Casualty Estimates

D. M. Giangreco’s Rebuttal of
Barton J. Bernstein

July 31, 1998

This article is important on the subject of WW II casualty
estimates for a proposed invasion of Japan. It is especially
thorough on the estimate of 63,000 casualties made by
Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. That estimate was
ultimately accepted by the Smithsonian's National Air
and Space Museum during the long [1981-2004] fight
over the Museum's Enola Gay exhibit.



D.M. Giangreco's Cover Letter to Rebuttal
D. M. Giangreco's Rebuttal of Barton J. Berstein




In the July 1997 issue of the Journal of Military History, D. M. Giangreco published an article titled, "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" (pp. 521-81). The article was well-received -- the author won the Moncado Prize and the author was even featured on television. In the July 1998 issue of the Journal of Military History, Barton J. Bernstein wrote a review essay of Robert Ferrell's book, Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History. In that piece he criticized Giangreco's article. Giangreco then circulated a response to the Bernstein comments titled, "Playing the Casualty Projections Shell Game: Rousseau or Monboddo?" (an abbreviated version of this response appeared in the January 1999 issue of the journal, pp. 243-246).

Given the continued interest in the casualty debate, plus the fact that the published response was considerably shortened, we are making the full response available to historians. Here is the complete text of the rebuttal, plus the cover letter. Permission has been granted by D.M. Giangreco to post this on Internet.

[Please note: This matter is also continued in a Diplomatic History piece (April 2005) by J. Samuel Walker. For the D. M. Giangreco response to Walker, see Giangreco Letter In the August 2005 Passport (vol. 36, no. 2, p. 52) after you have read the letter below.]

Back to Contents


Cover Letter to the Giangreco Rebuttal

31 July 1998
Dear - - - - - :

By now you may have seen Barton J. Bernstein's review essay of Robert Ferrell's Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History in the July 1998 Journal of Military History. I have felt compelled to compose a rebuttal to Bernstein's general views and also respond to his personal remarks about me in the same review. Although my riposte says exactly what I want it to say, it's current version is far too long to be printed in the journal (and is somewhat more "hot" than the final product should be). Therefore I am sending my thoughts to you, certain other Society for Military History members and several other scholars for two reasons:

First, I hope to get some useful feedback from scholars who are not as closely tied to the subject as myself on what might be readily discarded from my formal answer. Second, I am persuaded that it is best -- for myself in this case -- to respond quickly. An immediate response will not allow Bernstein his usual safety of leveling charges or attacks on peoples work in such a manner that, by the time they are able to respond in print, as much as a year has passed. Of course, by that time, the details of what he said originally -- which at times has been misleading or inaccurate -- are usually forgotten or not readily available to readers.

Any suggestions you may have to offer would be greatly appreciated. I will understand fully if you are too busy to assist.

D. M. Giangreco

Back to Contents



Playing the Casualty Projections Shell
Game: Rousseau or Monboddo?

"[Samuel] Johnson: 'Rousseau knows he is talking nonsense, and laughs at the world for staring at him.' [James] Boswell; 'How so, Sir?' Johnson: 'Why Sir; a man who talks nonsense so well, must know that he is talking nonsense. But I am afraid (chuckling and laughing,) Monboddo does not know that he is talking nonsense.'"(1)

I am delighted that the Journal of Military History (JMH) has given me this opportunity to comment on Dr. Barton J. Bernstein's review essay in their July 1998 edition. While his essay "Truman and the Bomb: Targeting Noncombatants, Using the Bomb, and His Defending the 'Decision' "ostensibly examines Robert H. Ferrell's fine new work, Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History, (2) Bernstein also offers extended criticisms of my "Casualty Projections for the US Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications," in the July 1997 JMH. Indeed, upon learning of the raw length of Bernstein's critique (which, depending on how one handles the word count, is anywhere from 1,600 to 2,200 words longer than the total introductory text and headnotes in Truman and the Bomb ), a quizzical Ferrell's immediate response was that the "only reason" for such a treatment is to provide a vehicle to "attack" the casualties piece. Said Ferrell: "It's a Trojan Horse!"

By placing his unfavorable critique in the footnotes of a review essay, instead of in a letter, Bernstein both avoids a peer review and successfully skirts the policy of this and most journals that allows authors to immediately offer a response. Owing to the realities of publication schedules, someone who has been criticized in such a manner should feel blessed if their answer sees the light within only six or nine months. Bernstein has used this technique with great success in the past, and the most talked about example before his JMH effort, is arguably his treatment of Rufus Miles Jr. of Princeton in footnote 2 of "A Postwar Myth: 500,000 Lives Saved."(3) Bernstein's indirect criticisms of my casualties piece targets positions that Ferrell and I hold in common, which are part of Ferrell's analysis of what he believes is most important for a general readership to understand about Truman's decision to use the atom bombs. Bernstein's direct criticisms are confined to two footnotes, 10 and 16, and I believe they provide more insight into Bernstein himself than he intends. Excerpts follow. All italics are those of Bernstein:

10. . . . Careful readers of Giangreco, "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan," will discover that he does not cite a single document that, in his 61 pages and 187 footnotes, fit these criteria [from text: "No scholar has been able to find any high-level supporting archival documents from the Truman months before Hiroshima that, in unalloyed form, provides even an explicit estimate of 500,000 casualties, let alone a million or more"]. Despite my repeated written and phone requests to Giangreco starting in mid-January and continuing through late May 1998 that he send me, and mark the appropriate section of, a few JCS 924 documents after JCS 92/2 and through 924/15 to substantiate his claims about the steady continuation of the "Saipan ratio" for U.S. casualties in the 924 series, Giangreco has failed to provide even one such corroborating document to support his very questionable claims. In fact, as the actual archival documents reveal, he has actually misreported the contents of at least eight JCS 924s after 924/2, and thus important parts of his argument collapse. Indeed, the only government document from the four Truman months before Hiroshima that Giangreco cites in his article with actually an explicit number of over a million is by War Department consultant William B. Shockley, who certainly was not a high-level official in summer 1945. It is questionable whether Stimson ever saw Shockley's mid-July 1945 report. For powerful evidence of Shockley's minor position, see William Shockley Papers, Stanford University, Stanford, California. On Shockley's report, for a different view, see Robert [P.] Newman, "Hiroshima and the Trashing of Henry Stimson," New England Quarterly 71 (March 1998), provided in galleys by Newman.

16. . . . Strangely, Giangreco in his strained effort to defend Truman's casualty recollections, rebukes another scholar for mistrusting Truman's half-million fatality claim, but Giangreco avoids making an explicit argument defending Truman's half-million claim, misrepresents at least one critique of that claim, and then acknowledges, perhaps obliquely, that Truman's half-million dead claim was "exaggerated." For both confusion and intellectual sloppiness, see Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 521-22, 574. His deeply flawed essay, which is probably uncritically accepted by many, may merit a very sustained critical analysis.

