General of the Army George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff under presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, then served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under Truman. Winston Churchill lauded Marshall as the "organizer of victory" for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II, although Marshall declined a final field leadership position that went to his protégé, later U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. After the war, as Secretary of State, Marshall advocated a significant U.S. economic and political commitment to post-war European recovery, including the Marshall Plan that bore his name. In recognition of this work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Marshall graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1901. After serving briefly as commandant of students at the Danville Military Academy in Danville, Virginia, Marshall received his commission as a second lieutenant of Infantry in February, 1902. In the years after the Spanish–American War, he served in the United States and overseas in positions of increasing rank and responsibility, including platoon leader and company commander in the Philippines during the Philippine–American War. He was the Honor Graduate of his Infantry-Cavalry School Course in 1907, and graduated first in his 1908 Army Staff College class. In 1916 Marshall was assigned as aide-de-camp to J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Western Department. After the United States entered World War I, Marshall served with Bell while Bell commanded the Department of the East. He was assigned to the staff of the 1st Division, and assisted with the organization's mobilization and training in the United States, as well as planning of its combat operations in France. Subsequently, assigned to the staff of the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters, he was a key planner of American operations including the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
After the war, Marshall became an aide-de-camp to John J. Pershing, who was then the Army's Chief of Staff. Marshall later served on the Army staff, commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment in China, and was an instructor at the Army War College. In 1927, he became assistant commandant of the Army's Infantry School, where he modernized command and staff processes, which proved to be of major benefit during World War II. In 1932 and 1933 he commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment and Fort Screven, Georgia. Marshall commanded 5th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and Vancouver Barracks from 1936 to 1938, and received promotion to brigadier general. During this command, Marshall was also responsible for 35 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Oregon and southern Washington. In July 1938, Marshall was assigned to the War Plans Division on the War Department staff, and later became the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff. When Chief of Staff Malin Craig retired in 1939, Marshall became acting Chief of Staff, and then Chief of Staff, a position he held until the war's end in 1945.
As Chief of Staff, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history, and received promotion to five-star rank as General of the Army. Marshall coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific until the end of the war. In addition to accolades from Churchill and other Allied leaders, Time (magazine) magazine named Marshall its Man of the Year for 1943. Marshall retired from active service in 1945, but remained on active duty, as required for holders of five-star rank. From December 15, 1945 to January 1947 Marshall served as a special envoy to China in an unsuccessful effort to negotiate a coalition government between the Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong.
As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, Marshall advocated rebuilding Europe, a program that became known as the Marshall Plan, and which led to his being awarded the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. After resigning as Secretary of State, Marshall served as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and president of the American National Red Cross. As Secretary of Defense at the start of the Korean War, Marshall worked to restore the military's confidence and morale at the end of its post-World War II demobilization and then its initial buildup for combat in Korea and operations during the Cold War. After resigning as Defense Secretary, Marshall retired to his home in Virginia. He died in 1959 and was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
George Catlett Marshall Jr. was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of George Catlett Marshall Sr. and Laura Emily (née Bradford) Marshall. Marshall was a scion of an old Virginia family, as well as a distant relative of former Chief Justice John Marshall. Later, when asked about his political allegiances, Marshall often joked that his father had been a Democrat and his mother a Republican, whereas he was an Episcopalian.
From age 16-20 Marshall studied at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He always ranked first in military discipline and about midway academically. He graduated 15th of 34 in the Class of ’01.
Following his graduation from VMI, Marshall sat for a competitive examination for a commission in the United States Army. While awaiting the results, Marshall had accepted the position of Commandant of Students at the Danville Military Institute in Danville, Virginia. Marshall passed the exam and was commissioned a second lieutenant in February, 1902.
Prior to World War I, Marshall received various postings in the United States and the Philippines , including serving as an infantry platoon leader and company commander during the Philippine–American War and other guerrilla uprisings. He was schooled in modern warfare, including a tour at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from 1906 to 1910 as both a student and an instructor. He was the Honor Graduate of his Infantry-Cavalry School Course in 1907, and graduated first in his 1908 Army Staff College class.
