General John J. Pershing Dipped Bullets in Pig’s Blood-Unproven!
Summary of eRumor:
After General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing captured 50 Islamic terrorists in the Philippians in the early 1900s, he dipped bullets used to execute them in pig’s blood to deter future terrorists.
The tale of Major General John J. Pershing dipping bullets in pig’s blood before using them to execute terrorists in the Philippians is an urban legend that can’t be proven true or false.
The urban legend, which has been circulating in emails and discussion forums since 2001, got new life in February 2016 when Donald Trump re-told the story during a campaign stop in South Carolina. Trump’s retelling sparked controversy and questions from those who wondered if the story of General Pershing was true.
The short answer is that nobody knows. General Pershing’s definitive biography, “Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing” doesn’t make any mention of an order to dip bullets in pig’s blood. The order didn’t appear in detailed reports of Pershing’s actions as the of governor of the “Bangasamoro” province of the Philippians, where this supposedly happened, either.
But that doesn’t mean General Pershing didn’t give the order unofficially, or simply excluded it from official records.
“Black Jack” supposedly gave the pig’s blood order in response to the Moro, an indigenous population of Muslims in the Philippians’ Bangsamoro region, terrorizing U.S. forces there. The Moro had resisted Spanish attempts to colonize and convert them to Catholicism for centuries. The U.S. claimed the Philippians as a territory after the Spanish-American War, and that’s where this urban legend begins.
General Pershing was the governor of the Moro province from 1909 to 1913. By that time, U.S. forces had been clashing with the Moro for nearly eight years. Pershing was viewed as a “relatively progressive administrator” and he enacted a number of changes to promote trade, contract law, the legal system and to donate government land for the building of mosques.
Still, Moro hostility led Pershing to issue an executive order to disarm the natives of their weapons. The Moros resisted and killed a U.S. soldier in a counter attack. Many Moros fled to Bud Jajo, a mountain they believed was sacred, and a standoff ensued. Three weeks later, with food and supplies cut off, the Moro holdouts fled and were captured, The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars reports:
Pershing reported 300 Moros taken prisoner. Casualties for the entire campaign on the American side were 3 wounded. One the Moro side, 12 were killed a few others wounded. Pershing sent the prisoners to Mindanao to be tried for insurrection. Later he decided to drop the charges if a prisoner’s friends could collect sufficient arms for his release. Although it had a very successful operation, Moro resistance was not ended until the Battle of Bud Basak in June 1913.
These details are important the urban legend about General Pershing’s pig’s blood order. In the official account, Pershing captured Muslim natives after a long stand off, but ultimately decided to release them for “sufficient arms” surrendered. That’s a far cry from dipping bullets in pig’s blood and executing them, as the urban legend claims.
And General Pershing gave a detailed account of the Battle of Bud Basak, which finally crushed the Moros’ armed resistance in June 1913, in his memoirs. There’s no mention of bullets dipped in pig’s blood there, either. It should also be noted that Pershing had recommended turning the region over to local control before the final battle, too.
So, there’s nothing in official records to indicate that General Pershing actually called for bullets to be dipped in pig’s blood before being used to execute Muslim prisoners. But, again, that doesn’t mean that an unofficial order wasn’t made at some point by Pershing, or by another U.S. military leader.