John Joseph Pershing | 2012-11-02 09:13
John Joseph Pershing began his career as a schoolteacher in Missouri when a notice in the paper inspired him to give the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York a try. By his last year, he had earned the honor of being chosen first captain of the Corps of Cadets. His later military postings and combat experiences in places such as Cuba and Mexico provided him with valuable knowledge. During the First World War General John Pershing was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe. After the war he was promoted to general of the armies, a position previously held only by George Washington. Toward the end of his life he spent a great deal of time writing his memoirs, My Experiences in the World War, which won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1932. 
Pancho Villa
General John Pershing was a hero during World War I in Europe, but he also led troops in Mexico. Pancho Villa was a Mexican who led a rebellion against the government in 1914 with other leaders, including Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon. By October 1916, the United States recognized Carranza as the ruler of Mexico. Villa was very angry. He did not believe that Carranza had Mexico's best interests at heart. Do you know what happened next? 
On March 9, 1916, several of Villa's followers rode into Columbus, New Mexico, and killed 18 Americans and burned the town. Villa was furious with the town because two merchants there had failed to deliver weapons for which he had already paid. President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing to retaliate. Forces beyond the general's control caused him to fail. Can you guess what those forces were? 
Pershing's troops were not allowed to enter any town in Mexico without permission of the mayor; they could not use major roads; and they had to cooperate with government forces. These restrictions made it nearly impossible to find Villa and his men. After 11 months, Pershing's troops were called home without a victory over the clever Villa. This was one battle Pershing did not win. 
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