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"It would be very well if we could avoid it:" General Pershing and chemical warfare.

Although he commanded the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, at a time when the battlefield use of poison gas was prevalent, little has been written about John J. Pershing (1860-1948)'s impressions of chemical weapons. Pershing facilitated the development of the US Army chemical warfare program, but supported international agreements designed to prohibit chemical warfare after the war ended. Tracing the evolution of Pershing's opinions on chemical warfare sheds light on the ways in which people in the United States interpreted the morality of chemical weapons in the early twentieth century.

The First World War is a watershed event in the history of chemical warfare. Called the first industrialized war, the belligerents made battlefield use of several new methods of warfare, which included poison gas. When the United States joined the fighting in 1917, it fielded an army that utilized poison gas as its allies and enemies did. Thus the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) became entangled in the legal and ethical debates surrounding the use of chemical weapons in the aftermath of World War I.

John J. Pershing, born on a farm in Missouri in 1860, attended West Point from 1882 until 1886 and was commissioned an officer in the cavalry. Starting in 1898, Pershing served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines during the insurrection. Fie rose to command the Mexican punitive expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916, and served as commander of the AEF when the United States went to war in Europe from 1917 until 1918. After the war, Pershing was awarded the rank of General of the Armies of the United States and became the US Army Chief of Staff. He also served as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and was a US advisor at the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments (1921-1922).

Pershing commanded the US Army at a time when chemical warfare was new to the United States. The use of chemical weapons evolved into one of the most controversial aspects of World War I as negative stereotypes about chemical weapons persisted over the course of the fighting. In his book on the origins of these stereotypes, Richard M. Price argued that one "very plausible explanation for the origins of the ostracism of chemical weapons is their close kinship to poison, a method of warfare thought to have been condemned throughout the ages as treacherous and cowardly." (1) After the first successful poison gas attack by the Germans at Ypres in 1915, British commander Sir John French (1852-1925) said that he regretted "the fighting has been characterized on the enemy's side, by cynical and barbarous disregard of the well-known usages of civilized war." (2) Barbarous and uncivilized were characterizations that would be repeated throughout the First World War with regard to chemical weapons.

Those who worked most closely with chemical weapons tended to believe that anti-gas sentiment was misguided and that, over time, the use of poison gas would become acceptable, just as the use of bayonets, bullets, and bombs had. One of the leaders of the US Army chemical warfare effort under Pershing during World War I, Amos A. Fries (1873-1963), wrote in 1919 that "there is a popular notion that gas warfare is the most horrible method of warfare ever invented, and that it will be abolished because it is so horrible. And yet it is not horrible." (3) Fries' subordinate Earl J. Atkisson (1886-1941) predicted that negative public opinion would prove fleeting, because mustard gas did not compare unfavorably with other aspects of war. "War is abhorrent to the individual," Atkisson wrote in 1925, "yet he accepts blowing men to pieces with high explosive, mowing men down with machine guns, and even sinking a battleship in mid-ocean with its thousand or fifteen hundred men being carried to certain death.... However, to burn the skin of a man outrages all his civilized instincts." (4) Chemical warfare's proponents proved wrong. Chemical warfare continued to be criticized as unsoldierly and antithetical to the laws of war in the aftermath of World War I and countries formed international covenants designed to limit the practice. As a soldier and participant in the events of the First World War and subsequent arms limitation discussions, Pershing's views shed light on the development of conceptions about poison gas in military ethos and public opinion in the early twentieth century.

