John J. Pershing

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John Joseph Pershing
NicknameBlack Jack
Born(1860-09-13)September 13, 1860
Laclede, Missouri
DiedJuly 15, 1948(1948-07-15) (aged 87)
Walter Reed General Hospital
Washington, D.C.
Buried atArlington National Cemetery
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1886–1924
Rank General of the Armies
Service numberO-1
Commands held8th Brigade
American Expeditionary Force
First United States Army
Army Chief of Staff
Mexican Expedition
Battles/warsIndian Wars

Spanish–American War

Philippine–American War

Russo-Japanese War
Mexican Revolution

World War I

AwardsDistinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Légion d'honneur

General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15, 1948), was a general officer in the United States Army. He led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Pershing is the only person to be promoted in his own lifetime to the highest rank ever held in the United States Army. The rank is known as General of the Armies. (a retroactive Congressional edict passed in 1976 promoted George Washington to the same rank but with higher seniority[1]). Pershing holds the first United States officer service number (O-1). He was regarded as a mentor by the generation of American generals who led the United States Army in Europe during World War II. These include George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and George S. Patton.

Summary of service[change | change source]

Dates of rank[change | change source]

No Insignia in 1886 Second Lieutenant, United States Army: July 1, 1886
First Lieutenant, United States Army: October 20, 1892
Major of Volunteers, U.S. Army: August 18, 1898 - June 30, 1901
Captain, U.S. Army (reverted to permanent rank July 1, 1901): February 2, 1901
Brigadier General, United States Army: September 1906
Major General, United States Army: May 1916
General, National Army, Army of the United States: October 1917
General of the Armies of the United States, Army of the United States: September 3, 1919

As there was no prescribed insignia for this rank, General Pershing chose the four stars of a full general, except in gold. The rank has been argued to be equivalent to "6-star" general, as the insignia of the next lowest rank "General of the Army" is designated by five stars. According to the biography Until the Last Trumpet Sounds by Gene Smith, Pershing never wore the rank on his uniform.

Assignment history[change | change source]

General Pershing lands in France in 1917
  • 1882: Cadet, United States Military Academy
  • 1886: Troop L, Sixth Cavalry
  • 1891: Professor of Tactics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • 1895: 1st Lieutenant, 10th Cavalry Regiment
  • 1897: Instructor, United States Military Academy, West Point
  • 1898: Major of Volunteer Forces, Cuban Campaign, Spanish–American War
  • 1899: Officer-in-Charge, Office of Customs and Insular Affairs
  • 1900: Adjutant General, Department of Mindanao and Jolo, Philippines
  • 1901: Battalion Officer, 1st Cavalry and Intelligence Officer, 15th Cavalry (Philippines)
  • 1902: Officer-in-Charge, Camp Vicars, Philippines
  • 1904: Assistant Chief of Staff, Southwest Army Division, Oklahoma
  • 1905: Military attaché, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1908: Military Advisor to American Embassy, France
  • 1909: Commander of Fort McKinley, Manila, and governor of Moro Province
  • 1914: Brigade Commander, 8th Army Brigade
  • 1916: Commanding General, Mexican Punitive Expedition
  • 1917: Commanding General for the formation of the National Army
  • 1917: Commanding General, American Expeditionary Forces, Europe
  • 1921: Chief of Staff of the United States Army
  • 1924: Retired from active military service
  • 1925: Chief Commissioner assigned by the United States in the arbitration case for the provinces of Tacna and Arica between Peru and Chile.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Library of Congress link: Washington held the title of "General and Commander in Chief" of the Continental Army".
Further reading
  • Richard Goldhurst, Pipe Clay and Drill: John J. Pershing, the classic American soldier, (Reader's Digest Press, 1977)
  • Gene Smith, Until the Last Trumpet Sounds: The Life of General of the Armies John J. Pershing (Wiley, New York, 1998) ISBN 978-0-471-24693-0
  • Donald Smythe, Guerrilla Warrior: The Early Life of John J. Pershing (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1973) ISBN 0-684-12933-7
  • Donald Smythe, Pershing: General of the Armies (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1986) ISBN 0-253-21924-8
  • Frank E. Vandiver, Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing - Volume I (Texas A&M University Press, Third printing, 1977) ISBN 0-89096-024-0
  • Frank E. Vandiver, Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing - Volume II (Texas A&M University Press, Third printing, 1977) ISBN 0-89096-024-0
  • Yockelson, Mitchell A. (May 30, 2008). Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918. Foreword by John S. D. Eisenhower. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-3919-7.

Other websites[change | change source]