General John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing Visits Arlington National Cemetery, 1925

June 26, 2021

In this picture, colorized by Mads Madsen, General Pershing visits Arlington in 1925, several years after returning from World War I. The 639-acre cemetery was established during the Civil War as a place to bury those who died during the nation’s conflicts. The cemetery is on the grounds of Arlington House, the former estate of Mary Anna Custis Lee, the wife of Robert E. Lee and great-granddaughter of Martha Washington.

Colorized by Mads Madsen.

John Joseph Pershing, who was born on September 13, 1860, attended the United States Military Academy (West Point) two years after graduating from the State Normal School in Kirksville Missouri in 1880 with a Bachelor of Science degree in scientific didactics. He graduated 30th in a class of 77 in 1886. After considering two possible paths, studying law, which would have delayed the start of his required active military duty, or working on an irrigation project in Oregon, he decided on active Army duty.  

Reporting For Active Duty

General John Pershing at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, USA, National Photo Company, May 1925. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

After reporting for active duty, he was assigned to Troop L of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, and he participated in some of the Indian campaigns; he was cited for bravery in actions against the Apache. He served at postings in California, Arizona, and North Dakota between 1887 and 1890. During this time, he became an expert marksman. In 1890, during the Ghost Dance Campaign he arrived in Sioux City, Iowa with his unit to suppress the final uprisings of the Lakota. He only saw action once during the campaign and did not participate in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

He became a Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1891-1895; while there he studied law, obtaining his LL.B. degree in 1893.