Yet, despite Pershing's extraordinary capacity to lend perspective to the legal and ethical debates about chemical warfare, little has been written about his views. In his biography, Donald Smythe portrays Pershing as a keen supporter of US Army Chemical Warfare Service activities during the war, but does not explore his personal opinions on the subject or his postwar support for international agreements designed to limit chemical warfare. Smythe recounts that Pershing was once presented with a prototype of a new American gas mask during World War I. "He showed a lively interest," Smythe writes, "putting it on and doing calisthenics to see if it fogged or was uncomfortable." (5) Other biographers, including Richard Goldhurst, Gene Smith, and Frank E. Vandiver, also do not discuss the subject of Pershing's attitude toward chemical warfare in any detail. (6)

Pershing himself is to some extent to blame for this scholarly omission. A consummate officer, he rarely expressed in public personal opinions on controversial matters, or offered rationale for his actions. Frederick Palmer, Pershing's friend and biographer, writes that during World War I "a historian once proposed that every evening, for history's sake, he should explain the reasons for all the day's decisions." (7) Pershing replied that he made too many decisions each day and lacked the time to explain them. "I should have to begin at ten in the morning to tell why I had made those up to that hour," said Pershing, according to Palmer, "what about the others I must make during the rest of the day?" (8)

None of the references to chemical warfare that appear in Pershing's 1931 memoir, My Experiences in the World War, express an opinion about it. (9) Pershing briefly describes the first major poison gas attack on the Western Front in Experiences, which occurred prior to the United States entering the war: German Pioneer Regiment 35, under the direction of chemist Fritz Haber (1868-1934), released a lethal cloud of chlorine gas at Ypres on 22 April 1915. The wind blew the poison cloud west to Allied trenches, as the Germans had anticipated, routing and killing the British, Canadian, French, and Algerian soldiers positioned there. In Experiences, Pershing concludes that "this action by the enemy forced the Allies to adopt the use of gas themselves as a matter of retaliation." (10) His statement implies that Pershing saw the Allies as reluctant chemical warriors, "forced" to employ a method of warfare that they might not otherwise have adopted. In fact, the Allies were already developing a variety of new weapons for the war effort that included chemical weapons before the attack at Ypres. The French army used chemical grenades against the Germans in August 1914, but in such small quantities that the chemicals had no effect. The British were also investigating the use of chemical weapons prior to their use by the Germans. (11)

US Congress declared war on the Central Powers in April 1917 and Pershing was appointed to command the AEF the following month. He believed that the honor of the United States was at stake and fought vigorously to preserve the AEF's autonomy while working in concert with Allied forces. Likewise, Pershing rejected battlefield tactics that he considered too hidebound and tended to support those he believed would restore operational mobility to the Western Front. (12) Despite Pershing's preference for offensive mobility over the trench-warfare tactics that had been employed in the years before US entry into the war, the AEF prepared itself for chemical warfare because poison gas was already in use by all the other belligerents. (13) The US Army Surgeon General's Office and the Bureau of Mines in the Department of the Interior worked to design and manufacture gas masks and other equipment, while the Ordnance Department and Corps of Engineers prepared the AEF to wage chemical warfare.

Pershing appointed Fries to be the chief of chemical warfare in France. (14) Fries, like Pershing, grew up on a Missouri farm, but he and his family moved to Oregon before his high school graduation. He became an officer in the Corps of Engineers in 1898 and served under Pershing in the Philippines. Once World War I was declared, Fries was sent to France to serve as director of roads, but Pershing quickly assigned him to lead the gas service instead. Pershing believed he would rise to the occasion based on their service together in the Pacific, in spite of the fact that Fries had no background in chemistry. He proved to be a dedicated and dynamic administrator who consistently argued that chemical weapons should have a more extensive role in the fighting. Under his direction, the AEF not only worked to improve its gas defense training but also conducted offensive operations using a variety of chemical weapons. Fries once proposed to Pershing that the use of chemical weapons be expanded to include gas bombs being dropped from airplanes on enemy cities. Pershing, however, refused the suggestion and established a policy that the US Army would not intentionally gas civilians unless the Germans did so first.

In addition to overseeing Fries' work in France, Pershing was instrumental (though somewhat indirectly) in establishing the organizational and logistical structures on which chemical warfare depended in the United States. The first commander of the 1st US Army Division in France was Major General William L. Sibert (1860-1935), but Pershing disliked him and had him removed in December 1917. (15) Pershing sent Sibert back to the United States, where he was eventually reassigned to command the chemical warfare organization within the Corps of Engineers, called the Chemical Service Section. From that position, Sibert worked to consolidate chemical weapons work being performed by the Surgeon General's Office, the Ordnance Department, and the Bureau of Mines in the Department of the Interior. These agencies resisted Sibert's effort to varying degrees, but Pershing intervened in June 1918 to help streamline the US Army's chemical warfare organization.