After another tour of duty in the Philippines, Marshall returned to the United States in 1916 to serve as aide-de-camp to the commander of the Western Department, former Army chief of staff Major General J. Franklin Bell, at the Presidio in San Francisco. After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, Marshall relocated with Bell to Governors Island, New York when Bell was reassigned as commander of the Department of the East. Shortly afterwards, Marshall was assigned to help oversee the mobilization of the 1st Division for service in France.
During World War I, Marshall had roles as a planner of both training and operations. In the summer of 1917, he was assigned as assistant chief of staff for operations on the staff of the 1st Division. After overseeing the division's mobilization and organization in Texas, he departed for France with the division staff in mid-1917. On the long ocean voyage, his roommate was the division's assistant chief of staff for training, Lesley J. McNair; the two formed a personal and professional bond that they maintained for the rest of their careers.
After arriving in France, Marshall served with the 1st Division on the St. Mihiel, Picardy, and Cantigny fronts. He won recognition and acclaim for his planning of the attack for the Battle of Cantigny, which took place from May 28 to 31, 1918; its success resulted in the first notable American victory of the war. On May 26, Marshall was injured while traveling to several subordinate units to conduct pre-attack coordination. As he departed the division headquarters area, his horse stumbled, fell, and rolled over; Marshall's left foot was caught in the stirrup, and he sustained a severe sprain and bruise. A physician bound Marshall's injured ankle and foot with adhesive tape so that he could avoid medical evacuation and remain with the division to oversee the Cantigny attack.
In mid-1918, he was posted to the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force, where he worked closely with his mentor, General John Joseph Pershing, and was a key planner of American operations. He was instrumental in the planning and coordination of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which contributed to the defeat of the German Army on the Western Front in 1918. Marshall held the permanent rank of captain and the temporary rank of colonel; he was recommended for promotion to temporary brigadier general in October 1918, but the Armistice occurred before the recommendation was acted on. After the war, Marshall reverted to his permanent rank.
In 1919, he became an aide-de-camp to General Pershing. Between 1920 and 1924, while Pershing was Army Chief of Staff, Marshall worked in a number of positions in the army, focusing on training and teaching modern, mechanized warfare. Between the World Wars, he was a key planner and writer in the War Department, commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment for three years in China, and taught at the Army War College. In 1927, as a lieutenant colonel, he was appointed assistant commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, where he initiated major changes to modernize command and staff processes, which proved to be of major benefit during World War II. Marshall placed Edwin F. Harding in charge of the Infantry School's publications, and Harding became editor:41 of Infantry in Battle, a book that codified the lessons of World War I. Infantry in Battle is still used as an officer's training manual in the Infantry Officer's Course and was the training manual for most of the infantry officers and leaders of World War II.
From June 1932 to June 1933, Marshall was the commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Regiment at Fort Screven, Georgia. From July 1933 to October 1933 he was commander of Fort Moultrie, South Carolina and District I of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and he was promoted to colonel in September 1933. He was senior instructor and chief of staff for the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Division from November 1933 to August 1936.
Marshall commanded the 5th Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division and Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington from 1936 to 1938, and was promoted to brigadier general in October 1936. In addition to obtaining a long-sought and significant troop command, traditionally viewed as an indispensable step to the pinnacle of the US Army, Marshall was also responsible for 35 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Oregon and southern Washington. As post commander Marshall made a concerted effort to cultivate relations with the city of Portland and to enhance the image of the US Army in the region. With the CCC, he initiated a series of measures to improve the morale of the participants and to make the experience beneficial in their later life. He started a newspaper for the CCC region that proved a vehicle to promote CCC successes, and he initiated a variety of programs that developed their skills and improved their health. Marshall's inspections of the CCC camps gave him and his wife Katherine the chance to enjoy the beauty of the American northwest and made that assignment what he called "the most instructive service I ever had, and the most interesting."
