"GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER " 1839-1876 CUSTER, George Armstrong, soldier, born in New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio, 5 December
1839; died in Montana, 25 June, 1876. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in June, 1861, and reported for duty
at Washington. General Winfield Scott gave him dispatches to carry to General Irwin McDowell, then in command of the Army
of the Potomac, he was assigned to duty as lieutenant in the 5th cavalry, and participated, on the day of his arrival at tile
front, in the first battle of Bull Run. General Philip Kearny selected him as his first aide-de-camp, and he afterward served
on the staff of General William F. Smith. While on this duty he was given charge of the balloon ascensions, to make reconnaissances.
In May, 1862, General George B. McClellan was so impressed with the energy and perseverance that he showed in wading the
Chickahominy alone, to ascertain what would be a safe ford for the army to cross, and with his courage in reconnoitering the
enemy's position while on the other side, that he was appointed aide-de-camp, with the rank of captain, to date from 15 June,
1862. Capt. Custer applied at once for permission to attack the picket-post he had just discovered, and at daylight the next
morning surprised the enemy, drove them back, capturing some prisoners and the first colors that were taken by the Army of
the Potomac. After General McClellan's retirement from command of the army, Capt. Custer was discharged from his volunteer
appoint-merit and returned to his regiment as lieutenant. He had served there but a short time when General Alfred Pleasonton,
on 15 May, 1863, made him aide-de-camp on his staff. For daring gallantry in a skirmish at Aldie and in the action at Brandy
Station, as well as in the closing operations of the Rappahannock campaign, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers,
dating from 29 June, 1863, and assigned to duty as commander of the Michigan brigade.
At Gettysburg his brigade, together with those of Gregg and McIntosh, defeated General Stuart's efforts to turn the left
flank. For this action was brevetted major in the U.S. army, to date from 3 July 1863. At Culpepper Court-House he was wounded
by a spent ball, which killed his horse, he took part in General Sheridan's cavalry raid toward Richmond, in May, 1864, and
was brevetted lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Yellow Tavern, 11 May. In General Sheridan's
second raid on Richmond the Michigan brigade made a most gallant fight at Trevillion Station; but so great was their peril
that the colors of the brigade were only saved from capture by General Custer's tearing them from the standard, held in the
grasp of a dying color-sergeant, and concealing the flag in his bosom.
On 19 September, 1864, he was made brevet-colonel, U. S. army, for gallantry at the battle of Winchester, and on 19 Oct.
he was brevetted major-general of volunteers for gallantry and meritorious services at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. On 30
Sept. he assumed command of the 3d division of cavalry, with which he fought the brilliant battle of Woodstock on 9 Oct.,
where his former classmate at West Point, the Confederate General Rosser, confronted him. He drove the enemy twenty-six miles,
capturing everything they had on wheels except one gun. At Cedar Creek he confronted the enemy from the first attack in the
morning until the battle ended. The 3d division recaptured, before the day was over, guns and colors that had been taken from
the army earlier in the fight, together with Confederate flags and cannon. After this brilliant success General Custer was
sent to Washington in charge of the captured colors, and recommended for promotion.
In the spring of 1865, when General Sheridan moved his cavalry toward Richmond again, the 3d division fought alone the
battle of Waynesboro. The enemy's works were carried, and 11 guns, 200 wagons, 1,600 prisoners, and 17 battle-flags were captured.
On reaching Fred-Rickshall Station, General Custer found that General Early had rallied from his retreat at Waynesboro and
was preparing for another attack. He therefore sent a regiment to meet him at once. General Early was nearly captured, his
command destroyed, and a campaign ended in which he lost his army, every piece of artillery, and all his trains. For gallant
and meritorious services at the battles of Five Forks and Dinwiddie Court-House, Gen Custer was brevetted brigadier-general,
U. S. army, to date from 13 March, 1865. In a general order addressed to his troops, dated at Appomattox Court House, 9 April,
1865, General Custer said:
"During the past six months, though in most instances confronted by superior numbers, you have captured from the enemy
in open battle 111 pieces of field artillery, 65 battle-flags, and upward of 10,000 prisoners of war, including seven general
officers. Within the past ten days, and included in the above, you have captured 46 field-pieces of artillery, and 37 battle-flags.
