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  1. The $20 Sommelier at |

    Sherman. Sherman's march to the sea through Georgia is an iconic example of scorched earth, and his quote "war is hell" is known around the world.

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    1. Judith at |

      Vercingetorix already employed the Scorched Earth strategy…

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      1. Jack at |

        Not the same way Sherman did because he used it on the offensive, not defensive. Sherman still should not be on that list.

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        1. Mac at |

          Well if not Vercingetorix, then Edward of Woodstock (The Black Prince) certainly used agressive Scorched Earth Tactics (his Chevauchees) as well as Sherman during his campaigns in Aquitaine and leading up to Poitiers.

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          1. Gene at |

            Chevauchee was used by Edward III as well. Both Richard and the Black Prince memory was aided by early deaths before they had to pay for their lack of management skills. In the case of both someone named John had to clean up and take the bad rap.

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    2. david at |

      terrible list Joan of Ark was not a general just an inspiration to french troops that won them the war
      Washington though he is a great general he should not be on this list he lost the majority of his battles.
      Napoleon should not be number 1 he made a lot of massively important military mistakes that's why he lost
      HOW CAN YOU FORGET ALEXANDER THE GREAT only two generals of all time were undefeated him and Sun Tzu

      all in all this list should be remade the best generals aren't all from the west Sun Tzu could kick all these generals asses in a fight

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      1. spitzer 44 at |

        david (november 4, 2009),
        your comments are symptomatic of the same problem the writer mentions at the end of the article: military history is a rather jumbled mass of truths, half-truths and mythos with a lot of revisionism thrown in.
        alexander should have been in the top 5, agreed, if not no.1. joan of arc shouldnt be here, she was just an inspiration NOT a general. washington lost most of his battles. but where the heck did you pull out Sun Tzu from? The dude wasn't even unquestionably historical. The P'ing Fa is probably a book on warfare designed by a committee, a good book, but doesnt prove Sun Tzu existed, let alone was an undefeated general. dont believe everything the Chinese claim, dude.
        going by your 'undefeated general' logic, though, Rodrigo Diaz of Spain should be somewhere at the top. he never lost a battle, inspired his enemies to give him the badass nickname of 'The Lord', led Christians and Muslims alike, employed innovative tactics, was kind, honest and didn't care about corrupt leaders. we will truly not see his likes in the bureaucratic industrial armies of our age, man.

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        1. David at |

          leave Sun Tzu out of this, this list is made out of western generals, and we are all familiar with their exploits. As for eastern generals, please leave them out because most of the people here are unfamiliar with their exploits. ( Doubting if Sun Tzu ever existed made me laugh really hard, sorry, but that is just ridiculous )

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          1. br6794 at |

            In my personal George Washington should be on this list. Yes he lost most of his battles, but he won the war. It is said “you can be losing the race for the whole run, but if you pull ahead at the end and cross the line first, a wins a win” He won a war against the WORLD SUPERPOWER. With less men, supplies, and a whole country doubting him. He used strategy, influence. He road with his men into battle. Joan should be on the list, she INFLUENCED the troops It can be assumed that France would have done much worse without her, and influence is a major contributer. If you have no reason to fight, you wont fight.

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            1. AntMac at |

              I think you know Washington should not be on the list, really.

              Without the continual support of the French, and their ultimate intervention and point blank saving of his forces in the Battle of the Chesapeake, he would have lost and been a footnote in history.

              He didn’t win the war, the compte De Grasse did.

              His inclusion in the list, as well as Pattons, was a sop to the American ego.

          2. alpha&omega at |

            actually that is a great example some of the people who set the worlds speed record for 100 yard dashes wernt the fastest they were able to keep the best stride thourgh the race and looked like they were actually seeding up when they were only slowing sown slower then everyone else but yha it is important for the way they won like cotez was no good but he did beat the aztecs like 300,000 to ohh um 100 that didnt make him a great tactian same alpies here like what about the aggamenon and odesseyus who developed one of the greatest strageys that aplies even on to the microspic lvl

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            1. Chris at |

              You can’t give America’s victory to George Washington, more French soldiers fought the British than American, and it was more of a logistical war, it was difficult for Britain to resupply and send more troops as Britain was so far away, and a lot of the troops got ill on the Journey over, if it was the same on both sides, Britain would have wiped the floor with America.
              Moving on, I’m surprised Wellington isn’t on the list, his armies liberated Portugal and Spain, shattered the myth of French invincibility and inspired the people of Europe to resist Napoleon

        2. Austin at |

          I agree with everything you say except your inclusion of Alexander, and I’d also cut out Sun Tzu and Joan. I would have substituted Wallenstein.I would have ranked Hannibal in #1 place, with Bonaparte in #2.

          Alexander inherited a completely trained army with very competent generals. His father Philip was far more competent. The whole area grew up with iity-state wars for hundreds of years and for everyone it was a way of life.The armies if the city states he defeated were far too small to oppose his father’s army. When he invaded Asia the Persian armies defeated themselves because they were so huge. They were completely unwieldy, made up of numerous contingents from far separated areas, very unco-rdinated, and couldn’t even speak one another’s languages. So as soon as a small local contingent would be repulsed, panic would spread. The tiny casualties suffered by the invaders tells the story by itself. All this is very clear from the extant descriptions of the battles. Alexander himself most likely spent his time in carousing whilst his generals, all of whom had to have been very competent (as they showed in their later careers after Alexander died) and well controlled, tightly knit army did the work. All the valiant paintings of Alexander leading his army and threshing around with a sword are all imagination, painted 2000 years after his lifetime. Clive is in a similar situation although the accounts of his exploits are actually verifiable.

          If being undefeated is a huge plus, I would have mentioned Suchet, who was also a fine administrator in a savage country.Von Lettow-Vorbeck comes to mind.

          I’d also include Marlborough, and I’d put an Israeli general in there somewhere, although not sure which one, they were all good. I’m not keen on Patton and I’d “disinherit” Washington.

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          1. Austin_is _Nuts at |

            So, if Hannibal is number one, then what does that make Scipio Africanus? The man who beat Hannibal at Zama?

            Alexander having been given his army? Armies mean nothing if their leader is weak. By the way, Alexander could take Fortified Cities and took many. Hannibal could never take Rome.

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      2. sergey at |

        The list is not very good. Washington, D'Ark, Salah Ad Din, Attila, Lee and Patton have nothing to do on this list. The one who put it up is obviously American.

        I see no American generals in first top 10.

        Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Hannibal are obvious choices.

        I would add few more.

        1.Caesar. Before the modern time he actually fought more pitched battles than anyone else before Napoleonic era. He did suffer few losses and made mistakes like Gergovia and Dirrahium, although but the point is that he always realized when he was wrong and was able to change his plan in a blink of an eye. He never missed opportunity to finish off his opponents. Incredible abilities and personality.

        2. Alexander the Great. He did not fight as many pitched battles as caesar, but many times less, probably 10 time less and his opponents were weaker than those of Caesar. Caesar did not win just ovver gauls, Germans and other barbarians. He was able to defeat the greatest general of the age Pompeus and numerically superior Roman forces on many occasions.

        Nevetheless Alexander is a superior general and is the number 2.

        3. Napoleon. He is very similar to Caesar but unlike Caesar he did not learn well from his mistakes and was too arrogant which caused his down fall.

        Cannot be number 1 as he lost at the end.

        4. Hannibal.

        Amazing talent. Huge victories over dangerous Roman armies. He however lacked Caesar's killer instinct and did not finish off Romans when he had a chance. He lost.

        5. Alexander Souvorov. I have no idea why this general is being overlooked but this is the one who had as many pitched battles as Caesar himself and never lost a battle. i consider him military reincarnation of Julius Caesar, very similar tactics and behavior. Had he met Napoleon history might have been different. He did beat all of Napoleon best generals.

        5. Scipion Africanus. What can be told. He changed the way Roman army fought and using this change he was able to defeat Hannibal in only battle Hanibal ever lost. He is very underrated but also never lost a battle.

        6. Subedei Bahatur. This is the general of Chengis Han. Some call Chengis as a one of the greatest but Chengis was not a general but a strategist and organizer, great leader. Subedei actually was the best of his generals and his brilliance is unquestionable. His raid from Central Asia with Jebe Noion across Caucasus into Russian land and defeat of so many people along the way including superior Russian forces is a fit that hard to repeat. Superior cavalry commander, no one was better at planning and executing cavalry battles.

        7. Pirrus. The relative of Alexander the Great. Brilliant tactician but bad strategist.

        Won all the battles against Romans but his lack of strategic abilities and obviously Roman toughness prevented him from victory.

        8. Guderian. I think it must be obvious. Applying Mongol tactics to tank warfare. The guy was brilliant.

        9.Zhukov. I put him as low because of proclivity to sacrifice so many soldiers to achieve his goals. I doubt he would survive as a Roman commander. One of centurions or soldiers would run a sword through him for not taking care of his men. Russian soldier is a meek and lazy and they allowed to use them as a fodder. Otherwise, brilliant planning of great operation like Stalingrad, Kursk, Bagration.

        10. Have no idea whom to put here. First 9 stick out, the rest. I do not know. It might be Gai Marius, Sulla, Khalid ibn al-Walid or some other.

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        1. sergey at |

          Generally, I believe the best military talent was concentrated in antiquity with very few emerging in modern times. I have no idea why but modern times generally lack big personalities if Churchill or Patton can be considered a great man it says that something is wrong with human race.

          Patton in my opinion is a joke. He was not able to finish off even weakened German forces not under the best leadership and his boasting about getting to Moscos in 3 weeks is laughable. He would not get anywhere beyond Pripyat marshes where he and his army would perish.

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          1. Jack at |

            You're obviously a blowhard with a absurdly high opinion of yourself and an anti-American bias. Patton is a joke? Something is wrong with the human race if we consider Churchill a great man? WTF are you smoking?!?

            Your list is terrible. Where is Wellington who defeated Napoleon? Where is von Moltke the Elder? Why the hell is Guderian, who is more of a great theorist than anything else, on this list? Shouldn't you actually have to win something to be on a top ten generals of all time list?

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            1. leosavage at |

              Hell making a list like this is stupid period. Its much like making a list of the greatest football or hockey players of all time. How do we know how a general from antiquity fare in modern times with modern weapons and modern civilizatios thinking . you cant anymore than you can know how a hockey player from the 30s would fare in the modern NHL. A list like this is useless and should be broken down in to categories of eras.

          2. Sergey at |

            Jack, I am not anti American at l, but I simply state the hard facts.
            USA has not produced any general worth called the Great and in the top 10.
            Patton belongs only at the top 10 the most eccentric generals of all time. I do not say he was no good, he was ok commander, but never forget he only fought German forces which were already practically finished by the Soviet army. 3/4 of all German forces and the best of them were at the Eastern Front, while the worst and the underequiped Western Front German forces did not posses enough armament , planes, tanks and the rest to effectively deal with US/ British forces. Neither they had adequate leadership.
            Had Patton and American army met German forces at the peak of their power, I have no doubt US army would have been utterly destroyed. American soldier and leadership is just not on par with German soldier and leadership. Guderian was not a theoretician but the greatest tank armies commander of the WWII.
            I remember Patton boasted about getting to Moscow in 3 weeks. It shows that the guy’s had no idea what he was talking about. It would be interesting to watch really that attempt.

            Despite participating in Napoleon defeat Wellington cannot be considered better general. As Caesar put it, luck plays a great deal in military affairs. Grushi losing his way and Bluher reinforcements arriving on time was the real thing that brought victory to Wellington .
            Whatever you say, the top 7-8 generals I had mentioned are the pure geniuses and cannot be challenged by second and third level generals you brought up.

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          3. Jack at |

            Sergey, you don't state "hard facts" (as you call your opinions) you spew biased BS. Saying he fought Germans that were practically finished by the Russians is idiotic. The fact is that any German troops that were sent from the Eastern to the Western front were sent b/c they were among the BEST, not the worst. Indeed, many of the "German" troops on the Eastern front were actually Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, etc. who had no interest in being there and were often weak units that got easily overrun by the Soviet forces.

            And the Americans DID meet the Germans at the height of their powers and they kicked their butts out of North Africa, out of Sicily and up the Italian peninsula – all before the Soviets made any major advances against the Germans. Stalingrad wasn't even won until Feb, '43, well after the Americans had joined the war effort.

            As for Patton's boast, I too would've like to have seem him try to kick the Soviets butts back to Moscow. However, I'm sure that if he did, you would now be claiming that he only was successful b/c the Soviets were worn down by the Germans.

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          4. sergey at |

            Ok, Jack, I hope you are ok, cause you look like smoked a way too much weed…

            Even to compare what Red army did and what USA army did during WWII is nothing short of complete idiocy to compare fighting Romell and Germans in Italy to Stalingrad, Kursk and other battles on the Eastern front.

            Germans did have some Romanians and Italians but they rarely were used at front lines as Germans had really low opinion of their fighting capabilities.

            I would put it this way, I know about what was going first hand as my grandfathers fought there while you only repeat words of some idiots who has been trying to diminish what Soveit Union did . The truth is, it was USSR that won the war and USA just joined when Germans already were on the way to their defeat. The number of divisions, tanks, plances everything concentrated on Eastern Front and the level of generals who commanded there clearly points where the real war was waged.

            3/4 of all German trops fought against Soviets. Yeah, it would be nice to see Patton trying to make anything stupid against Soviet Army of the time. No only he would not be able to get any closer to Mosvcow, USA would end being kicked from the continent. Strategically, Soviet Union was close and could move in reinforcements quickly while USA was far and while USA could manage weak Japan , there is no question which army was better at the end of the war. Just check what Soviet army did with best Japanese troops of Kwantun army in China within few weeks.

            At that point Soviet army had all necessary equipment, experience, leadership to destroy everything on its path. Including puny US forces in Western Europe who almost got annihilated during German Aedene operation.

            All US army experience after WII confirms that outside of Holywood you are not really as good as you think.

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            1. Zack at |

              Sergei-,, while you make some good points you vastly overrate Soviet military power. Did the Soviets wage tremendous losses on the Germans and win some historic battles? Yes. Yet, its also important to remember for both the Soviets and Americans is that Germans were stretched on both fronts. The Soviets would have suffered much more if Hitler wasn’t deploying troops to Africa and the Western front. The same applies to America and its operations on the Western front against deteriorated Nazi equipment, supplies, and soldiers.

              Another thing I disagree with is the Soviet military strategy. The overall lack of respect for their soldiers’ lives means no serious western theorist considers them as a military power. This is the reason I can’t include Zhukov in the top 10. Even in the siege of Berlin, Soviets lost more men than the Nazi’s. While the Soviet’s inflicted over 80% of German casualties, they themselves suffered double the casualties of Germany. 2 soviets for every 1 German soldier died. The reason the Soviets won was due to Germany fighting two fronts and the massive advantage in man power.

              And lastly, without American production, according to Stalin himself the Soviets would have been annihilated by the Germans. The soviets couldn’t produce enough food, equipment, and armory, without America’s help. No wonder they enslaved millions on their march to Berlin.

            2. bob at |

              Sorry but you are dead wrong. The russians sucked which is why they lost 20 million men. Stalin killed all his generals before the war. Stop hating on american. They ended the war. Its really easy to see. Before the americans entered the war the germans were advancing on all fronts. After the americans entered teh war the germans were retreating on all fronts. Add this to the fact that at the same time half of americas forces were fighting the japanese on the other side of the world. Lets see russia do that. Oh wait they couldn’t even fight the germans without losing.

          5. sergey at |

            Jack, you can have whatever opinion you have got. The truth accepted by the vast majority is that Eastern Front was the place where the destiny of the WWII was decided.

            The most important and the biggest battle, the biggest German losses. it is where Germans were stopped and destroyed.

            Yes, at the moment Russia has got vodka, some huge number of natural resources, no debt and yes dreams about passed greatness.

            However what USA got is about $60-200 trillion debt, all resources wasted, unsustainable infrastructure and overextended and unsustainable military and military budget and bleak future. How bleak you will soon see for yourself.

            US army looks like almighty but it's financial foundation is all rotten. It is being financed by loans from other countries and USA by all means bankrupt, all but by name. When sh*t hits the fan you will see quickly that US army after having no financing will unravel rather quickly and I doubt you will have even vodka left.

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        2. S.A.S at |

          BRAVO SERGEY YOU TOLD THEM ALL , BUT PIRRUS WAS THE FOUTH GREAT GENERAL IN THAT TIME , AFTER ALEXANDER , CAESAR AND HANNIBAL . AND HE WAS FROM ALBANIAAAAAA

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          1. Martyn at |

            Reply to Sergey:

            Blucher's arrival at Waterloo does not lessen the Duke of Wellington's achievements at that battle in the slightest. The very morning before the battle began Wellington sent Blucher a message, in this message he told him that if at least one Corps of Prussian's could be brought to Waterloo that day then Wellington would fight on that field but if this was not possible then Wellington's Army would fall back towards Brussels and concede the field to Napoleon without a fight. Blucher's response arrived at Wellington's HQ before the battle began and Blucher promised to bring his entire Army in support. The Battle of Waterloo was not won because of Blucher and the Prussian's arrival – it was fought because the Prussians were on the way.

            Grouchy didn't get lost. He followed his orders from Napoleon to the letter. He persued the Prussian's in direct Napoleon believed them to be moving. Napoleon believed his victory at Ligny had crushed the Prussians and that they were retreating back to Prussia and sent Grouchy to persue them. Nicola Soult – one of the greatest Strategist of the era – counciled Napoleon to recall Grouchy before the Battle of Waterloo began so that their army could exert the maximum force against a enemy Soult knew from personal experience to be formidable especially in defence, but Napoleon dismissed Soult suggestion as timidness caused by his constant defeats at Wellington's hands and stated that the battle of Waterloo would be "nothing more than eating breakfast".

            Napoleon was arrogant and dissmissed Wellington as being a sepoy general, not a threat and considered Wellington's army to be bad. He sowed the seed of his own defeat at Waterloo and should carry the burden on his own shoulders for his bad decisions. Wellington, by contrast, made all the right decisions in the battle and should be praised for it.

            Besides which Waterloo was not Wellington only battle ever and the rest of his career is first rate. In fact Wellington's record of success eclipses all other generals of the Napoleonic Wars.

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            1. Austin at |

              Martyn,

              The battle didn’t begin until about noon, and the Prussians under Blucher which h Grouchy had missed, appeared at around 1.00 p.m. just about 4 miles away, close enough so that Napoleon, who was short sighted, could actually see them through his small telescope. Wellington knew that Blucher would be there as he was exchanging messages with him since early morning. A recall was sent to Grouchy which he did not get until evening when it was far too late. Napoleon had to detach Count Lobau and then the Young Guard to stop the Prussians when they reached Plancenoit just close to his right. Because the French were attacking Wellington across heavy ground and uphill, they was at a considerabe disadvantage. Wellington played it smart, and Bonaparte had to gamble.

              As Wellington said, “it was the closest run thing i ever saw”.

              Another interesting point, perhaps considering that much of those wars were hand-to-hand, was that the contemporary historians, often from enemy countries, wrote that the French army generally was composed of rather small men (other than The Guards). They marvelled that these soldiers were able to march across Europe and defeat evetyone. I mention this-for what it’s worth.

          2. sergey at |

            Reply to Martin:

            Martin, thanks for your excellent comments.

            I am not trying to undervalue what Wellington achieved.

            I do think that Napoleon was brilliant general one of the best ever commanding armies but his arrogance did him really bad service both in Waterloo and Russian cases.

            He was a man who could not accept his mistakes and this is one of the reason I put him lower on the list. This is actually what I admire in Caesar the most.

            He could see, accept his mistakes and turn things around from there.

            Gergovia and Dirrahium are good examples of how he thought and acted in such situations.

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          3. Jack at |

            @Sergey

            First, how do you know what I “look like?” Second, unless you yourself fought in WWII, you know nothing about that war “first hand.” Hearing stories from your grandfathers is second-hand. Not that it matters here since we’re talking about the broad scope of things and not personal anecdotes – though you are obviously full of personal biases.

            You’re also apparently full of Soviet-era propaganda BS. The Germans were done when the Americans entered the war? Who is smoking the wacky tobacky now Sergey? The US officially entered the war against Germany a full 15 months before even victory in Stalingrad was assured and Operation Torch began 10 months the Battle of Kursk was won. Seriously, Sergey, you should at least know your basic timeline before you start criticizing someone.

            You apparently also need to read up on the Battle of the Bulge. The fact is Patton, Monty, Ike and other generals were quite happy that those brilliant Germans you admire so much were putting themselves in such a precarious position. “Let them go all the way to Paris if they want to,” said Patton, knowing that the Allies could just cut them off as they did eventually.

            You apparently also have selective memory when it comes to the Japanese. When it came to a one-on-one war with the Japanese in 1904-05 your people got absolutely smoked by the “backward Japanese” time and time again despite the fact that the Japanese military had been “modernized” only a few years before and had little or no experience in modern warfare. Thankfully, American President Teddy Roosevelt was willing to negotiate a peace between the two countries and save the weak Russians any further humiliation at the hands of the Japanese.

            Along with your ignorance you also add hypocrisy, degrading the American efforts against the Japanese, while claiming a great Soviet victory over “the best Japanese forces,” by which I’m guessing you mean the Japanese forces in Manchuria. First, there is ZERO evidence that those Japanese forces were the best they had, and second, if there ever was an example of a country piling on an already defeated foe, it’s the Soviet Union’s cynical and cowardly entrance into the war with Japan.

            Another bit of hypocrisy on your part is taking such offense that I would point out the FACT that Russian soldiers have NEVER fought for freedom in their entire history, only Czars, Communist dictators and, now, a corrupt oligarchy. Your sanctimoniousness admonitions come both before and after bashing other peoples’ courage and determination on the battlefield.

            As for what has happened since WWII, history only confirms that the Russians are more bluster than anything else, run out of every country they invaded as their idiotic political system collapsed and they devolved into a third-rate power while their former nemesis, the US, became the world’s only superpower, and their ally China swiftly passed them economically, militarily and politically. I guess pathetically lashing out at others while overrating long past victories and attempting to re-write history is all the sad little Russians have left.

            That and vodka.

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          4. Art at |

            Martyn,
            You say Blucher’s arrival does not lessen Wellington’s achievements. Wellington would not be one of the victorious generals that day if not for the arrival of Blucher’s 50,000 Prussians on Napoleon’s flank. Wellington knew he couldn’t defeat Napoleon alone. The Prussians prevented Napoleon from using more than 2/3 of his army against Wellington, putting him always at a numerical disadvantage. 1/3 of the army had to be held to fight the Prussians that Napoleon knew were coming.

            Grouchy’s orders weren’t to follow the Prussians but to prevent them from regrouping–a task he utterly failed at. And Soult was hardly one of the greatest strategists of the era, he was a decent field commander but not a great one and unsuited to the role of chief of staff Napoleon put him in that day. Soult tried to recall Grouchy but was vague in the orders he sent and Grouchy didn’t carry them out. If Berthier was still chief of staff that battle would have been a victory for the French.

            Both of those were bad decisions on Napoleon’s part–putting Soult and Grouchy in roles unsuited to them–which he had to live with.

            It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if Davout–probably the greatest general of the Napoleonic Wars outside of Napoleon himself– had been in the field instead of back in Paris as minister of war. He likely would have turned the tide. Another bad personnel decision by Napoleon who was no longer at the top of his game. Wellington made good calls but he had an easier task–hold off a numerically inferior foe while holding a good position–knowing that reinforcements were arriving that would put the coalition advantage at 2-1 in numbers.

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          5. Martyn at |

            @Art

            You didn’t quite get the point, judging by you initial paragraph. Wellington knew Blucher was on the way, if Wellington didn’t know Blucher was on the way he wouldn’t have fought at Waterloo in the first place. Wellington was counting on the Prussians arriving to make the different, he factored their arrival into his plans – a quote from him during the battle is “give me night, or give me Blucher”.Given that Wellington conducted the vast majority of the fighting during the battle for the Coalition, that he was fighting it with the singular purpose of holding Napoleon until the Prussians arrived so they could counter-attack together then I fail to see how the arrival of troops he’s expecting and had built his plans on the expected arrival of can lessen the worth of his contribution to the battle.

            I detest this rating of Louis Davout as the greatest or second greatest general of the Napoleonic Wars. Yes he was impressive at Austerlitz and Auerstadt and many other places but he only ever command 3 battles independently and no campaigns independently. He was the best subordinate commander of the Napoleonic Wars but never proved himseld a great Army Commander or a great independent commander.

            Davout’s record is 10 battle, 3 where he was in command and no campaigns where he was in command. Compare that to Wellington who’s record is 23 battle, 21 where he was in command and about 8 campaigns, 6 of which he commanded and one of which he was in defacto command of.

            Davout cannot be rated high than men like Wellington and other Army Commander because he never commanded at a similar level and never proved himself capable of commanding at that level. It would b like trying to claim that John B, Gordon was better than Robert E. Lee or Brian Horrocks was better than Bernard Montgomery. There is no justification whatsoever that can place such an untried and untested independent commander as Davout – great subordinate though he may have been – ahead of any army commander let alone someone as indisputably succesfull in independent command as Wellington.

            Davout’s presence at Waterloo may have changed the outcome but then again it might not. Every general or marshal Napoleon sent against Wellington was beaten and came away with their reputation tarnished or, in some cases, destroyed – on Soult really came awya from a battle with Wellington with any respectability to his name. Since Davout and Wellington never faced each other there is no way to know what difference Davout’s presence at Waterloo would have made, if any.

            And Napoleon outnumbered Wellington by about 4,000 until the Prussian’s arrived and Wellington’s army was botched job of British, Dutch, Belgians, Germans and troops from Hanover, Brunswick and Nassau with little to no prior experiance and only a passable staff system while Napoleon’s army was, by and large, French troops with at least one campaign under their belts with an incredibly formidable cavalry and an very experianced command set up.

            So it was hardly and easy job for Wellington.

            You must remember when trying to rob Wellington of the credit he’s due for Waterloo that he didn’t hold all the aces and it was a close run thing.

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          6. Art at |

            Martyn,
            After 200 years of hearing claims that Wellington won at Waterloo without any real help from the Prussians, I jumped immediately to respond to that. You’re right, I was a little quick to dismiss your point as you are one of the few defenders of the Iron (Shutters) Duke to actually give credit to the Prussians. To deny them credit after Waterloo became a cottage industry which even he participated in, to his shame. He may have famously said “Give me night or give me Blucher” but that was the last time he gave them credit.

            You underrate Wellington’s Army. About 76 percent of the Brits were Peninsular vets, the Dutch (largely responsible for the famous repulse of the Middle Guard) were veterans, and the KGL too. Many of the French were veterans, true, but cobbled together for the campaign. If they hadn’t been they wouldn’t have held out as long as they did against such odds.

            Wellington had considerable numerical superiority facing Napoleon. While the French outnumbered Wellington by 4,000 on the battlefield, Napoleon could only bring about 50,000 of his men to bear against him as he had to hold the rest back to face the Prussians he knew as well as Wellington were coming. Even so Napoleon almost pulled it off. Maybe Napoleon should have thrown them against Wellington and finished him off. Speculation.

            There’s some truth to what you say about Davout’s experience, though the victory at Auerstadt stands as one of the greatest achievements of the Nap. Wars. He certainly still stands far above Soult, who was a second-tier marshal.

            So many of Wellington’s battles in Spain were holding good defensive positions against largely second line French troops while having a numerical advantage over them. The wonder isn’t he won in Spain, it’s that it took him so long with numerous advantages over his opponents.

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            1. Austin at |

              And, I forgot to mention, that Count D’Erlon’s Corps of over 20,000 veterans marched uselessly from Ligny to Quatre Bras two days before, without coming into action, He received several conflicting orders . His arrival at any one of the points would have undoubtedly tipped the battle in the favour of the French, and brought on the Waterloo battle before the 18th June, when Napoleon had a real advantage.

              Waterloo went completely wrong from the French point of view. Napoleon sat in his armchair for hours that morning in a somnabulistic state whilst his generals wanted to begin the battle. They were whispering to one another about his stupor. The battle also began with a heavy cannonade which, aimed as usual tfor the balls to bounce just in front of their enemy, sank in the soft ground and didn’t bounce, so it was useless. Not to mention that Wellington wisely brougt most of his army behing the hilltop, out of harm’s way.

              Just a few more of what went wrong for Napoleon on that day. And I didn’t even mention the horrendous waste of fine troops caused by Ney’s wild attacks on the British squares with unsupported cavalry, a genuine military NO-NO. They were destroyed of course.

