Who Is General Pershing? Trump Cites Army Leader He Falsely Believes Shot Muslim Terrorists With Pig's Blood Bullets

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President Donald Trump speaks about the violence at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as he talks to the media in the lobby of Manhattan's Trump Tower on August 15. Trump tweeted Thursday about General John J. Pershing in the wake of the deadly attack in Barcelona, Spain. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

In the wake of Thursday's deadly attack in Barcelona, Spain, President Donald Trump tweeted that General Pershing—referencing Army General John "Black Jack" Pershing—had the right idea when dealing with terrorists.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" Trump tweeted

While it was not 100 percent clear exactly what the president is referring to in the post, he has talked about Pershing ridding an area of terrorists in the past. And the claims he made about Pershing's tactics were widely debunked as false. 

Trump first told his version of Pershing's life at a rally in February 2016 in South Carolina, saying to the crowd, "It's a terrible story, but I'll tell you." He said Pershing had dealt with terrorists in the early 1900s, presumably in the Philippines, according to a Washington Post write-up of the rally. Trump said Pershing used the blood of pigs, deemed impure in the Koran, to combat terrorists.

"They were having terrorism problems, just like we do," Trump said. "And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs' blood—you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs' blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, 'You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.' And for 25 years, there wasn't a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn't a problem."

The fact-checking website Snopes debunked this as an internet-created rumor that picked up steam after the September attack. Pershing was the governor of the Moro province in the Philippines between 1909 and 1913. He seemed to truly regret the loss of life in the province, Snopes wrote.

PolitiFact, also a fact-checking site, asked eight scholars about the story at the time, and "most expressed skepticism that the specific story ever happened, and many added that Trump's takeaway is wrong-headed."

"This story is a fabrication and has long been discredited," Brian McAllister Linn, a Texas A&M University historian and author of the book Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940, told PolitiFact. "I am amazed it is still making the rounds."

Pershing, who was born in 1860 and died in 1948, served in World War I, heading up the American Expeditionary Force in Europe. After the war he was promoted to general of the armies, the highest rank in the Army at the time. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery.