Patton the Legend

Patton the Legend


Patton the Legend - HISTORY

The General left the window, and again seated himself at his desk, leaned back in his swivel chair, toying with a long lead pencil between his index fingers.

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working--it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.

He talked about Gideon in the Bible, said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would "crack up." To all this I commented agreement, that one of the major training objectives of my office was to help soldiers recover and make their lives effective in this third realm, prayer. It would do no harm to re-impress this training on chaplains. We had about 486 chaplains in the Third Army at that time, representing 32 denominations. Once the Third Army had become operational, my mode of contact with the chaplains had been chiefly through Training Letters issued from time to time to the Chaplains in the four corps and the 22 to 26 divisions comprising the Third Army. Each treated of a variety of subjects of corrective or training value to a chaplain working with troops in the field. [Patton continued:]

I wish you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We've got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer "as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate"], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.

With that the General arose from his chair, a sign that the interview was ended. I returned to my field desk, typed Training Letter No. 5 while the "copy" was "hot," touching on some or all of the General's reverie on Prayer, and after staff processing, presented it to General Patton on the next day. The General read it and without change directed that it be circulated not only to the 486 chaplains, but to every organization commander down to and including the regimental level. Three thousand two hundred copies were distributed to every unit in the Third Army over my signature as Third Army Chaplain. Strictly speaking, it was the Army Commander's letter, not mine. Due to the fact that the order came directly from General Patton, distribution was completed on December 11 and 12 in advance of its date line, December 14, 1944. Titled "Training Letter No. 5," with the salutary "Chaplains of the Third Army," the letter continued: "At this stage of the operations I would call upon the chaplains and the men of the Third United States Army to focus their attention on the importance of prayer.

"Our glorious march from the Normandy Beach across France to where we stand, before and beyond the Siegfried Line, with the wreckage of the German Army behind us should convince the most skeptical soldier that God has ridden with our banner. Pestilence and famine have not touched us. We have continued in unity of purpose. We have had no quitters and our leadership has been masterful. The Third Army has no roster of Retreats. None of Defeats. We have no memory of a lost battle to hand on to our children from this great campaign.

"But we are not stopping at the Siegfried Line. Tough days may be ahead of us before we eat our rations in the Chancellery of the Deutsches Reich.

"As chaplains it is our business to pray. We preach its importance. We urge its practice. But the time is now to intensify our faith in prayer, not alone with ourselves, but with every believing man, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Christian in the ranks of the Third United States Army.

"Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers. 'Hands lifted up,' said Bosuet, 'smash more battalions than hands that strike.' Gideon of Bible fame was least in his father's house. He came from Israel's smallest tribe. But he was a mighty man of valor. His strength lay not in his military might, but in his recognition of God's proper claims upon his life. He reduced his Army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred men lest the people of Israel would think that their valor had saved them. We have no intention to reduce our vast striking force. But we must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight. In Gideon's day, and in our own, spiritually alert minorities carry the burdens and bring the victories.

"Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace.

"We must march together, all out for God. The soldier who 'cracks up' does not need sympathy or comfort as much as he needs strength. We are not trying to make the best of these days. It is our job to make the most of them. Now is not the time to follow God from 'afar off.' This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.

"Be assured that this message on prayer has the approval, the encouragement, and the enthusiastic support of the Third United States Army Commander.

"With every good wish to each of you for a very Happy Christmas, and my personal congratulations for your splendid and courageous work since landing on the beach, I am," etc., etc., signed The Third Army Commander.

As General Patton rushed his divisions north from the Saar Valley to the relief of the beleaguered Bastogne, the prayer was answered. On December 20, to the consternation of the Germans and the delight of the American forecasters who were equally surprised at the turn-about-the rains and the fogs ceased. For the better part of a week came bright clear skies and perfect flying weather. Our planes came over by tens, hundreds, and thousands. They knocked out hundreds of tanks, killed thousands of enemy troops in the Bastogne salient, and harried the enemy as he valiantly tried to bring up reinforcements. The 101st Airborne, with the 4th, 9th, and 10th Armored Divisions, which saved Bastogne, and other divisions which assisted so valiantly in driving the Germans home, will testify to the great support rendered by our air forces. General Patton prayed for fair weather for Battle. He got it.

It was late in January of 1945 when I saw the Army Commander again. This was in the city of Luxembourg. He stood directly in front of me, smiled: "Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would." Then he cracked me on the side of my steel helmet with his riding crop. That was his way of saying, "Well done."

Don't know if it's true, but here it is. I wonder how pilloried a general would be today if such a training order were given.

I appreciate your kind words, Cap Huff.

Sometimes we regain our resolve when reading about the heroes of the past.


Contents

George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885, [1] [2] in the Los Angeles suburb of San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson, the daughter of Benjamin Davis Wilson. Patton had a younger sister, Anne, nicknamed "Nita." [3] Nita became engaged to John J. Pershing, Patton's mentor, in 1917, but the engagement ended due to their separation during Pershing's time in France during World War I.

As a child, Patton had difficulty learning to read and write, but eventually overcame this and was known in his adult life to be an avid reader. [Note 1] He was tutored from home until the age of eleven, when he was enrolled in Stephen Clark's School for Boys, a private school in Pasadena, for six years. Patton was described as an intelligent boy and was widely read on classical military history, particularly the exploits of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as those of family friend John Singleton Mosby, who frequently stopped by the Patton family home when George was a child. [3] He was also a devoted horseback rider. [4]

Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910, in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and George Patton IV (born December 1923). [5] Patton's wife Beatrice died on September 30, 1953 from a ruptured aneurysm [6] after falling while riding her horse in a hunt with her brother and others at the Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. [7]

Patton never seriously considered a career other than the military. [4] At the age of seventeen he sought an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He applied to several universities with Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs, and was accepted to Princeton College, but eventually decided on Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which his father and grandfather had attended. [8] He attended the school from 1903 to 1904 and, though he struggled with reading and writing, performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill. While he was at VMI, a senator from California nominated him for West Point. [9] He was an initiate of the Beta Commission of Kappa Alpha Order. [10]

In his plebe (first) year at West Point, Patton adjusted easily to the routine. However, his academic performance was so poor that he was forced to repeat his first year after failing mathematics. [11] He excelled at military drills though his academic performance remained average. He was cadet sergeant major during his junior year, and the cadet adjutant his senior year. He also joined the football team, but he injured his arm and stopped playing on several occasions. Instead he tried out for the sword team and track and field and specialized in the modern pentathlon. [12] He competed in this sport in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, and he finished in fifth place—right behind four Swedes. [13]

Patton graduated number 46 out of 103 cadets at West Point on June 11, 1909, [14] and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Cavalry branch of the United States Army. [15] [16]

Ancestry Edit

The Patton family was of Irish, Scots-Irish, English, Scottish, French and Welsh ancestry. His great-grandmother came from an aristocratic Welsh family, descended from many Welsh lords of Glamorgan, [4] which had an extensive military background. Patton believed he had former lives as a soldier and took pride in mystical ties with his ancestors. [17] [18] [19] [20] Though not directly descended from George Washington, Patton traced some of his English colonial roots to George Washington's great-grandfather. [21] He was also descended from England's King Edward I through Edward's son Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. [21] Family belief held the Pattons were descended from sixteen barons who had signed Magna Carta. [21] Patton believed in reincarnation, stating that he had fought in previous battles and wars before his time, additionally, his ancestry was very important to him, forming a central part of his personal identity. [22] The first Patton in America was Robert Patton, born in Ayr, Scotland. He emigrated to Culpeper, Virginia, from Glasgow, in either 1769 or 1770. [23] His paternal grandfather was George Smith Patton, who commanded the 22nd Virginia Infantry under Jubal Early in the Civil War and was killed in the Third Battle of Winchester, while his great-uncle Waller T. Patton was killed in Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Patton also descended from Hugh Mercer, who had been killed in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution. Patton's father, who graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), became a lawyer and later the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Patton's maternal grandfather was Benjamin Davis Wilson, a merchant who had been the second Mayor of Los Angeles. His father was a wealthy rancher and lawyer who owned a one-thousand-acre (400 ha) ranch near Pasadena, California. [24] [25] Patton is also a descendant of French Huguenot Louis DuBois. [26] [27]

Patton's first posting was with the 15th Cavalry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, [28] where he established himself as a hard-driving leader who impressed superiors with his dedication. [29] In late 1911, Patton was transferred to Fort Myer, Virginia, where many of the Army's senior leaders were stationed. Befriending Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Patton served as his aide at social functions on top of his regular duties as quartermaster for his troop. [30]

1912 Olympics Edit

For his skill in running and fencing, Patton was selected as the Army's entry for the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. [31] Patton was the only American among the 42 pentathletes, who were all military officers. [32] Patton placed twenty-first on the pistol range, seventh in swimming, fourth in fencing, sixth in the equestrian competition, and third in the footrace, finishing fifth overall and first among the non-Swedish competitors. [33] There was some controversy concerning his performance in the pistol shooting competition, in which he used a .38 caliber U.S. Army–issue pistol while most of the other competitors chose .22 caliber firearms. He claimed that the holes in the paper from his early shots were so large that a later bullet passed through them, but the judges decided that one of his bullets missed the target completely. Modern competitions on this level frequently now employ a moving backdrop specifically to track multiple shots through the same hole. [34] [35] If his assertion was correct, Patton would likely have won an Olympic medal in the event. [36] The judges' ruling was upheld. Patton's only comment on the matter was:

The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success. [34]

Sword design Edit

Following the 1912 Olympics, Patton travelled to Saumur, France, where he learned fencing techniques from Adjutant Charles Cléry, a French "master of arms" and instructor of fencing at the cavalry school there. [37] Bringing these lessons back to Fort Myer, Patton redesigned saber combat doctrine for the U.S. cavalry, favoring thrusting attacks over the standard slashing maneuver and designing a new sword for such attacks. He was temporarily assigned to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, and in 1913, the first 20,000 of the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber—popularly known as the "Patton saber"—were ordered. Patton then returned to Saumur to learn advanced techniques before bringing his skills to the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he would be both a student and a fencing instructor. He was the first Army officer to be designated "Master of the Sword", [38] [39] a title denoting the school's top instructor in swordsmanship. [40] Arriving in September 1913, he taught fencing to other cavalry officers, many of whom were senior to him in rank. [41] Patton graduated from this school in June 1915. He was originally intended to return to the 15th Cavalry, [42] which was bound for the Philippines. Fearing this assignment would dead-end his career, Patton travelled to Washington, D.C. during 11 days of leave and convinced influential friends to arrange a reassignment for him to the 8th Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas, anticipating that instability in Mexico might boil over into a full-scale civil war. [43] In the meantime, Patton was selected to participate in the 1916 Summer Olympics, but that olympiad was cancelled due to World War I. [44]

In 1915 Lieutenant Patton was assigned to border patrol duty with A Troop of the 8th Cavalry, based in Sierra Blanca. [45] [46] During his time in the town, Patton took to wearing his M1911 Colt .45 in his belt rather than a holster. His firearm discharged accidentally one night in a saloon, so he swapped it for an ivory-handled Colt Single Action Army revolver, a weapon that would later become an icon of Patton's image. [47]

In March 1916 Mexican forces loyal to Pancho Villa crossed into New Mexico and raided the border town of Columbus. The violence in Columbus killed several Americans. In response, the U.S. launched the Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico. Chagrined to discover that his unit would not participate, Patton appealed to expedition commander John J. Pershing, and was named his personal aide for the expedition. This meant that Patton would have some role in organizing the effort, and his eagerness and dedication to the task impressed Pershing. [48] [49] Patton modeled much of his leadership style after Pershing, who favored strong, decisive actions and commanding from the front. [50] [51] As an aide, Patton oversaw the logistics of Pershing's transportation and acted as his personal courier. [52]