In July 1938, Marshall was assigned to the War Plans Division in Washington D.C. and subsequently reassigned as Deputy Chief of Staff. In that capacity, then-Brigadier General Marshall attended a conference at the White House at which President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a plan to provide aircraft to England in support of the war effort, lacking forethought with regard to logistical support or training. With all other attendees voicing support of the plan, Marshall was the only person to voice his disagreement. Marshall also spoke in favor of a large ground army although Roosevelt had said a large air force would be a greater deterrent to enemies than a large army. Despite others' belief then that he had ended his career, this action resulted in his being nominated by Roosevelt to be the Army Chief of Staff as his personal choice. Marshall was then only 34th in seniority and outranked by 21 major-generals and 11 brigadier-generals; but he was the fifth-ranking officer under an unwritten rule that the chief of staff should be able to serve a four-year term before reaching 64.
Upon the retirement of General Malin Craig on July 1, 1939, Marshall became acting chief of staff. Marshall was promoted to general and sworn in as chief of staff on September 1, 1939, the same day the German Army launched its invasion of Poland. He would hold this post until the end of the war in 1945.
On May 11, 1940 Congress cut $10 million from a $28 million appropriation budget for equipment to detect Japanese aircraft off the west coast of America. Marshall saw Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. and they went to see Roosevelt together; Marshall emphasized the supreme importance of getting the full amount and told Roosevelt "you have got to do something and you’ve got to do it today". So Marshall got "all he wanted and more".
As Chief of Staff, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history, inheriting an outmoded, poorly equipped army of 189,000 men and, partly drawing from his experience teaching and developing techniques of modern warfare as an instructor at the Army War College, coordinated the large-scale expansion and modernization of the U.S. Army. Though he had never actually led troops in combat, Marshall was a skilled organizer with a talent for inspiring other officers. Many of the American generals who were given top commands during the war were either picked or recommended by Marshall, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jacob L. Devers, George S. Patton, Terry de la Mesa Allen Sr., Lloyd Fredendall, Lesley McNair, Mark Wayne Clark and Omar Bradley.
Faced with the necessity of turning an army of former civilians into a force of over eight million soldiers by 1942 (a fortyfold increase within three years), Marshall directed McNair to focus efforts on rapidly producing large numbers of soldiers. With the exception of airborne forces, Marshall approved McNair's concept of an abbreviated training schedule for men entering Army land forces training, particularly in regard to basic infantry skills, weapons proficiency, and combat tactics. At the time, most U.S. commanders at lower levels had little or no combat experience of any kind. Without the input of experienced British or Allied combat officers on the nature of modern warfare and enemy tactics, many resorted to formulaic training methods emphasizing static defense and orderly large-scale advances by motorized convoys over improved roads. In consequence, Army forces deploying to Africa in Operation Torch suffered serious initial reverses when encountering German armored combat units in Africa in the Battle of Kasserine Pass and other major battles. Even as late as 1944, U.S. soldiers undergoing stateside training in preparation for deployment against German forces in Europe were not being trained in combat procedures and tactics in use there.
Originally, Marshall had planned a 265-division Army with a system of unit rotation such as practiced by the United Kingdom and other Allies. By mid-1943, however, after pressure from government and business leaders to preserve manpower for industry and agriculture, he had abandoned this plan in favor of a 90-division Army using individual replacements sent via a circuitous process from training to divisions in combat. The individual replacement system devised by Marshall and implemented by McNair exacerbated problems with unit cohesion and effective transfer of combat experience to new soldiers and officers. In Europe, where there were few pauses in combat with German forces, the individual replacement system had broken down completely by late 1944. Hastily-trained replacements or service personnel reassigned as infantry were often given only a few weeks' refresher training before being thrown into battle with Army divisions locked in front-line combat.
The new men were often not even proficient in the use of their own weapons, and once in combat, could not receive enough practical instruction from veterans before being killed or wounded, sometimes within the first few days. Under such conditions, many soldiers suffered a crippling loss of morale, while veterans were kept at the front until they were killed, wounded, or incapacitated by battle fatigue or illness. Incidents of soldiers going AWOL from combat duty as well as battle fatigue and self-inflicted injury rose rapidly during the last eight months of the war with Germany. As one historian concluded, "Had the Germans been given a free hand to devise a replacement system..., one that would do the Americans the most harm and the least good, they could not have done a better job."
