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Marshall, Francis Cutler, BG.
Home Town Darlington, Wisconsin
Last Address San Diego, California
Date of Passing Dec 07, 1922
Location of Interment U.S. Military Academy West Point Post Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates Unknown
Last Known Activity Killed in an airplane flight from Rockwell Field, California to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, December 7, 1922, aged 55 years.
The tragic taking away of Tildy Marshall has brought sorrow to the hearts of' the many who loved him-something that he never brought to them during his life. Always happy and cheerful, he brought happiness and cheer to those about him. His-vigor of body, his keenness of mind, his sympathy of heart, and his righteousness of soul made of him a character without fear and without reproach. From the day that he entered West Point as a plebe to the day of his sudden and tragic death, he was a soldier who loved his profession. Its hardships and its pleasures, its associations and its traditions, its aims and its ideals were everything to him. As a subordinate, his outstanding quality was loyalty.. As a commander, it was consideration and concern for those serving under him. He was a leader, not a driver. In the young officer and soldier he always took a personal interest, and he furnished an example of soldierly bearing and soldierly spirit that has been an inspiration to many a one of them.
As a comrade, he typified the best of our service. Always ready to help and join with others in work or in play, he was the life of the mess and a participant in all activities.
About November 1, 1922, he left Washington where he was on duty as Assistant to the Chief of Cavalry for a tour of inspection of the Cavalry posts of the country. Some of the necessary trips he had been making by airplane, and on December 7th, in company with Lieutenant C. L. Webber of the Air Service, he left Rockwell Field, San Diego, California, by plane for Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Failing a report of arrival on schedule time, the Commanding Officer of Rockwell Field became apprehensive and commenced wiring inquiries. No news of them being obtainable, a search was promptly instituted which was quickly increased in extent as the news of the probable disaster spread. Navy planes from the Pacific Coast and army planes from Rockwell Field, El Paso and San Antonio joined in the search. Troops from the 9th Corps Area, and from Fort Huachuca and Camp Stephen D. Little of the 8th Corps Area scoured the country. Permission was obtained from the Mexican Government to cross the border and the active assistance of the Mexican authorities was given. Automobile parties were sent out and by every means a most thorough and extended search was conducted for many days in Southern California, Arizona, and Northern Mexico. The civil authorities and individuals lent their aid. A boyhood friend of Colonel Marshall's, who owned a ranch in Northern Mexico, offered a large reward to anyone finding the officers or the plane. Rewards were offered by the Cavalry Division at El Paso and by friends of Lieutenant Webber, but it was all to no avail. During all this time there were many newspaper reports and rumors that the plane had been seen at various places. There were reports that the bodies and the wreckage of the plane destroyed by fire had been found by cowboys and Indians, but upon investigation all proved to be without foundation. Under War Department instructions the Commanding General, 9th Corps Area, appointed a Board of Officers to investigate the occurrence. It was determined that in all probability the two officers had met their death in a forced landing of the plane in which they were flying. The War Department approved the proceedings of the Board and their names have been dropped from the rolls of the army. Since that fateful day when the plane disappeared from the view of the observers at Rockwell Field into the bank of clouds to the east of San Diego no word or message or token has returned to those who are left behind, and the fate of Marshall and Webber remains one of the mysteries of the air.
Francis C. Marshall was born in Galena, Illinois, on March 26th, 1867. When a boy he moved with his parents to Darlington, Wisconsin, where he attended school prior to his entry into West Point. He entered the Military Academy July 1, 1886, from which he was graduated in June, 1890. Assigned to the 8th Cavalry, he joined his regiment and had his first service on the frontier. During the Pine Ridge campaign he commanded a detachment of enlisted Sioux scouts. From 1892 to 1895 he commanded Troop L of the 8th Cavalry, which was composed of Cheyenne Indians. The organization was known as "Casey's Scouts". In this early period of his service he attracted the attention of his superiors by his energy and resourcefulness and his efficient performance of duty. It was here that he learned his first lessons in field service, and it was this class of service that held for him the greatest attraction. He became an expert in scout craft and in the expedients of life in the open. Many times, during the anxious days immediately after it was known that he must have met with an accident, and while there was still hope that he might come out of it alive, the remark was made by different ones who knew him that "if anyone can take care of himself in difficulty it is Tildy Marshall'. So well known was his courage and resourcefulness.
