George S. Patton

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Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains that victory.

General George Smith Patton, Jr. (1885-11-111945-12-21) was a U.S. General during World War II; he was known in his time as "America's Fightingest General".

See also Patton (1970 film)

Sourced

  • I wonder if I could have been here before as I drive up the Roman road the Theater seems familiar — perhaps I headed a legion up that same white road... I passed a chateau in ruins which I possibly helped escalade in the middle ages. There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, We are, and we will be.
    • In a letter to his mother from Chamlieu, France during World War I, revealing some of his speculations about reincarnation. (1917-11-20)
  • Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains that victory.
    • Cavalry Journal (September 1933)
  • Have taken Trier with two divisions. What do you want me to do? Give it back?
    • Reply to a message from General Dwight Eisenhower to bypass the German city of Trier because it would take four divisions to capture it (2 March 1945), as quoted in the Introduction to War as I Knew it (1947) by George Smith Patton, Jr., with Paul Donal Harkins, p. 20
  • A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.
    • Letter (1944-04-03): later published in War As I Knew It (1947) Similar expressions were also used in his famous "Speech to the Third Army" in June 1944. The phrase is similar to one attributed to Erwin Rommel, "Sweat saves blood, blood saves lives, and brains saves both", and to an even older one by August Willich: "A drop of sweat on the drill ground will save many drops of blood on the battlefield" from The Army: Standing Army or National Army? (1866)
  • Some goddamn fool once said that flanks have got to be secure. Since then sonofabitches all over the globe have been guarding their flanks. I don't agree with that. My flanks are something for the enemy to worry about, not me. Before he finds out where my flanks are, I'll be cutting the bastard's throat.
    • Conference with his officers (1 August 1944), as quoted in General Patton : A Soldiers Life (2002) by Stanley P. Hirshon, p. 502
  • I don't know what you think you're trying to do, but the krauts ought to pin a medal on you for helping them mess up discipline for us.
    • During a March 1945 meeting with Bill Mauldin, complaining about his "Willy and Joe" cartoons; as quoted in The Brass Ring (1971) by Bill Mauldin
  • It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
    • Speech at the Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston Massachusetts (7 June 1945), quoted in Patton : Ordeal and Triumph (1970) by Ladislas Farago
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
  • Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
    • War As I Knew It (1947) by George S. Patton, "Reflections and Suggestions"
  • There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in.
  • A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.
    • As quoted in "The Unknown Patton" (1983) by Charles M. Province, p. 165
  • When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. ... As for the types of comments I make, sometimes I just, By God, get carried away with my own eloquence.
    • Remark to his nephew about his copious profanity, quoted in "The Unknown Patton" (1983) by Charles M. Province, p. 184
  • We entered a synagogue which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. Either these Displaced Persons never had any sense of decency or else they lost it all during their period of interment by the Germans…. My personal opinion is that no people could have sunk to the level of degradation these have reached in the short space of four years.
    • As quoted in After the Holocaust: Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Post War Germany (1997) by Michael Brenner
  • Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.
    • As quoted in Interplay : The Process of Interpersonal Communication (1992) by Ronald B. Adler, Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, and Neil Towne, p. 383; also in The Military Quotation Book (2002) by James Charlton, p. 126
  • We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.
    • As quoted in Pocket Patriot : Quotes from American Heroes (2005) edited by Kelly Nickell, p. 157

Speech to the Third Army (1944)

Transcription of his Speech to the Third Army (1944-06-05)
We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home.
  • Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight.
  • Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.
  • Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.
  • Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.
  • All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call "chicken shit drilling". That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don't give a fuck for a man who's not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn't be here. You are ready for what's to come.
  • There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily. All because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did.
  • An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!
  • We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we're going up against. By God, I do.
  • My men don't surrender. I don't want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back.
I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood.
  • All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don't ever let up. Don't ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain.
  • Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don't want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men.
  • Don't forget, you men don't know that I'm here. No mention of that fact is to be made in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I'm not supposed to be commanding this Army. I'm not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Goddamned Germans. Some day I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, "Jesus Christ, it's the Goddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton".
  • Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!
  • When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!
  • I don't want to get any messages saying, "I am holding my position." We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy's balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!
  • From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don't give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.
  • There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won't have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, "Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana." No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, "Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!