          7. john at |

            what are you smoking over there in ALBANIAAAAAA?

            Reply
        3. Richard Sim at |

          Ok Sergey and Jack you’re both right. Patton was a great general. His mastery of blitzkrieg was acknowledged by von Rundsdtet and Rommel. During the invasion of Normandy, the German High Command was convinced that the ENTIRE D-DAY was just a diversion and that Patton would invade at Calais and reserved the entire 15th Army (250k+) just for him, even though about 1.5 million allied men were in Normandy at the end of the week. Also the Patton had mastered logistics as well, contrary to many beliefs. He pivoted 90 degrees and traveled 100 miles to Bastogne even though he was already engaged in heavy fighting. His run across France was amazing as well. Stalin even said himself that the Red Army could not have planned nor executed Patton’s run. Patton was one of the greatest WESTERN modern general.
          Jack- Sergey has a point. The Red Army was beast. Operation Bagration was just amazing in man power and speed. Zhukov was a genius planner and strategist. It has been acknowledged that the Soviet War Machine could have ended the war on its own. Just would have taken a lot longer. They took back a lot of Eastern Europe in about 2 years. They did face about 500k+ more men than the U.S and Brits did.
          However I do not think that Patton or Zhukov make the list.
          But sergey what I don’t get is how the American Army nowadays is rotten in its financial infrastructure? If the American’s Army’s infrastructure was not stable, they would not be able to sustain any conflict for longer than a year. They have been a strong presence in the middle east for a long amount of time.
          jack, its true, the Red Army did inflict a HUGE amount of attritional damage on the Wehrmacht in Easten Europe, they reached Berlin first. I wouldn’t say that they won the war on their own… they could have theoretically, but the US and Brits intervened and won half the war for them. I say its 50-50 because Torch and Husky took Africa and Italy, while Overlord, Market Garden, Cobra took all france and half of Germany. (berlin is in the eastern half of Germany.) The Red Army retook most of the conquered soviet soil (gates of Moscow all the way down to the oil fields in Siberia) and went all the way to Berlin.
          my list i’m not going to justify them because i’m lazy but if you want clarification or to challenge my list just comment and ill debate :)

          10. Heinz Guderian/ Erwin Rommel
          9.Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
          8.Frederick the Great (L’audace, encore L’audace, et tou’jours L’audace)
          7.Hannibal
          6.Alexander the Great
          5.Ghengis Khan
          4.Napolean
          3.Duke of Wellington
          2.Souvorov- sergey was right about souvy… he was brilliant.
          1.Caesar- no arguments there honestly.

          Reply
          1. sergey at |

            Richard, I mostly like your list outside of Wellington. I do not think he is at top 10 and especially could you explain why you put him above Napoleon, Hannibal and Alexander? I would not position Alexander as top 3 for example because of the opponents he fought.
            Caesar outside of fighting barbarians fought Roman army under the best general of the time, Hanibal also fought Roman army and was winning all battles before Zama. Souvorov fought French and beat them in all engagements. But Alexander despite obvious talent fought only rotten Persian army which by the way did not field mounted archers of the later era when Romans faced Parthia and Persians again. Napoleon is obvious. Frederick is lucky pr*ck.
            Had not Russian czar been crazy about all things German he would not have survived 7 years war. Guderian and Rommel were great.

            Regarding state of USA army. It is too expensive to maintain and with current and ever increasing financial troubles in US, funding eventually will dry up, like it happened in the former USSR. In the current form US army is unable to face real opponents. I do not mention Iraq or Iran. Thankfully no other country is strong enough in this department for now. Russia’s army is a joke. Chinese army has no experience. Europe is friendly. Another point is that USA has lost its industrial base and in case of real lasting conflict with equal power, USA is unable to build back losses which occur in wars like it was able during WWII. This is why I say US army is rotten. Looks good but only until it meets true challenge. Same happened to British when their army and economy got hollow.

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          2. Richard Sim at |

            Well i placed Wellington relatively high because he had defeated Napolean’s army decisively at Waterloo. He did get a lot of help from the Prussian army. They did about half the work but the reason i placed him there initially was because i had no one else. I stick by Alexander the great though. I have remade my list. Most of it is still the same. Please rate my new list.
            10. I decided to add Field Marshal Albert Kesselring alongside Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Generaloberst Heinz Guderian. Kesslring defended Italy so successfully, they halted Operation Husky dead in its track and German troops continued to fight until the very end of the war. There are some stories about some German divisions continuing to fight after the war had ended as well. Well I guess part of Husky’s failure goes on Mark Clark as well. He didn’t fight very smartly.
            9.Fleet Admiral Nimitz/General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
            8.No more Frederick the Great. I decided to replace him with da dara dan!!!! William Tecumseh Sherman. True practitioner of Blitzkrieg and Total War. If you want to argue this feel free too. I am going to give my reasoning now: His thrust into the south was amazing; back when the fastest form of transportation was the horse, he traveled a whooping 60 miles in one day. He cut across from Mississippi to Georgia in just 2 weeks. A truly great accomplishment of logistics. And it was speedy. Therefore a blitzkrieg. He was planning to conquer land, which is against the blitz tactics of trying to surround and cut the enemy off, but he did both: he laid waste to cities and cut off enemy troops. Genius. March to the Sea had been studied carefully by Liddell Hart and Guderian when they came up with their books. Thats why i placed sherman on the list. Im not american so dont feel like im biased please.
            7.Feodor Rostopchin. Sergey Being a russian you can understand why i placed him here.
            6. Alexander the Great
            5. Hannibal
            4.I decided to take out Ghengis Khan. Instead I added Gustavus Adolphus. He was a true military genius. he nearly defeated Wallenstein’s army completely during the 30 year’s war. Close only because he died in the end.
            3.Napoleon
            2.Souvorov
            1.Caesar
            Please review my list anyone but please read the previous comments first. This list only makes sense in context.
            1.

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          3. Arthur at |

            Did you know that Julius Caesar wept when he reached the age of 32 because he had not achieved what Alexander had? Why the hell is everyone so obsessed with Julius Caesar?!

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          4. Dominic at |

            Caesar’s great talent is not his generalship. It’s getting himself out of scrapes that he should never have got into in the first place.
            I wonder how many military schools teach the following?
            Get yourself caught between 2 hostile armies each as large if not larger than your own.
            When attacking a numerically superior enemy ensure that you leave half your army behind on the other side of the adriatic. This cuts you off from re-inforcements and re-supply.

            Reply
        4. fraser at |

          Do you mean Pyrrhus?

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        5. Jack (2) at |

          Zhukov, are you serious, he repeatedly beat up on weak opponents, who were numerically inferior in almost every aspect. When Zhukov faced a serious opponent like in operation Mars, he was so badly beaten that the Soviet Government hid the fact up until 1991. Anyway you list is pretty good. I would replace Pirrus with Thomas Jackson and move Alexander the Great way down just because of who he was fighting.

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        6. Jalal Kammler at |

          hhhhhhhhhhahhhhhhhhhhhhahahahahaha muwahahahah Khalid bin el Walid 10?Man I rolled on my floor laughing nearly lost both of my two lungs.First of all I would remove Alexander position and lower it mainly because,of who he was fighting.Second Khalid bin el Walid position is 1 why?,simply he fought serious opponents and beat them,he beated and finished offfff the Persian empire,something Hannibal couldnt achieve against the Romans,something Napoleon could achieve in Europe,Caesar is overrated.Alexander the great couldnt excute the final thrust to the Persians so who did Khalid,Hence his truely position should be number 1.Zhukov dude number 9 this demonstrates to all of us that you have no idea what are you talking about,.He only beated the Germans in very specific areas where he outnummbered them 10 to 1,in operations mars when he fought them,on two dual equally terms he had his ass handed to him by a brilliant German commanders,who where inferior to him in terms of ranks,the Soviets Gouverment under Stalin regiem hid this from the public and military so to keep that fake reputation of Zhukov,in which 1991 the Russian gouverment revealed all this top infos about Zhukov stupidtidly….ehmmm no I dont like you list it lacks RICHARD the Lionheart and Hannibal real position should be 2 and 1 is for Mighty Khalid bin el walid the true father of the Blitzkreig Pincer movements,or what ever you want to call it…..Guderians Blitzkreig tactics were stolen from the Mongols and Arabs we ^^

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          1. Steve at |

            ANY of even second tier western generals could beat ANY muslim general. Khalid bin el walid (if that was really his name) beat absolutely no one.

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        7. A and O at |

          Sorry, you neglected to mention

          1. Hans Guderian

          2. Sun Tzu

          All others are mere honorable mentions.

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        8. Tom at |

          I don’t agree with some of the suggestions. Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal, who made countless costly mistakes, the biggest ones being bringing elephants, which creates a massive burden and crossing the alps. He would likely have lost less men if he risked it through the Mediterranean or prepared his men better for the cold. Hannibal might’ve been a good tactician but not a good enough strategist to be on the top 5 of the list. In my opinion, Von Manstein is better than Guderian as he was the one using the blitzkrieg to its fullest potential on the global campaign map. For number 10, most might disagree, but I would say Richard the Lionheart. The man never lost a battle in the middle east, where he was at a major disadvantage against Saladin as he didn’t know much about strategic locations like an oasis compared to the Muslims and had virtually no reinforcements due to the long supply line. He had to leave in the end though due to the fact that he was going to become bankrupt.

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        9. Sheila Lanz-Jimenez at |

          What a ridiculous list they put on here. How can anyone forget Charles Martel? Did he ever lose a battle? He fought many huge ones. Joan of Arc should not be on this list, neither should Washington and many others. Alexander the Great should be on it.

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      3. GreenHolyKnight at |

        Well first of all Joan of Arc was the one who knew what strategies and tactics to take against the enemy. Besides as General is also someone who can inspire and motivate troops to their fullest potential. She was a master at it with help from the lord above : )

        It doesn't matter who wins the battles it matters who wins the wars. George Washington won the war. That's why I disagree with Lee being on this list. You can be the master of battles but again its who wins the war. Plus you have to take into consideration your Enemies Strength. So Patton should be first on this list. Its like comparing today's football players to the ones in the 20's. The more difficult the enemy, weapons ect the more brilliant the general.

        Napoleon was brilliant as a tactician and as a strategist and creator but his enemies were not as impressive as pattons.

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        1. Bryan smith at |

          Are you saying in 1944 the Germans were strong enemies?! The Wehrmacht was shattered, the Luftwaffe non-existent and the German high command was a shambles… The Wehrmacht was a shadow of it's former self and reserves were practically non-existant. Undoubtedly the list should include the likes of Rommel, Zhukov,Wellington and Hindenburg.

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          1. Richard Sim at |

            it has been acknowledged that Hindenburg was not a military genius. he had many talented staff members and field commanders. He just rehashed their victories as his since he controlled the direct line to the Kaiser

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      4. Ramz at |

        I place General Michel Aoun as a great General of all, he was able to fight huge numerous Syrian army filled with all kind of weapons and after 20 years of occupation, using old weapons and few elite soldiers, his army was surrounded from all sides no way to get more ammunitions. He was very talented was able to oppose all conflicts and free his country. His name will be in history he is now still living and I think when someone dies people will remind him.

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      5. dOLFAN at |

        I totally agree. This list is a horrible. Joan of ark, really??? washington got his tail kicked almost every battle when he met the british head on. It was Gates at saratoga that convinced the French to help and Morgan down south that kept Cornwallis busy.
        Douglas macarthur was the most gifted man at arms America ever produced and he was no arm chair general, he deserved a spot on this list.
        I would also agree that napoleon relied on his marshal’s too much but to his credit he was always fighting against an allied army.

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      6. fraser at |

        It is WESTERN GENERALS, but I still don’t think he made all the right decisions, agree with some, but not all

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      7. bob at |

        Actually Ghengis khan was also undefeated and he conquered more territory than any general in history. He also built his army and empire from scratch. Alexander was handed the best army in the world that his father philip 2 created and used to defeat the greeks. Alexander was a great general but he had the best army in the world at the time and he fought against darius who was a horrible general.

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      8. Josh at |

        I agree except for one thing Napoleon was a very good general and didn’t make much mistakes at all except at Waterloo but that wasn’t much of a mistake he was surrounded and outnumbered by increasingly difficult odds. Alexander should be number one!!!!

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      9. felipe at |

        nope and the great alexandr suvorov he was never defeat

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      10. Richard at |

        Scipio Africanus was also undefeated, but I agree Alexander was probably the greatest

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      11. bob at |

        Actually ghengis khan was undefeated too and the best general of all time. Of course hes not western. I’d have to say ghenghis khan had the greatest dissadvantage in numbers and technology then any general in history when he attacked China and he still won. 150,000 troops vs armies numbering in the millions, bows and arrows vs rockets.

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      12. lorenz at |

        not a bad list, good job on Washington, who’s usually underrated, and Frederick the Great, who’s less well known than should be the case. Alexander, Genghis Khan, Grant, Gustavus Adolphus and MacArthur should take the place of Joan of Arc, Patton, Attila, Saladin and Patton, all of whom are vastly overrated and whose skills are unique to their time and opposition. Grant’s Big Black River campaign was probably the best ever fought on American soil; MacArthur’s island hopping and crowning achievement the landing at Inchon were very different sets of skills, GK though limited to light cavalry and lack of substantial fortifications was virtually unstoppable on the right terrain; Gustavus Adolphus more than anyone else made artillery and small arms effective in combined movements against Russians in the East and then against everyone else in 30 Years War; and Alexander’s victories were simply too many against too many generals not to be included.

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      13. Rob at |

        Sun Tzu and Alexander were not the only two undefeated generals. There was count Suvorov at least (63-0) and I believe a couple others. Second; Sun Tzu was a skilled military theorist, but never faced nearly the adversity that some of the others faced. And as for Napoleon; when asked who the greatest commander of his time was, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) repiled “In this time, in past times, in all times, Napoleon.”

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        1. Steve at |

          Suvorov 63-0? You must be counting every tiny skirmish in the Russian campaign against a starving, freezing shell of a grand army. (And didn’t Napoleon score at least a tactical victory at Borodino?

          I think some of these guys overrate Caesar a bit

          MANY historians list John Churchill, Duke of Marlbough (undeafeated) as number one over even Alexander (who tops most lists).

          If you like Wellington quotes try this – (A parphrase but the gist is correct) – “It is hard to conceive of anything as formidable as the Duke of Marlbough at the head of a British army.”

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          1. Rob at |

            I believe you might be referring to Kutuzov… Suvorov never fought the Grand Army and was not present (and probably not even alive) at Borodino; Suvorov served in the 18th century; and possibly the very first years of the 19th in some capacity, but he wasn’t around during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. I do believe you have a point about Caesar, many here are remarking on his political aptitude, which is not really the issue at hand.

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      14. Steve at |

        David, you are forgetting FOUR great UNDEAFEATED commanders. Scipio Africanus who beat three Carthginian armys in Spain with his one small army and then later in N. Africa beat Hannibal who was better than any opponent Alexander faced.

        Secondly John Churchill, Duke of Marlbough has been rated by many historians as No. one of all time going unbeaten in 15 years of the War of Spanish Succession. As Winston Churchill, his great descendant said – “He never fought a battle he did not win – He never besieged a city he did not take.”

        Honorable mention – Oliver Cromwell who never lost a battle and HIS opponents were English.

        Second Honoranle mention – The Duke of Wellington – Never lost a battle.

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        1. Art at |

          Marlborough IS a good choice. He was undefeated, though Malplaquet might as well have been a defeat since his army was so badly mauled compared to the French that it saved France since he couldn’t continue the campaign. The only thing that saved him at all was Villars was wounded and command fell onto his second in command, who eventually withdrew in good order.

          Wellington is a good commander but remember he did suffer a small number of defeats and quite a few “draws.” He fought a lot more battles than Marlborough, however, so his number of victories is higher..

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          1. Steve at |

            Can you tell me of Wellington’s defeats?

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            1. Art at |

              Sultanpet Tope, 1799, India

              Pombal, 1811, Peninsular War

              Redhina, 1811, Peninsular

              Second Badajoz, 1811

              Siege of Burgos, 1812 (what Wellington called his greatest defeat)

              Battle of Tordesillas, 1812

              None were large scale events like Talavera but they were battles with Wellington in direct command on the field. And of course there were a fair number of draws, like Quatre Bras, which arguably could be a defeat but it’s usually considered a draw.

              Just an aside but Waterloo would have been a defeat except for the timely intervention of Blucher but the plan all along was to hold his ground until Blucher arrived since neither alone could defeat the French–so the strategy worked.

            2. Steve at |

              Thanks for the info Art!

      15. Steve at |

        I don’t think this is a very good list either. Scipio Africannus who WAS UNDEAFEATED by the way, is the guy who beat Hannibal.

        John Churchill, the Duke of Marlbourgh is number one on many lists. Winston Churchill wrote of his ancestor…. “He never fought a battle he did not win and he never besieged a city he did not take.” Also UNDEAFEATED.

        Oliver Cromwell is very underrated. He never lost a battle, though he was unsuccessful on a couple of sieges. And he was fighting Englishmen.

        Also, any list without Alexander (probably at number one) is just silly.

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      16. Dominic at |

        Scipio Africanus, also undefeated, including victory over Hannibal.

        Reply
    3. Bill Kahane at |

      Julius Caesar, by al means.

      Never lost a battle. Never attaced with men superiority.

      A MASTER of war!!!!

      Commanded form the front line,risking himself.

      Crossed the Alps disguised as a monk, wit three more monks, to fell in winter on the enemy to command his legions. And win!!!!

      .

      Reply
      1. Frase at |

        What about the failed expedition to Britain?

        Sorry, he deserves a second or third, but what about Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or Charlemagne?

        They were probably the best for their time

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        1. sergey at |

          He did not lose that war. He was not bale to finish the conquest of Britania because he had more urgent things in France. However, he did won all battles there and tribes promised to sent annual tribute and gave him hostages. That was pure adventure not a serious planned war of conquest.
          Alexander did not fought same kind of opposition Caesar did. Caesar fought Romans and won. Alexander fought Persians which cannot be compared to Roman army of the late republic under Pompey. Charlemagne doe snot deserve to be mentioned among great captains. His tactics and strategies were barbaric and rude. I doubt he would be able to stand against Roman legions lead by Caesar ;)
          Chengis Khan was a serious opponent. But it was is generals who were brilliant.
          I mean Subedei Bahatur. Chengis himself was more of strategist, leader and organizer rather than tactician. Anyway, at the time of Mongolian conquests opposition was weak in leadership and unity.

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          1. fraser at |

            Alexander did have serious compitition. He attacked persians, and won, he attacked Egyptians, who were the most advanced civilization at the time, I might add, and won, and he even fought all the way to modernday afghanistan, founding cities along the way, while Julius Ceasar fought gauls in modernday france and also some germans, he did not fight another civilization as advanced as his own, and not at such a young age as well.
            Charlemagne was a good general because he fought against simular civilization to his own and conquered them, and then later in a reign even founded trade along the north sea, creating prosperity. When he came to rule his knigdom was faceing harsh compitition, but his succeded, credit to him
            With Genghis khan I have to agree, because he face weaker opponents and his armies were led well, but I give him credit for being able to marshal them in the first place, because to unite the mongols would have been a difficult task

            Reply
          2. Alexander the Great at |

            Alexander the Great is the best General of all time!! He never lost a battle and conquered thousands of miles in eleven years and with only 30,600 soldiers that is just Total Alexander and Greek power!!

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            1. felipe at |

              man he has an army napoleon win in italy with nothing a caesar won against a huge force

          3. bob at |

            Um no. Caesars victories were mostly against barbarians other than the civil war against other romans. Thats like taking a modern army and fighting spearman in africa. The romans had the best troops in the western world in tactics, training and equipment. Any general with that advantage would be able to conquer gual and britain. Chengis on the other hand had the disadvantage in all his fights. He took on China a country with 60 million people and rockets with 150,000 men with bows and arrows and won. Then he went into kwarezham and defeated the muslim empire at the height of its power with a standing army of 400,000. Yes he had good generals under him but so did caesar and all the other great generals.

            To put it in perspective, caesar conquered gual and britain and about 2 million people with an army of 50,000. Chengis conquered 1/4 of the entire world and over 100 million people with an army of 150,000.

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      2. Arthur at |

        Julius Caesar wept when he Reached the age of 32 because he didn’t achieve what Alexander the great did so how can he be so much better than Alexander!!

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        1. taudarian at |

          Because he fought better opponents. Alexander very nearly lost to inferior armies, which takes some doing. Examining Alexander’s battles one is forced to conclude that he would have been a footnote in history on at least two occasions for being an idiot and only isn’t thanks to very quick-thinking lieutenants.

          His personal qualities leave a lot to be desired also. Caesar would have probably wiped the floor with his hero had it come down to a battle between the two.

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          1. Arthur at |

            Please explain to me why Julius Caesar would win a one on one battle? And thats not the question here. Julius Caesar wept when he reached the age of 32 because he didn’t achieve what Alexander had in 32 years. Alexander took virtually no casualties and never lost a battle. Julius Caesar got his ass kicked in England. Alexander fought the Persians who had the immortals which are the deadliest fighting force in all of Asia.

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            1. Steve at |

              I think Scipio Africannus – Victor over Hannibal or the Duke of Marlbough could very possibly beaten Caesar or Alexandor.

              Caesar beat barbarian armys that he deliberately picked fights with that consisted of maybe 50-60,000 barbarian warriors who were trying to protect their women and children. Then he would send word to Rome that he had prevented this huge HORDE of barbarians from invading Italy (where they had no attention of going in the first place). These slaughters were most of Caesers “victories” – Alesia excepted which was impressive).

              Alexander might have lost if Darius had not been a coward and run away every time. I don’t think the Persians qualify as top oppenents.

          2. taudarian at |

            “Julius Caesar got his ass kicked in England. Alexander fought the Persians who had the immortals which are the deadliest fighting force in all of Asia.”

            No, he did not get his “ass kicked” in Britain. He wasn’t even defeated. He realised that he hadn’t done his scouting properly and hadn’t brought the right forces and resources to do whatever it was he had in mind and so he packed up and left. The man was smart enough to know when to cut his losses and leave and this is what made Caesar so dangerous an opponent because you didn’t get a second chance when he came back.

            And spare me about the Persian “Immortals”, they were hardly the ninja they were portrayed to be in 300.

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        2. taudarian at |

          “Please explain to me why Julius Caesar would win a one on one battle?”

          Because Caesar wasn’t dumb enough to lead the charge and remove himself from making command decisions thus relying on his lieutenants to pull his butt out of the fire. Had it been Caesar across the Issus River his cavalry wouldn’t have stopped when it drove the Greek cavalry from the field believe me, it would have had orders to pile into the Greek rear.

          “Julius Caesar wept when he reached the age of 32 because he didn’t achieve what Alexander had in 32 years”

          I don’t think you understand Caesars motivations for weeping. Had he had the early start Alexander had (which he couldn’t simply because his era and his political system didn’t allow for it) he would have been able to surpass Alexander. He’s not going “oh woe is me Alex is so much better than me” he’s going “damn, I wish I’d have been able to start my career at 19″.

          Reply
          1. Ninewinter at |

            exactly

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    4. kosciuszko at |

      no alexander the great, scipio africanus or charlemagne? and since when was salah ad din a general described as part of 'western history'? Very poor choices here, especially placing two american generals who had not even fought outside their own country!

      Reply
      1. Frase at |

        Finally! Somebody who knows about Charlemagne!!

        He was good, but not very famous

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    5. paul at |

      You forgot Grant. I think Lee might have been a better tactician but Grant was a better strategist..Lee never co-ordinated all his armies at the same time.Lee's master stroke was Chancelorville-credit of which he had to share with Jackson. Grant's most brilliant campaign was Vicksburg. He used amphibious operations to transfer his army from the west bank of the Mississippi to the east bank and fought 5 battles ,winning them all. He was between 2 armies that would have outnumbered him 2 to 1. The 2 Generals Grant faced were Pemberton(not very good) and Johnston( very good).Grant fought Pemberton and destroyed the rail lines to Vicksburg so Johnston could not use them.Lee had Hooker.The more you study Vicksburg ,the more impressed you will be I promise you.It says something about Grant that Lee never tried what he did at Chancelorville with Grant.

      Reply
    6. Woody at |

      Sorry, armchair warriors, Patton is number one.

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      1. Steve Johnson at |

        Rubbish! Zhukov won WW2.
        Patton and the American involvement was neither here nor there.
        But don’t take my word for it:

        “Marshall Zhukov.”
        General Eisenhower’s response to the question, what single person is most resppnsible for winning the Second World War

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        1. bob at |

          Lol you mean the russians that lost 20 million to the germans as they ran over russia? You mean the russians that the americans were supplying with food and every other thing so they could continue to fight? Please. Without the americans russia would be eastern germany and everyone knows it.

          Reply
        2. Steve at |

          I could easily refute this but Bob has already said it so well. (See just below).

          Zhukov was a butcher who simply threw his huge hordes at the Germans heedless of losses.

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    7. Ramz at |

      I rather put General Michel Aoun as a great General, he was able to fight huge numerous Syrian army filled with all kind of weapons and after 20 years of occupation, using old weapons and few elite soldiers, his army was surrounded from all sides noway to get more amunitions. He was very talented was able to oppose all conflicts and free his country. His name will be in history he is now still living and I think when someone dies people will remind him.

      Reply
    8. RETEP at |

      UUUM ALEXANDER THE GREAT????

      Reply
  2. matt3046 at |

    Just two more, Wellington beat Bonaparte.

    And Lee, owed a great deal to (my number one)

    Thomas Jackson. Stonewall was definitely one of the best generals.

    Patton is a little overrated, (sorry)

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    1. Spike at |

      Wellington, when asked who was the greatest general of the day, answered: "In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon."

      Reply
    2. GreenHolyKnight at |

      Patton overrated? He's the best ever considering his enemy and the modern warfare factor. Go back to preschool.

      Reply
      1. Martyn at |

        @GreenHolyKnight:

        Patton is totally overrated. He made no higher command decisions in his life, he was always the subordinate to someone and always following their plans – though occaisonally he ignored those plans in the persuit of personal glory – and he has no great battle victories to his name.

        Patton is not fit to shine the boots of Erich Von Manstien or Alexander Vasilevsky (to name two WW2 general who were lightyears better than him) and he is not fit to be mentioned the same breath as Napoleon, Marlborough, Wellington, Suvorov, Eugene of Savoy, Ceaser, Alexander, Hannibal, Gustavus Adoplhus or the many other generals throughout history who achieved far more than he ever did.

        If you view Patton through the lense of anything other than that of an American Patriot or Patton Fanboy then he clearly accomplished nothing in comparision to the great generals of history and in truth he accomplished nothing in comparison to Montgomery, Bradley, MacArthur, Zhukov, Konev, Vasilevsky, Von Manstein, Von Rundstedt, Kesselring, etc.

        In fact Patton wasn’t even the best American Army Commander of the WW2 as Patch and Simpson performed to a higher standard than him and did so without trying to gain all the publicity for their achievements. Litterally the only time in his career that Patton achieved something exceptional was the turning of the 3rd US Army at the Battle of the Bulge but beyond that his resume is supremely mediocre.

        Reply
        1. randy at |

          Patton was the best and most successful American general in WWII. His so called superiors were far less impressive battle commanders. Eisenhower, Bradley and others were quick to rein Patton in at the needless cost of many lives including US soldiers and Jews in concentration camps as well as slaves to German industry throughout their occupied lands. This was mostly due to envy and a difference in philosophy about war making. Patton understood the psychology of warfare more than any other American general. Him and William Sherman would have been kindred spirits. A lof of his bravado was carefully scripted showmanship to rally GI’s to fight vigorously. His third army is unrivaled in their performance during the race across France. Do your homework. Bradley and Montgomery were very tenative and lackluster compared to Patton. His ability to outflank German forces was unrivaled. He rescued entrenched allied forces at the Battle of the Bulge. His tactical brillance of keeping the third army on the move led to more casualties and prisoners than any other US army in the field. Patton was feared by the Germans and that should tell you something about his effectiveness as a general. Do your homework about Falaise and you will be move respectful of Patton. Read The Soul of Battle by Hanson for powerful insights of this remarkable man. Okay, here is a vote for someone no one else has mentioned – Epaminondas of Thebes, the general that defeated the Spartans on the battlefield and set their slaves free after a successful invasion of Laconia.

