinitely. 
They were still laboring over the terms of an agreement for pooling 
the horses of the three Allied armies in France; and also working 
out the details of an Inter-Allied aerial bombing force, to which 
Bliss refers in a tone in keeping with the remainder of his letter, for 
which it is a fitting cliiriax. He enclosed a document from his French 
colleague on the subject. 

"Please note paragraph I, which states that the object of this aerial 
force is to carry the war into Germany by attacking its industry, its com- 
merce and its population. You will note that there is not a word to indi- 
cate that this proposed use of the aerial force is by way of reprisal. When, 
in some future year, the document is withdrawn from the archives of 
some state department, it will look as though the governments which 
drew it up regarded bombing attacks upon populations, as such, to be a 
perfectly legitimate object of warfare. Even the Germans have maintained 
that their bombing raids on London, Paris and other centers of popula- 
tion have been made only because those places were the centers of all 
kinds of war industries, or that they were places where large numbers of 
troops were concentrated, and they claim that those industries or troops 
are the objects of their raids and that injury to populations is incidental. 
But the document herewith makes the population per se to be the object 
of attack." 

House was on his way to France as the Special Representative of 
the United States in Europe and the President's personal representa- 
tive on the Supreme War Council and "in all conferences." Bliss 
met him the morning of October 25 at Brest, and gave him a copy of 
his cable to Washington stating his own views of the armistice terms. 

"At the same time I informed him that the representatives of the 
Allies were then assembled in Paris to arrange the terms of the 
armistice/' Bliss said in his final official report. In a letter to Baker 
he referred to this as "a town meeting to discuss matters on which 


the peace of the world for a long time to come will depend." 
At the end of his first day in Paris, House noted in his diary that 
he did not know how he had ever got through it. 1 He had gone into 
immediate secret conference with Lloyd George, Clemenceau and 
Orlando as a steering committee on policy. Bliss wrote: 

"I had a conference on the morning of October 27 with Mr. House at 
his residence at which he discussed with me the views of the Commanders- 
in-Chief of the national armies and of the Inter-Allied Commander-in- 
Chief in regard to the armistice. I then learned that none of them de- 
manded what I believed to be necessary, a complete disarmament of the 
land and naval forces of Germany, leaving her, however, enough of her 
home guard troops to preserve order. ... If we could obtain disarma- 
ment and demobilization, we would be in a position to take any measures 
that common justice suggested and to obtain every one of our war aims." 2 

On October 28 Foch summoned Haig, Ptain and Pershing in 
council, which he began by saying "the terms should be such as to 
render Germany powerless to recommence operations in case hos- 
tilities are resumed/' The British and American armies had borne 
more than the main brunt of the -fighting since the Allied offensives 
had begun. Haig's losses had been heavy, his reserves were being 
exhausted in his repeated attacks. With winter approaching, he 
favored terms which the Germans would accept, but he would insist 
that the German army, after surrendering a quantity of material, 
fall back to the Rhine. Pershing says that Plain's views as well as 
his own were more "stringent." 3 

On the same day House asked Bliss to frame terms, which he did 
in a memorandum, elaborating them as stated in his cable to Wash- 
ington five days before: 

"a) A complete surrender of the beaten party, under such conditions as 
will guarantee against any possible resumption of hostilities by it; 

"b) A conference to determine and enforce the conditions of peace with 
the beaten party; and 

"c) A conference (perhaps the same one as above) to determine and 
enforce such changes in world conditions-incidental to the war but not 
necessarily forming part of the terms of peace as are agreed upon as vital 

1 Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Seymour. II, 92. 

2 Bliss' final official report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 
s My Experiences in the World War. Pershing. II, 359-63. 


for the orderly progress of civilization and the continued peace of the 

"These phases should be kept separate and distinct. The conditions 
accompanying one should not and need not be confused with those of 

"It is for the military men to recommend the military conditions under 
which hostilities may cease so that the political governments may begin 
to talk, without fear of interruption by the resumption of hostilities." 

His reasoning, which looked ahead to ''the orderly progress of 
civilization and the continued peace of the world," was very simple. 
The Germans still had a great army, with an unknown amount of 
arms and munitions. They might be playing for time and resume 
fighting. This danger would hold the Allied armies in position 
indefinitely. It might mean much further bloodshed leading to still 
worse chaos in the end. 

"If we secure partial disarmament accompanied by the other conditions 
proposed, and it does not prevent subsequent resumption of hostilities, 
then we have failed of our purpose. If the enemy refuses complete dis- 
armament and demobilization, it will be an evidence of his intention not 
to act in good faith." 

Bliss would have good faith on both sides as the basis for the 
future. Unconditional surrender, immediate action to see that dis- 
armament was carried out and a prompt framing of peace terms 
would insure immediate security and demobilization of the armies. 

"Two days later while I was waiting to see Mr. House at his house, 
where a meeting of the Prime Ministers was being held, he came out 
from the council chamber and handed me my memorandum stating that 
the Council had decided against the proposition for absolute and com- 
plete disarmament and demobilization of the enemy forces." x 

On the same day, October 30, Pershing repeated by cable his 
letter to the Supreme War Council favoring unconditional surren- 
der. On November i Bliss received this cable from Baker: 

"I have not been sending you information or instructions because 
Colonel House has his entire communication with the President and you 
are doubtless conferring with him fully. General Pershing has just sent 

i Bliss' final official report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 


me a copy o a letter sent by him October 30 to the Supreme War Council. 
The letter was not previously submitted to the President and you will 
rely on Colonel House's views in such matters. Cable me freely your own 
views if you desire any points especially considered by the President." 

Bliss' views were unacceptable/ the forming of the armistice terms 
left to House and his three colleagues, and to be confirmed by the 
four sessions of the Armistice Commission, October gi-November 
4, which had some resemblance to a political convention for which 
the slate had already been made by the bosses. 

Foch opened with a statement of the military situation. Since 
July 18 the enemy had lost 260-280,000 prisoners, 4,000-4,500 guns. 
The enemy was in retreat but accepting battle, with the Allied 
soldiers confident of their mastery over the enemy. The Italians had 
taken Mount Grappa; Bulgaria had been overwhelmed, the Turk- 
ish army destroyed; the liaison between the Central Empires and 
southern Russia had been cut. "We can continue if the enemy 
desires it to his complete defeat." x 

Familiar faces of the past meetings in days of stress and alarm 
were there in this hour when triumph was still touched with uncer- 
tainty: Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Orlando; Balfour, Pichon, Son- 
nino; Foch, Weygand, Sir Henry Wilson; Vesnetch, Serbian minis- 
ter in Paris; Venizelos for Greece; and in later meetings, Hymans for 
Belgium; Rodriguez, Portuguese minister in Paris, and Matsui, 
Japanese minister in Paris while other emissaries of the Allies were 
hurrying to Paris or knocking at the door in order that they, too, 
might let their claims be known. Inevitably, humanly, nationally, 
with the sun of victory brightening the landscape for distant vision, 
the Englishman was thinking of his empire, of Mesopotamia as well 
as India; the Frenchman of the Rhine again as a French river, and 
forever to hold Strassbourg as his own, and of Syria; the Italian of 
Trieste, of Fiume and the Adriatic as forever an Italian lake; the 
Serb of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a great Yugo-Slav nation and 
Fiume its port; the Greek as far as Constantinople while on the 
horizon appeared the frantically gesturing hands of subject peoples 
who sought nationhood. 

i Proems-verbal of the First Meeting of the Supreme War Council on the Armistice, 
October 31, 1918. 


It was hardly to be expected that Foch should not in turn think 
again as a Frenchman rather than as generalissimo of the whole; at 
least, that the high peace aims of a distant President should be as 
close to his heart as the hundred divisions from America had been 
a month ago. There were even murmurs in British and American 
army staff circles that he had given the highest credit to the valor of 
his Allies by assigning their troops for the main attacks since July. 

Bliss had been silent at the meetings of the Armistice Commission 
where House had put in his word against overloading the terms 
with political demands. It is clear that Bliss understood how Lloyd 
George, Clemenceau and Orlando were deftly slipping the Fourteen 
Points into the discard. He understood their position as national 
leaders who sought national compensation for national sacrifices 
and loss of blood and money. 

He wrote that "to those who were in daily association with the 
political and military leaders then assembled in Paris the reason for 
not risking an ultimatum for unconditional surrender and complete 
disarmament was obvious." They could recall how when the Ger- 
mans were withdrawing from the Marne or to the Hindenburg line, 
or, before the Rumanian offensive, losing prisoners and guns, this 
gave the impression that they were hopelessly beaten. They could 
not realize that now the Germans were really beaten. 'The Germans 
were wearing paper shoes, paper clothing, eating substitutes for food 
that an American farmer would throw to the pigs," Bliss wrote. Yet, 
as Bliss remarks, the Allies were talking about the dumping of Ger- 
man articles manufactured and stored during the war upon the mar- 
kets of the world when the war was over. But Bliss did not forget 
that the Allied statesmen "had behind them peoples cold, hungry, 
every household in mourning, dazed and stupefied by the incredible 
losses already incurred." Excluding the United States, 35,000,000 
men had been" mobilized, nearly 5,000,000 killed, while 5,000,000 
were prisoners or missing. Bliss mentions another influence in the 
minds of the Allied leaders of Europe, which rarely occurs to Amer- 
icans, and which he considered to be a potent factor: 

"Rumors of appeals from the German government to that of the 
United States were rife. The moment was provocative of suspicion. There 
were some who did not know how such an appeal could be made or enter- 


tained without the possibility of a separate peace or, at best, of such an 
action as would reduce the European Allies to playing second part in 
making a general peace." 1 

When Foch crossed the front line with the armistice terms, which 
he had so largely dictated, a week had passed since Austria capitu- 
lated in an armistice, and it was known that Germany could hope 
for no winter food supplies from the Ukraine. The Kaiser was in 
flight to Holland. The armistice was to last for thirty-six days, when 
a new arrangement must be made. 

On November 10, while the Allied leaders awaited the return of 
Foch from his meeting with the German delegates, Bliss wrote to 

"Strange to say, Marshal Foch in a private meeting of the Ministers, 
notwithstanding his public utterances, took the ground that the German 
army was not beaten and that my proposition of complete disarmament 
was less likely to be accepted by that army than was his own proposi- 
tion. . . . 

"I have repeatedly told Mr. House that I think that the Allies are play- 
ing with fire, but they won't realize it until their fingers, including ours, 
are well burned. They wasted invaluable time in determining on the 
conditions of the armistice, while every day might be bringing them 
nearer the moment when they would find no German government to 
deal with, and then what? 

"The political leaders here have been unanimous in their feeling of 
dread of a Bolshevik revolution in Germany; but it seems to me that they 
have done and are permitting the military to do everything that makes 
such a revolution possible. 

"But, as M. Clemenceau said in the note which I translated last night 
for Mr. House, everything that is now happening is bringing us face to 
face with the unknown. It is useless to speculate about it. The time limit 
with Germany expires about 1 1 o'clock tomorrow morning. I hope that 
today we may know a little more clearly what confronts us." 

At eleven o'clock the morning of November 1 1 came that strange 
numbing silencethe silence that could be heard as the armies 
ceased firing. The German delegates had signed the Foch terms 
providing for the surrender or internment of their naval vessels, the 
surrender of a large quantity of guns and material by their army, 
and its retreat to the east of the Rhine, thus committing an Ameri- 

i Bliss' final official report to the Secretary of State, February 6, 1920. 


can force to a long term of service in the occupied territory. With 
the Kaiser, the supreme war lord, in flight from revolution and 
an army that could no longer protect him, we know now that the 
Germans would have accepted unconditional surrender. President 
Wilson sent his message to House saying, "autocracy is dead/' 
Orlando of the Italy of that day might have shared the President's 

Now imagination tempts the biographer to draw a picture of an 
armistice conference which sounds back to Grant and Lee at Appo- 
mattox at the end of the War Between the States, when Northern 
valor, superior numbers and resources overcame Southern valor, 
inferior numbers and resources, and Grant told Lee, as we have 
been taught to believe, that his men were to take their horses home 
for the spring plowing. The Northern and Southern soldiers, who 
had learned their mutual worth in battle, held little enmity against 
each other, although later they became subject to the hates in the 
rear, which were then seemingly as implacable as those between the 
Allies and the Germans. If the peoples of both North and South 
could have been imbued with the spirit of Grant and Lee at the 
time of the surrender, they might have been spared the shame of 
carpet-bag rule, the delay in reconstruction and the prolonged and 
humanly warranted bitterness of the South. 

Accepting a precedent from American history a likeness which 
will be distasteful to many Americans who will say that the war of 
1861-65 was one between brothers of the same nation and not 
against a foreign nation let us suppose that Bliss had met Hinden- 
burg between the lines soldier to soldier and man to man after the 
capitulation of Austria and the flight of the Kaiser. 1 We can imagine 
them exchanging professional compliments, as do parliamentarians, 
or lawyers before a joust, and as do scholars, business competitors, 
and the gentlest of pacifists and the narrowest of militarists. 

"I heard Marshal Foch say that your retreat was 'magnificently 

iThis was writtten in August, 1934, at a time when the world was horrified over 
Hitler's absolute dictatorship in Germany. But, preceding his rise to power as the 
protagonist of militaristic nationalism and racial frenzy, there had been a period since 
the war when world feeling had become quite sympathetic, even cordial, toward the 
German people. In another ten years, old antipathies, now softened to form an al- 
liance against him, may be renewed and another new set of alliances formed. 


conducted/ * He studied German tactics and your soldiers studied 
Napoleon's tactics after Napoleon overran your country." 

"The Americans have surprised us by their numbers and the vigor 
of their action." 

"I have neighbors and friends of German blood at home. 1 ' 

"So you know they do not cut off babies' hands in wanton cruelty, 
as your propagandists picture us." 

"You are beaten, bravely though you have fought with the world 
against you." 

"Yes, we want peace, but we can still fight. Your President once 
spoke of peace without victory and no quarrel with the German 
people. Later he said we were so dishonorable there was no dealing 
with us." 

"The heat of passion! We have all been guilty of it. You must 
disarm. All the nations will give up heavy arming. You must pay 
indemnities within your power, yield self-rule to the people you 
have held subject, as Napoleon had to yield it. Then your people, 
all people, must get back to work promptly." 

But why go on? Without putting words into Bliss' mouth -when 
he was so capable with his own this does not seem to stretch plau- 
sibility on the part of a man whose salient characteristic was that he 
could not hate his fellow human beings. The same Bliss could say 
in his final official report that his armistice plan might have been 
wrong Who could tell? But he held to it in thorough conviction. 

i A quotation from an article by Bliss in Foreign Affairs, July, 1929. 


ON the afternoon of November 30 when Bliss was calling on House, 
who was just out of bed from an attack of grippe, he learned to his 
amazement, as he expressed it to March, that he had been appointed 
one of the American Peace Commissioners. 

"It is a great honor and at the same time a tremendous responsibility. 
The American Section of the Peace Conference has a bitter struggle 
ahead of it to accomplish any of the important purposes of the President. 
Thus far we have been handicapped by the lack of proper and sufficient 
political and diplomatic assistance. For example, in the sessions of the 
Inter-Allied Conference on the armistices with Austria-Hungary and with 
Germany, Mr. House sat at the table without a single adviser except 
his military and naval ones. Directly opposite him sat Mr. Lloyd George 
who was supported by Lord Reading, Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Balfour and 
Lord Milner. In the same way M. Clemenceau and Sr. Orlando were 
supported by their political and diplomatic advisers." 1 

He wrote to Mrs. Bliss saying, "If you have ever prayed for me, do 
so now, because it is scarcely too much to say that the future of the 
world depends upon this peace. ... I am apprehensive but I live in 

Later it became known that Bliss owed his appointment to Baker. 
Immediately after the armistice the President had asked Baker to be 
one of the American Peace Commissioners; but with Secretary of 
State Robert Lansing going to Paris and William G. McAdoo re- 
signing as Secretary of the Treasury, Baker thought it was better not 
to have two Cabinet members as well as the President abroad and 
that he remain at home to look after the demobilization of the army 
and thus finish the task he had begun. He suggested Bliss in his 
place. 2 

Bliss wrote to Baker, December 9: 

1 Letter to March, December i, 1918, 

2 Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer II, 392. 



"The work here will not be done by one group of individuals, but 
by groups of individuals each of which represents the views and interests 
of a particular nation. It goes without saying that the other groups will 
be each a unit and the full strength of the national interest for each 
of the representatives will be brought to bear on the result. It must be 
so with the American representation. And it is not merely national in- 
terests that these groups represent, still less partisan interests in the 
respective countries. We are going to vote the proxies of millions of 
dead men who have died in the hope and belief that what we do now 
will make it impossible for the same awful sacrifice to be demanded of 
their children. But, unfortunately, the greater part of these millions of 
proxies are in the hands of nations that do not seem disposed to think 
much of the interests of the coming generation and who do not care 
much for the most important of the ideals that inspired Americans when 
they came into the war. Our only chance is for the United States to stand 
a unit for its ideals and if necessary to appeal to the fathers and brothers 
and sons of those millions of dead men and bring the common people 
of the world to our side." 

