Comparison of Stonewall Jackson and George Patton

Good leadership is critical for anyone to win a battle. In war, leadership means knowing what one needs to do and doing it appropriately. Other factors required for one to overcome an adversary include industrial capacity, weapons, logistics, and technology. Leadership is the key catalyst of the underlying reactions whose ingredients include but not limited to moral, technology, and logistics. The two movies Gods and Generals and Patton depict troops in the civil war under commanders Jackson and Patton respectively. Jackson and Patton portray various leadership abilities.

This paper compares the two commanders to reveal who had better leadership qualities. Although the duo had some common traits, all other things being equal between their armies, Jackson had more superior leadership qualities than Patton. Jackson’s excellent leadership qualities inspired his troops, and they overcome their physical and logistical disadvantages thus defeating forces that were larger in terms of equipment and number.

Jackson portrayed various rules worth emulating not only in war, but also in daily life. One of these rules is pressing on (Gods and Generals 2003). The general often force-marched his army mercilessly. Jackson believed that soldiers should accomplish their mission regardless of how hard they have to push the enemy. For example, the general led his army intelligently to appear to the enemies’ rear without being detected. This tactic allowed them to attack and kill a large number of enemies thus making them weak.

Jackson also preferred using a large number of soldiers or mass to contain the enemy. In his final and brilliant battle where he lost his life, the general used all his armies in a single glorious stroke of military (Gods and Generals 2003). The entire corps enabled him to attack and subdue the enemies quickly. Jackson suggested to Lee that they mass the corps in order to attack the enemies successfully (Gods and Generals 2003). However, the use of mass corps led to confusion which resulted in the death of the commander. Jackson was shot by one of the soldiers who mistook him. At that time, the leader was trying to re-enter his line after attacking the enemy. Nonetheless, Jackson’s maxims portray a substance of his success.

The commander also portrayed these principles in other battles such as in the valley as well as in the wilderness to a great extent (Gods and Generals 2003). Indeed, his skills with regard to tactical ability were evident because he could not only inspire his troops but also understand and take advantage of the topography to overcome the enemy. That is, he could understand the terrain and concentrate on the battlefield thus allowing him to motivate his troops by providing them success most of the times.

Patton also showed some skills similar to those of Jackson. For example, in addition to the use of knowledge, Patton also inspired his troops and used force or mass like Jackson. Jackson believed that spiritual inspiration and motivation are important factors for anyone to win a particular battle (Gods and Generals 2003). Patton portrayed similar trait. From his point of view, attacking the enemy’s strategy is of supreme importance in war.

Both Patton and Jackson also used knowledge to subdue their enemies in many encounters. The two won most of the battles even when outnumbered but rarely lost battles in which they possessed numerically superior forces. However, none of the elements; mass, inspiration or knowledge dominated their battles. From Patton’s perspective, any operation should involve moving down the path until one jump to the enemy (Patton). Patton portrayed these principles in most of his battles evident in the movie. For example, whenever he confronted his adversaries, he directed his troops to bump the enemy at the point of contact and fire with nearly all the command. He then led the rest of the force to move in a wide envelopment in order to attack the enemy from the back.

However, Patton was unfriendly to his troops. For example, he told Bennet, one of his soldiers, “You are just goddamned coward” (Patton). The commander further claimed that he could not tolerate a bastard to seat in front of brave wounded soldiers. Unlike Patton, Jackson did not embarrass his troops but kept motivating them to move on and fight bravely. For example, he told his soldiers “Make yourself comfortable there” (Gods and Generals 2003). The statement implies that the general was friendly to his troop rather than rudely commanding them to attack the enemy.

Nevertheless, like Jackson, Patton felt that inspiration was more important than mass and knowledge. This statement is valid from the point of view that, suppose an army comprises of men with same military knowledge but no one to inspire them in war. In such case, the enemy can quickly subdue them. However, encouraging the troops can make them act until they win the battle. Although knowledge is important in understanding when, where, and how to attack, it might not be possible to transmit knowledge quickly to the subordinates to win a battle.

Like Jackson, Patton believed that using mass troops could help to subdue the enemy quickly. Patton believed that any leader in war should attain victory by first inspiring, secondly use superior military arts or knowledge, and then force or mass (Patton). The general followed these tenets in some of his battles. For example, sometimes circumstances forced him to use mass troops as the last resort especially if the army on the ground was not producing desirable results. In other words, Patton, like Jackson, resorted to the use of mass troops only when he faced equally inspired and knowledgeable commander. Patton also inspired his troops and used superior knowledge in order to outmaneuver his adversaries. However, he often abused his men. For example, he told Bradley, one of the soldiers that one of the soldiers (yellow man) should have been shot for being coward.

Unlike Patton, Jackson was intensely religious and often mentioned the name of God. Although Patton also mentioned God’s name, he was not religious. He says “My God, they have forgotten about all of the people…” (Patton). However, the two men had a common philosophy. For example, they inspired their troops which allowed them to conduct their battles at incredible speeds, shock and surprise the enemies with superior force. Therefore, although the similarities in the men’s leadership, knowledge, and single-mindedness at war are striking, the duo portrayed unmistakably different temperament and personality.

Based on the analysis of the two movies, Jackson and Patton had two identifiable characteristics which made not only them, but also every commander who possess the traits, a successful leader. These characteristics include efficient use of mass and knowledge. The audience would then wonder which traits propelled each leader to victory. Indeed, this is where individuality begins, and similarities end.

General Patton utilized personal inspiration to encourage or motivate his troops (Patton). The commander’s use of theatrical motivational approaches provided stimuli to his army which enabled them to have incomparable success. On the other hand, Jackson’s mystical qualities at war made his troops to adore him (Gods and Generals 2003). In fact, most of his soldiers worshiped him. Jackson often surprised his troops with new tactics to attack the adversaries. For example, his philosophy of not informing the troops of a pending plan to maneuver the enemies’ movement enabled his troops to surprise the opponent abruptly. On the other hand, Patton’s strict disciplinary nature, knowledge of military, unpredictability, and use of mass made him one of the finest tactical generals.

Nevertheless, I would prefer to serve as an enlisted soldier under Jackson rather than Patton. It would be better to operate under a friendly and inspirational commander rather than a rude one. Jackson proved himself as a great leader and his troops unquestionably trusted him. I would desire to work under such a successful and trustworthy commander. Although Jackson often forced the troops to push themselves when confronting the enemies, doing so made them succeed in most of their battles. Moreover, success leads to success and by gaining confidence; the leader was able to apply his superior military skills while pushing the troops to move forward. Unlike Jackson, Patton seemed unfriendly thus it might be difficult to work with him.

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