John Joseph Pershing began life in the quiet town of Laclede, Missouri in 1860. The Civil War brought hardships to the Pershings. Undaunted, John took up teaching and then won entrance to the US Military Academy at West Point. He served with the 6th Cavalry in the Southwest and then with 50 Ogallala Indian Scouts at Pine Ridge. Next, he taught cadets at the University of Nebraska. He went on to Montana to lead the African American 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. He returned to West Point in 1897, where unruly cadets nicknamed him Black Jack, a sneering reference to his Buffalo Soldier days.