John J. Pershing Diary. Set 4, April 4, 1919-July 30, 1919


General John J. Pershing (1860‒1948) was commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in World War I. Presented here are five volumes of Pershing’s diaries covering his service in France during the war and its aftermath and his subsequent return to the United States. A West Point graduate who had seen action in the Spanish-American War, against insurgents in the Philippines, and in the campaign against the renegade Mexican leader Pancho Villa, Pershing was selected to command the AEF by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker shortly after the United States entered the war in April 1917. Pershing and a staff of about 180 sailed for Europe on May 28, 1917. The diaries recount the general’s arrival in England, his meeting with King George V, followed by his arrival in France and such symbolically important gestures as his visit to Napoleon’s tomb. They also detail Pershing’s interactions with Allied political and military leaders and his efforts to build a separate American army, while at the same time supplying some divisions to assist the hard-pressed French and British armies in the spring and summer of 1918. The diaries recount Pershing’s activities during the war and his views on most of the key American military engagements, including the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, the Battle of Château-Thierry (July 18, 1918), the attack of the United States First Army against the Saint-Mihiel salient (September 12, 1918), and the First Army’s Meuse-Argonne offensive that began on September 26, 1918, and that contributed greatly to Germany’s ultimate defeat. Pershing gives a particularly interesting account of the signing of the armistice on November 11, told to him the following day by General Maxime Weygand, chief of staff to Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and of the plea from the German foreign office representative present that the Allies send food to Germany to head off starvation among the German people. The last volumes of the diaries cover the occupation by the United States Army of a part of Germany, the return of American forces to the United States and the liquidation of American military assets in Europe, Pershing’s own departure from France on September 1, 1919, the victory celebrations in New York and other cities, and his subsequent work on the National Defense Act of 1920 and the creation of a much-reduced peacetime army. The diary entries are typed.

Last updated: November 14, 2017