In a 3 June 1918 telegram to the Department of War, Pershing formally requested the creation of a consolidated US gas service, writing that
   ... gas warfare and transportation have become important factors
   and may have great influence in securing ultimate victory. It is
   felt that the organization and direction of those services should
   be in the hands of separate corps with the authority and power to
   conduct these services. It is therefore requested that the
   president direct that in view of the existing emergency there be
   established in the national army a gas corps.... (16)


In response, President Woodrow Wilson authorized the creation of the Chemical Warfare Service on 29 June under the Overman Act, recently passed legislation that gave the president the power to coordinate government agencies in wartime. Sibert served as chief of the Chemical Warfare Service until his retirement in 1920.

By the November ceasefire, the US Army had used chemical weapons on the battlefield in a variety of ways, but poison gas never achieved what Fries, Sibert, and other members of the Chemical Warfare Service believed its potential to be. In his history of gas warfare in World War I, L.F. Haber concluded that
   ... the CWS was seen by its protagonists as a turning-point in the
   history of warfare. In practice it was nothing of the kind. The new
   branch made no significant contribution to the American military
   potential. (17)


Most in the US Army considered poison gas a weapon of only marginal utility, while they regarded other innovations, such as armored tanks and airplanes, as far more promising. The officers of the Chemical Warfare Service hoped that their organization would endure as a permanent part of the peacetime army and that they would be allowed to continue their research and build a foundation for their participation in future military actions, but they faced hostility from other members of the military and the American public. Poison gas caused terrible suffering during the fighting, responsible for nearly 30 percent of the total US casualties in World War I. The US Army Surgeon General reported that the AEF sustained over 70,000 gas casualties, and the United States suffered a higher proportion of chemical warfare casualties than any other belligerent country. (18)

In Pershing's Final Report, published in 1919, he offered only narrow praise for the Chemical Warfare Service's wartime activities, calling the organization "one of our most efficient auxiliary services." (19) Of chemical weapons themselves, Pershing wrote that "whether or not gas will be employed in future wars is a matter of conjecture, but the effect is so deadly to the unprepared that we can never afford to neglect the question." (20) Despite its ambiguity, Pershing's admonishment to never "neglect the question" demonstrated support for the continuation of chemical weapons work. The officers of the Chemical Warfare Service fought to remain part of the peacetime military and continue the US Army's chemical weapons program confident of Pershing's tacit encouragement.

The 1919 joint hearings of the House and Senate committees on military affairs about the postwar reorganization of the armed services, in which Pershing testified, was a rare public occasion where he made his views on chemical warfare express. During his appearance on 1 November, Republican Representative Harry E. Hull (1864-1938) asked Pershing "General, what do you think about the use of poison gas in warfare?" (21) Pershing's answer betrayed some indecision:
   I think it would be very well if we could avoid it, but we tried it
   before and it did not work. I do not know whether we could avoid it
   or not. We might come to an agreement not to use it and the other
   fellow might spring it on us some dark night. (22)


Afterward, Republican Senator Howard Sutherland (1865-1950) framed the question around the relative humanity of chemical weapons, asking Pershing whether using poison gas was "about as humane as shooting men to pieces with guns?" (23) Pershing replied, rather dismissively, that "there are not very many humane functions connected with making war, anyway." (24) Sutherland pressed Pershing to elaborate, however, and Pershing offered a more articulate response expressing a concern that chemical weapons might someday be used against civilians:
   We like to think that there is a humane side of war, of course, but
   our opponent in the next war might undertake to develop a very
   deadly gas, not a gas that would just put you out of commission for
   a while, but he might determine that the best thing to do would be
   to kill everybody he could, noncombatants as well as combatants,
   and so the humane side might become very inhumane. (25)