You have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and never been defeated; and, notwithstanding the numerous engagements in which
you have borne a prominent part, including those memorable battles of the Shenandoah, you have captured every piece of artillery
which the enemy has dared to open upon you."
Gen. Custer received the first flag of truce from the Army of Northern Virginia, and was present at the surrender at Appomattox
Court-House. He was brevetted major-general for his services in the last campaign, and appointed major-general of volunteers,
to date from 15 April, 1865." He participated in all but one of the battles of the Army of the Potomac. After the grand review
he was ordered to Texas, to command a division of cavalry. In November, 1865, he was made chief of cavalry, and remained on
this duty until March, 1866, when he was mustered out of the volunteer service, to date from February, 1866. He then applied
to the government for permission to accept from President Juarez the place of chief of Mexican cavalry in the struggle against
Maximilian. President Johnson declined to give the necessary leave of absence, and General Custer decided to accept the lieutenant-colonelcy
of the 7th cavalry, his appointment dating from 28 July, 1866. He joined his regiment at Fort Riley, Kansas, in November,
1866, and served on the plains until 1871. On 27 November he fought the battle of the Washita, in Indian Territory, and inflicted
such a defeat upon the Indians that the entire tribe of Cheyennes were compelled to return to their reservation. He was ordered,
with his regiment, to Kentucky, in 1871, where he remained until 1873. In the spring of that year he was sent, with the 7th,
to Fort Rice, Dakota, and from there accompanied an expedition to the Yellowstone. On 4 Aug. he fought the Sioux, with his
regiment, on the Yellowstone, near the mouth of Tongue River, and on the 11th had another engagement three miles below the
mouth of the Big Horn.
In July, 1874, the government ordered an expedition, commanded by General Custer, into the Black Hills, which resulted
in an unexplored region being opened to miners and frontiersmen. On 15 May, 1876, General Custer commanded his regiment in
a campaign against the confederated Sioux tribes. The Indians were discovered encamped on the Little Big Horn River, in a
region almost unknown. Eleven tribes, numbering nearly 9,000, had their villages on and in the vicinity of the Little Big
Horn. The government expedition consisted of 1,100 men. The strength of the enemy not being known, General Custer was ordered
to take his regiment and pursue a trail. He arrived at what was supposed to be the only Indian village on 25 June, and an
attack was made by a portion of the regiment numbering fewer than 200 cavalry, while General Custer, with 277 troopers, charged
on the village from another direction. Overwhelming numbers met them, and General Custer, with his entire command, was slain.
The officers and men were interred upon the battle-field, and in 1879 it was made a national cemetery. A monument recording
the name and rank of all who fell was erected by the U. S. government on the spot where General Custer made his last stand.
In 1877 his remains were removed to the cemetery at West Point, N. Y.
He was nearly six feet in height, broad-shouldered, lithe, and active, with a weight never above 170 pounds. His eyes were
blue, his hair and mustache of golden tint. He was a man of immense strength and endurance, and, as he used neither liquors
nor tobacco, his physical condition was perfect through all the hardships of his life. Eleven horses were shot under him in
battle. At the age of twenty-three he was made a brigadier-general, at twenty-five a major-general. The close of the war reduced
his command from thousands to hundreds; but his enthusiastic devotion to duty was not diminished, and his form was seen at
the head of his men in his Indian service just as it had been during the civil war. He reverenced religion, he showed deference
to the aged, he honored womankind, he was fond of children, and devoted to animals. His domestic life was characterized by
a simplicity, joyous contentment, and fondness for home that was surprising when it is remembered that, out of the thirty-seven
years of his brief life, fourteen were spent in active warfare. One of his friends wrote his history under his name in one
sentence, "This was a man." In 1871 General Custer began to contribute articles on frontier life to the "Galaxy," which were
published in book-form under the title "My Life on the Plains" (New York, 1874). He was engaged on a series of "War Memoirs"
for the "Galaxy" at the time of his death. He occasionally contributed articles on hunting to "Turf, Field, and Farm" and
"Forest and Stream." His life has been written by Frederick Whittaker (New York, 1878).
