General Pershings Dodge Command car
With tensions rising along the southern border, President Wilson sent General “Blackjack” Pershing south to help quell the violence that was being perpetuated by Pancho Villa and his raiders. In early 1915 General Pershing had been provided a Dodge touring car while at Ft. Bliss, and instantly became a fan. Always on the cutting edge of technology and tactics on the battlefield, General Pershing saw the potential to use his Dodge car as a means to strike deep and fast in some of the more rugged terrain along the Texas and Mexican border region. Sporting a unique tan “camouflage” to blend in with the terrain, and canvas tops and interiors to protect the passengers, it is unclear how many vehicles they procured during the Punitive Expedition, what was learned during this time went into many of the vehicles and training that would affect the procurement, movement, and application of tactics of the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. It is said that Pancho Villa himself was so impressed with the Dodge cars performance, he even bought one for himself.
The Dodge Command car on display here at the Ft Bliss/1AD Museum has a unique, and somewhat disputed history, and is still only partially verified. After the war, Pershing’s Dodge was returned to the United States and retired from active military use. In the mid 1920’s the car was obtained from the US Army by Dodge in worn shape and after spending more than a decade in storage, the Dodge Brothers car was apparently refitted with both 1916 and 1919 parts by Dodge to bring it up to standard before being displayed at the factory in Michigan. For the next 40 years the car would move from location to location before being completely restored in 1970 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. It would sit there until its transfer back to Ft. Bliss and the 1AD museum in 1993.
You can see this and many other great artifacts detailing the history of Ft Bliss, and the 1st Armored division today, at the 1st Armored Division and Ft Bliss Museum. Come by!