"THE RUSSIANS ARE QUITE OUT OF IT AND BETTER STOP BEFORE THE GERMANS TAKE PETROGRAD": EXCEPTIONAL WORLD WAR I AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY GEORGE PATTON, WRITING FROM FRANCE TO HIS FATHER, ENTIRELY PENNED IN HIS HAND AND DATED SEPTEMBER 18, 1917
PATTON, George S. Autograph letter signed. [Chaumont, France]: September 18, 1917. Original ivory leaf (8-1/4 by 10-1/2 inches), manuscript on recto and verso. Housed in a custom cloth portfolio. $6000.
Scarce World War I autograph letter signed by Patton dated September 18, 1917, written to his father very soon after his appointment as Post Adjutant and Commander of the AEF headquarter forces in Chaumont near Paris, containing foresight about the potentially dire consequences of instability in Russia—in this letter dated less than two months before the Russian Revolution—and demonstrating his genius for both politics and military strategy by observing peace "of course would be simply a truce and the next time the allies will probably be lined up in a different way."
"Genius might be an apt word to apply to Patton… after schooling himself in military history… he applied this knowledge on the battlefield" (Hassell, Patton, xvi). That legendary brilliance is already evident in this September 18, 1917 letter to his father, written from France shortly after he was appointed Post Adjutant in command of American Expeditionary Forces headquarter forces in Chaumont. Patton's letter is important not only for its insights into his character and military training but also for revealing his attention to the consequences of the unstable situation in Russia, for only a month after this letter Trotsky became president of the Petrograd Soviet, and in November the Russian Revolution produced the world's first Communist state. Ultimately Patton's experience in WWI confirmed his sense that victory in modern warfare was found only "when a combination of surprise, the tank, creeping artillery barrages, storm troopers, and air reconnaissance rebalanced the offensive/defensive calculus in favor of the offensive" (Harmon, Statecraft, 61). Patton's letter also demonstrates the political acumen that fueled his future strategic brilliance when he writes of "lots of general talk this winter… Peace of course would be simply a truce and the next time the allies will probably be lined up in a different way." In that, as well, Patton was prophetic.
The letter reads in full: "Sept 18 17, Dear Papa: I got a letter from mama and from Nita [Patton's sister] with some pictures taken at the island. I wish I was there chasing Tuna instead of Germans for the fish is distinctly a better sport. it seems improbably that any thing more will be accomplished this year as it is two weet [sic, wet] and winter is coming. The Russians are quite out of it and had better stop before the Germans take Petrograd the only thing which keeps the Dutch from taking it is that they don't want it. I think there will be lots of general talk this winter and they may come to it. Peace of course would be simply a truce and the next time the allies will probably be lined up in a different way. I was in Paris yesterday and had a fairly nice time but was too busy to see much. The Headquarters troop is at last organized and consists of 486 men and seven officers as yet we have only 220 men and four officers, besides fifty horses and 90 autos it is a hell of a job to keep them all going. I am also Post Adjutant so I have my time fully occupied. Give my love to all Your devoted son, G.S. Patton Jr." Photographic print (8 by 10 inches) of Patton as a three-star general—indicating it was shot after 1943—laid in.
Text and signature clear and dark, faint foldlines. An exceptionally fine WWI Patton letter.