John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    General of the Armies of the United States

    One of America's most famous Army officers, Pershing was born in Missouri on September 13, 1860. He graduated from West Point in 1886 and served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippines Insurrection, the Mexican Expedition and was the overall American Commander in Europe during World War I.
    Following the war, he served as Army Chief of Staff.

    He died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on July 15, 1948. His funeral service, one of only a handfull ever held at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery, was attended by literally thousands of American citizens as well as by the leaders of government and the military. He was buried, as was his wish, under a simple white gravestone in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery, near the gravesites of his "Doughboys" from World War I.

    At the start of World War I President Woodrow Wilson considered mobilizing an army to join the fight. Frederick Funston, Pershing's superior in Mexico, was being considered for the top billet as the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) when he died suddenly from a heart attack on February 19, 1917. Following America's entrance into the war, Wilson, after a short interview, named Pershing to command, a post which he retained until 1918. Pershing, who was a major general, was promoted to full general (the first since Philip Sheridan in 1888) in the National Army, and was made responsible for the organization, training, and supply of a combined professional and draft Army and National Guard force that eventually grew from 27,000 inexperienced men to two armies (a third was forming as the war ended) totalling over two million soldiers.

    Pershing exercised significant control over his command, with a full delegation of authority from Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Baker, cognizant of the endless problems of domestic and allied political involvement in military decision making in wartime, gave Pershing unmatched authority to run his command as he saw fit. In turn, Pershing exercised his prerogative carefully, not engaging in issues that might distract or diminish his command. While earlier a champion of the African-American soldier, he did not champion their full participation on the battlefield, understanding Wilson's reactionary views on race and the political debts he owed to southern Democratic law makers.
    George C. Marshall served as one of Pershing's top assistants during and after the war. Douglas MacArthur served in the 42nd "Rainbow" Division as chief of staff, then as a brigade commander, and as commander for the final month of the war. Pershing's initial chief of staff was businessman James Harbord, who later took a combat command but worked as Pershing's closest assistant for many years and remain extremely loyal to Pershing.
    After departing from Fort Jay at Governors Island in New York Harbor under top secrecy in May 1917, Pershing arrived in France in June 1917. In a show of American presence, part of the 16th Infantry Regiment marched through Paris shortly after his arrival. Pausing at Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette's tomb, he was reputed to have said the famous line "Lafayette, we are here." The morale-boosting sound bite was in fact spoken by his aide, Colonel Charles E. Stanton. Token American forces were deployed in France in the fall of 1917.

    Attached Files:

Share This Page