He was promoted to First Lieutenant, 6th Cavalry, in 1897. While with that regiment he served in the China Relief Expedition. He was recommended for the brevet of Captain by General Wint for meritorious conduct in action near Tientsin, China. With a command consisting of a troop of cavalry of his regiment and a troop of Bengal Lancers he led a charge against the enemy which routed them with many casualties and a loss of 300 prisorers. He later served as Adjutant General of the United States forces at Tientsin under the command of Major General S. S. Sumner. His promotion to Captain came in February, 1901; to Major in September, 1912; to Lieutenant Colonel in July, 1916, and to Colonel in June, 1917. From 1904 to 1908 he was on duty in the Department of Tactics at West Point. He loved his Alma Mater, and he often spoke of the pleasure and pride it gave him to have had the opportunity for service there.
He was on duty with the Cavalry of the New England National Guard as Inspector Instructor from 1911 to 1914. Although by first choice a field soldier, he entered upon this work with his natural enthusiasm. Impressed with the importance of work with the Guard, which was not then but since has become one of the essential components of our army, he threw himself heart and soul into it, and he left the New England National Guard with the admiration and respect of all with whom he had come in contact and with close friendships that lasted throughout the remainder of his life.
At the commencement in 1916, the President of Trinity College conferred upon him an honorary degree of Master of Arts. He had three tours in the Philippines, 1900-1901, 1902-1903, and 1915-1917. The outbreak of the World War found him in the Philippine Islands. Upon return to the United States he was placed in command of a cavalry regiment which was transformed into Field Artillery. Upon his promotion to Brigadier General, he became commander of the 165th Field Artillery brigade, which he took to France in June, 1918. In October, 1918, he was transferred to the 1st Division and commanded the 2nd Brigade in the Meuse-Argonne operations. He was with the 3rd Army in the occupation of Germany, commanding brigades in the 1st and 4th Divisions.
Upon return to the United States he served at various stations on the border until August, 1920, when he was ordered to Washington for duty as Assistant Chief of Cavalry. His selection for this duty was in accordance with the wishes of the Chief of Cavalry, and to the great satisfaction of his brother officers of the cavalry by whom he was held in high esteem. In this, his last assignment, his outstanding qualities of loyalty and sympathy, his high professional attainments, and his sterling character, simply measured up to and crowned the splendid reputation achieved in the service he loved. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre with palm. An order from the General Headquarters of the French Armies of the East gives him the following citation: "After the approval by the General Commanding in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the Marshal of France Commander in Chief of the French Armies of the East cites in an order of the army: Brigadier General F. C. Marshall, 2nd Infantry Brigade, American Army: Superior officer of great bravery, inspired by the highest sentiments of duty. At the head of a select brigade of infantry, showed most accurate judgment and great ardor during the operations of November 1918. At the Great General Headquarters, The Marshal Commanding in Chief The French Armies of the East - PETAIN."
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal "for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services in command of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, during the Meuse-Argonne offensive from October 20, to November 11, 1918, when by his energy, professional skill, and his pronounced qualities of leadership, especially in the attack of the 1st Division on the line of the Meuse, November 6, 1918, and the subsequent operations against Sedan, November 6-7, 1918, he contributed in large measure to the success of his division." Some days after the belief became well nigh a certainty that Tildy Marshall had left this earth, a well worn piece of paper on which was written the following words was found in a uniform coat which he had worn much in France. Perhaps those who knew him best and were nearest and dearest to him, may, in reading these words, hear and see in their memories the spoken word and the light of his countenance, and feel that his spirit is hovering near.
"I will keep a strong body for the work I have to do, a loving heart for all those about me, a clear mind for all truth where recognition brings freedom, a poised unconquerable soul for the ideal whose champion I declare myself; "And I will possess a faith mighty enough to rout anxiety, ride over difficulties, challenge hardships, smile through grief, deny failure, see only victory, looking to the end; to which hopeful assurance now attuned, I am at peace with myself, the world and the infinite."
Note - On May 12, 1923, five months after the disappearance of General Francis C. Marshall, the uncertainty as to his tragic death was ended when a cattleman came upon the remains of an airplane wrecked in a lonely spot on the slope of the Cuyamaca Mountains, fifty miles from San Diego, California. Officers and men from Rockwell Field, California, went to the site and brought back the remains of the two aviators and such portions of the machine as had not been burned. From indications at the scene of the tragedy it is believed that the aviators became lost in a fog and, coming too low, crashed into pine trees on the side of the mountain and then to the ground. The gasoline tank, broken by the impact, must have immediately burst into flames. The remains of General Marshall were brought East and buried with military honors at West Point, May 21st, 1923.