George S. Patton
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- 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. (20 November 1917)
- 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 the victory.
- Cavalry Journal (September 1933)
- Of all the many talks I had in Washington, none gave me such pleasure as that with you. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, you are about my oldest friend. In the second place, your self-assurance and to me, at least, demonstrated ability, give me a great feeling of confidence about the future … and I have the utmost confidence that through your efforts we will eventually beat the hell out of those bastards — "You name them; I'll shoot them!"
- Letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1942); to this Eisenhower replied: "I don't have the slightest trouble naming the hellions I'd like to have you shoot; my problem is to figure out some way of getting you to the place you can do it." as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301
- Sometimes I think your life and mine are under the protection of some supreme being or fate, because, after many years of parallel thought, we find ourselves in the positions we now occupy.
- Letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower (May 1942), as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301
- The publicity I have been getting, a good deal of which is untrue, and the rest of it ill considered, has done me more harm than good. The only way you get on in this profession is to have the reputation of doing what you are told as thoroughly as possible. So far I have been able to accomplish that, and I believe I have gotten quite a reputation from not kicking at peculiar assignments.
- Letter to Frederick Ayers (5 May 1943), published in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 242
- 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.
- Letter to Frederick Ayers (5 May 1943), published in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 243
- It is rather interesting how you get used to death. I have had to go to inspect the troops in which case you run a very good chance — or I should say a reasonable chance — of being bombed or shot at from the air, and shelled or shot at from the ground.
I had the same experience every day which is for the first half-hour the palms of my hands sweat and I feel depressed. Then, if one hits near you, it seems to break the spell and you don't notice them anymore. Going back in the evening over the same ground and at a time when the shelling and bombing are usually heavier, you become so used to it you never think about it.
- Letter to Frederick Ayers (5 May 1943), published in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 243
- A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.
- Letter (3 March 1944), 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)
- Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange
If we accept them we will never win.
Since being realistic, as in mundane combats fistic
We will get a bloody nose and that's a sin.
- Stanza 1 of "Absolute War" a poem composed by Patton in July 1944, during Operation Cobra as quoted in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson p. 492
- For in war just as in loving you must keep on shoving
Or you'll never get your reward. For if you are dilatory in the search for lust or glory
You are up shitcreek and that's the truth, Oh, Lord.
So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
Let's take a chance now that we have the ball.
Let's forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces,
Let's shoot the works and win! Yes win it all.
- Stanzas 4 and 5 of "Absolute War", as quoted in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 492
- 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
- Have taken Trier with two divisions. What do you want me to do? Give it back?
- 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 a popular idea that a man is a hero just because he was killed in action. Rather, I think, a man is frequently a fool when he gets killed.
- Speech at the Hatch Memorial Shell, Boston, Massachusetts (7 June 1945), quoted in The Last Days of Patton (1981), p. 85, by Ladislas Farago and 'The Patton Papers: 1940-1945 (1974), p. 721, edited by Martin Blumenson.
- 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
- The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinaman or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them, except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other Asiatic characteristics, the Russian have no regard for human life and is an all out son of bitch, barbarian, and chronic drunk.
- Statement (8 August 1945), as quoted in General Patton : A Soldier's Life (2002) by Stanley P. Hirshson, p. 650
- In the second place, Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals.
- Diaries, General Patton : A Soldier's Life (2002) by Stanley P. Hirshson, p. 661
- 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) "Reflections and Suggestions"
- There is a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.
- War As I Knew It (1947); also quoted in Patton's One-Minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management (1995) by Charles M. Province, p. 88
- 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.
- My men can eat their belts, but my tanks have gotta have gas.
- On the gasoline supplies for his tanks, as quoted in The Struggle for Europe (1972) by Chester Wilmot, p. 473
- 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
- Always do everything you ask of those you command.
- As quoted in I Remember General Patton's Principles (1984) by Porter B. Williamson, p. 174
- Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.
- As quoted in Textbook of Phacoemulsification (1988) by William F. Maloney and Lincoln Grindle, p. 79
- 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 internment 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
- 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
- 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.
- As quoted in Liberalism is a Mental Disorder : Savage Solutions (2005) by Michael Savage, Ch. 1 : More Patton, Less Patent Leather, p. 4
- Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.
- Quoted in 50 Military Leaders Who Changed the World (2007) by William Weir, p. 173
- Unsourced variant: Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. Anything built by man, can be destroyed by him.
- It is the cold glitter of the attacker's eye not the point of the questing bayonet that breaks the line.
- Quoted in How We Are Changed by War: A Study of Letters and Diaries from Colonial Conflicts to Operation Iraqi Freedom (2010) by D.C. Gill, p. 70
Through A Glass, Darkly (1918)
- Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.
- I have sinned and I have suffered,
Played the hero and the knave;
Fought for belly, shame, or country,
And for each have found a grave.
I cannot name my battles
For the visions are not clear,
Yet, I see the twisted faces
And I feel the rending spear.
- I have fought with gun and cutlass
On the red and slippery deck
With all Hell aflame within me
And a rope around my neck.
- So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.
Speech to the Third Army (1944)
- Transcription of his Speech to the Third Army (5 June 1944); published in The Unknown Patton (1982) by Charles M. Province, p. 32
- 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.
- 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!
- Though 2 publications, Eyewitness to War (2006) by Antony Bird and Nicholas Bird, p. 256, and Charge! : History's Greatest Military Speeches (2007) by Steve Israel, p. 200, have been found which use "George", all earlier published sources available use "Georgie" in this line.
Quotes about Patton
- Alphabetized by author
- Won't that old bastard ever get enough of war? He wanted to fight in the Pacific, and I wish to God they'd let him go.
- Anonymous G.I., as quoted in Patton: A Genius of War (1996) by Carlo D'Este, p. 733
- He was tough. War is tough. Leaders have to be tough. He drove his army hard, yes, and he made many enemies among colleagues and subordinates, but he also produced results. He was indeed arrogant, but sometimes a good leader has to be larger than life. … But the fact is: again typically, Patton's admirers are no more specific in their praise than are his disparagers in their criticism.
- Alan Axelrod: Patton On Leadership (1999), p. xi
- King George VI of the United Kingdom: "How many men have you killed in war, General Patton?"
Patton: "Seven, sir.".
Dwight D. 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
- A great leader for exploiting a mobile situation.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, as quoted in The Prize : The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (2008) by Daniel Yergin, p. 367
- The Bradley name gets heavy billing on a picture of [a] comrade that, while not caricature, is the likeness of a victorious, glory-seeking buffoon … Patton in the flesh was an enigma. He so stays in the film. … Napoleon once said that the art of the general is not strategy but knowing how to mold human nature … Maybe that is all producer Frank McCarthy and Gen. Bradley, his chief advisor, are trying to say.
- 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.
- Bill Mauldin, in The Brass Ring (1971)
- In Tunisia the Americans had to pay a stiff price for their experience, but it brought rich dividends. Even at that time, the American generals showed themselves to be very advanced in the tactical handling of their forces, although we had to wait until the Patton Army in France to see the most astonishing achievements in mobile warfare.