Top 10 Generals of Western History


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

10. Attila the Hun


Attila the Hun

Leader of the Hunnish empire that stretched from the borders of modern day France to the steppes of Russia, this thorn in the side of both Roman and Byzantine empires assembled a massive force of all the tribes and nations traditionally viewed as provincial savages – Huns, Goths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and many more, and nearly conquered mainland Europe. In the template of other “barbarian” conquerors to come after him, like Genghis Khan, he showed the lie of assumed Western superiority; and whenever your enemies names you “the Scourge of God”, you can assume you’ve proved yourself a respected threat.

9. Frederick the Great


Frederick the Great

Frederick II of Prussia was a student of modern warfare, and later its guiding voice in the late 18th century. He modernized the army of his disjointed pseudo-German kingdom, and fought continuous wars against Austria, the dominating power of the Holy Roman Empire at the time. Known for both his books and treatises on warfare, as well as leading troops into battle personally (he had six horses shot from under him), Frederick was a force to be reckoned with

8. George S. Patton

The most controversial figure of the Allied forces in WWII, Patton himself may have believed himself to be reincarnated from more ancient warriors, carrying their bravery and experience into his battles. A promising early career helping Pershing hunt Pancho Villa jumpstarted Patton into the armored corps, where he became a mentor to Eisenhower (later promoted over his head). In WWII, he gladly used the Germans’ blitzkrieg against them, using the maneuverability of American armored units to out maneuver German lines and gaining large amounts of ground over short periods of time. His infamous incidents, including troops under his command executing more than one massacre, and Patton’s slapping of a supposedly cowardly soldier in a field hospital, contributed to his decline, but more than anyone else, he led the Allies to victory in Europe.

Notable contemporaries: Benard Montgomery, British general and competitior; Erwin Rommel, Nazi tank commander and adversary

7. Joan of Arc


Joan of Arc

The maid of Orleans is the only commander on this list to have had to share command in even her finest moments of victory, but as she is also the only woman, one feels an exception is in order. A French peasant girl who claimed visions from God, she traveled to Charles II, the French king losing the war to the English. Though she was hampered by skepticism at first, Joan influenced several important French victories, leading charges personally, and inspiring French troops to renewed fervor. Tried and executed by an English court for witchcraft, she was later exonerated, beatified, and made the patron saint of France

6. Julius Caesar

The famed consul of Rome was perhaps the ablest of the late Republic’s military leaders, vying with his co-consul, Pompey for glory in subjugating territory to Rome’s expansionist will. His campaign against the Gauls is still required reading in many military academies, and his defeat of Pompey nearly granted him the kingship of firmly republican Rome. The political and personal treachery that ended his life and provided the opportunity for his nephew, Octavian, to become emperor, is legendary, but Caesar’s successes were more reliant on the loyalty and victory of his armies than political maneuvering.

Notable contemporaries: Pompey the Great (adversary), Marc Antony (protégé)

5. George Washington

George Washington

Washington was the pivotal, and probably most successful, leader of the American revolutionary forces vying for independence from the British Empire. Though ably assisted by several subordinates (including Benedict Arnold, whose military acumen has been overshadowed by his famous betrayal), Washington proved the uniting force of the Continental Army, leading it to victory at Trenton and Yorktown, and holding the piecemeal forces together in the hard winter at Valley Forge. Being elected President twice without serious opposition seemed the least Americans could do for their war leader

4. Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

Lee, perhaps the most successful commander in history against numerically and materially superior forces, was the gentle genius in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia and most Confederate forces during the Civil War. He developed a reputation of near omniscience among both enemies and allies, and soundly thrashed Union forces soundly on numerous occasions. His losses, few as they were, were generally more devastating to his opponents than himself, and Ulysses S. Grant, the only general to successfully corner Lee, was forced to adopt a strategy of attrition, rather than any attempt to outfight Lee.

