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The best and the worst generals of all time

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  • The best and the worst generals of all time

    The good the bad and the considerably stupid generals who have lead their forces to either spectacular victory, or legendary defeat. Anyone or anything from Hannibal to Napoleon, Alexander to Rommel.

  • #2
    IMO:

    Best:

    - Gaius Julius Caesar
    - Napoleon Bonaparte
    - Genghis Khan
    - Alexander the Great
    - Gaius Marius
    - Subutai
    - John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
    - Douglas MacArthur / Ulysses S. Grant (I am eternally split between which of the two I consider to have been the greatest general produced by the United States)

    Worst:

    - Ercole D'este, Duke of Ferrara
    - George B. McClellan
    - Quintus Servilius Caepio and Gnaeus Mallius Maximus as the joint architects of the disaster that was the battle of Arausio

    Comment


    • #3
      Good thread.

      IMO

      Best -

      Genghis Khan
      Alexander the Great
      Charlemagne
      Gustavus Adolphus
      1st Duke of Marlborough
      Frederick the Great
      Wolfe
      William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe
      Ferdinand of Brunswick
      Napoleon
      Wellington
      Stonewall Jackson
      Lee
      Slim
      Zhukov

      Worst -

      John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun
      James Abercrombie
      William Hicks
      Graziani
      Gamelin
      www.13thfoot.co.uk

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Divus Julius View Post
        IMO:

        Best:

        - Gaius Julius Caesar
        - Napoleon Bonaparte
        - Genghis Khan
        - Alexander the Great
        - Gaius Marius
        - Subutai
        - John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
        - Douglas MacArthur / Ulysses S. Grant (I am eternally split between which of the two I consider to have been the greatest general produced by the United States)

        Worst:

        - Ercole D'este, Duke of Ferrara
        - George B. McClellan
        - Quintus Servilius Caepio and Gnaeus Mallius Maximus as the joint architects of the disaster that was the battle of Arausio
        I am curious as to where Georgi Zhukov, Von Manstein, William the Conquerer, Louis XIV, Cyrus the great, Hoth, Sun Tzu, Belisarius, Tamerlane, Ackbar, and Richard the Lionheart stand on your list of the greatest Statemen and Commanders. I heard a lot about you from my friend Volkov on the Historum, he says you are a very well read man and are an inspiration to him.
        Last edited by Czin; 26 May 10, 10:45.
        Standing here, I realize you were just like me trying to make history.
        But who's to judge the right from wrong.
        When our guard is down I think we'll both agree.
        That violence breeds violence.
        But in the end it has to be this way.

        Comment


        • #5
          battle of the Javasea

          Worst : Karel Doorman ...
          Not really a general but schout-by-nacht (Admiral?)

          Famous for his 27-2-1942 quote : "Ik val aan , volg mij " ..(I attack- Follow me..)
          Two hours later the whole Dutch fleet in Indonesia lay on the bottom of the sea ...
          Last edited by Heinrich; 26 May 10, 11:44.
          ' Because it has Electrolytes ! '

          regards:
          Henk

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Divus Julius View Post
            IMO:

            Best:


            - Douglas MacArthur / Ulysses S. Grant (I am eternally split between which of the two I consider to have been the greatest general produced by the United States)

            Worst:

            - George B. McClellan
            Re United States: MacArthur was better. He fought in tougher circumstances than Grant, and he could govern as well as fight.

            I think GCM was the greatest general the US has ever produced, though.

            McClellan wasn't the worst US general to come out of the Civil War. McClellan was slow, but Burnside distinguished himself for losing men at Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Crater.

            Among other worsts:

            General Elphinstone (Afghan War, 1842)
            LTG Sir Charles Warren (Spion Kop, 1900)
            Rennenkampf and Sansomov (tie) (Tannenberg, 1914)

            Although he's not a general, you could also nominate Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky (Tsushima Strait, 1904)

            There's a very good book called "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence," by Norman Dixon Its author is British, so he picks on British generals more than those of other nationalities, but it's a good read.
            "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
            -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

            (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

            Comment


            • #7
              Alexander Suvorov must be added to the list, of course. The fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire and one of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan

              He can be rated as the "Most underappreciated great general" as well.

