General George S. Patton Jr., Wartime Philosopher

General George S. Patton Jr., Wartime Philosopher

I can’t say I know much about General George S. Patton Jr. other than his job title and the fact that every man of a certain generation seems to regard him as a role model and hero. Today, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, seemed like a good day to go poking around the website that his descendants run. Here’s some more info on this remarkable individual:

One of the most complicated military men of all time, General George Smith Patton, Jr. was born November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. He was known for carrying pistols with ivory handles and his intemperate manner, and is regarded as one of the most successful United States field commanders of any war. He continually strove to train his troops to the highest standard of excellence.

Here are some other interesting things about him: He attended Virginia Military Institute for a year and went on to graduate from West Point. He represented his country at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the first modern pentathlon. He served in WWI and organized the American tank school in France. He did a lot of other important things, but my favorite is this: after liberating Buchenwald concentration camp in WWII, he made a policy of forcing local German civilians to tour the camps to see what their government (and, sometimes, their own complicity) had wrought.

Now that’s one badass dude. And that’s why he provides today’s inspirational quote.

“It’s the unconquerable soul of man, not the nature of the weapon he uses, that ensures victory.”

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  • Maureen Damian

    Patton believed that the hallmark of a true gentlemen was being able to swear for three minutes without repeating oneself. He also commanded 200 mounted cavalry, 300 infantry, and six tanks against the Bonus Army protesters, an attack ordered by Herbert Hoover in 1932. The veterans, their wives and children were forced to flee and their tents and belongings were burned. There were a number of casualties, including children, and two infants.

    • Dragoon21b

      and we think the VA has problems

      • Maureen Damian

        Yeah, it’s a really disgraceful episode. The best that can be said is that Patton kept his troops very disciplined. Supposedly, no shots were fired, and the troops used non-lethal force. (Smacking people with their sabers, instead of slicing and dicing them.) Douglas MacArthur, who was in charge, would probably have just slaughtered people wholesale without Patton’s restraint. In fact, MacArthur directly defied an order from Hoover to stand down, and pursued the veterans to their base camp and gassed and torched it. Insubordination was a lifelong failing of his. I do think Patton was extremely valuable in WWII, and he did come to regret, to a degree, his actions against the Bonus Army. He wrote several papers on ways to deal with a civil disturbance with minimal violence. He was a deeply weird and, as Sara wrote, complicated man.

        • GemlikeFlame

          After the Civil War mounted troops considered it unsporting to use a sharpened sword. There was enough crush damage anyway, and a sharp blade risked getting lodged in some poor oaf’s spinal column or collarbone with possible demounting or loss of the weapon as a result. Hitting someone with the flat of the blade while mounted is hard, it’s a side to side motion with the wrist aligned perfectly vertical at all times as opposed to a more natural downward strike. See Hank Reinhardt’s fine “The Book of Swords” for a scholarly and pragmatic treatment.

          • Maureen Damian

            Thanks for the info. I’ll look for “The Book of Swords”. My, we’re getting pretty dang scholarly here in the HNTP comment thread!

  • Monty

    128 years, six months, and 26 days spent not being gay? Oh please.”Complicated?””Ivory-handled” “PISTOLS??”Reportedly “smoked” “pipe.”Not sure how fast the Armies of Sodom (Left Coast Division) will rise to defend this “badass dude” while screaming about “VA benefits” but SON I AM DISAPPOINT.

  • Jaime Oria

    There was also his – supposed – belief in past lives. He was said to frequently point out to the staff riding in his jeep this gully or that creek where he’d been ambushed as a Roman centurion or other warrior of Ye Olden Tymes.

    • Maureen Damian

      Oh, he really believed it. He talks about it a lot in his autobiography. He even wrote (really bad) poetry about it.

  • marindenver

    The movie “Patton” with George C. Scott in the lead was awesome. It really gave you a feel for what the guy was like. It was made about 35 years ago but seems like it would be available on Netflix.

    • r_dale

      I’ve watched it a dozen times but one thing: Patton had kind of a high-pitched, almost squeaky voice, unlike George C. Scott. But a favorite.