3. Salah ad Din

Salah ad Din

Saladin, as he is known in our language, was the most outstanding leader of the Crusades, hampering the fledgling crusader states and European invasions with equal aplomb. Known for his calm and rationality, his lack of fanaticism, and his respect for his opponents, he conquered Syria, Egypt, and most of modern day Israel steadily and without great difficulty. He was enormously respected by nearly all of his rivals, and maintained an epistolary friendship with Richard the Lionheart, sending him gifts, horses, and his own physician.

2. Hannibal Barca


Hannibal Barca

The most feared opponent Rome ever faced, this Carthaginian general was raised to the task of defeating the Romans from early childhood by his father, Hasdrubal. Hannibal abandoned previous Carthaginian tactics of passive naval superiority, and marched a force on elephants over the Italian Alps. Defeating the Romans at nearly every battle he fought, he made a Roman general, Quintus Fabius Maximus, famous merely for being able to delay Hannibal’s advance without enormous loss of life (Fabius was granted the title “Cunctator”, or delayer, by the Roman senate).At Cannae, Hannibal’s forces, cobbled together and suffering from losses, routed an enormous Roman army, killing or capturing upwards of fifty thousand enemies. Eventually defeated by Scipio Africanus and deserted by his government, he remained a scourge the Romans invoked to justify razing Carthage.

1. Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

Born a Corsican, Napoleon became by far the most able general of the modern age, rising from obscurity during the Revolution to Consul and Emperor of the French Empire which spanned from Madrid to Moscow and from Oslo to Cairo. Originally an artilleryman, he led campaigns that conquered the Italian States, Austria, Egypt, Prussia, Spain, the Netherlands, Swedish Pomerania, parts of the Caribbean, and large swathes of Russia. Leading brilliant campaigns, using concentrated force in lightning strikes on the field, developing independent and complete army corps (a system still modeled today), installing puppet rulers, conscripting troops from each nation he subdued, and inspiring a host of marshals who were all able tacticians themselves (Murat, Massena, Bernadotte, Ney, and many others), Napoleon revolutionized warfare. No less than four international alliances of powers were required to bring his empire to its knees, and without the simultaneous pressure or Russian winter, British naval domination, Spanish guerillas, and Wellington’s stolid and unbreakable Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese Army, very likely Bonaparte would have sat astride the his European conquests for years to come.

Sadly, this list cannot be exhaustive; our knowledge comes to us through dubious historians, and a mythos that may deny some great leaders their due. Notables who missed the top ten by a hair: Alexander the Great, who conquered most of Southeastern Europe, Asia Minor, and large parts of India in a single sweeping campaign, before dying in tears that “there were no more worlds to conquer”; Genghis Khan, whose horde took most of China and Russia; Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, who took Western Europe in the late Dark Ages, defeating native tribes, isolated kingdoms, and Moorish conquerors alike; and of course, contemporaries and rivals of those in the top ten. Wellington, Jackson, Pericles, Leonidas, Grant, Pompey, Garibaldi, and Tokugawa all played their roles, and should not be underestimated lightly. But the ten we have inscribed are perhaps the most iconic, representative, and beloved (or feared) of conquerors, a breed of men that knew the direst times of human history, and thrived in them. We shall not see their like again.

Written by C. Vincent Barbatti

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  1. I call untruthful nonsense lying. And your posts are full of it. I have read in the past couple of days at least 6 accounts by Roman writers which say that the elephants SWAM across th Rhone, and also that they had to have been Indian Elephants. That African elephants were too difficult and uneven tempered to train for the specially intricate manoeuvres required for war elephants. Also I have read that the elephant formed a symbiotic relationship with his mahout and the death of a mahout could cause many difficulties. I know well that in the Belgian Congo they had trained elephants to move logs and pull heavy weights so don’t bother me with more trash.

    I don’t see any need to have read the 6500 books on Carthage myself, although I have several on Hannibal. It’s enough that they exist and if you want to spend the money-I don’t I have enough books- you can read them. The writer of an essay I quoted read them and quotes from them. I suggest that you send your balderdash to HIM and leave me in peace. Call him a liar…….You wouldn’t dare. I suppose that like Scipio, you have a violent need to “conquer”… Take it out on your girl-friend-if you have one- or buy one for the night, i understand that that is a simple matter and as you are a simple person who can take off his shirt without unbuttoning the collar, that might be best……..

