General Patton was a very famous and well-respected man. He first served with General Pershing in Mexico and later in World War I. He is known mostly for commanding the third army in World War II. Spoken of as old blood and guts, Patton was considered a daring and ruthless field commander.
George Smith Patton Jr. was born of San Gabriel, California on November 11, 1885. He was a descendant of military forbears. In the middle of George’s father’s 1,800-acre farm, he loved to go hunting, fishing, swimming and especially listen to his Aunt Nannie Wilson read thrilling stories to him. George’s greatest joy of childhood was to lie sprawled out in the deep living room window seat and listen to his father read from Sir Walter Scott, Homer or Shakespeare.
Even though George was illiterate when he was young, he was still very familiar with the world’s literature. He was also very skilled in the military sense. He was mainly taught by three people. One was Colonel George Hugh Smith, which was Patton’s step-grandfather, another was a cavalryman who fled the country because of Robert E. Lee’s loss to the north. He went to Mexico until things calmed down and then moved to California. He taught George to read military maps, to visualize contour lines as mountains and valleys and locate geographical points by grid coordinates. The third was a more famous soldier, Colonel John Singleton Mosby. He told George that to be a successful leader in war, you must know the terrain that you are about to maneuver on. These lessons contributed largely to the success of the third army in the breathtaking dash across France in World War II.
In high school, Patton out grew his illiteracy. That was when he met his first love, Beatrice Banning Ayer. She was a daughter of a Massachusetts manufacturer and financier. They had a lot in common, but were separated when George went off to military school.
George hoped to enter West Point upon high school graduation, but a vacancy from California did not then exist. He had an opportunity the next June, but he was never one to mark time. He then entered the Virginia Military Institute. Young Patton was no stranger to VMI. His father had described it to him so vigorously that the school at Lexington had been a part of his life for years. Back at home where George lived, he was a leader of the crowd. At VMI, it was different. He was considered a rat, which was the equivalent of a West Point plebe. He knew that he and his classmates could expect only contempt. “Bracing,” which is a highly artificial pose that underclassmen are required to take when they are in the presence of an upperclassman, held no terrors for Patton. Bracing, which meant to stand at attention, was very painful for some of the novices, but George was already straight as a ribbon. It was pretty much the same thing for inspections by the upperclassmen. He knew exactly how to make his bed up and where all of his clothes were supposed to be. His father had told him that sometimes a third-classman would tear his bed apart or throw stuff out of his locker on the pretense that everything was out of order. He was also very good at avoiding the traps that most rats fell in and he never talked back to anyone.
He quickly fell into the school’s routine academic classes, which were from eight o’clock to four o’clock and then an hour of close-order drill. Sometimes he would have a session with the football team under the training of Coach Billy Roper. By the time the term ended, George was doing very well in his class rolls and some of his classmates said that he stood head and shoulders above his fellow cadets. He always had a neater uniform than everyone else, he was always better than everyone with drill movements, and his uniform was always shinier than everyone else’s. Patton was definitely going to be either a soldier or a bust. Then on February 15 he was to take an examination with six other cadets. Patton waited anxiously and then the letter came. He was excepted into West Point with two other cadets,