I have "misreported the contents of at least eight [Bernstein's italics] JCS 924s after 924/2"? Shades of "I-have-in-my-hand-I-have-the-names-of-205-known-Communists." Putting aside the temptation to comment on the somewhat overheated nature of Bernstein's rhetoric, I must confess to being puzzled. Try as I might, I've had a devil of a time locating where I said some of the things Bernstein generously points out to readers. For example, even with the help of my trusty laptop's word-search function, I failed to find where I said that Truman "exaggerated' when he used the half-million figure. I did find where I noted that "the language in Truman's memoir is conversational in tone with a strong rhetorical flavor." But, gee, that doesn't seem to be saying the same thing at all. Obviously, I did not give Bernstein permission to put words in my mouth! He also dismisses the importance of Ed Drea's findings on the skyrocketing Japanese troop buildup on Kyushu(4) in the body of the essay and, in footnote 10, refers readers to Newman's superb article, "Hiroshima and the Trashing of Henry Stimson," for a purportedly "different view" of the Shockley report than was given in my "Casualty Projections." A little background on the report and the context in which it was produced might be useful.

The 1945 report of Nobel laureate Dr. William B. Shockley (which also incorporated an analysis by noted military analyst and historian Dr. Quincy Wright) was produced as part of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson's effort to take a fresh look at Army Ground Forces manpower and training requirements for the duration of the war against Japan. At that time, the upcoming series of bloody ground operations on Japanese soil were envisioned to last almost into 1947. Shockley was given full access to key intelligence and planning personnel as well as highly classified Pentagon manpower/casualties data including the top-secret analyses of escalating US troop losses produced by Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Gilbert W. Beebe (who were both in uniform then).

The crux of the problem facing Stimson in May 1945 had to do with the casualty ratios emerging from Okinawa which, if duplicated in Japan's Home Islands, threatened to outstrip the carefully constructed replacement stream for troop losses projected through the end of 1946.

Secretary Stimson, in conjunction with Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, and then Director of the Office of War Mobilization James F. Byrnes, had worked out a whopping 40 percent increase in the US Army's Selective Service callups at the exact time that numbers were being crunched within the Army to ensure that the criteria for a partial demobilization of troops in Europe would not be so drastic as to harm further operations against Japan. By May 1945 the politically painful Selective Service increase had been under way for several months, and the administration was now publicly committed to a massive demobilization. However, when the emerging ratio from the fighting on Okinawa was extrapolated against the force strength resulting from the increased callups and concurrent demobilization, it was apparent that the Army was in danger of finding itself in a "manpower box" in which its 100,000-man-per-month replacement stream would fall far short of combat needs during Operation Coronet in 1946.(5) The year before, in May 1944, Stimson repeatedly fretted over the lack of manpower being committed to the upcoming invasion of France and stated that Marshall "takes quite a different view -- a more optimistic view on some things that I think are rather dangerous." He did not raise his concerns with President Roosevelt because he did not want "to make an appearance of an issue with Marshall" who he was in fundamental agreement with on so many issues.(6) But, as events in December 1944-January 1945 later proved, Stimson had been absolutely correct.

By May 1945 Stimson was again concerned with the developing casualties question, but this time, he specifically wanted civilian personnel not connected to the Army Ground Forces (AGF) to be called in for a reexamination of manpower "requirements" for what the Secretary of War and Army Chief of Staff believed would be a more brutal slugfest than the war in Europe, largely because of the terrain and the character of the Japanese soldier. The appearance before Congress of both Marshall and Stimson, testifying separately, went off the record when they discussed this highly charged problem, and private discussions of the matter with legislators at the Pentagon were not recorded. Only many years later did references to what was discussed surface in other Congressional testimony.(7) The one portion of Stimson's initiative with a semblance of visibility was that of Dr. E. P. Learned and Dr. Dan T. Smith, who were pulled in from General Hap Arnold's Air Force staff.(8) As for Shockley, he was "on loan" from the Navy, where he served as director of research for the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Research Group.

Beyond the officially stated reason for its formation, the Learned-Smith Committee was created as a backstop to answer anticipated public -- meaning Congressional -- inquiries into the need for continued high Selective Service call-up rates and the possibility that deferments might be squeezed even further. Other efforts, like that of Dr. Shockley's, were geared to helping frame further discussion. The sudden end of the war eliminated the need for these taskings before Stimson may have seen any or all of them, but it is important to remember that the Secretary of War himself initiated the reexamination.

Using analytical techniques that Newman describes as displaying "the social 'scientist' mind in its purest form," Shockley's initial report was not submitted to Stimson's assistant, Dr. Edward L. Bowles, until after Stimson had left for Potsdam. In it, he proposed that a study be initiated "to determine to what extent the behavior of a nation in war can be predicted from the behavior of her troops in individual battles." Shockley said: "If the study shows that the behavior of nations in all historical cases comparable to Japan's has in fact been invariably consistent with the behavior of the troops in battle, then it means that the Japanese dead and ineffectives at the time of the defeat will exceed the corresponding number for the Germans. In other words, we shall probably have to kill at least 5 to 10 million Japanese. This might cost us between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including 400,000 and 800,000 killed."(9) As for the Learned-Smith Committee, it was given full cooperation by AGF. When its report was made available in late June, AGF found itself in general agreement and was relieved to find that the committee agreed with the current Army policy of producing replacements "against maximum requirements rather than against continually revised estimates of minimum needs."(10)

Having discussed this matter in some depth with Dr. Newman, the only significant difference of opinion I can detect is that while he believes that logic dictates that Stimson must have received this report from the highly regarded Bowles in the two weeks between his return from Potsdam and the dropping of the first atom bomb, I note that, unfortunately, there is no way to prove such a thing to skeptics who have little or no idea how Stimson conducted business. I maintain and reiterate, however, that whether or not Stimson actually saw the document, the fact that he was so concerned about the manpower question that he instigated the multifaceted reexamination completely supports Newman's position. This "different view" is so minor as to hardly warrant being mentioned. I also believe Newman to be fundamentally correct in his contention that "Stimson's claim to have been told that the invasion might cost over a million casualties was not a postwar invention. It came from his staff," and that like his analysis of the US Strategic Bombing Survey of Japan, Newman's discovery of the War Department paper by Shockley and Wright(11) is of major significance. I have eagerly -- and frequently -- stated so in this journal and other venues since publication of his Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, where both the USSBS analysis and the Shockley-Wright paper are presented.(12)

Bernstein informs readers of his irritation that I have not supplied documents for use in his essay. What he neglects to mention is that he has flooded my office with a minimum of 87 -- that's eighty-seven -- letters and phone calls since 2 February 1996 requesting, then eventually demanding, that I share my research with him -- and even provide him with the peer reviews of "Casualty Projections"(13) -- with 68 arriving after JMH's publication of the article in July 1997.(14) His essay in the July 1998 edition specifically complains that I have failed to share the JCS924 series, Operations Against Japan Subsequent to Formosa, with him -- documents that are readily available from the National Archives as well as a variety of other General Services Administration and US Army facilities. I hesitate to take up valuable space in the journal answering petty charges of this sort, but since they have been published, two points need to be made.

