On October 3, 1944, Patton's forces were fighting for Fort Driant, a heavily fortified German position near the French town of Metz. The men of his Third Army were inspired a few months earlier by his speech before D-Day, in which Patton told them that Americans do not lose. Up to that point, Patton had never lost a battle.
Patton's men both loved and feared him. He was known for salty language, which he said he used because he wanted to speak as his men did.
The battle at Metz went wrong. Contrary to Patton's intelligence, the German defenders were tough veterans and their position was well protected. Patton was short on troops, supplies and ammunition.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of allied troops in Europe, ordered Patton to stand down so that British forces under Bernard Law Montgomery could lead the offensive into Germany. This was a political decision to honor British's sacrifice during the war, but Patton was angry over being left out and Eisenhower's decision to cut back his supplies. Patton thought his forces and Montgomery's should move into Germany at the same time. Patton remained determined to take Driant and Metz. Unfortunately, his forces suffered severe casualties and he was forced to back down. He believed Eisenhower's cuts caused his first defeat.
Eisenhower's order gave the Germans an opportunity to mount a counteroffensive. Their leader, Adolf Hitler, feared Patton especially and wanted to keep him away from this particular battlefield...
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- Mike A. Holmes