              Kuropatkin can be added to the other list for his performance in the Russo-Japanese war. I'd also add Kozlov and Mekhlis for the Kerch operation disaster.
              www.histours.ru

              Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                Alexander Suvorov must be added to the list, of course. The fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire and one of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan

                He can be rated as the "Most underappreciated great general" as well.

                Kuropatkin can be added to the other list for his performance in the Russo-Japanese war. I'd also add Kozlov and Mekhlis for the Kerch operation disaster.
                Ah yes, Suvorov, the hero of one of the most intense of the many, many Russo-Turkish wars. I would love to learn more about him, however like the series of wars he participated in, he is largely forgotten by the west.

                The Russians must have really had it in for the ottomans considering all their wars with them. The same goes for the persians, who the Russians attacked almost as often. In my opinion, Russia had the largest hand in the downfall of those two Islamic powers, whittling them away in many wars, with Russia winning the lion's share of them decisively.
                Standing here, I realize you were just like me trying to make history.
                But who's to judge the right from wrong.
                When our guard is down I think we'll both agree.
                That violence breeds violence.
                But in the end it has to be this way.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                  Alexander Suvorov must be added to the list, of course. The fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire and one of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan

                  He can be rated as the "Most underappreciated great general" as well.
                  Good point re Suvorov. If he had ever battled Napoleon directly, he would have been better appreciated (assuming he won). He was one of the great trainers of troops.

                  The other great undefeated, underappreciated general was Khalid ibn al-Walid, the "Sword of Allah." It's remarkable to me that he is virtually unknown outside the Middle East and Africa.
                  "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                  -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Reply to Jon Jordan -

                    Re United States: MacArthur was better. He fought in tougher circumstances than Grant, and he could govern as well as fight.

                    I think GCM was the greatest general the US has ever produced, though.

                    McClellan wasn't the worst US general to come out of the Civil War. McClellan was slow, but Burnside distinguished himself for losing men at Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Crater.
                    I'll certainly grant you that MacArthur's tenure as veritable viceroy of Japan is certainly a massive plus for any evaluation of his career. That being said, I think that in this regard Grant has been given a very poor run by a number of historians. His presidency was undeniably racked by scandals and corruption for which he must take a good portion of the blame if not for his being complicent in them then at least for the personal (if not political) naivete that he displayed in his dealings with many of the individuals involved. However, my assessment is that overall Grant proved himself to be a more competent politician than MacArthur (not very hard to do) and was also a much better judge of character (Grant at least displayed consistent good judgement of men in military matters, and a few of his appointments as president were inspired. MacArthur was consistently quite an appalling judge of character with a penchant for sycophants). Grants presidency was not without its accomplishments - his foreign policy apart from the gaffe in wanting to annex Santo Domingo was basically highly commendable, his work with the Reconstruction likewise, and his policies towards the Native American Indians especially so. A strong case can also be made I think that it was Grant's administration that should recieve the lion's share of the credit for successfully laying the foundations for the economic growth of the Gilded Age, not least through his commendable veto of the Inflations Bill. He was overall I think a president of far more vision and skill than he is often given credit for, although whether this it was enough to surpass the formidable legacy that MacArthur left behind through his work in Japan is certainly a tall order.

                    Comparing them as military commanders, I'd probably agree with you that MacArthur on the whole demonstrated an even greater tactical and strategic virtuosity than Grant that for the most part led to his armies taking far lower casualties on average. To balance that out however Grant was a far more consistently successful commander than MacArthur and to boot a far better man to have as your commander (MacArthur might have been a genius, but he was also by all accounts a pain to serve under due to his massive egotism).

