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Pelham Davis Glassford

Submitted by: William C Parke {Grandson}

Pelham Davis Glassford and KidronPelham Davis Glassford born around 1883. Pelham Glassford served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1900 and the service was completed in 1931.

Story of Service


The Story of Kidron, Pershing's Favorite Horse

By William C. Parke, grandson of Gen. Pelham Davis Glassford.

During World War I, Gen. John J. Pershing's favorite horse, named Kidron, was among a group of gelding thoroughbreds captured by the French from the Germans in 1917.

While training his troops at the Saumur Artillery School, Brig. General Pelham Davis Glassford was offered one of those horses by the French Colonel Godeau, commandant of the adjoining remount depot. Godeau's act on behalf of France was a gesture of gratitude for the help of the American Expeditionary Force in the War. He also knew how skilled Pelham was on horseback, and that Pelham was respected by the French military and villagers, as he would engage them in their own language. Pelham knew French from the time his father, Colonel William Alexander Glassford in the Army Signal Corps, took his two sons to Paris, France, to study the French signal balloons.

Gen. Pelham Glassford appreciated good horses. His admiration developed when he was a young man, helping on his father's farms and horse ranch in Phoenix, Arizona. (Later, in retirement, Glassford raised quarter horses, including the grandson of Man-of-War.)

Pelham Glassford image

Pelham selected a stately and healthy young stallion, with good looks, a gentle manner, and evident intelligence. This horse was given the name Kidron (a town near Jerusalem). Col. Godeau made arrangements to transport Kidron to Pelham's new headquarters on the south side of San Mihiel.

A few days after Pelham's departure, Gen. Pershing came to inspect the Saumur Artillery School. Col. Godeau had the privilege of showing the general some of his finest mounts. Pershing saw a beautiful one, and took a liking to him. Pershing was told that Glassford had been given Kidron and that the horse was slated to be moved, but, he said, "I do not want that fine specimen sent to the front lines." Pershing managed to have Kidron diverted to his A.E.F. headquarters at Chaumont.

After the Chateau Thierry Offensive, Pelham returned with his outfit to a rest area just kilometers from Chaumont. Having heard about Kidron's location, he proceeded to Pershing's office, with a light saddle on his arm, saying that he had come to claim his horse. Pershing's aide, Col. John G. Quekemeyer, showed Pelham into Pershing's office. Pershing, with unusual contriteness, said he would return the horse, but that Kidron had a lame leg, and needed to rest. (Pelham later learned this was true.) Although Pershing eventually kept the horse, Pelham and Pershing continued to have a long-lasting deep friendship. Pelham later joked that "Pershing, in my opinion, was one of the greatest soldiers (and horse thieves) of all time!"

The first photo shows Brig. General Pelham Glassford (right) in France in 1918 riding his horse Kidron, with his distinctive white `socks' on his back feet and white emblem on his forehead. (On the left horse is Colonel Godeau, Glassford's early morning riding partner.)

The second photo shows General Pershing riding Kidron. As can be seen by the inscription, the photo was given to Gen. Glassford by Gen. Pershing.

A month before Pershing left France, he purchased Kidron from the Army. He asked Col. George C. Marshall (later known for the Marshall Plan) to arranged for Kidron's conveyance to Newport News, Virginia, via the ship Kentuckian, along with an army veterinarian designated to care for and protect the horse.

5c1164d59d72a photo2 kidron pershingPershing rode Kidron in the Victory parade down the Champs D’Elise in Paris. An observer noted that Kidron had the "haughty look of an equine conqueror." However, Kidron did not carry Pershing in the New York parade, nor the one in Washington, D.C. Instead, he was still being held in quarantine at Newport News, where he would stay for five months. Regulations specified that war horses were to be quarantined 30 days in France and 150 days in America. The Department of Agriculture feared an infection which would spread to other horses. Included in their concern was that during the War, German-paid dockhands in the U.S. had infected horses and mules in 1915 and 1916. (See `The Fourth Horseman' by Robert Koenig.)

After being released from quarantine, Pershing reported that Kidron had become "a naturalized and enthusiastic loyal American." Kidron spent some time at Pershing's home turf and stables in Chevy Chase, Maryland, but eventually Pershing felt it was time to put Kidron out to pasture, and so he took his faithful horse to the U.S. Army Remount Depot in Front Royal, Virginia. As a final gesture of affection, and to follow his doctor's suggestion of more exercise, General Pershing was reported to have ridden Kidron the 70 miles from Warrenton, Virginia to the Depot.

Both Pelham and Pershing visited Kidron, while `their' horse was still alive. Kidron died at age 36 on the 10th of October, 1942, in Front Royal, Virginia. Hoping to have the horse mounted, the War Department turned over the remains to the U.S. National Museum. However, because the body had decomposed, taxidermists though it best to not mount the skin and bones. His bones were buried in Greenfield near Front Royal, with a stone marker. His skin and skull went to the Smithsonian.

Pelham saved the accompanying photo from Life Magazine (Sep 28, 1953) showing Kidron’s sorrel hide and head in storage. The caption for that photo reads: “Kidron…gazes dolefully from his shelf in the mammal division.”

5c1164d59e10e photo3 kidron gazes

(The photographs that appear here can be found among Glassford's papers in the Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA. Other details about Kidron are with the papers of John J. Pershing at the Library of Congress, and from personal conversations with Gen. Glassford in 1952 and 1955.)