Point 1: In answer to specific questions Bernstein asked of me from March through May of 1996, I produced, in the spirit of camaraderie, several lengthy commentaries from which I never received an iota of dialogue in response, only small talk and more questions. This was an extremely unsatisfactory use of my time but, over the next few months, I continued to send an occasional brief response to his queries in an effort to be polite and because I actually felt rather sorry for him since he, unfortunately, seemed quite confused about the documents he rushed into print with some years earlier relating to casualty estimates, and he seemed even more bewildered about how they were connected to each other and to earlier documents/decisions. After publication of my "Casualty Projections," when the truly stunning second round of questions and document requests started flying in, I laboriously dug out a buried item or two at a time from the article, which had been written the year before, and answered what I could (I do, after all, have other obligations). Remarkably, Bernstein would offer at best a cursory "thanks" then get somewhat intemperate because I hadn't responded as quickly as he believed I should. Moreover, as soon as the second-round requests were largely fulfilled, a third round of just-one-more requests was initiated. When these were combined with requests for documents he earlier acknowledged getting and then claimed never to have received; complaints that I had sent a document he had not asked for when he specifically had asked for it in his letters; and his expression of displeasure that I hadn't cleared my article with him first; etc., his communications became tedious and onerous, and my efforts to keep up with his requests stopped.

One set of items requested during the third round of letters included the aforementioned "documents after JCS924/2 and though 924/15," which I specifically stated in September and December 1997 that I had read when I was conducting military government studies in the early 1980s and did not possess. Bernstein even acknowledged that I had told him this in one of his letters.(15) I erred, however, by saying that I would try to run down some copies for him when I got time. What followed was a situation somewhat analogous to a humorous parable by that astute commentator on working relationships, Scott Adams: The scene opens with a coworker approaching Dilbert at his desk. "Thanks for agreeing to work on my project." "I never agreed to work on your project." "You can't change your mind now! It's too late to get someone else!" "Um . . . I'm not changing my mind. I clearly said I would not work on your project." "You lying weasel! I'll ruin you!!" "Okay! Okay! I'll work on your project!" The final scene shows the coworker approaching yet another colleague: "Thanks for agreeing to donate your computer to my project."(16)

Point 2: What is one to make of Bernstein saying that his requests were made through "late May" when he was still writing as late as 15 June 1998, for a stated 18 June deadline? In addition, the first hint that he wanted the documents for an article was not made until his letter of 12 May (postmarked 15 May) when he said that they were "essential for my own deadline on this particular set of galleys" (what galleys?) and implied, through phraseology clearly structured for future case-building, that he had told me all about his essay: "But as I said on Friday, May 8th . . . ." In fact, Bernstein requested documents related to a completely different question in that call. There is obviously a tangled web of some sort being weaved here, but one hesitates to move too close in an effort to find out just what it is.

Bernstein also failed to make clear to readers exactly what he was talking about in his statement about the "at least eight JCS924s after 924/2," but, as noted, his interest in JCS924/2 centers on what he commonly refers to in his letters as the "so called" Saipan ratio.(17) And if his explanation of what he desired seems a little fuzzy to readers, the request in his letter of 12 May only deepens the mystery. In the letter, he asks that I provide the later annexes in order to "corroborate part of your contention on pages 535-38 about the continuation of the 'Saipan ratio' appearing in every [Bernstein's underline] 924 after 924/2 and through 924/15.

These comments accomplish the feat of being both perplexing and enlightening at the same time. Perplexing because what the text actually said was simply that the JCS924 series was used "through the spring of 1945 . . . as the primary outline for the series of campaigns culminating on Japan's soil" and gave the date of the last annex I'd come across, 25 April 1945, in a footnote. The comments are Enlightening for what they reveal about the level of Bernstein's scholarship.

Bernstein insists that, to be relevant, the Saipan ratio must appear in annexes subsequent to JCS924/2 -- that the JCS924 series must present dataa in a form that is not germane to such documents. If the document does not fit his artificial criteria, he contends that it most certainly couldn't have had an impact on the thinking of senior planners. In advancing such a proposition, Bernstein displays an inexplicable lack of knowledge of just how Army documents of this kind were constructed. After discoursing with confidence and authority on this subject for so many years, how is it that he does not know that annexes simply contain directed changes, modified text, or exchanges of memos commenting on the text of the original document or proposed revisions?

The production of planning documents is a dynamic process. Extremely few annexes produced within the Army's Operations Division (OPD) actually contain complete drafts, and only rarely do they culminate in a complete annex such as JCS1388/4, Details of the Campaign Against Japan, a document that was specifically prepared for President Truman's use at Potsdam. Requirements change, and work on a given plan or idea could be unceremoniously terminated in midstream or simply fizzle out with the working document shuffled off to the side if it was superseded (as the 924 series was) by more timely or relevant products, and eventually, as Douglas MacArthur mused, hauled off to "be filed in the dusty pigeon holes of the War Department."(18) In short, unless a particular piece of text is specifically ordered deleted, it remains for inclusion in any final version that may or may not ever be produced.

In any event, these technical points are comparatively minor when compared to the more fundamental problem displayed here, because while Operations Against Japan Subsequent to Formosa did indeed provide an extremely useful outline for planners long after its name -- but not its content -- was rendered obsolete by the rush of events, the document's importance to the casualties question has to do with both the timing of its estimate of massive US casualties and the credibility that the senior Army leadership attached to it. The fact that the official history of the OPD signals out JCS924 as a pivotal document(19) and that Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall was personally using the ratio during the late 1944 time frame in which he had to make hard decisions concerning both the timing and size of the increased Selective Service inductions for the invasion of Japan(20) are not factors that Bernstein feels readers need to concern themselves.

This is no small matter and reaches to the heart of Bernstein's confusion in this area. Bernstein states, quite correctly in his JMH essay, that "it is highly questionable . . . that an analyst can fully or even adequately, understand the August 1945 use of the atomic bombs on Japan by starting with the Truman period, neglecting the Roosevelt administration's decisions, and thus focusing only on Truman-period documents." Unfortunately, Bernstein fails to see the need to follow his own advice, and this inextricably leads him into dark waters. Bernstein repeatedly, and again correctly, trumpets the fact that I fail to "cite a single document in [my] 61 pages and 187 footnotes . . . from the Truman months [Bernstein's italics] before Hiroshima" which provide "even an explicit [my italics] estimate of 500,000 casualties, let alone a million or more." Undeniably this is so -- and also irrelevant. This is discussed in some detail in "Casualty Projections," and, prophetically, was summarized by me when addressing the SMH conference in April:

It had long been apparent that while some critics of President Truman's decision to drop the atom bomb have encouraged a close look at decisions of the Roosevelt Administration as well, study of military planning prior to the Truman presidency was confidently thought to be irrelevant. By focusing solely on the highly qualified -- and limited -- casualty projections in a variety of briefing documents produced in the months immediately before Hiroshima, they had missed the fact that, by that point, the horses had long-since bolted. Months before Truman became President, military and civilian leaders had come to the conclusion that the need for replacements would be tremendous, and Selective Service call-ups for Army Ground Forces alone were nearly doubled by March 1945 in order to have men trained and in the pipeline for a six-figure replacement stream each and every month once the invasion of Japan commenced."(21)

Bernstein's rash statements indicate that his understanding of primary source documents and the context in which they were created is so deficient that even if I had spent the additional time to locate even more documents for him -- and had succumbed to his soothing request for my peer reviews in order that he might "understand more fully . . . the strongly felt hostility to the earlier casualty estimates"(22) -- it is doubtful he would comprehend or be able to use accurately what he was receiving.