Despite this concern, and perhaps because of it, Pershing encouraged the continuation of chemical warfare work at the end of his testimony on the subject. "I think we ought to go on with our investigations in the matter and encourage our chemists and investigators in every way," Pershing said, adding, "I would continue preparation for Chemical Warfare." (26)

After these hearings, Congress included the Chemical Warfare Service as a permanent part of the US Army in the National Defense Act of 1920. Sibert retired and Fries became chief of the service. Fries spearheaded an active public relations campaign that portrayed chemical weapons as advanced, essential, and humane alternatives to projectiles and explosives that were capable of maiming and dismembering. Under his direction, the Chemical Warfare Service continued its research with as much energy as its available resources allowed. Its officers developed new chemical warfare devices and improved gas masks. They worked to expand their role in the war mobilization plans of the 1920s and prepare the military for future chemical warfare.

Fries and Pershing remained in contact. In April 1919, Fries wrote to Pershing that he had not been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal despite his service as chief of a department, while officers junior to him had received the award. Fries said that it was not a "personal" issue for him, but that failing to give him the award would lead people in the United States to "consider the Chemical Warfare Service in France to have been far below the standard of other Departments." (27) Pershing wrote to the Board on Fries' behalf and Fries was given the medal. (28) Fries also sent Pershing information on chemical warfare periodically. After the book on chemical warfare he co-wrote with Clarence J. West was published in 1921, Fries gave Pershing a copy with a handwritten inscription: "To General John J. Pershing, General of the Armies, with the compliments of the authors in deep appreciation of his broad farsighted policy that alone made success in Chemical Warfare in the World War a success." (29)

Fries and his fellow officers hoped that chemical weapons would be used in future wars on par with others such as airplanes and artillery. Outside the Chemical Warfare Service, however, the public mood was undergoing a seachange. Dissatisfied with the outcome at Versailles, Americans rejected the premise that World War I represented the beginning of a new era of US interventionism and elevated Warren Harding to the presidency on the promise of a return to normalcy. Anti-gas sentiment began to assert itself in public opinion, particularly with regard to the presumptive threat chemical weapons posed to non-combatants. Journalist Will Irwin used chemical weapons as evidence of the inhumanity of war in his 1921 book The Next War: An Appeal to Common Sense. "Poison gas, as I have repeated even to weariness, seems to be the killing weapon of the future," Irwin wrote, "now, you must defend not only armies but citizens of towns, not only soldiers but the weakest girl baby." (30)

When representatives from France, Great Britain, Japan, and Italy gathered for the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments in November 1921, the head of the US delegation, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948), proposed that the possibility of limiting chemical warfare be explored:
   If the civilized world would make a declaration, such as that a
   whole city should not be asphyxiated on any pretext whatsoever, or
   that women and children--no part of the armed forces--should not be
   killed by use of bombs against civilians on the pretext that the
   nation was at war, the Conference would have achieved an important
   step which would win universal support. (31)


Hughes' proposal was referred to technical experts on the US Advisory Committee, the Subcommittee on New Agencies of Warfare, and the Subcommittee on the Limitation of Land Armaments.

Pershing chaired the Subcommittee on the Limitation of Land Armaments at the conference. After receiving Hughes' instructions, Pershing proposed language for their report that condemned chemical warfare in the strongest terms. It read that
   ... chemical warfare should be abolished among nations, as
   abhorrent to civilization. It is a cruel, unfair and improper use
   of science. It is fraught with the gravest danger to noncombatants,
   and demoralizes the better instincts of humanity. (32)


The subcommittee voted unanimously to include this finding in its final report.

While there was disagreement among some of the other US advisors about the extent to which chemical warfare could be limited by international agreement, the delegation endorsed total prohibition. Prohibiting all use of chemical weapons in war, and not merely prohibiting their use against noncombatants, was recommended in part with the belief that any battlefield use of poison gas would pose a risk to civilians. As Hughes had expected, the proposal garnered support from the British, French, Italian, and Japanese delegations. The delegates agreed to treaty language that renounced the use of poison gas, but the treaty was ultimately not adopted because of a French objection to a separate provision regarding submarines.