His ingrained sense of prevision, which had started on a sound 
basis in preparing an army to win the war, now centered on a victory 
for peace. He wrote to Lansing, December 26: 

"I assume that the delegations of other important nations to the 
Peace Conference will act as units in the discussions and votes of the 
Conference. Certainly, the only hope that the American delegation will 
have in securing the war aims of its country lies in its following the 
French motto and being 'one and indivisible.' 

"May I ask what steps we are going to take in order to secure this 
unanimity of understanding? 

"I have no doubt that the moment the Peace Conference assembles 
the question of terms with Germany will be taken up. The Allies, for 
example, know exactly what they are going to ask in the way of terri- 
torial cessions. Their demands will be immediately accompanied by 
their reasons and arguments. Are we agreed that the Alsace-Lorraine 
.of 1871 shall be ceded? or, the Alsace-Lorraine of 1814? or, Alsace- 
Lorraine extended by an economic boundary? or, Alsace-Lorraine with 
the boundaries of Marshal Foch? Are we agreed on a principle with which 
we will meet a demand for the cession of the entire left bank? How are 
we going to get the President's views or instructions on such questions? 

"These and many other questions stare us in the face, some as being 
certain to be presented to us immediately on the opening of the Peace 
Conference and the others following in due time. Is there no way by 
which we can begin to formulate these questions now and come to a 
common and cordial understanding as to the attitude that we are going 


to take? Of course when we hear all arguments we may change our 
mind on various points, but we must start out with the idea of chang- 
ing the minds of others to coincide with ours, which is exactly what they 
will do with respect to us. 

"Soon after the other delegations arrive, we will be lunching and 
dining with individual members of them and, if we do not know better 
than we now do what each of us thinks on important subjects, we will 
be expressing radically different views about the same thing. 

"I think that our present course is dangerous, dangerous to the point 
of threatening the success of the Commission." 

A part of the preparation for the Peace Conference in which the 
American delegation specialized was the drafting of a constitution 
of the League of Nations. There is a bundle of studies in Bliss' papers 
on the subject to which he had evidently given much attention long 
before the armistice. He was in good form as a prophet in his com- 
ments on the draft by Dr. S. E. Mezes before the Peace Conference 
had really settled down to work: 

"In my comparative youth I served on the staff of a very wise old 
general. His mind was very active and he was constantly dictating 
memoranda of things that he had it in mind to do, reforms to accomplish 
and all that sort of thing. Almost the first day that I joined him he sent 
me one of these memoranda, on a rather important subject as I now 
remember it, and asked me to make any suggestions that occurred to me. < 
From a feeling of modesty not always characteristic of youth it did not 
occur to me that he really wanted my criticism; so I returned his memo- 
randum with a careful analysis showing its excellent points and only 
suggesting some rearrangement. It promptly came back to me with the 
statement that he knew the good points in his memorandum better 
than I did; that what he wanted to know was the bad points; and that, 
to know them, he wanted my criticism, even that suggested by well- 
intentioned foolishness or ignorance, because that could do him no harm 
and might suggest something useful." 

Bliss suggested that the delegates to the League should be approved 
by the legislative bodies of the member nations for their knowledge 
of history and the law of nations and their intelligent interest in 
humanity, and then put his warning finger on the weak spots which 
later were to be a handicap in the Covenant as adopted: 

"At the moment when we hope to establish the League, the number 
of great really civilized powers will be pitifully small. Yet with them rest 


the issues of world-peace and world-war. It is of vital importance to 
minimize the chances of having any one of them secede from the League. 
Disguise it from ourselves as we may, the basic idea of the League is to 
begin some form of government for the world in which the ideas of the 
best class of men in the great civilized powers shall dominate, because 
the ideas of that class of men will be subject to a more or less wise 
restraint and, in my judgment, a wise self-restraint is going to be the 
saving grace of the League. But I see nothing in your provision to prevent 
the government of the world from passing into the hands of the lesser 
advanced peoples or, at least, being to some extent controlled by them. 
It would be a risk to the interests of such nations as the United States 
and Great Britain that we cannot expect them to take . . . 

"Finally, 'territorial integrity and political independence' cannot be 
'guaranteed' except by an agreement to make war when necessary to 
maintain the guarantee. The United States may make war to do this, 
but it depends on the will of the Congress then in existence. . . . 

"I do not like the provision 'National armaments should be limited 
to the requirements of international security, and the Representatives 
of the Powers shall consider provisions for carrying into effect this prin- 
ciple/ There is only one way to carry the principle into effect, and that 
is to disarm. And the burning question is, 'Has not this war made us 
reasonably ready for it?' If not, God help us. 

"I am of those who believe that disarmament and a League of Nations 
go hand-in-hand. When a dozen men sit around a table to discuss ques- 
tions fraught with all sorts of possible irritation and it appears that some 
of them have a pistol in each pocket and a knife in their belts, while 
others have penknives and fire-crackers or nothing at all, the first and 
sole question is disarmament. There can be np fair and free discussion 
of anything till that is settled. The American principle, I am inclined 
to think, is a League of Nations with equal representation. How can you 
have equal representation with some nations weak and others with mil- 
lions of trained soldiers or fleets of battleships or both? You must re- 
member that a League of Nations will be born not only from a feeling 
of incipient international confidence and trust but also from the existing 
feeling of international distrust. The problem would be bad enough, 
but not thoroughly bad, if it were a League entirely of wolves or en- 
tirely of sheep. It will be a problem indeed, if you try to make it one of 
wolves and sheep. 

"And what will the United States have gained from the war if this 
is to be the result? A League having some nations armed to the teeth 
will be dominated by those nations. That is what they will be armed for. 
And what part will the United States play in such a League? If she is 
going to play with wolves she must have fangs and claws as long and 
sharp as theirs. But, as I conceive it, we fought the war more for the 
purpose of avoiding this necessity than for any other one thing. If we 


want to play with the wolf without becoming one ourselves we must pull 
all his fangs and trim all his claws. The wolf is militarism and thus far 
we have pulled only one fang. 

"I think we can have a League in only one or the other of two forms; 
a general League of Nations disarmed for purposes of international war, 
or a League of four or five heavily armed nations who will impose their 
will upon the world and who will keep the peace among themselves 
only so long as each thinks that it is getting its share of the rest of the 

Bliss not only knew the Constitution of the United States and 
the great judicial decisions in its interpretation, but he was not un- 
familiar with the ways of the United States Senate, as appears in the 
concluding words of this letter: 

"In the subsequent paragraphs I suggest that careful scrutiny be given 
to each one that touches on the constitutional rights and powers of the 
Congress of the United States. For example, under Paragraph 11 Congress 
would have to cede to the League its constitutional power and duty to 
regulate commerce. I do not see how Paragraph 15 can be effective unless 
Congress does what it cannot do, delegate its power to make war to the 
League. Such things might cause adverse action by the Senate on any 
treaty." l 

Bliss' desire for a League was balanced by solicitude lest it prej- 
udice its future by being ambitious for powers it could not exercise 
instead of making its way from a modest start. In a later memorandum 
referring to a weakness in a draft of Article X, he pointed out that 
there was no assumption that a member nation might be in the 

"It would seem that careful note should be taken of the possibility of 
a Dred Scott decision being made by the tribunal of the League of Na- 
tions. Two nations which are not Contracting Powers may have a dis- 
pute. One of them, which is in the wrong, offers to submit its interests 
to the decision of the League. This State immediately becomes, for the 
purposes of the dispute, one of the Contracting Powers; and, as such, 
the League is bound to support it right or wrong/' 

Lansing had a draft in which two nations were not to be allowed 
to go to war without the consent of a three-fourths vote of the mem- 

i Letter to Dr. S. E. Mezes, December s6, 1918. 


bers of the League. This brought from Bliss the following comment 
in his diary: 

"Suppose five great nations, A, B, C, D and E are in the League and 
twenty 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th-rate powers are also in it; a dispute occurs 
between A and B which cannot be adjusted; C, D and E know that i 
A and B go to war they will be dragged into it and it will become a 
world war. They therefore vote against a war, but a three-fourths majority 
may be obtained by a vote of the little powers who have the minimum 
concern in the matter. Whatever else is done, I do not think that the 
principle of recognizing the right of two nations to go to war by a three- 
fourths, or by any vote, should be tolerated." 

House, in touch with the President only by cable, had kept up his 
conferences for six weeks without knowing what might have passed 
in private conferences between Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Or- 
lando. On the evening of the day President Wilson arrived at Brest, 
Pershing remarked, "He has been a good President to me, but he 
has his hands full now." T Pershing, as well as Bliss, could speak feel- 
ingly out of his experience. 

By this time the major Powers, on the basis of their preparations 
which had been begun many weeks before the Armistice, had had 
more than a month since the Armistice in which to form their lines. 
Their committees were already established and at work. So were 
the delegations of the small allies and the suppressed nationalities, 
their leaders including the conspicuous personalities of Paderewski, 
as eloquent for his Poland as Clemenceau was terse for his France, 
and Feisul of Arabia, while Dr. Thomas G. Masaryk, if less pic- 
turesque, was no less concentrated in the interest of the future 
Czechoslovakia. And all, from Georgians to Belgians and from Lithu- 
anians to Chinese, thought of the President as their champion who 
would assure them that they got their just share in territory and 
future opportunity. 

The peace ship from America disembarked experts who had made 
thorough studies. They knew their subjects legally, historically, eco- 
nomically, ethnographically, territorially, as the war college students 
know war before they face real war. They were detached, loyal 
servants of the President's aims who were about to face unprecedent- 
edly difficult negotiations. 

iTo the author. 


Bliss became concerned about the "unnecessary assistant-personnel 
resulting not only in having two or more men to do one man's work 
but in unnecessary expense charged for the maintenance of the Com- 
, mission." He had in mind that at the Headquarters of the A. E. F. 
were not only regular officers but civilians of high attainments who 
for a year or more in the business of coordination of every item of 
strength for the prosecution of the war had been in touch with all 
economic and political conditions in Europe, with all the conflicts 
of interests, sentiments and racial jealousies which must be considered 
in remaking that map of Europe. He thought that their recent first- 
hand experience might be useful to the newcomers. 

But there had been an ironic touch in Bliss' reply to a cablegram 
from Washington before the arrival of the American delegation, re- 
questing that the A. E. F. assign "French, German, Russian, Italian, 
Hungarian, Serbian, Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Japanese, Chinese, 
Czech, Spanish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Albanian, Polish, Danish, 
Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Algerian, Bulgarian and Persian in- 
terpreters for the Peace Commission." 

Even the staff at American army headquarters had not so long a 
list of trained and educated interpreters. Bliss thought it likely that 
the Peace Commission might have unloaded on it from the ranks 
"Greek barbers, Italian peanut sellers and Bulgarian pedlers merely 
because they speak some form of their language"; and, therefore, 
those who knew the language of diplomacy and could translate 
diplomatic documents had better be sought in some other quarters. 

It was on December 18, five weeks after the Armistice, that Bliss 
wrote to Mrs. Bliss: 

"This morning we had a preliminary meeting of the American Peace 
Commission. I am disquieted to see how hazy and vague our ideas aje. 
We are going to be up against the wiliest politicians in Europe. There 
will be nothing hazy or vague about their ideas." 

To Mrs. Bliss on December 31, when he turned the corner into 
his sixty-sixth year: 

"My birthdayl What a year it has been that end$ todayl The problems 
of the war already seem trivial compared with those that confront us. 
As a French general said to me, 'We used to study for a day or two ahead 


perhaps for a month. Now we think in terms of 50 or 75 years perhaps 
even of centuries/ " 

On New Year's Day, when the Commission did not meet, he called 
his stenographer and dictated a review of the past year. He took 
modest credit to himself in his diary for his part in achieving unity 
of command. He thought he had prevented some errors by his col- 
leagues at Versailles. Fortunately his government, which was so far 
away, had given him a free hand. 

"It now seems like a long nightmare. Not more than thirty days be- 
fore the Armistice, Marshal Foch, in conversation with me, still insisted 
that nothing had happened which diminished the necessity of having 100 
complete divisions in Europe by the summer of 1919. Then came the 
end with startling suddenness." 

The day began a new era in which a new world was to be created, 
whether for better or worse no one could tell. He would not give 
way to too much fault-finding about the present outlook. He turned 
to Livy's Praefacio as he looked ahead to the unfolding record: 
" f Sed querulae, ne turn cuidem gratae futurae^ 
quum forsitan et necessariae erunt, ab 
initio eerie tantae ordiendae rei absint.' 1 

"Perhaps a fair interpretation of that will permit me to indulge 
my criticism a little later! In any event, surely, Livy's invocation will 
be a fitting introduction to a record of some of the daily events of 
so important a year: 

" 'Cum bonis potius ominibus votisque ac 
precationibus deorum dearumque (si, ut 
poetis, nobis quoque mos esset} libentius 
inciperemus, ut orsis tanti operis successus 
prosper os darent! " a 

In further celebration of New Year's Day he and Colonel Wallace 
had a long walk in which he communed with the landmarks of old 
history while modern history was in the making. 

1 But let complaints, which will not be agreeable even then when perhaps they will 
be necessary, be kept away at least from the first stage of commencing so great a work. 

2 Rather would we begin, if it were customary with us also as it is with poets, more 
cheerfully with good omens and vows and prayers to the gods and goddesses that they 
would grant abundant success to our endeavors in so arduous a task. 


"We went through the Tuileries Gardens, looked at the remains of the 
old palace, hunted up the brass tablet on one of the pillars of the Garden 
facing the Rue de Rivoli and just beyond the Rue de Castiglione, which 
marks the site of the Manage, where the Revolutionary Convention and 
Constituent Assembly sat; through the Place du Carrousel and the Court- 
yards of the Louvre, and thence over to the Church of St. Germain 
1'Auxerrois; thence to the Tour St. Jacques; then we went back through 
the winding narrow streets to the gardens of the Palais Royale; thence 
up to the Place de 1'Op^ra and down the Boulevards to the Rue Cambon, 
down this street to the Rue St. Honor and over to the Rue Royale, 
stopping on the Rue St. Honor to look at the house in which lived 
Robespierre, and so back to the hotel." 

He concluded the day by dining with his old colleagues at Ver- 
sailles, Generals Rawlinson and Studd. Rawlinson was sympathetic 
with Bliss' own radical views about disarmament and toward the 
American attitude generally, and took the view that if there were 
any hope for the peace of the world it rested with the United States. 

"But, like most Englishmen, he insists that we must take our share 
with England in carrying the burden of peaceful administration of 
derelict nations and uncivilized or semi-civilized races. We talked about 
M. Clemenceau's recent speech in which he expressed his preference 
for the old Balance of Power, with each nation having strong frontiers 
and being prepared to guard them with its own force. I said that it was 
under that system that M. Clemenceau and his predecessors had to ap- 
peal to a League of Nations to save them. Had the League existed in 
1914, it is most likely that the war would not have occurred at that time, 
although, as I have often said, if the general world conditions as to 
armaments were not changed, the war was certain to come sooner or 

As the lines of policy became more clearly defined, Clemenceau's 
plan for the restoration of the Balance of Power was already envisag- 
ing the French alliance with the Little Entente to encircle Germany, 
and the English would cement Anglo-American friendship by the 
assignment of some of the proposed mandates over backward peo- 
ples to the United States. 

Talk at the dinner turned to "the tendency of the Poles to make 
every world issue in Paris revolve about Poland." 

"It is really quite impossible to talk with men like Dmowski and 
Horodyski about any subject without their immediately connecting it 


with the Polish situation; the disposition of the German colonies, Bol- 
shevism, the eastern coast of the Adriatic, the League of Nations, dis- 
armament, everything, become with them a Polish question." 

In paraphrasing an old story, he made it an Englishman, a German 
and a Pole who were this time assigned to write a monograph on the 
elephant. The Englishman went on an elephant hunt, the German 
did a vast amount of research, including how it was that evolution 
had given the elephant a long nose and a short tail; and "the Pole 
began his monograph with the declaration, 'The elephant is a Polish 
question/ " 

Bliss had had a grand holiday from Livy in the morning, through 
stretches of philosophy and history, until story telling in the evening. 


THE simple fact is that Bliss was not "used" at the Peace Conference. 
His experience in the council of the nations at Versailles was un- 
tapped when the nations met again in council subject to the same 
influences that he had seen rising at Versailles. Of the American 
peace commissioners only he and Colonel House had had first-hand 
contact with the Europe of war time: House in meeting the states- 
men on his visits when they were pleading for our entry into the 
war and again when they were pleading for us to hasten our army to 
their aid after the Caporetto disaster. The President had never met 
Lloyd George, Clemenceau or Orlando, never had a first-hand view 
of a heated meeting of the three at Versailles. 

There was no Newton Baker, who knew Bliss through months of 
daily association, to sound his knowledge and wisdom. Bliss, who had 
never been given to pressing his suggestions unasked upon his chief, 
was in a new r61e which augmented his diffidence. 

