George S. Patton

George S. Patton
Patton as a lieutenant general
Birth name George Smith Patton Jr.
Nickname(s) "Bandito"
"Old Blood and Guts"
"The Old Man"
Born (1885-11-11)November 11, 1885
San Gabriel, California, United States
Died December 21, 1945(1945-12-21) (aged 60)
Heidelberg, Germany
Buried American Cemetery and Memorial, Luxembourg City
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1909–1945
Rank General
Unit Cavalry Branch
Commands held

Seventh United States Army
Third United States Army
Fifteenth United States Army

Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Complete list of decorations
Relations George Patton IV (son)
John K. Waters (son-in-law)
Signature George S Patton Signature.svg

General George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a senior officer of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean and European theaters of World War II, but is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Born in 1885 to a family with an extensive military background (with members having served in the United States Army and Confederate States Army), Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the "Patton Sword", and partially due to his skill in the sport, he competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Patton first saw combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition in 1916, taking part in America's first military action using motor vehicles. He later joined the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces and saw action in World War I, commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded while leading tanks into combat near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton remained a central figure in the development of armored warfare doctrine in the U.S. Army, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. Rising through the ranks, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division at the time of the American entry into World War II.

Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during Operation Torch in 1942, where he later established himself as an effective commander through his rapid rehabilitation of the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily, where he was the first Allied commander to reach Messina. There he was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers under his command, and was temporarily removed from battlefield command for other duties such as participating in Operation Fortitude's disinformation campaign for Operation Overlord. Patton returned to command the Third Army following the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, where he led a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. He led the relief of beleaguered American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and advanced his Third Army into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.

After the war, Patton became the military governor of Bavaria, but he was relieved of this post because of his statements trivializing denazification. He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army for slightly more than two months. Patton died in Germany on December 21, 1945, as a result of injuries from an automobile accident twelve days earlier.

Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His philosophy of leading from the front and his ability to inspire troops with vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as a famous address to the Third Army, attracted favorable attention. His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective. While Allied leaders held sharply differing opinions on Patton, he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. A popular, award-winning biographical film released in 1970 helped transform Patton into an American hero.

Early life

Anne Wilson "Nita" Patton, Patton's sister. She was engaged to John J. Pershing in 1917-18.

George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885 [1] [2] in San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson. Patton had a younger sister, Anne, who was nicknamed "Nita".

Patton at the Virginia Military Institute, 1907

As a child, Patton had difficulty learning to read and write, but eventually overcame this and was known in his adult life to be an avid reader. [Note 1] He was tutored from home until the age of eleven, when he was enrolled in Stephen Clark's School for Boys, a private school in Pasadena, for six years. Patton was described as an intelligent boy and was widely read on classical military history, particularly the exploits of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as those of family friend John Singleton Mosby, who frequently stopped by the Patton family home when George S. Patton was a child. [3] He was also a devoted horseback rider. [4]

Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910 in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and George Patton IV (born December 1923). [5]

Patton never seriously considered a career other than the military. [4] At the age of seventeen he sought an appointment to the United States Military Academy. Patton applied to several universities with Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs. Patton was accepted to Princeton College but eventually decided on VMI, which his father and grandfather had attended. [6] He attended the school from 1903 to 1904 and, though he struggled with reading and writing, performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill. While Patton was at VMI, California's Senator nominated him for West Point. [7]

In his plebe (first) year at West Point, Patton adjusted easily to the routine. However, his academic performance was so poor that he was forced to repeat his first year after failing mathematics. [8] Patton excelled at military drills though his academic performance remained average. He was cadet sergeant major his junior year, and cadet adjutant his senior year. He also joined the football team but injured his arm and ceased playing on several occasions, instead trying out for the sword team and track and field, [9] quickly becoming one of the best swordsmen at the academy. [10] Ranked 46 out of 103, Patton graduated from West Point on June 11, 1909 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Cavalry Branch of the United States Army. [11] [12]


The Patton family was of Irish, Scots-Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. His great-grandmother came from an aristocratic Welsh family, descended from many Welsh lords of Glamorgan, [4] which had an extensive military background. Patton believed he had former lives as a soldier and took pride in mystical ties with his ancestors. [13] [14] [15] [16] Though not directly descended from George Washington, Patton traced some of his English colonial roots to George Washington's great-grandfather. [17] [18] He was also descended from England's King Edward I through Edward's son Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. [17] [18] Family belief held the Pattons were descended from sixteen barons who had signed the Magna Carta. [19] Patton believed in reincarnation, and his ancestry was very important to him, forming a central part of his personal identity. [20] The first Patton in America was Robert Patton, born in Ayr, Scotland. He emigrated to Culpeper, Virginia, from Glasgow, in either 1769 or 1770. [21] His paternal grandfather was George Smith Patton, who commanded the 22nd Virginia Infantry under Jubal Early in the Civil War and was killed in the Third Battle of Winchester, while his great-uncle Waller T. Patton was killed in Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Patton also descended from Hugh Mercer, who had been killed in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution. Patton's father graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), became a lawyer and later the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Patton's maternal grandfather was Benjamin Davis Wilson, a merchant who had been the second Mayor of Los Angeles. His father was a wealthy rancher and lawyer who owned a thousand-acre ranch near Pasadena, California. [22] [23] Patton is also a descendant of French Huguenot Louis DuBois. [24] [25]

Other Languages
العربية: جورج باتون
български: Джордж Патън
brezhoneg: George Patton
català: George Patton
čeština: George S. Patton
español: George Patton
Esperanto: George S. Patton
فارسی: جرج پتن
français: George Patton
한국어: 조지 S. 패튼
hrvatski: George Patton
Bahasa Indonesia: George S. Patton
latviešu: Džordžs Patons
Lëtzebuergesch: George S. Patton
Bahasa Melayu: George S. Patton
Nederlands: George Patton
português: George S. Patton
sicilianu: George Patton
Simple English: George S. Patton
slovenčina: George S. Patton
српски / srpski: Џорџ Смит Патон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: George S. Patton
Tiếng Việt: George S. Patton
粵語: 巴頓