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Leadership article on General George Patton and General Stonewall Jackson
PROFESSIONAL FORUM STONEWALL JACKSON AND GEORGE S. PATTON A Survey of Leadership COLONEL JOSEPH C. CARTER MAJOR MICHAEL S. FINER “Leadership is the thing that wins methodology presumes that the best way to Jackson was accepted into West Point wherebattles. I have it, but I’ll be damned if I prepare the leaders of the future for battle is he clearly had a difficult time assimilatingcan define it. It probably consists of to study successful leaders in battles of the with other cadets. Not only was he of humbleknowing what you want to do, and then past. means and of unusual disposition, his stationdoing it and getting mad as hell if anyone Utilizing the “trait” approach to leadership was not comparable to incoming plebes suchtries to get in your way.” theory, certain common, demonstrable as George McClellan, A.P. Hill and James — The Unknown Patton by Charles qualities will emerge to assist in the Longstreet.Province understanding of what it takes to become a At West Point, “Old Jack” was most Notwithstanding its intangible nature, superior military leader. We shall examine remembered for his indelible perseverance,leadership is often the singular, decisive the lives of Stonewall Jackson and George and paradoxically, for his generosity toelement in achieving battlefield success. Patton to unravel the common qualities of others. At the end of his first year at WestOther factors, including weapons, America’s two finest military tacticians. Point, he stood 70th in French, 45th intechnology, logistics and industrial These Soldiers shared two common math, and 51st in general merit out of classcapacity, significantly aid an army in characteristics — strong historical of 72. Three years later, he stood 5th inovercoming an adversary. Moreover, these knowledge and the ability to tactically ethics (his favorite subject), 12th inenvironmental necessities are strategic employ mass, which made each man a good engineering and 11th in artillery. Whetherobjectives that a nation develops to support general. General Jackson possessed an Jackson was less gifted than other studentsits armed forces and are usually beyond the additional mystical leadership quality, or was educated in an inferior manner, oneimmediate control of a commander. which allowed him to become the finest cannot determine. More revealing,Leadership, however, is the driving commander to ever fight on American soil. however, he undeniably demonstrated hismechanism behind the structural factors Similarly, General Patton possessed an indomitable will, his desire to press on, andthat a country provides to its commanders inspirational leadership quality, which his fastidious nature by spending inordinateand it alone, is the “thing that wins battles,” made him second to only Stonewall Jackson amounts of time preparing his lessons andaccording to General Patton. in terms of battlefield success. We shall continually improving his class standing. All else being equal among armies, endeavor to identify those characteristicssuperior leadership will allow one army to which each man shared, and we shall G EORGE S MITH P ATTON , J R . – Adefeat another. More importantly, superior describe the specific quality which made Connoisseur of Military Historyleadership can inspire a weaker army to each man a superb military leader, but in George Smith Patton, Jr. was born intoovercome logistical and physical very different ways. a loving, patrician family in Southerndisadvantages and thus defeat a force larger California. In the late 19th century, thein terms of numbers and equipment. T HOMAS J ONATHAN J ACKSON – The Patton family moved from Virginia toLeadership is the catalyst of the underlying Beginning of an Enigma California where it accumulated significantreactions whose ingredients include, but are Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born in wealth as cattle farmers and throughnot limited to manpower, logistics, morale, 1824 in rural Virginia. His formal education propitious marital combination. The Pattonand technology. was severely limited by the fact that he was family enjoyed a long and honorable Logically then, the question arises: How orphaned at the age of 6; he was continually military heritage, which included Patton’scan we improve the level of leadership in shuffled from relative to relative during grandfather, who was buried a Brigadiersuch a way that we, as an army, maximize childhood and largely without the company General, after being mortally wounded atour potential as a fighting force? Our or support of his siblings. At the age of 17, the Battle of Winchester in the Shenandoah10 INFANTRY January-February 2004