Few memoranda to the President appear in his papers. The Presi- 
dent, who had the habit of forming his opinions from papers rather 
than in verbal conferences, possibly might have found it helpful if 
he, too, had allowed Bliss to look out of the window for a moment 
as Bliss thought out a problem and then gave his clear and impersonal 
if sometimes elaborate analysis. Bliss saw the President only five 
times in a personal interview during the whole Conference. 1 

As we know, the President was fighting his own battle in the foruin 
with Lloyd George and Clemenceau. Lansing fell back to the side 
lines in the company of Henry White, the fifth Commissioner, and 
eventually House lost his influence. That elderly general, who was 
seen about the corridors of the Hotel Crillon and who had had no 
field command, was regarded by the unknowing as almost a negligible 

Wonder was expressed why a soldier should be assigned to making 
peace when the business of a soldier was to make war. Considering 

i Bliss' statement to General W. W. Atterbury and also to the author. 


that the title of Colonel from the Governor's staff in Texas still 
clung to House in spite of his protests, the American Peace Commis- 
sion might appear to superficial minds in ironic moments to have a 
militaristic tone. 

In the psychology of the Peace Conference an army uniform was no 
longer the fashionable garb. Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando, 
who had endured the arbitrary demands of generals for more troops 
and supplies, rejoiced in being masters in their own right instead 
of the servants of the military kings. No general or any other states- 
man was a hero to any one of these three, and this included Wilson 
who had frequently irritated them during the war by what to them, 
as their remarks in the Supreme Council sessions reveal, might be 
termed a certain pedagogical and even super-mundane attitude. 

Bliss' reference to the importance to the President of having the 
people behind him against the politicians did not exclude the youth 
of Europe who were in the trenches. These were not professional 
soldiers. They had been citizens before they were sent into the 
slaughter pit and were soon to be citizens again if another war was 
not imposed on them by the Peace Conference. They were inarticulate 
and under censorship. To them Wilson had been a hero. He stood 
for the hope that inspired them that their sons would never have to 
endure what they had endured. At the time he arrived in Europe 
this psychology was ripe. He might have been their spokesman, their 
apostle, rallying them to his cause. 

But there was no resisting the plans made for the President by his 
statesmen colleagues. He must visit the Allied capitals in celebration 
of the victory and receive the applause of the crowds who, as they 
cheered, were thinking of the tribute he might help to turn their 
way. The moment for his appeal to the soldiers soon passed as it 
always has after every war. The view of the home masses and the 
politicians absorbed their own; they began thinking of their wounds 
and scars and their share of the rewards in this, their own, generation 
for their labors and risks. So preoccupied was the President that he 
did not visit the Meuse-Argonne battlefield where the citizens he had 
summoned by the draft had suffered 150,000 casualties. He would 
not go to the devastated region lest it should influence his feelings 
and thereby his impartiality as the arbiter of a just peace. 


"M. Clemenceau then spoke to the President about the latter's visit 
to the devastated region and wanted to know when he would make it. 
The President put him off with a rather indefinite reply to the effect that 
he would take a day off at intervals after the work of the conference 
began. M. Clemenceau did not appear to like this. It is commonly re- 
ported that the French government is holding back the rehabilitation 
of the devastated district in order that the President may see it in its 
most deserted and devastated condition. I think that the President does 
not like this because it probably gives him the impression that the 
French want to make him 'see red' before the work of the Conference 
begins." 1 

The thirty-six-day term of the first armistice expired before Wilson 
arrived in Paris; the armistice had to be renewed before the Peace 
Conference settled to work, and then renewed again. This was a 
shadow over the Conference, disconcerting its counsels. Another was 
the spread of Bolshevism feeding on the post-war chaos, which must 
continue until the peace terms set the basis upon which reconstruc- 
tion and normal life were to begin. Bliss had written in his diary, 
December 23: 

"I told Mr. Hoover of the subject of my interview and that it was 
reported that the Italians were preventing food supplies from getting 
in to the Yugo-Slavs along the Dalmatian Coast, with the idea of coerc- 
ing those people to pledge themselves to vote for annexation to Italy. 
I asked him if nothing could be done in the way of our helping them 
out in this matter of food. He said that he now had a cargo of food at 
Trieste and that in a few days two more cargoes would arrive at Cattaro. 
He tells me that every effort has been made by both the French and 
Italians all through those regions to restrict importations of food except 
as their distribution may be controlled by them." 

There is also a reference to a meeting with Herbert Hoover on 
December 28: 

'The essential point appeared to be this: He says that Germany is 
eating up her stocks of food and in a short time will be at a starvation 
point with the attendant danger of Bolshevism. He said that we must 
have some relaxation on the embargo and permit Germans to get out 

i Bliss' diary, January 6, 1918. After his appointment as Peace Commissioner, Bliss 
kept a diary which, as a record during the Peace Conference, succeeded his letters to 
Balcer from Versailles. 


and sell to the other nations certain enumerated commodities and be 
permitted to bring back to Germany in return certain enumerated com- 
modities. He said that it was only by helping her to get on her feet that 
we can enable her to pay the damages and indemnities that may be 
demanded of her and that will head off in the meantime total ruin. He 
says that we must allow German merchant ships to go to sea under proper 
conditions, and probably with German crews. I told him that it was to 
prevent this very thing, to prevent Germany getting a start in the revival 
of her trade until the Allies were well ahead of her in the race, that the 
Allies insisted on putting into the original armistice conditions the pro- 
visions relating to the continuance of the embargo." 

Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, January 14: 

"The criminal delay in beginning any work of the Peace Conference 
may bring on a great disaster. The governments over here don't want to 
have official peace too soon for fear that it will give Germany a chance 
to revive commercially and industrially. Meanwhile they keep up the 
embargo. An empty stomach feeds on nothing; but Bolshevism feeds on 
empty stomachs. Bolshevism is the outcry of peoples against the idiocy 
of their governments. There is no end of people here in France and 
England and Italy ready to cry 'No Church No Government* because 
they believe the Church and Governments have failed them." 

The Allied statesmen might see the plan for a League of Nations 
as remote from their present need to guard against threatening up- 
heavals at home by protecting their own people at the expense of 
the enemy which was the cause of their distress. This included heavy 

"I found Mr. Norman Davis of the Treasury Department (who has 
been assisting Mr. Crosby on the Inter-Allied War Purchase and Finance 
Council) in Mr. House's apartments and stopped a few moments to talk 
with him about the idea which I had suggested that morning to the 
American Commission in our conference. My idea has been that if the 
French attempt to impose terms on Germany for an indemnity which 
will carry the payment of that indemnity over a considerable term of 
years, they will never get all that they now hope for. My idea was to 
get the bankers of all the world to finance this German indemnity and 
then release Germany from all commercial restraint in order to make 
their credit good. Mr. Davis said that he believed that some such ar- 
rangement would probably have to be made." 


While this might appear reasonable it must have the consent of 
the Allies, and in characterization of the conditions in Central Europe 
Bliss made this entry in his diary, January 17: 

"Dr. Alonzo Taylor says that one community may be almost starving 
while another has plenty of food, but the embargoes and seizures of 
railway transportation by the different governments prevent the food 
from being distributed. He says that he did not see a single potato on 
the market or on the table in Vienna although millions of bushels of 
them were to be obtained in Hungary. Each state seizes the former 
imperial government railway rolling stock, in order to build up its own 
railway equipment. Bohemia cuts off the supply of coal for Vienna; the 
Yugo-Slavs refused transport of flour to Vienna until they could get salt. 
He says that there is absolute and universal social disorganization." 

While these conditions prevailed the Peace Commissioners of the 
different countries held their first formal meeting January 18, nine 
weeks after the signing of the Armistice. Bliss 7 diary gives a very brief 
and matter-of-fact paragraph to the historical occasion, which failed 
to appeal to his powers of characterization and description. On Jan- 
uary 22 he recorded: 

"Mr. Herron came to explain his views about the existing situation 
beyond the Rhine. He was a former professor of sociology and has the 
reputation of being an advanced socialist. . . . During the war he has 
been living in Switzerland as an agent for the State Department, observ- 
ing and reporting on the general situation. Mr. Herron expressed rather 
startling views. He thinks that all of Europe is going down in universal 
ruin unless she can be saved by the United States. He says that Bolshevism 
is working everywhere sapping an undermining the foundations of 
society. . . . He says that the common people are hopeless and are look- 
ing to the United States as their last chance of salvation. He thinks that 
the United States must come out with a declaration to the peoples of 
Europe that it will stand behind them no matter at what cost until their 
complete rehabilitation and that it will even go to the extent of a mili- 
tary occupation of Europe by the United States. I told him that if this 
was the only solution I was afraid that the case was hopeless." 

In view of the possibility that the Germans might renew the war 
Foch wanted to retain the American army in France. He suggested 
that our soldiers should be put to work while in rest cleaning up the 
debris in the devastated regions. This met a prompt negative by both 


Bliss and Pershing, to which Baker gave added emphasis. 1 Having 
committed us to a sector in the Rhine occupation, reports were soon 
coming in that the Americans were too friendly to the Germans whom 
many of our soldiers found more likeable and progressive than the 

Bliss' time was much occupied in resisting proposals to send our 
troops elsewhere. Poland wanted 70,000 Americans to form a sug- 
gested cordon sanitaire against Bolshevism. When Bliss mentioned 
the matter of supplies and transport he was told that our soldiers 
would require only warm clothing. He suggested that Bolshevism 
would pass through the lines; it carried no arms except propaganda. 

"We may, at great expense and a great risk, send a powerful military 
force to conduct a winter campaign in Poland and Russia. But why 
should we do that when at infinitely less expense we can to a reasonable 
extent feed Germany and build up there a strong democratic government 
which will be the natural barrier between western Europe and Russian 
Bolshevism. . . . The British and the French positively assert that they 
cannot send any troops, that their people are too tired and that they 
will not fight any longer. Therefore, if we do not act wisely, a situation 
may be created that will require us to assume this enormous burden or 
see the civilization of western Europe gravely imperiled. The French 
seem to think that while their people will not go to Poland or to Russia, 
they will be willing to invade Germany; and they are probably right. It 
sometimes looks to me as though they wanted to have Bolshevism spread 
in Germany in order to give them an excuse for a military occupation 
of that entire country. But if Germany becomes Bolshevik and joins 
hands with all of Eastern and Central Europe, an attempted permanent 
occupation of Germany by the French may prove a great disaster. This 
is especially true because of the seething ferment of discontent in Italy, 
France and England, It may be that a Bolshevik Germany would pull 
them all down in her own ruin." 2 

Ambassador Francis appeared in Paris to appeal for more American 
troops in Russia. He had been fostering a counter-revolutionary move- 
ment in Archangel which he thought ought to have his country's sup- 
port by force. 

"Mr. Francis quoted the statements of some one with whom he had 
talked in London who seemed to think that the British government and 

1 Newton D. Baker: America at War. Palmer. II, 403. 

2 Bliss* diary, January 6, 1919. 


our own had a weakness for Bolshevism. I told him that none of us liked 
Bolshevism but there were some different views as to the best way to 
correct it; that there were some people who were so convinced that their 
way to correct it is the only possible way that they accuse any one who 
differs with them of being Bolshevists. In my opinion this was not merely 
unjust, it was childish." x 

He insisted that it be made clear in all conferences on the subject 
that the United States could be depended upon to take no part in 
any operation in Russia, and would send no more troops to Archangel 
or Siberia. 

"Bolshevism in Russia is simply one of the many confused blotches 
on the map of Europe. To it, everything seems in intolerable confusion, 
Russia no more so than other states. If we could only make peace at 
once; if we could only say to Germany and Poland and Czechoslovakia 
and other states, 'These are your definitive boundaries, stay inside of 
them and stop fighting your neighbors and trying to steal their land'; if 
we could only do all that, getting that part of Europe into condition of 
orderly peace that it is praying for, then the condition of Russia would 
stand out in clear and glaring colors. Then the people of the United 
States might see that peace in Russia is the only thing necessary to 
secure universal peace. . . . But it is certain that it will not lift a hand 
to do this so long as we maintain the state of war with the Central 
Powers, so long as we disputenot with Germany but among ourselves, 
as to the terms of peace that we will impose on Germany/' 2 

Soon after the Armistice the Italians had moved two battalions 
of our troops to disputed Fiume, where American soldiers had been 
arrested for vigorously taking the part of a native girl who was at- 
tacked by Italian soldiers for wearing a Yugo-Slav flag. Bliss proposed 
that we withdraw not only our soldiers but our naval forces from the 
Adriatic, and "no American soldiers should be employed for main- 
taining order in any community in Italy." 8 

"I do not suppose that the American government, in making large 
loans of money, in the contribution of large quantities of supplies, and 
in furnishing the slight direct military assistance, which it did to Italy, 
had for a moment in mind the fact that it was doing all this solely for 
the purpose of enabling Italy to make these conquests." * 

1 Bliss' diary, February 3, 1919. 

2 Memorandum to House, February 17, 1919. 
Memorandum to House, December 22, 1918. 
* Letter to Lansing, January 9, 1919. 


The requests which came to Oscar Crosby, the Assistant Secretary 
of the Treasury in Paris, asking for loans to enable our Allies to 
strengthen their military forces ran wholly counter to Bliss' views 
about the limitation of armaments. He said he knew "no reason why 
Belgium should be an exception to the rule; no reason why the 
United States should finance an increase of 100,000 men for the Bel- 
gian army/' 1 

He favored a forthright public statement that Congress must be 
considered in the American acceptance of any of the various plans. 
This was not regarded as politic, but Bliss always made a point of 
mentioning so important a factor under our Constitution on certain 
occasions when it applied to proposals at the meetings of the Military 
Representatives on the Supreme War Council, who had almost as 
many perplexing problems to deal with as in war days. There was 
one on February 4 to discuss "the equitable appropriation of troops 
for maintenance of order in Asiatic Turkey/ 1 After an agreement was 
reached Armenia and Kurdistan were still uncared for and were 
allotted to the United States. Bliss said they would have to wait on the 
consent of Congress which could not be expected until next winter, 
if at all 2 

The committees labored; the Council of Four and the Council 
of Ten met. Reinforcements were brought up for the sieges and 
counter sieges, which became more wearing on the Commissioners. 
Bliss wrote on January 21 to Mrs. Bliss: 

"But, oh my dear, if you could see my room, you would not expect 
much letter writing. Tables, chairs, lounges, are piled up high with 
papers, marked 'important/ 'urgent' and all that sort of thing. And then 
the people that waste my time with foolish talk! Two or three are wait- 
ing to see me now. A Persian delegation is coming, a Chinese one has just 
left, Poles Czechs Yugo-slavs 11 I wish there never had been a war or 
else that it lasted longer for peace seems to be worse than war/' 

This letter included the following item: 

"Lord Reading, for example, told me a good while ago that he was 
about to return (he is British Ambassador in Washington) but he is still 
here. I am inclined to think that it would be a good thing for us if he 
went, for he seems to be trying to block our path here. . . ." 

1 Letter to Lansing, January 13, 1919. 

2 Bliss' diary, February 4, 1919. 


And the path to which Bliss kept his own steps in their Olympian 
tread was that of loyalty to the President's aims. He expressed it in 
his memorandum about the fourth armistice, which was now under 

"The one thing that all the American advisers of President Wilson are 
especially concerned in is that nothing be done, at their suggestion or by 
lack of their suggestion, that at any time could with any justice be alleged 
to impugn his good faith. 

"At no moment should the following be lost from consideration. When 
Germany made her final appeal to the President, he replied, enunciating 
certain general terms and principles which would be acceptable to him, 
and said that he would refer the whole matter to the European Allies 
associated with him in the war and that he would be guided by their 
views. The heads of the Allied European governments met in Paris and, 
after prolonged and careful consideration, drew up the terms on accept- 
ance of which they would be willing to grant an armistice to Germany. 
These terms were finally accepted in solemn conference at Versailles 
and were telegraphed to the President in Washington with the declara- 
tion that he could inform Germany that if the latter would accept them 
they would unite with the President in negotiating peace with Germany 
on the basis of the President's fourteen declarations. Germany accepted 
these terms and signed the conditions of the Armistice on November 
11, 1918."* 

The Armistice had been renewed for two periods of a month each 
after the conclusion of the thirty-six day period of the first one. The 
French inclination in the successive armistices was to make each one 
more exacting, gradually weakening and disarming their ancient 
enemy. They complained that the Germans were breaking some of 
the clauses of the latest armistice, especially the financial and eco- 
nomic. This was a matter for the economic representatives of the 
Allies to consider in council with the soldiers; but, anyhow, a new 
armistice must be drafted for February 17 when the third armistice 

Foch and Weygand brought forth the draft of ''quite an extraor- 
dinary" document, as Bliss called it, in which they had included the 
provisions which they ''assumed would be finally agreed upon as the 
conditions to go in a treaty of peace." It had settled all the details 
including the permanent military force Germany should have and 

i Memorandum to Lansing, February 7, 1919. 


her future boundary with Poland. The Germans were to be told 
that if they refused to accept these terms the war would be renewed. 1 
"Of course, I refused to accept this/' Bliss said, "since the Peace 
Conference, and not the soldiers, was making the peace treaty." Bliss 
proposed that the Military Representatives now proceed to frame the 
final military and naval terms so that these would be on a definite 
basis. He wrote to Mrs. Bliss, February 26: 

"I have been swamped with committee work. I am on a committee 
Marshal Foch is President of it to prepare the final military terms of 
peace with Germany. It has been one continuous fight. I made reserva- 
tions against what the French regard as a sine qua non condition, viz. 
perpetual military occupation of Germany under the guise of a great 
military commission. It would mean that the United States might be 
dragged into war over any trivial dispute 10 years from now. I told the 
Marshal that it was silly for him to expect me to agree to it when it 
would do no good if the Senate rejected it. He said he would not submit 
any report to which I made any reservation because that would give me 
the right to oppose it before the Supreme Council. I told him I would 
enter a reservation against anything that I thought was radically wrong. 
To-day he has receded and we have agreed on a draft. It remains to be 
seen what the rest of the committee will do. But I think they will do any- 
thing he wishes." 

