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My list of the ten best generals of all time

  1. Jul 19, 2008 #1
    1. Alexander the Great

    2. Frederick the Great

    3. Napoleon Bonaparte

    4. Julius Caesar

    5. Hannibal

    6. Richard the Lionheart

    7. Genghis Khan

    8. Ulysess S. Grant

    9. Georgy Zhukov

    10. Erich Von Manstein
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2008 #2
    There are lurkers here. Please comment on my list. Be frank with me.
     
  4. Jul 22, 2008 #3

    arildno

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    Well, I see neither Scipio Africanus, Fabius Cunctator, Belisarius or Tarik your list...
     
  5. Jul 22, 2008 #4

    marcus

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    I think we'd have to look at military textbooks and see what they study in war college.

    The popular reputation of generals depends a lot on the morale and fighting quality of the men they command----and on accidents of the political situation not to mention technology.

    Suppose you ignore accidents like that and try to evaluate who is a good general purely in terms of their brilliance in planning campaigns, coordinating forces, outthinking the enemy, making real-time decisions etc.

    Wouldn't that take you back to military textbook cases?

    I'm not familiar with that sort of information. Maybe you had better give some examples of what you think is good generalship, and say explicitly what criteria you have in mind----what is "good", if you want to list the "best"?
     
  6. Jul 22, 2008 #5

    BWV

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    Zhukov could have crushed anyone on the list. I do not think the Grand Armee could have withstood a Katyushka barrage for very long
     
  7. Jul 22, 2008 #6

    Astronuc

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    I think it is difficult to compare ancient generals with those of the modern battlefield.

    How about Fritigern (Battle of Adrianople), or Attila the Hun, or Geiseric (of the Vandals and Alans who took N. Africa and Carthage)?

    The Huns under Attila were remarkably successful.
     
  8. Jul 22, 2008 #7
    3. Napoleon Bonaparte lost in the end

    Richard the Lionheart got captured

    Hannibal lost the war in the end

    8. Ulysess S. Grant won with numbers lee was better [mostly] but lost

    9. Georgy Zhukov won with numbers and great loss of men

    10. Erich Von Manstein lost

    greatest with the least training and support SPARTICUS
    but still the greatest nonwinner

    shouldnot they be winners?
     
  9. Jul 22, 2008 #8

    BWV

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    Zhukov was the big winner of WW2

    Sure he had numbers, but also he executed the blitzkrieg concept better than anyone in WW2

    Having numerical superiority where it counts is part of being a good general ISTM
     
  10. Jul 22, 2008 #9

    Astronuc

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    The best generals win with fewer men.
     
  11. Jul 22, 2008 #10

    Integral

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    Arthur Wellesley the Duke of Wellington out Generaled Napoleon and his Marshals at every turn, where is he?

    Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson was arguably the best General present in the American Civil War, where is he?

    US Grant was relentless, but needed a huge reservoir of men. Cold Harbor, alone, should be enough to keep his name off the list of greatest generals.

    There is a difference between concentration of force to gain a numerical edge on the battle field and feeding men into a meat grinder. You have to consider the butcher bill vs gains.
     
  12. Jul 22, 2008 #11

    BWV

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    No, the best generals understand their strengths and weaknesses relative to that of the enemy. If the situation requires superior numbers then so be it.

    We still have Zhukov to thank for the defeat of Hitler. Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk & Bagration were the most important battles of the war - each far more important than D-Day - and Zhukov was responsible for each
     
  13. Jul 22, 2008 #12

    arildno

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    Just for ray b:
    Richard the Lionheart was "captured" at a wayside inn in Europe, not on the battlefield or in the aftermath of any battle. he was on his way home.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2008 #13

    turbo

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    Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson did more with less (manpower, supplies, etc) than US Grant. Grant does not belong on the list.
     
  15. Jul 22, 2008 #14
    But where is the father of strategy? General Sun-Tzu?
     
  16. Jul 22, 2008 #15

    CRGreathouse

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    Attila should be on your list. Grant shouldn't be -- he was a fine general, not a great general -- and I have my doubts about Julius Caesar, who was a demagogue more than a general, a tribune long before consul.

    Other possibilities for the list:
    • Narmer, pharaoh who united the Upper and Lower kingdoms
    • Sargon I, who pioneered the concept of "empire"
    • Thutmose III, pharaoh who expanded Egypt to its greatest extent
    • Trajan, golden-age emperor of the Romans who greatly expanded its reign
    • Vercingetorix, who sacked Rome
    • Samudragupta, Indian empire-builder
    • Flavius Belisarius, reconquering the Western Roman Empire for the East
    • Leonidas
    • Darius I
    • Scipio Africanus
    • Hannibal
    • Robert E. Lee, my only modern entry...
     
  17. Jul 23, 2008 #16

    Integral

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    How many Vercingetorix were there?

    I hope the rest of you info is better then this. Vercingetrorix battled Julius Caesar in Gaul, he died ~500yrs before the sack of Rome.
     
  18. Jul 23, 2008 #17

    Integral

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    I am by no means a expert on the War in the East, I do know that WWII was won with American trucks and Russian blood. However it is not clear to me whether it was superior Russian Generalship or inferior German Generalship which lost the war for the Germans. Hitlers meddling countered efforts of excellent soldiers like Heinz Guderian, who should be considered for the list of great generals.
     
  19. Jul 23, 2008 #18

    arildno

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    CRGreathouse:
    Alaric sacked Rome in 410 and Gaiseric sacked Rome in 455, but Vercinegoterix was EXECUTED in Rome, and was nowhere near sacking the city.

    Shame on you.
     
  20. Jul 23, 2008 #19
    Robert E. Lee was brilliant with tactics (Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness) but weak at strategy. In May 1863 Longstreet was in favor of the CSA's sending two divisions from the ANV to engage Rosecrans in TN, compelling Grant to relieve pressure on Vicksburg to aid Rosecrans. Lee evinced his weakness at strategy by instead advocating that all soldiers stay in the ANV and invade PA. Lee thought that if the ANV invaded PA, this would likely compel Grant to relieve pressure on Vicksburg in order to help the East. Lee's strategic plan to invade PA was almost silly. When the ANV eventually left PA to return to VA, it was inevitable that the northern newspapers would declare this to be a northern victory.

    Grant was fair at tactics, but he was excellent at strategy. Grant evinced great strategic skill in the Vicksburg Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Grant had Sherman doing his march and three other armies simultaneously on campaign. It sounds simple to have five armies on campaign at the same time, but it was a novel idea at the time. The campaigns were a giant administrative feat. Grant organized bakeries and pontoon trains and all supplies. Setting up the logistical bases for these operations makes Grant a hall-of-famer in the game of generalship.

    A general needs to be a logistician first, a strategist secondly, and a tactician last. Tactics win newspaper headlines. Strategy wins wars.
     
  21. Jul 23, 2008 #20

    Name one battle that Sun Tzu participated in.
     
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