    • “I call untruthful nonsense lying. And your posts are full of it.”

      If that were indeed the case you’d be able to point at least some of it out. The fact you haven’t speaks volumes about your claims.

      “I have read in the past couple of days at least 6 accounts by Roman writers”


      “that the elephants SWAM across th Rhone”

      Sources please. Also, what does ANY of this have to do with Scipio’s skills as a general, exactly?

      “and also that they had to have been Indian Elephants”

      They didn’t. There was the forest elephant of North Africa, a species driven into extinction, it is thought, by it’s use in ancient warfare.

      “That African elephants were too difficult and uneven tempered to train”

      Someone neglected to tell the Congolese this, they were doing it when the Belgians turned up.

      “I know well that in the Belgian Congo they had trained elephants to move logs and pull heavy weights so don’t bother me with more trash.”

      I’m guessing that you weren’t even aware that the Belgian Congo even existed prior to my mentioning it in this discussion. Your ignorance seems boundless.

      “I don’t see any need to have read the 6500 books on Carthage myself”

      Then neither do I. What is sauce for the goose. Regardless, I actually doubt that there happens to BE that many books written about Carthage. There aren’t that many books written about historical events much closer to hand, let alone about civilisations that left us no written records of their own and ceased to exist over two thousand years ago.

      “It’s enough that they exist”

      It’s actually claimed that they exist. It’s not actually proven that they exist. Claims require backing up. Something you singularly fail to do.

      “The writer of an essay I quoted read them and quotes from them”

      Actually he doesn’t. He does actually quote from historians. Historians who, if you actually go and read them (Scullard et al) DON’T support what he is claiming. Oh dear.

      “I suggest that you send your balderdash to HIM and leave me in peace”

      I suggest you actually back up your claims with something concrete rather than trying to palm me off with an amateur historians webpage because you utterly fail to produce anything we might call evidence into this discussion.

      Begging me to leave you alone because you yourself can’t defend your corner is laughably desperate of you.

      “I suppose that like Scipio,”

      Which Scipio are you referring to again Austin? We’ve already established you didn’t actually know which one you were talking about in the first place.

  2. I suppose you had your reasons for not completing the sentence. Adding to your drek, is taking comments out of context to make a cheap point.

    • “I suppose you had your reasons for not completing the sentence. Adding to your drek, is taking comments out of context to make a cheap point.”

      My posts were broken up by the script that allows them to be posted to the page. And I don’t have to take anything you write out of context. In context you are plainly a halfwit who makes unsupported claims and has delusions about himself.

  3. Things we’re still waiting for from Austin:

    a. An acknowledgement that Scipio the Younger is not the Scipio who was present at Zama
    b. The names of the six Roman historians writing about elephants swimming the Rhone
    c. An explanation of why it even matters whether elephants swam or walked across the river Rhone, a river on average only nine feet deep which Austin claims (based on sources he again does not produce) to be too deep for an animal to cross on foot, despite the French crossing it in horse drawn carriages up until the late 1800’s at various points
    d. An account of what happened to Hannibal’s army in Italy if it didn’t, as he claims, accompany him back to Africa
    e. An explanation of how, exactly, Hannibal’s crossing of the Rhone impacts on Scipio’s qualities as a general.
    f. Any evidence of anything Austin asserts

  4. There’s no point in carrying on any kind of civilised correspondence with you so this is close to the last, depending on whatever else is still unread in my inbox. I venture to say that I know far more about the Belgian Congo and the Crown abuse than you.

    As for providing links, maybe you should provide some-if you can- and some evidence that you’ve read them. I should have known not to become enmeshed in disputes with basement suite keyboard warriors.


    • “There’s no point in carrying on any kind of civilised correspondence with you”

      You’re deluding yourself if you imagine you were civilised. There is certainly no point in carrying on correspondence with a halfwit who consistently fails to produce evidence to back up his claims, never addresses any counter-points, palms you off with amateur internet bloggers and begs you to leave him alone.