Marshall's abilities to pick competent field commanders during the early part of the war was decidedly mixed. He was instrumental in advancing the careers of the highly capable generals such as Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Krueger and Clark. A notable exception was his recommendation of the swaggering Fredendall to Eisenhower for a major command in the American invasion of North Africa during Operation Torch. Marshall was especially fond of Fredendall, describing him as "one of the best" and remarking in a staff meeting when his name was mentioned, "I like that man; you can see determination all over his face." Eisenhower duly picked him to command the 39,000-man Central Task Force (the largest of three) in Operation Torch. Both men would come to regret that decision, as Fredendall was the leader of U.S. Army forces at the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass.
During World War II, Marshall was instrumental in preparing the U.S. Army and United States Army Air Forces for the invasion of the European continent. Marshall wrote the document that would become the central strategy for all Allied operations in Europe. He initially scheduled Operation Overlord for April 1, 1943, but met with strong opposition from Winston Churchill, who convinced Roosevelt to commit troops to Allied invasion of Sicily for the invasion of Italy. Some authors think that World War II could have ended earlier if Marshall had had his way; others think that such an invasion would have meant utter failure.
It was assumed that Marshall would become the Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord, but Roosevelt selected Eisenhower as Supreme Commander. While Marshall enjoyed considerable success in working with Congress and Roosevelt, he refused to lobby for the position. President Roosevelt didn't want to lose his presence in the States. He told Marshall, "I didn't feel I could sleep at ease if you were out of Washington." When rumors circulated that the top job would go to Marshall, many critics viewed the transfer as a demotion for Marshall, since he would leave his position as Chief of Staff of the Army and lose his seat on the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
On December 16, 1944, Marshall became the first American Army general to be promoted to five-star rank, the newly created General of the Army – the American equivalent rank to field marshal. He was the second American to be promoted to a five-star rank, as William Leahy was promoted to fleet admiral the previous day.
Throughout the remainder of World War II, Marshall coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific. He was characterized as the organizer of Allied victory by Winston Churchill. Time (magazine) magazine named Marshall Man of the Year for 1943. Marshall resigned his post of chief of staff on November 10, 1945, but did not retire, as regulations stipulate that Generals of the Army remain on active duty for life. He was succeeded as Army chief of staff by General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower.
After World War II ended, the Congressional Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack received testimony on the intelligence failure. It amassed 25,000 pages of documents, 40 volumes, and included nine reports and investigations, eight of which had been previously completed. These reports included criticism of Marshall for delay in sending General Walter Short, the Army commander in Hawaii, important information obtained from intercepted Japanese diplomatic messages. The report also criticized Marshall's lack of knowledge of the readiness of the Hawaiian Command during November and December 1941. Ten days after the attack, Lt. General Short and Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Navy at Pearl Harbor, were both relieved of their duties. The final report of the Joint Committee did not single out or fault Marshall. While the report was critical of the overall situation, the committee noted that subordinates had failed to pass on important information to their superiors, including Marshall.
A secret report into the Army's role, the Clausen Report was authorized by Secretary Stimson; it was critical of Short and also of Colonel Bratton who, he concluded, arrived later on Sunday morning than he initially claimed during testimony and invented a story about not being able to get in touch with Marshall which "nearly destroyed" Marshall.
In December 1945, President Harry Truman sent Marshall to China, to broker a coalition government between the Nationalist allies under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong. Mao promised Marshall the Communists would give up armed revolution, embrace the old enemies, and build a democracy in China. Marshall hoped for a coalition government, and toasted their common future. The Americans assumed that if the Communist won the Civil War, they would remain on friendly terms with the United States.  Marshall had no leverage over the Communists, but he threatened to withdraw American aid essential to the Nationalists. Both sides rejected his proposals and the Chinese Civil War escalated, with the Communists winning in 1949. His mission a failure, he returned to the United States in January 1947. Chiang Kai-shek and some historians later claimed that cease-fire, under pressure of Marshall, saved the Communists from defeat. As Secretary of State in 1947–48, Marshall seems to have disagreed with strong opinions in The Pentagon and State Department that Chiang's success was vital to American interests, insisting that U.S. troops not become involved.
