Patton’s first battle was against Colonel Júlio Cárdenas, at his ranch in Mexico:
Waving his ivory-stocked Peacemaker, Lieutenant Patton roared into position near the main gate of the ranch and leaped from his car.
Three horsemen clattered from the ranch at breakneck speed. Patton shouted for them to halt. The three armed riders wheeled and charged him, the leader yanking a rifle from his saddle scabbard, opening fire. At 60 feet, Patton calmly held and squeezed five rounds from his .45. His arms flapping from a hit, the leading bandit fell from his saddle, recovered, and ran through a doorway as Patton reloaded.
The second horseman, desperate to escape, spurred his horse toward freedom, passing in front of the officer’s sixshooter. Patton later said that he then recalled the advice of a salty old Texas Ranger – the best way to stop a horseman is to stop his horse, which he did with one shot. When the rider arose, firing rapidly, Patton joined the other troopers in bring him down. The third rider was felled by rifle fire.
At this point Cárdenas broke from his cover, shooting, and was killed by one shot through the head from Holmdahl’s revolver.
The dead Villistas were later identified as Colonel Cárdenas, Private Juan Garza, and Captain Isadór Lopez. the body of the bandit colonel bore five wounds, and his bandoliers held 35 empty cartridge loops.
George Patton was promoted to 1st lieutenant as a result of this action, and it remained one of his favorite reminiscences. The two notches on the left ivory grip of the Patton Peacemaker are believed to have been placed there by him to represent the killings of Cárdenas and Garza.
Patton had previously competed at the Olympics in the Modern Pentathlon.