In mid-April, Patton asked Pershing for the opportunity to command troops, and was assigned to Troop C of the 13th Cavalry to assist in the manhunt for Villa and his subordinates. [54] His initial combat experience came on May 14, 1916 in what would become the first motorized attack in the history of U.S. warfare. A force of ten soldiers and two civilian guides, under Patton's command, with the 6th Infantry in three Dodge touring cars surprised three of Villa's men during a foraging expedition, killing Julio Cárdenas and two of his guards. [49] [55] It was not clear if Patton personally killed any of the men, but he was known to have wounded all three. [56] The incident garnered Patton both Pershing's good favor and widespread media attention as a "bandit killer". [49] [57] Shortly after, he was promoted to first lieutenant while a part of the 10th Cavalry on May 23, 1916. [45] Patton remained in Mexico until the end of the year. President Woodrow Wilson forbade the expedition from conducting aggressive patrols deeper into Mexico, so it remained encamped in the Mexican border states for much of that time. In October Patton briefly retired to California after being burned by an exploding gas lamp. [58] He returned from the expedition permanently in February 1917. [59]

After the Villa Expedition, Patton was detailed to Front Royal, Virginia, to oversee horse procurement for the Army, but Pershing intervened on his behalf. [59] After the United States entered World War I, and Pershing was named commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front, Patton requested to join his staff. [49] Patton was promoted to captain on May 15, 1917 and left for Europe, among the 180 men of Pershing's advance party which departed May 28 and arrived in Liverpool, England, on June 8. [60] Taken as Pershing's personal aide, Patton oversaw the training of American troops in Paris until September, then moved to Chaumont and was assigned as a post adjutant, commanding the headquarters company overseeing the base. Patton was dissatisfied with the post and began to take an interest in tanks, as Pershing sought to give him command of an infantry battalion. [61] While in a hospital for jaundice, Patton met Colonel Fox Conner, who encouraged him to work with tanks instead of infantry. [62]

On November 10, 1917 Patton was assigned to establish the AEF Light Tank School. [49] He left Paris and reported to the French Army's tank training school at Champlieu near Orrouy, where he drove a Renault FT light tank. On November 20, the British launched an offensive towards the important rail center of Cambrai, using an unprecedented number of tanks. [63] At the conclusion of his tour on December 1, Patton went to Albert, 30 miles (48 km) from Cambrai, to be briefed on the results of this attack by the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps, Colonel J. F. C. Fuller. [64] On the way back to Paris, he visited the Renault factory to observe the tanks being manufactured. Patton was promoted to major on January 26, 1918. [62] He received the first ten tanks on March 23, 1918 at the tank school at Bourg, a small village close to Langres, Haute-Marne département. The only US soldier with tank-driving experience, Patton personally backed seven of the tanks off the train. [65] In the post, Patton trained tank crews to operate in support of infantry, and promoted its acceptance among reluctant infantry officers. [66] He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 3, 1918, and attended the Command and General Staff College in Langres. [67]

In August 1918, he was placed in charge of the U.S. 1st Provisional Tank Brigade (redesignated the 304th Tank Brigade on November 6, 1918). Patton's Light Tank Brigade was part of Colonel Samuel Rockenbach's Tank Corps, part of the American First Army. [68] Personally overseeing the logistics of the tanks in their first combat use by U.S. forces, and reconnoitering the target area for their first attack himself, Patton ordered that no U.S. tank be surrendered. [67] [69] Patton commanded American-crewed Renault FT tanks at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, [70] leading the tanks from the front for much of their attack, which began on September 12. He walked in front of the tanks into the German-held village of Essey, and rode on top of a tank during the attack into Pannes, seeking to inspire his men. [71]

Patton's brigade was then moved to support U.S. I Corps in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26. [70] He personally led a troop of tanks through thick fog as they advanced 5 miles (8 km) into German lines. Around 09:00, Patton was wounded while leading six men and a tank in an attack on German machine guns near the town of Cheppy. [72] [73] His orderly, Private First Class Joe Angelo, saved Patton, for which he was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. [74] Patton commanded the battle from a shell hole for another hour before being evacuated. Although the 35th Division (of which Patton's tank troop was a component) eventually captured Varennes, it did so with heavy losses. [75] Trying to move his reserve tanks forward and losing control of his temper, Patton is quoted as potentially having murdered one of his own men, stating: "Some of my reserve tanks were stuck by some trenches. So I went back and made some Americans hiding in the trenches dig a passage. I think I killed one man here. He would not work so I hit him over the head with a shovel". [76]

Patton stopped at a rear command post to submit his report before heading to a hospital. Sereno E. Brett, commander of the U.S. 326th Tank Battalion, took command of the brigade in Patton's absence. Patton wrote in a letter to his wife: "The bullet went into the front of my left leg and came out just at the crack of my bottom about two inches to the left of my rectum. It was fired at about 50 m so made a hole about the size of a [silver] dollar where it came out." [77]

While recuperating from his wound, Patton was brevetted to colonel in the Tank Corps of the U.S. National Army on October 17. He returned to duty on October 28 but saw no further action before hostilities ended on his 33rd birthday with the armistice of November 11, 1918. [78] For his actions in Cheppy, Patton received the Distinguished Service Cross. For his leadership of the brigade and tank school, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for his combat wounds after the decoration was created in 1932. [79]

Patton left France for New York City on March 2, 1919. After the war, he was assigned to Camp Meade, Maryland, and reverted to his permanent rank of captain on June 30, 1920, though he was promoted to major again the next day. Patton was given temporary duty in Washington D.C. that year to serve on a committee writing a manual on tank operations. During this time he developed a belief that tanks should be used not as infantry support, but rather as an independent fighting force. Patton supported the M1919 tank design created by J. Walter Christie, a project which was shelved due to financial considerations. [80] While on duty in Washington, D.C., in 1919, Patton met Dwight D. Eisenhower, [81] who would play an enormous role in Patton's future career. During and following Patton's assignment in Hawaii, he and Eisenhower corresponded frequently. Patton sent Eisenhower notes and assistance to help him graduate from the General Staff College. [82] With Christie, Eisenhower, and a handful of other officers, Patton pushed for more development of armored warfare in the interwar era. These thoughts resonated with Secretary of War Dwight Davis, but the limited military budget and prevalence of already-established Infantry and Cavalry branches meant the U.S. would not develop its armored corps much until 1940. [83]

On September 30, 1920, then-Major Patton relinquished command of the 304th Tank Brigade and was reassigned to Fort Myer as commander of 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry. [82] Loathing duty as a peacetime staff officer, he spent much time writing technical papers and giving speeches on his combat experiences at the General Staff College. [80]

In July 1921 Patton became a member of the American Legion Tank Corps Post No. 19. [84] From 1922 to mid-1923 he attended the Field Officer's Course at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, then he attended the Command and General Staff College from mid-1923 to mid-1924, [82] graduating 25th out of 248. [85] In August 1923, Patton saved several children from drowning when they fell off a yacht during a boating trip off Salem, Massachusetts. He was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for this action. [86] He was temporarily appointed to the General Staff Corps in Boston, Massachusetts, before being reassigned as G-1 and G-2 of the Hawaiian Division at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu in March 1925. [82]

Patton was made G-3 of the Hawaiian Division for several months, before being transferred in May 1927 to the Office of the Chief of Cavalry in Washington, D.C., where he began to develop the concepts of mechanized warfare. A short-lived experiment to merge infantry, cavalry and artillery into a combined arms force was cancelled after U.S. Congress removed funding. Patton left this office in 1931, returned to Massachusetts and attended the Army War College, becoming a "Distinguished Graduate" in June 1932. [87]

In July 1932, Patton (still a Major) was executive officer of the 3rd Cavalry, which was ordered to Washington by Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur. Patton took command of the 600 troops of the 3rd Cavalry, and on July 28, MacArthur ordered Patton's troops to advance on protesting veterans known as the "Bonus Army" with tear gas and bayonets. Patton was dissatisfied with MacArthur's conduct, as he recognized the legitimacy of the veterans' complaints and had himself earlier refused to issue the order to employ armed force to disperse the veterans. Patton later stated that, though he found the duty "most distasteful", he also felt that putting the marchers down prevented an insurrection and saved lives and property. He personally led the 3rd Cavalry down Pennsylvania Avenue, dispersing the protesters. [88] [89] Patton also encountered his former orderly, Joe Angelo, as one of the marchers and forcibly ordered him away, fearing such a meeting might make the headlines. [90]

Patton was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regular Army on March 1, 1934, and was transferred to the Hawaiian Division in early 1935 to serve as G-2. Patton followed the growing hostility and conquest aspirations of the militant Japanese leadership. He wrote a plan to intern the Japanese living in the islands in the event of an attack as a result of the atrocities carried out by Japanese soldiers on the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese war. In 1937 he wrote a paper with the title "Surprise" which predicted, with what D'Este termed "chilling accuracy", a surprise attack by the Japanese on Hawaii. [91] Depressed at the lack of prospects for new conflict, Patton took to drinking heavily and allegedly began a brief affair with his 21-year-old niece by marriage, Jean Gordon. [92] This supposed affair distressed his wife and nearly resulted in their separation. Patton's attempts to win her back were said to be among the few instances in which he willingly showed remorse or submission. [93]

Patton continued playing polo and sailing in this time. After sailing back to Los Angeles for extended leave in 1937, he was kicked by a horse and fractured his leg. Patton developed phlebitis from the injury, which nearly killed him. The incident almost forced Patton out of active service, but a six-month administrative assignment in the Academic Department at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley helped him to recover. [92] Patton was promoted to colonel on July 24, 1938 and given command of the 5th Cavalry at Fort Clark, Texas, for six months, a post he relished, but he was reassigned to Fort Myer again in December as commander of the 3rd Cavalry. There, he met Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, who was so impressed with him that Marshall considered Patton a prime candidate for promotion to general. In peacetime, though, he would remain a colonel to remain eligible to command a regiment. [94]

Patton had a personal schooner named When and If. The schooner was designed by famous naval architect John G. Alden and built in 1939. The schooner's name comes from Patton saying he would sail it "when and if" he returned from war. [95]

Following the German Army's invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II in Europe in September 1939, the U.S. military entered a period of mobilization, and Colonel Patton sought to build up the power of U.S. armored forces. During maneuvers the Third Army conducted in 1940, Patton served as an umpire, where he met Adna R. Chaffee Jr. and the two formulated recommendations to develop an armored force. Chaffee was named commander of this force, [96] and created the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions as well as the first combined arms doctrine. He named Patton commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade, part of the 2nd Armored Division. The division was one of few organized as a heavy formation with many tanks, and Patton was in charge of its training. [97] Patton was promoted to brigadier general on October 2, made acting division commander in November, and on April 4, 1941 was promoted again to major general and made Commanding General (CG) of the 2nd Armored Division. [96] As Chaffee stepped down from command of the I Armored Corps, Patton became the most prominent figure in U.S. armor doctrine. In December 1940, he staged a high-profile mass exercise in which 1,000 tanks and vehicles were driven from Columbus, Georgia, to Panama City, Florida, and back. [98] He repeated the exercise with his entire division of 1,300 vehicles the next month. [99] Patton earned a pilot's license and, during these maneuvers, observed the movements of his vehicles from the air to find ways to deploy them effectively in combat. [98] His exploits earned him a spot on the cover of Life magazine. [100]

General Patton led the division during the Tennessee Maneuvers in June 1941, and was lauded for his leadership, executing 48 hours' worth of planned objectives in only nine. During the September Louisiana Maneuvers, his division was part of the losing Red Army in Phase I, but in Phase II was assigned to the Blue Army. His division executed a 400-mile (640 km) end run around the Red Army and "captured" Shreveport, Louisiana. During the October–November Carolina Maneuvers, Patton's division captured Hugh Drum, commander of the opposing army. [101] On January 15, 1942 he was given command of I Armored Corps, and the next month established the Desert Training Center [102] in the Coachella Valley region of Riverside County in California, to run training exercises. He commenced these exercises in late 1941 and continued them into the summer of 1942. Patton chose a 10,000-acre (40 km 2 ) expanse of desert area about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Palm Springs. [103] From his first days as a commander, Patton strongly emphasized the need for armored forces to stay in constant contact with opposing forces. His instinctive preference for offensive movement was typified by an answer Patton gave to war correspondents in a 1944 press conference. In response to a question on whether the Third Army's rapid offensive across France should be slowed to reduce the number of U.S. casualties, Patton replied, "Whenever you slow anything down, you waste human lives." [104] It was around this time that a reporter, after hearing a speech where Patton said that it took "blood and brains" to win in combat, began calling him "blood and guts". The nickname would follow him for the rest of his life. [105] Soldiers under his command were known at times to have quipped, "our blood, his guts". Nonetheless, he was known to be admired widely by the men under his charge. [106]