But lest one think that only my work is singled out as a source of discomfort for Bernstein, he is also most unhappy with Ferrell's compact treatment of this subject in Truman and the Bomb. To begin with, Ferrell is characterized as "a noted Truman scholar," a description which coyly casts him into the pack and denigrates his true position. In fact, while others are better known to the public at large, Ferrell is almost uniformly regarded within the academy as the premier Truman scholar. Over the past 20 years, Ferrell has authored, coauthored or edited innumerable books and articles on Truman, his contemporaries and the times in which they lived.(23) After decades pouring over Truman's papers, Ferrell has absorbed more of his words and thoughts than any living American. The man knows Truman preeminently. Bernstein, on the other hand (and in spite of his implication at the beginning of the essay), has actually spent little time at the Truman Library -- certainly a fraction of what either Ferrell or myself have. But what is perhaps most intriguing about this is that Bernstein assumes that enough of the JMH readership does not know of Ferrell's great body of work in this area that such a pointed understatement would go largely unnoticed and would thus effectively frame his analysis of Ferrell's book and my article. Bernstein thinks little of military historians and says so, for after opining on the "confusion and intellectual sloppiness" of my "deeply flawed essay," he contends that it is "probably uncritically accepted" by readers. As for the Society for Military History's awards committee, now that they have demonstrated that they clearly lack Bernstein's powers of perception by awarding a Moncado Prize for my "Casualty Projections," they will just have to find a way to struggle along under the weight of his admonition that they failed to meet his standards for "careful readers." Bernstein poses one additional bit of irony though, he notes that the casualties piece "may merit a very sustained critical analysis." Ironically, one scholar is apparently doing just such an examination -- of Bernstein's own work -- on the casuallties question.

Bernstein's surface familiarity with the military historiography of this subject leads him to make unfounded criticisms of Ferrell's choices of what is important to emphasize. One example of this has to do with the matter of preinvasion casualty estimates. According to Bernstein, Ferrell "sometimes" handles the casualties question in a manner in which he approves, and then states his befuddlement that Ferrell "curiously does not deal explicitly with the numbers [of Japanese troops] on southern Kyushu [Bernstein's italics]." And why should Ferrell? The figure for southern Kyushu and other strength estimates were included in the 29 July 1945 intelligence report only as a snapshot of where Japanese troops were located fully three months before the first invasion, Operation Olympic, was to commence. As everyone reading the intelligence report well knew -- and the report specifically stated -- this was part of an ongoing Japanese buildup "with no end in sight."(24) Likewise, everyone reading the report was fully conversant with such basic concepts as operational depth and did not labor under the bizarre assumption that the Japanese were somehow obligated to keep the substantial forces they were simultaneously gathering in northern Kyushu away from the US invasion zone in the south.

Another example of Bernstein's weakness in this area is his mischaracterization of what was understood by senior leaders as the difference between military and civilian targets. Returning to a theme he has repeated often, Bernstein states that "Truman after the war normally referred to the two A-bombed cities incorrectly, as exclusively or almost entirely 'military' targets. The targets were, in fact, mostly noncombatants." First of all, the presence of civilians working in or living adjacent to a military-industrial complex does not make the site a civilian target. This was -- and still is -- a complex subject made even more difficult for Stimson in particular because, unlike in Germany where the US Army Air Force maintained a costly policy of daylight precision bombing instead of Britain's nighttime area bombing, the highly decentralized nature of Japanese industry eventually forced the XXI Bomber Command in the Marianas to grudgingly abandon precision bombing except on clearly identified targets. In any event, well before the Air Force was forced to resort to area bombing with incendiaries, all understood that the "precision" in precision bombing was more a desired end than an actual description, and that many -- and in some cases most -- 500-lb. projectiles dropped through five miles of crosswinds from an aircraft traveling at over 300 mph are inevitably going to miss their targets and kill a very large number of civilians. Bernstein implies that the continued mass use of conventional bombs would have somehow produced civilians who are less dead and fewer in number than those killed by atom bombs.


Bernstein also does not shy away from misinforming readers as to what Ferrell actually said in his book. This happens frequently and one of the more obvious examples is the assertion that Truman claimed to have "held a high-level decisionmaking meeting with his military chiefs, Stimson and Byrnes, before Hiroshima about whether or not to use the [atom bomb], but the indirect evidence is overwhelming, as Ferrell acknowledges, that such a meeting never occurred." If there was ever a time to take heed of Eisenhower's statement that "no daily schedule of appointments can give a full timetable -- or even a faint indication -- of the President's responsibilities,"(25) this is it. Ferrell's book was written prior to publication of my casualties piece in JMH, which outlined in some detail the documentary evidence that a post-Trinity secret meeting did indeed take place, yet Ferrell had already seen that there was enough material available to suggest that a meeting of some sort had happened. Rather than leap to the conclusion that Truman had lied, what Ferrell said was that "a formal meeting may not have occurred" [my italics]. This is altogether different from what Bernstein asserts Ferrell said, and it parallels the position that Bernstein held as recently as two years ago when he wrote that it was "unlikely" that a "formal" meeting took place.(26)

This pointed repudiation of his own position -- when it is stated by someone else -- is not an isolated occurrence. As events at the Smithsonian bear out, agreeing with Bernstein's interpretation of documents is neither a guarantee of good relations with the professor or, in the case of Martin Harwit, of future job security. In his book, An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of the Enola Gay, the former director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum relates his astonishment during a similar incident:

We met with representatives of [the Organization of American Historians] at 9:00 A.M. on November 17, [1994,] in our conference room. Their primary purpose in meeting with the curators and me was to protest changes made to the exhibition in response to criticism by veterans' organizations. The delegation included Barton Bernstein, of Stanford University, a member of the original exhibition committee.

We talked for two hours, Bernstein was vocal in calling my attention to a grievous misinterpretation in our changed script. He claimed that the casualty estimates for an invasion of Japan given in the text hammered out with the American Legion . . . misrepresented Admiral Leahy's
June 18, 1945, remarks to President Truman. Bernstein claimed that Leahy's diary entry for that same day stated he had meant that there would be 63,000 casualties -- far lower than the "quarter of a million casualties" figure we had attributed to him in our revised casualty label.