--His wife, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, whom he married in February, 1864, was with him at the front during the last year of
the war, and also accompanied him in his nine years' service on the western frontier. She has published "Boots and Saddles,
or Life with General Custer in Dakota" (New York, 1885), and is now (1887) at work upon a volume of reminiscences of the general's
service in Texas and Kansas.
--His brother, Thomas Ward Custer, soldier, born in New Rumley, Harrison co., Ohio, 15 March, 1845; died in Montana, 25
June, 1876. After repeated attempts, which failed on account of his youth, he succeeded in enlisting as a private in an Ohio
regiment, and served in the west until he was made aide-de-camp on his brother's staff, then with the Army of the Potomac.
His appointment as second lieutenant in the 6th Michigan cavalry dated from 8 November, 1864. His horse was often neck and
neck with that of his brother in the famous cavalry charges, and in tile fight at Namozine Church, 2 April, 1865, he captured
a Confederate flag. At Sailor's Creek, 6 April, he captured a second flag, but was shot by the standard-bearer and severely
wounded in the face. He was preparing to charge again, when stopped by his brother and told to go to the rear and have his
wound dressed. As he paid no attention to this request, it became necessary for General Custer to order him under arrest before
he could check his ardor. He received a medal from congress for the capture of the colors at Sailor's Creek.
In the spring of 1865 he accompanied Gem Custer to Texas and served on the staff until mustered out of service in November.
He received the brevets of captain, major, and lieutenant-colonel. On 23 Feb., 1866, he was appointed second lieutenant in
the 1st infantry of the regular army, and on 28 July was promoted to a first lieutenancy in his brother's regiment, the 7th
cavalry, with which he served on frontier duty until he fell beside his brother in the battle of the Little Big Horn.
Do you need help with a school assignment?
Here's a Biography :General George S. Patton,Jr. Military History
USA 02695 1885 -1945 By Charles M. Province
Hes been called a number of things, including military genius, a legend, and a son-of-a-bitch. But, almost 50 years after
hes still considered to be the one U.S. Army General epitomizing the fighting soldier of World War II.
Patton was a man of contradictory characteristics. He was a noted horseman and polo player, a well-known champion swordsman,
and a competent sailor and sportsman. He was an amateur poet. Sixteen of his analytical papers were published in military
trade journals of the military profession. While he was a rough and tough soldier, he was also a thoughtful and sentimental
in his actions, he was always dependable. He was outgoing, yet introverted. History proves him to be a complex and paradoxical
Hes mostly remembered for his unique brand of leadership. It was a role he cultivated and fully exercised. He managed to
supreme effort from his men. His charisma, symbolized by a flamboyant and well-publicized image, stimulated his troops
to an incredible
level. His unflagging efforts generated desire from his soldiers to fight and destroy the enemy.
He personified the offensive spirit, a ruthless drive, and an imperative Will To Conquer. Being the prominent champion
effectiveness, particularly with respect to the employment of armored forces, Patton elevated the blitzkrieg (lightning
war) concept to a
state of scientific precision.
His occasionally brutal methods were, for the most part, approved by his men. Pattons battle hardened soldiers understood
shrewdly sanctioned his actions. They were fully cognizant of wars demands. They also knew that if anyone could help them
to get home
alive, Patton was the one.
Patton understood that war means fighting and fighting means killing. Hes the one soldier from the Second World War who
apart from the rest, who best personifies that murderous concept, who embodies indispensable warlike virtues, and the Will
Patton, without deviation, exerted his full energies toward the pursuit of excellence. He fought the temptations to relax,
to be lazy. He
was harder on himself and more demanding of himself than he was of any subordinate.