A fourth armistice, without the definitive terms, had to be con- 
cluded owing to the prolonged discussion by the Foch committee 
about the final plans for the limitation of German armament in 
the future and how the conditions imposed were to be enforced. In 
his memorandum, attached to the minutes of the meetings of the 
committee, Bliss mentioned that he made it a point to inform his 
colleagues that as these terms would probably be a pan of the Peace 
Treaty they would be subject to ratification by the United States 
Senate which would examine them with minute care. "To my amaze- 
ment/' Bliss wrote, "not one of my foreign colleagues had the slightest 
realization of the fact." In his criticism of the terms which Foch had 
prepared as a compromise, Bliss said in part: 

"You propose in Article 15 to suppress 'every organ charged with the 
study of past or future operations, or designed to propagate the military 
science, under any form whatsoever/ Suppose some be-whiskered and be- 

i Bliss* diary, February u, 1919. 


spectacled professor in a German university begins a course of lectures 
on the art of war as practiced by the ancient Egyptians or by the Hebrews 
in the days of Moses and Joshua. You will say that it would be ridiculous 
to assume that the Special Commission would regard such a course of 
lectures as a violation of the provisions in Article 15. 

"That is quite true; it would be very ridiculous to so regard it. Never- 
theless, it cannot be denied that it would be a violation of the terms of 
the proposed Article 15; and it is not ridiculous to assume that at some 
time there may be some very foolish persons on the Special Commission 
sitting in Berlin who would regard this be-whiskered and be-spectacled 
professor as a menace to the peace of the world; and these foolish mem- 
bers of the Commission are just as likely to be Americans as of any other 

"Moreover, after he has begun such a course of lectures, at what point 
will you call a halt? Will you allow him then to proceed to discuss the 
art of war in the times of Alexander, of Hannibal, of Caesar, of Gustavus 
Adolphus, of Frederick the Great, of Napoleon the First, of Grant and 
Lee, of von Moltke, of Hindenburg, and of Foch? If not, where will you 
stop him? 

"Or, again: suppose that the Special Commission in Berlin has reason 
to believe that Germany has one field gun more than the number which 
she is to be allowed to have; suppose that Germany declines to pay the 
fine of ten times the value of this field gun, assessed by the Special Com- 
missionshall the United States be obliged to go to war along with the 
present Allies and other Associated Powers in order to collect this fine? 
But, you will say, it is ridiculous to suppose that we will go to war for 
such a cause. Why will you not do so? Will you allow Germany to flaunt 
in your face the fact that she intentionally has one gun more than her 
allowance? If so, how many more guns will you allow her to have before 
you go to war? 

"All of these things illustrate what I have said before, viz., that the 
ultimate sanction of a treaty is the general implied threat of war in case 
the other party fails to comply with its evident purpose and intent. 
This purpose and intent, therefore, should not be specified in such de- 
tail that the enemy may violate these details a little here and a little 
there, knowing full well that you will not go to war as the result of it." l 

And he reminded the committee again of the powers of the United 
States Senate under the Constitution. On the subject of toxic gases 
he said that Germany should be forbidden to manufacture any for 
war purposes. But referring to the word used in Article 5, "Unless 
the Allies agree to a general prohibition of the use of these gases in 
future wars, it would seem unwise to characterize the employment 

i Minutes of the meeting of the Foch committee, February 24, 1919. 


o them as 'cruel' when used by the Germans/ 1 Some of his Allied 
colleagues must have thought, at times, that he was almost pro- 
German, but they would hardly have thought so if they had heard 
him cursing the barbarism that destroyed Rheims Cathedral. 

He astonished them when he said that on the basis of her popula- 
tion and her land boundaries Germany was entitled to an army of 
400,000, but limited in heavy offensive artillery, to preserve order 
at home and to defend her frontiers from attack, as a practical measure 
in the present state of Europe. He would also allow her to retain 
both her eastern and western frontier fortifications, the few she now 
had for defense. Haig would allow her eastern but not her western 
fortifications to remain; the French would destroy all. Haig proposed 
a German army of 200-250,000, but the French stood firm for 100,000, 
and finally Haig said to Bliss a little wearily, "Oh, well, let them 
have their way." x 

How was it to be raised? The British were stubborn for volunteers; 
the French and Italians for conscription because that would be more 
easily controlled and because there was popular opposition in their 
own countries, especially in Italy, to the continuance of conscrip- 

House, who, in the President's absence in the United States, was 
receiving the direct fire of his Allied colleagues in front and on both 
flanks as well as a good deal in the rear from home, asked unifier Bliss 
if he could not devise some compromise which would end the con- 
troversy. But Bliss said this was impossible between two systems 
that negatived each other. 

He stated in a memorandum in his papers that "it looked as 
though the matter was cut and dried between M. Clemenceau and 
Mr. Lloyd George before the plenary conference which adopted the 
terms/ ' The two had come to a compromise, between the French 
limitation of numbers and the British demand they should be vol- 
unteers, on a German army of 100,000 volunteers. Clemenceau in 
the chair shut off further talk on the subject and adjourned the meet- 
ing. Bliss relates this sequel: 

"We at once rose from our seats. The French were sitting in their 
regular place on my right. Marshal Foch and General Weygand passed 

i From notes in the Bliss papers. 


me around the corner of the table and as they approached M. Clemen- 
ceau I heard General Weygand say to him in a very excited way, 'Do 
you mean to say that the conference has approved a voluntary army of 
100,000 men?' There immediately followed a heated discussion between 
them and M. Clemenceau, which I doubtless could have overheard had 
I remained where I was standing. I did not propose to play such a part 
and accordingly moved away. 

"But from various remarks that I heard immediately thereafter it was 
evident to me that there was a general impression that Marshal Foch 
and General Weygand protested bitterly against the action, which left 
those who saw the incident, or heard any part of the conversation, with 
the conviction that these gentlemen believed nothing less than a trick 
had been played upon them by a prior agreement between M. Clemen- 
ceau and Mr. Lloyd George." 

Doubtless Foch and Weygand were thinking back to Napoleon's 
limitation of the size of the German army through which, under the 
volunteer system, they circulated recruits for drill to make a large 
force which had its representatives on the field of Waterloo and in 
the subsequent occupation of Paris. After the World War the Ger- 
man staff sent an officer to America to study the American regular 
army; and, without violating the terms of the Treaty, trained 100,000 
regulars, every man of whom would classify as a capable sergeant. 

Bliss also expressed his opinion pungently on another subject in 
his letter of February 26 to Mrs. Bliss: 

"Yesterday Mr. Balfour asked me to be present with the Supreme 
Council when they discussed the Polish situation, involving the question 
whether American troops would go there. I wish they had given me an 
opportunity to speak on that point. I can think of nothing more insane 
than to ask the United States to send its troops on another war before 
we have finished this one. But they found that they had not received 
a lot of data they needed for the discussion and I had no occasion to 
speak. I am beginning to think that the world is in for another 30 years' 
war. This one really began in 1911 and so seven years of it are gone. 
The 'submerged nations' are coming to the surface and as soon as they 
appear, they fly at somebody's throat. They are like mosquitoes, vicious 
from the moment of their birth. All their energies are devoted to raising 
armies and all begging the United States for troops, for money, for arms 
and what not." 

He unbosomed himself to the same effect to his old army friend, 


"I wish I could write to you more at length. I am scribbling this line 
(I am writing it in my own hand but it will be typed in the morning) 
at 2 o'clock in the morning and my desk and tables are piled with a 
week's work. And most of it does not concern us Americans at all. . . . 

"Europe is bankrupt x and yet it is making plans for all sorts of military 
operations after peace is signed (if it ever is) with Germany. And they 
can do none of the things that they have in mind without the help of 
the United States. They expect troops and money and supplies from us. 
They say that we came into the war and that we must now see them 
through the problems resulting from the war. 

"I think that the most humane thing we could do to Europe would 
be to say that when we have signed peace with Germany we are going 
home and will let Europe settle her own problems in her own way (shell 
do it anyway), while we attend to our own problems." 2 

Possibly the quiet Mrs. Bliss would have concluded that that hus- 
band of hers had sat up a little too late and it was time he kept better 
hours, took some long walks and had more leisure for his Horace and 
a detective story with a fresh and compelling plot to read. At the 
worst, she knew he was only blowing off steam under conditions 
which kept a large volume under compression. Yet, in all his rela- 
tions with his colleagues and with the polyglot procession of his 
callers, he kept his nerves under control although his urbanity was 
sometimes touched with brusqueness and his replies occasionally had 
a keen, factual edge. 

If Wallace or Grant did not quite suffice as listeners when he blew 
off steam, there was always a warm reception for him, in any mood, 
at the home of Robert Woods Bliss, the Counsellor of the American 
Embassy in Paris. Both Bliss and Mrs. Bliss, in their broad culture, 
understood him when he referred to classic or modern instances 
illustrating the perversities of this human world. Mrs. Bliss shared 
her husband's appreciation of his powerful expletives when he opened 
the escape valve of his emotions. He might walk up and down in 
Socratic freedom of philosophy in their living room just as he would 
in the hall at home. 

On one occasion when some one said that Keats was the Mozart of 
literature, there was an outburst which was in no wise related to 

1 Bliss here expresses the common American opinion of the time, although France 
had a gold reserve of $1,5500,000,000, and Great Britain, the foremost creditor nation, 
had lost only about one-fourth of her capital. 

2 Letter to Major General Enoch H. Crowder, March 3, 1919. 


any Plenary Session of the Peace Conference which sought to settle 
the future peace of the world and make the Serbs, Italians and Greeks 
happy in their quarrels for the portion of mother earth which each 
regarded as the inalienable right of each as a chosen race. Even 
Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn did not appeal to Bliss. To compare 
that jingle-smith, who had form and words but no ideas or power, 
to the great Mozart was as absurd as to compare an ephemeral versi- 
fier of the hour to Horace. 

He consigned a limp and deflated Keats to the scrap-basket. Ah, 
but Brahms 1 The mention of Brahms raised him to the top of Olym- 
pus on a fair day in spring, surveying the planet's spread. Brahms 
sounded his depths and breadth of mind. 

And now we return to Foch who, in formulating peace terms, was 
true to his military principle, "To make war is to attack and to attack." 
When one proposal was rejected he proceeded quite undiscouraged 
to bring his tactful and luminous persuasive powers to bear in favor 
of another. With our army now returning at the rate of 200,000 
men a month, and the British just as determined as we were to have 
their men at home, his Allied command was rapidly dwindling in 
numbers. Since it had now become clear that Germany was weak- 
ened by the disintegration of her army and civil strife, he was not 
quite so insistent that we should retain a million men in France until 
the Peace Treaty was signed. 

But he continued to remind us that there were many chores for 
us to do yet in the proper dismemberment of Austria and enclosing 
Germany in a wall of nations friendly to France. An American force 
might be most useful in restoring order in Hungary and occupying 
Vienna. The Hungarians and then the Rumanians had violated 
the armistice line: then when a neutral zone was established, the 
Rumanians had marched across that. Their advance into Hungary 
had led to the fall of the Karolyi government and placed Bolshevist 
elements in the saddle. 

"There appears to be no doubt from what Mr. Norman Davis has told 
me, that some days prior to March 25th (when the evacuation of Odessa 
and provision for the maintenance of the Rumanian army were discussed 
by the Council of Four), the British and French governments agreed 
with the Rumanian government to provide for the entire maintenance of 


the latter's army. 

"From Colonel Browning's reports to me of the proceedings of 
Marshal Foch's Committee, there seems to be no doubt that the European 
Allies expect that the United States will not merely provide certain food, 
clothing, etc., for the Rumanian army, but it will also share in all of the 
other expenses of its maintenance. There is no law under which this can 
be done." * 

On February 26 he wrote a letter to the American Commission 
proposing that the Allies be informed of our attitude in a manner 
that would end the appeals to draw us into tangent adventures for 
which there was no authority even though the Commission assented. 

"There is every reason to believe (it is quite evident from the state- 
ment made by Marshal Foch at the meeting of the Supreme Council yes- 
terday afternoon) that a plan is in preparation for waging war on Russia 
as soon as peace is concluded with Germany. This plan contemplates the 
formation of a great army of Greeks, Rumanians, Czecho-Slovaks, Poles, 
Esthonians, and others, under French direction, to fight Russia. It is per- 
fectly well known that every nation in Europe, except England, is bank- 
rupt, and that England would become bankrupt if she engaged on any 
considerable scale in such an adventure. I have reason to believe that 
such a plan could not be formulated except in the hope that the neces- 
sary assistance will be given by the United States. My personal belief is 
that the desire to get American troops, even if it be only one enlisted 
man or one officer, to go to Danzig for the ostensible purpose of helping 
the Poles, has this larger plan in view. Danzig would naturally be a most 
important base for operations against Russia, to be undertaken by an 
army composed of the forces indicated above. . . . 

"I think that the time has come for a carefully guarded, but kindly and 
positive declaration of the purposes of the United States. No one but the 
United States can give this declaration. I have said to Frenchmen and 
Englishmen that, in my personal opinion, I did not believe that the 
United States would engage in another war in Europe. Such a statement 
generally meets with a shrug of the shoulders and the counter-statement 
that the United States cannot desert the Allies in Europe in the settle- 
ment of questions growing out of the present war. If it be a fact that we 
are going to assist Europe in the settlement of these problems, with our 
troops and money and supplies, that fact should be officially de- 
dared. . . . 

"I recommend that the American Peace Commission give considera- 
tion to these suggestions with a view to having the President of the 
United States come to a thorough understanding with all political leaders 

i Memorandum in the Bliss papers. 


in that country as to the future military and financial relations of the 
United States to the European problems growing out of this war and 
which will not be finally settled by the signature of peace with Germany/' 

He drafted a cablegram to this effect, to be sent to the President, 
but before the Commission concurred in it, the President had sailed, 
March 5, back to Paris, to renew his bargaining for his war aims and 
the League of Nations. 

The soldiers, having framed the military terms, might feel that the 
onus of future delays rested with the statesmen, whose squabbles 
seemed endless. Indeed, in spite of all his differences with his col- 
leagues, Bliss was in a mood in his letter to Mrs. Bliss, March 9, that 
gave him a high opinion of the direct methods of his profession. 

"I have been pegging away as usual or perhaps a little more than 'as 
usual/ We have finished the final peace terms with Germany. It was a 
hard task. I do not like them at all. The English are all for hanging the 
Kaiser. The French want it too. It would be curious to see the English 
hang the grandson of Queen Victoria. It is the politicians who make the 
trouble. I think the military men have more horse sense than any of the 
politicians. Of course, that is between you and me/' 

Mrs. Bliss might be convinced that she knew one soldier who had 
more horse sense than many politicians except when he became too 
elevated by general ideas. Again, in the course of the fluctuating peace 
negotiations, the politicians would be up and the soldiers down in 
his estimate as he viewed all actions and attitudes with reference to 
the crystallization of his general ideas in one concrete idea and pur- 
pose on which his mind was stubbornly set-a practicable peace which 
would be enduring and an infant League of Nations which would 
learn how to walk before it undertook the burdens of an Atlas. 

He knew the final peace terms were really far from finished when 
he wrote to Mrs. Bliss, March 25: 

"Things here seem to me to grow blacker and blacker every day. . . . 
To me there does not seem to be honesty or common sense in political 
men over here. I don't wonder that the world is going Bolshevik. It is the 
last despairing cry of people who have lost all faith in their government/' 


UPON his arrival in Paris Dr. James Brown Scott, the veteran expert 
in international law, had asked, "Where are the Germans? 1 ' x Dr. Scott 
had worn the uniform of his country in 1898 and again in 1917-18, 
but he did not forget that it had been customary in previous peace 
conferences to have representatives of the beaten enemy present for 
the discussions of details after the general outline of terms had been 
settled. Bliss proposed that the framing of the Treaty might be 
hastened for the good of the world if the Germans were brought to 
Paris for consideration of the points which had been already agreed 
upon. 2 

Joseph C. Grew, the Secretary General of the American Peace 
Commission, had requested replies from the various sub-commissions 
or committees as to progress during the President's absence and how 
far, if at all, they had violated his principles. At the time Bliss made 
his suggestion he had the replies before him. 