          Reply
          1. Martyn at |

            Eisenhower and Bradley tried to reign in Patton because of Logistics. Because Eisenhower had foolishly tried to follow an advance over a 240 mile front he quickly found out that he didn’t have the logisitics to support everyone. He and Bradley told Patton to halt for a bit so they could build up his supplies, Patton stopped but sent forward units to scout and when those units came under even the lightest of fire he would charge forward with the whole 3rd US Army to support them and thus continue advancing. He was really surprised (note sarcasm) that he was running out of feul and began stealing feul meant for Hodges’ 1st US Army. Then he ran out completely before the Moselle River and blamed everyone but himself.

            The 3rd Army’s statistics of having cause over 50% of the German casualites and having taken over 70% of the German prisoners are not reliable let alone realistic. For them to be accurate 1st US, 2nd British, 1st Canadian, 9th US, 1st French and 7th US Armies would have to have caused less than half the casualties inflicted and taken less than a third of the prisoners taken between them and this is very unbelievable considering 1st US and 2nd British Army were one the main line of advance into Germany and took part in the main fighting against the German forces in the West. Further officers who actually served in the 1st US Army disputed the 3rd’s statistics but were disregarded because the 1st wasn’t as high profile as the 3rd nor was Hodges as colourful as Patton – Hodges couldn’t be made into a mythical god of war by the American media, Patton could.

            Patton at the Bulge was charged with taking the pressure off of 1st US Army by getting Von Manteuffel to redeploy part of his 5th Panzer Army against the 3rd US Army. To do this he was to aim to relieve Bastonge. Patton’s initial turning movement was impressive but his attack was weak and stalled and got no where until Bradley managed to get a couple more divisions behind it and the air began to clear. Patton relieved Bastonge – even though the troops inside didn’t think they needed rescuing – but failed completely to take any pressure off of the 1st US Army. Further his premature attack into a snow storm after relieving Bastonge caused more casaulties to his own side through adverse weather conditions that Patton hadn’t prepared his army for than they took from the enemy. Von Manteuffel rated Montgomery’s contribution to winning the battle as being more important than Patton’s and considering Von Manteuffel’s position as the main German Army Patton’s was supposed to be attacking that doesn’t say much about Patton saving the Allies does it?

            When 1st US Army achieved the break out from the beaches Patton and the 3rd Army were activated and Patton proved to everyone his area of expertise – exploitation. With no German units of any real strenght at all before him he charged all over France and managed to get behind the Germans rear near Argentan. Bradley, without orders from or consultation with Eisenhower or Montgomery, then ordered him to go no further north. Patton object but Bradley would not be swayed and Patton, robbed of his opportunity to close the Falaise Gap, decided to go for Paris instead leading Montgomery, who knew nothing of Bradley’s orders to not close the gap, to remark the Patton “coud ruin your battle in an afternoon.”

            Patton was an expert in exploiting gaps, in maneuvering around the enemy to avoid battle and to move around their flank and appear to their rear, but he was clueless when it came to set piece battles and cost tens of thousands of lives needlessly through poor planning and bad command decisions.

            At Brest he found the Germans strongly entrenched and decided to try to remove them, he boasted he would take Brest in two days. The way he decided to do this was to attack frontally in a wide, piecemeal fashion. He attacked Brest on the 5th, 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th of August 1944 and got no where. Having failed to take Brest and caused 10,000 US casualties through poor command decisions he decided to give up and leave it for someone else to deal with.

            When Patton ran out of feul before the Moselle he blamed everyone for it but himself – despite the fact that he had completely ignore logistics and any advice regarding Logistics – then once he had feul again he decided he would take Metz. This decided he did nothing to plan for the capture of Metz, he just sent his army forward. He tried to bounce the Moselle river with no preparation while the Germans were behind it and capable of resisting him, then he repeated his tactics from Brest as he attacked Metz frontally, with no real plan, peicemeal on a wide front. For over four months he was stuck before Metz achieving nothing. The German defenders eventually pulled out when preparations for the Ardennes Offensive had been completed and Patton took Metz then. The caputre of Metz had cost the Allies between 33,000 and 35,000 men all because he didn’t plan or command properly and failed to concentrate force when it was needed.

            There is no contemporary source from WW2 that claims the Germans feared Patton. The closest you can get to it in a series of interviews with German Generals post war who state Patton was the best American General – not Allied but American – and Von Rundstedt is usually quoted as saying “Patton was you best” but his acutal quote was “Montogmery and Patton were the best I met”. Respect for his aggressive nature does not equate to fear

            I stick by Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke – the premier strategist at the Allies disposal from 1940 to 1944 when SHEAF made CIGS redundant in Europe and Eisenhower ignored him in favor of Marshall – assessment of Patton. He said “I had heard of him, but I must confess that his swashbuckling personality exceeded my expectation. I did not form any high opinion of him, nor had I any reason to alter this view at any later date. A dashing, courageous, wild and unbalanced leader, good for operations requiring thrust and push but at a loss in any operation requiring skill and judgment.”

            Reply
            1. TomH at |

              Wow, what a bolluxed view of Brest you present. See http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-E-Breakout/USA-E-Breakout-20.html for a much better presentation of the issues surrounding Brest.

              Alanbrooke was such a joke. He had no clue about mobile offensive operations. Alanbrooke simply didn’t understand Patton’s methods. Patton didn’t simply send armoured columns out recklessly. He sent out a great number of aerial reconnaisance missions and TAS missions to guard the flanks of the columns. Patton’s run through Brittany was responsible for the command by Hitler to form a static defense which made reducing the Germans much easier. Patton attacked the command and control of the Germans. Who do our military schools study today? Alanbrooke or Patton?

              Patton had logistics problems (http://www.qmfound.com/pol.htm), but it’s important to understand that Patton was testing the limits of armoured warfare to see where doctrine needed to be changed. This shows up at Metz in logistics questions and in force concentration. As a result of Patton, American doctrine now advocates traveling diffuse, but focusing force for offense and counter-offense. Of course, Eisenhower favored First Army over Third Army when fuel ran short. Patton was innovative in getting his men supplied, including having them use railroads to move fuel and using captured artillery when ammunition for American artillery ran short.

              If Patton had had ground intelligence available via Special Forces under his command, likely he would have made better decisions as regards reducing fortress cities as he would have been more aware of the defensive strength opposing his armoured columns. Again, this is a lesson that Patton has taught us.

              Patton’s casualty ratios were very favorable overall despite the fact that he took risks.

            2. Martyn at |

              @Tom H

              Patton tried to take Brest 5 times. He failed. Having failed he moved on and left it to Middleton to deal with. Not matter what way that’s spun its still a failure.

              Patton used the method you described – using aerial reconnaissance, using TAS to guard his flanks, etc – when he was advancing over open country in tanks in pursuit of a foe who had been beaten or was on the cusp of being beaten, when confronted by concentrated defensive position he failed to do this more than once. The Germans were totally unimpressed with his amphibious flanking attack in Sicily and accused him of failing to concentrate against the crucial point and he would be criticized for that again during the Lorraine Campaign.

              Alanbrooke was not a “joke”. He was the most respected soldier in the British Empire, even Americans who hated him respected his judgement even if they didn’t agree with him. The main criticism they had of him was that both WWI experience and his experience in the two BEF’s of 1940 – where to all reports he had performed magnificently – had left him pessimistic about Britain’s chance of beating the Germans in a face-to-face confrontation and thus preferred to strike at targets all along the German border and wait until the Germans had been worn down before fighting the decisive battle Marshall had wanted since 1942.

              Tthe Americans believed that they – unsullied by either a horrific death toll of WWI or spectacular earlier defeats by the Nazi’s in WW2 – were far bolder planners and that the British planners were too pessimistic to the point of avoidance, inaction and even defeatism – this, of course, ignoring the fact that Brooke had agreed with Marshall on their first meeting in 1942 that the cross-channel invasion would be the decisive moment of the war in the west and had Roosevelt and Churchill not conspired behind Brooke and Marshall’s back to invade North Africa, something that both Brooke and Marshall were sceptical over, the cross-channel invasion would have occured in 1943.

              Brooke understood first hand how mobile Blitzkrieg style warfare could be conducted and how effective it could be – he had to fight against Guderian, it’s architect, in the battle of France – but he didn’t rate Patton anywhere near the German’s level when it came to that style of warfare. And had Patton been German he would have hardly have been a note in the history books, Patton-like generals were a dime a douzen in the Wehrmacht.

              Eisenhower favoured the 1st US Army over the 3rd US Army but Bradley – against Eisenhower’s orders – split his logisitics down the middle and gave Patton equal priority of logistics that he gave to the Hodges. It was bad generalship from Bradley no to choose the most important area his Army Group could advance into – regardless of whether it meant supporting Hodges or Patton over the other – and support it fully. This equal split between 1st and 3rd US Armies led to 12th Army Group being spread out across the Ardennes and in a very weak condition when it came to the Hurtgen Forest Offensive, the Lorraine Campaign and the Ardennes offensive.

    3. bob at |

      Wellington beat bonaparte because the prussians who napolean thought were days away came in the rear because napoleans scouts sucked. Also some orders were wrongly sent and ney charged a hill with no cannon support and lost his calvary. Even with these blunders napoleon almost won. But sure wellington bean bonaparte.

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        Wellington’s victory over Bonaparte counts. A win is a win. There are many battles in history that could easily have gone the other way. For instance, if Darius had not been a coward, Alexander might not even be on the top lists. (He might have even been killed).

        Alexander would go straight at Darius – Daruis would back out taking his huge bodyguard with him and the rest of the Persian army would conclude that the battle was lost and break.

        Should we then belittle Alexander’s victories?

        Reply
  3. C. Vincent Barbatti at |

    In compiling the list, I kept myself to a few criteria. In general, they had to be a field commander with a high degree of autonomy; second, they had to have been somewhat successful in the field; third, their opposition had to have been significant and somewhat difficult to beat; and fourthly, I tried to limit myself to the perceived best of any given conflict.

    Stonewall Jackson, Sherman, and Wellington all made my initial brainstorming list. Jackson was certainly a contender, I just felt that Lee and his victories were slightly more iconic. Sherman – well, no one can possibly doubt Sherman's efficacy, or his ability to make hard choices. But in his famous March to the Sea, he faced little to no military opposition.

    Wellington, particularly, was difficult for me to leave out. Nelson and Wellington are heroes of mine, and I am keenly aware that Wellington proved himself Bonaparte's foil several times. In defense of Napoleon in the top spot however: Napoleon defined the time period with his conquests. In his battles, Napoleon won stunning defeats against upwards of a dozen nationalities and leaders, where as Wellington almost exclusively fought the French. And the two only met directly in the field once.

    Reply
    1. mart at |

      only an american would include 3 american generals to the top ten of all time. and in such a small time scale of a little over 200yrs. USA USA USA

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        I may be a flag waving American, but the combination of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the same battlefield was a lethal combination.

        Also Grant was a master stategist -(See Vicksburg campaign).

        Sherman was great.

        Patton was great.

        Washington has always been underrated and was a better man than almost anyone in history (George the third said that he was “the greatest man in the world”). There was something about him that makes me think that he could have beaten better generals than himself. The history channel even had him beating Napolean!

        Reply
    2. saxan66 at |

      peninsular wars , india?? maybe the reason wellington didnt fight as many nationalities as napoleon was that he was a general in the british army and therefore a tool of the government and not a dictator and emporer like napoleon who only answered to his own ego! your list has created a wealth of good and bad debate on generals but i believe that your criteria is too romantic and a touch too much bias, hence the 3 americans, when i think it would be hard to put one in a top ten. as ive said before i believe very difficult to have an outright top ten but a list for each period or generation is more realistic given that education and social attitudes change from era to era.

      Reply
  4. ABS at |

    Why is Alexander the Great missing? Because he comes to us through "dubious sources"? When every ancient source, including many nonWestern sources (like the Bible – Maccabees 1 – and various Indian works) is unanimous regarding his military brilliance, it's hard to argue that it's "dubious."

    "In compiling the list, I kept myself to a few criteria. In general, they had to be a field commander with a high degree of autonomy;"

    No one disputes that in Alexander's case.

    "second, they had to have been somewhat successful in the field;"

    Conquering most the known world should probably fit that criterion.

    "third, their opposition had to have been significant and somewhat difficult to beat;"

    Facing an immediate revolt by the Athenians, the Thebans, and various Thracian tribes, Alexander conquered them all within a year's time. He ended the Persian empire, which had been the dominant military force for the two and a half centuries prior to his conquest. And he infiltrated India, a land most Greeks had not even heard of at the time.

    "Fourthly, I tried to limit myself to the perceived best of any given conflict."

    That certainly wasn't Darius III.

    Reply
  5. C. Vincent Barbatti at |

    I did mention Alexander in my "might have beens" list at the end of the article. It was not through any ignorance or dismissal of his exploits that he didn't make the final cut. Yes, Alexander was a pivotal, autonomous, decisively victorious commander – no arguments there. A number of factors suggested, however, that he might not be the best choice for a slot in this list:

    While no one can doubt he was successful, the historical accounts are so varied, apocryphal, anecdotal, and otherwise conflicting that we have no reasonable way to measure his opposition. Many of his wars of conquest were against "barbarous" enemies – small provinces, kingdoms, or principalities that had were not major players on the world stage. In fact, thanks to his relentless eastward push, most Hellenic or Hellenistic peoples would have had no idea who his later opponents were. And while the Persian empire under Darius probably posed a significant challenge, Darius' consistent failures as a general don't recommend him as a worthy adversary.

    The numbers arrayed against Alexander, and the scale of his victories, are also difficult to measure. In my studies of Alexander and his successors, I've read Plutarch, Arrian, Diodorus, the book of Maccabee, and Quintus Curtius Rufus. The difference in the estimated opposing army at any given battle is often as large as a diversion of several hundred thousand, and occasionally more. Alexander's losses and enemy casualties are also fundamentally divergent guesswork. Arrian, in particular, lists Darius' casualties at Issus at 100,000 of his 600,000 troops, where as modern estimates reduce both numbers by about 75-85%.

    Finally, most of Alexander's campaigns were against Eastern powers and generals. It is true that Saladin, Hannibal, and Attila are not in the strictest sense Western European generals, but they fought primarily in what Western History would have called the known world, against Europeans, and with much better documentation in general. This is perhaps the crucial argument to my mind – Alexander was a great general, and from the Western World, but few of his exploits happened anywhere near Europe or the Americas. In straying out of those bounds, I would far exceed my knowledge of military history, and tread into the murky waters of eastern tradition, a subject which I have much less knowledge of. Including Alexander might thus have been a slight to the great commanders of Japan, China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and what was to become Russia.

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      Sorry, but I think your reasoning is inconsistent. If you think the Persian Empire wasn’t enough of an opponent to include Alexander, how can you say the woefully outnumbered Crusaders rate as a top flight opponent to Saladin?

      And how can you possibly have Joan of Arc on your list and not Alexander!?

      To those who disparage Washington….he may or may not deserve to be on this list as a military commander (though I have always thought him to be underrated as a general), but he was a GREATER MAN than any on this list.

      Reply
  6. Lee at |

    Three Americans in an 'All-time' list? Im sorry, but I dont think so.

    Patton was not only far inferior to Rommel, he was inferior to just about every General of the Second World War. Guderian, Zhukov, Montgomery, Slim, Von Manstein, Alanbrooke and dozens more were all far greater than Patton.

    Thats before we even start on other periods of Western History.

    Just from a British perspective I would say that Gordon, Wellington, Wolfe, Cromwell, Henry V, Richard the Lionheart and William the Conqueror all deserve to be on the list more than Washington or Patton.

    And if Julius Caesar is on the list, then the men who were considered better Generals by contemporaries such as Pompey the Great, Marius and Scipio Africanus deserve a mention.

    In reality, there wouldn't be an American General in the top 50, never mind 3 in the top 10. American military achievements are hugely overblown. American generals have never had to prove themselves without allies against an equal or superior foe. The only time America went to war on its own, in Vietnam, it lost. Despite overwhelming superiority. And as Americans are taught almost exclusively American history, the reputations of Lee, Jackson and Washington have been wildly exagerrated and distorted.

    A European, African, Arabian or Asian historian wouldn't even consider American generals when compiling a list of the greatest generals of the last 200 years, never mind the entirety of Western History.

    Im sorry if I sound a little Anti-American but I really do think we need some perspective here.

    Reply
    1. delphi at |

      hahah Monty…..HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAAH, operation Market Garden.. enough said.

      Reply
    2. Brenton Rehm at |

      Monty??? Cromwell? Henry V? Wellington I understand but you forgot the good old Duke of Marlborough who would make a much better top 10 general than Cromwell, Wolfe, Gordon, Henry V, Richard the Lionheart, and William the Conqueror. I can't even understand why you included William the Conqueror whose sole conquest was Britain. And Zhukov over Patton my god look at the casualties the Russians suffered. The entire Russian war effort was a disaster and should rightfully have concluded in absolute Russian defeat had Hitler any military mind. I understand Zhukov was one of the only Russian generals with any military know-how but he is not even a top 50 where Patton is. The argument against Robert E Lee being on the list is understandable and George Washington should not be on the list but your statements art far too anti-american to be even considered legitimate where you can not accept the military prowess of Patton and other Americans. Patton who certainly deserves a top ten.

      Reply
      1. Sergey at |

        I put Zhukov lower than Guderian due to his disdain towards soldiers lives which is common among Russian military, safe Alexander Souvorov. But to compare Patton to Zhukov is a joke. Who was Patton?, Some little general and how many fronts and armies did he command and what was the scale and success of his operations?

        He could barely fought exhausted Germans who lacked resources and man power and still had troubles against them.

        No American general belong neither in top 10 nor in top 20.

        American soldier doe snot compare well to that of Germany or Russia. I would not even mention Romans. The fact is that Germans and Russians were capable to make huge sacrifices to win and I mean bloody sacrifices. American was not capable of this even then and now it is completely gone. Remember that USA used nuclear devices to avoid losing men. That was ultimate in dishonor for military men. The moment USA meets real determined equal foe it will break.

        Reply
        1. Jack at |

          @Sergey

          Wow, where does one begin with this nonsense? It doesn't even make logical sense. You say you put Zhukov lower than Guderian due to his "distain towards his soldiers lives", but then later you say that using "nuclear devices…was the ultimate dishonor for military men" despite the fact that they were used to save soldiers lives (they also saved Japanese lives).

          Patton may perhaps be overrated, but to say he was "some little general" is a complete joke. The fact is he succeeded where ever he went – North Africa, Sicily, Western Europe – all against your beloved German generals and fighting men.

          As for your idiotic comparisons between American, German and Russian soldiers, you're just showing your anti-American bigotry. Thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, unlike Russian and German troops.

          You're also, in an obvious attempt to degrade American generals and soldiers, completely overblowing the differences between German troops on the Eastern and Western front. The fact is that many of the "German" soldiers on the Eastern Front were actually Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, etc. who were often weak units that got easily overrun.

          You also seem to have forgotten how much weather played a part in stopping the Germans and not any Russian general.

          Finally, you say "the moment USA meets real determined equal foe it will break." Then why didn't that happen against the Germans in WWI or WW2 if the Germans are such superior soldiers and such superior generals?

          The fact is you're an anti-American moron who can't except the fact that the USA has been extraordinarily successful in warfare despite the fact that it is such a young nation and is also a free, democratic nation which puts severe political limitations on it that Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Imperial Rome didn't have.

          Reply
          1. Fraser at |

            The fact that it saved lives is a good reason. In war japanese killed hundreds of thousands of CHinese, and they use eccuse of war, but when USA kill hundreds of thousands of them, people say that the USA should have suffered greater losses and Should have killed more Japanese to avoid usinf the nuke.

            Reply
          2. Josean at |

            Touche Jack both now and above. Sergey have some vodka and shut up. When Hitler invaded Stalin was so terrified he refused to believe it was happening, even when he knew Germany was amassing troops at the border. The only thing that saved Russia was the winter and Stalin begging the Allies for help so he could have time to organize his Army. As long as Germany was on his side Russia acted like a bully. Sorry sergey. By the way I aint american.

            Reply
          3. No_One at |

            In World Wars I and II if USA would have alone fought the Germans its soldiers would have ran like cowards.
            Russia and France bore the brunt of the Germans in WW1
            USSR bore in WW2

            USA just sends its boys to clean up the mess
            And don’t forget, 7 times more supplies, well rested soldiers, trucks to move them, artillery and aripower the Germans could only dream of and not to forget immense firepower.
            In return, the Germans had WILL, COURAGE and TECHNOLOGY

            A nice analogy
            USA vs Germany
            in World War 2
            is like
            100 Army grunts with machine guns VS 20 Navy SEALS with knives

            Reply
            1. Jack at |

              @No_One
              Please change your name to No_Brain, which would be more accurate.

            2. Steve at |

              Hey No_One – Have you ever heard of Sgt. York?

              ONE American who killed 25 Germans with 25 shots and captured 107 more.

              One American takes out 132 Germans in one engagement. Sounds about right.

              And what nation has kept the Germans and the rest of Europe from speaking Russian for the last 55 years so that “No Brain and “Sergey” can speak freely (no matter how silly they are)?

              The USA. Sergey if America collapses into the dustbin of history in the next ten seconds, it will still have been history’s most glorious nation and worth a thousand times the combined worth of Russia, China and Germany combined.

        2. matt at |

          Not bad, but i woulda included alexander the great…

          Reply
      2. Schmiddy at |

        I agree Patton made the most progress in the allied breakout from normandy but this was mainly down to the british and commonwealth forces holding down the germans best troops around caen, which was for the sole reason of allowing the americans to breakout of their sector. as for the battle of the bulge, no member of the 101st airbourne, who were trapped around bastogne has ever agreed that they needed to be rescued by patton. really, his achievments during ww2 have been greatly exaggerated

        Reply
        1. randy at |

          Read The Soul of Battle by Hansen to expand your knowledged about Patton. He was a giant on the battlefield because of his war fighting spirit and tactics he learned from studying history and the geography of northern Europe. Have you ever asked yourself why the Germans would place 250K troops where they thought Patton would attack? They feared Patton more than any American general. His so called reckless style and ego created the kind of persona and results the other allied generals could only read about in history books. The other high profile general Montgomery was tenative and too cautious to be effective. Patton’s Third Army led to the destruction and capture of more German troops than the other senior generals in the field. Patton was ordered to divert his forces to save the allied troops in the Battle of the Bulge. He preferred to continue his attack into Germany far ahead of the other Allied Armies. If Eisenhower and Bradley would have given Patton the green light on his superior tactics, WWII would have ended a year earlier. You are confused about the conduct of the war. Patton’s Third Army lightening thrust across France is what took the pressure off and not the other way around. Do your homework and I don’t mean watching the movie Patton. That movie was a sham in presenting Patton. Bradley was a consultant for the film and he was extremely jealous of Patton. He worked hard to discredit Patton after the war and after his untimely death. History has a way of presenting the facts and Patton will be remembered long after any of his peers. He was Amerca’s top general and deserving to be on the all time list. One more comment. This brillant leader also forshadowed the problems with the Soviets way ahead of any other military or political leader. He realized that Eastern Europe was replacing one facist with another. Patton scared his enemies and the butt kissing politicians in the US Army. It was shameful that people like Eisenhower and Bradley spent time and energy discrediting this man in the public sector. No one helped them achieve their aims more than Patton because of his leadership on the battlefield. He led from the front unlike both of these men and most other allied generals.

          Reply
          1. saxan66 at |

            hi randy, i agree with some of what you have said but yet again feel like you are a touch blinkered in your support of patton . there is no doubt that he was a very good and successful general, however he did not win ww2 singlehanded , as none of the alllied generals did but a team effort. so many factors need to be understood with regard to ww2, it wasnt like waterloo, austerlitz etc battles fought in a different sphere. patton was a very positive general and this was good but at times also too stubborn and blinkered himself to see the overall picture and very much like monty too preoccupied with himself to think of others, and yes i have done my homework!!!!
            i do say without the likes of monty and patton the allies would have struggled because you need these types of leaders just as you need the eisenhowers, alanbrookes, bradleys, bomber harrises etc when you are involved in such a large theater of operations that we saw from 39 to 45.

            Reply
          2. Roger at |

            I don’t see Randy saying anything approaching “Patton won World War 2 single handedly”, not even close to that. He’s just saying Patton really was a great general, and he was. World War 2 was so massive it was almost like all the previous wars in history combined- and it had many of histories great generals, simply because it was so massive and taking the top 10% of that war’s generals would be a very large number!

            The administrative generals, like an Eisenhower are needed and serve a great purpose, but they are not combat generals and unfortunately, they often let politics get in the way of winning battles. How many lousy generals remained in command because their superiors didn’t want to remove them, or how many great generals had support pulled from them due to jealousy, or because some other general made more noise demanding those resources?

            It’s not the sole method of gauging a general, but when the enemy is impressed and fears an opposing general, that’s definitely high praise and the Germans were quite impressed with Patton. But he’s a controversial figure and there will always be those who rate him down, simply because they don’t like him.

            Reply
          3. saxan66 at |

            hi roger well that is what is called a sarcastic turn of phrase when if you have read all of randy,s post you would have seen a blinkered attitude towards his feelings on patton just as art has on napoleon, im not saying it is a bad thing and am by no way denegrating either of their achievements as these have been two of the greatest generals we have seen , however they were mere men like you and i and made mistakes just like we do!!! and they did, the measure and mark of someone is knowing their weaknesses and we all have them as they did , for me that is one aspect that people seem to overlook with these two generals but are quite happy to see in others! it is very difficult when viewing a general from your own country as we all have a natural bias, rule of the jungle, but randy says such things of monty as tentative well i wish he had been more tentative then market garden would not have happened, i wish at times patton had been less full of bravado then so many american troops wouldnt have died, i wish eisenhower had man managed both of these generals better and used them to achieve the total victory in 44 that he wished but he didnt the irony is both wanted to do the same which was effectively what the germans had done in 40 and blitzkrieg, if the allies had done this and made a powerful thrust instead of the broad front who knows what would of happened but then foresight is an amazing thing. one comment i would like to address that randy said about bradley and eisenhower discreditng patton, they worked with him and were there we werent!! we can only read books etc to gain our knowledge of these people not as good as the real thing eh!.

            Reply
          4. Roger at |

            saxan, of course, the very top generals of all time were men and not perfect and there never will be a military leader that is perfect. In fact, one of the best ways to see just how great a general is, is how he deals with his mistakes- and he will make mistakes. But great generals are able to turn their mistakes into victories, whether within a battle or, learning from a lost battle, doing better in the next.

            I do believe, however, that the greatest generals of history saw that in most cases, being aggressive and constantly pushing your enemy, especially when they’re on the run, is far less costly in the long run, than frequently stopping to “consolidate”, thus allowing the enemy to form a new, well defended line. Patton saved lives by forcing the enemy to give up much ground, while running and unable to stand and put up a good fight. Some of his men and other generals may have hated him, but personal feelings have nothing to do with how good a general is. I think that in most cases, even if he was disliked, he still had a great deal of respect, at least from those who counted.

            I also think that many British Generals, such as Alexander or Slim deserve to be rated above Montgomery. And for that matter, many generals in all the armies, who aren’t as well known as those handful of highest ranking, who were very talented and did extremely well. But I think that during those war years, each country focused on the Montgomeries, Pattons, Bradleys, Zhukovs, etc., as it’s good for a country’s morale to have high ranking leaders to appear as the best, yet each of them got much credit that belonged to subordinates. Just as “History is written by the victor”, many top commanders were able to write themselves up as being responsible for all the brilliant actions that occurred under them.

            In more ancient times, it was simpler! Two armies, with little or no immediate outside contact beyond what a rider on horseback could deliver, would fight with each commander often being a king or such, thus not able to blame lack of support, etc. on someone else, and his subordinate chosen by him. Winning or losing the battle was pretty much squarely on his shoulders.

            With the larger battles of modern times, politics enters and through my reading of battles, I’ve felt that there were many great generals who have been treated poorly by history because they weren’t given adequate support, whether because their nation didn’t have the resources, or due to politics. To the extreme, if you give one of the greatest generals of history a force of 100 men armed only with spears, in a vast, flat and open plain, and a mediocre general a force of thousands of modern tanks, the great general isn’t going to do very well- no amount of genius and talent can overcome deficiencies in men, equipment, etc. if they are too great.

            I think that all too often the talk of greatest generals looks too heavily at battles won or lost, rather than what is more important- how did each general perform with what he had against what the enemy had. It would be wonderful if someone created a complicated program, then rated histories generals and their battles in a way that we could calculate each and every one based on a truly unbiased look at their whole career and what they had to work with against what their enemy had to work with, against the rating of each opponent, etc. And though it would be difficult to find anyone truly unbiased in any way, it would help to have those people create work with the data.