North African Campaign Edit

Under Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, Patton was assigned to help plan the Allied invasion of French North Africa as part of Operation Torch in the summer of 1942. [107] [108] Patton commanded the Western Task Force, consisting of 33,000 men in 100 ships, in landings centered on Casablanca, Morocco. The landings, which took place on November 8, 1942, were opposed by Vichy French forces, but Patton's men quickly gained a beachhead and pushed through fierce resistance. Casablanca fell on November 11 and Patton negotiated an armistice with French General Charles Noguès. [109] [110] The Sultan of Morocco was so impressed that he presented Patton with the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, with the citation "Les Lions dans leurs tanières tremblent en le voyant approcher" (The lions in their dens tremble at his approach). [111] Patton oversaw the conversion of Casablanca into a military port and hosted the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. [112]

On March 6, 1943, following the defeat of the U.S. II Corps by the German Afrika Korps, commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Patton replaced Major General Lloyd Fredendall as Commanding General of the II Corps and was promoted to lieutenant general. Soon thereafter, he had Major General Omar Bradley reassigned to his corps as its deputy commander. [113] With orders to take the battered and demoralized formation into action in 10 days' time, Patton immediately introduced sweeping changes, ordering all soldiers to wear clean, pressed and complete uniforms, establishing rigorous schedules, and requiring strict adherence to military protocol. He continuously moved throughout the command talking with men, seeking to shape them into effective soldiers. He pushed them hard, and sought to reward them well for their accomplishments. [114] His uncompromising leadership style is evidenced by his orders for an attack on a hill position near Gafsa which are reported to have ended by him saying, "I expect to see such casualties among officers, particularly staff officers, as will convince me that a serious effort has been made to capture this objective." [115]

Patton's training was effective, and on March 17, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division took Gafsa, winning the Battle of El Guettar, and pushing a German and Italian armored force back twice. In the meantime, on April 5, he removed Major General Orlando Ward, commanding the 1st Armored Division, after its lackluster performance at Maknassy against numerically inferior German forces. Advancing on Gabès, Patton's corps pressured the Mareth Line. [114] During this time, he reported to British General Sir Harold Alexander, commander of the 18th Army Group, and came into conflict with Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham about the lack of close air support being provided for his troops. When Coningham dispatched three officers to Patton's headquarters to persuade him that the British were providing ample air support, they came under German air attack mid-meeting, and part of the ceiling of Patton's office collapsed around them. Speaking later of the German pilots who had struck, Patton remarked, "if I could find the sons of bitches who flew those planes, I'd mail each of them a medal." [116] By the time his force reached Gabès, the Germans had abandoned it. He then relinquished command of II Corps to Bradley, and returned to the I Armored Corps in Casablanca to help plan Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. Fearing U.S. troops would be sidelined, he convinced British commanders to allow them to continue fighting through to the end of the Tunisia Campaign before leaving on this new assignment. [116] [117]

Sicily Campaign Edit

For Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, Patton was to command the Seventh United States Army, dubbed the Western Task Force, in landings at Gela, Scoglitti and Licata to support landings by Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army. Patton's I Armored Corps was officially redesignated the Seventh Army just before his force of 90,000 landed before dawn on D-Day, July 10, 1943, on beaches near the town of Licata. The armada was hampered by wind and weather, but despite this the three U.S. infantry divisions involved, the 3rd, 1st, and 45th, secured their respective beaches. They then repulsed counterattacks at Gela, [118] where Patton personally led his troops against German reinforcements from the Hermann Göring Division. [119]

Initially ordered to protect the British forces' left flank, Patton was granted permission by Alexander to take Palermo after Montgomery's forces became bogged down on the road to Messina. As part of a provisional corps under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, the 3rd Infantry Division under Major General Lucian Truscott covered 100 miles (160 km) in 72 hours, arriving at Palermo on July 21. Patton then set his sights on Messina. [120] He sought an amphibious assault, but it was delayed by lack of landing craft, and his troops did not land at Santo Stefano until August 8, by which time the Germans and Italians had already evacuated the bulk of their troops to mainland Italy. He ordered more landings on August 10 by the 3rd Infantry Division, which took heavy casualties but pushed the German forces back, and hastened the advance on Messina. [121] A third landing was completed on August 16, and by 22:00 that day Messina fell to his forces. By the end of the battle, the 200,000-man Seventh Army had suffered 7,500 casualties, and killed or captured 113,000 Axis troops and destroyed 3,500 vehicles. Still, 40,000 German and 70,000 Italian troops escaped to Italy with 10,000 vehicles. [122] [123]

Patton's conduct in this campaign met with several controversies. He was also frequently in disagreement with Terry de la Mesa Allen Sr. and Theodore Roosevelt Jr. though often then conceding, to their relief, in line with Bradley's view. [124]

When Alexander sent a transmission on July 19 limiting Patton's attack on Messina, his chief of staff, Brigadier General Hobart R. Gay, claimed the message was "lost in transmission" until Messina had fallen.

In an incident on July 22, while a U.S. armored column was under attack from German aircraft, he shot and killed a pair of mules that had stopped while pulling a cart across a bridge. The cart was blocking the way of the column. When their Sicilian owner protested, Patton attacked him with a walking stick and had his troops push the two mule carcasses off the bridge. [120]

When informed of the Biscari massacre of prisoners, which was by troops under his command, Patton wrote in his diary, "I told Bradley that it was probably an exaggeration, but in any case to tell the officer to certify that the dead men were snipers or had attempted to escape or something, as it would make a stink in the press and also would make the civilians mad. Anyhow, they are dead, so nothing can be done about it." [125] Bradley refused Patton's suggestions. Patton later changed his mind. After he learned that the 45th Division's Inspector General found "no provocation on the part of the prisoners . They had been slaughtered" Patton is reported to have said: "Try the bastards." [125]

Slapping incidents and aftermath Edit

Two high-profile incidents of Patton striking subordinates during the Sicily campaign attracted national controversy following the end of the campaign. On August 3, 1943, Patton slapped and verbally abused Private Charles H. Kuhl at an evacuation hospital in Nicosia after he had been found to suffer from "battle fatigue". [126] On August 10, Patton slapped Private Paul G. Bennett under similar circumstances. [126] Ordering both soldiers back to the front lines, [127] Patton railed against cowardice and issued orders to his commanders to discipline any soldier making similar complaints. [128]

Word of the incident reached Eisenhower, who privately reprimanded Patton and insisted he apologize. [129] Patton apologized to both soldiers individually, as well as to doctors who witnessed the incidents, [130] and later to all of the soldiers under his command in several speeches. [131] Eisenhower suppressed the incident in the media, [132] but in November journalist Drew Pearson revealed it on his radio program. [133] Criticism of Patton in the United States was harsh, and included members of Congress and former generals, Pershing among them. [134] [135] The views of the general public remained mixed on the matter, [136] and eventually Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson stated that Patton must be retained as a commander because of the need for his "aggressive, winning leadership in the bitter battles which are to come before final victory." [137]

Patton did not command a force in combat for 11 months. [138] In September, Bradley, who was Patton's junior in both rank and experience, was selected to command the First United States Army forming in England to prepare for Operation Overlord. [139] This decision had been made before the slapping incidents were made public, but Patton blamed them for his being denied the command. [140] Eisenhower felt the invasion of Europe was too important to risk any uncertainty, and that the slapping incidents had been an example of Patton's inability to exercise discipline and self-control. While Eisenhower and Marshall both considered Patton to be a skilled combat commander, they felt Bradley was less impulsive and less prone to making mistakes. [141] On January 26, 1944, Patton was formally given command of the U.S. Third Army in England, a newly formed field Army, and he was assigned to prepare its inexperienced soldiers for combat in Europe. [142] [143] This duty kept Patton busy during the first half of 1944. [144]

Phantom Army Edit

The German High Command had more respect for Patton than for any other Allied commander and considered him to be central to any plan to invade Europe from England. [145] Because of this, Patton was made a prominent figure in the deception operation, Fortitude, during the first half of 1944. [146] Through the British network of double-agents, the Allies fed German intelligence a steady stream of false reports about troops sightings and that Patton had been named commander of the First United States Army Group (FUSAG), all designed to convince the Germans that Patton was preparing this massive command for an invasion at Pas de Calais. FUSAG was in reality an intricately constructed fictitious army of decoys, props, and fake radio signal traffic based around Dover to mislead German reconnaissance planes and to make Axis leaders believe that a large force was massing there. This helped to mask the real location of the invasion in Normandy. Patton was ordered to keep a low profile to deceive the Germans into thinking that he was in Dover throughout early 1944, when he was actually training the Third Army. [145] As a result of Operation Fortitude, the German 15th Army remained at the Pas de Calais to defend against Patton's supposed attack. [147] So strong was their conviction that this was the main landing area that the German army held its position there even after the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Patton flew to France a month later, and then returned to combat command. [148]

Normandy breakout offensive Edit

Sailing to Normandy throughout July, Patton's Third Army formed on the extreme right (west) of the Allied land forces, [148] [Note 2] and became operational at noon on August 1, 1944, under Bradley's Twelfth United States Army Group. The Third Army simultaneously attacked west into Brittany, south, east toward the Seine, and north, assisting in trapping several hundred thousand German soldiers in the Falaise Pocket between Falaise and Argentan. [150] [151]

Patton's strategy with his army favored speed and aggressive offensive action, though his forces saw less opposition than did the other three Allied field armies in the initial weeks of its advance. [152] The Third Army typically employed forward scout units to determine enemy strength and positions. Self-propelled artillery moved with the spearhead units and was sited well forward, ready to engage protected German positions with indirect fire. Light aircraft such as the Piper L-4 Cub served as artillery spotters and provided airborne reconnaissance. Once located, the armored infantry would attack using tanks as infantry support. Other armored units would then break through enemy lines and exploit any subsequent breach, constantly pressuring withdrawing German forces to prevent them from regrouping and reforming a cohesive defensive line. [153] The U.S. armor advanced using reconnaissance by fire, and the .50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine gun proved effective in this role, often flushing out and killing German panzerfaust teams waiting in ambush as well as breaking up German infantry assaults against the armored infantry. [154]

The speed of the advance forced Patton's units to rely heavily on air reconnaissance and tactical air support. [153] The Third Army had by far more military intelligence (G-2) officers at headquarters specifically designated to coordinate air strikes than any other army. [155] Its attached close air support group was XIX Tactical Air Command, commanded by Brigadier General Otto P. Weyland. Developed originally by General Elwood Quesada of IX Tactical Air Command for the First Army in Operation Cobra, the technique of "armored column cover", in which close air support was directed by an air traffic controller in one of the attacking tanks, was used extensively by the Third Army. Each column was protected by a standing patrol of three to four P-47 and P-51 fighter-bombers as a combat air patrol (CAP). [156]

In its advance from Avranches to Argentan, the Third Army traversed 60 miles (97 km) in just two weeks. Patton's force was supplemented by Ultra intelligence for which he was briefed daily by his G-2, Colonel Oscar Koch, who apprised him of German counterattacks, and where to concentrate his forces. [157] Equally important to the advance of Third Army columns in northern France was the rapid advance of the supply echelons. Third Army logistics were overseen by Colonel Walter J. Muller, Patton's G-4, who emphasized flexibility, improvisation, and adaptation for Third Army supply echelons so forward units could rapidly exploit a breakthrough. Patton's rapid drive to Lorraine demonstrated his keen appreciation for the technological advantages of the U.S. Army. The major U.S. and Allied advantages were in mobility and air superiority. The U.S. Army had more trucks, more reliable tanks, and better radio communications, all of which contributed to a superior ability to operate at a rapid offensive pace. [158]