'The following named commissions have not progressed sufficiently 
to date in the preparation of their reports to admit of making a state- 
ment: Economic; Financial; Reparations; International Labor Legisla- 
tion; Territorial Questions; and the Supreme Economic Council. The 
following commissions have not reported: League of Nations; Responsi- 
bility; Ports, Waterways and Railways; Czecho-Slovak Affairs; and Ru- 
manian Territorial Claims," 8 

The list reveals the wide spread of the task of remapping Europe 
territorially, economically, financially, politically in prescribed racial 
patches and arranging the shares of indemnity to be paid to each 
claimant by the beaten nations. Lack of industry did not account for 
the delay. The commissions were as busy as staffs in battle. The Amer- 
can groups had prepared programs which seemed to them disin- 

1 Dr. Scott to the author. 

2 Memorandum for the American Peace Commission, April 3, 1919. 
s Memorandum from Grew to Bliss, March 13, 1919. 



terested, since America asked nothing for herself; but these programs 
were subject to the objections of all the submerged races from Asia 
Minor to Central Europe and to those of the master races bordering 
on the English Channel, and then to all the differences between their 
own various interests. 

These unsettled problems awaited the President upon his return 
to Paris. The acclaim that welcomed his first coming was noticeably 
absent for his second as the cards of force were again being played 
at the council table. When our great army was crossing the Atlantic 
and moving into the trenches he had held the aces in the game of life 
and death. Now, as every day saw more of our soldiers homeward 
bound, there was a retreating bayonet tip behind our moral in- 

In Paris an irritated sigh with its "So Wilson is back!" took the 
place of the thrill of "Lafayette, we are here!'* The old slur of "the 
perfidious English" was again in vogue on the lips of Frenchmen 
in place of the moist-eyed relief on August 4, 1914, when it was 
learned that England had declared war on Germany and her soldiers 
were landing in France. For war passions and racial passions make 
for even shorter memories than family quarrels at the breakfast 
tables, with the contrary effect of overshadowing all past affections 
with present malice. 

In the increasing glow of national pride each Ally was less in- 
clined to admit its dependence upon the other Allies for victory. 
America was seen as having entered the war just at the end for the 
honor of the last kick at the enemy. Our battle losses had been 
comparatively slight. It did not occur to our Allies to wonder what 
might have happened if the United States had not come into the 
war at all, or if we had not turned our naval forces against the sub- 
marine; or our treasury and factories had not strengthened the Allies' 
weakening sinews of war; or it had not been known we were coming 
in huge numbers at the time of the March and April crises of 1918; 
or we had not been across the Paris road at Chiteau-Thierry; or fed 
division after division into the maws of the Meuse-Argonne; and, 
finally, if we had not prepared to send four million men across three 
thousand miles of ocean to compel victory in 1919. This was as 
easy for each of the Allied statesmen to forget as it was for him to 
forget the efforts of his nation's European Allies. Gradually all were 


becoming convinced they had saved America from German invasion. 

And now these theorists from America, these doctrinaires with 
their talk of high ideals for other peoples without seeing the motes 
in their own eyes, these emissaries of the young nation, had come to 
teach the old nations lessons which thousands of years of experience 
had taught the old nations in blood and death could not be applied. 
The theorists would have a society of nations keeping the peace for 
other countries which must be eternally in face of the danger from 
which Allied arms had freed distant America in 1914-18. 

What did these outsiders with their charts and their ethnographic 
records know of vigils in the North Sea against the submarines, or 
holding Verdun against the enemy, or the snows of Alpine heights 
in battle, or the sufferings of Poles or Greeks or Armenians who 
had all learned that only arms kept the burglar from the door? 

And this disciple of Walter Bagehot, this cloistered pedagogue 
suddenly lifted into the Presidency, and remaining cloistered in the 
White House as the waves of Armageddon rose higher over its door- 
step! What did he know of the realities of this Armageddon, the 
eternal passions which had made it and which, with the aid of 
pointer and blackboard, as the ethical master of all the peoples, he 
would resolve out of existence? And now America was expecting 
the payment of the war debts due her and tightening the strings 
of her huge purse filled with the gold from Allied purchases. Many 
Europeans saw the President's self-determination of peoples, with its 
creation of states within racial frontiers, as a perpetuation of racial 
rivalry and arming, at the expense of established natural economic 
frontiers, in contrast with the American practice of its boasted 
melting-pot, in which amity among the races came from their 
amalgam in a single state. 

Meanwhile, the interests, both home and foreign, which would be 
served by his support and European idealists of his own mind did 
not cease their flattering unction that the hope of the future of 
Europe and the world was America's acceptance of its destined part 
in world affairs. But opinion in the United States was rising to a 
contrary view; there was growing alarm lest our old policy of avoid- 
ing entangling alliances should be sacrificed by dangerous commit- 
ments abroad through the Treaty and the League of Nations. 

In Paris, where the Peace Conference was held, the French at- 


mosphere prevailed, the French influence was unescapable, when 
France held the most intimate memories of the folly of being un- 
prepared for war. French and British and all other European na- 
tionalistic propaganda played upon American groups of sympathizers 
the Franco-Americans being more French than the French in tune 
with kindred nationalistic aims at the Conference. 

Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando, those veterans of parlia- 
mentary experience which was their school for high executive polit- 
ical office, were bearing heavier burdens than when the President 
had departed on his visit home, as they met again with the peer who 
developed his opinions from the written word rather than in verbal 
counsel and whose training was that of the scholarly tutorial execu- 
tive. Demobilization and reconstruction and the home outcries 
against continuance of their personal autocracy, which had been 
conferred upon them in war time, brought embarrassments and 
penalties. That spinning and molten ball of world affairs, which was 
supposed to be plastic to their moulding, was in danger of slipping 
out of their scorched hands if they fumbled their domestic politics. 

The agents of predatory and often short-sighted selfishness, which 
had been hidden in the rear during the war, or outshouting those 
who acclaimed war ideals, were beleaguering every peace mission, all 
pleading that they were thinking in patriotic terms. Some national- 
istic group of his own country pressed upon each statesman some 
interest in every other country which the Treaty would affect. In- 
terest was interlocked with interest and their real purposes masked. 
The whispers of ten thousand intrigues sought a hearing as front 
door propaganda consulted behind curtains with backstairs gossip 
in evolving a properly disguised and effective tactical approach. And 
the American mission was not free from this bedevilment from home 
as well as foreign sources. 

Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando had their daily reports 
on the course of public opinion in America and what would fan 
and smother backfires. They knew, through American information, 
without having to read our Constitution, that the Treaty would be 
subject to ratification by the Senate, but it did not suit their pur- 
poses evidently to spread the news. What actually passed in the 
Councils of the Big Four we shall never know first hand, and second 
hand will not satisfy. Only a historian under the spell of Lloyd 


George's mesmeric personality would depend upon Lloyd George's 
unconsciously gifted flexible memory. 

But no set of transactions of a gathering of human beings has cer- 
tainly ever been so fully documented as that of the Peace Conference 
when all who had a part, except in the Council of Four and the 
Council of Ten, felt that they owed history the obligation to retain 
all their carbons and to keep a diary in addition. The record is so 
heartbreaking in the failure of human good intentions to over- 
come human perversity that military staff colleges and the soldier 
on the drillground found it a warrant for their "We better be 
ready. They're going to need us again." 

The world knows the course of the Paris negotiations so well that 
the background is clear for further quotations from Bliss 1 papers. 
He was unhappy. After all his labors, he had thought that, with the 
end of the war, he was in sight of the promised land, only to find 
it studded with bayonets and torn by shell-bursts. 

He mentioned to Mrs. Bliss that he was getting tired, an admission 
which he never made to her when his work was going well. The 
constant friction of the file wore his nerves, as well as those of the 
other conferees, down to the raw edge at times. His flashes of irrita- 
tion in his letters belong in his biography. But he was still so far 
master of himself in council that he vented none of the bursts of 
temper which sometimes broke up the conferences of the Big 
Four, after the discussions of high policy became concentrated in 
the secret meetings of Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Or- 
lando, thus completing the circle from "open covenants openly ar- 
rived at" back to the old closet diplomacy. Clemenceau referred to 
Bliss as "an independent mind who had well-anchored personal 
opinions and never budged from them. Also an admirable physician 
who returned an everlasting no to whatever he was asked, and never 
attempted a word of explaining." 1 

Bliss refers frequently in his diary to how the demands for repara- 
tions grew as the collapse of Germany became more evident. In- 
direct losses were included with direct losses. "Prime Minister 
Hughes of Australia is claiming that a house in Australia with a 
mortgage on it, which mortgage can be reasonably assumed to be 
due to the war, is as much an injured house requiring reparation as 

i Grandeur and Misery of Victory. Clemenceau. p. 149. 


a house in northern France or in Belgium with a shell-hole in it." 
Bliss also related how Dupuy, the great newspaper owner o France, 
"all during the past year, until the time of the Armistice, talked 
to me of a policy of conciliation and reconciliation and deprecated 
the idea of the session of territory as the result of the war. He even 
at one time early in last year said to me that France could very well 
get on without the return of Alsace-Lorraine." Bliss went on to 

"The evil result of governmental control of the "press is that the gov- 
ernment creates a popular sentiment which it afterward cannot keep in 
check. The government has created the idea in the minds of the French 
people that all their expenses of the war will be paid by Germany, includ- 
ing reparations, the return at compound interest of the indemnity of 
1871 and large accessions of territory. It has told the people that a great 
pension system will be provided for out of the funds to be obtained from 
Germany during many years to come and that it will not be necessary to 
raise taxes in France." 

The variety of the appeals which crossed Bliss* desk, and which 
must be wrestled with by the committees, may be illustrated by ex- 
amples other than the better known ones of the Lithuanians against 
the Poles, the Saar, Danzig, Fiume, Silesia, and the Swedish demand 
for the Aaland .Islands. 

An American, C. Telford Erickson, Honorary Delegate of the 
Albanian Federation, said that America, having entered the war 
to fight the battle of the weak against the strong, might convince 
Europe that "we are not a money-loving, materialistic people who 
will use our present advantages to achieve the commercial supremacy 
of the world" by coming to the rescue of Albania, "a poor orphan 
child among the nations, whom none pities or cares for, and who 
will be otherwise abandoned, maltreated and perhaps destroyed." 

There was also the Banat of Temesvar, which was a "rich thickly 
populated province of southern Hungary, now occupied by Allied 
troops" and which "presents a most complicated problem both eco- 
nomically and ethnologically, and is equally claimed by Rumania 
and Serbia." 

From Madrid George Bronson Rea wrote in capital letters: "Our 
one safeguard lies in Morocco, internationalized and neutralized." 
This referred to "the Paris-Gibraltar-Dakar-South America Railroad 


and Steamship" project. If the Peace Conference conceded to France 
the control of Morocco, Spain would be strangled by the pressure 
of France to the north and the immense Franco-African empire on 
the south, while South America would be placed at the mercy of 
an European commercial and military drive. America must stop 
this now in her own interest or the Monroe Doctrine would go by the 
board. Bliss replied that "the railroad project to Dakar may doubt- 
less affect the future peace of the world, just as a thousand other 
projects do or will." But it was impossible to forestall the danger 
through the American Peace Commission which was occupied with 
"work of its own up to its eyes, connected with the immediate object 

Security as well as future opportunity for expansion was a con- 
trolling motive of all nationalistic actions and appeals. Before his 
trip home the French had appeared to accept the League of Na- 
tions draft presented by Wilson, but without any confidence in it. 
Something of more solid substance for their future defense than 
the experimental covenant would be direct commitment of American 
arms and power. The following pact, to be signed by the United 
States and Great Britain, was submitted to Bliss: 

"In order to prevent any aggressive attack in the future by the Ger- 
man nation upon France or Belgium, we mutually agree to unite and to 
use immediately our military, financial and economic resources to de- 
feat any such aggression, and also to give our moral support to prevent 

Bliss wrote a penciled memorandum in comment, March 20: 

"This draft is a modification of one proposed by Mr. House, and which 
he suggested to meet the French threat that they could not accept the 
League of Nations unless this promise was made by the United States. 
Neither Mr. Lansing nor Mr. White nor I approve of this draft or any- 
thing like it. It will surely kill the League of Nations Covenant." 

No one had more faith in the League, or was more loyal to it than 
House who was ready to make compromises in its behalf. It had 
been rumored, without grounds of support, that while the President 
was at home, House had neglected to protect the League, which had 
.already been formally accepted, from undermining influences. Clem- 


enceau had hailed House's proposal with delight and changed the 
word invasion to attack. 1 But the answer of the United States Senate 
and doubtless the House of Commons would have been a negative 
supported by a more vigorous one from every British or American 
soldier who had been in the trenches. 
Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, April 3: 

"Things here are coming to a dangerous pass. The French military 
party are making demands for the occupation in perpetuity of the Rhine 
by our Allied Army including 100,000 Americans and other things on 
which we cannot yield. And if we don't yield, there is no treaty. If the 
French yield and Marshal Foch should resign it means the downfall of 
the government. I cannot believe that they will go to such an extreme 
but I am beginning to think that the military party does not want peace. 
We have about come to the conclusion that the President ought to give 
them a time limit and say to them that at the end of it he is going home 
and will lay the matter before Congress. We are not seeking territories 
nor indemnities. We have no object except to help in making a peace 
that will endure so that we won't have to come over here again to save 
them. But to join with them in making demands that will unite Central 
and Eastern Europe in a war against the west is a thing we cannot do. 
It may be that some one will yield and then we can settle things quickly. 
But if not, I think the Conference will end in a dismal failure. Which 
it is to be you may know before this letter reaches you." 

With House taking his place when he was ill, but less consulted 
otherwise than formerly, the worn President continued his meet- 
ings with his three colleagues of the Big Four in settling the mighty 
world issues which revived the war's call for super-men heard during 
the war, but who never appeared although many volunteers held 
up their hands in proof of a sublime faith in their competence. The 
President sent his famous cable asking when the George Washington 
could be at Brest. Perhaps her presence in the harbor, enforcing 
the suggestion that he would break off negotiations and go home, 
might give him a useful card. He was in the mood to demand that 
all future negotiations should be in the open. 

Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, April 7: 

"In the afternoon the American Commission had a two hours' con- 
ference with President Wilson at his house. We all agreed that there 

i Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Seymour. IV, 363. 


should be no more secret conferences of the 'Big Four' but that the Presi- 
dent should tell his colleagues that they must at once come to time, or 
to insist on having all points of difference openly discussed in the Plenary 
Conference. I think things will come to a crisis this week. We have said 
that often before, but now I do not see how it can be postponed. . . . 
Spring is near at hand. The foliage is coming out rapidly and the 
marronniers along the Champs Elys6es are in full bloom. I wish you 
could be here to see them or that I were with you and Eleanor/' 

On April 11 came a very stormy meeting of the Committee on 
the League of Nations lasting until one in the morning. On the ap- 
peal of former President Taft, a strong advocate of the League, and 
in response to the apprehension at home about the reported draft 
of the Covenant, Wilson proposed an amendment which prevented 
interference with the validity of the Monroe Doctrine. 1 Our own 
national interests now claimed attention. The British opposed most 
vigorously, while M. Lon Bourgeois became impassioned in favor 
of French as the official language of the League. Wilson's eloquence 
failed to move French objection to any exception for the Monroe 
Doctrine. The Japanese added to the turmoil by bringing in an 
amendment about "the endorsement of the principle of the equality 
of nations and the just treatment of nationals/' which had a slant at 
our Exclusion Act. 2 

On April 14, after further discussion, the Monroe Doctrine amend- 
ment was accepted, and the Covenant sent to the drafting Commis- 
sion for final details to wait on the Plenary Session. The Treaty 
seemed so far advanced that the Germans were invited to Versailles 
to listen to its provisions. Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, April 15: 

"It begins to look as though the end of the Peace Conference is in 
sight, though still, perhaps, a good way off. The Germans may be here 
on the 25th. But I have no idea that they can or will be coerced into 
signing without full discussion. Still it is a great thing to have got the 
treaty ready for them to discuss. . . . The only real difficulty is the ques- 
tion of Fiume and Dalmatia. I hope the President can settle that in the 
near future; then perhaps we can all return together. But the wars are 
not yet over." 

The conspicuous wars of the moment were between the Poles 
and Ukrainians, the Hungarians and Rumanians, while Greek troops 

i What Really Happened at Paris. Miller, p. 416. 
a Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Seymour. IV, 426. 


were about to land in Turkey to start another, and war between the 
Italians and Yugo-Slavs threatened over the possession of Dalmatia 
and Fiume, not to mention Bolshevik uprisings. There were also 
reports of pogroms in Poland which had killed many Jews. Bliss 
wrote to Mrs. Bliss, April 17: 

"The French government has fed the people up on the belief that 
the Germans are going to work for them for the next two generations- 
pay all their taxes, their pensions, their expenses for this war, etc. The 
terms are beginning to leak out and there are mutterings of indignation 
already. ... I hope the common sense of Europe will come to its rescue. 
Bolshevism seems to be a hideous peril; but how to fight it? If they would 
and could agree to give up their official government propaganda, I be- 
lieve the Allies might be willing to treat with them. They must treat with 
them in some way or else fight them. It is not yet known: whether there 
will be any hitch in the plan to have the German delegates here on the 
25th. If they come, I fancy they will be allowed a couple of weeks to study 
and may even be permitted to take it back to Weimar. At the end of that 
time I should hope that the Italian and other questions might be settled 
and then I should hope we could be home by summer. I live in that hope." 

