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Patton: Best General of All Time?

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  • Patton: Best General of All Time?

    For those checking in from the magazine, we have this thread dedicated to our article found on page 42*. We welcome your comments on this issue's Battlefield Leader story, on Patton's battles, as well as your thoughts on his place in history. We invite you to share your questions with the author (and other readers) or just read the messages of your peers.

    Thanks for visiting!

    *"Best General of All Time?" -- by Brian M. Sobel
    Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

    I write books about zombies as E.E. Isherwood. Check me out at

  • #2
    Well, I must say that I dispute Patton being the best general of all time. He was great in his niche, but he had alot of issues, as well. He believed his own press far too much, and the limelight was all-important. The allied cooperation during the invasion of Siciliy sticks out in my mind as a prime example of when a few people should have had a dressing down.

    I've had to do some research for an article on this campaign, and I'm totally convinced that competing instead of cooperating cost us considerable lives.

    What I do appreciate in the Patton article by Brian Sobel is that there is no sugar-coating events. We're presented with the facts about the man, good and bad, and allowed to choose for ourselves. We're not being led blind down a corridor, as is the writing style of many authors.

    Also, readers and members should keep in mind that we just began a series of 11 polls that will determine the 'World's Greates General' according to your voting! We'll present a new poll every 2 to 3 weeks, and people are encouraged to vote on the top leaders in that era. Our first poll is based on the top ten leaders of the Amercian Civil War.

    Likewise, the other 9 polls will present you with a list to vote on based on various regions, eras and battles. We'll take the top ten leaders when the dust clears, and offer you the chance to vote in the final poll - determine who is the World's Greatest General!

    You can view the poll here!
    "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

    Winston Churchill


    • #3
      Sounds like the Super Bowl of Generals Shane! The winner of each division comes together in a final head to head battle for the crown of "World's Greatest General." We will publish the list in our third issue and then put in on the news wire! The World's Greatest Generals as voted by the reader's of Armchair General!
      Sounds like fun!! :thumb:
      Armchair General Magazine
      Weider History Group


      • #4
        GREAT stuff, Keef!

        I hope you guys have as much fun voting on these polls as I have getting them ready for you! Everyone, by all means, please help me with the process; your input would really help me to do the job up right!

        A lot of people had comments and questions the first time we attempted this; we need those same people to contribute to this effort, so that the polls will reflect our Armchair General user base as accurately as possible!
        "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

        Winston Churchill


        • #5
          Patton: Best General of All Time?

          Patton, although he was capable enough, was not anywhere near America's greatest, much lest the worlds greatest general. He would have to be considered one of America's greatest Cavalry/Armor commanders.
          Alexander, Boneparte, Ceaser, and dare I say Davout, just to start the alpha-list, are ones I would consider for the title "greater than Patton"


          • #6
            I feel hollywoods movie patton has convinced most americans that patton was the best, but even among americans I don't think that was true.
            Two come to mind who I find supperior Joe Collins and Douglas mac arthur. Yes mac arthur was a jerk, but he was an extremely competent general when he was paying attention.


            • #7
              you also gotta remember that MacArthur was in charge of the whole pacific operations basically and so he had most of the final say in what he needs and should do. Patton however was always under others command and had to work with a lot lesser resources.


              • #8

                Picking the best general is like picking the best music - it means different things to different people, and there are endless styles to choose from. All very subjective.

                That said, perhaps the most important and least appreciated general in American history is Nathanael Greene.

                Bold. Humble. Daring. Unorthodox. Brilliant.

                It wasn't Washington who won the Revolution. Nor was it the influx of French money, guns and support. That all greased the rails to victory. Washington had been holed up outside New York since 1777 when Greene took command of the Southern Department of the United States.

                Greene inherited a shambles of a demoralized, defeated and unsupplied army, the legacy of Horatio Gates' bungling that was capped off with the disaster at Camden. In December 1780, Greene took command.