Lorraine Campaign Edit

Patton's offensive came to a halt on August 31, 1944, as the Third Army ran out of fuel near the Moselle River, just outside Metz. Patton expected that the theater commander would keep fuel and supplies flowing to support successful advances, but Eisenhower favored a "broad front" approach to the ground-war effort, believing that a single thrust would have to drop off flank protection, and would quickly lose its punch. Still within the constraints of a very large effort overall, Eisenhower gave Montgomery and his Twenty First Army Group a higher priority for supplies for Operation Market Garden. [159] Combined with other demands on the limited resource pool, this resulted in the Third Army exhausting its fuel supplies. [160] Patton believed his forces were close enough to the Siegfried Line that he remarked to Bradley that with 400,000 gallons of gasoline he could be in Germany within two days. [161] In late September, a large German Panzer counterattack sent expressly to stop the advance of Patton's Third Army was defeated by the U.S. 4th Armored Division at the Battle of Arracourt. Despite the victory, the Third Army stayed in place as a result of Eisenhower's order. The German commanders believed this was because their counterattack had been successful. [162]

The halt of the Third Army during the month of September was enough to allow the Germans to strengthen the fortress of Metz. In October and November, the Third Army was mired in a near-stalemate with the Germans during the Battle of Metz, both sides suffering heavy casualties. An attempt by Patton to seize Fort Driant just south of Metz was defeated, but by mid-November Metz had fallen to the Americans. [163] Patton's decisions in taking this city were criticized. German commanders interviewed after the war noted he could have bypassed the city and moved north to Luxembourg where he would have been able to cut off the German Seventh Army. [164] The German commander of Metz, General Hermann Balck, also noted that a more direct attack would have resulted in a more decisive Allied victory in the city. Historian Carlo D'Este later wrote that the Lorraine Campaign was one of Patton's least successful, faulting him for not deploying his divisions more aggressively and decisively. [165]

With supplies low and priority given to Montgomery until the port of Antwerp could be opened, Patton remained frustrated at the lack of progress of his forces. From November 8 to December 15, his army advanced no more than 40 miles (64 km). [166]

Battle of the Bulge Edit

In December 1944, the German army, under the command of German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, launched a last-ditch offensive across Belgium, Luxembourg, and northeastern France. On December 16, 1944, it massed 29 divisions totaling 250,000 men at a weak point in the Allied lines, and during the early stages of the ensuing Battle of the Bulge, made significant headway towards the Meuse River during a severe winter. Eisenhower called a meeting of all senior Allied commanders on the Western Front at a headquarters near Verdun on the morning of December 19 to plan strategy and a response to the German assault. [167]

At the time, Patton's Third Army was engaged in heavy fighting near Saarbrücken. Guessing the intent of the Allied command meeting, Patton ordered his staff to make three separate operational contingency orders to disengage elements of the Third Army from its present position and begin offensive operations toward several objectives in the area of the bulge occupied by German forces. [168] At the Supreme Command conference, Eisenhower led the meeting, which was attended by Patton, Bradley, General Jacob Devers, Major General Kenneth Strong, Deputy Supreme Commander Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, and several staff officers. [169] When Eisenhower asked Patton how long it would take him to disengage six divisions of his Third Army and commence a counterattack north to relieve the U.S. 101st Airborne Division which had been trapped at Bastogne, Patton replied, "As soon as you're through with me." [170] Patton then clarified that he had already worked up an operational order for a counterattack by three full divisions on December 21, then only 48 hours away. [170] Eisenhower was incredulous: "Don't be fatuous, George. If you try to go that early you won't have all three divisions ready and you'll go piecemeal." Patton replied that his staff already had a contingency operations order ready to go. Still unconvinced, Eisenhower ordered Patton to attack the morning of December 22, using at least three divisions. [171]

Patton left the conference room, phoned his command, and uttered two words: "Play ball." This code phrase initiated a prearranged operational order with Patton's staff, mobilizing three divisions—the 4th Armored Division, the U.S. 80th Infantry Division, and the U.S. 26th Infantry Division—from the Third Army and moving them north toward Bastogne. [168] In all, Patton would reposition six full divisions, U.S. III Corps and U.S. XII Corps, from their positions on the Saar River front along a line stretching from Bastogne to Diekirch and to Echternach, the town in Luxembourg that had been at the southern end of the initial "Bulge" front line on December 16. [172] Within a few days, more than 133,000 Third Army vehicles were rerouted into an offensive that covered an average distance of over 11 miles (18 km) per vehicle, followed by support echelons carrying 62,000 tonnes (61,000 long tons 68,000 short tons) of supplies. [173]

On December 21, Patton met with Bradley to review the impending advance, starting the meeting by remarking, "Brad, this time the Kraut's stuck his head in the meat grinder, and I've got hold of the handle." [168] Patton then argued that his Third Army should attack toward Koblenz, cutting off the bulge at the base and trap the entirety of the German armies involved in the offensive. After briefly considering this, Bradley vetoed it, since he was less concerned about killing large numbers of Germans than he was in arranging for the relief of Bastogne before it was overrun. [171] Desiring good weather for his advance, which would permit close ground support by U.S. Army Air Forces tactical aircraft, Patton ordered the Third Army chaplain, Colonel James Hugh O'Neill, to compose a suitable prayer. He responded with:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen. [132]

When the weather cleared soon after, Patton awarded O'Neill a Bronze Star Medal on the spot. [132]

On December 26, 1944, the first spearhead units of the Third Army's 4th Armored Division reached Bastogne, opening a corridor for relief and resupply of the besieged forces. Patton's ability to disengage six divisions from front line combat during the middle of winter, then wheel north to relieve Bastogne was one of his most remarkable achievements during the war. [174] He later wrote that the relief of Bastogne was "the most brilliant operation we have thus far performed, and it is in my opinion the outstanding achievement of the war. This is my biggest battle." [173]

Advance into Germany Edit

By February, the Germans were in full retreat. On February 23, 1945, the U.S. 94th Infantry Division crossed the Saar River and established a vital bridgehead at Serrig, through which Patton pushed units into the Saarland. Patton had insisted upon an immediate crossing of the Saar River against the advice of his officers. Historians such as Charles Whiting have criticized this strategy as unnecessarily aggressive. [175]

Once again, Patton found other commands given priority on gasoline and supplies. [176] To obtain these, Third Army ordnance units passed themselves off as First Army personnel and in one incident they secured thousands of gallons of gasoline from a First Army dump. [177] Between January 29 and March 22, the Third Army took Trier, Coblenz, Bingen, Worms, Mainz, Kaiserslautern, and Ludwigshafen, killing or wounding 99,000 and capturing 140,112 German soldiers, which represented virtually all of the remnants of the German First and Seventh Armies. An example of Patton's sarcastic wit was broadcast when he received orders to bypass Trier, as it had been decided that four divisions would be needed to capture it. When the message arrived, Trier had already fallen. Patton rather caustically replied: "Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?" [178]

The Third Army began crossing the Rhine River after constructing a pontoon bridge on March 22, two weeks after the First Army crossed it at Remagen, and Patton slipped a division across the river that evening. [179] Patton later boasted he had urinated into the river as he crossed. [180]

On March 26, 1945, Patton sent Task Force Baum, consisting of 314 men, 16 tanks, and assorted other vehicles, 50 miles (80 km) behind German lines to liberate the prisoner of war camp OFLAG XIII-B, near Hammelburg. Patton knew that one of the inmates was his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters. The raid was a failure, and only 35 men made it back the rest were either killed or captured, and all 57 vehicles were lost. Patton reported this attempt to liberate Oflag XIII-B as the only mistake he made during World War II. [181] When Eisenhower learned of the secret mission, he was furious. [182] Patton later said he felt the correct decision would have been to send a Combat Command, which is a force about three times larger. [181]

By April, resistance against the Third Army was tapering off, and the forces' main efforts turned to managing some 400,000 German prisoners of war. [182] On April 14, 1945, Patton was promoted to general, a promotion long advocated by Stimson in recognition of Patton's battle accomplishments during 1944. [183] Later that month, Patton, Bradley, and Eisenhower toured the Merkers salt mine as well as the Ohrdruf concentration camp, and seeing the conditions of the camp firsthand caused Patton great disgust. Third Army was ordered toward Bavaria and Czechoslovakia, anticipating a last stand by Nazi German forces there. He was reportedly appalled to learn that the Red Army would take Berlin, feeling that the Soviet Union was a threat to the U.S. Army's advance to Pilsen, but was stopped by Eisenhower from reaching Prague, Czechoslovakia, before V-E Day on May 8 and the end of the war in Europe. [184]

In its advance from the Rhine to the Elbe, Patton's Third Army, which numbered between 250,000 and 300,000 men at any given time, captured 32,763 square miles (84,860 km 2 ) of German territory. Its losses were 2,102 killed, 7,954 wounded, and 1,591 missing. German losses in the fighting against the Third Army totaled 20,100 killed, 47,700 wounded, and 653,140 captured. [185]

Between becoming operational in Normandy on August 1, 1944, and the end of hostilities on May 9, 1945, the Third Army was in continuous combat for 281 days. In that time, it crossed 24 major rivers and captured 81,500 square miles (211,000 km 2 ) of territory, including more than 12,000 cities and towns. The Third Army claimed to have killed, wounded, or captured 1,811,388 German soldiers, six times its strength in personnel. [185] Fuller's review of Third Army records differs only in the number of enemy killed and wounded, stating that between August 1, 1944, and May 9, 1945, 47,500 of the enemy were killed, 115,700 wounded, and 1,280,688 captured, for a total of 1,443,888. [186]

Patton asked for a command in the Pacific Theater of Operations, begging Marshall to bring him to that war in any way possible. Marshall said he would be able to do so only if the Chinese secured a major port for his entry, an unlikely scenario. [184] In mid-May, Patton flew to Paris, then London for rest. On June 7, he arrived in Bedford, Massachusetts, for extended leave with his family, and was greeted by thousands of spectators. Patton then drove to Hatch Memorial Shell and spoke to some 20,000, including a crowd of 400 wounded Third Army veterans. In this speech he aroused some controversy among the Gold Star Mothers when he stated that a man who dies in battle is "frequently a fool", [187] adding that the wounded are heroes. Patton spent time in Boston before visiting and speaking in Denver and visiting Los Angeles, where he spoke to a crowd of 100,000 at the Memorial Coliseum. Patton made a final stop in Washington, D.C. before returning to Europe in July to serve in the occupation forces. [188]

On June 14, 1945, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson decided that Patton would not be sent to the Pacific but would return to Europe in an occupation army assignment. [189]

Patton was appointed as military governor of Bavaria, where he led the Third Army in denazification efforts. [188] Patton was particularly upset when learning of the end of the war against Japan, writing in his diary, "Yet another war has come to an end, and with it my usefulness to the world." [188] Unhappy with his position and depressed by his belief that he would never fight in another war, Patton's behavior and statements became increasingly erratic. Various explanations beyond his disappointments have been proposed for Patton's behavior at this point. Carlo D'Este wrote that "it seems virtually inevitable . that Patton experienced some type of brain damage from too many head injuries" from a lifetime of numerous auto- and horse-related accidents, especially one suffered while playing polo in 1936. [132]

Patton's niece Jean Gordon appeared again they spent some time together in London in 1944, and again in Bavaria in 1945. Gordon actually loved a young married captain who left her despondent when he went home to his wife in September 1945. [190] Patton repeatedly boasted of his sexual success with Gordon, but his biographers are skeptical. Hirshson said that the relationship was casual. [191] Showalter believes that Patton, under severe physical and psychological stress, made up claims of sexual conquest to prove his virility. [192] D'Este agrees, saying, "His behavior suggests that in both 1936 [in Hawaii] and 1944–45, the presence of the young and attractive Jean was a means of assuaging the anxieties of a middle-aged man troubled over his virility and a fear of aging." [193]