No letter by Bliss better expresses his convictions, his deep feel- 
ing and the guiding influence which fortified him in all his war 
labors than the one written April 19 to Lansing: 

"I do not know anything that more disgusts me, that makes me more 
sick of the cant and hypocrisy of our peace talk, than the fact that I can 
offer no reason which anyone else would accept as valid, against your 
replying to this letter to the effect that so far as I know our government 
will have no objection to the sale by the Liquidation Commission of these 
arms, ammunition and artillery 'to the governments named or to any 
other governments which may be fairly considered in the friendly class/ 
In fact the Liquidation Commission was created for that purpose. 

"I do not know what limitations are imposed upon this matter by 
law; but I fear that under the law, it is the unhappy fact that, while we 
may not sell to an enemy government, we may sell to those who are for 
the moment friendly to us, even though we know that they are bitterly 
hostile to each other and at this moment are preparing to fly at each 
other's throats. 

"We may sell to Poland though we know that Poland is eagerly pre- 
paring a campaign against the Ukraine, the success of which will over- 
throw a government which is friendly to us and which will make that 
country Bolshevik, although the Ukrainian government has declared un- 


reservedly that it will abide by the decisions of the Peace Conference 
which thus far Poland has declined to do. 

"We may sell arms to Poland though the head of that government has 
declared that it will fight Germany if its demands for Danzig are not 
fully realized; and that it will fight Czechoslovakia if its demands for 
Teschen are denied. And we may sell to Czechoslovakia in order that 
it may fight Poland for the same object. 

"And so I might go around the wearisome and bloody circle. The arms 
which we brought to Europe in order to kill militarism and to bring an 
era of lasting peace, we are going to sell over the bargain counter to the 
new nations which we boasted that we were going to usher into a world 
of peace. It would be bad enough if we sold for cash; but as a matter of 
fact, we are selling for credit the value of which will depend on the suc- 
cess of purchasers in killing a sufficient number of their neighbors. Our 
securities will be valuable only in proportion as they are stained with 

"Personally, I would rather be taxed to my last dollar to pay for this 
material of war if we threw it into the sea than to have it sold for any 
such purpose. 

"And why should we not throw it into the sea? What more splendid 
object lesson could the United States give to the world than to utterly 
destroy this material? By selling it we will get a bagatelle of its cost to 
us, plus a long tale of dead men, of maimed bodies, of ruined habitations 
and devastated fields and starving women and children. With the arms, 
artillery and ammunition that we have already used we we Americans- 
have already, in a good cause, destroyed towns and villages, created 
widows and orphans and have left starving women and children. The 
cause was good because we believed that we were forever putting an end 
to the cruel business. Why should we, because we have a little of this 
material of destruction left over, and in order to save a little money, 
sell it to the highest bidder (who will be low at the highest) in order to 
continue the cruel business indefinitely? 

"But I fear that the hard-headed taxpayer will not listen to these silly 
sentiments, whether expressed by me or you. Therefore I shall not weary 
you with more of them. 

"I wish that the President could recommend to the American people 
that all weapons and material of destruction that are not required to be 
taken back to the United States for our own protection should be ut- 
terly destroyed. I can conceive of no more magnificent testimony to the 
American ideal of lasting peace. Let us sell our surplus food and cloth- 
ing and animals and wagons and motor trucks and tractors and loco- 
motives and railway cars and shops and machinery everything that 
makes for the peaceful development of these countries over here and 
destroy everything that is used to destroy anything. But I am afraid that 


the taxpayer would not listen to the President any more than he would 
to my sentimental twaddle." 

On April 24 the Plenary Session had accepted the final draft -of 
the Covenant of the League. It was to be a part of the Treaty. Now 
the Italian claims to Fiume and the Japanese claims to the German 
concession in the Chinese province of Shantung were the next prob- 
lems. Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss on April 28: 

"My last letter told you that before it reached you you would know 
whether a smash-up would occur in the Peace Conference. You know 
all' about the withdrawal of the Italians. Orlando has gone back to Italy 
and is scheduled to address the Parliament in Rome. It is to be hoped 
that he will now try to calm the Italian mind and bring them to reason. 
Like the French, they have gone mad on militarism and conquest. But 
I fear that Orlando will find that having let the devil loose it is going to 
be a hard matter to chain him up again. 

"The next thing to find out is Japan's attitude. Their head delegate, 
Chinda, says that if we do not recognize all her rights of conquest in 
China, she will refuse to sign the treaty and decline to enter the League 
of Nations. This makes some of us afraid that some concession will be 
made to Japan that will be irreconcilable with our attitude towards the 
Italian claims. My advice is to let them both go, if they want to go. It 
is time to clear the air to draw a line on one side of which will stand 
the robbers and on the other side will stand the honest men." 

In this letter Bliss mentions having been with his fellow peace 
commissioners, House and White on a trip of the same kind which 
President Wilson had avoided lest he see red to the devastated 
region, under the auspices of the French government. The scene 
was not new to him, but Ambassador and Madame Jusserand had 
earnestly requested him to go. 

"It was interesting to note," he wrote, "how grudgingly the French 
members of the party admitted that all of the destruction at Lens 
was done by the British army, which also did a good deal of damage 
elsewhere." This was not in criticism of the British army, which 
had only practiced a necessary military measure as it might have 
had to do against an enemy invading Britain and as the French had 
frequently done in their own country. Protests by Alsatians against 
a swath of inevitable destruction by an American advance to deliver 


their country from German rule had been a weighty determining 
factor in the choice of the American sector in 1917. Alsace preferred 
not to have freedom at the expense of the leveling of her towns and 
villages by Allied and German guns in concert. 


UPON his return to Paris after two days' absence, Bliss learned that 
a compromise on the Shantung issue was on the cards. In 1897, at 
the height of the era of colonial expansion by the European Pow- 
ers, Germany had landed a force of sailors at the port of Ts'ingtao 
in reprisal for the murder of two German missionaries, which had 
aroused the Kaiser's holy wrath in demonstrative indignation in the 
name of God and Himself and excited his imperial cupidity. The 
Peking government had been forced to cede Kiaochow Bay on a 
ninety-nine-year lease to Germany, which had gradually expanded 
her influence by railroad building and other investments, looking 
toward a protectorate over the great Chinese province of Shantung. 

In 1914 the Japanese besieged and captured Ts'ingtao with the 
aid of a British force. Japan was firm that she should have the ces- 
sion of the German rights in face of the vocal protests of Ally China 
which had been incapable of any military efforts against the common 
enemy or in resistance to the Japanese. 

President Wilson had said at a previous session that he would later 
ask his fellow commissioners for suggestions about Shantung. 1 Bliss 
apprehended that the President's decision might not wait on the sug- 
gestions. Lansing and White asked him to write a letter expressing 
his views, which were their own. His relations with the Japanese 
were pleasant, but here a principle was at stake no less than when 
Foch, with whom he was personally so friendly, wanted him to ap- 
prove of the permanent occupation of the east bank of the Rhine 
by American troops. After he had paced back and forth dictating 
what he called a "hasty note," he hesitated as to whether he was 
warranted in addressing the President in such strong terms, and 
then called a messenger and sent that hasty note, which was thorough 
and complete in its reasoning. It has been published in full. In this 
instance we shall rely upon its essential points: 

i Bliss* diary, April 29, 1919. 



"Since your conference with us last Saturday, I have asked myself 
three or four Socratic questions the answers to which make me, per- 
sonally, quite sure on which side the moral right lies. 

"Japan bases certain of her claims on the right acquired by conquest. 
. . . Suppose Japan had not succeeded in her efforts to force the capitu- 
lation of the Germans at Ts'ingtao; suppose that the armistice of Novem- 
ber nth had found her still fighting the Germans at that place, just as 
the armistice found the English still fighting the Germans in South-East 
Africa. We would then oblige Germany to dispose of her claims in China 
by a clause in the Treaty of Peace. Would it occur to anyone that, as a 
matter of right, we should force Germany to cede her claims to Japan 
rather than to China? 

"It seems to me that it would occur to every American that we would 
then have the opportunity that we have long desired to force Germany 
to correct, in favor of China, the great wrong which she began to do to 
the latter in 1897. What moral right has Japan acquired by her conquest 
of Shantung assisted by the British? If Great Britain and Japan secured 
no moral right to sovereignty over various savages inhabiting islands in 
the Pacific Ocean but, on the other hand, we hold that these people shall 
be governed by mandates under the League of Nations, what moral right 
has Japan acquired to the suzerainty (which she would undoubtedly 
eventually have) over 30,000,000 Chinese in the sacred province of 

"Japan must base her claim either on the Convention [the Twenty-one 
Points] with China or on the right of conquest, or on both. Let us con- 
sider her moral right under either of these points. 

"a) If the United States has not before this recognized the validity 
of the rights claimed by Japan under her Convention with China, what 
has happened since the Armistice that would justify us in recognizing 
their validity now? 

"b) If Germany had possessed territory, in full sovereignty, on the east 
coast of Asia, a right to this territory, under international law, could 
have been obtained by conquest. But Germany possessed no such terri- 
tory. What then was left for Japan to acquire by conquest? Apparently, 
nothing but a lease extorted under compulsion from China by Ger- 
many. . . . 

"Suppose Germany says to us, 'We will cede our lease and all rights 
under it, but we will cede them back to China/ Will we recognize the 
justice of Japan's claims to such an extent that we will threaten Germany 
with further war unless she cedes these rights to Japan rather than to 

"Stripped of all words that befog the issue, would we not, under the 
guise of making a treaty with Germany, really be making a treaty with 
Japan by which we compel one of our Allies (China) to cede against her 
will these things to Japan? Would not this action be really more un- 


justifiable than the one which you have refused to be a party to on the 
Dalmatian Coast? Because, in the latter case the territory in dispute did 
not belong to one of the Allies but to one of the Central Powers; the 
question in Dalmatia is as to which of two friendly powers we shall give 
territory taken from an enemy power; in China the question is, shall we 
take certain claimed rights from one friendly power in order to give 
them to another friendly power." 

Bliss drew attention to the actual meaning of Japan's promise 
to return Kiaochow Bay eventually to China. Her proposal reserved 
an exclusive concession at a place to be designated by her on the 
bay, which assured her full control of the bay. She said she would 
abandon the so-kilometer zone. This, as Bliss noted, had been set 
as the limit of the advance of German troops; but, as Bliss added, 
Japan had violated this zone ever since she took possession. Until 
recently she had had troops along the length of the railroad and 
now insisted upon maintaining a guard at Tsi-nan-fu, 254 miles 
from Ts'ingtao. He concluded the hasty note as follows: 

"The operation then would amount chiefly to an exchange of two 
pieces of paper-one canceling the lease for 78 years, the other granting 
a more valuable concession which would amount to a permanent title 
to the port. Why take two years to go through this operation? 

"If it be right for a policeman, who recovers your purse, to keep the 
contents and claim that he has fulfilled his duty in returning the empty 
purse, then Japan's conduct may be tolerated. 

"If it be right for Japan to annex the territory of an Ally, then it can- 
not be wrong for Italy to retain Fiume taken from the enemy. . . . 

"We shall be sowing dragon's teeth. . 

"It can't be right to do wrong even to make peace. Peace is desirable, 
but there are things dearer than peace, justice and freedom." 

Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss, May i: 

"This morning we are all mortified to learn that the President had 

Yielded to the Japanese claims How he can reconcile his attitude 

to the one he took on the Italian claims on the east coast of the Adriatic 
I do not see." 

Japan had been most agreeable in supporting President Wilson's 
plan for the League of Nations and leaving European problems to 
the Europeans. With Shantung and its well-built German railroad 


system under her hand and her troops (by request of the Allies) 
already at Irkutsk in the vast Siberian domain of the Russia which 
she had recently fought, she was now thinking of her own regional 
compacts in the Asia of her own Monroe Doctrine, and no less than 
Ally France, Italy, Serbia or Greece, of the expansion of her power 
under the provisions of the Peace Treaty. She said she would re- 
fuse to sign the Treaty unless her claims were admitted. This 
threat to the League won her point with the President, which in 
turn placed another barrier to ratification of the Treaty by the 
United States Senate. Later, as we know, Japan yielded her claims 
to Shantung and, in face of the growing army of the Soviets, turned 
her attention northward to the occupation of Jehol and strengthen- 
ing her bastions on the Siberian border. 

Bliss had made no progress with his suggestion that disarmament 
should be the first premise in founding the League and his concern 
about certain articles of the Covenant which were "fortunately or un- 
fortunately tied up with the peace treaty, did not abate/' He wrote: 

"The Germans have been here for two days and the Treaty is not ready 
for submission to them. The English and French seem to have gone mad 
on the subject of destroying Germany commercially and industrially for 
a long time to come. Every day I hear of the introduction of new articles 
with this object in view. I am told that the Treaty will cover more than 
400 printed pages. It contains many things which should go into separate 
conventions. But no one trusts anyone else and each one seems to think 
that his own interests demand that his particular schemes must be em- 
bodied in the Treaty. 

"No one seems to have faith in the continuance of the Entente long 
after the peace. They are trading on each other's present friendship. But 
I cannot tell you what is in the Treaty, because I have not seen it. Most 
of the articles I have never seen in any form and I am told that the few 
that I have ever seen have been altered by the Council of Four, or the 
Council of Three, beyond recognition. It is strange but true that the 
Plenipotentiaries of the many nations supposed to bfvmaking the treaty 
of peace, will not know what is in the Treaty any sooner than the Ger- 
mans will know." * 

Bliss found that Foch was no more enlightened than he when the 
President inquired for information about the application of the 

i Letter to Hamilton Holt, May i, 1919. 


military terms of the Armistice in a manner which would not be 
inconsistent with the peace terms. 

"He [Foch] said that he did not know the text of the peace terms; that 
no one had ever shown him a text of the peace terms and that he had 
no information on the subject. ... He could not even tell the relation 
of the Armistice Terms to the military peace terms, not to speak of 
financial and economic matters which are treated of in b6th the Peace 
Treaty and the Armistice. He said that he did not even know which of 
the military terms drafted by his committee had been retained and which 
had been thrown out, nor how those retained had been altered." x 

Foch would write a letter as soon as he could see the articles in 
the Treaty on the subject. These might still be uncompleted as was 
the remainder of the Treaty. However, attrition and exhaustion were 
wearing the conferees down to a decision as they had the armies on 
the western front. A week later Bliss wrote to Mrs. Bliss: 

"Tuesday we had a secret Plenary seance to listen to a stupid exposi- 
tion of the Peace terms for the benefit of the smaller Powers. None of us 
had seen the treaty. I have never seen such a glaring case of secret 
diplomacy, notwithstanding all our protestations. The outrageous yield- 
ing to Japan on the Shantung question could never have happened if it 
had not been done secretly. The protests of the world would have pre- 
vented it. Thank God, my skirts are clear (or at least my conscience is) 
of any of the wrong doing. 

"Yesterday the Treaty was handed to the Germans. It was in the great 
dining room of the Trianon Palace Hotel where my offices have been 
since 1917. All the Allied and Associated Powers delegates assembled in 
the room before 3 P.M. We were arranged at a double Ell table, the 
open end being partly closed by a smaller table for the German dele- 
gates. At 3 o'clock the latter were ushered in, the other delegates rising. 

"Brockdorff-Rantzau sat in the middle with two of his assistants on 
each side. M. Clemenceau spoke for a moment what you have already 
read in the papers, rather stern, almost harsh. This was translated first 
into English and then into German. Then Rantzau read his remarks 
which you have also seen. These were translated (very poorly) first into 
English and then into French. That was all the ceremony. 

"I did not see that the Treaty was actually handed to them, though I 
fancy a copy must have been laid before Rantzau. French and English 
express much irritation because Rantzau read his remarks sitting. But 
he is in an exceedingly broken, nervous physical condition. I don't be- 

i Letter to President Wilson, May i, 1919. 


lieve he could have stood on his feet. There is much dispute as to the 
wisdom of his remarks. Some think they were quite untactful, others say 
that it was a shrewd statement. Now the question is 'Will they sign? And, 
if so, how long before they do so?' " 

One may conclude that to Bliss the histrionic effect would have 
been more direct and forcible and better in keeping with his sense 
of the eternal verities if the Kaiser, Bethmann-Hollweg of the "scrap 
of paper/' and Hindenburg and Ludendorffi had been in the place 
of the unhappy Brockdorff-Rantzau, now acting as the scapegoat of 
their colossal gamble with the cards which they thought that their 
military machine had stacked for them the gamble which they had 
lost at the cost of more than two million German dead. Bliss wrote 
to Mrs. Bliss, May 9: 

"The Germans have the treaty but peace does not seem so near as it 
did. We are working on the terms with the former Austrian states. That 
is much mixed up. Czechoslovakia is now an independent friendly state; 
Hungary is getting into possession of the Rumanians; Yugo-Slavia has 
joined Serbia. We can hardly do anything with them except make them 
pay their share of Austria's pre-war debts! The Austrian peace delegates 
arrive at St. Germain on Monday. With them come Bolshevik delegates 
from Budapest, though they were not invitedl What to do with them 
is puzzling the big wigs. Naturally enough the French don't want Bolshe- 
viks here preaching anarchy. There is too much tinder of that sort ready 
to light up." 