Notwithstanding the outcome of the treaty negotiations, Pershing had written a report that approved the abolition of chemical warfare a mere two years after having recommended to Congress that the United States continue chemical warfare work. Had Pershing's opinions about chemical warfare changed?

Pershing's denunciation of chemical warfare at the Washington Conference was more representative of a gradual evolution of his opinions, influenced perhaps by the trend in public opinion in the postwar world, than an abrupt about-face. While he suggested that chemical weapons work be continued during his testimony at the joint congressional hearing in 1919, the former commander of the AEF also clearly expressed concern for civilians who might be affected by chemical weapons in the future. His 1921 committee report likewise reflected the belief that chemical warfare is "fraught with the gravest danger to noncombatants." (33) Pershing's conviction about the risk that chemical weapons posed to noncombatants led him to call for the abolition of chemical warfare.

Pershing offered a public clarification of his position on chemical warfare in 1926, during the US Senate debates surrounding the Geneva Protocol. Representatives from the United States and several other nations at a Geneva conference on regulating the international arms trade enthusiastically agreed to the Protocol, prohibiting the future use of chemical weapons, on 17 June 1925, but the treaty was not considered binding for the United States until ratified by the Senate. The Geneva Protocol reached the Senate floor on 9 December 1926, where it was introduced by William E. Borah (1865-1940), Republican senator from Idaho and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While its supporters anticipated speedy approval, a group of senators including James W. Wadsworth Jr. (1877-1952), Republican from New York and chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, moved to oppose ratification during the debate. Shortly after the Protocol was introduced, Wadsworth told the Senate that "when war breaks out, treaties and conventions perish," because of the exigencies of military conflict. (34) He argued that if the United States signed the Geneva Protocol, it would find itself at a military disadvantage once an enemy nation decided to violate the ban. Wadsworth also argued that chemical weapons were not inherently less humane than other types of weapons.

Sensing that the Senate might fail to ratify the Geneva Protocol, Borah asked that the final vote be postponed until the following Monday, 13 December 1926. In the meantime Borah worked to drum up more support for the Protocol inside and outside of the Senate. Aware of Pershing's work as an advisor at the Washington arms limitation conference, Borah contacted Pershing and asked him to provide a letter expressing his views on chemical warfare. Pershing had retired from the military in 1924 but remained a prominent figure and perhaps the most respected soldier of his generation. Pershing had sent the letter Borah requested on 10 December, and expressed his personal and unequivocal support for the Geneva Protocol. He began by acknowledging "upon examination of my files ... what might be interpreted as an apparent discrepancy" between his support for chemical weapons during the Army reorganization hearings in 1919 and his more recent support for international restrictions at the Washington Conference in 1921. (35) Pershing insisted that his actions were not contradictory in context, explaining that an international agreement prohibiting chemical warfare was not under consideration in 1919. "Personally, I was opposed to the use of poison gas," he wrote, "but doubtful at that time whether we could avoid it without a very positive agreement among the leading nations." (36) Since the structure of the Army was being decided in the absence of such an agreement, Pershing explained that as Chief of Staff he believed "that we should develop our defense against poison gas, and continue the study of gasses for offensive use in case of necessity." (37)

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Pershing wrote that later, in 1921, "when the opportunity came at the Washington Conference to give expression to my views, it was done without hesitation." (38) He reprinted the language he had used in the 1921 report in his letter, and then concluded with this stern admonition:
   I cannot think it possible that our country should fail to ratify
   the protocol which includes this or a similar provision. Scientific
   research may discover a gas so deadly that it will produce instant
   death. To sanction the use of gas in any form would be to open the
   way for the use of the most deadly gasses and the possible
   poisoning of whole populations of noncombatant men, women and
   children. The contemplation of such a result is shocking to the
   senses. It is unthinkable that civilization should deliberately
   decide upon such a course. (39)


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Defenders of the Geneva Protocol welcomed such a forceful statement of support. Borah copied the text of the letter into the Congressional Record and Pershing circulated a copy to Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg (1856-1937). Once the Senate debate resumed on Monday, 13 December, several supporters of the Geneva Protocol made arguments in favor of its ratification, but the Protocol's opponents remained committed to defeating it. Broad popular interest in the abolition of chemical warfare could not overcome the postwar-era reluctance to enter into international agreements that had also kept the United States from joining the League of Nations. Sensing that he lacked the necessary backing in the Senate, Borah asked that the Protocol be referred back to his Committee on Foreign Relations, without a vote, which defeated it for all practical purposes. The Geneva Protocol was not ratified by the US Senate until 1975.