Patton attracted controversy as military governor when it was noted that several former Nazi Party members continued to hold political posts in the region. [188] When responding to the press about the subject, Patton repeatedly compared Nazis to Democrats and Republicans in noting that most of the people with experience in infrastructure management had been compelled to join the party in the war, causing negative press stateside and angering Eisenhower. [194] [195] On September 28, 1945, after a heated exchange with Eisenhower over his statements, Patton was relieved of his military governorship. He was relieved of command of the Third Army on October 7, and in a somber change of command ceremony, Patton concluded his farewell remarks, "All good things must come to an end. The best thing that has ever happened to me thus far is the honor and privilege of having commanded the Third Army." [194]

Patton's final assignment was to command the U.S. 15th Army, based in Bad Nauheim. The 15th Army at this point consisted only of a small headquarters staff working to compile a history of the war in Europe. Patton had accepted the post because of his love of history, but quickly lost interest. He began traveling, visiting Paris, Rennes, Chartres, Brussels, Metz, Reims, Luxembourg, and Verdun. Then he went to Stockholm, where he reunited with other athletes from the 1912 Olympics. [194] Patton decided that he would leave his post at the 15th Army and not return to Europe once he left on December 10 for Christmas leave. He intended to discuss with his wife whether he would continue in a stateside post or retire from the Army. [196]

Accident and death Edit

Patton's chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, invited him on a December 9 pheasant hunting trip near Speyer to lift his spirits. Observing derelict cars along the side of the road, Patton said, "How awful war is. Think of the waste." Moments later his car collided with an American army truck at low speed. [196] [197]

Gay and others were only slightly injured, but Patton hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat. He began bleeding from a gash to the head, and complained that he was paralyzed and having trouble breathing. Taken to a hospital in Heidelberg, Patton was discovered to have a compression fracture and dislocation of the cervical third and fourth vertebrae, resulting in a broken neck and cervical spinal cord injury that rendered him paralyzed from the neck down. [197]

Patton spent most of the next 12 days in spinal traction to decrease the pressure on his spine. All non-medical visitors except for Patton's wife Beatrice, who had flown from the U.S., were forbidden. Patton, who had been told he had no chance to ever again ride a horse or resume normal life, at one point commented, "This is a hell of a way to die." He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at about 6:00 pm on 21 December 1945 at the age of 60. [198]

On 24 December Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in the Hamm district of Luxembourg City, alongside some wartime casualties of the Third Army, in accordance with his request to, "be buried with [his] men." [199] Following the service, Mrs. Patton was immediately flown to Paris where she boarded a C-54 transport to be flown home.


Patton: A Biography – Book Review

Book Review: Patton: A Biography. Great Generals Series
Alan Axelrod, Palgrave MacMillan Books

As we gathered with families and friends at the last Memorial Day, our thoughts turned to our veterans who are serving now and to those who served in the past and in particular to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and, who we honor, but who did not return to celebrate with us in the future. While we honor all of our veterans, there is a special place for special military leaders in our history who lead those veterans to glory and victory. Palgrave Books has created the Great General series to feature the stories of eminent military leaders who changed history in the US and abroad. They have started the series with a biography of General George Patton.

There is no question that General George S. Patton, Jr. was one of our most colorful of the WWII generals if not of any time in American military history. Depending on whom you talked to, people seemed to love Patton or loathe him. His success on the battlefield was clearly the stuff of legend. His friends and foes would have to agree on that. What makes this an excellent biography is the fact that it examines Patton, the general as well as Patton the man.

As great a leader or General as Patton was he was still a man who had strengths, weaknesses and emotions. As the book states "we admire Patton the captain, we relish Patton the legend, but we are, at least the very least, uneasy with Patton the man." Patton was born to a family with a long tradition of military service and George was destined to follow in that tradition. As a dedicated student of military history, he started out as a cadet at VMI as had others in his family. Using that that family influence he was able to get into West Point and of course went on to graduate. During these times Patton excelled in sports, horsemanship, and fencing. It was also here that Patton demonstrated that he was driven to succeed as a military officer and rise above his peers. He believed in reincarnation and that he had been a warrior in other lives. It was here that he also demonstrated that he was less then tolerant of those who failed to live up to " his " standards and was often " too military".

Patton married into a family who had money and who was part of " high society". Through the contacts from his father and from his wife’s family, he was able to greatly influence his career through contact with high ranking officials in the Army. Patton got his first taste of combat as a cavalry officer chasing Pancho Villa under the command of General Pershing, who Patton would befriend and model himself after. Gen. Pershing was impressed by Patton and would bring him into his inner circle in future endeavors. While in Mexico chasing Villa, Patton won a conflict with the bandits while driving automobiles and received much fame as well as publicity for the battle from the media.

This need for battle as well as the fame and glory would seem to become an obsession for Patton which would follow him for the rest of his career. Patton had the good fortune to become involved with tanks at the beginning of their involvement with the US Army and the foresight to see their future use. He also knew that the traditional combat arms would be resistant to the use of tanks and he was smart enough to offer up the tanks as a tool for the infantry, not as a replacement. Patton would go on to set up the Army school for tanks and to get them into the battle. Patton through his sheer force of will, was able to lead by example to train and push his soldiers to demonstrate their capabilities and success. He was a stickler for discipline, training, military courtesy, appearance, etc. from all his troops and officers. Whatever he demanded of his soldiers, he also demanded of himself. He led by example and lead from the front. While many troops did not like Patton, there is no question that he motivated them. Patton’s tactical success on the battlefield would follow him from a Lt. in WWI to a General Officer in WWII. However, in other areas Patton was less than successful. While Patton’s drive would lead to repeated victory on the battlefield, this same drive would hurt him during times of peace or in assignments when he was not directly involved in combat. While he excelled as a commander and trainer, he always perfected the training of his men, perfected the tactics and doctrine of mechanized armor as a weapon of modern war as well as demonstrated his personal prowess as a warrior.

As a man, however, he was haunted by personal demons of a combination of impulsiveness, reckless personal behavior, feelings of worthlessness and outright depression. Of course, everyone knows of the " slapping incidents". It was these types of incidents that would help torpedo Patton’s career. Gen. Eisenhower, who was friends with Patton throughout their careers, saved Patton on many instances, but Ike believed that the very qualities that made Patton fast and aggressive in battle also created a certain instability and volatility which were barely under control. But ultimately even Ike could not save Patton’s career. His repeated conflicts with the chain of command and in particular the political leadership, as well as his conflicts with his allied counterparts would often leave him playing lesser roles in the grand scheme of things. His greatest self inflected wounds came from his encounters with the media. His comments were what we would call today " politically incorrect". He was reassigned to a non-combat command and would die shortly afterwards from a car accident. His untimely death would lead to the legend of Gen. Patton.

There is no question of the contributions that Gen. Patton made in the areas of command presence, tactics, military professionalism, updating the cavalry idea, combined arms approach, the principle of speed, reduction of collateral damage, training, and leadership.

While many of us are familiar with the legend of Gen. Patton, this book gives new insight into Patton the man.


Patton the Legend - HISTORY

Posted on 06/25/2004 8:31:46 PM PDT by xzins

MARTIN ELLJMENSON is a contributing editor of ARMY Magazine. He is the editor of The Patton Papers and the author of Patton: The Man Behind the Legend, 1885-1945.

When George C. Scott, in an Army uniform. bedecked with medals, appeared in front of that enormous American flag at the opening of the movie “Patton he sent an immediate message to his audience. He wanted everyone to know that he was portraying a legend. In Scott’s depiction from the beginning’ of the film., Gen. George S. Patton Jr. was a man larger than life, a mythical giant in American folk lore, a hero, almost a god. ] Seeing Scott as Patton made hearts beat faster. It provoked gasps of recognition on the part of viewers who recalled Patton’s place in American history and culture. His exploits on the battlefield were magnificent. His leadership was natural and compelling. According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Patton had been “indispensable” for victory in World War 11.

There is a mystique about Gen. Patton. Part of it comes from the things that Patton actually did. Part of it stems from stories, mostly exaggerated, told about him.

Part of it arises from the overwhelming awe he inspired and still does.

How did the Patton legend start? What nourished it? As Field Marshal Erwin Rommel once said, a commander can work wonders “if he has had the wit to create some sort of legend around himself.”

There were intimations of greatness, perhaps merely eccentricity, in Patton’s performance at West Point. He earned his letter in the hurdles but was better known for his prowess with the broadsword. Working the pits on the firing range, he suddenly stood erect in a hail of bullets to see for himself whether he had overcome the sensation of fear. He played foot ball, never made the varsity, yet was so reckless in practice that he broke both arms. He was always faultlessly dressed, and his exaggerated attention to his attire covered a multitude of character deficiencies that he was certain he suffered. For example, “I have always fancied myself a coward,” he confessed to his father.

At a lecture on electricity, when the professor demonstrated an induction coil with a 12-inch spark, a student asked whether death would result if the spark passed through someone’s body The professor invited the young man to experiment, but he refused. Patton’s curiosity aroused, he confronted the professor after class and said that he would submit. It hardly hurt, but his arm was stiff for a week.

What struck his fellows most was the seriousness with which he regarded the military profession. When cadets marched from one class to another on campus, there was inevitably subdued joshing and joking. “When I am in command,” Patton wrote, “the foolishness stops.” The legend began at his first duty station several months after graduation. At Fort Sheridan, near Chicago, the young lieutenant on stable duty “found a horse not tied and after looking up the man at the other end . I cussed him and then told him to run down and tie the horse and then run back. This makes the other men laugh at him and so is an excellent punishment. The man did not under stand me or thought he would dead be so he started to walk fast. I got mad and yelled, ‘Run, damn you. Run.’ He did, but then I got to thinking that it was an insult I had put on him, so I called him up before the men who heard me swear and begged his pardon.” For an officer to apologize to an enlisted man in public was unheard of, and the soldiers must have discussed the incident at length in the barracks. What sort of person was this lieutenant?

A few months later, the enlisted men saw something even stranger: but this time they had only admiration for Patton’s behavior. He was drilling his cavalry soldiers as he rode his horse when something spooked the animal, and he bucked. Patton was thrown. He landed on his hand and knee.

He remounted at once. The horse bucked again, then went down. Patton stayed on him and, as soon as be got his leg out from under the beast, stood across the animal. With Patton in the saddle and leaning forward, the horse arose, reared back his head, and struck Patton on the eyebrow, breaking the skin.

He was unaware of the injury “until I saw the blood running down my sleeve.” Writing to his mother, he said, “I hated to pay any attention to it so kept on drilling for about 20 minutes without even wiping my face.” He looked, he said, “like a stuck pig.” At the end of the session, he dismissed the men, then went to the troop headquarters and washed his face. He taught his scheduled class at the noncommissioned officers school.

After that, he attended his own class. Finally he saw the doctor and had the cut stitched closed.

The witnesses were more than impressed by the officer who carried on stoically despite bleeding like a stuck pig. The story made its rounds as it flashed through the barracks, gaining increasingly lurid details. But the overriding thought was: here was a leader one could count on when the going got rough.

He stayed at Fort Sheridan two years, a shorter than normal tour, for he aspired to be elsewhere, specifically, Washington, DC, where the important people lived, “nearer God,” as he said. His connections, plus those of his wife, engineered the transfer. They were both happy to be out of the provinces, away from the dust and the mud of a typical Army post.

Arriving in the nation’s capital in December 1911, Patton quickly learned of the Metropolitan Club’s high social standing and joined. He and his wife became members of the chic Chevy Chase Club. He soon met and rode horses for exercise with the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Leonard Wood and other dignitaries who occupied lofty positions in government and the military.

After four months at Fort Myer across the Potomac River in Virginia, Patton was being considered for a most interesting duty. He was being talked about as a possible participant in the Olympic Games to he held in Stockholm that year, 1912. Athletic, likable, hand some and soldierly in appearance, Patton was selected to compete in the Modern Pentathlon. The contest, created to test the fitness of the man at war, consisted of five events: pistol shooting, swimming, fencing, riding a steeple chase and running cross-country.

He began training at once early in May, went on a diet and abstained from alcohol and tobacco. Accompanied by his wife, his parents and his sister, he sailed from New York in mid-June. They reached Stockholm at the end of the month. The pentathlon started on July 7 and lasted a week. Patton finished fifth among 42 contestants.

