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President Donald Trump says he prefers to get his facts straight and doesn't like to rush into statements. At least that was what he told reporters after he didn't make a statement on an attack against counter-protesters at a pro-white rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, for two days.
But he may want to double-check the claim he made about United States Army Gen. John J. Pershing on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, hours after a terrorist attack in Spain.
Trump plugged Pershing's supposed actions against Islamic terrorists during the Philippine-American War.
It wasn't the first time Trump referenced Pershing. He went into further detail about the general in February 2016, telling a South Carolina rally crowd:
"He took 50 bullets and dipped them in pig's blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people, and the 50th person — he said, 'You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.'
“And for 25 years, there wasn't a problem. For 25 years, there wasn't a problem. All right? So we better start getting tough.”
Experts say the claim about the pig's blood is bunk.
Eight historians told Politifact that Trump's claim was false, and Snopes determined the same. Journalist William Lambers found a 1927 Chicago Tribune story suggesting Pershing sprinkled Moros-supporting swordsmen, Juramentados, with pig's blood. He also pointed out that there were no mass executions led by Pershing, like the 49-man killing Trump described:
The Tribune article says Pershing sprinkled some prisoners with pig's blood, which the Juramentados believed would condemn them for eternity. But then Pershing let the prisoners go. He issued a warning to others about being sprinkled with the pig's blood. The Tribune article said “those drops of porcine gore proved more powerful than bullets.”
There is some evidence to suggest American military officers may have used swine in the burial proceedings for Muslim enemies in the war in the Philippines. As Politifact noted, Pershing's memoir recounted another officer burying a Muslim in the same grave as a pig.
However, the specific claim about Pershing's execution of 49 soldiers with bullets dipped in pig's blood remains unsubstantiated.