            I know that my own views of top generals can change over time, because it really is tough to judge something so complicated!

            Reply
          5. Martyn at |

            Roger:

            I’m afraid your wrong. Alexander doesn’t deserve to be rated above Montgomery. Alexander didn’t exersize and kind of control over any of his armies or army groups, he was incapable of giving clear direction from above when it was needed and didn’t make any plans for anything. How can you rate the man who made a total mess of Sicily and Italy through command neglect highly?

            Alanbrooke – CIGS during the war and far better placed to understand the qualities of the British officers than you or I – said of Alexander that he was a nice guy, brave with an inspirational appearance and good at the political side of his job but a total imbecile when it came to strategy, tactics and command control who coasted to success on the back of the work of Montgomery, Leese and McCreery and once they were removed from his he proved very unsuited to high command.

            Alexander got his high command position because Churchill liked him and the American’s likes his unintruding personality but he was one of the worst generals of the war.

            Slim’s a matter of opinion when rating him higher than Montgomery but it is undeniable that he has been very underrated and unpreciated in the history books.

            Reply
    3. inorbt1 at |

      Wow, Seriously?

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but if it wasn't for my country's investment; you would be speaking German.

      As for the other stuff-make you're own damn list! (Can't do it? not suprised here).

      Reply
      1. alxus91 at |

        come on really? first of all since the battle of britain (which america played no role in) there was no threat of a german invasion. In fact Germany was consistently vying for piece, and secondly it is fairly accepted that though it would have taken alot longer Russia would certantly eventully beat the germans.

        I am not however down playing the help America gave especially through trade however Britain certantly was not saved

        Reply
        1. Steve at |

          Russia would NEVER have beaten Germany if the U.S. had not been in the war.

          No Murmansk convoys with the 50,000 trucks made in Detroit that they brought? They wouldn’t have been able to make nearly as many T3 tanks if they would have had to make their own transport trucks. What about the planes and technology we sent them?

          No American Spam? (See the memoirs of Nikita Kruschev – He seemed to think they would have lost without America).

          No, Russia could not have beaten Germay by themselves in a THOSAND YEARS!

          Reply
      2. Dominic at |

        Once Britain, aided by Czech, Polish and pilots from many other nationalities (yes even American), had won the battle of Britain there was no possibility of a German invasion.
        Even with the combined power of the British and American navies the generals had doubts about the success of D-day.

        Reply
    4. Vic at |

      I'm not even going to begin to detail the multiple fallacies in what you said about there being no great American Generals. Your bias to everything British is ridiculous and you are defending a handful of men who faced off against opponents who were inferior making their accomplishments lacking. You fail to recognize any of the leader's during the American Revolution as being adept militarily but let's put this war into perspective shall we? A numerically, financially and experience superior force comes to a nation-to-be to quell an uprising and is defeated by a ragtag group of men with no funding, no experience, et cetera. So maybe Washington himself had more defeats than he did victories but in the end the war was won by men like him with vastly inferior forces against a force far superior. How's that for perspective? You also fail to mention men such as MacArthur, Eisenhower and Churchhill, more great examples of military genius. Maybe not in the same sense of the word as others throughout history but still great leaders nonetheless, together the decisions these men made dictated the outcome of a war that if lost would have forever changed how most countries around the world are controlled. How's that for perspective?

      Reply
      1. zach at |

        Well this is a first, American's thinking of only themselves… American generals have skill, no doubt, but none come close to making this list, though Eisenhower might come close…

        Reply
      2. Josh at |

        The Americans were almost entirely funded, trained, equipped, supported (army and navy) and often, dare I utter it, led, by the French. America was a sideshow for Absolutist France to tickle Britain, distracting it while it dealt with its allies (Prussia and The HRE) in Europe, as well as attempting to gain control of far more economically important colonies than the 13, like Jamaica.
        Perspective:
        # Prussian army 100% best at the time, not British.
        #France probably the world superpower, after gains of Louis XIV had eclipsed Spain.
        # British navy not greatest, mainly due to failures of investment and the feckless Lord Sandwich. Probably a toss between the French/Spanish for best.
        #13 colonies really not counted as important even by the time of Napoleon.
        #Saint-Domingue (Haiti) is most lucrative colony – makes more than all others in the world.
        #British king mad, Parliament split. Weak nation. Scots have just rebelled.
        #Distance far, far more important than today. At least 1/3 of soldiers die of disease on the journey. Brits simply don’t have the manpower anyway – never had, have or do.
        The colonies did not take on and defeat the world superpower. They took on a stumbling, drunken chancer, who had nabbed various lonely spots while important countries like Spain and France took the good spots. Which is why the 13 states won free – Britain had simply never been that strong by this point.
        It is after the Napoleonic wars that Britain gets her “Great”.
        Just thought I’d help with your endeavours in perspective.

        Reply
        1. Pete at |

          Interesting article..but

          Where is Rommel?

          How can the man that created the largest empire the world ever saw with barely 50000 soldiers spanning thousands of km through hostile lands who never lost a battle, always lead from the front and never had a numerical advantage not be on this list????

          Alexander the Great should be number 1..at the very least he should not be left out for Joan of Ark and Washington????? really Washington come on….

          Reply
        2. Steve at |

          Sorry Josh your “facts” are just not accurate.

          1. British infantry by far superior to any other nations. The Hessians were easy meat for Washington’s army.

          2. The British navy had recently trounced France at the battle of Quibron Bay. The Spanish? Don’t make me laugh!

          3. The British were easily the dominant superpower of Europe. Perhaps you have heard of the Seven Years War sometimes called the French and Indian War? You know where the “weak nation” you called Britain kicked Frances butt at Louisburg and then at Quebec and then took all of Canada fro them as well as some of France’s Carribean islands.

          Even in the American Revolution, Britain thrashed both France and Spain in India and the Carribean (again) and come out of the war very well.

          I guess one doesn’t need perspective when one has facts.

          Reply
          1. Art at |

            Steve,

            At the time of the Revolution Prussian infantry was arguably the best in Europe. The British Army was decent but small and simply not on a par with the continental armies at the time as far as training.

            The Royal Navy was good, maybe the best, but not dominant until the Napoleonic Wars and the UK didn’t become the dominant power In Europe it did until after the Napoleonic Wars. The French Navy was comparable until the French Revolution destroyed its officer corps.

            You do realize what a backwater North America was during the Seven Years War, right? While neither country paid a great deal of a attention to it, Britain paid a lot more attention (and devoted a lot more resources to it) than France. The UK had more TROOPS in North America than France had people here. The wonder is the French held out as long as they did considering their troops were heavily outnumbered but they were better led for a long time and they mastered unconventional war with the help of their Indian allies.

            The key role the French played in our independence is undeniable.

            Reply
            1. Steve at |

              Josh,

              Though your arguments are eloquent, the historical record just doesn’t support them.

              1. Though the Prussian infantry was good with Fredrick the great leading them they were no where near the man for man equal to the British.

              The difference were that the British were FREE men while the Prussian troops were merely well drilled slaves.

              This is why Wolfe’s men at Quebec were able to scale the heights to the Plains of Abraham and defeat a French force under Montcalm (a VERY able commander) of twice their numbers. Though the Prussian soldier of the time was superb against inferior troops (meaning not British) and inferior commanders (meaning not British commanders), it is inconceivable that they would have had the individual inititive needed to pull off the Qubec victory. (Other examples of The same type of superior fighting man was shown individually in WWI by Sgt York’s defeat of 132 German/Prussian solders single handed and collectively by the American’s Omaha beach in WW2.

              The Prussian soldier was not able to handle the unexpected as well as the troops of some other nations as Washigton’s victory at Trenton showed.

              The British had a saying – “One British soldier is worth two French soldiers and four of any other country’s.” They KNEW they were going to win so they usually did.

              In anything like equal numbers, I would cheerfully pit a British army under Marlbough, Wellington or even Sir John Moore or Wolfe against a Prussian army under Fredrick the Great.

              2. The Royal navy WAS the best. Please feel free to list the sea battles that he British lost to the French and/or the Spanish. I think I could come up with a lot longer list of Britain’s victories over them both.

              3. You might think America was a backwater but that doesn’t explain how Britain whipped it’s rivals in the Carribean and India as well as North America. Britain WAS the strongest power.

            2. Art at |

              Other people have already answered the UK’s fairly minor role in the Seven Years War on the Continent. The UK didn’t have much of an army to speak of, they were a naval power. As far as the Royal Navy, yes, they may have been a little better (first among equals perhaps might be a way to describe it) but the general historical consensus is that they weren’t leagues ahead of anyone else until Trafalgar. Their army certainly wasn’t.

              As for Qubec, yes, Wolfe’s victory on the Plains of Abraham was quite an achievement. A desperate, last minute gamble to win before the British lifted the siege–they were literally days from giving up. And it paid off.

              Montcalm was good but that day he was stupid, no doubt. No one knows why he marched out to face Wolfe. He was heavily outnumbered and should have stayed entrenched and fought from there (just as he defeated a British army at Carillon that was 3 or 4 times his size). French forces under Levi were a few hours away approaching Wolfe’s rear and he would have had to lift the siege but Montcalm marched his men out and the rest, as they say, is history.

        3. Steve at |

          Josh, your “Facts” are all wrong.

          1. British infrantry easily the world’s best. The Prussian “Hessians” were easy meat for Washington’s army.

          2. British navy had recently trounced France’s fleet at the battle of Quibern Bay.

          3. Britain was BY FAR the dominant super power of Europe. Perhaps you have heard of the Seven Years War sometimes referred to by us rustic Americans as The French and Indian War when Britain Kicked Frances butt first at Louisburg, then at Qubec and THEN kicked their butts out of Canada altogether? THEN the took some of France’s Carriben Islands as well. Spain? Don’t make me laugh!

          4. Evan after Britain lost the colonies, they STILL kicked France’s butt (along with France’s sidekick Spain) in the Carribean and in India.

          Funny how one doesn’t need perspective when one has historical record on one’s side.

          Reply
          1. John at |

            Steve,

            1. British infantry being the world’s best is an unsupported assertion, especially in the context of the seven year war. They lost most battes to the French in America even though they had superior numbers. They finally won at Quebec with superior overall numbers and double the number of regulars (french fielded mostly militia). Look it up.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Quebec_%281759%29

            Also, British soldiers were not free men, they were mercenaries, often not from Britain (many Germans). They could not vote as only landowners could vote. The Brits fielded well trained troops but this was before the age of nationalism, so all drilling, not much passion.

            2. British navy was indeed top notch at the time, France not behind in numbers and ship building but could never get the right officer corps and seamanship. Reason is probably that the French fielded a larger and relatively more prestigious land army that sucked out talent from its navy. Spain was only a shadow of its previous might by the 1770s…

            3. 7 year war was not won by Britain. Britain did well in the Caribbeans but poorly in America. They eventually won there through overwhelming numbers but only because France could not send more troops. The reason why France could not send more troops was because of Britain’s allies. The French never intended to fight so long in America or the Caribbeans as their objectives were in Europe. They were supposed to win on the continent and then get everyone to the negotiating table. Frederick the Great, one of the greatest generals in history, made sure this would not happen. The British really cannot take credit for Frederick the Great’s victories.

            4. Caribbean and India were not the primary theaters of the US war of independence.

            Reply
            1. Steve at |

              John,

              1. “The 7 year war was not won by Britain.” Seriously??? Then exactly two sentences later you admit that they did win only they apparently didn’t have good style points.

              John, are you kidding? The British took all of Canada, plus the disputed territory known as the Northwest Territory, plus Florida, plus Cuba, plus islands in the Carribean, plus INDIA. They won at Louisburg, Qeubec, Plassey (in India) and the sea battles of Lagos and Quibern Bay. They also won battles on the continent at Warburg and Minden. It’s true they lost some battles when led by imcompetents like Abercromby or Braddock, but when compentently led they won almost every time on land or sea. It doesn’t sound like the British did as poorly as you say.

              2. The British WERE much more free than soldiers of any other army. There were no mercenaries at Quebec and you will find that the British people embraced nationalism far earlier than the other nations of the time. Thus the incredible feat of scaling the heights at Quebec. By the way, print copies of Wolfe dying in the arms of his officers were all the rage in England and were being bought up at a penny apiece at all the street corners in London were the church bells were rung to commerate the great victory of the fallen national hero. The bells of victory often pealed in England in those days and 1759 was known by the people as the “Year f Miracles. THAT John shows that nationalism had indeed arrived in Britain.

              3.By the way, I looked up the battle of Quebec as you suggested and we were both wrong. Both sides fielded 4,500 men. You were right in saying that the French troops were inferior in Quality to the British Regulars involved (I say again – no mercenaries), but that only proves my point that EVERYBODY’s troops were inferior to the British as I have said

          2. Steve at |

            Art,

            We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. If the long list of British victories in the seven years war (to say nothing of the final result of the war) doesn’t convince you than nothing will.

            That war is coming to be called the first world war among historians and there was a lot more to it than the war on the continent. The main result on the continent was Prussia’s survival ad little else. The war left Britain with a world wide empire and the worlds most powerful nation.

            “First among equals” on the sea? I am still waiting for your list of either France or Spains victories over Britain on the sea during that worldwide conflict. I will be surprised if your list has more than one victory on it. (If that).

            Until Trafalger??? What about Quibern Bay? What about Lagos? What about the naval aided capture of both Loisburg and Quebec? What about Saintes? What about Camperdown? What about the Battle of the Nile? All BEFORE TRafalger, though the last few not much before.

            As for on land, I never said that the British were the most powerful on land and you are right to point out that their army was not large and that they were primarily a sea power.

            What I DID and still do assert is that man for man Britain had the best infantry in the world at that time. I also said that they had to be competently led like at Quebec not like at Carillion were they were led by a criminally imcompetent general (Abercromby I think)..

            I looked up the battle of Quebec and Montcalm was NOT outnumbered. Each side had about 4,500 men in the battle. The British fighting men took care of the rest.

            The results of the war and the status of the opposing nations at its end speak for themselves.

            Game, Set, Match.

            Reply
            1. Art at |

              The British soldier was good but not worth two of any other. Man for man they were the equal but certainly not the superior of any other European forces. They were treated like dogs, not free men, under brutal discipline comparable to the Prussians, discipline that for example horrified the French, who viewed the British as automatons like the Prussians and not free thinking men. They volunteered but that was their last act as free men. If you want armies of free men allowed to think and show initiative you want the American Continental Army or the French armies of the Revolution or the early Napoleonic era.

              As I noted, at Quebec Montcalm was heavily outnumbered, it was stupid to march out on the field when he did. If he had stayed put Wolfe would have been compelled to retreat. While on paper Montcalm was only outnumbered by 500 or 600 (about 4,400 men to Wolfe’s 5,000) , only 2,000 of his men were trained regulars and he deployed them pretty poorly. All of Wolfe’s men were regulars. Of course it was a non contest, (though casualties on both side were comparable with dead and wounded combined). The militia might have been useful in the forests but in a European style battle line to line they were useless, though they did prevent a British pursuit into the city. At a similar battle the following spring, Sainte Foye, the French under Levis trounced the British but the city was relived soon after.

              As noted before, America was a backwater and France didn’t put a fraction of the men resources the British did. In no battle in North America did the French have superior numbers but they outfought the British man for man and often had superior generals.

              As for Louisbourg, it held out longer than the British expected considering the forces arrayed against it with no hope of relief. They held out long enough to prevent an attack on Quebec for another year. You make it out to be some great victory against overwhelming odds. It wasn’t. If you want to talk about an impressive victory at Louisbourg you should look at the colonial victory there in 1745.

              As for naval battles, after Trafalgar Britain was dominant and no one challenged them at sea. Before that they were not dominant. During the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars the French and Spanish navies for the most part stayed bottled up. Before that it was still a contest for the seas, the battles you mention were not overwhelming victories like Trafalgar and the British did lose large scale naval actions, such as at Chesapeake, which sealed Cornwallis’ fate and made us a nation.

            2. Steve at |

              Art,

              This is fun talking to a fellow history buff! My answer is:

              1. I never said the British soldier was worth two of any other. I said THEY claimed that the British soldier was worth two French soldiers and four of any other nations. This was to refute the argument that someone on this site (was it you?) put out stating the British had no nationalistic ferver and I put this very common saying of theirs at the time to show that they that they did. (Along with a list of other facts on that point.
              By the way, please tell me why, if their army was so much more brutal than other countries than WHY did they volunteer? The opinions of the French would be totally irreleveant to the Brits who would have sneered at it.

              2. First you say Montcalm was “heavily outnumbered”, then two sentences later you say he was “only outnumbered by 500 or 600″. You can’t have it both ways. And for the THIRD time on this site I will say that I looked it up and two different sites said that the opposing forces were numerically equal at 4,500 each but that the British were the better soldiers which is of course what I have been saying all along. Take it up with them not me.

              3. As to Your “America was a backwater” and “France didn’t put a fraction of the resources that the British did” statements – France COULDN’T send more resources because the British navy had all of New France cut off from help. By the way, British Naval Superiority was what doomed Louisberg which is EXACTLY why it had “NO hope of relief” as you yourself said.

              To Summerize – NAVY

              A. British were BY FAR number one sea power. Your comment that the battles of Quibern Bay,Lagos, Camperdown, The Battle of the Nile, etc. were ALL overwhelming victories where the enemy had virtually no surviving ships.

              At Cheasepeake the French did win a vital (for us not for them) strategic victory
              when a fleet of 34 French ships of the line were able to fight 19 British ships of the line to a tactical draw (which strategically was all we needed) and prevent them from rescuing Cornwallis. Britain then proceded to THRASH that very same fleet of of ships under the same Admiral (DeGrasse) at the battle of Saintes. At that battle ,despite being reinforced by 12 Spanish ships of the line giving them 47 big ships to the Brits 34, the French lost 6 ships including DeGrasse’s 104 gun flagship which was captured with him in it.

              Britain was number one on the sea – all you can say is that after Trafalger they were even more number one. (I never said they were the ONLY sea power, just by far the best).

              Summerize – Army:

              The British man for man, had a long history of beating everyone else in anything like a fair fight WHEN COMPETENTLY LED. All the way back to Crecy and Poitiers, the Brits/English had a long tradition of victory that made them more confidant than their opponents. Any army of any country is going to lose if commanded by a dolt like Abercromby when he marched is men if tight formation and went straighta t Montcalm’s dug in forces and got them slaughtered. If Wolfe had been there that day, the war would have been all put over.

              The Key is the commander. Look at the War of the Spanish Succession in the 1690′s and early 1700′s. That’s where the saying “A British soldier is worth two French and four of any other countries” got started.

              Why? About Fifteen years of whipping French and German armies ON THE CONTINENT. YEAR AFRTER YEAR- (Bleinem, Ouandarde, etc.) How about the Battle of Dettington in 1743 when 51,000 Brits and Germans defeated 52,000 French and Germans ON THE CONTINENT?

              How about the Battle of Mindon when the outnumbered Brits and Germans deafeated the French and Germans ON THE CONTINENT?

              How about Warberg, when the outnumbered Brits and Germans defeated (again) the French and Germans ON THE CONTINENT? These last two victories along with Quebec in America and Plassey in India were all in the Seven Years war when you say the Brits weren’t the best.

              Again, we will have to agree to disagree. They sure look like number one man for man to me.

              P.S. “It is difficult to think of ANYTHING more formidable than the Duke of Marlbourgh at the head of a British army.”

              WELLINGTON

              Art, argue with Wellington and tell him the Brits weren’t the best. Again:

              Game. Set. Match.

              You want people to bel

          3. Art at |

            Steve,

            At Quebec 2,000 regulars vs 5,000 regulars. That was the real battle. You’re padding the French numbers with militia. The militia did fine in irregular warfare, that’s where they shone, but not in line battle. That’s why I say it was stupid of Montcalm to march out when staying put would have won him the battle.

            It’s true the British fleet made things difficult but not impossible to reinforce Quebec, though the Battle of Quiberon Bay might have convinced them not to make a final effort. Unfortunately the real issue, which had dogged that colony since its founding, was the lack of interest in it by the French crown, which is why they had less than 60,000 inhabitants vs 1 million plus in the British colonies, and only a small number of regulars under Montcalm who wanted to be anywhere but there. To France the war was in Europe–the British were intent on conquering and colonizing North America.

            I digress but Canada was holding out fine until Montcalm was put in overall command and not just as a field commander. He wanted to concentrate all his forces at Quebec and fight European style and not fight in the wilderness, keeping the British at bay, like Vaudreuil wanted to. The Canadians mastered guerrilla warfare, thus the rise of units like Rogers Rangers which tried to beat them at their own game, never entirely successfully.

            Several of the sea battles you list were not overwhelming British victories like Trafalgar with virtually no ships surviving. Lagos–14 British ships vs 12 French. French lose 5. 7 survive (those ARE heavy losses, the heaviest of the battles you mention).

            Quiberon Bay–29 Brits vs 27 French, French lose 7, 20 survive.

            Camperdown and The Nile (against the French Revolutionary Navy, which wasn’t much to speak of) were overwhelming, however.

            The only French victory I mentioned, Chesapeake, was 24 French vs 19 British. Only 1 British ship lost. And yes that same reinforced French fleet was beaten by a reinforced British fleet. The 36 British beat the 33 French with the latter losing 6 ships.

            As for the land battles mentioned, I could thrown the French victory at Fontenoy in, where the slightly outnumbered French decisively beat the British and their allies.

            I wasn’t overly familiar with Dettingen before and several sources list widely varying opposing forces but from I can determine from various sources is that the French were fairly heavily outnumbered, their army only being 2/3 the size of the British and German forces.

            You’re right, the key is always the commander and the British have had some good ones. And I’m not dismissing the British Army. Because it was small and usually stayed off the continent, it was very well trained and well drilled but it was never big enough to win a conflict on its own. Marlborough, Wellington, always led large contingents of allies.

            Why did they volunteer? In Wellington’s words they were the scum of earth, the dregs of prisons or escaping prison (the army or jail). Probably because the army beat the alternative. They were flogged like slaves, just like the Prussians and unlike the French. He had a hell of a time keeping his men in line when not in combat and complained about it all the time.

            You’ll enjoy these words by Wellington about Massena’s army when it retreated from Portugal after not being able to break the lines of Torres Vedras: “It is certainly astonishing that the enemy have been able to remain in this country so long; and it is an extraordinary instance of what a French army can do. …They brought no provisions with them, and they have not received even a letter since they entered Portugal. With all our money, and having in our favour the good inclinations of the country, I assure you that I could not maintain one division in the district in which they have maintained not less than 60,000 men…for more than two months.”

            Talk to you later,

            Art

            Reply
            1. Steve at |

              I am glad that we seem to agree that the commander is the most important thing.

              The numbers of heavy ships at the battles you name do not match the sources I read (nor the numbers at Dettington which had the Brits/Germans at 51,000 to the French/Germans 52,000. By the way Camperdown was a British victory over the DUTCH navy, not the French. I also neglected to mention the first (1801)and second (1807) Battles of Copenhagen where the Brits deafeated and or destroyed the surprisingly formidable combined Danish/Norweigian navies.

              Anyway, I think we have both made our points. I feel that the huge won lost record in favor of the Brits in battles (and especially in winning wars) on both land and sea makes them overall number one in the time periods under discussion.

              Art, it has been a pleasure. Maybe we can chew over other time periods if you have any suggestions.

            2. Derek at |

              Maybe French had to march out to break the siege because of other issues, not because of the General’s ego or bad decision making. What usually beats sieges is not the fighting itself but it’s almost always a logistical issue – if supply lines are cut you can’t stay inside forever when your men are out of food or water.

              Constantinople was invincible for a hundreds of years and the only way to get in was usually someone was bought off and opened the doors to let the baddies in.

  7. feeder at |

    Three (modern) Americans in an ‘All-time’ list and Alexander the Great in the "might have been" list? I think you should go a litte bit deeper into strategy, and realise the value of real strategic achievments of all the above generals. The way of adapting an army to the theater needs, conducting successfull expeditionnary operations and finaly achieving strategic effects (of Alexander)over the armies he defeated AND the peoples he conquered, not only inspired allmost all of the above generals, but still constitute THE example of a superior strategy (very often failed by modern generals).

    Reply
  8. Jeff at |

    With respect and a nod to the other posters, the list doesn't necessarily specify that these are the author's (for example) "best strategist" choices.

    One might argue that Washington belongs instead on the "persevering" and perhaps "honorable" and "revered" list, and Lee might might make also make the "well served" list.

    But an overall "Top 10 Generals" list is unlikely to have enough room for any Americans.

    Reply
  9. Roger at |

    Interesting list–thanks for taking the time to put it together. Just a minor note–Hannibal was not son to Hasdrubal, but to Hamilcar. Hasdrubal was Hannibal’s brother-in-law under whom he served in Spain. It was Hasdrubal’s death, I believe in 221, that caused Hannibal to ascend to the role of general of Carthage. I would also agree with a previous poster that Scipio Africanus deserves a place on the list, in my humble opinion.

    Reply
  10. frank smith at |

    I would put Lee, Patton and Washinton in the top ten best dressed generals, but to rank them higher than the 80s or 70s is truly an illusion. Ulysses S. Grant is the only American General that should make the top ten. I am constantly amazed that Grant's strategic victory over Lee is often forgotten. I am glad that Lee was for the south and Grant for north for had they been reversed the war would have gone on much longer and the outcome… who knows?

    Reply
    1. Brenton Rehm at |

      He was a fighting man and the only Union general besides George Thomas to show any level of competence during the Civil War, but I think his victories would've easily been utter disasters had Lee's army not already been torn to shreds by 4 years of war and a huge dip in morale following Gettysburg. The war was going against the Confederates but Grant did make sure they remembered it. If any general should be in the top ten in should be Robert E. Lee who maintained his army for nearly two years following Gettysburg and the winter of 1864-1865. The fact that Lee's army even walked from Petersburg is incredible. That and he destroyed Grant at Cold Harbor and other battles.

      Reply
  11. Aaron at |

    I too think that three Americans in the top ten is way too many. Where is Belisarius? What about Adulphus Gustavus? Marlborough? Alexander I of Russia? Wellington? Scipio Africanus? Zhukov? And these are only the ones that I can think of off hand.

    Reply
  12. none of your b at |

    i think rommel is also good

    Reply
  13. Scott at |

    Hey it said WESTERN history thus russian achievments belong on another list. I think you either forgot about Spain's conquest over the Aztecs with 600 soldiers. (Cortes) or Geronimo's generalship with a band of Chiricahua Apaches.

    Reply
  14. Keith at |

    I think this is pretty poorly though out list. I mean Joan of Arc? She was a mascot not a general. I would definetly rank Rommel, Richard 1 (Lionheart), and William the Conqueror ahead of her.

    Reply
  15. Aaron at |

    Scott, where do you divide east and west? Russia is traditionally a part of Europe, and Alexander kicked Napoleon's *ahem* hind quarters from Moscow to Paris in something like 18 months.

    People say that Wellington beat Bonaparte. Wellington faced his marshals in Spain, not the master himself. Alexander was facing Napoleon himself, and his Grand Army, and stopped them cold.

    And at Waterloo, Napoleon's defeat came as much to Wellington's skill as Napoleon deciding that the Prussians wern't going to show up, and commiting his reserves. . . then the Prussians showed up.

    Reply
    1. jon at |

      Even high school history students learn that Napoleon was stopped cold mostly by the WEATHER, not a general.

      Reply
  16. C. V. Barbatti at |

    A few follow up notes to more recent comments:

    I am an American, and if any bias towards American generals has crept in, I apologize. It is not from any assumption that Americans are the most militarily accomplished of nations (we're not), but rather from the quantity of education and source material available to me.

    Here are brief notes on why I personally did or didn't pick suggested or criticized generals.

    WWII – Rommel was a contender, as was Montgomery. However, Patton has become the iconic tactician of the conflict. Rommel was defeated, and Montgomery suffered some humiliating setbacks that left him struggling for prestige over the American tank commander. Zhukov and the others mentioned are not to be scorned, but in more limited theaters.

    Alexander – I love him, know a lot about him, and am impressed by him. But, as before stated, much of his conquest was in the East, and against enemies hard to measure. Finally, his tactics were hardly inspired. He had better trained, motivated, equipped, and disciplined troops – he had a very solid strategy. But he almost never innovated.

    Macedonian phalanx, Sacred Shields on the right, whichever contingent was "2nd best" on the left, Companion Cavalry on the far right, charge with a mass of hoplites, Alexander leading the cavalry. It was a competitive ethos and overwhelming concentration of force that gave his army success rather than any guile, innovation or quick thinking.