Although most of the press coverage in American newspapers went to Jim Thorpe, the great American Indian athlete from Carlisle, Pa., who dominated the track and field events, Patton received publicity in magazines and newspapers. His photograph appeared. His stature in the Army rose.

Patton had asked all the fencers he met who the best one was in Europe. They named Adjutant Clery, master of arts and instructor of fencing at the Cavalry School in Saumur, France, the professional champion of Europe in the foil, the dueling sword and the saber. After several days of sight seeing in Germany, Patton and his wife traveled to Saumur. For two weeks, until they had to board their ship in August to return home, Patton took daily lessons from Clery not only to perfect his fencing but also to learn how Clery taught his students.

Once again in Washington, Patton wrote a report to the Adjutant General and stressed the advantages of Clery’s system over the methods used in the U.S. Army. The paper was lucid and well written, and it eventually advanced his career. His superior officers at Fort Myer wanted him to expand his reports on the Olympics and the saber into an article for the Army and Navy Journal. They were talking of adopting a new saber he designed for the cavalry branch.

As his skill and experience as a swordsman gained wider currency, Patton wrote an article published in the Cavalry Journal. In March 1913, as a connoisseur of the sword, he was put on detached service for three days at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts to make certain that the specifications were followed in the manufacture of the new sword named the Patton saber.

On June 25, 1913, four years out of West Point and still a second lieutenant, Patton received a War Department order directing him to go to France “for the purpose of perfecting yourself in swordsmanship.” His travel was to be at no expense to the government. He was to return to the United States and be at Fort Riley, Kan., no later than October 1.

The campaign he had waged at Fort Myer and the War Department had come to fruition. He had preached the idea of introducing a course in swordsmanship at the Mounted Service School (later renamed the Cavalry School). His published articles on the saber and his work in designing the new model indicated that he should conduct the new course himself.

Patton and his wife sailed in July 1913. They reached Saumur at the end of the month. Patton worked with Clery through August.

They boarded their ship to return home on September 10. For two years at Fort Riley, Patton held the exalted title Master of the Sword. He was the first to be so named. He was still a second lieutenant. He taught swordsmanship at the Cavalry School. He was at the same time a student in the first and second years of the advanced course of study

The outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914 excited him. Learning that his regiment was to be sent to the Philippine Islands in 1915, and seeing no reason to be on the other side of the globe, Patton used his pull and worked a transfer to the 8th Cavalry, which was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. In command of the post was Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing.

Several noteworthy events occurred there. Patton passed the promotion tests and became a first lieutenant. His sister Anita visited, and she and Pershing fell in love. Patton came to know Pershing sufficiently well to be appointed an unofficial aide and to accompany Pershing into Mexico on the Punitive Expedition in 1916.

The highlight of what turned out to be a monotonous and boring campaign against Pancho Villa, an endeavor devoid of news worthy items, was Patton’s exploit at the Rubio Ranch. Sent to purchase corn, Patton, traveling in command of three automobiles and nine men, trapped and killed three Villista soldiers in a striking gunfight. Patton’s men strapped the bodies across the hoods of their cars and returned to camp with their trophies. In the absence of anything else resembling news, the correspondents with Pershing played up the incident. For two weeks, the newspapers across the nation featured Patton’s photograph and exuberant remarks, as well as Pershing’s satisfaction.

Patton traveled with Pershing to France in 1917 after America entered the war. He was the first person to join the Tank Corps, American Expeditionary Forces. In command of the light tanks, Patton headed a school and trained his tankers for combat. His trademarks for soldiers -- cleanliness, discipline and military courtesy -- were more than apparent in camp. His soldiers adored him. With high morale, they were anxious and eager to fight, to move forward aggressively and to close with the enemy. They performed exceptionally well when they were committed to battle.

During the St. Mihiel offensive, Patton contributed to his legend. Walking along the front, making sure that his tankers were attacking, he noticed that enemy shells were keeping some of his tanks from crossing a bridge and entering into the Village of Essey. He hurried there and learned that the Germans had mined the structure, preparing it for demolition. Disregarding the information, Patton walked across. Nothing happened. No explosives detonated. The tankers, who had expected Patton to be blown sky high, quickly followed him into the village where numerous enemy soldiers surrendered. Afterwards, when the men talked about Essey, they always enthused, with great admiration, over Patton’s heroism.

At the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Patton again distinguished himself. Together with his orderly and another officer, while machine-gun bullets spattered around them, Patton got soldiers to dig down the sides of two enormous trenches so that five tanks, stopped by the obstacle, could proceed. Miraculously unharmed, they followed the tanks up a small hill. With about 100 infantry soldiers from various units heeding his voice, Patton led them across the top. Incoming machine-gun fire sent them diving to the ground. After a moment, Patton stood. Waving his walking stick and shouting “Let’s go,” he strode forward. Six men were with him, until, one by one, they were wounded or killed. Finally, Patton, too, took a bullet through his thigh. He fell. His orderly, still unhurt, helped him into a shell hole, cut his trousers and bandaged Patton’s wound. Patton continued to direct the battle in his vicinity by indicating the locations of nearby enemy machine-gun positions.

Finally, several hours later when the firing died down, four men carried Patton on a stretcher three kilometers to an ambulance station. He insisted on being driven to the headquarters of the division his tankers were supporting so that he could report on the situation as he saw it. Then he was evacuated to a hospital in the rear.

At the end of the war, Patton was a full colonel. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross for exceptional bravery in combat. He received the Distinguished Service Medal for excellence in performing duties of high responsibility.

During the interwar period, Patton was little known outside the Army. Among the officers, he was regarded as a polo player, a horseman and a yachtsman. His highjinks, exuberance and grandstanding were the marks of an eccentric, a playboy, a socialite. Yet his dedication to his profession remained firm. He read extensively. He exchanged serious ideas with others similarly motivated. He maintained his ability to inspire those who worked with him.

Finally in June 1940, after the Germans overran Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, with his old friend Henry L. Stimson once again the Secretary of War and his World War I colleague Gen. George C. Marshall the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Patton was called to serve again with tanks.

His rise in command was rapid, from brigade to division to corps. He opened and ran a vast desert training center in the southwestern part of the United States, and, according to the soldiers who passed through, Patton was everywhere at once. During the maneuvers of 1941, he again became prominent. Stories about him as well as his photograph appeared in the press, and the legends arose around him. He supposedly purchased fuel for his tanks from gas stations and bought sparkplugs and spare parts from Sears Roebuck. His profanity became explosive.

His landings in Morocco heightened his fame. His service in Tunisia turned a defeated and demoralized II Corps around and made it proficient for battle in 11 days. He ran wild in Sicily and entered Messina ahead of Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery. He transformed a local breakthrough in Normandy into a theater-wide breakout and pursuit of the enemy almost to the German border. He swung his Third Army 90 degrees to the north, no mean feat, and, without prior reconnaissance, over roads slippery with ice and fields covered with snow, relieved the surrounded and besieged Americans in Bastogne. He slashed into Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Shortly after the end of the war, in December 1945, a freak automobile accident fatally injured him. He lingered for 11 days before dying in the hospital. During that pause before his death, the news media around the world reminded their readers and listeners at length of Patton’s achievements, of his personality, of his legendary being.

In August 1944, a radio broadcaster had described Patton in extravagant fashion. “A fiction writer couldn’t create him. History itself hasn’t matched him. He’s colorful, fabulous. He’s dynamite . he’s a warring, roaring comet . his eyes glare and he roars encouragement, orders, advice and oaths all at once . Yes, Patton will be a legend.”

He was called Blood and Guts, Georgie, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, the Green Hornet, the Man from Mars and Iron Pants.

More significantly his reputation reached “the other side of the hill.” Patton was the Allied general in World War II whom the Germans feared most. As Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt acknowledged immediately after the war during an interrogation, “Patton, he was your best.”

A friend assessed him shortly after Patton passed away: “He experimented with and cultivated the art of the spectacular just as earnestly and purposefully as he developed his mastery of weapons, tactics, military history and battle psychology . [He] courted every form of personal danger in order to crush out of his own heart any vestige of the fear which he knew to be the greatest of all enemies in war…he was also made for friendship, for kindly affection and for sympathy with the underdog . [He leaves] a vacancy that cannot be filled except through reflection upon his heroic example.”

As a member of his Third Army explained, “The true basis of Patton’s esteem among the rank and file . [ the reason why] he was an eagerly followed commander [was] not because of his theatrics, but simply because he had demonstrated beyond question that he knew how to lick the Germans better than anyone else.”

He has become, in the final analysis, a man of force and of execution, as well as a myth.

Robert Heinlein's "Future History", which he started in the 1940's, had Patton serving two terms as president.


General Patton Was Arguably the Best World War II General. Dyslexia Never Stopped Him.

Patton, who was always concerned about shaping his public image according to his own lights, did not care to call attention to his dyslexia.

General George S. Patton, Jr., was one of the most flamboyant and controversial figures of World War II. His career was also one of the most thoroughly documented of any of the war’s great commanders. Historians have had a treasury of material at their disposal as Patton was a prolific writer, kept personal diaries, and saved virtually every scrap of paper he ever handled. Additionally, his family and heirs have gone to great lengths to preserve the artifacts of his existence. Even with such voluminous, detailed, and often extremely personal material available on Patton, it was not until the 1980s that historians began to form a clear picture of the hidden elements that made up the man.

“A Genius of War”

Historians will inevitably examine the past through the lens of their own time likewise, historical figures present themselves to their contemporaries according to the knowledge and prejudices of their epoch. Patton, who was always concerned about shaping his public image according to his own lights, did not care to call attention to his dyslexia nor did those who wrote about his swashbuckling exploits as a tank commander in the aftermath of World War II care to investigate the subject, despite such red flags as the frequent symptomatic idiosyncrasies in his spelling and punctuation. Given the state of medical science in the 1940s and the postwar era, Patton could not have been aware that he may have also suffered from an affliction known today as attention deficit disorder (ADD), which afflicts many dyslexics nor could historians have identified the condition until recently. Even the importance of Patton’s early family life, which led him to valorize war and model himself as the heir of his heroic Confederate ancestors, was neglected until recently.

Martin Blumenson brought the general’s dyslexia to attention in his 1985 biography Patton: The Man Behind the Legend. Historian Carlo D’Este enlarged upon Blumenson’s pathfinding work in his 1995 study Patton: A Genius for War, painting more clearly a picture of an oddly functioning Patton family that had shaped Patton’s entire life and ultimately enabled him to overcome, or a least deal with, his dyslexia and embark on a storied military career.

In trying to understand Patton’s career, we cannot afford to discount those aspects of his life that had long been hidden behind his martial bluster. Patton’s dyslexia and perhaps ADD, his immediate forebears, his unusual upbringing, and his early socialization developed the young Patton into what D’Este called “a genius for war.”

Evidence of Patton’s Conditions

The fact that Patton had dyslexia is supported by his family and documented by both Blumenson and D’Este. That Patton also had ADD will probably remain a matter of conjecture and speculation, although in his public life he exhibited many of the disorder’s behavioral symptoms: his flexibility and willingness to shift strategy, such as the quick deal he cut in Casablanca permitting the formerly Vichy forces to continue governing Morocco under Allied auspices in November 1942 his tirelessness when in pursuit of a tangible goal, as when he took command of the moribund II Corps in Tunisia in February 1943 and rapidly transformed it into a formidable fighting force his boredom with mundane tasks, expressed in a 1916 letter during the garrisoning of the Mexican town of Dublan when he wrote his father, “We are all rapidly going crazy from lack of occupation and there is no help in sight” and his startling ability to visualize and make ideas concrete.

Other ADD symptoms include poor impulse control, extreme mood swings in response to events, and short excessive tempers, all of which Patton displayed as a commanding officer, sometimes notoriously, as with his infamous slapping incidents during World War II in which he was accused of abusing enlisted men. The frustrations experienced by a person dealing with either dyslexia or ADD can be overwhelming and can often lead to serious self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, bouts of uncontrollable anger, and emotional hypersensitivity.

