Three or four days before finishing my writing on Part I of Gettysburg, 1913: A Novel of the Great Reunion, I was looking through old newspaper stories filed during the reunion itself and this paragraph from the July 1, 1913 edition of The Pittsburgh Press jumped out at me:
“Lieut. George S. Patton, United States Army, was in charge of Troop A, Fifteenth cavalry, commanded by Captain Eltinge, yesterday when they marched with pealing bugles through the town and out by the Emmitsburg rd. to the big assembly tent where Buford cavalry survivors held their reception. Lieut. Patton went to the Olympic games last year, and scored higher than any other foreigner in the modern pentathlon being fourth in the contest, the first three men being Swedes. He is designee of the new cavalry saber, and was for a time an aide to Gen. Leonard Wood, chief of staff, U.S.A.”
(The above excerpt is exactly as was printed, including an apparent error: “designee” instead of “designer.”)
For starters, I had never known that Patton competed in the 1912 Olympics; that was interesting itself, and probably why “just another Army second lieutenant” would be specifically called out in a newspaper article about The Great Reunion that was just about to get underway. As fate would have it, I was writing the chapter where the Sullivan brothers are just about to attend the June 30th reunion of Buford’s Cavalry in the Great Tent, one day before the official opening of the commemoration…and here is a mention of George Patton, barely four years out of West Point, leading a parade of his cavalry troops to that very event. I absolutely had to give Patton a cameo in the story!
To cross-reference the accuracy of the story, I checked the official Pennsylvania Commission report on The Great Reunion that included a roster of the U.S. Army personnel who assisted with the event. Sure enough, on Page 44 under the “Band and Squadron” roster for the 15th Cavalry, there he is: Second Lieutenant George S. Patton, Junior. Wow!