Benjamin Davis Wilson was a remarkable man a pioneer, trapper, adventurer, Indian trader and Indian fighter, and finally,
respectable man of means. Born in Tennessee, he worked his way across the American continent to southern California long
before it was
California. By marrying a daughter of a wealthy Mexican he gained vast landholdings. After the death of the first Mrs.
married an American citizen. The second Mrs. Wilson gave birth to a daughter who would eventually meet and marry George
Sr. Their union would produce the future general and World War II commander of the famous United States Third Army.
Don Benito Wilson, as he was called by the Mexicans and Indians of Old California, established orange industry in California,
planted the first vineyards, and furnished the name for Mount Wilson. Twice elected to the state legislature, he was highly
respected. Don Benito was the future generals grandfather.
The Patton side of Pattons family regarded themselves as genteel Virginians. Their lineage was traced to George Washington
beyond that to a king of England and a King of France. The Pattons were reportedly related to at least 16 signers of Englands
Charta. This is the heritage of General Patton
At age 11, Patton entered a private school in Pasadena, California. At 18 he entered the Virginia Military Institute, following
tradition of his father and grandfather. Compiling a splendid record, he received no demerits in a full years attendance.
He accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point after a year at Virginia Military Institute.
principal reason for entrance to the Academy was because upon graduation he would automatically receive a commission in
In 1909, he graduated 46th in a class of 103. He had held the rank of Cadet Corporal, Sergeant Major, and Adjutant. He
school letter by breaking a school record in the hurdles event. Upon graduation, he became a Cavalry officer and soon afterward,
a charming young lady from Massachusetts. Her family was immensely wealthy, her father owning the American Woolen Company.
In 1912, Patton attended the Olympics held at Stockholm, Sweden. That same year, a young Indian named Jim Thorpe made history
by winning and dominating the games.
Patton competed in the modern military pentathlon. The events included pistol shooting, a 300 meter swim, fencing, a steeplechase,
and a cross-country foot race. He finished a very respectable fifth place.
After the games, and at his own expense, Patton traveled to the French Cavalry School located at Saumer, France to take
the fencing instructor there. He purposely cultivated his own reputation as a swordsman, and he later designed a saber
that the United
States Cavalry adopted; the M-1913 Saber. Long before he became known as Old Blood and Guts (a name he hated), he was known
Saber George. For a very young second lieutenant, it was a great distinction.
Upon assignment to the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas, he took over the instruction of the Cavalry Course where he
the men in the use of the new saber he had designed. His impressive title was Master of the Sword. He was the first to
hold the newly
create title and he was only a second lieutenant.
In March of 1916, Pancho Villa and several hundred of his bandits raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico, killing a total
American citizens. Villas reasoning for this barbaric butchery was that he was angry at the American government because
it refused to
assist him in his revolution and his attempted takeover of the Mexican government.
In response to the raid, General John J. Pershing organized a Punitive Expedition to pursue Villa into Mexico. Pershings
prompted by the Mexican governments inaction. They refused to do respond to Villas criminal action.
Pershing took Patton along as an unofficial aide, giving him a variety of duties, most of which Patton considered dull
He longed for some action, some contact with the enemy. He finally got his chance in May of 1916.
During the month of May, Patton was in charge of a 15 man contingent traveling in three Dodge Touring Cars, for the purpose
buying corn from Mexican farmers. Relying purely on a hunch, Patton led a raid at a place called the Rubio Ranch, believing
that one of
Villas men might be there. As it turned out, not one, but three of the enemy were there and during their attempted escape,
Patton and his
men engaged them in a lively skirmish resembling an old western movie gun fight. All three of the banditos were killed.
Patton triumphantly strapped the bodies to the cars, one on each hood. He took them directly to Pershings headquarters
where he created quite a commotion. Later, he carved two notches in his Ivory-Handled Colt .45 to commemorate his good
fortune. After that, Pershing always referred to Patton as his bandit.
Because it was the only real action to come out of the entire expedition, young Lieutenant Patton immediately became a
hero. Newspapers in the United States carried stories about his exploits for a full week before the furor died down.
More importantly, Pattons actions signaled the inauguration of motorized warfare. It was the first time a United States
engaged an enemy using motor vehicles.
