Page 3715

3715 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

the war zone. On April 19, the gun

crew of the merchant Mongolia fired the

first American shot of the war against

a submarine, and, it was believed, seriously

damaged or destroyed the U-boat. Similar duels, mostly at long range, occurred

from time to time, in some of which the

American vessels were sunk, while in

others they drove off or sank their assailants. The U-boat captains speedily discovered that it was hazardous to attack

armed American merchantmen with gun

fire, and after a few months such conflicts

became less common. This was partly

due to the fact that the Allies adopted

a policy of gathering merchantmen into

fleets convoyed by warships. On this

subject more will be said hereafter.

It was clear that many months must

elapse before the United States could

put any considerable force on the firing

line. But the collapse of Russia made

it necessary for the United States to

furnish troops, while the failure of the

Allied offensive on the Western Front, in

April, 1917, together with the course of

events in Russia, had greatly depressed

the French and even the British. For

the sake of the effect on French and British

morale, the Allied commissioners in America, in particular Marshal Joffre, urged

that some troops should be sent over as

speedily as possible, and our Government

agreed that it should be done.

To command the overseas forces the

President selected Major General John

J. Pershing, the man who had led the

expedition into Mexico after Villa. General Pershing was a graduate of West

Point, and as a young man had seen active

service against the Apache Indians in the

southwest. Subsequently he fought in

the San Juan campaign and in the Philippines. As a military observer he was

attached to Kuroki's army in the Russo-Japanese War and had an opportunity

to witness modern warfare on a large

scale. His work in the Philippines against

the wild Mohammedan Moros was of so

high a character that President Roosevelt,

a keen judge of military men, promoted

him from a captain to a brigadier general,

jumping him over the heads of 862 other

officers.

After some preliminary work in Washington, General Pershing sailed from New

York harbor, late in May, on the steamship

Baltic, accompanied by a staff of 63

officers and 146 men, including privates

and civilian attaches. At the edge of the

submarine zone American destroyers met

the Baltic and escorted her to British

waters. On June 8, General Pershing

and his party landed in Liverpool and were

received by a British general, a British

admiral, the mayor of the port, a guard of

honor and a regimental band, which played

the Star Spangled Banner. General Pershing

issued the following message to the British

public:

"We are very proud and glad to be the

standard bearers of our country in this

great war for civilization and to land

on British soil. The welcome which we

have received is magnificent and deeply

appreciated. We hope in time to be