    Grant – I picked Lee, a fellow Virginian, over Grant because Lee plucked incredibly victories from unlikely circumstances, and because Lee was in command either of the Army of Northern Virginia, or the overall Confederate forces, for practically the entire war, whereas Grant was relegated to the West for a few years, and only given overall command in the last part of the war.

    Scipio Africanus – yes, defeated the Carthaginians on their own soil. But Hannibal was the monster the Romans feared for a whole war..Scipio ended it decisively, but lacks the same sheer quantity of battle.

    Alexander I of Russia I will admit I had not considered. The argument is an interesting one. It is true, he faced Napoleon in the field more than Wellington. It is also true that he pushed Napoleon decisively out of Russia in short order.

    However, I note that at the time, Napoleon was occupying Moscow and much of the rest of Europe, and Russia had desperately given ground all the way TO Moscow. The Russian winter, the thin stretching of Bonaparte's armies, the paucity of supplies available in what was envisioned as a quick campaign to topple decadent Russia all played a significant role in Alexander's successes. Once again, Napoleon is the defining man of the times.

    Reply
    1. Vivek at |

      The results of Alexander's campaigns speak for themselves.

      How can Joan of Arc(really?) or Robert Lee ever even remotely be compared to the legend that was Alexander? His ability goes far beyond just tactical genius. Being able to maintain morale half a world away, winning consistently, and just his sheer audacity earn him a place at the first top of the list.

      "Finally, his tactics were hardly inspired. He had better trained, motivated, equipped, and disciplined troops – he had a very solid strategy. But he almost never innovated."

      Well Greece would always have ruled Asia if that were true.

      Reply
      1. Fraser at |

        It is a shame Alexander died when he did, for all his strength were let down by one problem.
        He had no heir. If he had had an heir and had lived a full life, he would have conquered Europe as well as Asia, made a massive empire, and if he was smart, introduced a system of government that was sustainable

        Reply
    2. Josh at |

      That was all very well put.
      As a note on the Persians, and to help qualify Alexander’s accomplishments, it has to be said that they had been considered the best for a long time, until Alex got mardy. Their empire fitted into that category “greatest the world had ever seen” up to that point.

      Reply
  17. art at |

    How can you not include MacArthur?

    He was the founder of the "Rainbow division" in WWI, and would lead his men into battle armed only with a swagger stick and taking no precautions himself. He didn't even wear a helmet. When asked about this, he said "The men wouldn't follow if they thought their general was afraid."

    In WWII he conquered the southwest Pacific with far less loss of life than either Nimitz or any of the European commanders.

    His invasion of Inchon in the Korean war was nothing short of genius.

    Sure he blew his own horn, but by golly he delivered.

    Reply
    1. Don at |

      Yes, MacArthur should definitely be included.

      Dont we all blow our horns given the slightest chance?

      Reply
  18. Jason Lefebvre at |

    I do not agree with this list. I agree there are to many American generals, that do not deserve the position.

    Also I have great respect for Hannibal but even HE said Alexander the Great was a FAR better tactician then he was. Also Hannibal was not deserted by his government. After Hannibal lost he actually became a politician. IT wasn't until Rome called for his execution that Hannibal fled Carthrage.

    I believe Pyrrhus deserves a spot, if not, atleast and honorable mention. Even though his tactical ability cost many of his own troops, his ability to achieve victory, even with untrained troops as his, was excellent. He gave early rome a good run for his money and took the throne of Macedonia by force. His only weakness was his treasury.

    Reply
    1. Edgar at |

      I have read many accounts of Hannibal, and have several biographies in my own library. I do NOT recall that he said anything in particular about Alexander, but I DO KNOW that when asked about the greatest general, he said PYRRHUS. Subsequent historians have puzzled for years about this as Pyrrhus was mediocre at best, judging by results. The saying a “Phyrric victory” is a very common and well known description of a win which costs more than it’s worth. They eventually have come to the conclusion, at least those whom I have read, that it was in strategic concept that Hannibal meant.

      Hannibal is regarded by the vast majority of military historians and experts, as the Father of strategy and tactics, ruses and surprises, who’s soldiers were completely attached to him personally by virtue of the way he treated them and led them.

      Having read through all the above comments for the past hour or more I did not see ONE single mention that Hannibal raged up and down ALL ITALY for over 16 years with NO REINFORCEMENTS from Carthage, where there was a considerable politiacal opposition to the influence of his family, and NO elephants (only one elephant survived the crossing of the Alps) always outnumbered, to such a degree that eventually the Romans for YEARS refused to face him in pitched battles.

      You may know of the name Fabius the “cunctator” (the delayer) who got his name by spending years hovering on the fringes of the Carthaginian army but never facing them in battle. Hannibal’s greatest victory-at Cannae was achieved with less than half the numbers of the two combined Roman Consuls. They STILL teach Hannibal’s enveloping tactics of Cannae in modern Military Colleges.to this very day. He is declared to have killed and captured over 60,000 Romans, with an army totalling about 37,000. You can read up on the plan and tactics of Cannae ANYWHERE. It’s probably the most famous battle in history.

      There is no doubt that as I believe that Napoleone Bonaparte was the greatest modern General and Army leader, that Hannibal was the greatest of Antiquity.

      Come on guys, Fair is Fair, and Facts are Facts.

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        The most famous battle in history is probably waterloo but the rest of your points are well taken except that Hannibal couldn’t follow up on his victories.

        Reply
    2. Edgar at |

      I have read many accounts of Hannibal, and have several biographies in my own library. I do NOT recall that he said anything in particular about Alexander, but I DO KNOW that when asked about the greatest general, he said PYRRHUS. Subsequent historians have puzzled for years about this as Pyrrhus was mediocre at best, judging by results. The saying a “Phyrric victory” is a very common and well known description of a win which costs more than it’s worth. They eventually have come to the conclusion, at least those whom I have read, that it was in strategic concept that Hannibal meant.

      Hannibal is regarded by the vast majority of military historians and experts, as the Father of strategy and tactics, ruses and surprises, who’s soldiers were completely attached to him personally by virtue of the way he treated them and led them.

      Having read through all the above comments for the past hour or more I did not see ONE single mention that Hannibal raged up and down ALL ITALY for over 16 years with NO REINFORCEMENTS from Carthage, where there was a considerable politiacal opposition to the influence of his family, and NO elephants (only one elephant survived the crossing of the Alps) always outnumbered, to such a degree that eventually the Romans for YEARS refused to face him in pitched battles.

      You may know of the name Fabius the “cunctator” (the delayer) who got his name by spending years hovering on the fringes of the Carthaginian army but never facing them in battle. Hannibal’s greatest victory-at Cannae was achieved with less than half the numbers of the two combined Roman Consuls. They STILL teach Hannibal’s enveloping tactics of Cannae in modern Military Colleges.to this very day. He is declared to have killed and captured over 60,000 Romans, with an army totalling about 37,000. You can read up on the plan and tactics of Cannae ANYWHERE. It’s probably the most famous battle in history.

      There is no doubt that as I believe that Napoleone Bonaparte was the greatest modern General and Army leader, that Hannibal was the greatest of Antiquity.

      Come on guys, Fair is Fair, and Facts are Facts.

      Reply
  19. Dimitris Zaharopoulo at |

    Lee and Patton over Belisarius, Alexander the Great, Scipio Africanus, Subutai, Heraclius, Timur Turks,Aleksandr Suvorov,Cyrus the Great …I can go on and on.

    Do some research mate, then rethink your list. Imo Belisarius alone was a better general than most of people you have on your list.

    Reply
  20. Aaron at |

    Phyrrus does not deserve a spot on a top ten list. He did win, but his victories were so horrible they have become a byword for a victory so horrible that defeat would have almost been better.

    And Belisarius does deserve to be listed. Look at what he did, and in the face of Justinian's paranoia of successful generals. Narses the Eunuch should also be considered, though he probably would not make my final cut.

    Reply
    1. Sergey at |

      Do not forget whom he fought. He fought Romans and Roman soldier was famous for his hardiness at all times.

      Reply
      1. Jack at |

        Please with this garbage about the hardiness of Roman or German or Russian soldiers! Give me a break! Any well-trained, well-equipped, experienced soldiers from any country are hard men who are difficult to beat in battle as long as they are competently lead, so take your biases and stick them where the sun doesn't shine.

        As for Belisarius, he definitely should be considered.

        Reply
  21. jimmy at |

    hey give some props 2 eisenhower

    Reply
  22. Rob Mitchell at |

    Theodore A. Dodge lists three generals as the greatest of all time, as follows: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Frederick the Great. All three of these generals were who they were and what they were to become because of the groundwork established by each one's father—Philip of Macedon, Hamilcar Barca, and Frederick's father–forgetting his name. Anyway, T. Dodge served in the American Civil War as an officer and has written many books on the subjects of military history and some of histories most famous military figures, so I trust his assessment because he relies on the most reliable recent (as of his time) as well as ancient historians.

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      Napoleon paid tribute to Fredrick the Great after he conquered Prussia at the battle of Jena. Standing before Fredrick’s tomb Bonaparte said, “If he were alive, we would not be standing here now.”

      Reply
  23. Rob Mitchell at |

    Alexander, Hannibal, and Frederick the Great, according to Theodore A. Dodge are in the six greatest captains of history because of the groundwork put in place by each one's father. I imagine Caesar, Napoleon, and Gustavus Adolphus, are the remaining three from history included in the top six.

    Next would be Scipio Africanus (learned his strategy from Hannibal, as did other contemporaries of the 2nd Punic War), Robert E. Lee, Pyrrhus, and perhaps Stonewall Jackson.

    Reply
  24. Pike at |

    do u have no respect for real tactical brilliance you left out Admiral Yomamoto who successfully planned the attack on pearl harbor and crippled the american fleet and and he revolutionized japans airforce and navy into one of the most powerful in the world

    Reply
    1. inorbt1 at |

      Really? Japan lost the war. This tactical "brillance" was resposible for hundreds of thousands of deaths(just counting the nukes).

      Pay attention–Japan is not allowed to have any military (beside coast guard), because they started and lost a war.

      Reply
  25. George at |

    you could have also added Darth Vader, who for most americans achieved much more than Alexander or Wellington (he conquered most of Hollywood's deep space). sorry for been sarcastic, but the comparison is too "american" to be credible. It's a pitty to compare the action and the thinking of Lee with Caesar's,and make realy worthy and historic generals to loose by a "hair" :)

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      George, you underrate Lee. Chancelersville was one of history’s master pieces right up there with Austerlitz and yes even Cannae.

      Reply
  26. Garrett at |

    I am going to join the chorus of people ridiculing you for your exclusion of Alexander the Great. He did not fight "barbarians and savages" as you put it. He fought the best-armed and largest military in the history of the world to that time in Persia. The Persians were a far more ancient culture than the Macedonians and had learned a thing or two about warfare in their many centuries of conquering and ruling over the known world. Alexander wiped them off the face of the earth in under a decade. Persia essentially constituted the known world and Alexander– an 18 year old military genius– devastated them time and again. The mere fact that he never lost a battle speaks to the fact that he was history's greatest general. You do realize that Caesar and Pompey were fighting savages and barbarians too, right? Why include Saladin's conquest of a tiny chunk of the Middle East at a time when it was far more of a backwater than it was when Alexander conquered them, but leave Alex off?

    Alexander showed his acumen for war by fighting not just traditional war, but also one of history's first guerilla wars and a campaign against the Afghanis in which he defeated them, something that no other general has managed to do in the last 2,000 years.

    Your view of history is ridiculous. Why include Hannibal who eventually lost at Zama and failed to achieve the goal he set for himself? Why include Washington who is considered by most people in the know to have been a second-rate general? Why include Saladin who never set foot in the West on a list of great Western generals (the Mideast is not the West, my friend).

    By not including Alexander you make your list a joke and you deserve all the ridicule the comments section is full of. Read a little history and see if you understand the magnitude of what Alexander accomplished. Were it not for him, the entire history of Western civilization would be different and in fact it might not exist because if he had not taken Persia apart, the Persians would eventually have conquered the squabbling Greeks (who, oh yeah, Alexander actually united) and set their sights on Italy, thus preventing the Roman Empire from forming and giving birth to the republican form of government that inspired the Founders of the United States.

    I shouldn't be so worked up, but your list just makes me mad in its ignorance.

    Reply
    1. Edgar at |

      I am sorry to disagree with you, but the Persian “Army” was a huge, disconnected mass of dozens of subject peoples who’s “troops” were normally peasants and farmers, all speaking different languages, and so completely unwieldy that not the greatest genius who ever lived could have managed to get them to obey an order. At the slightest sign of unrest at any part of the horde, it would and DID rapidly spread until they were running around, not even knowing what happened or where they were going. I have read many accounts of Alexander’s victories by critical and acclaimed historians and they all say the same. Alexander had what was basically a homogenious, easily commanded, expert, professional army, which could carve it’s way through ANY number of undisciplined, terror-stricken serfs. It is reckoned that the vast majority of Persian casualties, were caused in EVERY battle (there were only 2 of any historical note) by themselves running over each other to get away from they knew not what.

      How did Xenophon with his 10,000 manage to march all the way across Asia Minor losing practically not a man????? EH??? The very same way that Alexander’s guys were able to walk through the vast hordes, most of whom NEVER even saw a Greek soldier. They ran away, leaving only those they trampled on the ground.

      Sorry fellows, but critical FACTS are never-the-less….FACTS.

      By the way, in my comments above on Hannibal and Cannae, I forgot to mention that with less than half the numbers in his army, he managed to SURROUND 80,000 TRAINED Roman soldiers. I seem to recall that less than 10,000 managed to get away. Sorry for that digression.

      Reply
      1. Pete at |

        I agree that the Persian army was not homogeneous and not a professional one. However they were able to create a huge empire, and defend it with that same type of military.

        You cannot discount the numerical advantage especially in ancient times on open ground

        Reply
      2. Garrett at |

        If the Persian army was so bumbling, then please explain how they conquered the largest land empire the world would see before Ghengis Khan stormed Asia and the Middle East, and held it for hundreds of years. If their soldiers were as incompetent as you claim then they would never have conquered the entire Middle East, Egypt, and Asia Minor (which had been colonized by Greeks). And they certainly would not have been able to hang onto it for so long. There were plenty of well-trained armies in the region that would have marched through Persia if it really was as easy as you say for Alexander to do so.

        Reply
        1. Steve at |

          Persian empire had been formed by the conquests of Cyrus the Great – another guy who deserves to be on the list. But that was 250 years before Alexander and he wasn’t facing Cyrus (Who would have been a much tougher proposition, believe me.

          Reply
      3. Steve at |

        Facts are facts? Can you please explain the “facts” that have Joan of Arc on this list and not Alexander?

        Reply
    2. Pete at |

      well said sir..the internet is a great tool but it is also the greatest bane to true history…

      people need to read real history books before commenting

      Reply
      1. fraser at |

        Just for interest, are you talking to Garrett or Edgar, or someone else?

        Reply
    3. SERGEY at |

      It’s funny. Caesar did fought Pompey and other Romans and you cannot compare Roman army of late 1-st B.C t Persian army of Alexander time. Roma army would turn Persian army of Alexander time into ground meat. Considering the intensity of warfare Caesar fought Alexander cannot be compared. Caesar won more pitched battles before Napoleon than anyone else in ancient history.
      According to Greeks Persians were barbarians too and Alexander never fought any general of Pompeus the Great caliber and army of Roman army level which doe snot mean I do not consider Alexander out of top 10. I just consider him under Caesar and Hannibal.

      Reply
  27. Tony at |

    Lee on November 21st, 2008 4:15 am

    Sorry but you are anti-American in this for sure. Montgomery better than Patton? Please. If it was not for American support in all areas, Montgomery would not have had the equipment to waste and be able to not win an overwhelming victory. As for Rommel, well the Brits puffed him up beyond his abilities to say "See Monty beat the German's best."

    Zhukov? please nothing but a butcher, if it was not for numbers he would never have won a battle. Now to those that seem to think Jackson was better than Lee, sorry Jackson was a great commander but needed the guiding hand of the master. Salah ad Din as #3 sorry no way, no how.

    Reply
  28. Rob at |

    I agree, Alexander is #1. If I were to guess, Hannibal is #2 (mostly agreed to by the military historians). Doesn't matter what you think, Garrett, its what the scholars think that matters most. Hannibal opened his school in Italy as the father of strategy. Most of the Roman generals learned the tricks of the trade from the master himself, Hannibal, and that includes, Scipio Africanus. Hannibal undoubtedly learned his trade from his father Hamilcar Barca. Hamilcar was the only true strategist to come out of the First Punic War. The only other Roman general so daring would be Caesar, and he is considered in the top six strategists of all time. Marcellus is also on equal terms with Scipio or Caesar. Napoleon and Frederick the Great and Gustavus Adolphus, studied these ancients in the arts of war.

    Reply
    1. taudarian at |

      “Most of the Roman generals learned the tricks of the trade from the master himself, Hannibal, and that includes, Scipio Africanus”

      No.

      No it doesn’t.

      Scipio opened his account with Nova Carthago. He didn’t learn that from *anybody*, there is no school that teaches that.

      Reply
      1. Evan at |

        Scipio opened his account at Cannae, where he witnessed first hand the genius of Hannibal. Multiple sources assert that Scipio used his experiences with Hannibal to develop his own strategies.

        Reply
        1. taudarian at |

          “Scipio opened his account at Cannae, where he witnessed first hand the genius of Hannibal”

          The fact that he just happened to be present at a battle in no way means he somehow “tutored” in that battle. How many generals in history were present at battles as junior officers, went on to have successful careers and no thought is given to the notion that they were somehow “tutored” by their initial experience? I’ll tell you how many – ALL OF THEM. It’s only in this instance where the purblind apostles of Hannibal, constantly fapping over the hero try to claim some extra credit for him by supposedly schooling the man who beat him. Hannibalites produce a long, long litany of excuses for their idol’s failure at the last hurdle and are desperate to explain it away by any other means, any other means at all, other than holding their hands up and saying he was beaten fair and square, with the advantage of superior numbers in his own backyard. But oh no, this cannot be, it’s always:

          1. Scipio had more backing from Rome (not true)
          2. Hannibal didn’t have his best troops (he damn near matched the Roman army man for man with his best troops, it’s just the excess that were new recruits)
          3. The Roman soldier was just better (really? Trasimene, Trebbia and Cannae were flukes were they?)
          4. He had a cavalry disadvantage (he had a massive elephant advantage, which Scipio cleverly negated, and he had the cavalry disadvantage because of Scipio’s superior human relations skills, if you can help win without fighting by depriving the enemy of allies so much the better)
          5. And failing all that, Scipio was just the student of Hannibal and therefore can’t possibly be better nyah, nyah, nyah.

          No dice. We don’t accept special pleading in other fields of debate, I don’t recognise special pleading in this instance either.

          “Multiple sources assert that Scipio used his experiences with Hannibal to develop his own strategies”

          Multiple writers writing centuries after the fact trying to claim some reflected credit for Hannibal do indeed assert that. A study of Scipio’s battles reveals this to be a nonsense. In pitched battle there are really only two ways of winning – central penetration vs envelopment. That Scipio utilised envelopment as did Hannibal is no great coincidence, it’s not like there are lots of options. Since we know Scipio studied Alexander and that Alexander used envelopment it would make more sense to assert that, if he was a student of anybody’s, he was a student of Alexander. And since Alexander was a great taker of cities and this is exactly how Scipio opened his account this only lends that theory more credence.

          But to credit either with being a tutor of Scipio is just a means by which the idolators of Hannibal seek to diminish Scipio’s own impressive list of achievements. By contrast I’d say the pair of them were very evenly matched military geniuses and Scipio just edges it, mostly down to personal qualities off the battlefield in addition to prowess upon it.

          Reply
    2. bob at |

      Actually we did a long 3 month debate on a history forum i’m on and the end result was ghenghis khan as the best general of all time. We’re talking 20,000 history buffs debating with thousands of pages of posts over 3 months. The amount of territory and people he conquered while being the least technologically advanced and having the smallest army in the region is just to much to ignore. Think about it. His army started at about 150,000 and was never larger than 250,000 and he conquered 1/4 of the worlds surface and over 100 million people. China had huge armies, sun tsu’s art of war and rockets and he beat them.

      Reply
  29. joshua sedgwick at |

    heres a genral whos always over looked bt if you looked at his abilities he should be a well noted general : oliver cromwell he never lost a battle.

    Reply
  30. Mike at |

    Such a list should only consider those who were ultimately successful – those who kept their eye on the prize and attained it, whatever the duration. The closers in military history are as follows, though not in any particular order:

    1. Scipio Africanus – a great general and statesman. It was his campaigns that sent Rome so far upon the road to greatness.

    2. Alexander the Great – I personally can't stand this one, but his record is undeniable. While he lived, he was supreme.

    3. Julius Caesar – great general and statesman, he had the rarest gift a military commander can have – he could improvise and adapt his way out of his errors that his original improvisations and adaptations caused.

    4. George Washington – you can justly question his military acumen but of anyone in history, this is the man with the most iron will, unshakable eyes on the prize, and strongest character. His influence is pervasive and do not forget – he succeeded against some of the most impossible odds of any war.

    5. U. S. Grant – a great general who learned as he went, had excellent character, and shared the same trait mentioned above with Julius Caesar Historians credit Sherman as one of the first modern military commanders, but I think Grant justifiably earns that title.

    8. Cortes – What? Cortes? Absolutely! Talk about against all odds! Outnumbered, little supplies, heterogeneous force, Cortes is one of the ultimate closers in history. The sheer audacity – and ultimate success – are incredible.

    9. Epaminondas – The great man from Thebes proved to be one of the most versatile and inspiring commanders who built a unique army. It all fell apart when he died, but while he lived, his campaign(s) were a success. Read Victor Davis Hanson to really appreciate this general.

    10. Themistocles – Saved Athens and probably Greece from Persian tyranny. A supreme strategist who doesn't often get his due.

    Reply
  31. Rob at |

    Mike,

    Let me respond to your to your top eight with my top eight: 1)Alexander the Great, 2)Xenanphon 3)Hannibal Barca, 4)Scipio,5)Marcellus, 6)Claudius Nero and 7)Juilius caesar For the ancients.

    moderms: Jackson, Lee, and Sherman and grant, don;t exclude the William Bedford forredst who onc said: "get ther the fastest with the mostes"

    Reply
    1. Hunter DeRensis at |

      Its Nathan Bedford Forrest. He also said "No damn man kills me and lives".

      Reply
    2. Steve at |

      Any list should include John Churchill, Duke of Marlbourgh who has often been listed number one by many historians. His campaign and victory at Bleinam was one of history’s master pieces and his fifteen year UNDEAFEATED record makes him one of the grats of all time.

      Reply
  32. Mike at |

    Great List, Rob – though I'd add Marcus Regulus for ancient generals. True, his campaign ended in a fiasco but the strategic fruit born from that operation was almost unimaginable in its far reaching consequences. I'd also point out that Jackson, Lee, and Forrest were ultimately failures and their primary objective was never attained. Jackson fails Lee spectacularly in 1862 during the Seven Days (historians Freeman and Foote aptly portray Jackson's weirdly uniquely and uncharacteristically case of the slows); While I freely admit Forrest was spectacularly impressive – though he did create a terrorist organization after the war (KKK), he did have to surrender and his cause failed. Have you ever heard that the German General Staff used to study Forrest and apply some of his style when developing blitzkrieg?

    Reply
    1. Hunter DeRensis at |

      Forrest never founded the KKK. The original Ku Klux Klan was founded by 5 middle class ex-Confederate soldiers in December, 1865. And Forrest even being in the Klan hasn't yet been proven, as he always denied membership and leadership. And if the Germans used his ideas, good for them. They were smart to recognize his genius. And Jackson's command problems (such as never giving information to his subordinates) are pretty hard to remember after looking at his 1862 Valley Campaign and his performance at Chancellorsville. And what do you mean they failed? There job as soldiers and generals was too win battles and kill Yankees. And they did that to perfection.

      Reply
    2. Steve at |

      Mike, by that reasoning you would have to take Hannibal off your list. Are you willing to do that?

      Reply
  33. Tony Malone at |

    Ok first it is Nathan Bedford Forest and he did not create the KKK. Now as for Lee Jackson and Forest not making their primary objectives, I should point out that napoleon lost in the end and yet I would find it hard to find any one not putting him in a top 10 list

    Reply
  34. Mike at |

    Tony,

    First, I apologize for misspelling Forest's name – very embarrassing!

    Second, Napoleon is one of the most overrated generals in history. Anyone can have a great run when you are handed a brand new, unprecedented war machine based on some 80 some odd years of reform while all of your opponents for the first ten years are from an outdated, ineffectual system led by generals sometimes in their 70s.

    Napoleon also had a bad habit of abandoning his own men when things went south. First in Egypt, then in Spain (turned it over to second stringers), and then in Russia.

    He reminds me of Montgomery in WWII except that Montgomery actually had to face excellent generals early as well as later in his career. As long as there was a massive preponderance of men and supplies, things normally went fairly well. About the only time I can recall reading a battle with Napoleon when he was outnumbered prior to 1813 was his campaign in Italy.

    It also helps when many of your principle lieutenants are first rate performers. But the real reason I didn't consider him for my list was that in the end, Napoleon is a loser, a failure – his creation collapsed. Although his administrative governmental reforms were extremely far reaching and beneficial. And yes, his influence on later generations was massive. Maybe too massive, since by the 1850s the technology in war removed many of the strengths of Napoleonic warfare.

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      Mike, Study the young Bonaparte’s actions in ending the British siege at Toulan and especially his campaigns in Italy. The “unprecedented war machine” you described was a band of ragged, starving, inexperienced men commanded by equally inexperienced officers who had survived the terror that had claimed most of France’s experienced generals for the guillotine.

      The young Napolean, especially was on a par with Alexander.

      Reply
  35. James at |

    First off, Forest did not creare the KKK. Second, he quit the Klan because he did not approve of the violent actions. Third, he never said "Get there the fastest with the mostest." Forest was an educated, articulate man and did not speak using such gibberish.

    Had Lee been in command of the army of the Potomac, the Civil War would have been over in months. Lee repeatedly defeated Union generals and did it with far fewer men and supplies. His final defeat was due to attrition not tactics.

    Reply
    1. Edgar at |

      I agree with your comments about Forrest, the only Confederate general who was an acknowledged genius and undefeated. he actually NEVER surrended, he went home. I don’t know where you get your idea that he was an educated man. He was totally illiterate and this has been described by EVERY historian (except maybe the onew you read) and by memoirs of his times some of which were by men who served under him. This illiteracy and self taught military prowess, has been a large reason why he has attracted so much attention from historians, since he really played mainly a peripheral part in the war, and never commanded more than a few thousand men at any time, maybe 1,500 to 4,000. (except, I think, once when he had to take over command when the commanding general was wounded, anout 15,000 men I believe) He was a plantation owner who organised his own contingent for the war.

      Unfortunately for the South, Lee was not given command of the WHOLE Southern Army until comparatively late in the war when it was too late to do any good. He was the commander of the Army of Virginia for the majority of the war.

      Although there is no doubt that he was a great general, and fully deserves his high position in the lists, critical examinations and histories of his expertise say that his BIG failing was that he would get carried away by the spirit of battle and become “over-bloodthirsty” and becoming sometimes overcommitted…..like at Gettysberg, a good example. This has even been admitted by himself in an essay of self criticism, which I have also read. I have it somewhere. This trait has also been written about by many prominent Civil War historians.

      Reply
    2. saxan66 at |

      youre right the Klan i believe was created by a small group of hal a dozen ex confederate soldiers, bedford forest, became grand wizard and alomost self proclaimed leader of the klan, i think this is where people get confused and believe he created it. im not too well up on klan history but believe that this is how it began. i do believe the original incarnation didnt last long, it was the re-emergence in the twenties after the first world war when it had its best support. again anyone want to correct me please do , im more a ww1 and 2 and napoleonic war man ! i am reading about gettysburg at the moment, excellent read, also for ww2 officionados “operation mincemeat” ben macintyre, great book and superb read.

      Reply
  36. Rob at |

    James,

    Look up the quote. You will find that it was in fact Bedford Forrest who said, "Get there first with the most"!

    All you have to do is google that one. No brainer!

    Reply
  37. James at |

    "Get there first with the most" yes. "Get there the firstest with the mostest" no.

    Reply
  38. Mike at |

    James,

    I never wrote that Forest said, "Get there firstest with the mostest".

