George Patton1 Essay

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George Patton1

General George S. PATTON

Soldier, General, Pilot, Athlete, Father, Gun Owner, Hero, Legend
UNLIKE many war heroes who had no intention of ever becoming famous, George Patton decided
during childhood that his goal in life was to be a hero. This noble aim was first inspired
by listening to his father read aloud for hours about the exploits of the heroes of
ancient Greece. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were particular favourites of young Georgie, who
could recite lines from both texts long before he could even lift a sword. These classic
images were filled out by recent war stories of living soldiers, particularly those of
John Singleton ''Ranger'' Mosby. John often visited the Patton house and would entertain
Georgie for hours with tales of his Civil War adventures. With this steady diet of combat
regalia, Georgie was convinced that the profession of arms was his calling.


Young George didn't want to be just any soldier; he had his sights fixed on becoming a
combat general. He had one major obstacle to overcome, however. Though he was obviously
intelligent (his knowledge of classical literature was encyclopaedic and he had learned to
read military topographic maps by the age of 7), George didn't learn to read until he was
12 years old. It was only at age 12 when George was sent off to Stephen Cutter Clark's
Classical School that he began to catch up on his academic skills; he managed to find
plenty of time for athletics as well. While at school, the path toward his goal became
focused he planned on attending West Point as the next major step in the pursuit of his
general's stars.

When he graduated from high school, however, there were no appointments open to West Point
in his home state of California, so he enrolled at his father's alma mater, Virginia
Military Institute. As a first year "rat" at VMI, young Patton did quite well despite his
late start at formal learning. However, spelling and punctuation were to give him problems
throughout his life. An appointment to West Point opened the next year and George was
awarded it. He reported to ''Beast Barracks'' in 1904. During his career at the Point,
George developed into an expert fencer. His football career suffered due to his
aggressiveness he suffered three broken noses and two broken arms playing end. Due to
deficiencies in mathematics, he had to spend an extra year at West Point, but this
deficiency was no detriment to his superb military skills which gained him the cadet
adjutancy his final year. When he graduated in the class of 1909 he ranked 46th out of a
class of 103. As would befit one with a love of heroics, Lieutenant Patton chose the
cavalry as his special branch, no doubt picturing himself leading hell-for-leather charges
against the enemy. He also married Bee Ayer, whom he met while at the Point, in 1910. The
next two years saw the dashing young cavalry of officer become one of the Army's best polo

Patton also represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm in the Modern
Pentathlon. This event, which includes five traditional military skills shooting, fencing,
swimming, riding, and running was considered a rigorous test of those skills most
necessary for an officer. Patton did quite well, but lost points on perhaps his best event
shooting. The competitors were allowed to choose whatever pistol they wished, and most
used .22 revolvers. Patton, however, felt that he should use a true military weapon, which
at that time was a .38 revolver. Consequently, Patton's handgun punched larger holes in
the target, which probably cost him points in the shooting finals since he supposedly
missed with one round; in actuality the "missing" round had passed through a cluster of
holes he had already put in the target. Still, Patton finished fifth overall, an excellent
finish in an event traditionally dominated by European marksmen.

After the Olympics, Patton kept busy by visiting the French cavalry school as an observer
and studying French sword drill. The latter studies helped him become the U.S. Army's
Master of the Sword when he was assigned to teach the use of the blade to fellow officers.
Patton, also designed a new U. S cavalry saber the M1913 and authored a training manual
for its use, the Army's Saber Regulations 1914. Patton's future fame as a general was
based on his emphasis on aggressive attack. True to that form, the Patton saber was
designed to serve better on the offensive. He also eliminated the parry manoeuvre from his
manual since he thought it made the user too vulnerable to attack.

These activities kept Patton busy, but he wanted to go to war, so when World War I started
in 1914, Patton asked permission to serve with the French cavalry, but the War Department
turned him down. In 1915 Lt. Patton was sent to Fort Bliss along the Mexican border where
he led routine cavalry patrols until 1916 when he accompanied General Pershing as an aide
on his punitive expedition against Pancho Villa into Mexico. While on a foraging mission
for the expeditionary force, Patton killed General Cardenas, the head of Villa's
bodyguard, and another Villista using the single-action Colt he had purchased in March,
1915. This revolver would become a Patton trademark during World War II. As a result of
this action, Patton was promoted to first lieutenant. He also added two notches to his
revolver, notches which he would later show to the King and Queen of Great Britain during
World War II while recounting to them his adventures as a young officer.

