In April, 1917, a small group of men in civilian dress climbed up the
side of the ocean liner, the Baltic, just outside of New York harbor.
Each one carried a suitcase or a hand-bag, which was his only baggage.
They had come down the harbor through the fog and mist on a tugboat.
These men were officers in the United States army, and among them were
General Pershing and his staff--"Black Jack Pershing," as his men
ionately called him.
They were given no farewell at the dock, in fact their going was kept a
profound secret; for should the Germans learn upon what liner the chief
officers of the American army that was soon to gather in France, took
passage, all their submarines would neglect everything else in
attempting to sink this one vessel.
The officers reached England in safety, and made preparations for the
great American armies that were soon to follow them. General Pershing
was appointed commander of these armies. He had just come from service
in Mexico, where he had led American troops in search of the outlaw,
Photograph from Underwood & Underwood, N.Y.]
General Pershing is a West Point graduate; but he narrowly escaped
following another career, for he gained his appointment to West Point
by only one point over his nearest competitor. He has made fighting his
life work. We are all beginning to see that in the world as it is made
up at present, some men must prepare for fighting and make fighting
their life work. Universal peace must come through war, and many are
hoping that it will come as a result of the World War. William Jennings
Bryan and Henry Ford are among the world's leading advocates of
universal peace. When the United States declared war, Bryan said, "The
quickest road to peace is through the war to victory"; and Henry Ford
turned over to the government his great automobile factories and gave
his own services on one of the war boards, to make the war more quickly
An interesting story is told us in the Dallas News of Pershing's
school days at normal school, before he went to West Point. It shows
that he never shunned a fight, if the rights of others needed to be
An incident of the boyhood days of General John J. Pershing,
illustrating how the principle for which the American general is
leading this nation's armies against the hordes of
autocracy--the square deal for every one--has always
predominated in the American leader, was related yesterday by
Dr. James L. Holloway of Dallas, who went to school with
Pershing in Kirksville, Missouri, many years ago, and who
during that period was an intimate friend of the General.
"When I arrived at Kirksville to attend the Normal School there,
I was a green country boy," Dr. Holloway said, "and carried my
belongings in a very frail trunk. The baggageman who was on the
station platform was handling my trunk roughly, and when I
remonstrated with him in my timid way, he merely pitched the
trunk off the baggage wagon and laughed at me. When the trunk
fell on the ground it broke open and scattered my things around
on the platform. I indignantly told him that I would report the
matter to the headquarters of the railroad in St. Louis, and
again he laughed at me.
"I wrote the head of the baggage department, as I said I would,
and later learned that the offending baggageman had been
severely censured. Meanwhile I had struck up a strong
acquaintance with Jack Pershing, who was a big, husky boy from a
Missouri country town. I will always remember his broad
forehead, his determined-looking jaw, and his steel gray eyes.
He was a favorite among the boys at the Normal School, not so
much on account of his mental brilliancy but because of his
"Two weeks after my encounter with the baggageman, Pershing and
I walked down to the railroad station. It was on Sunday and the
baggage office was closed. Pershing left me for a moment, and as
I walked around a corner of the station I met the baggageman,
who approached threateningly. 'You're the fellow who reported me
to headquarters,' he said, bullying me. I admitted that I had.
'Well,' said the baggageman, 'I'm going to lick you good for
it.' With these words he started toward me. At this juncture
Pershing's big frame rounded the corner of the station.
"'What's the trouble, Holloway?' he asked. I told him the
baggageman was threatening me with violence. 'He is, is he?'
said Pershing. 'Well, we'll clean his plowshare for him right
"I shall never forget this expression. The baggageman, seeing
that he was no match for Pershing--let alone the two of us--left
the scene of action. We didn't even have a chance to lay our
hands on him.
"Six months after this occurred, Pershing was appointed to West
Point. I have never seen him since."
For several years after his graduation from West Point, no promotion
came to Pershing; but he was not idle nor soured by disappointment. He
continued to study, especially military tactics. He became so well
versed in this branch that he was sent to West Point to teach it.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, Pershing asked for a command,
and was appointed first lieutenant with a troop of colored cavalry, and
sent to Cuba. At the battle of El Caney he led his troops with such
bravery and success that he was at once promoted and made a captain
"for gallantry in action."
Then he went to the Philippines with General Chaffee. He performed much
valuable service there. Perhaps the single deed by which his work there
is best known is the lesson he taught the Sultan of Mindanao. The
Sultan was a Mohammedan, and ruled over many thousand Malays. To kill a
Christian was thought to be a good deed by the Sultan, and he was
always glad of an opportunity to show his goodness. For three hundred
years, he and his predecessors had escaped punishment by the Spaniards,
who owned and ruled the islands.
The Sultan's chief village and stronghold could be reached only by
passing through the dense and dangerous tropical jungles; and when it
was reached, it was found to be surrounded by a wall of earth and
bamboo, forty feet thick, and outside the wall by a moat fifty feet
wide. It does not seem so strange that the Spaniards had done nothing.
But Pershing cut a path through the jungles and reached the Sultan's
village, and informed him that there must be no more murders of
Christians. The Sultan was very pleasant, in fact he laughed at the
young American captain.
Soon word came to American headquarters that the Sultan had caused the
death of another Christian missionary. In forty-eight hours most of the
earth and bamboo wall was in the moat, and the Sultan's village was
destroyed. In less than two years, Pershing established law and order
in all of western Mindanao.
He was also in command of the troops sent to the Border and into Mexico
after the outlaw, Villa. The soldiers with him there always recall his
constant advice, "Shoulders back, chin up, and do your best."
General Pershing is a man who has never feared obstacles, and has
never hesitated to give the time and labor necessary to overcome them.
That there is no easy path to greatness and success, but that both will
come to him who prepares himself, who works, who sticks at it, who is
brave and sacrificing--this is the lesson of General Pershing's life
Shortly after General Pershing reached France, the French people
celebrated the birthday of Lafayette; and General Pershing visited the
tomb of the great French patriot, to place there a wreath in token of
America's gratitude. A large number of French people were gathered
there, and every one supposed General Pershing would make a
speech--that is, every one except General Pershing. When he was called
upon, he was dumfounded, but at last he said, "Well, Lafayette, we are
here." That was all.
Could he have said more if he had talked an hour? He said, "Lafayette,
your people now need us. We have not forgotten. Here we are, and behind
us are all the resources of the wealthiest and most enterprising nation
in the world, billions of dollars and millions of men. We are only the
first to arrive to pay the debt we have owed to you for one hundred and
forty years, but here we are at last."
It is said that men and women wept aloud as the full significance of
the words and all they meant for France became clear to them.