Weeks after Borah recommitted the Geneva Protocol, Henry D. Lindsley (1872-1938), founding organizer and former national commander of the American Legion, wrote a letter inviting Pershing to give further expression of his views on chemical weapons to the National Executive Committee of the American Legion. The American Legion and other veterans' organizations had publicly opposed the Geneva Protocol, because they considered chemical weapons to be necessary for national defense and no less humane than other weapons. Their stated positions caused controversy among Americans opposed to chemical weapons, who believed that veterans' organizations should speak against chemical warfare because of the suffering it had caused soldiers. Lindsley was trying to get the Executive Committee to reconsider its opposition to the Geneva Protocol, but Pershing demurred. "Inasmuch," Pershing wrote, "as my letter of December 10, 1926, to Senator Borah is a matter of public record and presents my views fully, I do not believe that any further statement from me would be of particular value." (40) Pershing declined to say any more on the subject of chemical warfare.

As the Great War generation struggled to find meaning in the events they had experienced during World War I, they worked to interpret chemical weapons use in a moral context. Some came to conclude that the suffering poison gas had caused soldiers during the war was prima facie evidence of its immorality. Others believed that there was no moral difference between poison gas and other weapons. Gas warfare supporters, like Fries, argued that chemical weapons were more humane than other methods of war. The immediate experience of chemical warfare during the First World War resulted in a wide diversity of opinions about chemical weapons.

After leading the AEF in France, Pershing eventually called for chemical warfare's abolition. While he initially supported the continuation of chemical warfare research he always harbored the conviction that the use of chemical weapons against noncombatants must be prevented and came to believe that civilians would be at risk as long as chemical warfare was permissible in any form. Subsequent generations inherited their attitudes about chemical warfare as a legacy of World War I, but it is the viewpoints of individuals like Pershing that became more prevalent over time. A more thorough understanding of how public opinions about chemical weapons formed in the aftermath of the First World War is a necessary starting point for a better understanding of chemical warfare policies that developed in subsequent decades.

(1.) Richard M. Price, The Chemical Weapons Taboo, Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1997,18.

(2.) "French Condemns the Use of Gas," New York Times, 12 July 1915, 3.

(3.) Amos A. Fries, "Gas in Attack," Chemical Warfare 2,27 November 1919,2-9: 6.

(4.) E.J. Atkisson, Major, Chemical Warfare Service, "Report on Chemical Warfare in Connection with the Conference for the Control of the International Trade in Arms, Munitions and Implements of War. Geneva, Switzerland, May-June, 1925," page 4, folder: 319.1-1997, box 9, entry 4, Secret and Confidential Files; Records of the Office of the Chief, Records of the Chemical Warfare Service (RG175), National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

(5.) Donald Smythe, Pershing: General of the Armies, Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1986,41.

(6.) Richard Goldhurst, Pipe Clay and Drill: John J. Pershing the Classic American Soldier, New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1977; Frank E. Vandiver, Black Jack: The Life and Times of John ]. Pershing, College Station, TX: Texas A&M UP, 1977; Gene Smith, Until the Last Trumpet Sounds: The Life of General of the Armies John J. Pershing, New York: Wiley, 1998.

(7.) Frederick Palmer, John J. Pershing: General of the Armies, Harrisburg, PA: Telegraph Press, 1948,213.

(8.) Ibid.

(9.) John J. Pershing, My Experiences in the World War, 2 vols, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1931.

(10.) Ibid., vol. 1,166.

(11.) Corey J. Hilmas, Jeffery K. Smart, and Benjamin A. Hill, "History of Chemical Warfare," in Shirley D. Tuorinsky, ed., Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare, Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, 2008, 9-76: 12-13.

