Some men live long and accomplish little. Others, cut down in their prime, accomplish much. Such a man was John Miller Stotsenburg.
He and General John Joseph Pershing were very close friends. Until Stotsenburg’s untimely death on a battlefield during the Philippine Insurrection, their careers ran somewhat parallel. Graduates of West Point Military Academy, each was assigned to the Sixth Cavalry in New Mexico and Arizona. There they helped round up the obstreperous Apaches and later assisted in corralling the stubborn Sioux in South Dakota. Pershing served as Commandant of the cadets at the University of Nebraska and largely on his recommendation Stotsenburg was later given the same post. Each held the rank of Professor of Military Science and Tactics. Both men served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. Both men were products of the Middle West.
John M. Stotsenburg was born in New Albany, Indiana, November 24, 1858. Five years earlier the family had moved from Wilmington, Delaware, where John’s grandfather, Evan C. Stotsenburg, seems to have been a remarkable man. He was a lawyer and a later a judge. A Democrat, he became quite active in Indiana politics His other affiliations included membership in the Episcopal Church and in the Masonic and Knights Templar lodges. He is described as an intelligent, independent thinker and as having great influences on his son John. The Stotsenburgs were of Dutch ancestry. John’s mother, Jane Miller, came from upper New York State.
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Note: the word Indian is used instead of Native American as it was the norm at the time.
Stotsenberg (standing second from right) and Pershing (standing sixth from right) with the rest of the members of Sixth Cavalry.