After Marshall's return to the U.S. in early 1947, Truman appointed Marshall Secretary of State. He became the spokesman for the State Department's ambitious plans to rebuild Europe. On June 5, 1947 in a speech at Harvard University, he outlined the American proposal. The European Recovery Program, as it was formally known, became known as the Marshall Plan. Clark Clifford had suggested to Truman that the plan be called the Truman Plan, but Truman immediately dismissed that idea and insisted that it be called the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan would help Europe quickly rebuild and modernize its economy along American lines. The Soviet Union forbade its satellites to participate.
Marshall was again named Time's Man of the Year for 1947. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his post-war work in 1953, the only career officer in the United States Army to ever receive this honor. Pres. Truman repeatedly rejected Marshall's advice on Middle Eastern policy. As Secretary of State, Marshall strongly opposed recognizing the newly formed state of Israel. Marshall felt that if the state of Israel was declared that a war would break out in the Middle East (which it did in 1948 one day after Israel declared independence). Marshall saw recognizing the Jewish state as a political move to gain Jewish support in the upcoming election, in which Truman was expected to lose to Dewey. He told President Truman in May 1948, "If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you." However, Marshall refused to vote in any election as a matter of principle.
Marshall resigned from the State Department because of ill health on January 7, 1949, and the same month became chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. In October 1949, Marshall was named president of the American National Red Cross.
When the early months of the Korean War showed how poorly prepared the Defense Department was, President Truman fired Secretary Louis A. Johnson and named Marshall as Secretary of Defense in September 1950. The appointment required a congressional waiver because the National Security Act of 1947 prohibited a uniformed military officer from serving in the post. This prohibition included Marshall since individuals promoted to General of the Army are not technically retired, but remain officially on active duty even after their active service has concluded. Marshall was the first person to be granted such a waiver; in 2017, Jim Mattis became the second. Marshall's main role as Secretary of Defense was to restore confidence and morale to the Defense Department while rebuilding the armed forces following their post-World War II demobilization.
Marshall worked to provide more manpower to meet the demands of both the Korean War and the Cold War in Europe. To implement his priorities Marshall brought in a new leadership team, including Robert A. Lovett as his deputy and Anna M. Rosenberg, former head of the War Manpower Commission, as assistant secretary of defense for manpower. He also worked to rebuild the relationship between the Defense and State Departments, as well as the relationship between the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Marshall participated in the post-Inchon landing discussion that led to authorizing Douglas MacArthur to conduct operations in North Korea. A secret "eyes only" signal from Marshall to MacArthur on September 29, 1950 declared the Truman administration's commitment: "We want you to feel unhampered strategically and tactically to proceed north of the 38th Parallel". At the same time, Marshall advised against public pronouncements which might lead to United Nations votes undermining or countermanding the initial mandate to restore the border between North and South Korea. Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were generally supportive of MacArthur because they were of the view that field commanders should be able to exercise their best judgment in accomplishing the intent of their superiors.
Following Chinese military intervention in Korea during late November, Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought ways to aid MacArthur while avoiding all-out war with China. In the debate over what to do about China's increased involvement, Marshall opposed a cease–fire on the grounds that it would make the U.S. look weak in China's eyes, leading to demands for future concessions. In addition, Marshall argued that the U.S. had a moral obligation to honor its commitment to South Korea. When British Prime Minister Clement Attlee suggested diplomatic overtures to China, Marshall opposed, arguing that it was impossible to negotiate with the Communist government. In addition, Marshall expressed concern that concessions to China would undermine confidence in the U.S. among its Asian allies, including Japan and the Philippines. When some in Congress favored expanding the war in Korea and confronting China, Marshall argued against a wider war in Korea, continuing instead to stress the importance of containing the Soviet Union during the Cold War battle for primacy in Europe.
Increasingly concerned about public statements from MacArthur, commander of United Nations forces fighting in the Korean War, which contradicted President Truman's on prosecution of the war, on the morning of 6 April 1951, Truman held a meeting with Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley, Secretary of State Dean Acheson and advisor W. Averell Harriman to discuss whether MacArthur should be removed from command.
Harriman was emphatically in favor of MacArthur's relief, but Bradley opposed it. Marshall asked for more time to consider the matter. Acheson was in favor but did not disclose this, instead warning Truman that if he did it, MacArthur's relief would cause "the biggest fight of your administration." At another meeting the following day, Marshall and Bradley continued to oppose MacArthur's relief. On 8 April, the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Marshall, and each expressed the view that MacArthur's relief was desirable from a "military point of view," suggesting that "if MacArthur were not relieved, a large segment of our people would charge that civil authorities no longer controlled the military."
