General George Patton’s Prayer about the Battle of the Bulge.
December 19, 1944.
Sir, this is Patton speaking. The last fourteen days have been straight from hell. Rain, snow, more rain more snow—and I’m beginning to wonder what’s going on at your headquarters. Whose side are you on anyway?
For three years, my chaplains have been explaining that this is a religious war. This, they tell me, is the Crusade all over again, except that we are riding tanks instead of chargers. They insist we are here to annihilate this German Army and the godless Hitler so that religious freedom can return to Europe. Up till now I’ve gone along with them too. You have given us Your unreserved cooperation. Clear skies and a calm sea in Africa made the landings highly successful and helped us to eliminate Rommel. Sicily was comparatively easy and You supplied excellent weather for our armored dash across France, the greatest military victory that You have thus far allowed me.
You have led German units into traps that made their elimination fairly simple. But now, You’ve changed horses in midstream. You seem to have given Rundstedt every break in the book and frankly he’s been beating hell out of us. My army is neither trained nor equipped for winter warfare. And as You know this weather is more suitable for Eskimos than for southern cavalrymen.
But, now sir, I can’t help but feel that I have offended You in some way. That suddenly You have lost all sympathy with our cause. That You are throwing in with von Rundstedt and his paperhanging god. You know without me telling You, our situation is desperate. Sure, I can tell my staff that everything is going according to plan, but there’s no use telling You that the 101est Airborne is holding out against tremendous odds in Bastogne, and that this continual storm is making it impossible to supply them even from the air.
I’ve sent Hugh Gaffey, one of my ablest generals, with his 4th Armored Division, north toward that all important road center to relieve the encircled garrison and he’s finding Your weather much more difficult than he is the Krauts. I don’t like to complain unreasonably, but my soldiers from the Meuse to Echtemach are suffering the tortures of the damned. Today I visited several hospitals, all full of frostbite cases and the wounded are dying in the fields because they cannot be brought back for medical care.
But, this isn’t the worst of the situation. Lack of visibility, continued rains have completely grounded my air force. My technique of battle calls for close-in fighter support and if my planes can’t fly, how can I use them as aerial artillery? Not only is this a deplorable situation, but worse yet, my reconnaissance planes haven’t been in the air for fourteen days, and I haven’t the faintest idea of what’s going on behind German lines.
Damn it Sir, I can’t fight a shadow. Without Your cooperation from a weather standpoint I am deprived of an accurate disposition of the German armies and how in hell can I be intelligent in my attack? All this probably sounds unreasonable to You, but I have lost all patience with Your chaplains who insist that this is a typical Ardennes winter, and that I must have faith.
Faith and patience be damned! You have just got to make up Your mind whose side You’re on. You must come to my assistance, so that I may dispatch the entire German Army as a birthday present to Your Prince of Peace.
Sir, I have never been an unreasonable man; I am not going to ask You for the impossible. I do not even insist on a miracle, for all I request is four days of clear weather.
Give me four clear days so that my planes can fly, so that my fighter-bombers cab bomb and strafe so that my reconnaissance may pick out targets for my magnificent artillery. Give me four days of sunshine to dry this blasted mud, so that my tanks may roll, so that ammunition and rations may be taken to the hungry, ill-equipped infantry. I need these four days to send von Rundstedt and his godless army to their Valhalla. I am sick of the unnecessary butchery of American youth, and in exchange for four days of fighting weather, I will deliver You enough Krauts to keep your bookkeepers months behind in their work.
The weather cleared that day.
When was the last time you had an honest, heart to heart conversation with God?