General Patton: Facts, History and Cool Quotes

General Patton is considered one of the best, and most controversial military leaders in U.S. history. Love him or hate him, he was a tremendous leader.  Without his results oriented leadership, I’m not sure we would have won World War 2.

Top 18 General Patton Facts

What I want to do in this post is share some cool General Patton facts.  These are interesting things about General Patton that you might not know about.

1: Descendant of Edward I of England

George Patton came from a long line of military blood. He was a direct descendant of Edward I of England who was a battling King. It is also claimed that Patton had blood in him from President George Washington.

The line shows he was descended from Hugh Mercer who was killed in the American Revolution. Patton’s Grandfather Commanded the 22nd Infantry in the Civil War, and his Uncle was killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Patton’s Father graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and became an attorney.

Patton was raised within a military atmosphere.  He was born on November 11,1885 in San Gabriel, California.

2: Education

George Patton always wanted to be involved with the U.S. Military. He attended Stephen Clark’s School for Boys and was always reading about military history. At 17 years old, he wrote a Senator asking for an appointment to the USMA. The Senator required that Patton would have to take an entrance exam. Both Patton and his Father worried that he may not pass, so they searched for a beginner school that had an ROTC program. Princeton accepted him, but he chose the Virginia Military Institute. He did well at VMI, and he ended up passing the entrance exam for the US Military Academy, where he was accepted.

3: Held Back

George Patton Jr. Had to repeat his first year at the West Point US Military Academy. He failed math and had to work with a tutor to bring his math skills in line.

4: Dyslexia

One of the reasons Patton may have had trouble in math was a common thing many people have. He had dyslexia. This is a issue when people can turn numbers around.

5: Sword Design

Because of his achievements in fencing, Patton traveled to France and learned more about fencing after the Olympics. He brought his swordsmanship education back and he designed a new Cavalry sword. In 1913, the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber was produced with Patton the designer.

6: Fort Riley, Kansas

In 1913, Patton was assigned to the Mounted Service School in Fort Riley, Kansas. While there, he designed and taught a course in swordsmanship. He was a Master of the Sword.

7: Patton’s Mentor

While a young officer, Patton was an aide to General John Pershing. Traveling to Mexico to try and capture Pancho Villa, Patton became entrenched in learning all he could. Patton’s mentor was General Pershing. Patton tried to emulate him.

8: Reincarnated

General Patton was a firm believer in reincarnation. He believed he once was:

  • A Greek soldier during the invasion of Ionia.
  • A Roman soldier under Julius Caesar.
  • A Viking.
  • A fighter for the House of Stuart as a Scottish Highlander.
  • A French soldier who escorted Napoleon.
  • A soldier with the New York regiment during the Civil War.

9: Purple Heart

Patton nearly died during World War I. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he was wounded in his thigh. He continued leading but was finally take to a hospital. When the Purple Heart was reinstated in 1932, Patton was awarded the prestigious award for that day of battle. He often would say that he was a half-assed soldier after that.

10: Patton The Prophet

In the 1930’s, Patton was stationed for awhile in Hawaii. While there, he wrote an extensive paper that detailed what he thought the Japanese may do. Almost to the exact way Patton wrote the paper, is the way the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Was Patton a prophet, or did Japanese leaders read his paper?

11: Olympics

Patton was chosen to represent the United States in the first ever Pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics. The Olympics were in Stockholm, Sweden and the future General competed in:

  • The 25 meter pistol shooting

  • A 4 kilometer cross-country run

  • Fencing competition (swords)

  • An 800 meter horseback riding contest

  • A 300 meter freestyle swimming competition

Patton finished 5th, but there was controversy in that… Patton used a .38 revolver while others used .22s. The holes were larger, and the judges claimed he missed a shot, but George claimed it went through a previous hole.

12: D-day and General Patton

When troops were invading the shores of France, General Patton had his troops on the shores of England. What’s more, they had inflatable tanks, trucks and jeeps.

This was all called Operation Quicksilver. The idea was to give the Germans the thought that allied troops would attack from Patton’s position instead of the banks of Normandy.

13: Slap the PTSD Out

It wasn’t known as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) during World War II. PTSD is treatable according to today’s standards, but General Patton had his own treatment form for PTSD.

General Patton led troops in capturing Sicily and during this process, the leader entered a military hospital. A young soldier was lying in a bed and when Patton found that the soldier was there because of stress, he slapped the young man across the face and told him to get back to the line.  Eisenhower forced Patton to apologize for this act.

