World War II General George S. Patton is often quoted as saying: “Give me an army of West Point graduates, and I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I’ll win a war.” The quote appears on some Aggie T-shirts, but no source has been found. Most scholars believe that Patton never said it. The earliest recorded citation is from 1993.
Wikiquote: George S. Patton
General George Smith Patton, Jr. (1885-11-11 – 1945-12-21) was a U.S. General during World War II; he was known in his time as “America’s Fightingest General”.
“Give me an army of West Point graduates, I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win a war!”
Mike Province, founder and president of The Patton Society calls this an urban legend and in the Texas A&M Battalion (2 October 2006) is quoted as saying “I’ve gotten e-mails and questions regarding that quote for several years… People will use it with Texas Aggies, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and even Clemson. All of these schools want to be linked to Patton… Anything is possible… I honestly don’t believe he said it, because I’ve heard too many people say that he said it about their school. But if anyone out there can find proof that he said it, I’d love to hear about it and get it out there.”
Google Groups: alt.quotations
From: (Raoul Rodriguez)
Date: 30 Sep 1993 01:41:34 -0500
Local: Thurs, Sep 30 1993 2:41 am
Subject: Re: Military quotes
“Give me an Army of West Point Graduates, and I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win a war.”
- Patton (who graduated from West Point)
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (2) Comments • Wednesday, August 01, 2007 • Permalink
Patton attended VMI, before he transferred to West Point. For reasons one can surmise (the intense discipline at VMI)he maintained a particular affection - or perhaps respect - for VMI and its graduates. This may be seen in his willing, upon his death, his cherished pearl handled revolvers he always wore, and his personal battle gear to VMI, where it is on display in their museum. The quote cited above has, as was said, been attributed to apply to several schools, including VMI, where several speakers who served with him attributed it to him, apparently including General George C. Marshall, his ultimate Army superior in WWII, also a VMI grad.
Of the schools associated with that spurious Patton quote ("Texas Aggies, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and even Clemson"), it is most likely that if Patton ever said it, he said it about VMI, since Patton did attend VMI for a year before enrolling at West Point (where he had to repeat plebe (first) year because of a deficiency in mathematics). Patton has (to the best of my knowledge) no connection with any of the othere schools associated with that quote. OTOH, it’s more likely that he never said anything of the kind.