                The result was astonishing. Blessed with able lieutenants in Brig. Gen. Dan Morgan and Col. Otho Williams, Greene was able to conduct a cat-and-mouse campaign of raids and retreats that eventually bled the British white -- and led them to a tiny Virginia tobacco port called Yorktown.

                Greene did more with less just about any American general -- ever. His troops had no supplies other that what was on their tattered, tired backs. Nothing was forthcoming from the state governments. Congress, despite Greene's pleadings, had nothing to give. He was on his own in the face of a rested, supplied and superior British/Tory force under the very capable leaderships of Charles, Lord Cornwallis. Greene barely had 800 Continentals and a mixture of state and local militia - always a dicey group at best. Facing him were the regiments of thousands of veteran, professional Englishmen, Welshmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen.

                Greene's first act? Split the army in two, with half under Morgan. What should have been an awful move that destroyed the Continental Army in the South proved to be brilliant, rivaling Washington's raid on Trenton. Greene understood that his lighter troops, split in two commands, would force the British to follow suit -- and they could never move fast enough to catch the Americans. It's quicker to march on roads you know with an empty stomach and a just handful of musket balls.

                Greene understood the tactical and strategic picture like few generals in any war. He knew the Revolution WAS the army, and that it must be preserved at all costs. So, Greene and Morgan began a campaign to draw the British out of their series of armed outposts and bases - away from their supplies and support. What followed were the two things that sealed American victory over Britain: Morgan bloodied the force following him at Cowpens, and Greene retreated just out of reach of Cornwallis' main body of troops - the Race to the Dan River.

                In the end, Cornwallis exhausted and decimated his army in failed pursuit that sometimes came within sight of Americans crossing the next river. So the British stopped once the Americans entered Virginia. Greene then turned about and gave chase and offered battle when his army had swelled to twice the size of the British. Although Greene suffered a defeat - barely - at Guilford Courthouse, the British lost more troops - whom they couldn't replace. Nearly a third of the British army in the south was out of action. After such Phyrric victories, Cornwallis chose to abandon the Carolinas and move into Virginia.

                The rest is history. Greene did it on his own, with no direction from Washington, who trusted him implicitly. The campaign was the only significant maneuvering done by the Americans anywhere since 1777. Greene knew his military craft from his experiences under Washington, and from books before the war. How many other generals in any army, any where would have split his inferior force in the face of an enemy? None come to mind. Greene knew better, that it flew in the face of any sense, but he knew such a move was the only hope. Washington, meanwhile, was in New York planning a frontal amphibious assault on New York City. French dawdling and Greene's campaign prevented that disaster by opening the door for the Yorktown seige.


                • #9
                  greatest of all time?? Must be a joke right?

                  It hard to imagine George Patton as greatest commanders of all times when he would have a tough time making it in the top ten commanders of World War II. What ever gave you such silly idea? If Patton was lucky and there were many die-hard Americans voting and their knowledge of military history is about average, he might be lucky to make it in the top 250 list of top military commanders in world history...if.

                  I hope this new magazine can do better then this!! A real military history magazine would probably point to Zhukov or von Manstein or even Dug-out Douglas MacArthur who went from zero to hero. In my humble book, I would pick von Manstein. Of course nothing would be more compliamentary to Patton for being place on the same level as ol'Eric and nothing could be more insulting to the latter but hey, history is rough!


                  • #10
                    Re: greatest of all time?? Must be a joke right?

                    Originally posted by Gerald

                    A real military history magazine would probably point to Zhukov or von Manstein or even Dug-out Douglas MacArthur who went from zero to hero.
                    Zhukov: ???????????:crazy:

                    Manstein: Of WW II yeah, but NOT of all time.

                    Douglas MacArthur: .........and back to zero(thanks ER)
                    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!


                    • #11
                      Patton the best ?!