Except for the description of a motor trip, which gave him a little 
rest, there is little further about his work for the next three weeks 
except to say he was exceedingly busy. Nothing about this period of 
exasperation and doubt is forthcoming in his diary, which was 
written on sheets of letter paper, unless these sheets are elsewhere 
than in his study. The subject peoples, becoming masters, were 
turning upon their former masters in the license of general disorder. 
He wrote to Mrs. Bliss, June 6: 

"We have had sessions with the financial experts most of the day and 
now a British gentleman (Dr. McLaughlin) connected with the Ameri- 
can school at Smyrna has just left my rooms after telling horrible stories 
of Greek atrocities to which he was an eye witness a week ago. It makes 
one sick to listen to the stories of our investigators coming back from 


visits to different nations that our ignorant people at home have de- 
ceived themselves into believing are noble races long subject to barba- 
rous oppression. From everything that I learn I judge that the Armenians 
and the Greeks are much worse than the Turks. Our friends, the Poles, 
are massacring the Jews and everywhere the people we are liberating 
are slaughtering everybody else. . . . 

"The Council of the Powers is still discussing whether it will listen to 
the counter proposals of the Germans. Five years from now the world 
will condemn the Conference if it does not listen to them. The Treaty as 
it stands is unworkable. . . . The Americans pointed out the defects, 
but the Allies would not listen to them." 

On June 12: 

"We have been busyall the committees that had anything to do with 
making the Treaty in preparing our recommendations for the reply to 
the German counter-proposals. They are now all submitted to the coun- 
cil of Four and the latter's official reply to the Germans is supposed to 
go to them tomorrow. Then they must sign or decline in a week." 

On June 16 he was in a bad mood. He had become a disappointed 
idealist for the moment, as had many others in the Conference, but 
it was certain that even this outburst would not make the philosopher 
tarry long in the company of the cynics. 

"Monday we must know what the Germans are going to do. They may 
want to play the part of blind Samson and pull down the pillars of the 
temple for if they don't sign, the world will go 'Crac.' What a wretched 
mess it all is! If the rest of the world will let us alone, I think we had 
better stay on our own side of the water and keep alive the spark of 
civilization to relight the torch after it is extinguished over here. If I ever 
had any illusions, they are all dispelled. The child-nations that we are 
creating have fangs and claws in their very cradles and before they can 
walk are screaming for knives to cut the throats of those in the neighbor- 
ing cradles." 

And also this: 

"Today the Council of Four gave me the job of getting the Hun- 
garians, the Czecho-Slovaks and the Rumanians together and persuad- 
ing each of them to get within their own frontiers and stop fighting! 
A nice job to unload on a peaceful and peaceloving and somewhat tired 
man, isn't it?" 


On June 19 Clemenceau told him that he thought the Germans 
would sign but had asked him to call so they could talk over "what 
the armies can do if the Germans don't sign/' President Wilson was 
also concerned on this score. The military advisers were again in 
conference to make plans for action, with Bliss on sharper watch lest 
American troops should be employed for political purposes. 

"The French are all wrought up over the sinking of the German ships 
at Scapa Flow. They regarded a good part of these ships as a sure in- 
crease to their own fleet. They may begin a series of notes to Berlin on 
the subject and then no one can tell when the treaty will be signed. The 
President says that if they sign he will immediately return to Washing- 
ton and leave the rest of us here. The Austrian treaty has not yet been 
agreed on. And as yet there is no government in Hungary that can be 
trusted to sign a treaty. But the President wants us also to participate 
in the discussions on the treaties with Bulgaria and Turkey even though 
we (the Americans) may not sign those treaties. We did not declare war 
on Turkey and Bulgaria and I do not see how we can make a treaty of 
peace with them. . . . 

"He [President Wilson] is certainly a most extraordinary man. Am- 
bassador Jusserand described him to me a few days ago as a man who, 
had he lived a couple of centuries ago, would have been the greatest 
tyrant in the world, because he does not seem to have the slightest con- 
ception that he can ever be wrong. 1 ' 

In his next letter, written on June 30, he said that the treaty was 
signed "at last one of them." He gave a brief description of the 
famous scene, but thought there was too large a crowd to make it 
very impressive. 

"During the signing the cannon began to thunder and then the great 
fountains began to fill the air with snowy foam. From my seat I looked 
out upon the Terrace, down the great flight of steps to the fountain of 
Latona and along the long avenue bordered by statues to the fountain 
of Apollo and the Grand Canal. It was a slow process getting out, and 
a long process getting my car and then back to Paris, glad the affair 
was over." 

Having paid the negotiator's price to the Allies for his League 
of Nations, the President departed quietly and swiftly for his gallant, 
losing battle to get his own country to accept it, which prostrated 
him in his long, fatal illness. "He had surrendered his power of con- 


trol over the situation in Paris," Bliss remarked in his letter of June 
24, "by making himself one of the negotiators. When he did that it 
forced the other great powers to send their heads of government." 
But Clemenceau was at his seat of government, Lloyd George only 
a few hours away from London, Orlando a day away from Rome 
while Wilson was a week away from Washington. Wilson was not 
actually a parliamentary premier as each of the three was but he was 
more: the head of his nation as Poincar was of France, King 
George V of Great Britain and Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. Bliss 

"When you negotiate you have to negotiate, that is, to talk, discuss, 
argue. But pretty soon you reach a point where your mind is made up, 
but you cannot say so. You must keep on talking as long as the other 
side has anything to say, even though you know he is intentionally 'kill- 
ing time.' Then it is all important to have someone to whom you can 
appeal and who can give a deciding order. But with all the heads of gov- 
ernments present, whom could they appeal to? Now that the President 
will be in Washington, when we reach a point beyond which discussion 
will be useless, we can cable to him. His mind will also be made up from 
our daily telegraphic reports to him and he has had no one to delay 
the matter by saying that he wants further discussion with him." 

After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles Bliss made two re- 
marks which might then be considered as of his "no explaining" 
kind, to use the words of Clemenceau; or it might be said that he 
left the explaining to the future: his counsel, in common with that 
of many other men while the Treaty was in the making, having 
fallen on sterile ground. The first remark was that the Treaty was 
"neither punitive nor constructive." The other was: "We are in for 
a low period, then a high period, then the devil will be to pay all 
over the world." * The second might easily be credited as a true 
economic forecast of the post-war depression, the boom period of 
1925-29 and the subsequent period of depression. 

This but partly sounds the depths of the two remarks which we 
may relate to his call for unconditional surrender by the enemy 
who would have had to accept it and to his view that the armistice 
and peace terms should be kept separate. If the terms were to be 
made punitive enough to satisfy the old avenging lust of an eye 

i Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss to the author. 


for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which would forever make Ger- 
many helpless, then Germany should have been laid waste and her 
people sold into slavery as in ancient times. But punishment took 
another form without her people having had brought home to them 
by unconditional surrender the public admission on the field of 
battle of complete military defeat. 

The armistice terms and the peace terms had disregarded the 
immemorial principles of military and human psychology to which 
no vigorous race in all time had been an exception. A constructive 
peace would not have laid upon Germany a money indemnity which 
she could never pay through the long years, it would have given some 
hope to a rising generation which was not responsible for the errors 
of its fathers, and the other nations of Europe would have given an 
example in the limitation of the militarism which they saw as the 
cause of the World War. 

As it worked out, and was bound to work out, the Germans lived 
over their war ordeal in pride of their courage and sacrifices, honor- 
ing their dead, glorifying the victories they had won and minimiz- 
ing their defeats, as all peoples have ever done. These memories are 
the keener to the vanquished in want of fewer present satisfactions 
the while they dwell upon riches of the pre-war era which they see 
as lost to them through misfortune rather than their weakness or 

The Germans nursed the conviction that, after having stood off 
the whole world for four years, they had not been beaten at arms 
but they had been cunningly tricked by the repeated armistices, 
each armistice in turn artfully stripping them of their power of 
armed resistance, in order to impress upon them terms which made 
the Fourteen Points appear as a decoy to their doom. A people given 
to brooding, they brooded over the injustice of their delegates' forced 
signature to a confession of war-guilt, when they thought, as war 
propaganda teaches all people to think, that they were fighting in 

Their flamboyant and neurotic Kaiser and their war lords had 
made their share of the guilt heavy enough, but they knew that 
Russia had been the first major power to order a general mobiliza- 
tion and then when the weak Czar would recall it he could not check 
the movement which his war lords had begun secretly without his 


approval. They knew that the two youths who assassinated the 
Austrian Crown Prince at Sarajevo had been hired to do it as agents 
of a plot by Serbians. 

The answer to trick is trick. The Germans would escape their 
war debt by any ruse or evasion within the power of passive re- 
sistance. Peace brought no justice to the rising generation which 
sought it, as beaten people have ever sought it, through military 
preparation. A republic had taken the place of the constitutional 
monarchy of Bismarck's moulding, which was one way of making 
one part of the world safe for democracy. In its place came the 
harvest of the dragon's teeth which Bliss had told Mrs. Bliss that the 
Peace Conference was sowing. Young Germany rose in racial frenzy 
and blatant nationalism with its "Heil Hitler" of vassalage to ab- 
solute autocracy. 

On June 7, more than two weeks before the signing of the Treaty, 
Bliss had written in a memorandum that he believed that Germany 
would be "more easily controlled and far less of a menace to the 
general peace if she is inside of the League of Nations rather than 
outside it." He would have her in just as soon as she had proved 
her good faith in the execution of the military and naval terms. 
Then, if she should prove in any way recalcitrant, the League could 
deal with her as a member. At the time he evidently had not lost 
hope that the League would function in keeping with its articles. 


HAVING signed the Treaty of Versailles the departing heads of gov- 
ernment left their colleagues and the committees a fractious after- 
math of thorny problems which were to prolong the labors of the 
Conference for many months. Peace had been made with Germany; 
now peace must be made among the victors. There could not be 
enough Allies during the war; now they were distressingly numerous. 

With the new frontiers of Germany delimited the lines had yet 
to be drawn definitely in the territorial rearrangements from Asia 
Minor to the Baltic. Many people were wondering whether they 
would live in the future under Lithuanian, Finnish, Polish, Czecho- 
slovakian, Rumanian, Hungarian, Italian, Yugoslavian, Bulgarian, 
Greek or Turkish rule, or be citizens of the proposed free state of 
Constantinople or subjects in a country under one of the mandates 
provided by the Covenant of the League of Nations for the tutelary 
suzerainty of backward peoples, provisional for self-determination. 

Bliss' occasional sense of mental isolation in the crowded Crillon, 
and in all the talky discussions and the goings and comings of ne- 
gotiatory contacts and soundings, became downright loneliness at 
the prospect of his continued separation from Mrs. Bliss. Their af- 
fection was based upon a mutual understanding, enriched and mel- 
lowed by time. He was always in better humor with the tribulations 
of his work when he was near her. His associates said that he was 
"always talking about her/' and if not, then about his daughter 
Eleanor. He might have glimpses of son Goring who was in France. 

Upon his appointment as a peace delegate both he and Mrs. Bliss 
were informed by March that she might join him at once, since Mrs. 
Wilson and the wives of the other members of the Commission were 
going to Paris with their husbands. Mrs. Bliss' gay grandmother, of 
the days when Napoleon returned from his victories to Parisian tri- 
umphs, would have undoubtedly managed to be on the President's 
ship in order to miss no privilege in the inaugural functions to which 
a four-star general and a member of the Commission was entitled. 



The dinners and receptions and the social celebration of the gath- 
ering of the victors of 1918 were very extensive if not so elaborate 
as the Congress of Vienna which the Prince de Ligne said was "not 
moving but dancing" with its succession of balls and fantastic en- 
tertainments, when only the appeal of the Empress of Austria pre- 
vailed upon a young count to shave off the pride of his heart, a 
handsome mustache, so he might play the part of Apollo, for which 
all the ladies declared he was pre-eminently fitted. Mrs. Bliss said 
she could not prepare to go so soon. Her health was frail, and her 
consciousness of her defective hearing contributed to her natural 
shyness at the prospect of meeting so many strange people, even if 
she had known French from childhood and, as the great-grand- 
daughter of a sixth in a line of baronets, she might not feel quite 
outclassed by birth when she met anyone who came from her grand- 
father's native county of Sussex. 

At first Bliss did not press her to come at once because he did 
not forget that he was still an army officer in uniform and still one 
of the military advisers to the Supreme War Council who had to 
enforce the armistice terms and to restrain some of the Allies whose 
efforts they had co-ordinated in 1918 from expending any reserve 
strength they had left in fighting one another in 1919. He had in 
mind that the rule against the wives of our officers or soldiers of 
the A.E.F. going to France was still in force. The wives of the per- 
sonnel of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace might be 
moving about in the corridors of the Crillon, with army limousines 
at their disposal, but the wives of officers or soldiers, regular and re- 
serve, might not join husbands who had been long in France and 
had crosses for valor and wound stripes as well as service stripes. 
It did not seem quite fair to Bliss that a general who had not been 
in the trenches should be an exception because he had been made 
an official peace delegate. 

However, with time, "the old Spartan," as he was sometimes 
called, found that the objection really no longer applied and his 
urgings began to appear in penciled appeals on the margins of the 
typed sheets of the diary which he forwarded to her. Through them 
she could learn just what he was doing every day, what progress the 
Conference was making, while he also sent her bundles of English 
and French newspapers and magazines. She had duties to look after, as 


home persons always have, and she would wait a little until things 
were more quiet in Paris and enjoyable for quiet people. Eleanor 
should come when she had her summer holiday from the Geological 

Bliss himself saw many of the great social functions as rather per- 
functory and clearly he enjoyed much better little dinners with peo- 
ple he knew well, and tea and hours at the home of Robert Woods 
Bliss where he could be himself in responsive company. Both he 
and Pershing, as four-star generals, were free from the susceptibility 
of new American ministers and ambassadors fresh to the experience 
of the social flattery of the company of titled persons of the old 
world, which has ever been a handicap to our diplomacy. Being just 
as rooted in their soil as the titled persons in theirs they were not 
graciously inducted into affirmatives which drew them into byways 
off the main road of their purpose. 

When Bliss went to the victory reception of the King of Italy 
given by the Italian ambassador and he saw how immense the crowd 
was, he bade his chauffeur drive on. Royal receptions had not the 
novel appeal for him of his younger days as attach^ in Spain. 

He remarked that there was dancing on another occasion, and he 
found it very stupid, which was unusual in a West Pointer at any 
age, according to accepted tradition. Again, he wrote that he was 
quite embarrassed at a huge affair because there was no table with 
cards giving the name of the lady he was to take in to dinner. He 
attached himself to a countess, but found that she was pre-empted 
by another man. He found that a princess was free, and she proved 
to be a most interesting person. But he told Mrs. Bliss that some 
princesses were bores. Just as in the case of other people, you could 
never tell until you met them how much they would bore you or 
you would bore them. All the numerous functions and the Allied 
exchange of felicitations and the presentation of medals had their 
gilt tarnished by his consciousness of the wrangling under the sur- 

His fondness for ancient Greek seemed to make him a special 
object of the eloquence of the modern Greeks, including that of 
Eleutherios Venizelos. 


"After the dinner Mr. Venizelos and Mr. Coromilas got me into a 
corner and for an hour filled me up with their views on the question of the 
Greek claims in Thrace and Asia Minor. After we were finished with this, 
we talked a little while about the Treaty in general. I said that our work 
on it showed the difference between finite and infinite power; because it 
took the good Lord only seven days to make the world and everything in 
it, while it has taken us eight months to remodel a comparatively small 
part of it. Mr. Coromilas said that in reality it took the good Lord much 
longer than seven days, because, he said, each of those days represented a 
geological era. I said that that was a good point for our guidance because 
it might be a good thing if we took a geological era to settle the Greek 
claims. They laughed but did not seem to take kindly to that idea." * 

Reports were coming in that the 60,000 Czechoslovak troops in 
Siberia, who were to have fought the Bolshevists in the reconstruc- 
tion of the eastern front, were now turning Bolshevist, and Admiral 
Koltchak wanted to get rid of them. Winston Churchill had "pre- 
pared a plan by which some 30,000 of them were to fight their way 
to Archangel to be repatriated by British shipping, while the remain- 
ing 30,000 were to work their way to Vladivostok and be repatriated 
by American shipping" at a time when we required every ship we 
had to bring home our soldiers and reestablish our commerce. 

