George S. Patton
This is one of the famous quotes from George Smith Patton. Born on November 11th 1885, Patton was one of the few high ranking officers that fought in both World War I and World War II. Many know him as the great American general who was the first Allied commander to set foot in Germany in World War II. There are some traits that made Patton one of the most accomplished generals in history, as shown in the biography George S. Patton: World War II General and Military Innovator by Martin Gitlin. George S. Patton was daring, insightful, and militaristic.
Trait 1: Daring
George Patton was daring on many occasions since he was a man who had a lot of innovative ideas. One of these was when he wanted to be the first tank commander. The U.S. Army at that time only had a few trucks or cars, but no tanks. During World War I, Patton , who was just promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, used the 144 French “Renault” tanks that were commissioned to him for battle usage at the Saint-Mihiel salient. During the battle, Patton watched his troops attack from a hillside, safe from the fight. However, when some tanks got stuck in the mud, he walked three point two kilometers to help them. After the tanks were freed, Patton remained with his troops instead of returning back to his safe hillside, far from the fight. Furthermore, he commanded his troops while in front of them. He, being an officer, was the ideal target for the Germans, but he wanted to show his soldiers that he was not afraid to get injured or killed (Gitlin, 39, 49). Patton wanted to increase the number of tanks in the US army. He knew that what he did would affect how the US military thought about tanks. If he performed well, there would be more tanks; if he performed poorly, the US army most likely would not use many tanks. Therefore, he had to show that the tanks could perform beyond expectation. Another piece of proof to show he was daring is that he walked into battle as a high ranking officer to show his men that he was not afraid to get hurt. Because he had a choice to go back to where it was safe, I would consider this act both daring and courageous because he both walked into battle for the sake of the troops and because after he helped his troops, he stayed in the point of battle where he could have been most easily injured.
Trait 2: Insightful
Another trait that Patton had was that he was very insightful. Patton had many plans and tactics that he had used and in turn, had gained victory using them. For example, when the Germans attacked a part of Belgium that was thickly forested(in what would become the Battle of the Bulge), Patton declared that he could launch a counterattack against them. Many of the British officers thought this was ridiculous. To achieve this feat, Patton’s Third Army would have to march many miles in the opposite direction through snow and ice without stopping. However, despite the lack of support, Patton still pulled this incredible act off. He first freed the allied soldiers from the German surrounded Belgian town of Bastogne, then Patton started moving to the Rhine river. Then. after he got there, even he was only a four-star general, he refused to use the plan suggested by five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower. After getting to the Rhine River on March Seventh, 1945, Patton next advanced through Germany and practically destroyed Germany's First and Seventh Armies. While sweeping through Germany, Patton took more than One million prisoners, but was not allowed to continue through Germany to Berlin. Patton was sickened to learn that the honor of invading Berlin would be given to the Russians(Gitlin, 91, 92). Aside from this one of many successful pushes against the Axis Powers, Patton also predicted where the enemy would attack. When the Germans attacked the forested area of Belgium, everyone was surprised except for George Patton himself. Patton had predicted that there would be an attack there, and had also told other officers, but they had ignored him(Gitlin, 91). Because Patton’s plans and predictions almost always worked or were right, I think that Patton was a insightful man. To illustrate, since Patton was the first to invade Germany(because he wanted to beat British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery to the fight) with a plan that worked brilliantly. Also, since Patton himself came up with this idea for the counterattack, that makes Patton the insightful man behind the successful plan.
Trait 3: Militaristic
Patton was also a extremely militaristic man. He was always ready for a fight and was angered when he was ordered or forced out of one. Patton also showed this trait to his men. He wanted them to keep on fighting and more than once, he used more than words to get the man back into the fight. For example, when Patton was advancing to Messina, Sicily, he started visiting US evacuation hospitals, where troops that are injured are going back to America. When there, he tried to cheer troops up, but when he was leaving, he saw a soldier with no wounds. Then, he asked the man what was wrong. The man replied “I guess I just can’t take it,” and when he said this, Patton slapped the man in the face and told him to get back to the fight. One week later, in another evacuation hospital, Patton found a man who “couldn’t take the shelling anymore”(Gitlin, 80) at this, he struck the man, accused him of being a coward, and people say he even started to reach for his pistol. Later, it was uncovered that the soldier was AWOL, or left his unit or troop without asking. He could have been court-martialed or even shot. Later, Patton apologized to the man(Gitlin, 79,80). As the militaristic man he was, Patton wanted to get his troops into battle. To think that they were giving up the war because they were scared, or “a coward” as he called the man who tried to escape the war while he was AWOL, was a horrible thought for Patton. Because he committed the acts of striking his men, he was criticized. But, it also showed that he was militaristic. It showed this because since he wanted his men to keep fighting unless they had a legitimate injury, so he wanted them to always be ready for a fight. Another piece of evidence to show that Patton was a militaristic was all the times he was ordered to remain on the defending side or out of the fight. For example, at the invasion of Sicily, the main force was going to be led by Montgomery’s British Eighth army. Patton’s men would only be in a supporting role. Patton would be determined to beat Montgomery to every fight or battle destination(Gitlin, 77). Because he he held this continuing grudge against officers that held a higher rank than him, he was also very militaristic. He was because he held this grudge because his own troops were not part of the main attack, and were forced to be a supporting role. He pinned his anger on Montgomery, and did not forget his anger for this one battle because mostly, Patton always did beat Montgomery’s men to a fight or battle. Because Patton wanted his men to keep fighting, and was able to hold a major grudge because that man was leading instead of him, Patton was an extremely militaristic man.
Throughout his life, Patton, a daring, insightful, and militaristic man, was highly accomplished. He achieved many feats, for his plans all had a mix of insightfulness and his daring personality to try new tactics and strategies. Whether the most important offensive of the war, or getting one man roused back into the fight, George Patton was always ready. Because of these traits, Patton will be honored by the American Military and many other people, from whether they fought with him, if they just know about him, or they recognized his brilliance from the other side of the war. Patton is truly one of the best. As he once said:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived”
-George Smith Patton
This quote, another from George Patton, symbolizes that even though a great man/woman, if that man/woman died, than rather than grief over his or her death, people should celebrate that that person lived to be the great person that they were. This we should do with George Patton. Don’t mourn over his death, but instead honor the fact that he lived.