      “I venture to say that I know far more about the Belgian Congo and the Crown abuse than you.”

      Well, I’d challenge you on that but I’m pretty sure we’d see the same lack of sources and/or evidence to back up this claim too.

      “As for providing links, maybe you should provide some-if you can- and some evidence that you’ve read them”

      Anything I’ve written could be verified by anybody familiar with the main source materials – Polybius and Livy, and the main historians who have written about the period – Hans Delbruck, HH Scullard, Dodge, Goldsworthy etc, precisely none of whom rant on about this insane obsession with elephants swimming the Rhone and none of whom dispute the presence of elephants at the battle of Zama. Unlike you and your master ninja/historian, they note that Polybius interviewed the commander of Scipio’s wings – Gaius Laelius and Massinissa, plus some of his other officers, plus some of the participants on the enemy’s side, people who were present in other words, in producing the account of the battle of Zama that he did.

      Such disagreements as there are on Zama, tend to focus on Hannibal’s deployment of his forces, Scipio’s deployment of his and their respective reasons for deploying as they did and not whether any of said forces were present or absent on the battlefield.

      Someone with an eye to military history, rather than just being a foaming-at-the-chops idolater of Hannibal, would know this.

      “I should have known not to become enmeshed in disputes with basement suite keyboard warriors.”

      Says the man who can produce no evidence, refuses to answer questions and has made himself look like a drooling halfwit over the course of the past two days….


      Go back under your rock Austin, there’s a good little worthless schnook with delusions.

  5. taudarian I do not need to supply you with more than I already have. My vast patience is now at it’s end. The Scipio who “presided” at the Battle of Zama was Scipio the Younger, Scipio Africanus. LOOK IT UP.

    As for quoting carriages crossing the Rhone in the 1800s …that ois 200 yewars after the period we-ir at least I- are discussing, is pooooor fare indeed. Crass stupidity.

    If i were to examine microscopically every calumny and other deceit such as reprinting partial sentences so as to try to distort the meaning, I should be here for a week. I don’t intend to be here longer than say, another 3-5 minutes.

    You can be the heavyweight champion……. or better still, the light-heavyweight champion….that is-light in the head and heavy on the feet….. Mark Twain’s comment about seeing “through a glass eye darkly” fits you to a T. Oh…yes….the Twain publication is “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Lapses”. Doubtless you have never heard fo Fenimore Cooper..but no matter. I have never heard of you.

    And GOODYE

    • “taudarian I do not need to supply you with more than I already have. My vast patience is now at it’s end. The Scipio who “presided” at the Battle of Zama was Scipio the Younger, Scipio Africanus. LOOK IT UP.”

      LOL. I don’t have to look it up, but perhaps you should. If you google Scipio the Younger, you will find he WASN’T EVEN BORN in 202 BC. In fact, I shall post it for you AGAIN

      Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus (185–129 BC), also known as Scipio Aemilianus or Scipio Africanus **the Younger**

      Born in 185BC. **********185BC********* you ignorant halfwit. Get it through your thick skull. Scipio the Younger was born SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER THE BATTLE OF ZAMA. Is that clear enough for you? Are you going to admit you are plainly and simply incorrect? Or are you going to persist in being a drooling, mentally defective, illegitimate offspring of a singularly inadequate prostitute?

      “As for quoting carriages crossing the Rhone in the 1800s ”

      I said until as recently as the late 1800’s. “Until as recently as” includes in it’s time period all the time up until that point. Or do you not understand plain English?

      “I don’t intend to be here longer than say, another 3-5 minutes.”

      If only we could believe you but you seem determined to inflict your singular ignorance on us all for as long as you can get away with it….

      “You can be the heavyweight champion”

      Blah, blah, blah. One notes the continual lack of evidence you produce Austin.

      “And GOODYE”

      F*** off, halfwit, go play COD some more.