                      The 3rd Army's stats are impressive, and Patton certainly inspired his troops and molded them into a fine fighting unit. But to name Patton the best of all time is just too much hype. There were too many good performances by armies on both sides to single out Patton. Zhukov deserves consideration, because he fought tenaciously on the defense in front of Moscow and led the Soviets to Berlin. Germain generals like von Manstein and Guderian (when the "Little Corporal" wasn't messing up their plans)likewise deserve consideration.

                      Though technically not generals, I'll offer up 2 of my own suggestions for this forum. Could anyone question the accomplishments of Alexander in his short life? The territory he eventually controlled dwarfed what the 3rd Army conquered.

                      And how about Genghis Khan? His army was estimated to be about 100,000 (nearly the same size as the 3rd Army) and the size of his empire was even larger than Alexander's.

                      I acknowledge that these leaders accomplished their feats in different times, so it's a little like comparing Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.


                      • #12
                        In my opinion, looking at Patton only during the WWII years instead of on the whole of his career and declaring him either the best or not even in the top 250 generals does him a disservice.

                        Eisenhower (nominee anybody??) and company had tremendous faith in Patton and his performance showed it wasn't displaced. His contribution during WWII is virtually unimpeachable, but what about what he did for the Army before the war even began? To begin, he had the vision to see that armor was the cavalry of the future and worked tirelessly to convince his superiors of this fact. How long would it have taken to field tanks if this work and preparation did not happen before the war began?

                        Great generals should be given credit for what they did behind the scenes as well.


                        • #13
                          I vote for Omar Bradly

                          My father fought for Patton in World War II. He hated him and thought he was a show off who cared more about his own reputation then about his men. It probably din't help that my dad had the dubious honor of being kicked by Patton. After marching quick time all night with very few breaks, my dad gave his men permission to fall out and take a break at a cross roads because a German artillary placement was shooting straight down the road. American artillary had been called to destroy the enemy placement but had not yet been able to take the range accurately. Patton was driven up standing in the back of his jeep. He jumped out and demanded to know why my dad was not hurrying his troops down the road. When my dad tried to explain about the enemy's artillary, Patton kicked my dad in the buttocks and told him to...'Get your lazy ass down that road!"
                          My father didn't have time to reply because the German artillary went off again and everyone had to duck and cover. When he put his head back up, Patton was no where to be seen. So my dad and his men waited the next few minutes or so until the American artillary took out the German and he and his men were able to continue safely. Bring raised in a 30 year lifer's home, {where I thought as a little kid that the Amen in prayers was really Our Men because "our men" was such a frequent topic of conversation}, I understood when told this story that Patton had committed the gravest sin possible for an officer, HE DID NOT CARE ABOUT THE LIVES OF HIS MEN AND WAS WILLING TO RISK THEM RATHER THEN LISTEN FOR A SECOND. Therfore, since my father is not able to vote, I am voting for proxy for him. He considered Bradley a gentleman and brilliant. He thought well of Ike also. {He knew all three men} However, his hero was Cheif Joseph who my dad felt was the greatest stratagist ever born.


                          • #14
                            Great story Brat. Thanks for sharing it!
                            Armchair General Magazine
                            Weider History Group


                            • #15
                              My Uncle Donny who recently passed away was in Patton's 3rd Army near Arlon, France in 1944 when Gen. Smith was sent to find out if anyone could reach Bastonge to relieve Gen. McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne Division. He said the orders were sent out to make a drive through the German 7th Army under Gen. Erich Brandenburger to the North to relieve trapped US soldiers in the Bastonge area. They also encountered Gen. Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army outside the city and continued until they likned up with the British XXX Corps and later the 1st US Army near LaRoche,France. My Uncle was always convince that no other US General had the will or ability to turn an entire US 3rd Army and launch an attack in so little time. "Patton was always willing to accept losses" my uncle said. "He knew that men died in war and that to gain ground one must not be afraid to take risks" My uncle was very,very proud to have served under Patton, and always believed that Patton was given the jobs no one else wanted. He always ended with "3rd Army was the most effective "jerry grinding unit" ever assembled!"


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