Bernstein told a reporter that he had challenged me on these figures, and added that I was unable to refute him. That is quite true. The reason was simple. I was dumbfounded! The figure of a quarter of a million had come from a paper that Bernstein himself had written in 1986. So when he suddenly told me, in the middle of a large meeting, that we had made a grave mistake, I did not know how to respond. I was pretty sure we had based our numbers on his paper but on the spur of the moment I could not swear to that. I don't recall Bernstein stating that his article had been in error.(27)

In a letter to the American Legion on 9 January 1995, Harwit explained that Bernstein "took us to task" for misunderstanding what he now said he meant in the article. Harwit noted that Bernstein "in the meantime had found Leahy's diary entry"(28) and, on the basis of this discovery, he had decided to modify the text yet again -- a modification which now clearly implied deception on Truman's part. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ferrell is also taken to task for not finding Bernstein's discovery to be worthy of inclusion in Truman and the Bomb. Ferrell had several good reasons to exclude it, not the least of which is that the 63,000 figure, reputed by Leahy to have come from Marshall, is inconclusive as to what it actually represents. This is why military historians do not use it and why I did not use it and a variety of other guesstimates in my JMH piece (long before the Enola Gay controversy, it and guesstimates like it were referred to within the hallowed halls of the US Army Command and General Staff College [CGSC] as "junk numbers"). I do not mind so much that it is secondhand, but knowing Admiral Leahy's unfamiliarity with Army methodologies used in producing casualty estimates, the figure may or may not represent just one month of combat in what was anticipated by Marshall to be an extremely lengthy campaign. In any event, there were considerably better and more appropriately documented estimates to run in my long and somewhat dense article. However, if I had been aware during the article's production that Bernstein had been successful at selling the number to Harwit and the Smithsonian as something it was not, I would have made note of it in JMH.

There are several ways Leahy might have arrived at the 63,000 figure, but Leahy's expression "would not cost us" represents a guarantee that Marshall would not give to Leahy or Truman for all the institutional reasons given in my casualties piece. I'm afraid that Bernstein is going to have a tough time finding someone at the CGSC (and I suspect the Naval War College and George C. Marshall Library as well) who believes that, even if it did come from Marshall -- and is not just an interpretation of what Leahy thought Marshall meant -- that the Army chief would characterize the number as a ceiling which could not be exceeded.

So what does the 63,000 figure represent? Other than a purely 30-day estimate for just the ground force losses there are a couple possibilities:

First, Leahy had made it a point, during the 18 June 1945 meeting with the President, to note that just over one-third of the ground forces employed on Okinawa had become casualties, and the number is almost exactly one-third of a straight head count of the divisions landing at Kyushu. If you exclude the very substantial nondivisional combat units and the service and support units and take a snapshot of the TOE on X-Day (13 divisions and 2 regimental combat teams), you get 190,000 men, and a third of that is your 63,000. Unfortunately, over the course of about three or four months of heavy ground fighting, these units would functionally turn themselves over (100 percent casualties on paper) with the line regiments -- what the Brits call "poor bloody infantry" -- turning over at two and possibly even three times that rate like they had at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, San Pietro, Normandy's hedgerows, the Hürtgen Forest, etc. As noted in a July 1950 manpower piece in Military Review, "It was not a question of whether [an infantryman] would become a casualty, but rather of when and how."(29)

Second, an apparently old joke that I'd heard twice from instructors at the CGSC's Department of Combat Support in 1985(30) and repeated at least once before the Smithsonian imbroglio was that Leahy had just doubled the Luzon number of 31,000 casualties from the 18 June meeting because of the stated 2-1 Okinawa ratio. The joke goes that Leahy added "a thousand more bodies to be safe," and put it in his diary as his best guess as to what he thought Marshall meant. (Logistician humor; I guess you just had to be there.)

Virtually every serious military historian who works in the World War II-Cold War period is aware of Leahy's comment through its use in his widely read autobiography, I Was There, (31) yet discard it as too vague to be useful. This should have raised warning flags as to the credibility that specialists in this field attach to it. But Bernstein apparently did not notice the danger signs because, in spite of the long lists of books and archives he unscrolls in his essay, he is only vaguely familiar with military aspects of the subject and its literature. He either did not notice the flashing red lights or is convinced that he possesses a superior understanding. And irrespective of the fact that Bernstein does not have a clear idea where Leahy fits into the picture (students of the period will be surprised to find that the president's chief of staff at the White House has been promoted by Bernstein to the position of "wartime chairman of the Joint Chiefs"), it is still impossible to believe that he could have missed Leahy's use of the number in a book that Bernstein himself quotes from. Characterizing it as a discovery to Harwit certainly leaves the impression that Bernstein was taking unfair advantage of Harwit's lack of knowledge of military historiography.

Use of Leahy's 63,000 figure may have started out as simply a rhetorical device intended to shock Harwit into rejecting the criticisms of veterans groups -- and who would be the wiser? The group of professors pressing Harwit to show some backbone in his dealings with the veterans were as untutored in this area as the museum director and operated within a back channel well hidden from public view. How was Bernstein to know that Harwit would later write a well-received book(32) that would signal him out as the individual who forcefully and successfully pressed for acceptance of Leahy's vague number in the Enola Gay script -- a change which led directly to Harwit's exit from the National Air and Space Museum. Throughout the sorry episode, Bernstein moved from Smithsonian consultant, to critic, and finally to active participant in a short-lived organization he helped found: Historians for Open Debate on Hiroshima.

Bernstein's successful promotion of the idea, repeated in his essay, that "it is highly unlikely that Marshall in June [1945] assumed even up to 100,000 U.S. casualties in Olympic" had far-reaching consequences during the late unpleasantness over the Enola Gay exhibit, but it is also amazing that Harwit apparently didn't contact any of the military specialists working with the Smithsonian in order to get their thoughts on what the 63,000 number actually represented before using it as the basis for a ratcheting down of expected invasion casualties in the exhibit. If he did, neither he nor they ever mentioned it in print.(33) But while it is evident that Harwit was certainly led down a treacherous path, the nearly two full months between Bernstein's bombshell at the November 17 meeting and the 9 January American Legion letter have left the impression that he went perhaps a little too willingly. We will never know how events would have unfolded if, soon after the meeting, Harwit had learned that Bernstein's earth-shaking discovery in Leahy's diary had, in fact, been printed verbatim in the admiral's widely read book -- and one which Bernstein quotes from!


Bernstein's selective use of quotes from Truman's diary is unfortunate, since he pointedly ignores quotes that are inconsistent with his own thesis. He also uses up a good deal of space on what he views as Truman's agonizing-over-Hiroshima decision and self-deception over the cost in civilian lives of using the atom bombs.

Various authors have produced enough Brodie-esque psychobabble on how Truman felt about the bomb to fill a fat volume of its own, and Bernstein, who has written extensively in this area of speculation, is happy to share his thoughts with JMH readers. In fact, much of the last half of his essay revolves -- truly revolves -- around this question, as Bernstein strenuously attempts to come to grips with what is not at all complicated. For example, he quotes Leahy from I Was There as saying that "in being the first to use [atom bombs], we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages" and maintains that "Truman should have regarded Leahy's harsh words as an act of betrayal, and the President also should have been troubled, if not offended, by the anti-Hiroshima claims of Arnold, King, MacArthur and Eisenhower. Strangely, there is no record of Truman's responses." Why should this be so "strange"? As a long-time politician, Truman was more than a little familiar with colleagues attempting to cover both sides of an issue -- especially when the issue centered around events that had passed and which their current statements would have no effect on. Moreover, nothing that these gentlemen are characterized to have said differs greatly from what Truman was told by Secretary of War Stimson,(34) Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph A. Bard,(35) and possibly others before the bombs were used or what Truman said in a variety of other venues himself -- one of which Bernstein quotes from.

