The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS

All About Lieutenant General, Army of The United States George Smith Patton, Jr. (05)…

Master of the Sword and The Patton Saber…

Following the 1912 Olympics, Patton traveled with his family to Dresden, Berlin, and Nuremberg. Seeking the greatest swordsman in Europe to study with, Patton was told the “beau sabreur” of the French Army would be the one. Adjutant M. Clèry was a French “master of arms” and instructor of fencing at the Cavalry School at Saumur. Patton went to Saumur for intense study with the master. Upon his return, Patton wrote a report that was revised for the Army and Navy Journal. Patton’s first article for the Cavalry Journal appeared in the March 1913 issue. In the summer of 1913, after he advised the Ordnance Department on sword redesign, Patton was allowed to return to Saumur to study once again under Clèry.

Lieutenant Patton was made the Army’s youngest-ever „Master of the Sword” at the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley, Kansas. While Master of the Sword, Patton became an instructor at Fort Riley and improved and modernized the Army’s cavalry saber fencing techniques.

Earlier in the year, he assisted in the design of the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber. It had a large, basket-shaped hilt mounting a straight, double-edged, thrusting blade designed for use by light cavalry. Patton’s 1914 manual „Saber Exercise” outlined a system of training for both mounted and on foot use of the saber. The weapon came to be known as the „Patton Saber.” There is no one sword that this saber was modeled after. Patton suggested the revision from a curved sword and edge and cutting technique to a thrusting style of attack, following his extensive training in France. Patton’s thoughts were expressed in his 1913 report „The Form and Use of the Saber”:

In the Peninsula War the English nearly always used the sword for cutting. The French dragoons, on the contrary, used only the point which, with their long straight swords caused almost always a fatal wound. This made the English say that the French did not fight fair. Marshal Saxe wished to arm the French cavalry with a blade of a triangular cross section so as to make the use of the point obligatory. At Wagram, when the cavalry of the guard passed in review before a charge, Napoleon called to them, „Don’t cut! The point! The point!”

The weapon was never used as intended. At the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War I, several American cavalry units armed with sabers were sent to the front but they were held back; the nature of war had changed, making horse-mounted troops easy prey for enemy troops equipped with Gewehr 98 rifles and MG08 machine guns. However, Patton took his style of move forward and attack technique to his use of the tank in battle. This became his trademark combat style.

Punitive Expedition into Mexico…

During the Punitive Expedition of 1916, Patton was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas. He served as aide to then-Brigadier General John J. Pershing in his pursuit of Pancho Villa, after Villa’s forces had crossed into New Mexico, raided and looted the town of Columbus, and killed several Americans. Patton, accompanied by ten soldiers of the 6th Infantry Regiment, and using three armored cars, conducted the United States’ first armored vehicle attack, and in the process killed two Mexican leaders, including „General” Julio Cardenas, commander of Villa’s personal bodyguard. The bodies were brought back from San Miguelito to Pershing’s headquarters strapped to the hoods of the vehicles in a manner similar to game animals brought back by hunters. For this action, as well as Patton’s affinity for the Colt Peacemaker, Pershing titled Patton his „Bandito.” Patton’s success in this regard gained him a level of fame in the United States, and he was featured in newspapers across the nation.

4 responses

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