"But the demand is made that they must be replaced by a similar num- 
ber of Allied troops. The British refuse to send any; so do the French; and 
so do the Italians. This leaves no one but the Americans and the Japanese. 
I was shown this afternoon a draft of a telegram prepared by my colleague 
at Versailles, General Sackville-West, proposed to be sent by the Council 
in identical terms to Japan and the United States. It asks each of these 
countries whether it will be willing to send 60,000 troops to replace the 
Czechoslovaks." 2 

So Bliss' habit of noes "without explaining" did not lapse for 
want of practice. He had to say No to Balfour with some explaining: 

"Mr. Balfour then made the extraordinary statement that Clause I of 
the Armistice required the Hungarians to withdraw behind a certain line 
but did not pledge the Allies from advancing beyond that line. ... At 
this, I replied that it did not require a military jurist to pass upon the 
meaning of Clause I of the armistice; that its meaning was determined by 

1 Bliss' diary, July 5, 1919. 

2 Ibid. 


the definition of the word 'armistice'; that an armistice was the laying down 
of arms by both sides, neither advancing from an agreed-upon position 
while the plenipotentiaries arranged terms of final peace; that an armis- 
tice line which bound one side and not the other would, therefore, be 
an absurdity. . . . The Rumanians were going in for purposes of con- 
quest." 1 

On hot days in midsummer, as Bliss in his shirtsleeves worked his 
way through stacks of papers as thick as those that came to him 
when he was Chief of Staff, word would come to attend some com- 
mittee meeting or to go to the Quai d'Orsay. After he was assured 
that he had his high collar properly hooked, he would square his 
shoulders, pick up his diminutive stick, light another cigarette and 
march forth. He wrote a sharp note on the absurdity of the Council 
of Six-it was Six at the time-keeping experts waiting two or three 
hours while they continued discussion among themselves on the 
subjects on which they wanted the expert advice, and then telling 
the experts to come tomorrow. He reports that at one of these gath- 
erings one man said to another: "You needn't have come. I have 
written a letter on the subject." The reply was: "Yes, but you don't 
know what is in the letter. I wrote it for you and you signed it with- 
out reading it." 

But there were few amusing incidents to relieve Bliss' impatience 
with the delays which were promoting more European disorder or 
building up false hopes, while at home public opposition to the 
Versailles Treaty became more manifest and the long discussion of 
it by the Senate had begun. 

"Although I am busy, I don't see that I am accomplishing anything. 
Day after day I go to the Quai d'Orsay and hear discussed the same ques- 
tions that have been discussed time and time again. On some questions 
their minds seem to be absolutely befogged. On others, their minds have 
been long made up some for and some against but they seem to have a 
strange reluctance to have a 'show down/ The most exasperating to me is 
the time that is wasted on subjects that don't in the least concern us. We 
are here as peace delegates, to make peace treaties with the enemy powers. 
But for one hour that is passed in discussing a clause in a treaty, whole 
days are passed in discussing Bolshevism, how support can be given to the 
Koltchak government at Omsk, how Bela Kun's government in Hungary 
can be overthrown, and so on until everyone is in a perfect muddle. And 
after all, they get nowhere. 

i Bliss' diary, July 17, 1919. 


"They have talked for days about sending an Allied army to Hungary, 
and we are going to talk again about it this afternoon at Quai d'Orsay. 
They are quite enthusiastic about it until it comes to the question of what 
nation or nations is to furnish the troops and foot the bills. Each one in 
turn says the United States must do it because we got into the war so late 
that we had only a relatively small number of men killed and that we 
must keep on fighting until our butcher's bill is as big as theirs! Then the 
American delegates say 'Nothing doing, unless Congress orders it/ Then 
they all look blankly at each other until a bright idea occurs to someone 
who proposes that they send a telegram to Bela Kun calling him a liar 
and a thief at which they brighten up immensely, order the telegram 
sent, and then pass on to something equally inane and futile." * 

He was doubtful about the value of the many American commis- 
sions which were moving about Europe. Their presence often led 
to false expectations; they became involved in unavoidable partisan- 
ship in local situations. It would be better to bring them home. Any- 
how, their expense should not be charged to the American Peace 
Commission. In answer to the calls for American army officers to play 
the same part as instructors in the new armies of the new nations 
that the French were playing in Poland, Bliss said that it was against 
our iaw that an American officer should serve in a foreign army. 
With reference to Poland he wrote in his diary, July 21, 1919: 

"I found that I had known Major Ryan at El Paso when I was in com- 
mand of the Southern Department, he at that time being connected with 
the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. Mr. Hoover had sent him to 
Poland to try and introduce some order into the management of the rail- 
way systems in Poland so that our food supplies could be handled with 
more certainty. He tells me that Poland has gone war-mad and is trying 
to build up a great military establishment. She already has 2,500 French 
officers in her service. The French are encouraging Poland in this course 
believing that she will be a great military buffer state between Russia and 
Germany and extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Major Ryan 
tells me that there are no signs of concentration of the Germans against 
Poland which the latter have so often alleged. This statement coincides 
with what M. Clemenceau told us at a meeting later today at Quai d'Orsay. 
Major Ryan says that Poland is making the great mistake of handling her 
railroads as though they were a part of a military system in time of war 
and subordinating their economic use to their military use. Mr. Hoover 
says that he has already sent 100 locomotives and some 3,000 railway cars to 
Poland for use in handling his food supplies and that they were promptly 
taken possession of by the military for use on their Eastern front/' 

i Letter to Mrs. Bliss, July 17, 1919. 


A quotation from Bliss' diary of July 25, 1919, was significant of 
the price that the vanquished were paying for the four years of war, 
while impoverished beneficiaries of victory took their turn in be- 
ginning their cycle of militarism: 

"This morning, after a commission meeting, General Harbord, Per- 
shing's chief of staff, came to see nie about the matter of getting General 
Harries' mission out of Germany, and also getting authority to repatriate 
the 40,000 German prisoners of war now held by the Americans. In regard 
to the first case, General Harries is the American representative on the 
Inter-Allied Commission in Berlin to supervise the repatriation of the 
Russian prisoners. Some months ago the Germans had something over 
600,000 of these prisoners. Under the terms of the armistice they re- 
patriated about 400,000 of them. These went by train into Poland, but on 
arriving at the Polish front on the Bolshevik frontier, the local Polish 
commander refused to allow them to pass on the ground that they would 
be enrolled in the Bolshevik army on their front. They were, therefore, 
diverted into Lithuania, where the Lithuanians refused to receive them. 
They were thus shunted back and forth until their supplies were ex- 
hausted, and it appears that great numbers of them died. 

"Meanwhile the Allies determined to stop the repatriation of these 
prisoners except in such a way that they would not form recruits for the 
Bolshevik army. As there were no ships to send them back by sea, as the 
Poles would not allow them to go through their territory, and as the 
fighting between the Poles and the Ukrainians closed all lines of transpor- 
tation, it resulted in these prisoners being held in Germany. The Germans 
naturally demanded that they should be taken care of by the Allies and 
this was done by more or less equal division of the Russian prison camps 
in Germany between the English and the Americans. As a matter of fact 
the greater burden has fallen on the Americans and now the total per- 
sonnel in Germany is three-fourths Americans. I told General Harbord 
that this question had been before the Military Representatives in Ver- 
sailles, who had been directed to prepare a plan for the prompt repatriation 
of all these Russian prisoners. When their report is submitted, it will prob- 
ably be accompanied by a British recommendation that a large number 
of these prisoners be still held in Germany because of their Bolshevik 

In this case Bliss said he would favor withdrawing our mission 
from Germany and leaving the care of the prisoners with the coun- 
tries demanding their retention. In case the Military Representatives 
decided on immediate repatriation, then the American commission 
should take charge of the movement. He thought that the prisoners 


should be allowed to go home to their own country. From all ac- 
counts they had had enough of soldiering and would not be of much 
use to the Bolsheviks. But if anything would make them Bolshevik, 
it would be the treatment they had received. Bliss' abhorrence of 
Bolshevism made him the more concerned about Allied actions 
which played into the hands of Bolshevist propaganda. A stable 
Germany was the best bulwark against it. In his diary of July 26, 
1919, he wrote: 

"After dinner I had an interesting conversation with the Marquis de la 
Ferronay, who is a member of the Chamber of Deputies from Brittany, 
and whose home is near Nantes. He regrets very much that the Peace 
Conference did not insist on dividing Germany up into her former states 
and thereby destroy her power as a great united nation. I told him that 
I did not believe that such a solution would be permanent, that it would 
be as impossible to keep the German nation from becoming united as it 
would be to keep the French from becoming united four or five hundred 
years ago. I said that I hoped that instead of continuing for all time to 
regard the Germans as natural enemies of everybody else, we would en- 
courage them in their present democratic aspirations and restore them as 
the bulwark that they have always been between the Latin civilization 
along the Atlantic coast and the Slavic civilization farther to the east." 

A most pertinent telegram came from that capable and expe- 
rienced diplomat, Hugh Gibson, the new American Minister at 
Warsaw, urging the necessity of a declaration of the Allied Powers 
as to whether Poland was in a state of peace or war. It was difficult 
for a peace conference to admit that the Poles were at war without 
encouraging further and more dangerous expression of martial emo- 
tion in a people suffering from the growing pains of nationalism, 
which it was hoped would normally exhaust itself. 

From Poland the scene of further trouble shifted to Budapest, 
where the Rumanians were reported to be looting. Then it shifted 
to the eastern Mediterranean, which had recovered its classic im- 
portance in world counsels. Rival carving knives were grinding on 
one another in the dismemberment of Turkey in spheres of influ- 
ence, mandates and annexations, it being taken for granted that the 
martial race which had once been before the walls of Vienna had 
no more life left than a carcass on a platter. Under a Byzantine spell 
Greece would be mistress of ancient Thrace; but her ambition in- 


timately concerned the interests of the British, the French, the 
Italians and the Bulgars. More power for Greece, if acceptable to 
Britain, would be a barrier to the expansion of France and Italy 
as Mediterranean powers. 

Bliss* hope that the President's personal detachment from Paris 
negotiations would bring decisions favoring prompt actions was 
somewhat dashed by the President's cable of July 28 to make both 
eastern and western Thrace a part of a new international state of 
Constantinople. In his diary Bliss said that "we all believe that to 
give western Thrace to Greece would result in even worse condi- 
tions than have resulted by giving Smyrna to Greece." 

The President's proposal would "reinforce the declaration of the 
Greeks that the Americans want to receive a mandate for the new 
international state of Constantinople and that, therefore, the Amer- 
icans want to make that state as big as possible." In this as in many 
instances our detached and arbitral part was always subject to the 
subtle implication that our plea of disinterested helpfulness masked 
some selfish interest. Admiral Mark L. Bristol, in command of our 
naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean, faced in his new part as 
our High Commissioner in Turkey more problems than Hugh Gib- 
son as adviser to Poland. The Greeks wanted western Thrace as 
adjacent territory to connect up with eastern Thrace. These excerpts 
from Bliss* diary of July 28 are enlightening: 

"Western Thrace has a large majority of Turkish population and it is 
to be noted that the Greek claim to this territory is largely based upon a 
statement purporting to be signed by eight Turkish members of the 
Bulgarian parliament to the effect that this Turkish population would 
rather be under Greek rule than Bulgarian rule. This declaration seemed 
to us to be very suspicious and we telegraphed to Mr. Wilson, our Charg 
d'Affaires in Sofia about it. Today his telegram came saying that the en- 
tire document was forged; that it was written by one Mussulman member 
of the Bulgarian parliament who signed the names of seven other mem- 
bers to it. He has now fled the country and is supposed to have gone to 
Greece or Italy and the other seven members have officially denied the 
validity of their signatures. This cuts the entire ground from under the 
feet of the Greeks in their claim to the possession of Western Thrace. . . . 

"We agreed that Dr. James Brown Scott and Dr. Douglas Johnson 
should prepare a formula to be discussed in the Council as a paragraph in 
the new treaty. This solution will undoubtedly be bitterly opposed by the 
British and French who seem determined that Western Thrace shall go to 


Greece. Most of us believe that there was some previous secret agreement 
between those two governments and Greece which they are now trying 
to make good. The worst thing that could happen to Greece would be to 
give her Western Thrace, because at the first opportunity Bulgaria will 
surely fight to recover it. Thus far the Italians have been standing with 
the Americans, but there is reason to think that the Greeks are trying to 
make a deal with them about the Meander Valley in Asia Minor, likely 
between the present reoccupation at Smyrna and the Italian occupation 
farther south. It is one of the richest territories in Asia Minor and Greece 
may agree to let Italy occupy it if the latter will withdraw its objections 
to Western Thrace going to Greece. Before we are through with the 
Asia Minor question, I am afraid that it is going to prove the rottenest 
part of the treaty. They are all after mandates covering the entire territory 
except Armenia and Constantinople. None of them wants Armenia be- 
cause the way they will probably, draw its boundaries it will be about as 
barren a piece of land as can be found. They would each of them like to 
have Constantinople, but they distrust each other. Therefore, they want 
the United States to take mandate for Armenia and are reluctantly willing 
that she should take Constantinople. For them these mandates will prove 
nothing but disguised annexation." 

Indeed, July 28 had been an example of a characteristically busy 
day for Bliss. His attention was again brought to another subject. 
Not only were the Russian prisoners in Germany still held nine 
months after the Armistice but so were the German prisoners in 
France. One view was that they should be kept on indefinitely as 
laborers in France to repair the damages they had done; another 
view that they were human beings who were entitled to return to 
their homes. Even the 46,000 taken by the Americans could not be 
legally repatriated yet. 

"At 3:45 Dr. Zahle, representative of the Danish Red Cross, came to see 
me about the repatriation of the 46,000 German prisoners of which I have 
spoken. I explained to him that we purposed to approach the British and 
French with a view to seeing whether they will permit the repatriation of 
these prisoners in advance of the ratification of the Treaty by the required 
number of Allied Powers. Dr. Zahle told me pitiful stories of German 
prisoners (he has been visiting our prison camps) who told him of the con- 
dition of their families. One officer told him that two years ago (at which 
time he was a prisoner) he had received word that his wife was slowly dying 
of a cancer and could not live at the most more than two years. The two 
years are gone and he can receive no word from home and the poor man is 
almost insane from anxiety and worry. His case is one of many. This 


question of the German prisoners since the time of signing the armistice is 
one of the most distressing, even the most abominable, that I know of dur- 
ing the war." * 

Pershing did not wish to retain our soldiers in France to guard 
the prisoners and agreed with Bliss that they should be immediately 
repatriated. Clemenceau said they should be turned over to the 
French. Bliss and Pershing opposed this as contrary to international 
law and for humane reasons. Clemenceau remained resolute, at least 
until the ratification of the Treaty. Several of the Allies were delay- 
ing ratification of the treaty as cards in hand in satisfying their na- 
tional ambitions, while the opposition in the United States Senate 
promised to postpone our ratification indefinitely for many months, 
if not to prevent it altogether. The question was referred to Presi- 
dent Wilson who favored immediate repatriation with the approval 
of the Allies. Eventually, ten months after the armistice, the prison- 
ers were returned, and also eventually the Russian prisoners who 
had survived reached Russia. 

On August 4 General Tom Bridges brought serious word from 
the Caucasus: 

"The British troops are withdrawing, and although it was agreed that 
the Italians should take their place, the latter do not intend to go in; 
neither do the French. As he describes the situation it means that mas- 
sacres on a wholesale scale will begin in the near future unless the United 
States should agree to send troops there. Bridges says that one division 
will be sufficient. We are about to send General Harbord and a large mis- 
sion of officers down there to investigate conditions. Bridges says that it is 
too late to do this and will simply result in a waste of all-important time. 
He says that the only solution is to send troops there at once." 2 

Bulgaria also called for attention on the same day in a meeting 
at the Quai d'Orsay, which listened to the reports of Allied military 
observers who had come from Sofia. 

"One thing that they all agreed on was that the Bulgarians had scrupu- 
lously lived up to all of the requirements of the armistice. This was 
somewhat of a bombshell in the camp of Mr. Balfour and M. Clemenceau. 
The latter called on Marshal Foch, evidently with the idea that Marshal 
Foch would support the contention that the Bulgarians had violated the 

1 Bliss' diary, July 28, 1919. 

2 Bliss* diary, August 4, 1919. 


armistice. But the Marshal agreed with all the rest of the military men 
that the Bulgarians had done nothing of the kind. . . . 

"Mr. Balfour and the other civilians had an idea that the armistice re- 
quired them to come down to three divisions. That, however, is not 'de- 
mobilization' but 'reduction.' The cause of all their agitation now is the 
fact that they intend to impose upon Bulgaria peace terms that will prob- 
ably throw that country into a blaze against Greece. At the present mo- 
ment Bulgaria could probably soundly whip Greece and as the Allies do 
not intend to send any troops down there to help the latter, they are 
getting worried as to how they can enforce the proposed peace terms." * 

The next day, August 5, the British had seized Mesopotamia, 
where they had found great oil deposits which would be one reward 
for the costs in blood and money in their campaigns in the Near 
East. This was the reason they were abandoning the Caucasus and 
losing interest in the fate of the Armenians. The French were de- 
manding Syria because the British had taken Mesopotamia, while 
the Italians and Greeks demanded their share. 

But it seems superfluous to add further details to a record which 
is so well known and valuable as illustrating the wearing details of 
the reconstruction of Europe after four years of slaughter and de- 
struction. Eventually the new nations of Central Europe and the 
Balkans were to settle down within their prescribed boundaries 
while they supported large armies for their defense. Turkey was to