(12.) Russell F. Weigley, "Strategy and Total War in the United States: Pershing and the American Military Tradition," in Roger Chickering and Stig Forster, eds, Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000, 327-45: 340-2. 13

(13.) Price, Chemical Weapons Taboo, 58.

(14.) Amos A. Fries, "Gas in Attack," Chemical Warfare 6,25 December 25,1919,2-8: 2; James G. Harbord, The American Army in France 1917-1919, Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1936,223; Smythe, Pershing, 40; Price, Chemical Weapons Taboo, 61-2.

(15.) Edward M. Coffman, The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I, New York: Oxford UP, 1968, 141--2; James J. Cooke, Pershing and His Generals: Command and Staff in the AEF, Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997,18-20.

(16.) Cable from Pershing 1240, 3 June 1918, "Cable History of the Subject 'Chemical Warfare Service,'" page 1, folder: W. D. Chemical Warfare Service 7-63.1, box 220, entry 310, Records of the Historical Section Relating to the History of the War Department, 1900-41, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), National Archives, College Park, Maryland. 17 *

(17.) L.F. Haber, The Poisonous Cloud: Chemical Warfare in the First World War, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986,143.

(18.) U.S. Surgeon General's Office, The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, vol. 14: Medical Aspects of Gas Warfare, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1926, 274; Augustin M. Prentiss, Chemicals in War: A Treatise on Chemical Warfare, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1937, 671.

(19.) John J. Pershing, Final Report of John J. Pershing: Commander-in-Chief American Expeditionary Forces, Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1919, 76.

(20.) Ibid., 76-7.

(21.) US House of Representatives and US Senate Committees on Military Affairs, Army Reorganization, General John J. Pershing, 66th Congress, 1st Session, November 1, 1919, Part 29, 1507.

(22.) Ibid.

(23.) Ibid., 1508.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Ibid.

(26.) Ibid.

(27.) Letter from Amos A. Fries, Colonel, Assistant to the Director of the Chemical Warfare Service, to John J. Pershing, General, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, '14 April 1919, folder: Fries, General Amos A., box 78, General Correspondence, 1904-1948, John J. Pershing Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress [from here: Pershing Papers, LOC].

(28.) Memorandum from John J. Pershing, General, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, to General Davis, 31 May 1919, folder: Fries, General Amos A., box 78, General Correspondence, 1904-1948, Pershing Papers, LOC.

(29.) Amos A. Fries and Clarence J. West, Chemical Warfare, New York: McGraw Hill, 1921, National Museum of American History Armed Forces History Collection, Smithsonian Libraries.

(30.) Will Irwin, The Next War: An Appeal to Common Sense, New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1921,54-8.

(31.) "Memorandum," page 5, folder: Gas, Poison, box 81, General Correspondence, 19041948, Pershing Papers, LOC.

(32.) Report of the Committee on Limitation of Land Armaments, 30 November 1921, folder: Gas, Poison, box 81, General Correspondence, 1904-1948, Pershing Papers, LOC.

(33.) Ibid.

(34.) Congressional Record, 69th Congress, 2nd Session, 9 December 1926,144.

(35.) Letter from John J. Pershing to William E. Borah, Senator, Foreign Relations Committee, 10 December 1926, folder: Gas, Poison, box 81, General Correspondence, 1904-1948, Pershing Papers, LOC; see also Congressional Record, 69th Congress, 2nd Session, 10 December 1926, 226.

(36.) Letter from Pershing to Borah, 10 December 1926.

(37.) Ibid.

(38.) Ibid.

(39.) Ibid.

(40.) Letter from John J. Pershing to Henry D. Lindsley, Colonel, February 8, 1927, folder: Gas, Poison, box 81, General Correspondence, 1904-1948, Pershing Papers, LOC.

Thomas I. Faith, Ph.D., is a historian at the U.S. Department of State and the author of Behind the Gas Mask: The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in War and Peace. He wishes to thank Julie Faith and Kyle Sammin for their comments on this article. The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Government.
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Date:Sep 22, 2016
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