General Frederick Funston
The General Wilson had originally Selected to lead America in World War I was not Pershing—it was General Frederick Funston.
by Shippen Swift Looking at a 1917 newspaper photo of Frederick Funston, barely 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing just a biscuit over a hundred pounds, today’s reader would wonder whatever made U.S. President Woodrow Wilson select such a tiny fellow as leader of the American Expeditionary Force into France—when and if the United States was to involve itself in World War I. [text_ad] But Funston, who was born in 1865, cast a large shadow during his brief life—rising from raw recruit with the revolutionary forces of Cuban generals Calixto Garcia y Iniguez and Maximo Gomez, to a major generalship in the Regular U.S. Army. Beginning in his teens, Funston lived the adventures of a dime novel hero and survived an exceptional amount of combat. Son of a former Union Army artilleryman, Ohio-born Funston moved, while still an infant, with his family to the primitive town of Iola, Kans. Funston’s mother imported the first piano as well as the first bathtub into Iola. A neighbor thought the tub was a new kind of coffin and asked who had died. Funston’s father—a 6-foot, 200-pounder with the vocal chords of a giant—was a politically oriented successful farmer. Elected to Congress, his loud voice earned him the nickname “Foghorn,” although for obvious reasons he preferred what his constituents called him—“The Farmer’s Friend.” He was a strict teetotaler, but his son “had a throat like a dry crust” that needed alcoholic attentions, which consequently