Dyslexia, which is often characterized by difficulty reading and by the transposition of letters or numbers, is considered to be a learning disorder. Having dyslexia, however, does not mean that a person lacks intelligence. Quite the contrary, many dyslexics are extremely intelligent and struggle mightily with the symptoms of the disorder. The dyslexic often has a different or unique mind-set, is often gifted and productive, but learns and perceives in a way different from others.

Both dyslexia and ADD have a genetic component. They are hereditary and run in families. In this light, perhaps George Patton’s genealogy is more important that even he imagined.

Growing up in Lake Vineyard

Patton was born on November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California, near Los Angeles, to doting parents from a financially comfortable background. His father spent several terms as district attorney of Los Angeles and ran unsuccessful campaigns for other public offices, including one as a Democratic candidate for Congress. In 1885, the year of George’s birth, he gave up the practice of law to take over the affairs of his deceased father-in-law’s business empire in an attempt to save it from the mismanagement of another relative. By 1899, the business was in foreclosure and new owner retianed the elder Patton as manager for many years. Despite all difficulties, no effort was spared by Patton’s father in providing a “proper” and, indeed, aristocratic upbringing for his children.

During George’s youth, the Patton family lived both in Los Angeles and at Lake Vineyard, the estate of his late grandfather, Benjamin “Don Benito” Wilson, an early American pioneer in California before the territory became part of the United States.

Blumenson credits Don Benito with some of the genetic makeup of the future general, including looks, driv, and tenacity. D’Este’s work reveals Don Benito as an extremely eccentric and physically rugged individualist. His exploits included lassoing and killing grizzly bears, surviving the poison-tipped arrow of an American Indian, and delivering the heads of rebellious Indians in a wicker basket to California’s governor. Patton would replicate that feat when he presented General Pershing with the bodies of three of Pancho Villa’s men during the Punitive Expedition of 1916. Like his ancestor, George Patton enjoyed and displayed a zest for combat, which contrasted sharply with his more low-key superior in World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Don Benito was a man of frightful temper who did not suffer fools and finally gave up carrying a gun lest he do something rash. There is more than just a suggestion that George S. Patton, Jr., owed a great deal genetically to Don Benito.

His environment shaped the young Patton as much as his heredity. The atmosphere of his childhood included the continual repetition of family lore that glorified participation in lost causes such as the Confederacy and the struggle for Scottish independence among his more distant forebears and emphasized the Pattons’ ties to the Southern planter aristocracy. There was also an ongoing exposure to the great military leaders of history and literature, of whom George learned while being read to by his family from Walter Scott, Rudyard Kipling, Homer, and other authors. In addition, a parade of famous martial figures visited his home as guests of his parents.

The building blocks of the general’s personality were laid out in Lake Vineyard, a place of open spaces, horses, and outdoor action.An expert horseman at an early age, George established himself as an accident-prone risk taker in his riding and childhood war games. He remained a magnet for accidents through his military career, from a tent fire that singed his face during the 1916 Mexican Expedition to auto accidents in the waning months of World War II. Patton’s military proclivity became evident at an early age. His father carved him a wooden sword, and the boy played continually with his sister and an abundance of cousins and friends who visited the Vineyard estate. Patton once said, “I must be the happiest boy in the world.”

Aunt Nannie

One of the more eccentric fixtures in the Patton household was George’s Aunt Nannie. When Ruth Wilson married the boy’s father, George Patton II, her sister, Annie, was devastated. Annie had fallen deeply in love with George II. Her sanity not quite intact and her love unrequited, Aunt Nannie, as she was known, nevertheless attached herself to the newly married couple and never left them. D’Este tells us that she shared everything in their marriage except the bed.

While his parents doted on George, Aunt Nannie was obsessed with him. She became a surrogate mother who shamelessly spoiled him. Nannie was the uncontested, often tyrannical ruler of the Patton household, often trying the Pattons’ patience with her refusal to allow George to be punished.

While George’s father amused him by reading the Iliad and the Odyssey, Aunt Nannie, having decided that George was “delicate,” began reading aloud to him classics such as Plutarch’s Lives and The March of Xenophon and stories about Alexander the Great and Napoleon. D’Este asserts that it was Nannie who deeply influenced his early education. George was a willing participant who listened attentively and absorbed deeply. The most influential work Nannie presented to George was the Bible, which she read him three or four hours a day. Jesus emerged from her exegesis as the quintessential example of human courage.


History Legends of War: Patton in the firing line

Company representing WW2 legend sues little-known publisher over use of his likeness.

History Legends of War: Patton launched with little fanfare in 2012.

It's a turn-based strategy game in which you follow the path of US Army legend General George Patton during the events of World War 2. Our friends at Outside Xbox gave the game a spin in the video, below.

Now, two years later, CMG, a company based in Indiana, is suing publisher Maximum, based in California, over the game's use of General Patton. It claims false endorsement, unfair competition and the violation of Patton's publicity rights. In short, the game allegedly used Patton's name, likeness, image and persona without permission - and CMG is upset.

"CMG has filed the suit because we are committed to enforcing our clients' intellectual property, and this action against Maximum Family Games to protect the rights of the late General Patton and his family is no different," CEO Mark Roesler told Eurogamer in an emailed statement.

The issue of the fair use of a celebrity likeness in a video game hit the headlines recently former military dictator Manuel Noriega sued Call of Duty maker Activision over the use of his likeness in developer Treyarch's first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

Patton infringement?

Celebrity Lindsay Lohan is currently suing Grand Theft Auto 5 maker Rockstar, claiming a character in the game is based on her. Lohan claims that Rockstar copied her image, voice and clothing style for the character, something which the developer laughed off as a bid for attention. "Her claim is so legally meritless that it lacks any good-faith basis and can only have been filed for publicity purposes," Rockstar said.

But the case of History Legends of War: Patton is unique in that it involves a deceased historical figure.

According to court documents filed in San Francisco federal court, CMG said it secured the rights to Patton through "various agreements with the Patton family", and as a result is "charged with the exclusive responsibility and authority with respect to enforcing General Patton's intellectual property rights".

A quick glance at the CMG website reveals a huge client list that includes the likes of James Dean, Andre the Giant and Mark Twain.

GeneralPatton.com is copyright "Estate of General George S. Patton Jr.". It mentions CMG Worldwide as the business representative for the Estate, with a view to working with companies who wish to use the name or likeness of Patton in any commercial fashion. It even links to a business application for licensing opportunities.

Back to CMG's suit against Maximum: "Consumers would readily understand that Maximum's use of General Patton's name, image and likeness in connection with the infringing video game is a reference to General Patton.

"Indeed, Maximum expects and intends consumers to understand this as part of its marketing efforts."

Apparently CMG tried to resolve the issue outside the courts, but failed. Now, CMG wants a ban on Maximum's use of the Patton name, as well as damages. Maximum has yet to respond to Eurogamer's request for comment. We'll update the article if it chooses to respond.

CMG may be confident in its case, but it could run up against a First Amendment defence. According to Video Gamer Law, when weighing an individual's rights of publicity against a First Amendment defense, Courts generally focus on the way the defendant has used the celebrity's likeness.

If the use is sufficiently 'transformative' (i.e., if the celebrity's image or persona is changed or distorted), then the First Amendment precludes a right of publicity claim because the likeness is just a component part of new expression, VGL suggested.

On the other hand, if the celebrity's raw image is the 'sum and substance' of the work in question, the First Amendment does not bar a right of publicity claim.


Military History Book Review: Patton- A Biography

None too surprisingly, when Palgrave Macmillan launched a “Great Generals Series” of short biographies, number one on its list of subjects was George S. Patton Jr., who in spite of the impolitic acts and statements that denied him the seniority he craved, still managed to become one of the most influential military leaders in 20th-century American history. Alan Axelrod, who also authored the book Patton on Leadership, manages to summarize the general’s life and exploits in a manner that balances his personal foibles against his genuine achievements—as well he should, given that this dichotomy is integral to the Patton legend. Neither Axelrod nor series editor General Wesley K. Clark cares to dwell on legends, however, instead exploring the actions and principles that made—and still make—Patton relevant.

The final chapter of Axelrod’s biography focuses on all the techniques, lessons and examples set by Patton that still apply. For example, the author writes in regard to his influence on tactics: “If all great generals project an effective command presence, most are also significant strategists. This was not the case with George S. Patton, a fact his seniors recognized.” Patton, he points out, was usually content to play a subordinate role in executing the strategy set by others, provided he be given a free hand in doing so: “He believed that brilliant strategy could never compensate for inadequate tactics….Conversely, he sincerely believed that good tactics, skillfully and violently executed, could even compensate for poor strategy.” Even so, Axelrod acknowledges the fact that while Patton’s emphasis on the importance of time in combat is more tactically important than ever in the high-tech 21st century, the insurgency against American forces in Iraq since 2003 reveals its strategic limitations: “Patton’s tactics were developed on and for vast battlefield spaces occupied by large conventional armies. They are not effective in asymmetrical warfare scenarios, in which time, which a determined insurgency can draw out almost indefinitely, becomes for the much larger invading force an enemy rather than an ally.”

Whatever Patton’s limitations—which are still a perpetual source of lively debate—General Dwight D. Eisenhower, most notably, recognized his capabilities and did his utmost to keep the controversial commander in a position to play the instrumental role he took in the Allied victory in Europe in World War II. His concepts of training, combined arms tactics and leadership—still applicable to any army—were aptly summed up by one of his lieutenants in the Third Army, John Ingles, who said that “we knew what General Patton expected us to do, and we believed that if we did it we would win.”

Originally published in the September 2006 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.


History Lesson: The Final Days of General Patton

Everything you always wanted to know about a true legend.

One of Patton’s last acts before handing over command was to award a Silver Star to his driver of more than four years, Master Sergeant John Mims. The award of a Silver Star to Mims, who was returning to the States for demobilization, is surprising in that this medal was meant to be awarded “for gallantry in action … not warranting the award of a Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross.” Clearly, as a general’s driver, even Patton’s, Mims had never been in direct contact with the enemy and therefore could hardly have been gallant in action.

One could perhaps be forgiven for suspecting that Patton saw this as an award to himself— the Silver Star was after all conspicuous by its absence among his many decorations. This suspicion is reinforced by a comment in a letter to Beatrice dated November 24: “I finally after a fight of three years got the DSM for all my people, ten in all. I think it is amusing that no one tries to get any [medals] for me. I got nothing for Tunisia, nothing for Sicily and nothing for the Bulge. Brad and Courtney [Hodges] were both decorated for their failures in this operation.”

Patton arrived at his new headquarters in the early hours of October 8. He was met by the officer temporarily holding the fort—Maj. Gen. Leven Allen, Bradley’s former chief of staff. Patton’s opening words were, “Well, you know damn well I didn’t ask for this job, don’t you?”

The headquarters was in an old hotel in Bad Nauheim, and Patton’s arrival in the mess for lunch was greeted by some 100 officers standing to attention. In a highly successful attempt to break the ice, Patton’s first words were, “There are occasions when I can truthfully say that I am not as much of a son-of-a-bitch as I may think I am. This is one of them.”

Allen wrote later: “The relieved staff roared with surprised delight. From then on it was as wholeheartedly for him as the Third Army staff had been.” But Patton was not really interested in an Army without weapons or a combat mission and consisting mainly of historians and an administrative staff. He announced that he intended to return to the States by March 1946 at the latest and that he expected all the necessary reports about the European campaign to be finished by then. Even so, he took little serious interest in the work other than to ensure, according to Eisenhower’s son John, a lieutenant on the Fifteenth Army staff, that “Patton’s Army was mentioned about three times as often as any other”—even though John Eisenhower himself “felt that the First Army had contributed more to victory than had the Third.” Few unbiased military historians would disagree with that view.