Any humane person would be uneasy about using weapons of mass destruction. Truman was no exception. He naturally avoided specific references to the destruction and may have even used rationalizations to soothe his own sensitivity to the use of atom bombs; yet, on other occasions, he was quite clear about the dangers of the nuclear age. Truman knew that extreme, punishing violence was the only thing that would end the war with Japan, and he chose the quickest(36) and safest (for American lives) expedient, which was the atom bomb. This probably saved lives on both sides in the end; yet, at the time, it was not even clear that the bombs themselves would provide the shock effect necessary to stampede Japan's leadership into an early surrender.

The amateur psychoanalysis of the most straight-forward man to occupy the White House this century has become almost as much a cottage industry as Jefferson-bashing, and Bernstein is so befuddled by Truman's simplicity that he hangs on even the slightest nuance to prove inconsistency or ulterior motives. Witness Bernstein's comments on Truman's postwar statements which, incidentally, he inadvertently prefaces through his comments on my "strained effort to defend Truman's casualty recollections." Altogether Bernstein lists four postwar occasions in which Truman used the figure 250,000, most of which originated in transcripts of recorded dialogue to be used in his memoirs. Bernstein then labors over the nuances of descriptive words: "lives," "men," and "casualties" to demonstrate that "no responsible analyst should trust any particular recollection by Truman on this subject." Well, maybe an "analyst" can not, but a historian will certainly note a clear pattern here -- 250,000. The belts from Truman's Dictaphone no longer exist, so the accuracy of the transcriptions cannot be verified, but in the one item that survives in Truman's own hand, the original text of the letter to Dr. James L. Cate, the word "minimum" is certainly connected to the quarter million figure, and he makes no reference to any maximum.

Actually, Truman's "recollections" are hardly touched on in my article for the simple reason that the piece is specifically on the US Army's projections, and I even state that Truman's "recollection" that Marshall informed him casualties "might" exceed one million men (functionally the same number as what was suffered to defeat Germany) "is somewhat beside the point, since what Marshall is reputed to have said at Potsdam was in line with current Army thinking and the long-implemented manpower policy of 1945."(37)

That the estimates in the Cate letter of "a minimum of one quarter million casualties, and might cost as much as a million," represent an extremely wide spread should not surprise anyone. When dealing with the imponderables of planning out a series of campaigns over a period of years, strategic, as opposed to logistic, planners have been known to fall back on a tongue-in-cheek -- and completely unauthorized -- acronym, SBN for Some Big Number, to describe total losses at a culminating point where a force no longer has the ability to continue fighting. This happens because, as Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege points out, "Obviously, the further into the future one tries to plan, the less certainty there will be."(38) This is, and was, one of the most fundamental axioms of military planning, yet such numbers can look startlingly large to someone not involved in the planning process.

They must have certainly looked so to presidential assistant David Lloyd, who had been given the task of refining Truman's original draft. Bernstein recounts Lloyd writing that the Truman recollection of 250,000 casualties "sounds more reasonable than Stimson's" that casualties "might exceed one million men."(39) This is all well and good, but since when do the perceptions of a junior aide, who sat in on no meetings between Truman with either Marshall or Stimson, outweigh those of a man of Stimson's stature and position to know the facts? Likewise, when Bernstein says that Stimson's "claim was very dubious," he buttresses this statement by saying that McGeorge Bundy "tactfully acknowledges this problem." Unfortunately, Bundy's tactful acknowledgment in his 1988 book Danger and Survival is limited to the hopelessly vague statement that "defenders of the use of the bomb, Stimson among them, were not always careful about numbers of casualties expected."(40) It was not long ago that Bernstein refused to entertain any statement or document that was produced after the period under examination. How is it that such an item, produced decades after the fact, is now displayed as an authoritative source to prove Truman and Stimson's duplicity?

Over time, as more and more government documents on casualty estimates have become available, Bernstein has found that he must change the criteria for what he will accept as casualty estimates large enough to supply moral justification for use of the atom bombs. Thus, anyone getting ready to kick a football through the goal posts he erected in "A Postwar Myth: 500,000 Lives Saved" would have to contend with the fact that the goal posts had apparently grown prodigiously in height after its publication! In "A Postwar Myth," his incomplete understanding of the documents he cites leads him to the conclusion that American "leaders" believed there would be "maybe only 'tens of thousands' " of deaths -- specifically "between about 20,000 and 46,000" -- which implies between about 100,000 to 250,000 casualties among the ground forces.(41) However, by the time of his "The Struggle over History: Defining the Hiroshima Narrative,"(42) Truman would have had to have "thought that American casualties would be astronomical," a term that lacks specificity but possibly implies the half million benchmark he commonly uses. After the flood of data presented in "Casualty Projections," he discovered that the towering goal post was not enough and that stringing a few nets between the bars would be advisable.

In "Casualty Projections," I stated that previous researchers had missed nearly all of the copious data relating to this subject because they lacked knowledge of basic Army methodologies and procedures. It was noted that "casualty projections were seldom directly listed as such or carried convenient titles like 'Estimated Losses for Operation X,' but were obliquely stated in terms of 'requirements' for manpower, or have to be extrapolated, using contemporary formula, from stated medical needs." This was a most unsatisfactory development for Bernstein, and in his JMH essay, he warns that now he will not accept data unless it is from: a) "high-level archival documents"; b) "the Truman months"; and c) from "before Hiroshima" -- which neatly sidesteps Marshall's 10 August 1945 memo prepared for Leahy.(43) In addition, he rejects the Army's use of ratios and demands that Army data: d) be presented "in unalloyed form"; and e) present "an explicit estimate" or hard number, which was, of course, not done for the "high level" material he demands.

Looking over this new criteria, one might wonder if Bernstein is a charter member of the Flat Earth Society, but no matter. It is certainly true that Bernstein can establish any set of criteria he so desires; yet if he wants to have his work taken seriously by military historians, he must show some appreciation of how the US Army actually did business in the 1940s and, to a very real degree, today as well, and his criteria must be relevant and workable. As to his advocacy of "counterfactual analysis" and "consideration of alternative pasts," Dr. Robert J. Maddox once noted that "individuals who routinely use counterfactuals themselves often use the phrase to condemn the work of others. For instance, those who say that Japanese artillery would have been virtually useless against American armor, or that typhoons would not have been all that destructive are also engaging in counterfactuals."(44)

Like Monday-morning quarterbacking, constructing counterfactuals is certainly great entertainment, but it is far less productive than examining the projected, or profactuals -- the many variables and unknowables that military leaders and planners at that time had to consider when planning ahead for the effects of weather, opposition, logistics, etc. This must not be confused with counterfactual analysis and is exactly what staffs (American and Japanese) were (are) paid to do. In either case, though, how valuable such exercises are depends upon how well they fit the known facts, and as Larry Bland reminds us: "The problem of systemic bias . . . is akin to the fate that overtakes the ship whose navigator sets out from San Francisco for Japan and makes course corrections that are constantly off one degree to port: in the long run, he'll end up in the Philippines."(45)


What is one to make of Bernstein's rash comments on JCS 924; the misquote from my casualties piece; the production of a review essay that is functionally longer than the book it is written on; the similarity between his treatment of Ferrell and the cowing of Harwit at the Smithsonian; and the troubling questions raised by his repeated drawing of overly ambitious generalizations from narrow pieces of evidence? Is he Rousseau or Monboddo?(46) At the recent SMH conference, I exchanged views on the current state of affairs with members and perhaps a half dozen specifically brought up Bernstein. While the words "charlatan" and "vampire" were used in connection with the professor, the term heard most often was "crackpot."