Unsourced

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
  • Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.
  • Always do everything you ask of those you command.
  • Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. Anything built by man, can be destroyed by him.
  • I don't care what color you are, so long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons-of-bitches!
  • Hold'em by the nose and kick'em in the pants.
  • I am in the pay of the United States government. If I vote against the administration I am voting against my commander-in-chief. If I vote for the administration in office I am being bought.
  • If a man has done his best, what else is there?
  • If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
  • I'm a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.
  • I'm not going to subsidize cowardice.
  • I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
  • Just drive down that road until you get blown up.
    • Instructions to reconnaissance troops
  • Kill all the Germans you can, but do not kill them when they are up against a wall ready to surrender. Do your killing in the fields. We are to honor the Rules of Land Warfare at all times. If a German surrenders, he is to be treated with respect as a prisoner of war, the same treatment you would hope to get as a prisoner if you are unlucky enough to be captured by the enemy. Americans are not savages. Americans do not kick people in the face if they have been knocked down.
  • March toward the sound of gunfire, an easily recognizable sound that they could usually find in front of them.
  • May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I sure as hell won't.
  • Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
  • Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.
  • My soldiers can eat their waist belts, but my tanks need gas.
    • Patton to General Dwight Eisenhower on the gasoline supplies for his tanks.
  • Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
  • Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!
    • Upon defeating Erwin Rommel's forces in North Africa. This was portrayed in the film Patton; however, the book portrayed in that film is purely fictional — Rommel never finished the book he was writing on tank warfare, but did write a book on his experiences in WW I. It was widely read, regarded a classic of modern military tactics, and published in abbreviated form for study by US army officers.
  • Son, only a pimp in a Louisiana whore house carries pearl handled revolvers, these are ivory.
    • Upon being asked by an American reporter where he got his "pearl" handled revolvers.
  • Take calculated risks. This is quite different from being rash. My personal belief is that if you have a 50% chance, take it!
  • The more I see of Arabs the less I think of them. By having studied them a good deal I have found out the trouble. They are the mixture of all the bad races on earth, and they get worse from west to east, because the eastern ones have had more crosses.
    • From his personal diary [date needed]
  • There's only one proper way for a professional soldier to die: the last bullet of the last battle of the last war.
  • There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.
  • Wonder weapons... my God, I don't see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics, nothing is glorified... nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals? Only those who are left alive... and those who are left dead. I'm glad I won't live to see it.
  • You are always on parade.
  • You are never beaten until you admit it.
  • You don't win a war by dying for your country. You win a war by making the other son-of-a-bitch die for his.
  • You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.

Misattributed

  • Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
    • Though Patton commissioned this prayer and ordered 250,000 copies of it printed with his signature, it was actually composed by Chief Chaplain James H. O'Neill Review of the News (6 October 1971)
  • Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you; But of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aims fulfilled, They will all say, We did this ourselves.
    • This is actually a translation of a statement by Lao Zi from the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing). Patton may have used a similar or identical expression, perhaps quoting the book.
  • Give me an army of West Point graduates, I'll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I'll win a war!
    • Mike Province, founder and president of The Patton Society calls this an urban legend and in the Texas A&M Battalion (2 October 2006) is quoted as saying "I've gotten e-mails and questions regarding that quote for several years... People will use it with Texas Aggies, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and even Clemson. All of these schools want to be linked to Patton... Anything is possible... I honestly don't believe he said it, because I've heard too many people say that he said it about their school. But if anyone out there can find proof that he said it, I'd love to hear about it and get it out there."
  • I'd rather have a German division in front of me, than a French one behind.
    • Misattributed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger on Fox News. Patton commanded French troops, the 2nd Armored Division commanded by Philippe Leclerc, integrated in the Third Army, and had rocky but friendly relations with the French general. For instance, on August, 15 1944 Patton wrote in his diary: "Leclerc came in very much excited. He said, among other things, that if he were not allowed to advance on Paris, he would resign. I told him in my best French that he was a baby and said I had left him in the most dangerous place on the front. We parted friends"
  • I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.
    • Spoken by George C. Scott in the film Patton.
    • Variants: No man ever won a war by dying for his country. Wars were won by making the other poor bastard die for his.

Quotes about Patton

  • King George VI of the United Kingdom: "How many men have you killed in war, General Patton?"
    Patton: "Seven, sir.".
    Eisenhower: "How many did you say, General Patton?"
    Patton: "Three, sir."
    Eisenhower: "Ok, George, we'll let you get away with that."
    • Anecdote from The Reluctant King {1989) by Sarah Bradford.
  • If you're a leader, you don't push wet spaghetti, you pull it. The U.S. Army still has to learn that. The British understand it. Patton understood it. I always admired Patton. Oh, sure, the stupid bastard was crazy. He was insane. He thought he was living in the Dark Ages. Soldiers were peasants to him. I didn't like that attitude, but I certainly respected his theories and the techniques he used to get his men out of their foxholes.

External links

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