George S. Patton Jr.

George S. Patton, as Captain, Writes to His Father from Mexico, “Most cavalry men are only mounted infantry at best a poor lot.”

GEORGE S. PATTON JR., Autograph Letter Signed, to his father, George S. Patton, December 3, 1916, [Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico]. 2 pp., 8.25" x 10.5". Expected folds; very good.

 

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Dec 3 16

Dear Papa:

            I hope you have had some news of reward from that reptile by now and am glad to hear that you are getting over your sprint.

            Has Johnson yet contracted my fatal disease  I hope so. He is a S.O.B. of the first water and fit only for his master the devil.

            I have not been able to work a transfer yet but things are so mixed up that to transfer now would probably be “out of the frying pan into the fire” My ear is still out of business but is gradually improving  My room is very comfortable and much less dirty than a tent.

            I sent B an article I wrote which was favorably commented on here but as it outraged some of my ideals it was not very ardent. Most cavalry men are only mounted infantry at best a poor lot.

            There is no other news Love to all

                                                                        Your devoted son

                                                                        George S Patton Jr.

 

Historical Background

From the summer of 1915 to February 1917, Patton served with the army in Texas and Mexico. When forces loyal to Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa raided the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, and killed several Americans in March 1916, the United States launched the Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico. Patton served as a personal aide to commander John J. Pershing, and his efforts impressed Pershing. On May 14, 1916, in the first motorized attack in U.S. warfare, Patton led ten soldiers and two civilians in three Dodge touring cars in an attack on Julio Cárdenas, Villa’s second-in-command. Patton and his small contingent killed Cárdenas and two of his guards. Patton remained in Mexico until the end of the year, but President Woodrow Wilson prohibited raids deeper into Mexico.

 

On October 2, Patton was working on some reports in his tent, when his gas lamp exploded in his face and ear. He remained in the hospital until October 9, when General Pershing told Patton to take a month leave of absence. Patton was on leave from October 10 to November 10, and arrived in Los Angeles on October 12. By November 12, he was back at Dublan, Mexico, approximately 125 miles southwest of El Paso, Texas.

 

In 1916, George S. Patton, the mayor of San Marino, was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from California to succeed retiring Republican Senator John D. Works (1847-1928). Incumbent Governor Hiram Johnson (1866-1945) was the Republican nominee. At the election on November 7, Johnson won 61 percent of the vote, more than twice Patton’s total. Johnson served in the U.S. Senate until his death in August 1945.

 

The article Patton sent “B,” his wife Beatrice, may have been his “A Defense of the Saber,” which appeared in the July 1916 issue of the Journal of the United States Cavalry Association, or “Cavalry Work of the Punitive Expedition,” which would soon appear in the January 1917 issue of the same journal.

 

 

George S. Patton Jr. (1885-1945) was born in California and educated at the Virginia Military Institute and United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1909. An avid horseback rider, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the cavalry. In 1910, he married Beatrice Banning Ayer (1886-1953), the daughter of a wealthy Boston businessman. He competed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, in the modern pentathlon, where he finished fifth behind four Swedes. He then traveled to France, where he learned fencing techniques. Returning to the United States, he redesigned cavalry saber combat doctrine and designed a new sword. In 1915 and 1916, Patton participated in the Pancho Villa Expedition in Mexico as Commander John J. Pershing’s aide. In the spring of 1917, he accompanied Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, to Europe. Patton took an interest in tanks and was soon training crews to operate them. By 1918, he was in command of a tank brigade. After World War I, he served in various army posts and began to develop the methods of mechanized warfare. At the beginning of World War II, Patton worked to develop and train armored divisions in the army. In the summer of 1942, he commanded the Western Task Force in the Allied invasion of French North Africa. He commanded the Seventh United States Army in the successful invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

After the Normandy invasion of June 1944, Patton’s Third Army sailed to France and formed on the extreme right of Allied land forces. Through speed and aggressive offensive action, the Third Army continuously pressed retreating German forces until it ran out of fuel near Metz in northeastern France at the end of August. When the German army counterattacked in the battle of the Bulge in mid-December 1944, Patton’s ability to reposition six full divisions to relieve besieged Allied forces in Bastogne was one of the most remarkable achievements of the war. As the Germans retreated, Patton’s Third Army advanced, killing, wounding, or capturing 240,000 German soldiers in seven weeks before crossing the Rhine on March 22. After the end of the war in Europe, Patton hoped for a command in the Pacific but after a visit to the United States returned to Europe for occupation duty in Bavaria. In December 1945, the car in which he was riding collided with an American army truck at low speed, but Patton hit his head on a glass partition, breaking his neck and paralyzing him. He died twelve days later at a hospital in Germany. He was buried among some of his men of the Third Army in an American cemetery in Luxembourg.

 

George Smith Patton (1856-1927), was born in Charleston, (West) Virginia. His father was Confederate colonel George Smith Patton (1833-1864), who died at the third Battle of Winchester during the Civil War. The younger Patton changed his middle name to Smith in honor of his father. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute, studied law, and became an attorney in Lexington, Virginia. In 1877, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where in 1884, he married Ruth Wilson (1861-1928). They settled at Lake Vineyard, California, where they raised produce and operated a winery. In 1902, he began working for Henry E. Huntington’s real estate development company, and he served as the first mayor of San Marino from 1913 to April 1922 and again from October 1922 to 1924. They had two children, George S. Patton Jr. and Anne Wilson Patton (1887-1971).

 

 

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