These assessments seem overly harsh to me, and I suggest that he is really just a misguided scholar completely and irretrievably out of his element when discussing things related to the military. Moreover, if he is a crackpot, it must be appreciated that he is a crackpot who has had a significant, if little known, effect on the public discourse of late. After having been signaled out by Harwit as the individual who forcefully and successfully pressed the National Air and Space Museum for acceptance of Leahy's "junk number" in the Enola Gay script, Bernstein may be concerned with how history will view his role in the Smithsonian fiasco. Moreover, it must come as a great disappointment that positions he had carefully developed and promoted for over two decades are essentially ignored by someone of Ferrell's stature,(47) and the unmistakable odor of sour grapes rises from Bernstein's conclusion that "despite [Ferrell's] hopes, [his book] is not likely to change attitudes, even if it is widely read, which is unlikely." In fact, Robert Ferrell, no stranger to the 500-plus-page megawork, has put together a slim, useful, Internet-friendly compilation of key documents that, thanks to his extremely well-crafted headnotes and the brevity of the total package will be of immense value in both high school and college classrooms.

One can sympathize with Bernstein's frustration and bewilderment, but genuine sympathy hardly requires acceptance of theories that ignore any primary source material that fails to fit the artificial parameters which he has repeatedly narrowed and redefined over time. Bernstein frequently states that he is only trying to better understand the positions advocated by military historians -- hardly something that can claim to be monolithic in nature -- yet when one knows that numerous SMH members have given generously of their time to his queries only to have their comments ignored or misrepresented, one can be excused if his claims to be a simple, earnest seeker of truth are held suspect. What is important to understand is that Bernstein really does not care if readers of JMH accept his arguments or not, and that the journals in which he has discoursed so provocatively on military matters in the past did not, for the most part, have readerships who would notice when he started to go over the edge. John Keegan once noted that "the military historian [has a] specialized ability to check for veracity and probability,"(48) so whether Bernstein failed to publish in military journals through specific avoidance or simple oversight, his work went largely unscrutinized by a body of scholars whose feedback could well have gone a long way towards helping him avoid the straits he has currently fallen into. Instead, he continued to sail, as Bland put it, "off one degree to port," and his work has became quite vulnerable to significant exception.

I suspect that the reason for Dr. Bernstein's essay in JMH is less to convince SMH members of the soundness of his theories than to receive a sort of military cachet for his work in order to present to the academy an illusion of acceptance from the same military historians he shunned in the past and still denigrates. If this seems far-fetched, pull up "1997-'98 Faculty News from The Historian" in the Stanford web site. Of all the articles he has produced in many years of writing on Hiroshima-related topics, the item placed at the top of the list is his single previous foray into a military journal, a discussion of "likely U.S. casualties in the planned invasion of Japan" in the Spring 1996 Joint Force Quarterly. Typically, he makes no mention of the fact that it is simply a letter, unfettered by peer review, and makes no mention to readers of the web site of the article his letter challenged, my "Operation Downfall: The Devil Was In the Details"(49) or my response to his letter.(50) When the real Bernstein is revealed, will he be Rousseau or Monboddo?

Back to Contents


1. James Boswell, Life of Johnson, R.W. Chapman, ed., (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1970) 405.

2. Robert H. Ferrell, Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History (Worland, Wyo.: High Plains Publishing, 1996).

3. Barton J. Bernstein, "A Postwar Myth: 500,000 Lives Saved," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June-July 1986: 38-40.

4. Edward J. Drea, MacArthur's Ultra: Codebreaking in the War Against Japan, 1942-1945, (Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1992).

5. D. M. Giangreco, "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" Journal of Military History (July 1997): 564-66, 574-75.

6. See Henry L Stimson diary entries of 10 and 16 May 1944 in Larry I. Bland, ed. The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, "Aggressive and Determined Leadership" June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996): 450-51.

7. Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Seventy-Ninth Congress, First Session, on the Military Establishment Appropriations Bill for 1946, conducted 25 May 1945, (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1945): 1-18. Aside from his off-the-record testimony before the House Appropriations Committee during discussion of the "inadvisability of war of attrition" and elsewhere, Marshall discussed "the terrific losses which we would sustain when we invaded Japan" before the House Military Affairs Committee. See the transcript of Charles E. Bohlen's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2, 1953 in Charles E. Bohlen Witness to History: 1929-1969 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1973), 317.

8. Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley, and William R. Keast The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops, The United States Army in World War II, (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1948), 234-37.

9. Robert P. Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995), 18-19.

10. Palmer The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops: 236-37. In terms applicable to today, it might be argued that many historians, safely removed five decades from the events, are "minimum needs" advocates.

11. An interesting side note: Dr. Quincy Wright, who was not a spring chicken (he received his degree at the University of Illinois in 1915), entered the Army very shortly after his collaboration with Shockley; was given the rank of colonel; and served as a technical advisor to the Nuremberg Tribunal.

12. Giangreco "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" Journal of Military History (July 1997): 521-81; "To Bomb or Not to Bomb," Naval War College Review (Spring 1898): 140-45; "Truman and the Hiroshima Cult," Naval History, October 1995: 54-55; "Operation Downfall: US Plans and Japanese Countermeasures," at the University of Kansas symposium Beyond Bushido: Recent Work in Japanese Military History, February 16, 1998; "Dropping the bomb on Japan: a-COUNT-ing for the Casualties" on the NET television program Modern War, Washington, DC, December 12, 1997; letter, Journal of American History (June 1997): 322-23; letter, Joint Force Quarterly (Summer 1996): 6-7; and letter, New England Quarterly (September 1998). I also engaged in a general discussion of his work in the the April 1998 American Historical Review, 663-64.

13. Dated 29 July 97 through 15 June 1998.

14. 24 November 1997.

15. 28 September 1997.

16. Scott Adams, Dilbert "Dogbert's First Law of Business: Reality is Always Controlled by the People Who Are Most Insane," United Features Syndicate: June 14, 1998.

17. "In our Saipan operation, it cost approximately one American killed and several wounded to exterminate seven Japanese soldiers. On this basis it might cost us half a million American lives and many times that number wounded . . . in the home islands." JCS 924/2, Operations Against Japan Subsequent to Formosa, 30 August 1944, 120.

18. William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978): 160.

19. Ray S. Cline The Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, The United States Army in World War II, (Washington: Department of the Army, 1948), 337-38.