Although service in Mexico was monotonous, Patton took the opportunity to observe General Pershing closely, studying him
Patton learned how Pershing operated, how Pershing gave orders, trained his men, judged his subordinates, maintained troop
morale, and carried out his command duties. Patton began to model himself after the General Pershing.
When Pershing assumed command of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), heading for France in World War I, he decided
take Patton with him.
While performing boring, tiresome office jobs the AEF headquarters, Patton became interested in a new contraption called
They were not only new, they were also unreliable, unwieldy, and unproven instruments of warfare. There was a great deal
of doubt as to
whether or not tanks even had any function or value on the battlefield.
Patton was the first officer assigned to the United States Tank Corps. Throwing himself into his job with his usual enthusiasm,
quickly became the AEFs leading tank expert.
He almost single-handedly formed the American Tank School. He wrote the training manuals, devised the training doctrine
methodologies, wrote a seminal paper which became the basis for the United States Tank Corps. He taught and trained his
eventually led them into combat.
On the first day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Patton was very nearly killed. A bullet striking him in the upper leg,
completely through him, finally ripping out a large piece of flesh. It tore a large hole in the rear of his lower cheek.
In spite of his profuse
bleeding, he kept advancing, until the loss of blood forced him to stop. He was luckily evacuated to a rear echelon hospital
before he bled
to death on the battlefield. It was the final combat that he would see in WWI. The armistice was signed on the day that
he sneaked out of
the hospital to return to his unit.
It was this wound that occasionally prompted Patton to refer to himself as a half-assed general.
After the armistice was signed, Patton returned to the United States as an officer of the Tank Corps, but shortly afterward,
to his first love; the Cavalry.
The major reason for his departure from the Tank Corps was the stinginess of the U.S. Congress. After Congress allotted
a total of
$500 for a full years worth research and development for the Tank Corps, Patton realized that during the years of peace
there would be
no American development of the tank because of the miserly Congress. He was correct.
The development of the tank and armored doctrine was stagnated in the United States. It took the events of the Second World
the German blitzkrieg to open the eyes of the pacifistic Americans.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Patton served in a variety of assignments where he completed his military education. He was
graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, and a distinguished graduate of the Army War College.
In the early 1930s, while stationed at Pearl Harbor, Patton wrote a highly prophetic discussion paper. Its subject matter
dealt with the
possibility of an air attack by the Japanese against the Hawaiian Islands. Patton held the firm opinion that Japan had
explicit and definite
ideas about domination of the Pacific Basin. His paper outlined almost exactly the plan used by the Japanese on December
In 1939, Patton was assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. His skillful management of
Brigade soon prompted his being given command of the entire 2nd Armored Division. He was soon considered to be Americas
In 1942, Patton was assigned the task of creating the Desert Training Corps (DTC) in the Mojave Desert, which spans large
California, Nevada, and Arizona. It was at the DTC that U.S. Tank doctrine and tactics were created and perfected by Patton
and his men.
The first contingent of trained tanker units deployed from the DTC was eventually designated as the Western Task Force.
It was the
first American force to land and fight on foreign soil during WWII. The landing operation was called Operation Torch and
was North Africa. Patton had been instrumental in the detailed planning of the entire amphibious operation. He was chosen
operation because he was one of the very few amphibious landing experts in the U.S. Army, having studied the subject for
years. The task
force sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, landing on the shores of French Morocco in 1942.
In the spring of 1943, after the disastrous American defeat at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, Patton was given command of the
In customary Patton fashion, he not only took command, he grabbed it by the throat.
Patton quickly straightened out the disorganized American units, led them to victory at El Guettar, and then turned over
the Corps to his deputy commander, Omar Bradley.
During the Tunisian campaigns final stages, Pattons attempts to help plan for the invasion of Sicily were obstructed by
Bernard Montgomery, who attempted to take complete control of the entire operation.
As Commanding General of the Seventh Army, Patton and his soldiers stole the glory that General Montgomery so badly wanted.