Valley, while commanding the 22nd Virginia Regiment. message to General Imboden into a more simplistic form in order One of the senior Patton’s closest friends was Colonel John to analyze the specific characteristics that Jackson possessed andSingleton Mosby, the fabled “grey ghost” of “Jeb” Stuart’s mighty utilized in battle. Unlike George Patton, published works bycavalry and the namesake of Mosby’s Rangers. In the book, The Jackson are rare, and thus, one must infer as to his personal viewsUnknown Patton, author Charles Province states that Mosby often without the assistance of autobiographical or other sources.visited the Patton’s elegant California ranch. “Colonel Mosbywould reenact the Civil War with George junior; playing himself, Stonewall’s Rule Number One (Valley and Wildernesshe let George play the part of General Lee as they evoked the Campaigns) — Mystify, mislead and surprise.battles of the war…” Jackson’s most brilliant and well-known use of this precept “Georgie” spent one year at VMI (Virginia Military Institute) occurred when he vanished from the Valley and appeared in thein preparation for the five that he spent at West Point where, as First Wilderness Campaign ready, willing and able to attackthe necessity of an additional year indicates, he was an average McClellan. Unfortunately, McClellan’s hubris contributed to hisstudent. Whether or not his secondary education was the cause of total disregard of the possibility that “Old Jack” could havehis lack of achievement at West Point is a matter of conjecture. It maneuvered his troops so far so quickly. What allowed Jacksonmust be noted that Patton did not enter into formal education to mislead “Young Napoleon” so thoroughly? Remember thatuntil he was 11 years old, and much speculation has occurred Jackson achieved a lower class rank at West Point than didregarding this fact to include the widespread theory that Patton McClellan, and thus, he was compelled to achieve success by goodwas dyslexic. More likely, it appears that Patton’s father preferred deed, for he was without predisposition to high command due toeducation via the oral tradition. For example, during his youth, station or class standing.“Georgie” was not taught to read and write. He was entirely readto. In this manner, the senior Patton believed that “Georgie” would Stonewall’s Rule Number Two (Chancellorsville) — Pressnaturally develop his true interests. on. Patton distinguished himself for bravery in both the Mexican By mercilessly force-marching his army, Jackson appeared atWar and World War I. In the Mexican War, he captured and Hooker’s rear without detection, despite reports provided to Hookerkilled the bodyguard of Francisco Pancho Villa in a daring, almost by competent staff officers. On that fateful day, Stonewall Jacksonreckless raid, and in World War I he was cited for battlefield devastated Hooker’s right flank and rear areas in a classicbravery. envelopment movement that caused unprecedented panic and During the intervening period between the World Wars, Patton eventual retreat among the Federals. Jackson’s superior leadershipstudied extraordinary amounts of military history. When Patton was the result, in part, of his personal belief that the mission mustdied, it is said that he possessed a military library so vast that it be accomplished first and foremost, regardless of how hard therivaled certain military institutions, a well-utilized advantage of men must be pushed.being one of the wealthier officers in the Army. Although he wasintermittently depressed by the lack of warfare during this time Stonewall’s Rule Number Three (Chancellorsville) — Mass.period, Patton published several treatises and articles which In Jackson’s final and most brilliant battle, he integrated allsummarized his conclusions and ideas regarding war to include three of his time-tested principles in one glorious stroke of militarycommentary on leaders of the past to include Caesar, Napoleon genius. Again at Chancellorsville, Jackson hurled his entire corpsand Stonewall Jackson. in a vast flanking attack. Lee and Jackson agreed to mass Jackson’s corps for the purpose of attacking Hooker in detail. In the Stonewall Jackson’s Maxims confusion of battle, Jackson was killed by his own troops while In the book, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, re-entering his lines after infiltrating enemy positions whenauthor G.F.R. Henderson refers to General Jackson’s personal reconnoitering the federal battle scenario. On the day of hisdiscourse with General Imboden. In one message, Jackson noted greatest victory, he and his doctrine were initiated into immortalitythat: due to a misunderstanding with friendly sentries. “There are two things never to be lost sight of by a military Although the aforementioned summary of Stonewall’s maxims commander. Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, does not do a scholar justice, it does concisely represent the if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never give substance of his success. Jackson applied these simple principles up the pursuit as long as your men have strength to follow; for with logical brilliance and complexity. an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and Jackson demonstrated these principles in his battles in the can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, Valley, at First and Second Manassas, and in the Wilderness to a never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering lesser extent. His skills with respect to tactical ability were pure you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest because, unlike his opponents he was unable to rely on personal part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every charisma or natural beauty to inspire his troops. Instead, his time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, maxims, his indomitable will, his uncanny ability to evaluate and repeated victory will make it invincible.” topography and his superior feats of personal concentration on These remarks of General Jackson, clearly a reflection of the battlefield allowed him to motivate troops by providing constantNapoleon’s influence upon him, summarize his thoughts of how success. By also reporting the first victories to the Confederacy,an army should fight. I will take the liberty of dissecting Jackson’s print-media reinforced his successes, and even exaggerated some January-February 2004 INFANTRY 11