20. Larry I. Bland, (ed.) The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1996), vol. 4, 567-69.

21. Excepted from Giangreco at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History, April 24, 1998.

22. 24 November 1997.

23. R. R. Browker lists fully 24 titles of Ferrel's which are still in print, and this accounting doesn't even include such key works as Dear Bess: The Letters from Harry to Bess Truman, 1910-1959 and Off the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman, which will both soon be reissued. Books in Print: 1996-97, vols. 1-4 (New Providence, New Jersey), 1996.

24. Amendment No. 1 to G-2 Estimate of the Enemy Situation with Respect to Kyushu, G-2, AFPAC, 29 July 1945.

25. From a radio and television address on 29 February 1956, Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1956), 275.

26. From the original text of an 11 February 1996 letter to Joint Force Quarterly responding to my article "Operation Downfall: The Devil Was in the Details." This and lengthy portions of the letter not relating to what was actually said in the article were excised for space when it was published.

27. Martin Harwit An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of the Enola Gay, (New York: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, 1996), 345-46.

28. Harwit, An Exhibit Denied, 380.

29. Lieutenant Colonel U. P. Williams, "They May Not Die -- But They Wither Fast" Military Review (July 1950): 16.

30. The Department of Combat Support at the CGSC has since changed its name to Department of Logistics and Resource Operations.

31. William D. Leahy, I Was There: The Personal Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His Notes and Diaries Made at the Time (New York: Whittlesey House, 1950), 384.

32. As late as 16 November 1997, the New York Times Book Review ran a review essay on Harwit's 1996 book as its cover story, "Tailspin: The Ex-director of the Air and Space Museum Tells How the Enola Gay Exhibit Crashed."

33. Richard H. Kohn, "History and the Culture Wars: The Case of the Smithsonian Institution's Enola Gay Exhibition," Journal of American History (December 1995): 1036-63; Richard P. Hallion and Herman S. Wolk, "Air and Space Museum guilty, as charged" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August, 1995): 75.

34. Henry L. Stimsom, "Memorandum Discussed with President Truman, April 25, 1945" in "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," Harper's Magazine (February 1947): 99.

35. Nuel Pharr Davis, Lawrence and Oppenheimer, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968): 247.

36. It is useful to note that Marshall, who was clearly the dominant member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Truman's closest military advisor, maintained that "war is the most terrible tragedy of the human race and it should not be prolonged an hour longer than is absolutely necessary." From a speech to the American Legion on 18 September 1944, Papers of George C. Marshall, 4, 592, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1996. See also Stimson's diary comments on 26 June 1945: "I took up at once the subject of trying to get Japan to surrender by giving her a warning after she had been sufficiently pounded possibly with S-1 [atom bombs]. This is a matter about which I feel very strongly and feel the country will not be satisfied unless every effort is made to shorten the war." Henry L. Stimson diary, Yale University Library.

37. Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 569.

38. Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege, "Mobile Strike Force" Military Review (July-August 1996): 78.

39. Draft of President Truman's letter to James Lee Cate in President's Secretary's File, Harry S. Truman Library. Also see Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 537-38.

40. McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Years, (Random House, New York, 1988) , 647.

41. It is also important to note that the figures presented were only for specific and limited pieces of operations; were not shown to Truman; and did not include naval losses that on the invasion of Kyushu alone, for example, were expected be approximately double those at Okinawa.

42. Bernstein, "The Struggle over History: Defining the Hiroshima Narrative," published in Philip Nobile, ed., Judgment at the Smithsonian (New York: Marlowe and Company, 1995): 140.

43. The following is excerpted from an 10 August 1945 memo drafted by Marshall's staff for Leahy, and ended up not being sent because of Japan's announcement that they intended to surrender. Too bad they didn't send it anyway.

"Troops in hospitals in the United States [as of 30 June 1946:] 330,000. These are troops who largely are of no further usefulness but cannot be discharged until they have been given the greatest possible degree of mental and physical rehabilitation possible in the Army hospitals. They are largely men who were wounded in action."

Note the 330,000 figure for the estimated number of hospital beds likely to be occupied in the Continental United States (CONUS) by Army-Army Air Force personnel on 30 June 1946. Army Medical Corps had earlier estimated that casualties incurred by summer of 1945 (all theaters) would continue to occupy approximately 50,000 beds in June 1946 with approximately 5,000 more occupied by personnel from non-combat theatres and CONUS. (They were pretty close. Including dependents, it ended up coming in at just under 60,000.) This means that the Army -- at senior levels -- was expecting something on the order of 280,000 cases serious enough to require hospitalization in the United States, and does not include (a) Navy-Marine personnel; (b) Army patients in "forward" hospitals including Hawaii, the Philippines and Australia; (c) Army patients discharged and sent back to their units in Pacific; (d) patients moved into the Veterans Administration system; or (e) Killed in Action-Died of Wounds. Projected dates for Olympic and Coronet, plus transit times back to CONUS, suggests that the majority of these casualties were expected to be from Olympic. This figure tracks extremely well with the March 1945 Army Service Forces estimates for "approximately" 720,000 "dead and evacuated wounded" (footnote 64 in "Casualty Projections") even though their estimate extrapolates out to the end of 1946.

44. For a useful corrective to the revisionists' contentions about the end of the war see Robert James Maddox, Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later, (Columbia, MO, University of Missouri Press, 1995).

45. Larry Bland, "George Marshall and Atomic Diplomacy, 1945," Topics (September 1995): 2.

46. While some might contend that Samuel Johnson's comments to James Boswell on 15 February 1766 are more apropos, their exchange over dinner at the Mitre on September 30, 1769 seems to me appropriate enough. Boswell tweaked Johnson by "attempt[ing] to argue for the superior happiness of the savage life," but his friend would have none of it. "Johnson: 'Sir, there can be nothing more false. The savages have no bodily advantages beyond those of civilized men. They have not better health; and as to care or mental uneasiness, they are not above it, but below it. . . . No sir; you are not to talk such paradox. . . . It cannot entertain, far less can it instruct. Lord Monboddo, one of your Scotch Judges, talked a great deal of such nonsense. . .' Boswell: 'But Sir; does not Rousseau talk such nonsense?' Johnson: 'True Sir; but Rousseau knows he is talking nonsense, and laughs at the world for staring at him.' Boswell; 'How so, Sir?' Johnson: 'Why Sir; a man who talks nonsense so well, must know that he is talking nonsense. But I am afraid (chuckling and laughing,) Monboddo does not know that he is talking nonsense.' " James Boswell's Life of Johnson, R.W. Chapman, ed., (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1970) 405.

47. Bernstein notes for example that "Ferrell excludes anti-Soviet themes" within the Truman administration, does not discuss the possibility of "continuing the siege strategy of blockade and conventional bombing," plus "neglects the Roosevelt administration's decisions," etc.

48. John Keegan, The Face of Battle (Viking Press, 1976), 77.

49. Giangreco, "Operation Downfall: The Devil Was In the Details" JFQ (Autumn 1995): 86-94.

50. Giangreco, "From the Field and Fleet: Letters to the Editor" JFQ (Summer 1996): 6-7.


Back to Contents