So what did Patton do with his time? He toured France collecting, according to his aide, enough certificates of honorary citizenship from cities like Avranches, Rennes, and Chartres “to paper the walls of a room,” and he had lunch with the unanimously elected president of the provisional French government, Charles De Gaulle, and dinner with the chief of staff of the French Army. Most of his time, however, was spent preparing his book War As I Knew It. Part of Douglas Southall Freeman’s introduction to War As I Knew It, which was published in November 1947, reads: “He undertook this small book after the close of hostilities and he drew heavily from [his] diary for detail. Some pages of the narrative are almost verbatim the text of the diary, with personal references toned down or eliminated.”

Although perhaps mentally satisfying, such activities did little for Patton’s morale and he soon became moody and tense. General Hobart “Hap” Gay, a loyal friend and his chief of staff, and other members of the staff noticed that he became withdrawn, often taking long drives by himself, having little to say during meals and going home early. One staff officer wrote later: ‘It was obvious he was undergoing deep and gnawing turmoil.”

Sometime in October, Patton resolved to “quit outright, not retire…. For the years that are left to me I am determined to be free to live as I want and say what I want.” This inevitably worried Gay, who surmised, almost certainly correctly, that Patton planned to speak out against Eisenhower’s handling of the campaign in Europe and against other senior officers, like Bedell Smith, Hodges, and even Bradley. Gay counseled Patton to consult Beatrice and other family members before taking such a drastic step, but it seems his mind was made up.

On November 11, Patton’s 60th birthday, he was thrilled to find his staff had arranged a surprise party. It took the form of a gala evening in the ballroom of the Spa Hotel in Bad Nauheim, and Patton found himself once again surrounded by friends and the center of attention. And then, two weeks later, he was again thrilled to receive an invitation to go to Sweden to address the Swedish-American Society. However, the trip, which involved traveling on a special train once used by German President Paul von Hindenburg, turned out to be much more than just a speaking engagement. Patton was greeted by the chief of staff of the Army and eight former members of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon team and was later received by the king and the crown prince. He also breakfasted with Count Bernadotte and was able to enjoy a specially staged ice carnival and hockey game in the Olympic stadium. The highlight was perhaps a reenactment of the 1912 Olympic pistol competition—Patton came second, “13 points better than I made in 1912.”

The Swedish trip was the last highlight of Patton’s life. His last diary entry, dated December 3, describes a luncheon hosted by Bedell Smith for Eisenhower’s successor, McNarney. His bitterness is very evident: “General Clay [Ike’s deputy] … and General McNarney have never commanded anything, including their own self-respect…. The whole luncheon party reminded me of a meeting of the Rotary Club in Hawaii where everyone slaps everyone else’s back while looking for an appropriate place to thrust the knife. I admit I am guilty of this practice, although at the moment I have no appropriate weapon.”

Two days later, Patton wrote his last letter to his wife telling her that he was coming home for Christmas. “I have a month’s leave but don’t intend to go back to Europe. If I get a really good job I will stay, otherwise I will retire.” The plan was to fly to London and then sail from Southampton aboard the cruiser USS Augusta. The Augusta had been the flagship of the Western Task Force in the invasion of Morocco.

On the evening of December 8, Gay suggested to Patton that they should spend the following day pheasant shooting in an area known to be rich in game about 100 miles southwest of the headquarters. Patton accepted with enthusiasm. He could think of no better way to spend his last Sunday in Europe than hunting with an old and trusted friend.

Patton and Gay left Bad Nauheim at about 0900 hours on December 9 in Patton’s 1939 Model 75 Cadillac driven by Pfc. Horace Woodring. A jeep driven by Technical Sergeant Joe Spruce followed, carrying the guns and a gun dog. At about 1145 hours, in the northeast suburbs of Mannheim, an oncoming two-and-a-half-ton U.S. Army truck swung across the path of Patton’s Cadillac in an attempt to turn into a Quartermaster depot. Woodring was unable to stop in time, and the two vehicles collided at a 90-degree angle, with the right front bumper of the truck smashing the radiator and bumper of the Cadillac.

Neither driver was injured, and Gay received only slight bruises. Patton, on the other hand, although conscious, was bleeding profusely from head wounds received when he was thrown forward against the steel frame of the glass partition separating the front and rear seats and then backward again into his seat. There were, of course, no seat belts in those days, and whereas Gay and Woodring, having seen the oncoming truck, had braced themselves for the impact, Patton, who had been looking out the side window, had not. He knew he was seriously injured and apparently murmured, “I think I’m paralyzed,” and later, “This is a helluva way to die.”

The ambulance, which eventually arrived at the scene with two medical officers, took Patton to the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, 15 miles away, where he was admitted at 1245 hours. He was paralyzed from the neck down and suffering from severe traumatic shock his pulse rate was 45, and he had a blood pressure reading of 86/60. With blood covering his face and scalp from cuts that had gone through to the bone, he was diagnosed as having “a fracture of the third cervical vertebra, with a posterior dislocation of the fourth cervical vertebra.” Whether or not the spinal cord had been transected or merely traumatized remained a matter of conjecture.


History Lesson: The Final Days of General Patton

Everything you always wanted to know about a true legend.

Eisenhower returned to Bavaria a week later following reports of bad conditions in some of the DP camps there. The reports were true. Ike found not only appalling conditions but German guards, some of whom were former SS men. Patton tried to explain that the camp had been fine before the arrival of the present Jewish occupants who were “pissing and crapping all over the place.” Despite being told to “Shut up, George,” he apparently went on to say that there was an empty village nearby which he was planning to turn into a concentration camp for them. Eisenhower’s response is unrecorded.

By now Bedell Smith, Adcock, and others had come to the conclusion that Patton was mentally unbalanced. Adcock’s civilian deputy, Walter Dorn, was a history professor on leave from Ohio State University. Of German origin, he was determined to rid Germany of all vestiges of Nazism. When Patton eventually met him on September 28, he described him as a “smooth, smart-ass academic type.” Academic or not, Dorn soon focused his attention on the success or otherwise of the denazification program in Bavaria. He discovered that the German organization set on behalf of Patton to administer Bavaria was riddled with former Nazis. Patton had taken so little interest in the new administration that he did not even recall meeting its Minister President, a Dr. Fritz Schaeffer.

As a result of Dorn’s discoveries and the PW Camp 8 incident, he and Adcock, presumably with Bedell Smith’s agreement, arranged for a psychiatrist, disguised as a supply officer, to be posted to Patton’s headquarters to study his behavior—and, unbelievably, for Patton’s phones to be tapped and his residence bugged. It is not clear if or what the psychiatrist reported, but needless to say it was not long before the wiretappers heard their subject expressing violently anti-Russian views and even suggesting that ex-members of the Wehrmacht should be rearmed and used to help the U.S. Army force the Red Army “back into Russia.” In one conversation with Ike’s deputy, McNarney, he allegedly went as far as to say, “In ten days I can have enough incidents happen to have us at war with those sons of bitches and make it look like their fault.”

Patton held two disastrous press conferences during the following month. At the first, in Frankfurt on August 27, he “spoke out against the Russians and signed a letter proposing the release of some Nazi internees.” This apparently so angered Eisenhower that he is said to have demanded that Patton carry out the denazification program as ordered “instead of mollycoddling the goddamn Nazis.” But Patton was not going to change two days later he wrote in his diary, “The Germans are the only decent people left in Europe. If it’s a choice between them and the Russians, I prefer the Germans.”

Worse was to follow. On September 22, Patton agreed to answer questions from reporters after his normal morning briefing at Bad Tölz. When asked why Nazis were being retained in governmental positions in Bavaria, he replied, “I despise and abhor Nazis and Hitlerism as much as anyone. My record on that is clear and unchallengeable. It is to be found on battlefields from Morocco to Bad Tölz…. Now, more than half the Germans were Nazis and we would be in a hell of a fix if we removed all Nazi party members from office. The way I see it, this Nazi question is very much like a Democrat and Republican election fight. To get things done in Bavaria, after the complete disorganization and disruption of four years of war, we had to compromise with the devil a little. We had no alternative but to turn to the people who knew what to do and how to do it. So, for the time being we are compromising with the devil…. I don’t like the Nazis any more than you do. I despise them. In the past three years I did my utmost to kill as many of them as possible. Now we are using them for lack of anyone better until we can get better people.”

Needless to say, the press ran with this story, particularly the Democrat versus Republican analogy. When it became clear to Eisenhower that the press reports were basically accurate, he was aghast and ordered Patton to report to him in Frankfurt. The weather was too bad to fly, and when Patton arrived on the 28th, after a seven-hour car journey in heavy rain, he was uncharacteristically dressed in an ordinary khaki jacket and GI trousers. His normal cavalry breeches, swagger stick, and pistols had been left behind.

Patton knew he was in trouble. During their two-hour meeting Eisenhower was “more excited than I have ever seen him,” remembered Patton in his diary. At one stage the officer responsible for USFET Civil Affairs, Clarence Adcock, was summoned and he brought Professor Dorn into the room with him. The latter then skillfully and ruthlessly demonstrated that the Fritz Schaeffer administration in Bavaria was full of former Nazis.

When they were alone again, Patton suggested that he should “be simply relieved,” but Ike said he did not intend to do that and had had no pressure from the States to that effect. “I then said that I should be allowed to continue the command of the Third Army and the government of Bavaria,” remembered Patton. But Eisenhower’s mind was made up. Patton was offered command of the Fifteenth Army— an army in name only since its sole mission was to prepare a history of the war in Europe! The only alternative was resignation.

He accepted the job with the Fifteenth Army, explaining this away in his diary by writing that in resigning “I would save my self-respect at the expense of my reputation but … would become a martyr too soon.” He went on in his diary to justify his acceptance of the Fifteenth Army command as follows: “I was reluctant, in fact unwilling, to be party to the destruction of Germany under the pretense of denazification…. I believe Germany should not be destroyed, but rather rebuilt as a buffer against the real danger which is Bolshevism from Russia.”

Eisenhower ended the meeting by telling Patton that he felt he should get back to Bad Tölz as quickly as possible and that his personal train was ready to take him at 1900 hours. Patton’s diary entry ended with the words, “I took the train.”

The following day Bedell Smith phoned Patton and read a letter to him from Eisenhower. It told him he was to assume his new appointment on October 8. When this was announced on the 2nd, many of the newspaper headlines, including that in Stars and Stripes, read “PATTON FIRED.” Some papers were sympathetic the New York Times wrote: “Patton has passed from current controversy into history. There he will have an honored place…. He was obviously in a post which he was unsuited by temperament, training or experience to fill. It was a mistake to suppose a free-swinging fighter could acquire overnight the capacities of a wise administrator. His removal by General Eisenhower was an acknowledgement of that mistake…. For all his showmanship he was a scientific soldier, a thorough military student…. He reaped no laurels from the peace, but those he won in war will remain green for a long time.”

Patton’s letter to Beatrice, written the day after his meeting with Ike, indicates the turmoil in his mind: “The noise against me is the only means by which Jews and Communists are attempting and with good success to implement a further dismemberment of Germany.” He ended it by saying that he had no wish to be “executioner to the best race in Europe.”

With regard to the fateful September 22 press conference, Patton later wrote: “This conference cost me the command of the Third Army, or rather, of a group of soldiers, mostly recruits, who then rejoiced in that historic name, but I was intentionally direct, because I believed that it was then time for people to know what was going on. My language was not particularly politic, but I have yet to find where politic language produces successful government…. My chief interest in establishing order in Germany was to prevent Germany from going communistic. I am afraid that our foolish and utterly stupid policy … will certainly cause them to join the Russians and thereby ensure a communistic state throughout Western Europe. It is rather sad for me to think that my last opportunity for earning my pay has passed. At least, I have done my best as God gave me the chance.”

Patton handed over command of his beloved Third Army to another cavalryman, General Lucian Truscott, on October 7, 1945. It was a wet day, and the ceremony was held, rather inappropriately, inside a gymnasium. Patton made a short farewell speech, which began with the words “All good things must come to an end” and ended with “Goodbye and God bless you.” A band then played “Auld Lang Syne,” the Third Army flag was handed over, and Patton left to the music of the Third Army march and “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” After a luncheon in his honor, he left in the Third Army train for his new headquarters in Bad Nauheim, 20 miles north of Frankfurt.


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