PROFESSIONAL FORUMof them. Nonetheless, the prime benefit ofthis exposure was an identity and esprit-de-corps for his troops, something thatGeneral Patton would note in his study ofhistory. Patton’s Military Maxims In a paper titled “The Secret of Victory,”Patton lucidly elaborated his philosophy,which at the time (March 26, 1926) wasthe epic summary of years of intensivemilitary history study. Patton identifiedthree essential elements, which he believedwere unequivocally essential for acommander to possess in order to achievethe ultimate result — victory. Patton’s Three Elements for Victory Inspiration * Knowledge * Force (Mass) Patton’s Rule Number One —Inspiration. Patton firmly believed that certainlopsided victories of Caesar, Napoleon, and Department of Defense photoGrant were the primary result of “spiritual” General George S. Patton acknowledges the cheers of the crowd in Los Angeles on June 9, 1945.inspiration and motivation, and thesecondary result of mental ability. Patton about a third of your command. Move the Grant presents similar ideas and discussesexplained that there was a distinction rest in a wide envelopment so you can their interrelationships. For example,between mental ability and the execution attack him from his rear flank.” Grant had more success in the campaignsof battle plans. He commented that Patton’s tactical victories in World in the west than he did in the east against“Hooker’s plan at Chancellorsville was War II were characterized by wide General Lee, even though his forces weremasterly; its execution cost him the battle.” flanking maneuvering tactics. His march numerically inferior in the west. In the Of course, it may be that the across France was certainly influenced by west, however, Grant inspired his troopssuperhuman maneuvering of Jackson the conquests of Caesar in Gaul and and utilized his superior knowledge ofdefeated his plan, a supposition which Sun Napoleon in Italy. His unrewarded, yet maneuver to seize Vicksburg and otherTzu would have agreed with when he now immortal, relief of the 101st Division Confederate strongholds against inferior,observed that: “What is of supreme at Bastogne was “Stonewallesque” in that if you will, commanders. Conversely,importance in war is to attack the enemy’s he force-marched and pushed foot against Robert E. Lee, who possessed, atstrategy.” infantry to inhuman levels. the very least, equal abilities with respect Patton felt that inspiration was the most to inspiration and knowledge, Grant was Patton’s Rule Number Two — important of the three tenets: knowledge forced to use mass, the least desirable ofKnowledge. and mass being equally less important. He the three tenets, to achieve victory. Patton noted that Napoleon won many makes an analogy to bread, which Accordingly, Grant believed that a generalbattles when outnumbered, but he never lost unleavened will sustain life, but will be dull should attain victory first by inspiration,a battle in which he possessed numerically tasting; however, when leavened, it is second by superior knowledge or militarysuperior forces. Patton considered delicious. Personality (inspiration) is the arts, and then by mass/force.Napoleon the epitome of military ability, leaven of armies. Let us make the Patton abided by these tenets in theirand as such comprehensively studied his assumption that armies produce men of rightful order. In Sicily, he was forced tocareer battles. Patton further postulated equal military knowledge. Hence, with utilize mass as a last resort becausethat no single element — inspiration, equal knowledge existent, inspiration will maneuver was not producing desirableknowledge, or mass — was dominant. be the catalyst necessary to win battles, for results. On the other hand, he inspired his In “Helpful Hints for Hopeful Heroes,” knowledge alone of how to win battles troops and utilized superior knowledge tohe wrote that “any operation, reduced to cannot be fully transmitted unencumbered outmaneuver his opponents in his famousits primary characteristics, consists of to subordinates. march across France. Patton, like Jackson,moving down the road until you bump into only resorted to mass when faced by anthe enemy… When you have bumped, hold Patton’s Rule Number Three — Mass. equally knowledgeable and inspiredhim at the point of contact with fire with In the Memoirs of U.S. Grant, General commander.12 INFANTRY January-February 2004
Salient Common Characteristics this is hyperbole, we do not know, but it does unquestionably Thomas Jonathan Jackson and George Smith Patton Jr., had illustrate that Patton had the advantage of studying Stonewallnothing in common. Jackson was poor and an orphan; Patton Jackson.was wealthy and well loved. Jackson was shy, quiet, and What can be said, though, is that both Jackson and Patton hadhypochondriac; Patton was a socialite, athletic at an Olympian a definite understanding of how successful wars ought to be foughtlevel, articulate, and extroverted. Jackson was intensely religious; and those views resulted from studying the great generals of thePatton’s religion related to convenience. What was not readily past. As Napoleon observed:obvious, however, was a common philosophy that was not “Read again and again the campaigns of Hannibal, Caesar,essentially identical. Both men implemented a brand of inspiration Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Eugene, and Frederick. Modelthat allowed their troops to maneuver at incredible speeds, and