Chapter 37 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 445
General Dreedle is out of power and General Peckem is in; Peckem has hardly gotten settled before his tremendous military victory begins to fall apart around him. In addition to that, he is surprised to learn that Colonel Scheisskopf is now Lieutenant General Scheisskopf. Peckem asks the sergeant (his secretary) about it; the sergeant informs Peckem that Scheisskopf does not want Peckem to issue any orders to anyone in his command without clearing them through him.
For the first time in his life, Peckem swears aloud in his amazement. He assumes that the promotion was intended for him but was mistakenly given to Scheisskopf, instead. Colonel Cargill also wonders why Scheisskopf is giving orders to them if he is still in Special Services and they are in charge of combat operations. Peckem had not thought of this but grins at the thought. He triumphantly asks the sergeant that question and is told about another change. As of this morning, “all combat operations are now under the jurisdiction of Special Services.” Scheisskopf is not, officially, their commanding officer.
Peckem is horrified at the thought of Scheisskopf being in charge and immediately commands Cargill to get Wintergreen on the telephone. Suddenly all the telephones begin ringing at once, and a corporal runs in with the news that a chaplain is here to tell Peckem about an injustice that has been done in Colonel Cathcart’s squadron. Peckem orders that the chaplain be sent away, as there is enough to be dealt with here already.
The next announcement is that Scheisskopf is on the telephone and wants to speak to Peckem at once; Peckem orders the messenger to tell Scheisskopf that Peckem has not arrived yet. Suddenly Peckem is struck by the enormity of the disastrous problems caused by having Scheisskopf in charge. Peckem knows he is much more commanding than the timid and malleable Scheisskopf, a “blockhead,” but now Scheisskopf is his superior.
Someone finally reaches ex-Sergeant Wintergreen. Wintergreen has been trying to call Peckem all morning, as well. (Cargill is on another line and reports that Wintergreen’s line is busy.) Wintergreen is furious at Peckem for the ridiculous memoranda he sent asking for combat operations to be under the auspices of Special Services; just when his recommendation was approved, Peckem transferred to combat operations, which left Scheisskopf in charge of all of them. Just as Wintergreen is about to tell Peckem what Scheisskopf has ordered, someone reminds Peckem that Scheisskopf is on the telephone, demanding to talk to him.
Peckem orders Cargill to talk to Scheisskopf and find out what he wants. Cargill turns white before announcing that Scheisskopf wants everyone to march.