Who Role Did John J. Pershing Play in World War I?


Quick Answer

John J. Pershing was commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, which were the armies sent to Europe to fight in World War I. Pershing went from commanding around 130,000 men to over 2 million in just a little over a year and a half. He was faced with making all the decisions on the front, from supplies to troop movements.

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Full Answer

Pershing had to establish his authority right away upon reaching Europe. The European allies wanted the American troops to fill in gaps and start fighting right away, but Pershing refused. The types of training and differences in fighting style would not allow the different armies to mesh effectively. Instead, Pershing used the Americans' combined force to fight as one cohesive unit against the Germans and their allies. He led the Americans in the battle against the Germans in Sedan on November 6, 1918. This is seen as one of America's most important battles and was one of the last before the war ended on November 11, 1918.

As a result of the work that Pershing did in the war and his acts prior to the war, he received an honor that only George Washington had held before, the rank of General of the Armies of the United States. Some of Pershing's memorable achievements include leading cavalry at the Battle of San Juan Hill and being part of the Buffalo Soldiers.

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