Marshall, Bradley, Acheson and Harriman met with Truman again on 9 April. Bradley informed the President of the views of the Joint Chiefs, and Marshall added that he agreed with them. Truman wrote in his diary that "it is of unanimous opinion of all that MacArthur be relieved. All four so advise." (The Joint Chiefs would later insist that they had only "concurred" with the relief, not "recommended" it.)
On April 11, 1951, President Truman directed transmittal of an order to MacArthur, issued over Bradley's signature, relieving MacArthur of his assignment in Korea and directing him to turn over command to Matthew Ridgway. In line with Marshall's view, and those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, MacArthur's relief was looked upon by proponents as being necessary to reassert the tenet of civilian control of the military.
Marshall retired in September 1951 to his home, Dodona Manor, in Leesburg, Virginia to tend to his gardens and continue his passion for horseback riding. He was head of the American delegation at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He also served as Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission from 1949 to 1959.
Marshall died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1959 at the age of 78. Although he was entitled to an Official Funeral, Marshall preferred simplicity, so received a Special Military Funeral after lying in state at the Washington National Cathedral for 21 hours, guarded by representatives from all the U.S. armed services, as well as a VMI cadet. President Eisenhower ordered flags flown at half-mast, and was among the invited guests at the funeral service at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel; other dignitaries included former President Truman, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, former Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson, W. Averell Harriman and Generals Omar N. Bradley, Alfred M. Gruenther and General Matthew B. Ridgway. His parish priest, Rev. Franklin Moss Jr. from St. James Episcopal Church in Leesburg, Virginia conducted the chapel and graveside services, assisted by former chief chaplain and National Cathedral Canon Rev. Luther Miller. Following a 19-gun salute, Marshall was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in a place he had picked, in Section 7, Grave 8198, beside his first wife, Elizabeth Carter Coles (1875–1927) and her mother, Elizabeth Pendleton Coles (1849–1929); his second wife, Katherine Tupper Brown Marshall (1882–1978) would later join them.
Marshall's reputation for excellence as a military organizer and planner was recognized early in his career, and became known throughout the Army. In a performance appraisal prepared while Marshall was a lieutenant in the Philippines, his superior, Captain E. J. Williams responded to the routine question of whether he would want the evaluated officer to serve under his command again by writing of Marshall "Should the exigencies of active service place him in exalted command I would be glad to serve under him." (Emphasis added.)
In 1913, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Hagood completed a written evaluation of Marshall's performance in which he called Marshall a military genius. Responding to the question of whether he would want his subordinate Marshall to serve under him again, Hagood wrote "Yes, but I would prefer to serve under his command." (Emphasis added.) Hagood went on to recommend Marshall's immediate promotion to brigadier general, despite the fact that there were more than 1,800 officers, including Hagood, who were senior to him.
After the surrender of the Nazi German government in May 1945, Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War, paid tribute to Marshall in front of a gathering of members of the Army staff, concluding with: "I have seen a great many soldiers in my lifetime and you, Sir, are the finest soldier I have ever known."
In addition to his military success, Marshall is primarily remembered as the driving force behind the Marshall Plan, which provided billions of dollars in aid to post war Europe to restart the economies of the destroyed countries. In recent years, the cooperation required between former European adversaries as part of the Marshall Plan has been recognized as one of the earliest factors that led to formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, and eventually the European Union.
In a television interview after leaving office, Harry S. Truman was asked which American he thought had made the greatest contribution of the preceding thirty years. Without hesitation, Truman picked Marshall, adding "I don't think in this age in which I have lived, that there has been a man who has been a greater administrator; a man with a knowledge of military affairs equal to General Marshall."
Orson Welles said in an interview with Dick Cavett that "Marshall is the greatest man I ever met... I think he was the greatest human being who was also a great man... He was a tremendous gentleman, an old fashioned institution which isn't with us anymore." Welles's story to Cavett was about how we witnessed Marshall taking the time to speak with a young American G.I. who had accidentally entered the same room.