  6. I beg pardon, a typo. My reference to “carriages crossing the Rhone” should have been 2000 years not 200. I have no idea why you would use such nonsense as “evidence”…(actually I have but am too polite to mention it) .And you are quite right about not arguing with half-wits. I’m surprised that you are aware of this, I didn’t think you had that much between your ears.

    I should have known better than to argue with you, as I’m well aware that it’s a losing battle to argue with fools, “they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”. And that’s YOU. a perfect description.

    Oh Yes…GOODBYE.

    • “I beg pardon, a typo. My reference to “carriages crossing the Rhone” should have been 2000 years not 200”

      Typo or not, your point is still mind-bogglingly irrelevant. See above.

      “I have no idea why you would use such nonsense as “evidence””

      Because you laughably asserted, based on sources you can’t produce, that the Rhone was so deep that animals could not walk across it. Somebody neglected to tell the inhabitants of the region this for millennia, considering they used to cross it with horse drawn wheeled vehicles until the advent of the internal combustion engine and the steam train.

      “I should have known better than to argue with you”

      You should, being the halfwit that you are. You were only ever going to be outmatched.

      So that’s yet another post in which Austin fails to answer any points made against him and fails to produce evidence.

      “Oh Yes…GOODBYE.”

      Yeah, f*** off, halfwit.

  7. The Wit and Wisdom of Austin #1

    a) Austin states, twice, that African elephants are untrainable.
    b) When it’s pointed out to Austin that the Congolese trained elephants Austin claims he *knew* of this.

    If b) is correct, then a) is false and Austin is lying.
    If a) is correct, then b) is false and Austin is lying.

    This is known as a “self-contradictory position”. If Austin indeed did know that the Congolese trained African elephants, then he would not have asserted that African elephants are untrainable. Twice. Because he would have known this claim to be untrue.

    However, he made this claim twice, and then claimed that he is in possession of superior knowledge about the Congo.

    One is forced to conclude that Austin is lying when he claims knowledge of the Congo and lying when he holds to the truth of contradictory statements.

  8. The Wit and Wisdom of Austin #2

    Austin claims that Scipio the Younger was the victor at Zama in 202BC

    A 30 second search on the internet would reveal that Scipio the Younger was born in 185BC.

    Austin made his claim **THREE** times and despite being told of the facts of the matter, has not acknowledged it.

    One is forced to conclude that Austin either

    a) is not aware how the BC/AD calendar actually works


    b) Austin has a tenuous relationship with reality at best.

  9. The Wit and Wisdom of Austin #3

    Austin claims to draw his information from “the latest forensic archaeological historians”.

    Austin refuses to name exactly who these people are.

    A google search of the phrase “forensic archaeological historian” produces zero results.

    Austin is citing as authorities, specialists in a field of which there happens to be no record online.

    When asked to define what a “forensic archaeological historian” actually is, Austin remains silent on the matter.

    One is forced to conclude that Austin is making up entire fields of academia and inventing nameless fictional historians to bolster an argument for which he can otherwise produce no evidence.

  10. taudarian. Just this one time, I was about to just delete when your asinine unresearched comment caught my eye.

    The carriages which were used to cross the Rhone were what were called “BOAT CARRIAGES” and were especially built so that they could float………like boats.


    • “The carriages which were used to cross the Rhone were what were called “BOAT CARRIAGES” and were especially built so that they could float………like boats.”

      No, what you’re referring to are the boats that were towed up and downstream by horses in the same way canal longboats are towed by horses on canal towpaths.

      Try again.

    • You mean those things that were towed upstream and downstream by horses on the banks.

      Oh dear.

  11. Good gracious will this plague never cease….You ARE a fool…. and I hope that this is read by everyone on this subject. Schiller was absolutely correct when he said “…Against Fools The Very Gods Themselves Contend In Vain…” This is the very last time I respond. I wish I knew enough about computers to prevent your emails.

    Boat coaches-or boat carriages- were/are WATERTIGHT carriages which are built with boat shaped bodies so that they were able to cross rivers, and were drawn by horses or sometimes by men swimming. This is how the RHONE was crossed for many centuries. I have seen.them myself, although not at the Rhone. And…the Rhone was not easy to cross because it has a very STRONG CURRENT.

