General Patton Essay, Research Paper
By Steven Bunch
General George S. Patton was regarded as the fightingest general in all of the allied forces. He was considerably more aggressive than most other commanders, and his martial ferocity may very well have been the deciding factor which led to the allied victory.
Patton believed deeply in reincarnation. Everywhere he traveled he said he had fought in a battle there thousands of years ago. His mouth got him in a lot of trouble. He was always running his mouth and telling his opinions at the wrong times. Patton carried two pistols with him at all times: a .357 magnum and a colt .45. Both of his weapons had ivory handles. He talked incessantly of his desire to kill as many Germans as possible, and he exhorted his troops to have the same goal. These bloodthirsty exhortations led to the nickname “Blood and Guts” Patton.
According to Patton, “A man of diffident manner will never inspire confidence.”‘ Patton’s hard-nosed discipline and flamboyance succeeded in “waking up” his men and won him their respect. He always wore his medals, partly because he was a great showman, but primarily because having his men see all the trappings of rank let them know they were commanded by a fighting general. Patton also knew that loyalty to a leader would inspire men to take on objectives against all odds; his troops proved this theory correct again and again. Within a few months of taking over the 2nd Corps, Patton had full control of them and by March 1943 their counteroffensive had pushed the Germans back, while Patton’s British arch-rival Montgomery hit the Germans from the East.
After capturing Palermo, Patton found himself in trouble with military leaders after he slapped a soldier whom he considered a coward and a malingerer. There was pressure from some superiors in Washington and an ignorant public to have Patton relieved of duty. No one bothered to ask the men of the 7th Army what they thought. To a man, they considered the criticisms unjustified. Despite Patton’s aggressiveness, they trusted him in combat. And trust in a commander wins more battles than all the world’s hearts and minds put together. Fortunately, Eisenhower and Chief of Staff Marshall recognized Patton’s virtues as a fighting general, too, and refused to dismiss him. In the end, Patton made a courageous public apology for the incident.
In January 1944, Patton was finally ordered to England to form his new 3rd Army which he would lead to glory during the campaign to liberate Europe. Now an old hand at getting his troops in fighting trim, he began to mould the 3rd Army into one of the greatest fighting forces in American history.
Calling upon the iron will and discipline he had instilled in his troops, Patton disengaged elements of the 3rd Army and hurled them northward into the worst winter to descend upon Europe in years. He did this in an attempt to hit the Germans in the flank and relieve Bastogne. Everyone outside the 3rd Army had felt this feat was impossible, but this was where the willingness of the 3rd Army to perform the impossible for their leader paid off. By 5 February 1945, the 3rd Army was back on the offensive all along the Saar front as Patton drove into Germany. When the 3rd Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp, though, Patton slowed his pace. He instituted the policy, later adopted by other commanders, of forcing local German civilians to tour the camps. By the time the armistice finally came, the 3rd Army, now consisting of more than a half-million men, had liberated or conquered 81,522 square miles of territory and inflicted 1,443,888 casualties on the enemy.
As a result of his ”unofficial” remarks, he was relieved of the command of his beloved 3rd Army. Though he had been showered with honors when he had returned to the United States, there was a great deal of discussion in Washington about what to do with Patton now that the war was over.
Patton said that the only way a good soldier should die is from the last bullet, in the last gun, in the last war. Despite the fact that throughout his military career he had constantly exposed himself to danger, it was a traffic accident, not a bullet, which took Patton’s life. In December 1945, his car was hit by a truck and he was severely injured. On 21 December he died from these injures and was buried in Luxembourg, a country which still considers George S. Patton its liberator.