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General John J. Pershing

John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing was born in Missouri in 1860. Pershing began his distinguished military career at West Point, where he graduated in 1886. He fought with the 6th and the 10th (Black) Cavalries before being assigned to the Philippine Islands in 1900. He observed the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria in 1905, and in 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt promoted him to Captain Brigadier.

Pershing’s association with the El Paso area came in 1914, when he took command of the American forces on the Mexican border in the campaign against the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. When Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico in 1916 Pershing went with a force of nearly 10,000 men to try to hunt Villa down. Their efforts were in vain, and in February 1917 the troops were sent home. Later that year Pershing was sent to France, where he served with distinction as Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. He was named General of the Armies of the United States by a special act of Congress in 1919.

General Pershing won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1932 for his memoirs, “My Experiences in World War.” He died on July 15, 1948 and was buried with highest military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

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extended activity
General Pershing visited many different places in his military career. Using a map of the world, identify all of the places he lived. How many miles do you think he traveled in his lifetime?

Related Links:

From PBS-The American Experience

Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site

Handbook of Texas Online

Read More, Learn More:

Clendenen, Clarence C. 1969. Blood on the Border: The United States Army and the Mexican Irregulars. London: MacMillan. O'Connor, Richard.1961. Black Jack Pershing. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.