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  • #76
    Originally posted by Capt AFB View Post
    I submit to the followers of this thread that our personal preference may be biased by the amount of reading (or YouTube documentaries viewing) that ones do about a military leader and our self-identifying to him to set our preference. Are we surprised that Massena went for Napoleon? (Actually, I thought he may have chosen Marechal d'Empire Massena!)

    My choice would have been Slim a few years ago, as I read his bio and everything I could find about him or the Burma campaign.

    But George Washington peaked my interest, and was quite impressed with what I found through my readings and documentaries. Therefore, for now, Washington over Slim, in my preferences. As I just retired, with more free(!!) time on my hand, my intent is to read more about Belisarius, so my choice may change in a few months.

    Thoughts?

    (Nick. Nice seeing you. I just got back to ACG wondering where some of the Old Guard went.)

    I do like Slim, and he was excellent, but much of the CW successes were brought about by Japanese treatment of prisoners. It's quite clear that once it was known how prisoners were treated, the CW were as fanatical as any Japanese, because giving up was not an option. It's why the CW won at Kohima for example. However, I would submit that a 'best' general would have to earn that title fighting successfully over different terrain types, and with different bodies of men, and various types of kit.

    Belisarius has suddenly taken a sharp drop in my opinion so far. Up to and including the Vandal Wars, there is no sign of any military genius so far. He lost at least 3 of his first 6 battles, possible 5, only winning one. To be kind, he was more than was lucky during the Vandalic War, but as Napoleon said, he preferred lucky generals over good generals.

    Also, different generals are better at different levels of command. Lets just take WW2 tank commanders as an example.
    At army group level, you will not find better than Manstein or Rokossovsky.
    At army level, Herman Hoth is excellent.
    At divisional level Pip Roberts would be my choice.
    At brigade level Creighton Abrams is your man.


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    • #77
      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
      This is difficult. Hannibal won 3 massive battles, and then tied down around 20 Roman legions for 15 years, and without support from Carthage. He only lost at Zama with an inferior and smaller army (according to Polybius, not Appian), outnumbered in both cavalry and infantry.

      Napoleon was an absolute genius. If he had not invaded Russia, we may all be speaking French today.

      My money is on Alexander. Phillip may have created the phalanx and lancers, but the Macedonian army was always much more than that. He was always victorious, and the only Westerner ever to conquer the Middle East. The Persians were not the walk over many people believe, and were quite able to defeat both Greeks and Macedonians on their own soil. Persian noble cavalrymen were also as well trained as Spartans. He even defeated what is now Afghanistan, a feat that has eluded the British, the Soviets and the USA.
      My money is on Caeser over Alexander. Alexander required time to plot and array his forces for pitched battles. Caesr pitched right into you and could respond to the tactics with lightning speed. Alexander wouldn't know what hit him.
      "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

      "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

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      • #78
        Originally posted by Massena View Post
        I already posted excellent material on the subject. And it should be noted that Napoleon fought more battles, the overwhelming majority of which were victories, than Caesar, Alexander, and Frederick the Great combined. Further, Frederick won only about half of his, and he only came out on the winning side in the Seven Years' War because the Russian Empress died.

        'Though [Napoleon's] career ended in defeat and exile, this hardly affected the esteem that even his enemies felt for his military skill. He remains acknowledged as the ablest soldier of his age and in all military history.'-John Elting, The Superstrategists, 139.

        'Julius Caesar, 'our bald whoremonger...' to his hard-used, hard-bitten veterans, grew up in a republic that was collapsing internally. A tall, dark-eyed man of great physical stamina and personal charm, deeply intelligent, he was a splendid orator and a slippery politician. Rome in the last century BC was not an environment to nourish the traditional virtues, but even when judged by its raunchy standards, Caesar emerges very much a solipsist, careless of any standard of good or evil. Supreme power was his basic desire, and he did whatever might seem necessary to acquire it.'

        'Like most Roman aristocrats, he had a smattering of military service in his younger years...but his actual generalship began only in 58 BC when, at the age of forty-two, he became governor of both Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul...Eight years sufficed to conquer all Transalpine Gaul...in campaigns marked by swift maneuvers and coldly systematic atrocities.'

        'From 51 through 45 BC he fought Romans (the Civil War) from Spain to Asia Minor, emerging supreme ruler of Rome, proclaimed a living god over all men...'