    General Lee was defeated by General Grant because General Lee was a mediocre strategist and his defeat is not due simply to attrition. Grant was a better strategist with a far better big picture mastery. Lee was a superb tactician, but that was not enough. Lee was not the omniscient great commander. Even Hooker and Burnside stole a march on Lee and surprised him.

    Attrition did help, but Lee's blunders helped even more. If Lee had been in command of the Army of the Potomac, well, it would depend on who he wound up fighting. If he fought Johnston, than you are probably right. If he went up against Jackson, who was a superior field commander, I don't think Lee would have beaten him.

    Both of Lee's two great offensives were failures. Worse, he seemed to have absolutely no appreciable clue as to the importance of what was known as the Western theater. And while I have always admired Lee's style of non-micro management – he might have been the most non-micro manager in military history – it proved a failure by the summer of 1863.

    Nothing Lee accomplished carried the strategic significance that could touch Grant's Vicksburg campaign. Come to think of it, almost every single one of Grant's victories was a measurable nail in the Confederate coffin. Lee's performance never matched it.

    Reply
    1. Hunter DeRensis at |

      WTF are you talking about? Lee was one of the greatest generals of the 19th Century. Grant was a druck if anything. Now lets see who Marse Robert fought and defeated: McClellan (Peninsula Campaign and he held him off at Antietam), Pope (Second Battle of Manassas), Burnside (Battle of Fredericksburg), Hooker (Battle of Chancellorsville), and Meade and Grant in several battles (Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of the Crater, Battle of Cold Harbor, Battle of Deep Bottom, and the Battle of Spotsylvania). The only reason Grant beat the Confederates at Vicksburg was because he starved the town until they had to eat rats. It doesn't take a genius to lay siege to something. And even when Grant laid siege to Lee at Petersburg, Lee was still able to get out. Grant also made a terrible President.

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        Hunter,

        Are you kidding? Grant’s Vicksburg campaign was awesome. Reread the history of the war. Where Grant went, victory followed.

        By the way, although Grant wasn’t much of a president, he was still a THOUSAND TIMES better than Obama.

        Reply
  39. Rob at |

    James,

    Forrest's southern vernacular was "firstest with the mostest". Ever heard of idiom's? Quoting Shelby Foote, well known scholar on the Civil War!

    This was southern idiomatic use of the language!

    Look it up, please!

    Reply
  40. Tony Malone at |

    Grant was not the better strategist, it is easy to win battles when you out number the other army and fight by attrition. Jackson was a fine commander but never better than Lee. Lee's worst problem was he never disciplined his commanders and was to easy, his lack of a sufficient staff and his giving orders like "Take that hill if practical" while meaning "Take the hill" was a disaster like Gettysburg showed. Picking Ewell over Stuart to command Jackson's Corps was a wrong decision, as was promoting A.P. Hill to Corps command. Lee was ill served by many of his generals but failed to control them they way he should have. As for his plans they were very good both tactically and strategically. Forest did speak well but could not write in fact when he wrote he spelled the way things sounded. His education lacked but the man was a military genius.

    Reply
  41. James at |

    Rob,

    I am familiar with idioms. I am also aware that many scholar's, including Bruce Catton, Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill have stated that Forest absolutely did not say Firstest with the Mostest. That quote first appeared in 1917 in an article in the New York Times. Many people that knew Forest have also stated that he did not speak that way and, while not greatly formally educated, he was learned and articulate. It's good to see so many still care about the study of history.

    James

    Reply
  42. Rob at |

    James,

    Though the "disputed" statement: "Firstest with the mostest" is believed to be the summation of Forrest's strategy during his campaigning in the Civil War, the plain English version means the same thing or vice versa. If you have ever visited the deep south (for all I know you are from a southern state) then the former expression is not far off. I am not from the deep south, but from the west coast. My relatives are from the south, though. My interest in military history are more along the lines of ancient history a la Rome, Carthage, Greece, and Persia.

    Reply
  43. James at |

    Rob,

    I agree that the meaning is the same and it does sum up Forest's basic military philosophy. I just never liked the portrayal of Forest as someone that spoke as an illiterate hayseed. Yes, I am from a Southern state. My family moved to North Carolina in 1967, when I was three, and I've lived here ever since.

    I've read Herodotus three times. Any recommendation on another good book on the Persion Wars?

    Reply
  44. James at |

    Hi Mike,

    I know you didn’t say the “Firstest” comment. I was referring to another poster that wrote earlier in the thread. I apologize for it coming across as it did. The nicest thing about that thread is seeing how many people still have an interest in military history. The western theater does seem to be the “forgotten war”. I appreciate you taking the time to write to me and I will definately spend some time thinking about your points. I may have to alter my outlook somewhat.

    James

    Reply
  45. Mike at |

    James,

    Look up Kagan or Victor Davis Hanson for excellent ancient military Greek works.

    Reply
  46. Rob Mitchell at |

    James,

    Holland's book, "Persian Fire" (Greek/Persian wars)is worth a look. His other books are goo, too. "Rubicon" is another noteworthy title—fall of the Roman Republic. Also, I recommend Xenophon's Anabasis- on his retreat with the 10,000 from Babylon, circa 399 B.C. It can be tough reading, but is worth the look.

    Reply
  47. patrick at |

    moltke the elder

    Reply
  48. patrick at |

    some other notables missing:

    duke of marlbourough

    prince eugene

    wallenstein

    moltke the elder

    Michel Ney

    erich ludendorff

    wellington

    Stonewall jackson

    Nelson

    alexander the great

    charlamagne

    scippio africanus

    Reply
  49. Davey at |

    I find it so frustrating that i frequently see Patton mentioned in these lists. He was not a great General;

    He wasn't the best General of WWII – that was Rommel.

    He wasn't the best American General of WWII – that was McArthur.

    He isn't even one of the best Generals in US history – Jackson, Longstreet, Bedford-Forest all ahead of him.

    I think his persona seems to be greater and more famous than his ability.

    Reply
  50. Tim at |

    Mike,

    Saw your comments on Napoleon and just had to respond. When considered in perspective, Napoleon is far above any other military commander in history. He faced multiple enemies, multiple fronts, and numerically superior opposition in almost every battle and every war he participated in.

    How do you conclude that France was a brand-new war machine superior to all the other powers of Europe at the time? France was not much more powerful than Austria, Prussia, Britain, or Russia and yet Napoleon managed to dominate all of them for over a decade.

    Napoleon "abandoned" his men? In Egypt, he returned because he was called back by the Directory to defend France as she was on the verge of defeat against the Second Coalition (yet France was light-years ahead of the rest of Europe, right?). In Spain, he "abandoned" his troops because Austria declared war halfway through his campaign, and France would have possibly fallen if he had not returned to defeat the Austrians once more. In Russia, there was a genuine coup being attempted in Paris and he also had to return to raise a new army against the coalition being formed.

    Don't recall Napoleon being outnumbered before 1813? Austerlitz, Marengo, Jena-Auderstedt, Ulm, Friedland, etc. ring any bells?

    Napoleon is a loser because he had a 98% win rate and only achieved victories for 15 straight years against all of Europe, lost his army to weather, and then still managed to win every battle he was involved in after that (including the six days campaign) except Leipzig and Waterloo? Yes, a loser indeed.

    Reply
    1. Edgar at |

      France, apart from having Napoleone, was the most populous country in Europe with a population of that time of nearly 30; million, therefore could supply enough troops year after year. This doesn’t mean that Bonaparte outnumbered his opponents, On the contrary, but, because of his screening devices, and secrecy, he was generally able to bring a superior force to the vital spot he’d chosen for the breaktrough. Then, of course in prolonged campaigns, it was his strategy and tactics which saw him through with fewer troops and NO commisariat. His troops lived “off the land”.

      Everyone who has written about Napoleone fighting in Spain, are all wrong. He commanded troops in Spain only ONCE in his life and that resulted in the defeat (and death) of Sir John Moore and the retreat to Corunna, a VERY WELL KNOWN EVENT , both in story and song, as well as history. When the retreat of Moore’s troops was under way, he handed over the command and went back to France where he had more important matters to attend to.

      Before his abdication, in 1814, when he was trying, -with a very small army- to get to Paris ahead of the Allies, the campaign he conducted, where he had numerous victories with small forces against large Allied armies is well known, and brought back the brilliance of his earlier days, which everyone thought he had lost. This campaign is taught in most Military Academies.

      Unfortunately, a day too early, the city was surrendered, never defended actually, by his old lifelong friend Marmont, who, to this day is execrated in France…..as is Grouchy, who, following the defeated Prussians along the wrong direction, was urged to turn around and march to Waterloo.”March to the sound of the guns” was a military discum of that time, and generally followed, often bringing about victory. He refused, and his 33,000 troops were never used at Waterloo. There was another Armee the commander of which whose name I temporarily have forgotten, with over 20,000 men, marched from one direction to another during Waterloo, but never persevering, doing exactly NOTHING.

      These huge mishaps, as well as Ney, without orders, going crazy and throwing away all the cavalry in attacking British squares UNSUPPORTED by foot troops a HUGE “no-No” (he had 6 horses shot from under him) made a French victory nearly impossible from the word “GO”.

      But they gave it their best try, losing almost 40,000 casualties.

      Reply
  51. Mike at |

    Tim,

    I'm eyeball deep in a thesis right now so this will be brief but you should consider the following points:

    1. For about 80 years prior to Napoleon's putsch in the streets of Paris with his artillery, the French army's record was horrible. The string of defeats initiated a massive reform program for the entire war machine which was only lacking the levee en mass and the removal of many restriction on promotion. So that is what I am referring to when I wrote that Napoleon was handed an unprecedented war machine compared to his enemies. He shares this lucky break with Alexander the Great – Napoleon inherited his army from 80 years of reform and one massive revolution and Alexander inherited his unprecedented army from his dad, Philip. I will say that Napoleon introduced several innovations to warfare and I'm at a loss to come up with any innovations from Alexander.

    2. You seem to be rating generals based on field records while I am rating them on causes. And if you are going to rate by field records than Wellington would beat out Napoleon. – just like his cause.

    3. Isn't it convenient to be called away from enterprises that sour? Poor Napoleon was forced to "leave" his men in Egypt, Spain, and Russia just when things went south in all three campaigns. If you wan to admire something form the Napoleonic era, admire the French engineers at the bridge of Baressino (sorry about the spelling) who jumped to their deaths in the freezing river in order to be able to work ten minutes on a bridge to save their abandoned army from destruction before their corpses floated downstream.

    Back to my insanity as the due date looms – I kind of feel as if the Yorktown steaming towards Midway with the civilian engineers till working on her

    Mike.

    Reply
    1. Edgar at |

      Sorry Mike, you are wrong. Any history will tell you that there was NO real French Army after the Revolution, and for several years afterwards. Most, if not all of the commanders and officiers had either been executed or skipped the country. Just after the Revolution, when all the European Kings and Emperors joined together against France and invaded, there happend to occur a miraculous by hordes of completely untrained Frencmen at VALMY, which sent the Allies retreating out of France. They then had some time to try to organise an army. But they needed armies on several Fronts.

      When Napoleone came to the fore he was given the command of the so-called Army of Italy, at age 26, Mainly it has been averred, through the influence of Josephine with Barras,a former lover.

      EVERY history book describes the Army of Italy, as a disorganised rabble of half starved shoeless, ragged, weaponless, completely discouraged rabble. Massena was shut up in Genoa, and had been for months where they were selling rats and grass for unheard of sums.

      Napoleone speedily took control, organised things, issued proclamations and speeches- something he was very good at- and things looked up from there. But at that time there was hardly any real French Army, just an often defeated, discouraged, dispirited army, on the defensive everywhere.

      One last little thing. When it comes to great Generals of the Napoleonic period, no one has mentioned Suchet, who ran things independently and VERY successfully in Catalonia all through the Peninsular War, and was one of the very few who was never defeated.

      Reply
  52. Tony Malone at |

    I saw the comments on Napoleon, sorry but he was far better than Wellington, Wellington won at Waterloo because Napoleon made mistakes in assignments for his marshals and Blucher saved Wellington. Now as for Patton, he was better than Rommel, Rommel was not the best German commander von Manstien was. Patton was better than MacArthur, in fact so was Sandy Patch and Vinger Joe Stilwell. I would even put Davout over Wellington

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      How can you put Davout over an undeafeated Wellington who has a win over Napolean on his record? No matter how you try to argue away Waterloo, a win is a win.

      Reply
  53. charles at |

    I'm sorry this is an OK article, but Alexander the Great should be there.

    Reply
    1. Rob at |

      I am not so sure Alexander should be on this list. I, at least, question it. Yes he won many victories, but with an army already prepared for him by his father Philip of Macedon. His father originated the idea of an invasion of Persia, but with very different objectives and goals. I don't like or respect Alexander's megalomania, nor his tactics for subjugating his new empire. His paranoid reactions and subsequent murder of the old guard within his officer corps was much like Stalin's. The myth of Alexander the Great, along with his bright and shiny reputation, do not stand up to scrutiny when looked at more closely. It is a good thing he died young.

      Reply
      1. jennystar59 at |

        I’m sorry and with respect for your view but your personal opinion isn’t what makes a general great. A good thing he died young? Alexander had a good dream and just to clarify some things about his personality, he had a good heart. Myths don’t just pop up, they are based on reality. Try watching in the Footsteps of Alexander with Michael Wood, i think you might find it interesting. And about Alexander inheriting his army:true, but you what they say: ”it’s easy to get an A but quite another to maintain it.”

        Reply
        1. Rob at |

          With respect I must disagree. Alexander has been both mythologized and romanticized( had a good heart). There is a significant historical scholarship out there that I agree with in regards to Alexanders motives, paranoia, and megalomania. He was not the Jesus christ of generals and statesmen. As to strategy and tactics, there is no doubt that Alexander was a gifted soldier, the most gifted of his generation. Hannibal was the most gifted of his time and Caesar was the most gifted of his generation. I don’t think you can burn this arguement down to a cliche or an anecdote: “easy to get an A….”
          Nice try, though. My father was a history teacher and I minored in history when I was in school. Ancient history has always fascinated me and always will.

          Reply
        2. Steve at |

          He had a good heart??? A good dream???

          Alexander may be one of the greatest military commanders of all time, perhaps even the very greatest. But he was a classic case of Meglomania run amok who murdered one of his closest friends in a drunken rage – (He was constantly drunk – he would work all day than party all night till he passed out).

          There’s only one Alexandria today but that he named literally hundreds of places he conquered Alexandria. What a jerk! He also loved to sleep with boys like Michal Jackson. (Today that would probably be a resume enhancement to run for office in the Democrat party).

          Alexander was used by the God of history to move the world in a new direction but he did NOT have a good heart.

          Reply
  54. kenz at |

    I feel Caesar should be number 1, he actually left a legacy, keeping that territory maintained unlike many of the other nominees. napolean was inspired by Caesar and never matched him, Alexander the great should also be on there but then again he never left a culture or a legacy, just a legend, so you could argue that king arthur should be on there if that is the case. My reasons for thinking Gaius Julius Caesar sould be first as he is not just, most likely, the most famous person ever (I mean who hasn't heard of Caesar?!!), but also was a renowned politician, although that dos not persuade my decision, but he used motivation as well as military genius and practically invented phycological warfare. Also where is arminius of the germans? Sun Tzu? genghis Khan?

    Reply
    1. alxus91 at |

      ‘Alexander the great should also be on there but then again he never left a culture or a legacy, just a legend’ umm have you never heard of the hellenistic period? the great expansion of greek culture. ever heard of cleopatra or ptolomy? well those are not egyptian names. because of him the near east was ruled by greeks not there native rulers.

      Reply
    2. Steve at |

      The most famous person in history is the God Man the Lord Jesus Christ. He is about to get more well known still.

      Reply
  55. Mike at |

    Hi, Kenz:

    I'm not sure if you were commenting on the original list above or the one I provided which is in the older comments section. If the latter, let me say that I did not list my top ten in any particular order. While I mostly agree with your assessment of Caesar (his best talent as far as I am concerned was being able to get out of the trouble his unconventional, non-conformist methods got him into in the first place) he did not invent psychological warfare. Scipio Africanus was already carrying out a strikingly successful campaign in Spain and one could probably argue that the Greeks or even the Israelites under Joshua were carrying out psyops well before Caesar. Further, Caesar seemed to think everyone loved him, which always proves a dangerous assumption especially for a politician.

    Genghis Khan is probably the number one military general since he conquered the most with a legacy that spanned centuries. But what can we emulate from him? Drinking fermented milk and running a horse army? I didn't include him because I am at a loss of what lasting military principles to emulate from him. Sun Tzu is a great philosopher but like many philosophers, his ideas need to be adapted. Have you noticed that some of his maxims are unrealistic? Like when he says that if a general doesn't like the ground or the situation, he should fight the battle. That's great if you have the luxury of making that kind of choice but how often does an adult, let alone a general have that luxury? Often, the commander must carry out an objective or fight his battle regardless of whether or not he likes the ground.

    Arminius carried out a successful strike and altered the strategic growth of the Romans but I wouldn't say he was a military powerhouse. I'd put him in the same group as Red Cloud, Admiral Togo, and Shaka Zulu – one battle or single campaign winners who are worth studying but not to the same level as the top ten.

    My top ten are cause winners who may not always have been as tactically or strategically proficient as others but won the war and had their eyes on the prize the whole time. This is why I never included Lee, Jackson, Forest, Rommel, Manstein, or Napoleon. These were incredible military commanders but they lost. My list contained the winners. Advocates for these men will write how great they were but never touch on the reality of their being losers! They lost. Well, Jackson died before he could lose but his performance during the Seven Days in 1862 may well have cost the Confederacy their one best chance at destroying the Army of the Potomac (see Douglas Freeman, Shelby Foot, possibly Bruce Canton about that).

    Mike

    Reply
  56. Ian at |

    What!- No Marlborough??!! Outrageous!

    Also, what about Georgi Zukov, or does he not count as playing a part in Western History

    Reply
    1. Zetta at |

      I was thinking about him too actually.

      Patton, Zukov, Rommel,William Slim,Erich von Manstein are the best choices for WW2.

      Also no Monty wasn't all that and a bag of chips.

      Reply
  57. Zetta at |

    @Frank Smith

    "I am constantly amazed that Grant’s strategic victory over Lee is often forgotten."

    Yeah I know I"m amazed that Grant was able to beat Lee so many times(and by that I mean no more then 3-4 times the rest being inconclusive or Confederate victories). I mean geez he only outnumbered him 2 to 1 at every battle at worst . Plus he only lost 55,000 wellfed,supplied, constantly reinforced troops to Lee's 32,000 tired, unsuplied, underfed troops.

    You do realize that Grant won because he had ridiculous numerical advantage and could just continue to attack Lee no matter what, right? Lee on the other hand was barely getting reinforcements.

    Washington definitely doesn't deserve to be on here. Patton can be debated to some extent however I would argue that there are other generals who got as good results as him. Lee however does belong here.

    Reply
  58. Woolydridge at |

    Reading all your comments, I have been shocked by some of them. The sheer ignorance and stupidity of some of them.

    First of all, about the way Lee kept wipping Grant, some people forget that Lee was an Army commander. rant, on the other hand, was commander of all US armies, and was responsible for not only defeating Lee but the entire Confederate state. It was George Meade who had control of the Army of the Potomac. And the Confederates fought the entire time behind very well built defenses. It was thanks to Grants strategy and planning that cost the Confederates in the end, along with his earlier victories in the west. Also, this whole thing about Grant losing 55,000 men against Lee's 32,000 is a load of bull. Statistically, the Confederates lost a lot more men to the Union than the Union did to them. If Grant was a butcher, that Lee deserves the title as well.

    But if you are going to put in Thomas Jackson, you will also have to put in James Longstreet. Yes, Jackson was a genius, but it was the total force of the big three, Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet, that gained the Confederates most of their victories. Longstreet, the silent partner, has mostly been forgotten by history.

    Belisarius is another great general left out. It was he, not Justinian who rebuilt the Byzantine empire. And when he was getting too popular, he was abandoned by Justinian, but still managed to hold on and gain a few victories.

    Alexander the Great was a brilliant general, but he would have not have done anything had it not been for the genius of his father, Philip of Macedon, who took the crumbling, poor, weak state and with it conquered most of Greece and was preparing for his own invasion of Persia before he was killed.

    But if you are going to put Patton in, then you have to put in perhaps the best tank commander in history, "Fast Heinz" Guderian. It was he who helped samsh Poland and led the strike through the Ardennes. It was he who smashed Russian defences, closed the ring around Kiev, and stalled in front of the gates of Moscow. If Hitler had listened to Guderian, the Germans would have defeated Russia and won World War 2. But it is also to his credit that when he was Chief of Staff he helped hold the army together.

    Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is one that should definitely make the list. Undefeated in WW1, he built a new army and nation from scratch and retook Turkey. Not only that, but he is the person who handed the British and the Commonwealth one of their biggest defeats in history at Gallipolli.

    Also, other people who should have made the list: Alexander Suvorov, Subotai, Genghis Khan, Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, Georgi Zhukov, Norman Schwarzkopf, Richard the Lionhearted, Edward the Black Prince, Charlemagne, the Duke of Wellington, Charles Martel, El Cid, Cortes, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Cyrus the Great and William T. Sherman.

    Alas, not enough room, either on this list or the one above, to name them all.

    Reply
  59. Woolydridge at |

    Another thing.

    All this about Lee being a poor strategist. Lee, during most of the war, was only responsible for the Army of Northern Virginia. He wasn't meant to be a brilliant strategist- he was meant to be a brilliant tactician. He was only responsible for his area of battle, North Virginia, and it wasn't until the war was almost finished when he was made commander of all Confederate Armies. But by this time, he was holed up within Petersburg, he had barely any contact with the outside world, and he was soon forced into a massive retreat to Appomattox, through which he could not possibly have controllled the armies, which were disintergrating anyway. Sure, he could have stayed in Virginia instead of invading the north and preserved his forces, but it was his superiors who gave him the orders. Lee wasn't meant to control the conduct of the war, he was meant to destroy enemy forces and concentrate on tactics and going where his superioirs ordered him to.

    Other names for the list: Carl Gustav Emil von Mannerheim, Russian and Finnish general who saved Finland three times

    William Slim, victor of the Forgotten War

    Creighton Abrams, commander in Chief through the last years of the Vietnam War

    Aleksei Brusilov, Russian commander during WW1

    August von Mackensen, German general during WW1

    Scipio Africanus, Roman general who defeated Hannibal

    Winfield Scott, US General, the "Grand Old Man of the Army"

    Flavius Aetius, West Roman General who defeated Atilla the Hun

    Reply
    1. Mike at |

      Woolydridge,

      That's not entirely true regarding Lee as just the simple soldier who had to concentrate on his own little world. From the very beginning, Lee was an immense influence, advisor, and ready audience for Jefferson Davis and the various Secretaries of War. Lee was asked several times for his opinion regarding just about every military matter you can think of including the Western theater and the viability of detaching troops from the ANV to the West; who would a suitable army commander for the Confederate forces, and even agricultural topics!

      Lee was already an icon before the war – impeccable family, a veteran, former super intendant of West Point, offered Scott's place – and he was an educated man who knew better than to focus so narrowly on Virginia.

      Here's a different question for you – do you honestly think Lee would have been half as successful out West?

      Reply
  60. Woolydridge at |

    Yes, that is true. I was merely pointing out that it was not Lee's job to become the master strategist of the war, it is because it was expected of him, due to his friendship with Davis, his good reputation before the war, and his string of victories. It was expected of him to become a master strategist, even though it was, strictly speaking, not his job to be. But even though he knew not to concentrate on Virginia, the only reason he had joined the Confederate Army was because his native Virginia was threatened.

    But also, on the subject of moving troops west, when that came up because of the suggestions of James Longstreet, that Lee detach his corp, the corp was indeed detached. But it was sent to southern Virginia, just when Lee needed it the most.

    As for the subject of Lee still achieving a great deal if he was assigned to the west, well that could only be achieved if he was given competent commanders. If Stonewall and Longstreet had been with him in the west, he may very well have been able to beat the Union. But the result of the war would be the same. Indeed, with Lee not in the east, the Confederate capital might have fallen sooner.

    Reply
  61. matt3046 at |

    AMERICA RULES USA USA USA

    Reply
    1. Hunter DeRensis at |

      THE CONFEDERACY RULES CSA CSA CSA

      Reply
  62. Maurice at |

    What about Sun Tzu? For him not to even be mentioned? Not that the others on the list are not great, but he has to be on the list. Also, IMHO, Hannibal is number 1. For 15 years, he had the great Roman armies trembling in their sandals. All of this without reinforcements from Carthage. The Double Envelopment maneuver. The ambushes and other guerrilla tactics. Forcing the Romans to use a style of combat completely opposite of what they were known for (Fabian tactics). Alexander the Great has to be in the list also.

    If I had to remove someone from the list to get those 3 on it, it would be Patton, Joan of Arc, and George Washington. But they are definitely Top 20.

    Reply
  63. Woolydridge at |

    Well, the thing with Sun Tzu is that yes, he should be on the list, but there are too many unknowns about him. Napoleon should not be at number one, that I agree with, but I question the act of putting Hannibal or Alexander there.

    One thing about all of this is that we can't include all of the great generals on this list, therefore starting this arguments. Which, of course, I cherish.

    Reply
  64. Kylar at |

    I have not laughed this hard in a long time, I thank you all for your complete ignorance. Americans in the top 10, It really is just too much, goog luck to you all!

    Reply
    1. mart at |

      amazing isn't it. i was blown away. as i was scrolling down i half expected to see george a custer at no. 1. because a defeat in america is a last stand.

      Reply
    2. matt3046 at |

      That is why America rules.

      Reply
  65. Alex at |

    I will come into this argument and say that I agree with precisely two of the names on this list, and to follow it up I have some definite bones to pick with a few of the comments.

    The two generals that the creator of this list has picked out who belong here firmly and decisively for me are Gaius Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte, in that order. Caesar will for me be the number one by a long, long way. I am pleased to see that his name has been picked up by a few of those who have commented, but not nearly even nearly enough, and with quite a few errors at work.

    The statement that Caesar's greatest ability was to extract himself from his own mistakes is a fallacy. On the contrary the vast, vast majority of his campaigns (and there were many of them) were masterpieces of planning that establish that Caesar was, if nothing else, a genius for planning and organizing. Mistakes were made, and every now and then he suffered grave mistfortune, but the fact is that no general can ever claim a career entirely free of error, and what mistakes Caesar did make were more than rectified by his triumphs.

    As a tactician Caesar can more than hold his own against the likes of Hannibal, Alexander, Scipio, etc. Many people have an absurd tendancy to dismiss him in this regard merely because he fought with Roman Legions, against hordes of barbarians. This is to pass over the fact that those hordes of barbarians frequently managed to overrun Roman Legions, and that Caesar displayed the utmost skill in vanquishing them. During his war in Gaul, such triumphs as his relief of Cicero from Ambiorix, his Amphibious Landing in Britain (the first amphibious landing in history), and above and beyond all others his brilliant siege of Alesia, place Caesar the tactician on a level with the finest that a Hannibal or a Scipio could ever produce. And after he was done in Gaul Caesar went on to fight a second war that spanned the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, and pitted him against Africans, Spaniards, Egyptians, Ponticans, and of course other Romans, in far greater numbers, with far greater resources, led by some of the most brilliant Roman Generals ever produced. Nonetheless Caesar was consistently victorious. Battles like Pharsalus, Thapsus, Ruspina, the Nile, and Zela, I would argue stand superior even to the likes of Cannae, and stand far above battles like Gaugamela.

    But while Caesar's tactics by themselves would justify a position for him amongst the Great Captains of the Ages, it is his strategy that for me establishes him as by far out and away the greatest military genius in history. As a strategist, whether Grand Strategy or Operational, no other general in the Ancient World – not Alexander, not Scipio, not Hannibal, can even lift a fingure against him. Triumphs such as his campaigns against the Belgae, the Veneti, and Vercingetorix in their strategy can only be approached by the finer achievements of Napoleon, Subutai, and a few other of Antiquity's finest strategic minds, and even they struggle hard indeed to find match for his extraordinary campaigns in Italy and Spain.

    Unlike numerous land generals Caesar was just as adpet on the sea as he was on the land. Throughout his career he would fight numerous naval battles, and they were triumphs as spectacular as many of his land battles.

    He was also a master of logistics, and undoubtably one of the finest leaders of men that history has ever seen, as well as being one of history's great multi-talented individuals.

    After Caesar would for me come Napoleon, in many ways as good as Caesar in tactics, strategy, and leadership, but far more prone to make disastrous errors.