Hampered by higher echelon, sparse supplies, and forced to use secondary roads, Patton and his Seventh Army still managed
Messina first. Montgomery was surprised and embarrassed to march into the town and find Patton and his men sitting there,
In the spring of 1944, Patton sailed to England on the world famous Queen Mary ocean liner. The Queen Mary, built by the
Star Company, was pressed into military service as a troop transport for most of WWII. His job was to assume command of
United States Third Army, his most remembered and victorious weapon.
Once disembarked on the continent, Patton and Lucky Forward (Third Armys code name) swept through Europe with a vengeance.
Attacking in four directions at once, they drove west, south, east, and north across France, destroying everything in their
path that was
In December, when the Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive (known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge), Pattons
made a spectacular battle march to relieve the 101st Airbornes Screaming Eagles who were holding Bastogne against all odds.
In the spring of 1945, Pattons Army drove relentlessly into Germany, across the Rhine, and into Austria. At wars end, his
were in Czechoslovakia.
Throughout the war, Patton and his warriors had given a magnificent performance. Third Army had gone farther, faster, conquered
more territory, killed, wounded, and captured more enemy soldiers than any other Army in the recorded history of war.
Patton died at the age of 60 in December, 1945 as a result of an automobile accident near Mannheim, Germany. The term age
is expressly used instead of 60 years old. Patton was never old. Men half his age were hard pressed to keep up with him.
He was always
the most modern of warriors, always looking for a new, better way to do his job.
It has often been voiced by those who knew well him that perhaps it was a good thing for him to die when he did. He died
at the peak
of his success, known for the many great things he had accomplished. He would have been disgusted at the way the American
wasted and perverted the great victory American fighting men had won. The United States had destroyed the German Nazis
replace them with what Patton called, ... the Mongolian savages known as Russians.
During his lifetime, Patton displayed so many different personalities that it seems difficult to know who the real person
course, the most well known image was his war mask. His toughness, his profanity, his bluster and braggadocio were appurtenances
he assumed because he believed that only he-men stimulated other men to fight. In the same way the Indian War Cry, the
Rebel Yell, and
the paratroopers shout of, Geronimo, help men in battle to disguise their fear, Pattons fierce countenance helped him to
overcome his fear.
Psychologists call these disguises reinforcing factors. They are the sights, sounds, and other stimuli that start adrenaline
They spur men into action and help men act against one of their deepest intuitive drives, the urge for self-preservation.
The battle field is an frightening and eerie place, and the emotion most prevalent is fear; of disfigurement, disability,
death. Cultivation of these reinforcing factors is only one of many ways used by men in battle to overcome their fear.
This is what Patton did so well. This was the total reasoning behind his acts, his demeanor, and his dress. His Ivory-Handled
Revolvers, his oversized stars, his tough, and his blunt blue-flamed profanity were what he gave to his men in large doses
to create the
necessary warrior psychology, the will to confront and to destroy the enemy. These things gave his men the confidence to
enemy. His gift to his men was the gift of Leadership.
Pattons ability to inspire his men were perhaps too visible at times. It often camouflaged a thoroughly competent and professional
Apart from the psychology involved in leading men, the military profession requires an immense technical competence, a
of weapons and equipment, of tactics and operation, of maneuver and logistics. Scarcely appreciated today, is the fact
throughout his career, expended vast amounts of time and energy to learn the intricacies of his chosen profession. He read
voraciously, endlessly in the literature of warfare and history. Not only was he conversant with the field and technical
manuals of his time,
he was also familiar with the pages of history. During his lifetime, he accumulated one of the best military libraries
in the world. Today,
that library is located at the Military Academy at West Point, New York. The library was a gift from his son, George S.
Patton, III, a retired
United States Army Major-General and West Point graduate (1946).
He studied the past to discover the great historical continuities. Patton felt that all of recorded history is one contiguous
Patton understood that history is not just a record of isolated, individual events non-related to each other. Every act
of history is
contiguous totally dependent upon the previous act. Because William the Conquer defeated Harold of Hastings in 1066, the
future and history of England was changed. England took a vastly different path than it would have if Harold had been victorious.
history was thusly changed. England would have followed a much different path in its context within the world community.
