Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing

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Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's Geni Profile

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General John Joseph Pershing

Also Known As: ""Black Jack""
Birthplace: Laclede, Linn County, Missouri, United States
Death: July 15, 1948 (87)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
Place of Burial: Arlington, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Fletcher Pershing and Ann Elizabeth Pershing
Husband of Helen Frances Pershing
Father of Colonel Francis Warren Pershing, (USA); Private; Private and Private
Brother of James F. Pershing; Mary Elizabeth Pershing; Anna May Pershing; Ward B. Pershing and Grace Paddock

Occupation: General of the Armies - WW-I
Managed by: Erin Ishimoticha
Last Updated:

About Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing

General John Joseph 'Black Jack' Pershing

General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing was a senior United States Army officer. His most famous post was when he served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, 1917–18.

Pershing rejected British and French demands that American forces be integrated with their armies, and insisted that the AEF would operate as a single unit under his command, although some American divisions fought under British command, and he also allowed all-black units to be integrated with the French army.

American forces first saw serious battle at Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and Soissons. To speed up the arrival of the doughboys, they embarked for France leaving the heavy equipment behind, and used British and French tanks, artillery, airplanes and other munitions. In September 1918 at St. Mihiel, the First Army was directly under Pershing's command; it overwhelmed the salient – the encroachment into Allied territory – that the German Army had held for three years. For the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Pershing shifted roughly 600,000 American soldiers to the heavily defended forests of the Argonne, keeping his divisions engaged in hard fighting for 47 days, alongside the French. The Allied Hundred Days Offensive, which the Argonne fighting was part of, contributed to Germany calling for an armistice. Pershing was of the opinion that the war should continue and that all of Germany should be occupied in an effort to permanently destroy the German militarism.

Pershing is the only American to be promoted in his own lifetime to General of the Armies rank, the highest possible rank in the United States Army. Allowed to select his own insignia, Pershing chose to use four gold stars to distinguish himself from those officers who held the rank of General, which was signified with four silver stars. After the creation of the five-star General of the Army rank during World War II, his rank of General of the Armies could unofficially be considered that of a six-star general, but he died before the proposed insignia could be considered and acted on by Congress.

Some of his tactics have been criticized both by other commanders at the time and by modern historians. His reliance on costly frontal assaults, long after other Allied armies had abandoned such tactics, has been blamed for causing unnecessarily high American casualties. In addition to leading the A.E.F. to victory in World War I, Pershing notably served as a mentor to many in the generation of generals who led the United States Army during World War II, including George Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Lesley J. McNair, George S. Patton, and Douglas MacArthur.

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Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's Timeline

September 13, 1860
Laclede, Linn County, Missouri, United States
June 24, 1909
Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, United States
August 27, 1915
Age 35
The Presidio, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, United States

August 27, 1915, (he) received a telegram informing him of a house fire at the Presidio in San Francisco, where a lacquered floor ignited; the flames rapidly spread, resulting in the smoke inhalation deaths of his wife, Frances Warren Pershing and three young daughters: Mary Margaret, age 3; Anne Orr, age 7; and Helen, age 8. Only his 5-year-old son, Warren, survived.