    Following on would come Subutai, and Genghis Khan – the two Mongols. After these would come a multitude of names I have neither the time nor patience to choose between.

    I will say that I agree with the creator of this list in another regard – Alexander the Great would not appear on my list. Alexander was a good tactician, but his tactics were essentially repeated in each of his battles. As a strategist he cannot comapre with the greats of military history in this regard. His Indian Campaign was a disaster, and at the end of the day he was a failed leader. He might appear in my top twenty, but that it about it.

    Reply
  66. C. Vincent Barbatti at |

    It's been a while since I commented, but I follow the comments on this article consistently. Thanks to all those who have left constructive suggestions, alternative theories, and reasons you agree or disagree with the inclusion/exclusion of particular generals.

    To answer some oft repeated themes on the more…dismissive comments:

    Yes, I am an American. I am a Virginian by birth, and had access to a high quality liberal arts education at arguably the best public university in the United States.

    For those who suggest that I "read some history", I have read a fair amount of it for someone my

    age. Any young man or woman who claims to have read all the history books he or she wants or needs is a fool, and I make no such claim; I merely state that I am not illiterate, and have made an effort to educate myself in this field.

    For those who suggest "only an American would include Americans", I cannot specifically refute that, as I have never been anything other than an American. I don't claim that America is anywhere near the top in overall military history, or even of the West. If there is a bias, it has crept in only because I have been exposed to a wealth of information on American military history, and it is hard to ignore entirely.

    For those who are confused or upset that a particular general didn't make the list, here is a list of reasons why:

    Is your chosen general Japanese, Chinese, Russian (not exclusively fighting in the European theater), Indian, Southeast Asian, or African? Then I probably know very little about them, could not do them justice, and so chose to make a list that is primarily concerned with Western Europe and the Americas.

    Is your chosen general a brilliant and often overlooked commander from a large scale multi-nation war whose exploits are often overlooked in favor of a "flashier" or more well-known man? I can only refer you to the fact that "greatness" is a subjective measure; your complaint would be more legitimate if the list had been "The Top 10 Most Tactically Successful Generals of…"or "The Top 10 Most Strategically Innovative and Significant…". As it stands, the iconic, popular, and public historic view of certain generals suggests "greatness" that may offend you if you are looking for pure tactical efficiency or win-loss ratio. [Consider the Napoleon/Wellington divide - both admirable tacticians, strategists, logisticians, both incredibly influential. Yet - we call those wars Napoleonic, and Bonaparte remains a familiar image to the general public. I'd hazard that only 1 in 4 of those who could identify Napoleon in some meaningful way could do the same for poor Arthur.]

    Is your general Alexander? As answered before – Alexander is well within my sphere of knowledge. Brief rebuttal:

    1.) Most conquests not anywhere near Western Europe.

    2.) May owe a great debt to father's army, strategy, etc.

    3.) Much of opposition difficult to evaluate, historical sources inconsistent.

    Sorry, that one isn't going to change, even if I rewrote this whole thing.

    IF I were doing this again today, there would be changes – Joan of Arc would disappear, reluctantly, as would Washington. Though he is certainly a great man in many ways, too much of his greatness relies on his character, and not on actual military acumen – some balance is necessary.

    Patton would likely slip a few spots. Hannibal and Salah Eh-Din might drop a few as well. Caesar might rise – some. Lee would not budge. Those arguing for Grant – I respect your case, but must respectfully disagree. Those who scream about American favoritism and my backwater education – I humbly suggest that perhaps your knowledge of American military history may be as incomplete as you believe my knowledge of European military history to be.

    Finally, at the end of this long response, many thanks to the many posters expressing thoughtful, well-argued agreements or differences of opinion. They are always a pleasure.

    Reply
    1. Hunter DeRensis at |

      PUT LEE AT #1!!!! And I ask that you maybe think about Nathan Bedford Forrest and J.E.B. Stuart.

      Reply
  67. thegreatjedi at |

    You should have stated at the start that you meant to limit "Western History" to Western Europe and North America due to the scope our your own knowledge to avoid much of this mess. Western history clearly means much more than that from the outset. Historically speaking, Western history as we knew it began with the Greeks and Romans – with their associated empires covering Europe (except most of Germany, the Russian steppes and all the lands in between), North Africa, Asia Minor, the Levant and for a short period the Indus – and continued on by the kingdoms that succeed them and also including figures from non-Western civilisations that interacted with them – Like Attila the Hun who wasn't European at all when his people first invaded.

    That said if Saladin (Salah Eh-Din, Saladin is so much easier to type), who had only achieved resounding success in the Levant and had never so much as stepped into Europe itself could make the list, then all the more reason that Alexander's "loss by a hair" is a great reason to cry foul. Your first main rebuttal is his lack of conquests near Western Europe – Saladin conquered Jerusalem and Egypt, as near as W. Europe as he got. Alexander had the Siege of Tyre, the Battle of the Granicus and the Battle of Issus to his claim. Your second rebuttal is the lack of accurate information to determine how "great" his conquests really are. That, I agree, but c'mon. Military history has always been written by the victors, and the ancients, Romans not the least among them, are known to exaggerate figures for political gain or to smoothen out major defeats which the commonfolk, of course, were not there to see it firsthand.

    In terms of being an icon, Alexander would probably rank the first and the greatest of military icons. He inspired the Diadochi. He inspired Julius Caesar. He inspired Napoleon Bonaparte. He inspired the Western World. So many of those in the list had been inspired by Alexander. And the man himself is not to be underestimated either. By all accounts, in spite of his good fortune of an army revolutionalized by his father's reforms, what he had accomplished in those 10-odd years is truly nothing short of miraculous. Philip had lived long enough to see and use the fruits of his labour. That was how Philip became the Hegemon of the Hellenic League. Alexander inherited it, and improved upon it. Against the Persian Empire he brought to bear the Macedonian Phalanx flanked by the Companion Cavalry, a brainchild of Philip, perhaps, but that was insufficient against the vast armies mustered by the Persians in the major battles.

    He was largely outnumbered, as much as on a 10:1 margin on the most liberal estimates, but most definitely never on equal footing in numbers. In ranged combat like most European civilisations he had the disadvantage, being made up mostly of pike and horse, for the bow would not be given much emphasis until the time of castles and longbows long after Alexander's death. He had to face chariots, for which his answer was a tactic of his own innovation. He faced down elephants through sheer force of courage and determination. In the Battle of Gaugemela his strategy to draw the enemy flank away to expose Darius and thus charge at him and secure a victory was also due to his own ingenuity. Of all the phalanx-using armies of the world he alone had successfully complemented the phalanx with supporting units of cavalry and infantry so as to provide the flexibility – and invincibility – that had eluded other generals that relied too much on the phalanx. There's just so much about Alexander that everyone knew was why he was called the Great for me to explain in detail completely.

    If this Top 10 list is to consider only generals of Western Europe and North America, then exclude him by all means, but please exclude Saladin too (or at least explain why he could make it when Alexander could not). But to simply say he lost by a hair is too much; he deserves a far greater position of honour for being the man to inspire the other men who are in your list. Or, as I believe would be a more suitable soluton, make an exception and include Alexander the Great in the list despite the rebuttals you made. His achievements lie in Asia Minor and beyond, but they figure very strongly in Western History in the most basic sense. Ask a common man with a basic education in world history who he thinks are the greatest generals in Western History, and he will likely mention Alexander, Caesar and Napolean, among others. A man who is spoken of in the same breath as Caesar and Napolean – in higher regard too, in fact – should have reason enough to be given exception and be recognized that his place of immortality among the others – perhaps above the others in some ways – should be retained?

    Reply
  68. Woolydridge at |

    A number of ever excellent points made by my two predecessors, particularly the grand and correct statement of Caesar beforehand. And the author of this, the one just above, who stated the ever obvious which, in my opinion, needed to be stated. I think some of forget the topic of discussion- Top 10 Generals of Western History. We could all put up good arguments for our candidates, but in the end we will never agree on a specific list. I do agree with most points on this list, though.

    Patton, even against the arguments of others, should be on the list, but a little lower perhaps. To find out what Pattons achievements really were, you should look at some of te statistics about his Third Army, or read General Omar Bradleys memoirs.

    Joan of Arc, gone.

    Lee, keep him there.

    Washington might have to be replaced.

    Alexander should definitely not be on the list. However, his father should possibly be near it.

    Some people do ot really see how difficult something like this is. You look at this and go "What about this guy? He never lost a battle." That does not mean anything. What is tactical skill, if not backed up by strategic and logistical skill. Case in point, Napoleons March on Moscow.

    But what a person doing something like this has to do is astounding. You have to weigh up everybody against all factors which contribute to make a good general, not just say "look hes a strategical genius, put him on the list." Some of these comments should be more relevant, realistic, and researched. You have to look behind the scenes, not just on the battlefield, to find out how truly great a general or leader really is.

    Reply
  69. Woolydridge at |

    Yes, Alexander the Great was great, but lets please stop this great overexageration of him.

    Reply
    1. Bruto35 at |

      alexander not using tactics, and that his father, Phillip II ,deserves a place on this list more than him? I havent the time to give you a history leason. Granicus, Issus, Gaugamela and Hydaspes show his tactical genius. His Admin comes in the form of crossing the Gedrosian desert,Reaching India ( i find it realy hard to imagine companion cavalry and Hypaspists marching through indian jungle, yet, they did).

      im afraid it is a very uneducated opinion if Alexander the great is left out of this list.

      Alexander never lost a battle thats right, but his administration of his empire and army outside the battle field is what makes him great not just good.

      Aryan states "nothing in the field of war, was beyond the power of alexander"

      Hammond adds to this by writing "In statesmanship,too,he was inconpareable.No man in history has combined such vast conquests with the power to weld them into a pacified and unified entity"

      By all means id love to hear why you dont believe this man is worthy of a spot on this list, let alone the number one spot.

      32 yr old when he died

      Reply
  70. Woolydridge at |

    If it was not just Western History, then yes, Alexander the Great should be on the list. But the area from the edge of europe to the end of Persian lands can be more precisely described as being part of the Greater Near East, not the West. And you forget that it was Philips army and Philips nation that gave Alexander his victories. What if Alexander had come to power instead of Philip? Without having a stable Macedonia and a subjugated Greece, and an army which was both seasoned and far superior to anything that it had encountered, including the Persians. It was only possible for Alexander to gain his empire with these tools. But, nevertheless, if it was a list of generals from all history, then yes, he should be on this list.

    Reply
  71. Brenton Rehm at |

    If you look closer to the details of Leipzig and Waterloo you can understand more of Napoleon's brilliance. Granted the Russian campaign was a disaster but to think that the record of a general speaks to his brilliance than you have no idea of warfare. For example Scipio Africanus did beat Hannibal and never lost a battle but was not a greater general than Hannibal. As well Napoleon did fall victim to Ney's incompetence (though Ney was an incredibly loyal and brave general) before Waterloo.

    Reply
  72. Mike at |

    The great commanders in military history were those who were able to capitalize on their victories (or come back from catastrophic defeats) and win their cause. It does not matter that a commander such as Napoleon or Robert E. Lee were brilliant because ultimately they were losers and their causes fell apart. The unfortunate reality, driven home by the comments from this site, is that it is increasingly clear that the brilliant in military history are not usually the ultimate victors – their character or philosophical flaws prevent them from attaining their ultimate victory.

    There are many supporters of recognized military geniuses but military talent is not the same thing as a victorious commander deserving to be ranked as one of the top ten of all time. If you are one of the fans of Napoleon or Hannibal, you should be going to a list of great strategists or tacticians, not great commanders. There is a great deal more to military success than strategic and tactical talent – a command of politics, logistics, finance, administration, and technology is also required.

    Further, there does not exist one region of the world that has monopoly on great commanders – something the anti-American commenters should consider before they arrogantly display their gross ignorance on the internet…

    Reply
  73. Aaron L. at |

    Mike said, "The great commanders in military history were those who were able to capitalize on their victories (or come back from catastrophic defeats) and win their cause." This just is not the case. Hannibal could have easily beaten Rome — if the Carthaginians back home had supported him. Because they did not (they feared a too-successful general) he had to face Rome with only the men he brought over the Alps, what troops his brother-in-law Hasbrubel (sp?) could spare from the Spanish colonies, and mercenaries.

    It is only by his nearly unequaled skill as a general that he was able to keep his army in the field for twenty years without a loss and without a mutiny. Hannibal not only belongs in a top ten list of western generals, he belongs in the top 5 of world generals.

    In many ways, Lee falls in the same category. He was beaten by superior numbers and material. Grant was a good commander, and knew how to use his men well. But he was not quite in Lee's class. This is not a knock on Grant. I believe that he would make it on a list of top 50 western generals. But Lee is the only American that I think has a real chance to make it onto this list.

    Napoleon is another great commander who fell not to a truly great general, but to lack of support outside his base and overwhelming numbers and material. Wellington was good, not truly great. Same with most of his opponents – Alexander I of Russia is a possible exception. He got schooled at first by Napoleon, but he learned quickly, and as I said earlier, whipped him from one end of Europe to the other in less than 18 months.

    Alexander the Great is another guy whose cause didn't "last". I think he should be on this list, if only because of his gigantic impact on history. Without him, no one would even remember the ancient state ofs Macedonia outside academia. He is generally hailed by great generals as a great general. IIRC, he was one of Julius Caesar's role models. To say he is not a top ten just because his empire fell apart AFTER he died ls laughable. You cannot blame the man because his generals messed everything up.

    Reply
    1. Mike at |

      Aaron,

      "Hannibal could have easily beaten Rome…" Really? At what point could Hannibal have easily done that? I seriously doubt Hannibal himself would use the word "easy" or "easily" to describe fighting the Romans. The reality is that Cannae, Lake Trebbia, and crossing the Alps was meaningless. None of it defeated the Romans. That's because Hannibal was a loser – he was militarily defeated at Zama. Defeated, beaten, whipped, and conquered. Rome lost battles to Hannibal- some of them the worst tactical defeats on record in military history – but Rome never beaten. Hannibal failed. He failed to translate his tactical brilliance into strategic victory. Perhaps worse for him, his inability to master the politics necessary to marshal enough support and resources from either Carthage or defectors in Italy clearly demonstrate why he will never be a top ten candidate. Scipio Africanus was a far greater strategist and his campaigns in Spain show his political ability to gain support from the indigenous tribes. Hannibal never possessed that kind of vision. If I was to compile a list of the greatest tacticians that ever lived, Hannibal would clearly have a place – perhaps even #1 – but a top ten military commander of all time? Not him!

      Lee was beaten as well and not just by overwhelming numbers. While I have always appreciated his non-micromanaging style, it proved catastrophic when his subordinates were unable to handle the responsibility due to a variety of factor – take your pick, sickness, lack of talent, worn out, jealousy, etc. And that's the point because its no excuse to say that subordinates let down the commanding general. The commanding general is always responsible, regardless of his lieutenants' shortcomings. Lee was not an excellent army commander – he lacked the big picture mindset as well as the ability to grow. Lee lacked the flexibility that Grant possessed to learn new lessons instead of masterly applying outdated Napoleonic methods. Lee chose the wrong strategy to protect Virginia and lost. What exactly did Lee accomplish as militarily valuable as Grant's Vicksburg campaign? Nothing Lee did won the war for his side. Almost every battle Grant fought brought the Union closer to winning the war. Lee's battles wore out his resources with no long term gain. Lee does not merit a place on the top ten military commanders of all time.

      Napoleon, again, if we were talking solely about tactics and strategy, he would be a must but I was talking about the top ten commanders of all time – the winners. Napoleon is a loser – his tyrannical regime collapsed. He was beaten in battle. He also liked to abandon fields that go south – like Spain, Egypt, and Russia. That's an unfortunate character flaw to have when you are responsible for sustaining your cause. Napoleon didn't possess what he needed to posses in order to attain the final victory.

      Alexander the Great achieved a lot with his daddy's army. Technically, you are correct that he was never defeated and his empire remained until after he died. I would argue, however, that Julius Caesar was the better general since he had to operate in a far more sophisticated political environment. Caesar also possessed far greater improvisational talent than Alexander. The one shining talent that Alexander seemed to posses was the ability to consistently deploy what became a heterogeneous force successfully in the field which probably any commander in chief of allied forces can vouch for is a very difficult task.

      Mike

      Reply
      1. saxan66 at |

        well said mike.

        Reply
    2. Tom at |

      Terrible list!

      Grant was a far better general than Lee. Don't take my word on it:

      "We all thought Richmond, protected as it was by our army of veterans, could not be taken. Yet Grant turned his face to our Capital, and never turned it away until we had surrendered. Now I have carefully searched the military records of both ancient and modern history, and have NEVER found Grant's superior as a general. I doubt that his superior can be found in all history" -Robert E. Lee

      Reply
      1. Hunter DeRensis at |

        That was the only problem with Lee. He was too humble, kind, and respectful. He bowed down in gracious defeat, even to a druck. And Mike, Vicksburg! Vicksburg! Vicksburg! Play a new tone, PLEASE! Pemberton sucked, and thats why Grant won. And it doesn't take a genius to lay a siege. He sieged Vicksburg till the inhabitant were eating rats. He besieged Lee at Petersburg, and Lee was still able to get out alive.

        Reply
        1. Mike at |

          Hunter,

          I mention Vicksburg often in these posts for a very important reason for me – not just because it is one of the greatest military campaigns in history ( when I mention Vicksburg, I am talking about the entire campaign not just the siege) but rather due to the campaign providing the best illustration about why Grant is great and Lee was not. Departing from my war winner standard I have written about in these posts, Grant stands toe to toe with any great commander and here's why. If you study the great commanders in history they share certain traits and one of these is to depart from the contemporary military standard of the day.

          Now Lee was the consummate Napoleonic general – he would have done Napoleon proud in 1796 to 1815 but the American Civil War started in 1861 when the technology such as it was made Napoleonic tactics suicidal and the strategy of trying to annihilate your opponent's army was not suitable to the Confederacy's endurance capacity. Lee never improved as the war went on – he stayed the same. Grant underwent change often during the war and while he sometimes learned the wrong lessons (I suspect that Cold Harbor was due to the ease in which the union broke the center of the Confederates on Missionary Ridge and Grant took that ease to mean the rebels were done so he launched the disastrous attack at Cold Harbor thinking the rebel would cave in ) he was always learning.

          Back to Vicksburg – your favorite! Grant's genius decision not to have formal supply lines, what we would call a fat tail but what was a standard operating procedure during the Civil War, and push on attacking the support centers of Vicksburg first and then going after Vicksburg was show the skill and vision of a great general. It would not just have been Pemberton chasing and concentrating after a phantom supply center!

          It's easy to summarily dismiss commander's achievements by saying well, their opponents were idiots. If a real opponent was there it would have been different. In these posts, some have suggested that if Lee, Longstreet, and Stuart had gone west, Grant would never have achieved what he did. just remember, their quirks and drawbacks go west with them. Stuart could have just as easily failed to show up and provide intelligence to Lee about Grant as he did regarding Gettysburg. Longstreet could just as easily dragged his heels as he often did throughout campaigns and Lee would be fighting someone who would love nothing better than to stand toe to toe.

          You tell me who would have won Vicksburg then.

          Reply
        2. Steve at |

          Hunter, you really need to study Vicksburg. Grant not only defeated Pemberton, he DEFEATED GEOGRAPHY ITSELF. Trying to say any idiot can lay a siege shows terrible ignorance of the facts.

          Reply
    3. Edgar at |

      I don’t know why you talk about Alexander 1 of Russia. Others have also. I think that you all are confusing with Alexander the “Great”…. Alexander the Russian wasn’t either a soldier, a strategist or a tactician. He was a Czar, an Emperor a half-baked politician. . His battles were fought by generals like Kutuzov and others. He didn’t command armies in the field, although he might have been there sometimes. However, if he ever was I don’t know which, where or when.

      I believe that one of his brothers grand Duke or Prince “so-and-so” (can’t remember the name) was a top Russian general, which really wasn’t saying much for the times.

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        Edgar you are right on! Alexander the first was NOT a military commander. Napolean said of him: If Alexander was a woman, I would make him my mistress.”

        By the way, Alexander WAS present(with the Emperor of Austria) at AUSTERLITZ (also known as the Battle of the threeEmperors).

        As everyone knows, Bonaparte kicked their butts.

        Reply
    4. Edgar at |

      As for Alexander being Jukius Caesar’s “role model” well……consider carefully, for THOSE times who else would he have as a role model. Julius was going strong about 50 B.C.E. and there were not many great examples that he could even talk about, let alone read about. If it hadn’t been for the fact that they absorbed Greece completely, both in territory, population and history, we might never have heard anything about Alexander, as he was not fighting against Romans.

      On the other hand, everything we hear and know about Hannibal has come to us through Roman historians, and we certainly know that they are normally not charitable to their enemies, which gives us a bit of an idea as to how really great Hannibal must have been.

      Military men today rarely if ever talk about Alexander, they talk about Hannibal, Napoleone Wellington (not Wellington personally so much, but his Peninsular campaign, which is contained in a 2 volume set used by the British Military Academies. I happen to have a set) Wallenstein, Gustavus Adolphus, Lee, Jackson, Von Lettow Vorbeck, (whom NOBODY has mentioned on this page yet) and probably a few others from WW2 of whom I know little or nothing, although I lived right through that whole war period.

      Reply
    5. Steve at |

      Aaron, Alexander the first Czar of Russia never so much as commanded a battalion in battle. He was an observer only. His generals and mostly the Russian winter did his fighting for him.

      sheesh!

      Reply
  74. Martyn at |

    I'm sorry but how does George Patton get on a list of top ten generals of the Western History in front of Wellington, Marlborough, Eugene of Savoy or Suvorov? All of those men accomplished greater victories than Patton.

    Wellington and Suvorov are considered by many to be Napoleon's equals, perhaps not as inventive as him but certainly his equals on the battlefield and on campaign. Marlborough and Eugene are considered the greatest generals of the 1700's. All these men led armies on the continent and defeated their foes time and again and had a greater impact on the conflict they fought in than Patton did.

    Patton has no victory to his name to equal Wellington's Salamaca, Vitoria or Waterloo (I would have added Assaye but that was in India), or Marlborough's Blenhiem, Ramillies or Malplaquet, or Eugene's Chiari or Oudenarde, or Suvorov's Cassano, Trebbia or Novi. Patton's greatest achievement was his turning of the Third Army at the Bulge and its drive north but that hardly equals any of the afore mentioned victories.

    And if we're entirely honest with each other, Patton isn't even the most controversial of WWII generals as both Montgomery and MacArthur raise greater debates about their worth and their actions that Patton does.

    I dont mean to be too aggressive here but Patton doesn't deserve a place on a list of top ten generals of western history. He was, without a doubt, the best tactical American General of WWII and arguably the best of all the allies but his achievements aren't enough to warrent him a place on said list, especially when it is at the expense of men like Arthur Wellesley – 1st Duke of Wellington, John Churcill – 1st Duke of Marlborough, Prince Eugene of Savoy and Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov.

    Reply
  75. Aaron L. at |

    Mike, You and I seem to have differing definitions of 'General.' When I use the term, I am meaning the commander of a given nation's military forces. You seem to mean a 'Great Man,' someone who is both a great military commander and a great political leader. Naturally, there are those who are both — Julius Caesar comes easily to mind, as does Napoleon. But there are great generals who made lousy politicians and great politicians who made terrible generals. My understanding of this list is to consider only the military prowess of the general, and not their political skills.

    ""Hannibal could have easily beaten Rome…" Really? At what point could Hannibal have easily done that? I seriously doubt Hannibal himself would use the word "easy" or "easily" to describe fighting the Romans. The reality is that Cannae, Lake Trebbia, and crossing the Alps was meaningless. None of it defeated the Romans. That's because Hannibal was a loser – he was militarily defeated at Zama."

    From Wikipedia, "Most of the sources available to historians about Hannibal are from Romans. They considered him the greatest enemy Rome had ever faced." In other words, they Romans themselves considered him worse than Pyrrhus, worse than Mithradates. This tells quite a bit about the man. And he could have beaten the Romans. After Cannae, some of the Roman "allies" deserted the Romans — Hieronymus of Syracuse, the city of Caupa (then the second city of the Roman Republic), the Samnites, all revolted from Roman rule. Had the other Italian cities revolted, or if the Roman generals overseas run into difficulty, or had Hannibal managed to catch another Roman army, the war would have been lost, and we would all be speaking a descendant of the Punic language.

    "Lee was beaten as well and not just by overwhelming numbers. . . . Lee lacked the flexibility that Grant possessed to learn new lessons instead of masterly applying outdated Napoleonic methods. Lee chose the wrong strategy to protect Virginia and lost."

    Lee was basically faced with two options: try for a war of attrition or go for a knockout punch. In a war of attrition, he would have to adopt Fabian tactics and hope that the North would loose interest in the war, or that a foreign power would intervene on the CSA's behalf. With the knockout punch, he attack all out, and try to inflict such a decisive defeat as to force the US to acknowledge the CSA. In other words, he picked the least bad option.

    Or do you really think that with Lincoln in charge of the north that it would have lost interest in fighting the war? Do you think that if the CSA had refused battle, that the US wouldn't use it's superior numbers to wear the CS down, to divide it, occupy it, and leave the Rebels with less and less room to maneuver, fewer resources, and less hope in a foreign intervention?

    "Napoleon, again, if we were talking solely about tactics and strategy, he would be a must but I was talking about the top ten commanders of all time – the winners. Napoleon is a loser – his tyrannical regime collapsed."

    I'm glad that you agree that Napoleon is one of the best generals in history. But like Lee, he was beaten more by superior numbers and a pretty good general in his own right (the Russians and Alexander I) than because he was a "bad" general

    "Alexander the Great achieved a lot with his daddy's army. Technically, you are correct that he was never defeated and his empire remained until after he died."

    Funny how you change the criteria when you come to Alexander the Great. It goes from wining, which he certainly did, and having his creation outlast him, which even you say happened, to he did it with "daddy's army" so it doesn't count. What do you have agains him? Nearly every great commander and military historian has listed Alexander in their top 10. Most of them list him as #1 or 2.

    Every general uses an army created before him. No one creates one from scratch. Julian's legions were developed over centuries. Napoleon used the organizations of Loius XIV and the Revolution. Lee's armies were modeled after the US armies he fought. Hannibal's came from his father Hamiclar Baraca. And on and on.

    Reply
    1. Mike at |

      Hello, Aaron:

      Your posting is saturated with phrases like "if only", "could have", "should have", "one more" – if you have to put "if only" with your great commander(s) than they do not warrant a place among the top ten list of great commanders of all time. Great commanders do not need "if only" asociated with them. That is why Hannibal, Napoleon, and Lee should never be on the top ten list of greatest commanders of all time. You don't have to say "if only" with Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Ulysses S. Grant, etc. because they won their wars.

      The strongest disagreement I have with your posting is the idea that politics do not comprise a key element in considering great military commanders. Politics is inseperable from miltiiary matters on a strategic and grand scale. You cannot win your wars or causes without mastering the politics involved. Hannibal failed to politically exploit his victories – especially when entire regions came over to him – and lost. In fact, perhaps no greater illustration is available as to the crucial improtance of poiltics than Hannibal's political failure. Here were some of the greatest tactical victories in military history which in the end counted for absolutely nothing since it could not bring about victory. Miltiary success without political explotiation is just so many dead.

      Hannibal, Napoleon, and Lee were all beaten in the field. Napoleon was militarily whipped by the Coalition, exiled, came back, and was militarily beaten again. Naploleon has very few defeats to his record, but notice his lack of resiliency and how only a few defeats brings him down?

      As a suggestion to you, I would advise quoting a different source other than Wikipedia to back up your arguments. Refering to Wikipedia is like saying you saw something on TV.

      As to Alexander, you may have a point – technically I cannot really exclude him from a list of top ten mitliary commanders. A study of his campaign(s) does show a slide once he reaches India. I don't think it was an accident or the luck fo the draw he died in his last campaign, he seemed to have deteriorated by then. But that's an "if", right?

      Reply
  76. Brenton at |

    Mike, I think you forget the details of the Sixth and Seventh Coalition. Napoleon defeated numerous Allied armies with tremendous emphasis during the war of the Sixth Coalition and was eventually forced back to France because the odds were heavily in favor of the Allies even with Napoleon's brilliance. Napoleon lost at Leipzig because the Allies had a 2 to 1 advantage on Napoleon. And during the 100 Days Napoleon was facing a Coalition that had a million men in the field while Napoleon was only able to muster 300,000 for a campaign. Napoleon had to win at Waterloo against a superior army to make a statement to the coalition and stand a chance against in the war so I don't know how Napoleon's abdication 4 days later points to a lack of resilience. I understand your points and would otherwise agree with them if I did not think Napoleons incredible tactical brilliance against incredible odds and remarkable success in numerous battles warrant his spot as number 1.