Patton recognized this historical cohesiveness and its contiguous correlation for what it is. Its the basis for all cultural
tradition, custom, and the nature of man. The main fascination for Patton in his search for the common elements of mans
behavior was the significance and importance of military leadership. He continually sought those elusive factors that produce
defeat in battle. He was intrigued by the relationships of tactics and supply, maneuver and shock, weapons and will power.
He could easily lecture on such the subjects of scale, chain, and armor, on German mercenaries, the Italian Wars, Polish
techniques, the Peninsular War, and so on, for hours at a time. He wasnt simply cognizant of history, he was familiar and
it; Greek phalanx, Roman Legions, Napoleons columns, Baron de Jomini, Marshal Saxe, Sun Tzu, Flavius Renatus, J.E.B. Stuart,
Mosbys Rangers, Grant and Lee, Samson and his ass jaw, all the way up to and including the mass armies used in World War
I. He could
subjectively compare the heavy cavalry of Belisarius with the modern armored vehicle. He discovered a certain craftiness
in the 6th
Century tactics of Belisarius that he actually applied to the use of modern tanks.
At the same time, he was thoughtful and contemplative. Unlike intellectuals, he believed that the ultimate virtue in warfare
action. His officers often received lectures on the value, advantage, and benefits of not only reading, but studying history.
occasions, he reported to sick call for the treatment of conjunctivitis, an infection and inflammation of the eyes. It
was caused by many
nights of non-stop reading.
Nor was this casual reading. It was purposeful, intense study. He had a habit of making profuse notes in his books, easily
filling the margins of a page with his own thoughts and concepts. In one particular instance, after finishing a book by
General J.F.C. Fuller
(the acknowledged father of tank doctrine) Pattons written reactions covered seven pages of single-spaced typed notes.
Neither was reading the only method in which Patton gained his military expertise. To him, training was the glue that held
together. Proper training accustomed men to obey orders automatically. Patton knew full well that soldiers could only perform
during battlefield conditions when those duties were as second nature to them.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Patton was working hard and soldiering very seriously. In addition to reading and polo playing,
a machine gun sled that could give assault riflemen more direct fire support. He conceived and designed a new saddle pack
to increase the
range and striking power of Cavalry. He worked closely with J. Walter Christie to improve the silhouette, suspension, power,
of tanks. He designed and constructed tank models. He originated plans to restructure infantry divisions into a triangular
form, as opposed
to the old square formation, to squeeze more maneuverability and firepower out of fewer men. This triangular division pre-dated
similar World War II reorganization formed by General Leslie McNair.
Patton continually sought ways to create more and better mobility in operations. He became an authority on amphibious landings.
better understand airplanes and the role of air power in war, he obtained a pilots license. He was one of the first to
see the importance and
flexibility of employing a light airplane for communications and liaisons. He did all of this on his own before the Japanese
attack on Pearl
Pattons unswerving dedication and focused attention to his chosen profession reaped exceptionally immense rewards during
War II. For example, although Patton is primarily remembered today as a tank general, hardly anyone remembers the fact
that Patton was
the leading American amphibious authority in the European Theater of Operations. His landings in Morocco were the only
by an All-American force; the other two simultaneous landings were conducted by Anglo-American forces.
His tactics in Sicily became the prototype for subsequent invasions of southern Italy, Anzio, Normandy, and southern France.
Patton was not allowed to play a part in invasions following Sicily, he was the one who set the pattern. Although he wasnt
consulted officially, he was consulted on every invasion unofficially and never given the credit he deserved.
Still another example of his professional expertise was Pattons use of close support aircraft. Throughout the European
World War II, the XIX Tactical Air Command supported Pattons Third Army. Patton encouraged and promoted the closest cooperation
possible between the air and ground forces. He made sure his ground headquarters and air headquarters were physically located
proximity. He encouraged a close knit working atmosphere between the two staffs, going so far as to have them eat their
He constantly applauded the efforts of the airmen and continually directed the attention of newspaper correspondents to
the value and
importance of air support. He cultivated a feeling of camaraderie, mutual admiration, and cooperation that was beneficial
to both the
Third Army and the XIX Tactical Air Command.