        '...Caesar remained a 'bald-headed dubious Roman rake-politician' throughout his life, and the combination of those skills with his military ability made him formidable indeed. He could smoothly set various Gallic tribes at each others' throats-or arrange a conference with the leaders of two German tribes, seize them despite a declared truce, and then surprise and slaughter their leaderless folk. His preparations for the Civil War included bribing as many of his abler opponents as possible...At the same time he won over the surviving Gallic chieftains with calculated rewards and mercies so that they would remain quiescent while he waged the Civil War against his fellow Romans instead of seizing the opportunity to revolt.'

        '...He was a superb battle captain, able to grasp the critical place and moment of an engagement and to snatch victory out of defeat by personal bravery and example. And he managed to hold the loyalty of his troops through all hardships and dangers.'-from The Superstrategists by John Elting, 20-22.
        Elting seems to favor Napoleon, having written several books on him and all. And the best he could do is call Caesar a "bald-headed dubious rake politician [whoremonger]?" That hardly seems balanced.

        I haven't read much about Napleon, so I can't compare the two. Caesar never had a Wellington though.
        "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

        "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

        Comment


        • #79
          Originally posted by American87 View Post

          My money is on Caeser over Alexander. Alexander required time to plot and array his forces for pitched battles. Caesr pitched right into you and could respond to the tactics with lightning speed. Alexander wouldn't know what hit him.
          Rubbish. Caesar couldn't even beat a backwater nation like Britain. He thought that since he had defeated the Belgae, and he believed the Belgae had beaten the Britons, he would launch a quick invasion to capture the country. He absolutely failed with his first attempt. The second attempt may have been more successful, but we are relying on Caesar's own words for this. In fact, we often rely on Caesars own words for many of his campaigns.

          Caesar was good, very good in fact, but he never achieved any level of success as did Alexander.
          My top 3 Western generals would be Alexander, Napoleon and Hannibal.
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          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

            Rubbish. Caesar couldn't even beat a backwater nation like Britain. He thought that since he had defeated the Belgae, and he believed the Belgae had beaten the Britons, he would launch a quick invasion to capture the country. He absolutely failed with his first attempt. The second attempt may have been more successful, but we are relying on Caesar's own words for this. In fact, we often rely on Caesars own words for many of his campaigns.

            Caesar was good, very good in fact, but he never achieved any level of success as did Alexander.
            My top 3 Western generals would be Alexander, Napoleon and Hannibal.
            Caesar’s lieutenants were in free and open correspondence with family back home, and his statements were only slightly criticized by contemporaries; Pollio stating that Caesar should revise them to be a little more accurate in some areas.

            You’re right about Britain, except that they promised Caesar tribute. But Alexander had Bactria-Sogdiana. He spent quite some time there and ended with a marriage alliance. Smart, but its possible he struggled their militarily, and maybe, he lost an engagement that was never recorded. It could have been a tiny one. But the slight coverage of his time there is open to some discussion.

            Hannibal was good, but there’s not much to rely on. Basically, we have a few later historians who record Hannibals tactics at 4 major battles, and then some outsider information on his residence in South Italy. There’s little on his thought process or on how he managed the Italians or on his relations with the home government, which the Greeks and Romans depicted as terrible, as if there was no Barcid faction in Carthage (maybe there wasn’t, but doubtful)

            I haven’t studied Napoleon. At all.

            Between Caesar, Hannibal, and Alexander in the ancient world, I put Caesar first, because at the end of the day he handled Gaul. Alexander had some pitched battles, and so did Hannibal, but neither of them managed nations of various allies/enemies as Caesar did while winning Alesia and less impressive battles.
            "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

            "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

            Comment


            • #81
              Originally posted by American87 View Post

              Elting seems to favor Napoleon, having written several books on him and all. And the best he could do is call Caesar a "bald-headed dubious rake politician [whoremonger]?" That hardly seems balanced.

              I haven't read much about Napleon, so I can't compare the two. Caesar never had a Wellington though.
              Col Elting taught military history at West Point for eleven years and he has written the definitive work on Napoleon's campaigns as well as the organizational history of the Grande Armee. He's also written US military history, including an excellent volume on the Saratoga campaign-The Battles of Saratoga. He was an excellent military historian and one of the top historians of the Napoleonic period that the US has produced, which include Don Horward, Gunther Rothenberg, and Owen Connelly.
              We are not now that strength which in old days
              Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
              Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
              To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

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              • #82
                The passage of him you that you quoted were often nonsense or lies.
                There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by American87 View Post

                  Caesar’s lieutenants were in free and open correspondence with family back home, and his statements were only slightly criticized by contemporaries; Pollio stating that Caesar should revise them to be a little more accurate in some areas.

