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General George S. Patton: Quotes & Biography

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
One of the greatest military men in American history was General George S. Patton. This lesson will provide you with a few of his famous quotes and, thus, thoughts on life, as well as a brief biography of the man himself.

Patton's Early Life

''No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.''

That is not an inspirational quote from a famous businessman. It is a quote from famous American general George Smith Patton Jr. He was one of the most famous military figures of World War II, and this lesson will give you a brief but important rundown of his life, accomplishments, and some pretty fascinating quotations.

Patton was born on November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California, to a wealthy family. While most of us grow up dreaming of being a police officer, a doctor, or a teacher, guess what little George wanted to be? A hero. He wanted to be a hero because he knew his ancestors fought in important wars, including the American Revolution and the Civil War, and he wanted to be successful just like them. So, he attended the Virginia Military Institute for a year, but eventually graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on June 11, 1909. Patton had to overcome an apparent difficulty with spelling and reading, and poor grades his first year at West Point.

On May 26, 1910, Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of tycoon Frederick Ayer, who became wealthy thanks to ventures in medicine, coal, and the textile industry.

World War I

In 1912, Patton represented the United States in the Olympic Games being held in Stockholm, Sweden. He placed fifth out of 42 competitors in the first modern pentathlon, which includes running, swimming, pistol shooting, fencing, and riding. After the Olympics, Patton kept up with his military studies by studying at the French Cavalry School. In 1916, he served on General John J. Pershing's expedition to Mexico to fight against the legendary Francisco (Pancho) Villa. There, he led an attack that, for the first time in U.S. history, used automobiles in combat. Patton was promoted to captain by Pershing as a result of his service.

In 1917, Patton became the first officer appointed to the United States Tank Corps as World War I was raging on. He learned a great deal about tank warfare thanks to his study of the world's first major tank battle that took place in Cambrai, France, in 1917. Patton trained American tankers and led his tanks and troops into battle from the front, something he was famous for doing throughout his career. In 1918, he was badly injured by machine gun fire while directing his tanks, and received the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism as a result.

After WWI, Patton held staff jobs throughout the U.S. and continued his studies, eventually graduating with distinction from the Army War College in 1932.

World War II

As World War II was occurring, Patton was given command of the Western Task Force in 1942, the only all-American force landing during the Allied invasion of North Africa. After he succeeded in his fight against German forces there, he was given command of the Seventh Army during its invasion of the Italian island of Sicily.

George S. Patton in 1943.
Patton

Not surprisingly, Patton succeeded in Sicily, as well, and was given command of the Third Army in France in 1944. With great aplomb, Patton managed to liberate hundreds of miles across France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and what was then known as Czechoslovakia.

One great example of Patton's military skill occurred in March 1945. He was messaged to skip capturing the city of Trier, Germany, as it would take too many divisions. Patton received the message and replied: ''Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?'' During Patton's control of the Third Army, his troops suffered 137,000 total injured and dead, while the enemy had suffered from ten times as many as a result of their actions. His foreboding words, ''May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't,'' came true.

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