                    MacArthur to his name has his stunning victories of Hollandia and Inchon, but Grant can match them with the brilliance of his operations at Vicksburg and his turning movement to reach Petersburg.

                    I'm curious - does GCM stand for George Meade? If so I would be interested to know why you consider him to have been the superior to the likes of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Divus Julius View Post
                      Reply to Jon Jordan -


                      I'm curious - does GCM stand for George Meade? If so I would be interested to know why you consider him to have been the superior to the likes of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.
                      I suspect its George Catlett Marshall.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I would say that Hitler was the worst general of history. Although he was not a general himself, but he had a great amount of influence over his generals and his military decisions were pretty much disastruous.
                        Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Czin View Post
                          Ah yes, Suvorov, the hero of one of the most intense of the many, many Russo-Turkish wars. I would love to learn more about him, however like the series of wars he participated in, he is largely forgotten by the west.
                          Well, just come to St. Petersburg then, here's a whole museum dedicated to him.

                          http://www.suvorovmuseum.spb.ru/english/index.htm

                          The Russians must have really had it in for the ottomans considering all their wars with them. The same goes for the persians, who the Russians attacked almost as often. In my opinion, Russia had the largest hand in the downfall of those two Islamic powers, whittling them away in many wars, with Russia winning the lion's share of them decisively.
                          The Ottomans were a quite obvious and convenient target: they held the lands which were the cradle of the Russian civilisation, they were oppressing Christian Slavic minorities, they blocked the access to the Black sea, their vassal state of Crimean Tartars frequently raided Russian provinces and dependencies and their power was on the wane since late 17th century. All these factors made Russo-Turkish wars inevitable. The situation was a bit similar with the Persians, whose interests collided with those of Russia in the Caucausus as Russian control expanded there in the 18th century. Still the main factor of these powers' collapse was their inability to modernise themselves, something Russia could accomplish with at least mixed results under Peter the Great.
                          www.histours.ru

                          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
                            Good point re Suvorov. If he had ever battled Napoleon directly, he would have been better appreciated (assuming he won). He was one of the great trainers of troops.
                            Still he defeated several Napoleon's generals, who are nevertheless much better known than him. Maybe him being Russian and not French has something to do with it?

                            The other great undefeated, underappreciated general was Khalid ibn al-Walid, the "Sword of Allah." It's remarkable to me that he is virtually unknown outside the Middle East and Africa.
                            I haven't heard much of him either. I can only guess it's because of the religious veil over this period of Middle Eastern history. His feats are described in various Islamic history books, but religion and historical science are rather uncommon companions.
                            www.histours.ru

                            Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                              Well, just come to St. Petersburg then, here's a whole museum dedicated to him.

                              http://www.suvorovmuseum.spb.ru/english/index.htm



                              The Ottomans were a quite obvious and convenient target: they held the lands which were the cradle of the Russian civilisation, they were oppressing Christian Slavic minorities, they blocked the access to the Black sea, their vassal state of Crimean Tartars frequently raided Russian provinces and dependencies and their power was on the wane since late 17th century. All these factors made Russo-Turkish wars inevitable. The situation was a bit similar with the Persians, whose interests collided with those of Russia in the Caucausus as Russian control expanded there in the 18th century. Still the main factor of these powers' collapse was their inability to modernise themselves, something Russia could accomplish with at least mixed results under Peter the Great.
                              Many people I know said that one of Russia's biggest goals was to take Constantinople back for the Christians and driving the islamic ottomans and all other traces of Islam from europe. I do think that they would have taken the entirety of the region in as a new set of Russian provinces. I also think that from there they would sweep into Anatolia and Persia, moving into the holy land and mesopotamia until the "scourge" or islam was eradicated. Now of course, doing this would have been a tall order. But they were quite close to capturing Constantinople several times.
                              Standing here, I realize you were just like me trying to make history.
                              But who's to judge the right from wrong.
                              When our guard is down I think we'll both agree.
                              That violence breeds violence.
                              But in the end it has to be this way.

                              Comment

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