    Reply
    1. Mike at |

      Brenton,

      I think your point about Napoleon and the odds underscores one of the points I was trying to make regarding great commanders of all time – all the spectacular victories in the world don't count for anything if you lose everything in the end. I'm uncertain as to the merit of listing being outnumbered as a valid reason for ultimate defeat since there are numerous miltiary examples of generals being outnumbered and winning their causes, not just battles. In fact, I'd say the best legacy of Napoleon was his administration and civil/legal reforms some of which have lasted to the present day; whereas a gread deal of his military tactics were already outdated by the American Civil War.

      You probably are correct that Napoleon belongs on a top 10 greatest generals of western history list like the original one at the start of this web page, however, a few months back I suggested to the the site a different criteria for judging great commanders in history and listed my top ten. I assume that those who send comments regarding what I write on this site are speaking to that list rather than a purely strategy/tactics list.

      Mike

      Reply
      1. Brenton Rehm at |

        I mean I understand that ultimately he lost, but I don't know how you can really include any great general at number one if the spot were to be concluded only by ultimate and final victory. In the end even Alexander and Genghis Khan never realized their ambitions. Every truly great general was bested in some way either by their own mortality or political circumstances. I don't really think anyone on this list concluded their life the victor other than Saladin. Every final victory is fleeting for people like Napoleon and Genghis Khan and Alexander and Caesar so they continue on a path of conquest. I think the list of greatest generals has to be based off of reasons purely tactical because I don't see any other way to judge a general.

        Reply
        1. Mike at |

          Actually, George Washington, U.S. Grant, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, the Maccabees, and Admiral Togo all won their campaigns and realized their strategic victories. That's just off the top of my head and mostly Western centric. I'm sure there are other examples worldwide.

          Reply
          1. Brenton Rehm at |

            Julius Caesar had yet to campaign against the Parthians, but I'm talking about people like Caesar and Khan and Alexander and Napoleon who set out to conquer and never were able to stop because they were so egocentric. I was just saying that they were bound to have failures because they would've continued on as long as possible. I understand US Grant and George Washington and others achieved an overall strategic victory but I was not referring to those individuals.

            Reply
          2. sergey at |

            He was going to but his life was cut short. He was actually heading to fight Parthians just few days after he was murdered. His plan was to fight Parthians and then come back via Dacia.

            Reply
          3. sergey at |

            I would like also to add that this was probably one of the very few moments when Romans could truly conquer Parthia. Later, after Augustus military reforms Roman army became limited in terms of ability to rise more legions. The number of legions through Principat history was around 30 + same numbers of auxilia.
            Hence Rome always was limited in its ability to conquer Parthia and concentrate enough forces to do so permanently.
            During Caesar times legions were raised as necessity required.

            Reply
  77. Kevinn at |

    You forgot Subotai, he was not a king or emperor, but was a great strategist, he probably would have taken the italians, holy roman empire and french by storm!

    and he was 60 ish at the time he defeated hungary and poland!

    Reply
  78. angrypinkmenace at |

    Coming in very late but, after reading the long line of reasons (and some un-reasoning) I'm glad I am.

    Any list of "Top 10 Generals" cannot be accurate because the nature of warfare radically changes every so often. The most blatant was the beginnings of industrialization. Before then you have men like Sun Tzu, Alexander and Hannibal. After that you have Gustavus, Napoleon. Then you have the next radical improvement of mechanization, giving rise to men like Rommel, Montgomery, and Patton. Montgomery would have reeked trying to lead a Mongol Horde, and Alexander would have been easy meat in the trenches of World War One.

    While some might say "war is made by men, not machines," then I point out that each of these three phases were accompanied by radical shifts in government involvement in warfare. It would be unthinkable for Alexander to stay home while his army marched into India, but it would be equally unthinkable for Lincoln to personally lead the charge at Fredricksburg. The later in time you go, the less an able leader is a "Leader of Men" and more of a "Leader of Somebody Else's Men On Loan."

    Does America have any Great Generals? Within certain time-line contexts, yes. The U.S. missed out on all of the ancient and most of the Industrial periods. The fact that America could have produced any generals that could be seriously considered for the top ten in such a short time is rather impressive. Top ten, maybe not. Top twenty five, most certainly.

    With this in mind, I suggest a rather simple point: Under the conditions set by the original poster, there is no general in any nation who can claim a place in the top ten after 1900 ad. Possible 1800 as well. After this time, every general is the political plaything of governments, always had to keep one eye on the newspaper reports from his capitol city, and had to judge every battle (win or lose) by what spin his government backers could make out of it. Battles were fought and won by his subordinates, and wars were won by the production rates of his home nation. Generals had become little more than coordinators. Head Coach rather than Team Captain.

    But I also submit a rather shocking thought that several people may have missed. No general, regardless of how many battles he's won, can truly be considered a Great General until he has lost a major battle. Until he's proven his ability to pull his fat out of the fire and save his army from destruction, he's nothing more than another Golden Boy that has yet to show his true mettle. And if he's skilled enough (and lucky enough) to turn away from certain doom and still achieve a victory, then you've got the makings of a Great General. Alexander did this on occasion, as did Caesar and Adolphus and Lee.

    Let's assume…

    Yob the Neanderthal raised the largest army the world had ever seen (about fifty men), and lead them in subjugating all the neighboring great tribes. He united under his banner (a goat skin on a pole) the entire Known World, all eight hundred square miles of it. His victories were achieved through intelligence (having mastered three-syllable words), charisma (Yob had most of his teeth) and the technological innovation of throwing small semi-rounded river stones that flew farther and more accurately than spears and carried in greater numbers (the idea behind the modern assault rifle). Yob is also known for developing the "Yob Sack", the first known example of a portable water supply. Yob retired from his military career and spent the rest of his life studying the mating habits of beetles until he died at the very advanced age of thirty five.

    Is Yob a Great General or not? Technological innovation (rocks and canteens), tactical effectiveness (he won), strategic effectiveness (the other guys stayed beaten), and socio-cultural achievement (world's first multi-national empire). Would Yob make the list?

    Although it pains me as a native Texan to say it, I highly advise those of you who are truly serious students of military history to look at the career of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. He's another general who had operated in a limited area and came to a rather unfortunate end-of-career, but otherwise fits all the criteria laid out here.

    Oh yeah, and did America produce any great generals regardless of time-line or condition?

    Chennault, Chennault, Chennault.

    Very prejudicial not to include the sky-generals in this discussion. And he's not just American, he's a By-God-Texan too.

    Frankly, if we want to have a real list of great war-leaders, we really have to stop looking at contemporary (post-1900) generals and focus more on the colonels and majors. That's where modern military brilliance is really found.

    Reply
    1. Brenton Rehm at |

      Yea, that's a really good point but I'd also have to think that a man like Napoleon or Alexander or Hannibal would just have easily attained prominence in other generations before or after their time. I still think war is made by men, not machines, but other than that I must say that is some impeccable logic that makes me reflect more on the subject and whether a proper list can truly be arranged.

      Reply
      1. Mike Chaly at |

        I agree with Mr. Rehm – men wage war and not machines. Technology can play a crucial role in warfare (Martin Van Crevald and Max Boot wrote excellent works on that very subject) but all the greatest technology in the world is useless without the men employing it (and not as a can opener).

        Take the Battle of France in World War II: The French possessed better tanks and more of them than the Germans but the latter adopted a new method for leveraging their tanks. In this case, the Germans successfully adapted their organizational philosophy in order to enable a collaboration though integrating radio communications with air power, tanks, and infantry. The irony is that during the prewar years the French and the English were the first to develop the ideas that would eventually become known as Blitzkrieg but they lacked the organizational flexibility to implement them. The new ideas could not find a receptive, comprehending audience among the Allies' reactive, conservative leadership who were too focused on the Maginot line to consider departing from their established, outdated dogma.

        The point is that technology is only as good as the men/organizations who use it.

        Reply
  79. Betsy at |

    As I'm an utter and complete amateur at military history I'm not really qualified to make my own list or bring up generals I think you ought to have included or left out. I'm just here to say that I've really enjoyed reading all the comments here. very interesting stuff.

    Reply
  80. Jalal at |

    Good list but it's completly unbalance.For instance,how do assign patton on top of the list while he was the dumpest if not the noobest General in ww2,Von Manstein is better,Rommel,Monty as well,anybody could defeat patton in a 1on1 fair fight,he had no sufficent skills in the battlefield,he just ultilized the americans mass productions, and superior numbers to defeat the Axis.(there is no skill in defeating your enemies at such ways).And about Manstein why he aint mentioned on the list.He saved the entire west wing after the German6th army was surrounded and later annihlilated,able to push the soviet again at kharkov,and achieve some victories in 1943,regardless to hitler ignoring policy to Manstein.Dont Forget about guderian please for god sake,there is no German nor American or anybody else in the world who commander an armour division that dont read about the innovation of Heinz Guderian the brilliant of this age.People please FFS.Stop over rating Zhukov,I never saw a dump General who thraw his own men into a mine fields then passes his tank,this is the most idiot General the world have ever seen,regardless to the 10los to 1 German loss inww2,fought the Germans with ww1 tactics.nothing is special about this donkey.

    Reply
    1. Steve at |

      Guderian was a student of the British military genius Liddell Hart. It was from Hart that the Germans got the idea of the panzer division and was the inspiration for Guderions book, Acktung Panzer!

      If only the British had paid attention to one of their own, the war might have been shorter.

      Reply
      1. Austin at |

        As far as I can recall, and I haven’t heard mention of Liddell-Hart’s name for many many years, he only rose to a captain’s rank, and he made his reputation between the Wars with his books, the best known of which was a good training treatise. (He was also an innovator in tank warfare). He was a military historian and analyst. I believe his first name was Basil. I often used to come across his books and have a few somewhere. I don’t believe that he was regarded as a military genius, rather, competent and analytical.

        Reply
        1. Steve at |

          I think Guderian considered Hart a genius as he said Hart’s book inspired his own book and tactics. I admit that my use of the term genius is purely subjective but since so many seem to think Guderian was a genius, I simply thought the term might apply to his “teacher” so to speak.

          Reply
          1. Martyn at |

            Heinz Guderian wasn’t a student of Basil Liddell Hart. They were acquaintences after the war and Guderian added Hart’s name alongside J.F.C. Fuller’s in his books as an influence only after Hart specifically asked him to do it. Guderian had never mentioned Hart’s theories as an influence before that. There is evidence that Guderian read Fuller’s theories and was influenced by them but no evidence that he read the theories of Hart.

            Now, this is not a slight against Liddell Hart’s abilities as a theorist of strategist because he was, in many way, brilliant and a man ahead of his time, but the idea that he was the conceptual creator of Blitzkrieg is largely a myth that he himself concoted in the immediate post-war era.

            In fact, the man Guderian went out of his way, and at his own expense, to keep up-to-date with on tank theories was the legendary Percy Hobart – the first perminant commander of a Tank Brigade in the World and the leading force in developing Armoured warfare within the British military, and where practical deployment of tank warfare was concerned. If Britain should mourn the treatment of any of their tank theorist in the inter-war year then it is in how much they diregarded and mocked Hobarts efforts and how, in 1940, Archibald Wavell forced him into retirement, a retirement which he didn’t take lying down as soon enlisted in the Home Guard and was returned to active duty a year or so later when Liddell Hart wrote an article complaining about Britain’s “wasted brains” and Hobart’s plight.

            Reply
            1. Steve at |

              Great insight Martyn. Thanks!

  81. Fabio at |

    The numbers in Alexander's campaign may be hard to measure, but by all acounts read the Persians could bring to bare a hundred thousand or so a battle and Alexander's force from, what we can estimate, numbered in the 40,000s.

    To include Hannibal but not Alexander is like slapping military history itself in it's face, as Hannibal himself named Alexander as one of the greatest if not the greatest general of all time up until that point of course.

    Besides, Hannibal's battlefield superiority is just as muddled, who's to say Scipio, the victor, wouldn't play up Hannibal to secure his place in legend.

    As I'm sure you're aware, the most detailed account of Hannibal's campaign comes from Polybius who was friend and counselor to Scipio.

    Playing nice with a wealthy and powerful family has it's perks.

    Reply
    1. taudarian at |

      “The numbers in Alexander’s campaign may be hard to measure, but by all acounts read the Persians could bring to bare a hundred thousand or so a battle and Alexander’s force from, what we can estimate, numbered in the 40,000s.”

      Hans Delbruck’s “Warfare in Antiquity” has a section on numerical estimates of ancient battles. He points out that Persia was feudal and agrarian and the one thing we can concretely say about the armies of feudal and agrarian lands is that they are always *small*. There’s a knightly elite and whatever peasant levies can be scraped together.

      Delbruck calculates that Alexander was probably only ever outnumbered at Gaugamela and then not by much and that for Issus et al he likely had a small numerical advantage and a massive advantage in troop quality and organisation.

      “As I’m sure you’re aware, the most detailed account of Hannibal’s campaign comes from Polybius who was friend and counselor to Scipio”

      Oh dear – you have the wrong Scipio. Scipio the conqueror of Hannibal was dead by then.

      Reply
  82. hercules at |

    ALEXANDER AT THE AGE OF 22 (NAPOLEON/CAESAR/HUN AND OTHERS HAVE BEEN BABIES AT THIS AGE ) HAD ALREADY WON SEVERAL IMPORTANT BATTLES,SUFFERING VERY FEW LOSSES AGAINST MASSIVE OPPONENT ARMIES -HE NEVER LOST A BATTLE-HIS TACTICS IN THE BATTLEFIELD HAVE BEEN EXTRAORDINARY AND CREATED ONE OF THE GREATEST EMPIRES OF THAT TIME—ITS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS NOT TO MENTION HIM ON THE ABOVE LIST

    Reply
    1. angrypinkmenace at |

      It would be ridiculous… if this was the Top Ten Generals in "Eastern" History. He's no more a Western general than Sun Tzu was.

      Reply
      1. f at |

        BS

        Alexander was a Macedonian, a Greek, considered the foundation "Western" civilization. Sun Tzu was eastern.

        As for the list. Amen, it is pathetic.

        Alexander, missing … Alexander. He is the paradigm.

        Napoleon, Hannibal, Caesar, of course, all merited. Where is Scipio?

        If you are going to pick Attila (a bad choice) why did one not pick Gheghis Khan and his nearly as great subordinate Subotai.

        What of Marlborough (you picked (Fredrick right)?

        Joan D'Arc … at least pick Charlemagne!

        RE Lee, what of Grant, Jackson, Thomas, Sherman? Unsupportable choice.

        Heavens Marshal Davout Napoleon's able subordinate blows all but three off your list.

        If you are going to put Patton, then why not Zukov or Montgomery or Rommell or Kesselring or Guderian. You get the point, none belong on the list. If you want WWII, you got to go with Manstein or maybe the unassuming Bradley.

        I can go on. This is a BAD list.

        Reply
        1. Daniel at |

          Hey, Saladin wasnt too bad. He was also very respectful to his adversaries and respected all religions. He COULD have been a self loving tyrant and gone further with his campaigns. But ofcourse, the list is about generals, not gentlemen. Non the less, I’m pretty sure Napoleon’s able subordinate would have a harder time blowing him off the list.

          Reply
          1. Steve at |

            Having Saladin on ANY list is a joke. All he had to do was beat the crusaders who he had out numbered 100 to one. For the most part, except for Richard the Lion Heart, the crusaders had no brains either. You could sit back and let those clowns beat themselves.

            Reply
  83. tim at |

    ja en waar staan ghengis khan& Alexander III????

    Reply
  84. John B. at |

    Your list could double as the 10 most overrated generals in history. But anyway… How exactly are Attila the Hun and Saladin considered Western? Patton is your only general from WWII? Joan of Arc over Edward III or Henry V? Robert E. Lee had a greater impact on Western history than Alexander the Great? Are you kidding? No Gustavis Aldophus? No Marlborough? Do you know ANYTHING about military history? Here's what your list should have said, IMHO:

    1. Alexander the Great

    2. Scipio Africanus

    3. Napoleon

    4. Gustavus Aldophus

    5. Hannibal Barca

    6. Fredrick the Great

    7. Marlborough

    8. Helmut von Moltke the Elder

    9. Heinz Guderian

    10. Vauban

    Honorable mention: Epaminondas, Julius Caesar, Belisarius, Edward I, Duke of Parma, Maurice of Nassau, Turenne, Wellington, Winfield Scott, U.S. Grant, George Marshall

    Reply
    1. RM at |

      I like your list as opposed to the original sponsored on this site. I would include in the top 10 some other ancient names(or honorable mention, anyway), including Pyrrhus of Epirus, Mithridates the Great, Pompey the Great, and Xenophon. I would also add that there have been no great generals in the last 50-60 years. The last decent general was Matt Ridgeway who led the UN forces in Korea. I am glad nobody has recently mentioned McCarthur. He was overrated, as well.

      Reply
  85. liam at |

    why isn't Erwin Rommel up there he was an awsome general and my personal favourite next to shaka zulu and william wallace

    Reply
    1. Tanya Bennett at |

      He made spot #2 on Top 10 True Stories That Oughta Be Movies http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-true-stories-movies… (written by a different author).

      Reply
  86. mike at |

    terrible list…where is Alexander the great? the best of all?? shows that whoever created this list doesnt know history…

    Reply
  87. Julian at |

    Brilliant list, very controversial except for the top-Napoleon deserves it.

    Obviously it is disliked because you left out the fabled Alexander the Great, but if you look deeper you find that he wasn't necessarily that "great," he was a conqueror, not an innovator. On my list he would have been second or third. Napoleon is the greatest general of all time, nobody can deny that.

    Reply
    1. mike at |

      Napoleon lost in Baterlo Alexander didnt lose … he won many times with less soldiers…

      Reply
      1. Tej at |

        Alexander the great did not lose? That’s what everybody here thinks.. He came to India (much bigger than today) and was surprised to see how advanced their weaponry was. He did not even try to conquer India. Why do you think it abruptly end his march towards east and he returned back only to die of illness?

        Not saying he isn’t number one or number five though.This list is BS.. the author has read two books american history and western civilization.. Civilization started from Africa.. Even if there was a top 100 list I doubt if a single american would make that list.. unless we’re talking about some native american general some 1500 years ago,..

        Reply
        1. Steve at |

          Tej,

          Alexander turned back because his army wanted to go home after being away from home for ten years NOT because they were worried about being able to beat the Indians.

          Civilization did NOT start in Africa (some people say it hasn’t yet arrived there to this day) – this is an evolutionist fairy tale that has a lot of opinion but very little documentation.

          Lastly, ANY of the prominent generals in American history could have thrashed ANY commander from India or the Arab world.

          Reply
    2. Rob at |

      Not sure I agree with your assessment, Julian. Napoleon should be in top 10, but not in the top spot, and he was certainly no more of an innovator than Caesar, Hannibal, or Scipio.

      Napoleon was certainly himself a conqueror, like Alexander, but he was not an negotiator, or diplomat.

      Reply
    3. Spike at |

      Wellington, when asked who was the greatest general of the day, answered: â??In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon.â??

      Reply
  88. mike at |

    guys better know that Alexander the great didn't want to negotiate he wanted to take revenge for what happened in Greece due to the invasion of Kserksis, the persian emperor…have you heard about 300? i am talking about this invasion. So he wanted to burn on the ground the persian empire simply no negotiations …a very famous answer of him after the question of the persian emperor if he wants to rule together the persian empire was that: asia can't have 2 kings and he continued so as to destroy once and for all the persian empire…he must be definitely at the top 3 and he isn't even at the top 10…remember that he lost no battle fighting huge forces of the persian empire. one example is the battle of Gaugamila go to wikipedia or other sources to find out the numbers to this battle…

    Reply
  89. Dillon at |

    The fact that Joan of Arc is on this list and Alexander the Great is not discredits this entire list.

    Reply
  90. Albert at |

    In the scope of world history,Washington and Lee have no business whatsoever being on this list.

    To put them over Ghengis,Alexander,Frederick II and SO MANY others is not only insulting but makes your viewers dumber by reading it.

    YOU MUST BE JOKING!

    Reply
  91. Albert at |

    http://www.balkanium.com/forum/archive/index.php/

    This is a more thought out list of great generals.

    What i ridiculous list….Washington the conquerer! lol

    Reply
  92. Roger at |

    I don’t think Washington should be top 10, but he was a great General. He took the little he had in a very bad situation and made the most of it. Most generals spoiled with a well trained and well supplied army would have fallen to pieces trying to keep an army in being, when there was little to entice the soldiers to stay, to starve, to freeze…

    You cannot judge every general by the same standard. You have to look at their era, their situation, etc.

    Some on here argue that winning every battle is important. Do the very best athletes win every single game? If the second best general the world has ever seen had only gone up against the very best general the world has ever seen, then he’d have lost battles, but still been NUMBER 2 in all history. On the other hand, a mediocre general could be blessed with opponents who are far worse and win most all his battles, but he’s still only mediocre.

    Germany of World War 2 had a massive number of very good, and some very brilliant generals, but Hitler buried them under too many fronts, where everything was stretched too thin- like Rommel in North Africa, being able to accomplish miracles with an inferior force, until supplies would run out. No matter how good a general is, if he isn’t being given enough ammo, fuel, etc., there’s a point where no amount of genius is going to keep things going.

    But, that said, you can still see a great general reduce the effects of disaster- it takes more skill to take a lost cause and keep it from collapsing, than to have a far superior force and win.

    In the end, it is very hard to come up with a top 10, even when limited to Western generals, as there are dozens if not hundreds that have a shot in that position, and it’s very difficult to measure more modern generals with the more ancient ones.

    Though, I’d have to say Alexander the Great seemed to be the one that many, including many of histories great generals themselves feel should be number one. He was a Westerner, even if his battles took him farther and farther to the East. Despite his father leaving him with a first class army, it was still up to him to use it to advantage and he happened to be a great strategist, a great tactician and a great warrior- running the wars, the battles and wielding the sword. And he accomplished so much at an early age and in a very short time.

    The only one on the list I am truly horrified by is Joan of Arc. Some other can certainly be questioned, but they are all great generals- whether top 10 or perhaps only in the top 100. But she was not a general. She accomplished much as a figurehead, a rallying point, but she was not a strategist, not a tactician and not a warrior. I think she only gets place in the ranks of generals to please the politically correct crowd, to have a woman on a list. But I’d think an Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great or even a Margaret Thatcher would be more apt than Joan.

    Reply
  93. Epic at |

    What about Sun Tzu? the guy who inspired half the guys on these lists?

    Reply
  94. sergey at |

    "In our modernized, mechanized age of warfare, where decisions are made by civilians, officers far from any line of combat, congressional committees, and unknown military strategists in committee, an army is a faceless thing. For the last six decades, the idea of massed armies doing battle has been considered a curiosity of the past, and warfare is often viewed more as an endemic state of some sort rather than a series of events.

    Once, however, responsibility and consequence were not so diffused. Brilliant strategic, tactical, and logistical minds had immediate and total control of large armies, and those armies became victorious or defeated because of one man’s ability. In our attempt to survey the great generals of history, we must limit ourselves, or at least agree to common terms. For the purposes of this list, those eligible for inclusion must have been field commanders, with undeniable autonomy in their battles; no armchair generals or errand boys here"

    Despite disagreeing to the top 10 list I really liked the introduction part.

    Here lies the root of practically all problems that fail to be addressed, resolve and finally put to sleep. The lack of leadership on all levels and hijacking of leadership by the cohort of managers.

    I do not mean only military affairs but practically everything. When someone starts speaking that war is unwinable and other problems cannot be resolved but should be managed instead I see that we immediately have a huge problem with current civilization direction. Social issues fail to be addressed, climate change fails to be addressed, military issues cannot be resolved instead more talk and more waste of time and blood while letting conflicts which should have been put to the end by determined swift and ruthless measures simmer for decades costing more in terms of blood and resources that it would have happened under determined talented leadership.

    I think this obsession with managing everything is the root of all problems afflicting our civilization.

    Managing generally speaking is about keeping it safe and stable without resolving anything. It is not about making bold decisions and showing leadership.

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  95. vic at |

    Sergey, you really show your ignorance when it comes to the US in WWII, you even show ignorance when it comes to, who I am assuming are your people, the Russians role in the same war. You should read up on that. Maybe Patton wasn't that great of a General but to trivialize what the US did in that war, when they were the entire reason the Allies WON the war is ridiculous. You talk about how the Russians were better fighters, more disciplined and faced harder challenges but I don't ever recall hearing about Russians fighting in the South Pacific with the US Marines, I don't recall hearing anything about the Russians jumping into Normandy with the 101st Airborne during D-Day or with the 506th Infantry Brigade when they took on multiple German armored Divisions. Come to think of it, I never hear anything about the Russians in the war at all, EXCEPT for the fact that 20 MILLION of them died. Between the Revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the civil war, WWI, WWII, Korea Viet Nam and Iraq and Afghanistan the US hasn't lost that many. So I'm guessing that whatever "tactics" the Russians were using against Germany were all a waste of time.
    I also find it funny that you bash Americans for being "cocky" and "over confident". Yeah, that's orginal, join the rest of the world in the same insults. The fact is your jealous of all we have accomplished. You couldn't keep your government or economy from collapsing in on themselves and when they sent their so called "army" into Afghanistan, they got their asses handed to them. I can guarantee that if the US went in there now with the same committment that Russia did, it would be over in 6 months. I think it's pretty obvious that if anyone has a bloated ego, a cocky view of themselves, it's the Russians. Why else would they bother to write whatever the hell they wanted in their history books? So that they could brainwash their own people into believing how great they thought they were. Russia is no more than a giant 3rd world country and that is all they will ever be.

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    1. sergey at |

      From the moment the first Wehrmacht tank crossed the Soviet border in 1941 until the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43, German victory in World War II seemed inevitable. The fighting on the Eastern Front took place on a scale never seen before or since, a colossal undertaking that consumed three-quarters of all combat forces in Europe, and cost the lives of over twenty-five million Soviet citizens.[1] The war could not have been won without the Soviet front, and even after the Red Army had successfully defended Moscow and Stalingrad, while holding out in besieged Leningrad, victory was far from certain.

      The summer offensive of 1943, culminating in the Battle of Kursk—the largest tank battle ever fought by man—finally pushed the Germans onto the defensive. It was not until Operation Bagration, the 1944 summer offensive, that the German ability to conduct offensive operations was curtailed once and for all.

      Reply
  96. Tim gallagher at |

    Scipio Africanus beat Hannibal and should be number one on the list

    Reply
  97. dt at |

    Comparing WWII USSR and American forces is absurd. In no way could the Russians project power across the globe like the Americans of the period. Its an apples to oranges comparison. The Russian military seperated from there land mass wouldn't be nearly the fighting force the Americans were.

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    1. sergey at |

      Soviet army did not need project power capability because it was fighting close to Soviet borders.
      It is US army needs to project power capability because of US habit to stick nose where it doe snot belong.
      Otherwise it would fight Mexico, Panama and other worthy opponents to creat more US generals for our Top 10 list ;)

      Reply
      1. Steve at |

        But Russia NEVER sticks it’s nose where it does not belong right? Ask the Latvians, the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Finns, the Poles, the Czechs (remember 1967), the Bugarians, the Hungarians (remember 1956?) the Romanians, the Albanians….

        You get the picture.

        Reply
  98. Tom at |

    Still not sure why Washington and Lee are in the top 10
    Washington had no incredible military talents but rather good leadership abilities and a good understanding of the overall situation.
    Lee is an incredibly overated general. Although he had talent, his record is very decieving. At the time of the Civil War, the armies were fighting using 18th century tactics, but 19th century weapons. in this situation, the odds were incredibly stacked in favor of the defender (Ever wonder why Gettysburg was the most devastating defeat Lee suffered? It was because he was in the rare situation of attacking.)

    Also, there is no way in hell that Joan of Arc is anywhere near the top 10 (maybe top 50). Joan of Arc was a mainly religious figure with very little military ability.

    I would suggest in these people's stead: Wellington, Belisarius and Scipio Africanus
    Sorry, but Washington and Lee are definitely not the best samples of American military talent. General Winfield Scott would have been a much better choice

    Reply
  99. Tom at |

    Also put Alexander the Great
    I can't believe I forgot him

    Reply

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