"MAMA… I GOT MY SABER AND A HUGE PISTOL THE BIGGEST ONE YOU EVER SAW": TEN REVEALING LETTERS BY GEORGE S. PATTON SPANNING 36 YEARS, DISPLAYING THE GRIT THAT WOULD BECOME "OLD BLOOD AND GUTS"
PATTON, George S. Archive: six autograph letters signed and four typed letters signed. Various places: 1903-39. Various sizes and stationery, 23 pages.
Wonderful archive of ten letters—six autograph letters from a young Patton to his mother or father, and four later typed letters to friend Arvin Harrington "Jerry" Brown—dated from 1903-1939, revealing details from the formation of one of America's greatest military commanders.
The earliest letter, written as a Virginia Military Institute cadet, is dated November 20, 1903, to "Mama." Patton handwrites a two-page letter from "Car Rainsgate, Arizona." On a train trip presumably home for Thanksgiving, Patton tells about the great treatment he was receiving. Thirty-nine years later, Patton would arrive to Rainsgate as a Major General and the first commanding general of the desert training center, Camp Young. Also included is a document dated May 6, 1904, being Patton's printed report card from VMI, showing his lowest grade a 75 in Latin and his highest grade a 97 in Algebra.
A two-page handwritten letter to "Mama" dated March 14, 1909, as a cadet at West Point: "I got my saber and a huge pistol the biggest one you ever saw… so I will surely kill all the [illegible] in Jolo and also some Japs at least I hope so." The island of Jolo in the Philippines was a hotbed of Muslims in rebellion. Later during World War II, Jolo was occupied by the Japanese.
A three-page handwritten letter to "Dear Mama" from Fort Sheridan (with a copy of the original envelope dated July 26, 1910), talking about his new bride Beatrice and going to the target range.
A six-page handwritten letter to "Dear Papa," dated March 5, 1911, from Fort Sheridan, a very detailed letter about horses. Patton would soon compete and perform well in the equestrian competition in the 1912 Olympics.
A two-page handwritten letter to "Mama," dated February 19, 1916, asking his mother to send his "Social Full Dress Uniform" with "the big gold shoulder knots" along with Katherine, as well as a pair of yellow boots.
A two-page handwritten letter to "Mama," with envelope, dated April 27, 1916, from New Mexico, addressed by Patton and incorporating his full signature. A highly important letter and a landmark in the career of the future general. Patton discusses receiving a telescope from his aunt and his desire to use it. The letter also mentions "trains of autos moving about." Patton at this time was part of the expeditionary forces against Pancho Villa, who, weeks before this letter was written, had crossed in to New Mexico. Villa killed two Americans, and an invigorated Patton appealed to the commander, John J. Pershing, to attack. An impressed Pershing appointed Patton commander of the 13th Cavalry to hunt for Villa. Just two weeks after writing this letter, Patton would taste his first combat on May 14, 1916, where a train of three Dodge touring cars would mount the first motorized attack in U.S. history, killing Villa's second-in-command and his two guards.
The remaining four letters, dated from 1934-39, on the eve of World War II, Patton sent to his close friend and financial adviser, Arvin Harrington "Jerry" Brown. They are typed by Patton himself and signed in full or with initials. They show his progression through the ranks on letterhead "Lieutenant-Colonel," Hawaiian Department Military Intelligence Division, General Staff, Office of the Commanding Officer. They discuss Patton's disgust with FDR "until the New Deal robs me some more I have some cash available," to big real estate deals on his San Marino land, "…a price substantially below twenty five thousand dollars per acre."
In sum, an amazing 36-year correspondence that follows Patton's rise from an 18-year-old cadet to just a few months before the outbreak of World War II, which would cement Patton's immortality as one of the most popular and successful generals in history.