14: Great Leaders are Readers

Patton had difficulties in school with reading and writing but as he aged, George discovered he loved to read. As a teen, Patton read military books primarily about personalities such as:

  • Hannibal

  • Napoleon

  • Julius Caesar

  • Joan of Arc

  • Etc…

15: Tank School in France

Patton was well known as the General who made tanks a primary weapon of the United States Army.

Patton developed and organized an American Tank school in Bourg, France in early 1918. He trained 500 tank operators, and in September of 1918, General Patton led the tanks into the Meuse-Argonne operation.

Patton rode in the front and used homing pigeons to deliver messages to the command post. He was shot during his leadership escapades as a tank Commander, and he earned the Distinguished Service Cross.

16: Governor of Bavaria

After the war was over, there was a huge push to “denatzify” Europe. Patton was appointed as military Governor of Bavaria.

General, or should I say Governor Patton was outspoken. He often had statements that angered higher powers. Eisenhower soon pulled Patton when the General compared Nazis to Republicans and Democrats. He was also relieved of his Command of the Third Army to which General Patton said:

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.

17: Patton, the Ivory Handled Cowboy

Patton loved his sidearms.  On General Patton’s right was an ivory handled Army issued Colt .45. On the General’s left side, he wore an ivory gripped Smith & Wesson .357 Model 27.  Patton loved the flashiness of these guns, and it was noted that this flash inspired troops who came in contact with him.

18: Patton Assassinated?

George Patton died in Germany. The reason was supposedly a vehicle accident. Be it a conspiracy theory or not, there has been evidence presented that Patton was assassinated. This comes from a diary entry of a former OSS agent.

It is claimed that the Chief of the OSS, General “Wild Bill” Donovan ordered Douglas Bazata to kill Patton. It seems Patton was going to divulge information about United States and Russian collusion that cost lives of Americans. The plan supposedly didn’t work when the truck hit Patton’s vehicle, but supposedly, the KGB finished the job when Patton was soon to be released from the hospital.

Is it true?  I doubt we will ever know for sure.

Top 10 General Patton Quotes

What you will see below are ten of my favorite General Patton quotes.  Each quote is in bold and italics.  After each quote, I will share my own two cents on it.

# 1: There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.  

Everyone has fears.  That’s normal.  The key is to not let your fears control you.  Courage is doing what needs to be done, in spite of your fears.

# 2: Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their ingenuity.

We live in a day and age where people like to micro-manage others.  That is a huge mistake.  There is always more than one way to do something.  Delegate tasks to your followers, make sure they understand your intent and have the resources they need to succeed, and then let them figure out the best way for them to do the task!

# 3: Better to fight for something than live for nothing.  

Life is meaningless without a purpose.  It is much better when you have something to believe in.

# 4: A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

Procrastination is a killer.  You will never have a perfect plan.  Collect the facts, make a plan, and move forward with it.  Do not get stuck in analysis by paralysis.

# 5: If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.

The last thing you want to do is surround yourself with a bunch of YES men.  Instead, you want people with their own ideas who will counsel you and share their ideas with you.

# 6: We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people.  Led me, follow me, or get out of my way.  

In the Army, you are either leading people or following someone.  If your job is to lead, do it.  If your job is to follow, do it!

# 7: Take calculated risks.  That is quite different from being rash.  

Don’t make off the cuff decisions.  Collect the facts, minimize your risks, and make a decision.

# 8: A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.  

All of the work and time you spend preparing and training is time well spent.

# 9: Success is how high you bounce back when you hit the bottom.

Tough times never last, but tough people do.  Everyone goes through obstacles, struggles and difficult times.  It’s how you react to what happens that matters most.

# 10: By perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.  

All success starts with desire.  In addition to desire, you need to have a game-plan, master your skills and persevere until successful.

I really love reading these General Patton quotes.  He never sugarcoated anything.  He was a leader’s leader.

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts and impressions about General Patton? Do you believe he was assassinated? Did you know about any of these facts?  Which General Patton quote listed above is your favorite and why?

Regardless of his personality or leadership style, General George Patton was an icon in American history.   He was a man who could get results.  Without his leadership ability, there is a good chance we might not have won the war.  

Personally, I would have been quite proud to serve under this great General.  How about you?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. .

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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