Patton enjoyed shocking people. He liked to create the impression that he was impulsive in his decisions, acting as though
he did was from instinct. Although it might seem that he did, indeed, have some sort of sixth sense regarding possible
enemy action, the
simple fact is that he was so imbued with military knowledge, history, and doctrine, that everything was already in his
mind. All he had to
do was to recall it.
As Patton explained it,, ... by studying history from recorded time until today, when a situation occurs on the battlefield,
in that knowledge there will be a similar example. All the general has to do is retrieve the information from his memory
and use the
current means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wounds, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum of time.
Its exactly this type of knowledge and perception that enabled him to deploy his forces confidently, with pure audacity.
But, even for all of Pattons knowledge and leadership qualities, underneath his sharp and boldly announced course of action,
always displayed loyalty to and an immense appreciation of the solid, dependable, and reliable work performed by his staff.
planned well and left little to chance. His staff was always built of men he had personally hand picked Loyal Men.
Very probably, the best example of his certain grasp on planning occurred in December, 1944, when the Germans Ardennes
drove a bulge into the lines of the First Army. Within 48 hours, Patton turned his entire Third Army 90 degrees to the
left and started
a drive that ultimately linked with the embattled defenders of Bastogne. He threatened the southern flank of the German
German attack was as good as contained.
Patton had no silly, romantic illusions about warfare. He knew how horrible and hateful war is. He once wrote, Ever since
banded together with the laudable intention of killing his fellow man, war has been a dirty business.
Contrary to popular belief, Patton did not like war. He loathed the chaos, disorder, and destruction of the battlefield.
He felt a
personal and deep responsibility for the lives of the men in his command. He knew, however, that he must retain a certain
attitude. The moment he allowed his personal feelings to get in the way, his effectiveness as a general was finished. A
would be the detachment of a doctors feelings while performing surgery on a patient.
Pattons motivation and inclination toward the military life was the chance for glory, greatness, achievement, for fame
and applause, no
matter how fleeting it might be. He despised the misery, death, and horror of the battlefield, yet, he loved the responsibility
and excitement of
Being exceptionally pragmatic, he viewed himself, his virtue and courage, as the ultimate weapon of war. In his words,
New weapons are
useful in that they add to the repertoire of killing, but, be they tank or tomahawk, weapons are only weapons after all.
Wars are fought with
weapons, but they are won by Men.
In 1909, while a plebe at West Point, Patton wrote in his diary, Do not regard what you do as only a preparation for doing
the same thing
more fully or better at some later time. Nothing is ever done twice! There is no next time! This is of special importance
and application to war.
There is but one time to win a battle or a campaign. It must be won the first time.
In order for a man to become a great soldier, it is necessary for him to be so thoroughly conversant with all sorts of
that whenever an occasion arises, he has at hand, without effort on his part, a parallel. To attain this end, it is necessary
for a man to begin to read
military history in its earliest and hence crudest form, and to follow it down in natural sequence, permitting his mind
to grow with his subject
until he can grasp without effort the most abstruse question of the science of war because he is already permeated with
all of its elements.
Ultimately, what made it possible for George S. Patton, Jr. to achieve greatness was not just his driving, obsessive will
believed in luck and he was lucky enough to have fate on his side. He was the right man, at the right time, and in the
Luck was only a part of it, too. Patton firmly believed that he had been born for this purpose. As a believer in reincarnation,
he felt that this
was his fate forever. He said as much in his poem, Through A Glass, Darkly
So forever in the future,
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter,
But to die again, once more.
Pattons luck, the needs of his nation, and fate all came together. When opportunity knocked Patton was
ready, willing, and able. Patton was in many respects similar to a diamond. Hard, multi-faceted, and
fascinating to watch. George Patton was a warriora man of action. He was also a man of wit, culture,
and knowledge. America was lucky to have him.
A Courtesy Publication From
The Patton Society
3116 Thorn Street
San Diego, California 92104-4618