The War College was reopened, and the first class was to report, in September, 1921.
Since my detail on the General Staff would be terminated in October, and since General March was to be relieved by General Pershing at an early date, I decided to ask to be relieved from my detail with the General Staff on August 24th and, after a short leave, to be detailed to take the War College course. Although I had been included in the Initial General Staff Eligible List, there were several reasons why I desired to take the War College course at this time. The faculty and the students were carefully selected, and most of them had held high commands in the AEF; I hoped to learn much from their experience. Furthermore there was to be considered the fact that we were comfortably settled at the Farnsboro, in Washington, and that this was the most favorable time for me to go to the War College if I was ever to go.
There was still another consideration, not without significance to you, that had to be borne in mind. We were expecting that, within a few months, there would be an increase of one in our family. I am sure that you will be glad to learn that this expectation was realized on December 31, 1921, when, at 11:30 p.m. (just in time to reduce somewhat my Income Tax) a five pound daughter, whom we named Shirley (simply because we liked the name) was born at Columbia Hospital, Dr. Staveley being the Master of Ceremonies.
I enjoyed the War College Course, particularly the G-2 Course, which was conducted by Colonel Embick, one of my oldest friends, and, as I have stated, in my opinion one of the ablest, most influential and most modest officers of my time. He had been Chief of Staff for General Bliss (our representative on the Supreme War Council) (General Foch had written him a letter stating that no officer in the Allied Armies had exerted a greater influence on the strategy of the War than he had), and he had been on one of the committees that had drafted the Peace Treaty. He had, I believe, a more profound knowledge of international affairs than any officer in the Army, and his Course was designed to give his students an insight into the political, economic, ethnic and other considerations affecting the war potential and the possible causes of war of each of the nations that had been engaged in World War I.
Colonel Charles E. Kilbourne, another good friend of mine, was head of the G-1 Course. He told me afterwards of an incident that amused me. General McLaughlin, the Commandant of the War College, gave a great deal of his time and personal attention to the preparation of the Efficiency Reports of both the faculty and the student officers. He called upon the Head of each Course to submit a complete report (on the regular Form) on each student officer. After these reports had been received and studied by General McLaughlin, he sent for Colonel Kilbourne and said, in substance: "I have noted a rather unusual thing in the reports on Major Gardner. Colonel King (head of the Command Course, and a former All American football player at West Point) rates him as average in Physical Endurance, while you rate him as Superior. Can you explain why this marked difference should exist?" Colonel Kilbourne replied, "I think that perhaps it is due to the fact that Colonel King does not know him as well as I do. I have known him for a good many years. I happen to know that he and General Bishop walked forty miles, to Baltimore, on the last Fourth of July just for recreation, and I know that he worked, without regard to hours, as Secretary of the General Staff, throughout the War, as right hand man to General March, without any ill effects upon his physical or mental endurance. I consider that such a four year test justifies for him a rating of Superior in Physical Endurance." Of course, to make the story complete (or else it would doubtless never have been told to me) General McLaughlin rated me Superior.
At the completion of the Course, just before graduation, General McLaughlin had about a dozen of the graduating students assembled in his office. He said to them, in substance: "I think it is only fair to you young gentlemen to tell you that I have watched your work during the past year with close attention, and that you have been outstanding among the class. I shall so state on your Efficiency Reports." I am glad to say that I happened to be among those present.
Upon my graduation, in June, 1922, from the War College, I was informed by the Personnel Officer in the Office of the Chief of Coast Artillery, Major Clifford Jones (an old friend -- we had both lived in the Farnsboro during most of the War) that I was at the very top of the list of the Majors due for foreign service, but that, as no vacancy then existed, I would be sent to Camp Eustis, Virginia, where, under the approved policy, I could expect to stay for not less than one year.