yourself upon them. This is the only means of becoming a greatthus were able to shock and surprise the enemy with superior force captain, and of acquiring the secret of the art of war…” (Theat weak points at undesirable times. The differences in personality, Military Maxims of Napolean, David G. Chandler)temperament, and station are unmistakable; the similarities in Wleadership, single-mindedness, and knowledge are striking. ho would have won a battle between George Patton Based on this analysis, there are two identifiable characteristics and Stonewall Jackson? It is, of course, difficult tothat both men possessed which made each, and indeed every hypothesize upon a matter such as this, for neithercommander who possesses them, a good commander: general truly fought against a commander of equal ability, as did * Knowledge of history, and Lee and Grant or Napoleon and Wellington, thus affording such a * Effective utilization of mass. comparison. By refocusing the question, though, there are other Both Generals were devout students of military history and intangible items that this analysis can assist the current Army inunderstood the distinction between effective massing of force and understanding.unnecessary slaughter. What characteristics propelled each general For example, there is an interesting phenomenon that hasto greatness? This is where the similarities end and individuality manifested throughout modern warfare, and it is particularlybegins. Patton used personal inspiration to motivate his troops, endemic in the United States Army: Soldiers who succeed duringand his battlefield exploits are legendary. His utilization of peacetime, administering the Army, and who, as a result, advancetheatrical motivational techniques provided stimuli to his troops to general officer rank, tend to be unsuccessful in actual combatwhich allowed them to have unparalleled success. and are summarily replaced by less well-known officers. Both Jackson’s mystical qualities made him a demigod among his Thomas Jackson and George Patton achieved little notoriety duringtroops; he was literally worshiped by his men. His philosophy to their pre-war careers. Although they both fought courageouslynever inform his subordinates of his upcoming maneuver plans and gallantly in wars at junior ranks, their careers proceeded slowlyallowed his armies to abruptly surprise the enemy. His introverted before the beginning of the next war.nature and religious fervor often confused his peers; his humility, Based on an analysis of these two immortal figures, it is striking to realize that there are two distinct pathways for one to historicallylack of ambition, and strict disciplinary nature made him an ascertain general officer status in the Army. The first pathwayenigma. This unpredictability, coupled with his knowledge of develops during peacetime and requires a specific set ofmilitary history and use of mass and maneuver, made Stonewall administrative, political and leadership skills. On the other hand,Jackson America’s finest tactical general. the second pathway develops during combat and requires distinctly Jackson inspired his troops by use of his indomitable will. He different skills, particularly with respect to leadership.forced his troops to push themselves, and by doing so they were What can one gain from this commentary and analysis? Thesuccessful in their first battle, at First Manassas. Of course, success following tenets should be internalized by every officer in the Army.begets success and by gaining their confidence, Jackson was able To become a good, solid commander follow these precepts:to apply superior analytical abilities while pushing his forces to Knowledge – Study the warriors of the past and absorb theirphysical exhaustion. Why was he able to do this? maxims. These include Caesar, Napoleon, Jackson, Lee, Grant Jackson had proven himself as a leader, and his men and Patton, for example.unquestionably believed in him. The praise and glory heaped Mass – Understand the difference in the application and use ofupon them only multiplied the utility of Jackson. He in no way superior and inferior forces.utilized charm or personal charisma to inspire his troops. In To become “a great captain of warfare” apply this principle:another way, by use of mystique, he inspired his troops, and once Single-minded determination – Whether it is personalinspired, he applied his tenets to achieve victory. inspiration or mystical qualities, adapt your personality to items George Patton utilized personal inspiration and charisma to one and two and become a true warrior.motivate his troops. Once inspired and victorious, the troopsnaturally adjusted and improved to a level where they felt that Colonel Joseph C. Carter currently serves as Strategic Planner, Joint Force Headquarters-Massachusetts. He is an Army War College and Armythey were infallible. In addition, Patton was a devout student of Command and General Staff College graduate.military history, which included a study of Jackson. Patton’s sister Major Michael S. Finer was commissioned in 1987 from Boston Universityonce stated that until George was 15, “Georgie” thought that the ROTC. He is a Navy War College and Marine Corps Command and Staffsteel statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in their house College graduate and Ph.D. candidate. He is currently serving as the S-1 of the 26th Infantry Brigade in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.were those of God and Jesus Christ, respectively! How much of January-February 2004 INFANTRY 13