After the United States declared war on Germany, Gen. Pershing, who had been impressed
with Patton in Mexico, promoted him to captain and asked him to command his headquarters
troop. When Pershing and his staff arrived in England, Patton and his cavalrymen became
the first foreign troops to ever be quartered in the Tower of London. Soon, however,
Pershing and Patton were in France, where George requested transfer to a combat command.
His request was granted and Patton became the first American assigned to the new U. S Tank
Corps. With his usual impetuousness, Patton treaded to victory with the British tankers at
Cambrai, the world's first major tank battle. A short time later he went through the
French tank course. Using his newly acquired knowledge of tanks, Patton organized the
American tank school at Langres, France, and trained the first 500 American tankers.
During the next few months, Patton received two promotions to lieutenant colonel. Prior to
the battle of St.Mihiel, his tankers carried out reconnaissance missions. During the
battle itself, Lt. Col. Patton foreshadowed his later armoured thrusts as he pushed deep
into enemy territory ahead of the American infantry with his primitive Renault tanks,
receiving a Silver Star for his efforts.

During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Patton led his tankers into battle once again but was
wounded by machine gun fire while looking for help to rescue some tanks which were mired
in the mud. For the Meuse-Argonne operations, Patton received a Purple Heart, a
Distinguished Service Cross and a promotion to colonel. While Col. Patton was
recuperating, However, the war ended. He resumed to the U.S. a few months later to command
the U.S. Tank Corps.

Although Patton was an outspoken advocate of the tank as a modern combat weapon, he found
that Congress was not willing to appropriate funds to build a large armoured force. Still,
he carried out experiments to improve radio communications between tanks and helped invent
the co-axial tank mount for cannon and machine gun. Despite all of his efforts, however,
Patton reverted to his regular rank of captain in 1920. The Tank Corps was dissolved as a
separate entity at the same time, with the tanks being assigned to the infantry. Patton
was almost immediately promoted to the permanent rank of major and returned to the cavalry
and polo.

Finding himself with time on his hands in the early 1920s, Patton decided to acquire
another useful military skill he learned to fly. He also displayed his valour off the
battlefield in several episodes during these years. Typical of such actions was when he
saw three men abducting a woman. Though on his way to a formal dinner and wearing a
tuxedo, he leaped out of the car and drew his pistol to rescue her. He carried out another
rescue of three boys from a capsized boat in Salem Harbor, which won him the Congressional
Life Saving Medal, Second Class.

By 1925, Patton was serving in Hawaii. After Hawaii he finished out the 1920s in
Washington, where he pressed for getting increased armour assigned along with horse
cavalry the two would complement each other depending on the mission and the terrain. At
the time, his arguments made very good sense. He kept fighting for more and better
armoured vehicles, too. By 1935 Patton had risen to the permanent rank of lieutenant
colonel and had returned to Hawaii, this time sailing all the way there on his own boat.
While in Hawaii, Patton warned of possible problems from spies among the civilian Japanese

Posted to Fort Clark in Texas, Patton, who believed that the U.S. would be involved in a
war before long, rigorously trained the men under his command. As the 1930s drew to a
close, Patton took command of Fort Myer. When the German Blitzkrieg was unleashed on
Europe, he finally convinced Congress that the U.S. needed a more powerful armoured
striking force and Patton finally got his star. He was promoted to brigadier general and
put in command of the new armoured brigade, which he had to create by training the men in
obsolete tanks.

As Patton's force expanded, it became the 2nd Armoured Division and Patton earned the rank
of major general. Patton's famous "blood and guts" speeches of World War II began at this
time in an amphitheater he had built to accommodate the entire division. His ability to
turn up unexpectedly anywhere in the divisional training area became legendary at this
time, too, as it would later in the 3rd Army. Using his Stimson Voyager he often commanded
on manoeuvre while flying overhead where he could observe the entire area. Much of the
credit for light observation planes coming into use in the Army can be attributed to this
training technique of Patton's. He soon turned the 2nd Armoured Division into a formidable
fighting implement, at one point keeping them in the field almost constantly for 17 weeks.

They also carried the stamp of high morale and drive for which Patton's units were to
become famous. Even Patton's wife Bee got in on the act by writing The March Song of the
Armoured Force for the unit.
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