John J. Pershing was born in September 1860. His full name was John Joseph Pershing, and he was often referred to by his nickname ‘’Black Jack’’.
Pershing was a senior officer in the United States Army, a role he had for a couple of years. He was a tough officer and he also had a long career within his country’s Army and he even became the General of the Armies.
Continue reading and discover all these amazing facts about John J. Pershing.
John J. Pershing Facts
1. John J. Pershing’s upbringing was truly difficult
Pershing was born in Missouri. He was the first child and he had eight more siblings. His dad had a small general shop and was also a postman.
His life seemed to be good; however, in 1873 the United States had a terrible economic depression that would leave many families struggling to get some food and or basic necessities.
Pershing’s family was one of the millions of Americans that were affected by this crisis. John’s father had bought some farmland a couple of years before the crisis hit, and he had taken some bank loans in order to pay for it.
So, when the crisis was at its deepest point, the banks foreclosed most of his farms, as he wasn’t able to pay for the rest of the lands he had previously bought. The Pershing family pretty much lost everything they had.
His dad had to travel to make ends meet, and all of a sudden John became the head of the family.
But this only gave John more strength to pursue his dreams. After he saved enough money, Pershing decided to study at the Kirksville Normal School where he graduated with a teaching degree, an interesting fact about John Pershing.
In addition, John decided to become a lawyer, so he returned to Kirksville in order to study law.
2. Pershing always studied for free
The U.S Military Academy, located at West Point, would often release some advertisements where they would announce an entrance exam for the academy.
Pershing made his mind up and decided to apply to the Academy so he could earn a free education. One of his sisters, Elizabeth, used to help John whenever he needed to study, and she often explained things to him as well.
When the results were published, Pershing realized he had won the scholarship, thus he began to study in 1882. He then graduated in 1886.
Then Pershing moved on to the grounds as he had to repay his scholarship, but he returned to his studies in order to earn his Law Degree in 1839 at the University of Nebraska.
3. Pershing’s military career was everything to him
After leaving the U.S Military Academy, Pershing was designated to the Sixth Cavalry, as part of the deal he had made with the authorities.
During the first couple of years of John’s military career, he fought Native Americans as he was protecting white settlers. He lived in New Mexico and Arizona, and he would fight Apaches that were led by Geronimo, one of the most-known chiefs of the area.
4. John Pershing tried to learn as much as he could
Even though he already had a degree, Pershing decided he needed to become a lawyer so he could improve his military tactics.
An interesting fact about John Pershing is that he also studied some of the most important Apache dialects and even studied Plains sign language, as he wanted to be able to communicate with them without the need of a translator.
5. The story behind the Buffalo soldiers and Pershing
In 1896, Pershing was assigned to the Tenth Cavalry, which was an all-black regiment mainly because most of the people involved were African Americans, an interesting fact about John Pershing.
The Native Americans called those troops ‘’Buffalo soldiers’’ because according to them, the soldiers’ hair looked similar to the hair of a buffalo.
What’s really interesting about this fact is that during that time there was still intense segregation between black and white people, and it didn’t matter if they were all in the military, they would still be required to be separated.
Of course, this led Pershing to have an open mind, and he was even called ‘’Black Jack’’ because he had spent so much time with the Tenth Cavalry.
Pershing fought alongside the Buffalo Soldiers in Cuba, and he would often praise his soldiers, something that was unusual back then.
Bob Marley’s famous song ‘’Buffalo Soldier’’ is inspired by this.
6. Pershing had a strong connection with the Philippines
The United States took control of the Philippines in 1898, just after Spain was defeated in the Spanish-American war.
Pershing lived in the Asian country from 1898 to 1902 and he often fought against several local tribes which were called ‘’Moros’’.
John was intense and he spent a lot of time researching about this tribe, and he ended up learning the Moro’s language and customs.
Pershing returned to the Philippines from 1906 to 1913 and it has been said that he loved his tours in that country, as he was able to communicate with the Moro tribes.
7. Pershing and Pancho Villa had a connection between them
Mexican revolutionary man Pancho Villa raided a town next to Columbus, in New Mexico.
As a result, at least fifteen people were killed and many more were wounded.
Pershing was asked to get Villa, even if it meant he would have to go to Mexico.
And even though the expedition was really tough, especially since the North Americans were not used to Mexico’s weather, and, eventually, Pershing was asked to stop the expedition. John had failed the government and he wasn’t able to catch Villa, an interesting John Pershing fact.
Pershing read a lot, and one of the conclusions he made was that he needed to learn about his adversaries not only from fighting against them but also by studying their history, cultures and everything related to them.
It can be said that Pershing was also a visionary as he knew what he had to do in order to defeat his opponents.
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