George Marshall was the youngest of three siblings. His older brother Stuart Bradford Marshall (1875–1956) was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and became a manager and executive in several metal production corporations, including the American Manganese Manufacturing Company. He later worked as a metallurgist and consulting engineer specializing in the production and operation of blast furnaces, coke ovens, and foundries. George and Stuart Marshall were long estranged; according to relatives, George Marshall's first wife, Lily, had dated other VMI cadets before him, and rejected their proposals, to include Stuart Marshall. When Stuart found out George was engaged to Lily, Stuart made unkind remarks about her, and George "cut him off my list". His sister, Marie Louise (1876–1962) was the wife of Dr. John Johnson Singer, an Army physician who died in 1934.
Marshall married Elizabeth Carter Coles, or "Lily", at her mother's home on Letcher Avenue in Lexington, Virginia, on 11 February 1902. She died on 15 September 1927 after thyroid surgery that put significant strain on her weak heart. They did not have children.
On 15 October 1930, Marshall married Katherine Boyce Tupper (8 October 1882 – 18 December 1978); Katherine Tupper was the mother of three children with Baltimore lawyer Clifton Stevenson Brown, who had been murdered by a disgruntled client in 1928. The second Mrs. Marshall was a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts; she later studied at the Comédie-Française, and toured with Frank Benson's English Shakespearean Company. She authored a memoir, 1946's Together: Annals of an Army Wife. One of Marshall's stepsons, Allen Tupper Brown, was an Army lieutenant who was killed by a German sniper in Italy on May 29, 1944. Another stepson was Major Clifton Stevenson Brown Jr. (1914–1952). Step-daughter Molly Brown Winn, who was the mother of actress Kitty Winn, was married to US Army Major James Julius Winn, who had been an aide to General Marshall.
Marshall was a Freemason, having been made a Mason "at sight" in 1941 by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. 
George Marshall maintained a home, known as Dodona Manor, in Leesburg, Virginia. This was his first and only permanent residence owned by Marshall who later said "this is Home...a real home after 41 years of wandering." The restored home and its surrounding gardens are open to the public as a museum.
Marshall has been played in film and television by
Marshall is a character in three different alternate history timelines in novels by Harry Turtledove: Worldwar, Joe Steele, and The Hot War.
|No pin insignia in 1902||Second lieutenant, United States Army: February 2, 1901
(Appointment accepted on February 2, 1902.)
|First lieutenant, United States Army: March 7, 1907|
|Captain, United States Army: July 1, 1916|
|Major, National Army: August 5, 1917|
|Lieutenant colonel, National Army: January 5, 1918|
|Colonel, National Army: August 27, 1918|
|Captain, Regular Army (reverted to permanent rank): June 30, 1920|
|Major, Regular Army : July 1, 1920|
|Lieutenant colonel, Regular Army: August 21, 1923|
|Colonel, Regular Army: September 1, 1933|
|Brigadier general, Regular Army: October 1, 1936|
|Major general, Regular Army: September 1, 1939|
|General, temporary, for service as Army Chief of Staff: September 1, 1939|
|General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 16, 1944|
|General of the Army rank made permanent in the Regular Army: April 11, 1946|
|Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster|
|Philippine Campaign Medal|
|World War I Victory Medal with four campaign clasps|
|Army of Occupation of Germany Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal (First recipient)|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|National Defense Service Medal|
|Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (United Kingdom)|
|Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit (Brazil) (Presented by General Francisco José Pinto on behalf of President Getulio Vargas on 3 June 1939)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Chile)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Boyacá Cherifien (Colombia) (Given by President Ospina Perez as he opened the IX Panamerican Conference, March 1948)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Military Merit (Cuba)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Abdon Calderon (Ecuador)|
|Knight Grand Cross with swords of the Order of George I (Greece)|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy (Italy)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco)|
|Knight Grand Cross with swords of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)|
|Grand Officer of the Order of the Sun (Peru)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Suvorov (Soviet Union)|
|Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 with bronze palm (France)|
|Medal for the Centennial of the Republic of Liberia|
|Silver Medal for Bravery (Montenegro)|
|Medal of Solidarity, 2nd Class (Panama)|
|Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (United Kingdom)|