    CANAL BARGES (generally about 75-90 feet long) are what you are mumbling about, and were drawn by CART HORSES up and down the canals when they were used. (There are many nice houseboats made from old canal barges) I lived and grew up close to a canal and saw them every day. Most barges later were engine driven, There was no current, and for changing levels in both directions, the canals were supplied with LOCKS (I’m NOT going to explain what they were or are). The most famous LOCK system in the world is in the Panama Canal.

    W.W. Jacobs (a very famous writer) wrote many beautiful tales of the lives of bargees and their friends.

    Bargees are the names applied to those who worked on (and lived on) the barges. There are probably still many operating in Holland. ….but DON’T quote me….

    You ARE a sap. A pity you don’t know it, but I hope that by now everyone reading these pages does.

    • “Good gracious will this plague never cease”

      Sure, if you could ever keep your promise to leave. But you never do, instead coming back to inflict your moronic twaddle on us all again.

      Because your precious ego has been so thoroughly trashed that you’re desperate to score some point, ANY point at all, even if it’s just about fricking barges because that’s what a sad little loser you are Austin. LOL.

      “Boat coaches-or boat carriages- were/are WATERTIGHT carriages”

      Blah blah blah. What you referenced the French using are craft used for navigating rivers up and down stream. Post hoc scrabbling to change your tune doesn’t wash.

      “And…the Rhone was not easy to cross because it has a very STRONG CURRENT.”

      You really should google Rhone angling. It’s such a strong current that guys can only stand there and catch fish for hours on end. Of course, different in springtime with the Alpine melt.

      I’d love to know how any of this, (even if we were to grant you had a point, which we won’t) makes a blind bit of difference re Scipio but we’ve already established what a halfwit you are so we shouldn’t be surprised.

      “W.W. Jacobs (a very famous writer) wrote many beautiful tales of the lives of bargees and their friends.”

      Have you considered being tested for clinical insanity? I rather think you should, you’re rambling now.

      “Bargees are the names applied to those who worked on (and lived on) the barges.”

      Better yet, you could try drinking the contents of the bottles you find under your sink. You might be a bit beyond psychiatric help….

  12. A great general has to dominate his era or defeat another great general.
    Western Generals:
    Alexander [totally dominated the pre-Roman age], Caesar [the best of the Roman Generals], Napoleon [transformed Europe], Hannibal [defied the odds], Belisarius [defied the odds], Gustav Adolphus [amazing career], Frederick the Great [did everything right, dominated his era], Marlborough [did everything right], Scipio Africanus [beat Hannibal in battle as well as in general war] , Wellington [the only commander to challenge Napoleon]
    Honourable mentions for: Wallenstein [transformed a losing cause], Prince Eugene [victories in east (Turkey) & west (France)], Aetius [defied the odds to defeat Attila & save western civilization], Oliver Cromwell [transformed warfare on land and sea but never tested in Europe aginst Turenne etc], Conde [transformed the balance of power from Spain to France], El Cid [defied the odds & transformed the balance of power from Moors to Christians], Von Moltke [crushed the Austrians & French and made German power dominant], Charles Martell [saved Christian Europe from islam], Charlemagne [dominated his era & created an empire]

    Ghengis & Subutai, Timor, Attila & Saladin also impacted on the west & General Giap must rate highly.

  13. Sun Tse is not a Western general. Scipio should be on this list. His battle tactics would give the Roman Empire a blueprint to defend their empire and conquer other lands.
    Joan of Arc is not general and her history is both brief and controversial with regard to her accomplishments.
    George Washington should be on this list. There was a comment regarding his place on this list. It is easy to command and conquer with the treasury of an Empire or country behind you, it is another thing to try and hold a rag tag group of colonials to fight at all. His speech to his troops is legendary.

  14. This is bull. The greatest general of all times is Khalid ibn al-Walid.
    Over 100 battles, most of them against numerically superior enemies, not one lost.