                  You’re right about Britain, except that they promised Caesar tribute. But Alexander had Bactria-Sogdiana. He spent quite some time there and ended with a marriage alliance. Smart, but its possible he struggled their militarily, and maybe, he lost an engagement that was never recorded. It could have been a tiny one. But the slight coverage of his time there is open to some discussion.

                  Hannibal was good, but there’s not much to rely on. Basically, we have a few later historians who record Hannibals tactics at 4 major battles, and then some outsider information on his residence in South Italy. There’s little on his thought process or on how he managed the Italians or on his relations with the home government, which the Greeks and Romans depicted as terrible, as if there was no Barcid faction in Carthage (maybe there wasn’t, but doubtful)

                  I haven’t studied Napoleon. At all.

                  Between Caesar, Hannibal, and Alexander in the ancient world, I put Caesar first, because at the end of the day he handled Gaul. Alexander had some pitched battles, and so did Hannibal, but neither of them managed nations of various allies/enemies as Caesar did while winning Alesia and less impressive battles.
                  Given that Caesar left no troops to enforce the 'settlement' its unlikely any tribute was actually paid.

                  Gaul is nothing compared to the might and wealth of Persia. There is a western bias, often initially perpetrated by Victorian English, against the quality of ancient Iranian troops, but the best were incredibly capable, being trained as hard as Spartans.

                  Alexander fought Greek Hoplites, Persian heavy cavalry and a combined longbow/elephant army and won them all. He may have had trouble in modern day Afghanistan, but he won, which the British Empire, the Soviets and USA all failed to do. He also created numerous cities in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.

                  As for Hannibal, after his 3 famous battles, not much is known, except that his unsupported, disparate army kept around 20 Roman legions tied down in Italy for 15 years. Those armies would have cleared the way for the conquest of Spain, and an earlier defeat of Carthage. That alone was a formidable achievement. As such, I would rate both Alexander and Hannibal way above Caesar. I probably would not rate Caesar as the most capable Roman general either.
                  How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                  Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                  • #84
                    Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                    The passage of him you that you quoted were often nonsense or lies.
                    If you actually believe that, then post something credible that negates it. That would seem to be pretty simple instead of just denigrating it.
                    We are not now that strength which in old days
                    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Massena View Post

                      If you actually believe that, then post something credible that negates it. That would seem to be pretty simple instead of just denigrating it.
                      It was already discussed many years ago.
                      There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Emtos View Post

                        It was already discussed many years ago.
                        And the information was undoubtedly incorrect. If anything, it should be discussed again instead of merely alluded to. I can support my ideas on the subject. Can you?

                        Talk is merely cheap, especially from behind a keyboard. Substance is what counts and you have not 'provided' it. Why is that?
                        We are not now that strength which in old days
                        Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                        Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                        To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Originally posted by Massena View Post

                          And the information was undoubtedly incorrect. If anything, it should be discussed again instead of merely alluded to. I can support my ideas on the subject. Can you?

                          Talk is merely cheap, especially from behind a keyboard. Substance is what counts and you have not 'provided' it. Why is that?
                          https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...e4#post2865421

                          You quoted Elting here. His quote is total BS. He had zero understanding of events on the Eastern Front. Very likely that it also applies to the rest.
                          There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            Originally posted by Emtos View Post

                            https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...e4#post2865421

                            You quoted Elting here. His quote is total BS. He had zero understanding of events on the Eastern Front. Very likely that it also applies to the rest.
                            Have you read the book? Col Elting footnoted his source material. Perhaps you should read the book before passing judgment on it.
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Originally posted by Massena View Post

                              Have you read the book? Col Elting footnoted his source material. Perhaps you should read the book before passing judgment on it.
                              Why losing my time ? If he puts so much BS in a single paragraph, why spending my money ?
                              There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                Originally posted by Emtos View Post

                                Why losing my time ? If he puts so much BS in a single paragraph, why spending my money ?
                                If you're not willing to present a cogent and fact-based argument, then Col Elting's comments have to stand. Col Elting's comments are based in his research and your unwillingness to read the book cited displays an unwillingness for useful discussion.

                                It also clearly demonstrates an unwillingness to listen to anyone else's viewpoint which is ahistorical in nature and also a disdain for historical methodology and historical inquiry.
                                We are not now that strength which in old days
                                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                                Comment

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