  15. I suppose some measure victories. I measure the odds , what your up against and the terrain your fighting in and the quality of the troops you started out with. Given what he had to start with, the opponent, terrain he fought in I believe Simon Bolivar was the greatest general in history. With out much backing he dispelled Spain and the Catholic church from South America. He was the liberator of South America. Of course who pays attention to south America. Mike Scheer. Washington state USA. By the way Zacary Taylor was the best US General and all civil war generals would agree

  16. Seems very American centric – why you would have Patton, Washington and Lee on the list and not Alexander is ridiculous.

  17. I have to agree, Washington’s greatest asset was his leadership and willpower. His holding together of the continental army through the winter was his greatest achievement. As a tactician he was simply fair/average at best.

    Would like to see Gustavus Adophus on the list…

  18. Robert E. Lee (Who excelled against very inferior opponents, but was exposed as mediocre against below average guys like Meade, and even more so against a tough opponent like Grant, who unlike Lee, holds the record to this day for causing the surrenders of three entire armies.), but no Alexander or Genghis Kahn? No Horatio Nelson? No William the Conqueror? No Charles Martel? I understand the need to keep it to 10, however, 3 of these leaders don’t really belong on the list if we are talking impacts on western civilization. Washington was bailed out by effective guerilla warfare he had little to do with and the French Navy. Lee, already mentioned, does not belong there due to poor showings against lesser opponents, and him being next to impotent on the offensive. Joan of Arc was more a figurehead than an actual field commander.

    • I disagree about Lee. He actually was facing superior opponents throughout most of his campaigns in the confederate army. In most of the battles he lead, his army was outnumbered, and out equipped. It was so bad at times that they had a hard time keeping his troops supplied with boots, yet he pulled through up until Gettysburg. Meade was not a bad general, but definitely not as good as Lee, and Lee did make a huge mistake, trying to push the battle against a larger, better equipped force entrenched in a stellar defensive position.

      However, I have to agree with you 100% on Genghis Khan, and Alexander the Great. I’m also surprised not to see Sun Tzu as his tactics are so timeless that many are still used in today’s warfare, over 2500 years after he died. I personally would have placed Tzu at the top as many of the others on this list got as good as they did by studying Sun Tzu’s tactics and his famous book “The Art of War.”

      • Methodical123 on

        I agree with you about the equipment, but you don’t go to war half equipped to start with, which is a different discussion. Lee’s dangerous opponents didn’t show up until 1864 as the general known as Grant. McClellan, Lee’s main opponent prior to 1863 was utterly useless.

        After the appauling losses in men suffered by Lee in the Peninsula Campaign (which were largely due to Lee’s aggressive, yet poorly executed attacks, and little due to McClellan himself) McClellan could have pushed the issue and ended the war in 1862 (Grant without question would have annihilated Lee had he been running the show that early in the war). Hooker, though great in logistics and as a trainer, also stunk up the place in field command. Meade wasn’t even on the radar because two other generals turned down the job. He was less a victor of Lee and more of a third string quarterback that got to start when Lee committed strategic near suicide in invading Pennsylvania and not taking the best ground on day one. Given the positions the Union artillery had alone, a chimpanzee would have been on the winning side running the Union that day. Meade stayed on as a general for the rest of the war and did little else of value.

        Grant was the first and last general capable of pummeling Lee and he did so with glee. Everyone else was next to worthless.

      • Methodical123 on

        If it wasn’t for such craptastic commanders prior to Grant, I doubt history would have even remembered Lee. He was in the right place at the right time with awful commanders as opponents. Grant frankly had better opponents, invented joint operations, and inflicted dramatically more destruction to his opponents than he incurred. The same can’t be said about Lee.

  19. this is wrong, where is Khalid Bin Waleed? They fought more than 100 wars but no one deafeat. so where is Khalid Bin waleed????????????????????

  20. Washingon? Patton? As others have pointed out, this list is somewhat biased. Alexander isn’t on the list and he is generally considered one of the top three generals of all time.