Best General EVER?

Jan 8, 2002
Who is the best General/Admiral/Field Marshal whatever, ever? I don't know who I'd pick, that is along time.
Since you include Admiral, I will say Horatio Nelson, and see what happens.


1. Undefeated in several major battles against different enemies despite odds against him in each (Trafalgar, the Nile, Copenhagen, and some little ones that escape me)

2. Won a decisive battle that saved his homeland from a fate worse than a fate worse than death (Trafalgar)

3. Didn't just use resources given to him; he also innovated, reformed and improved the fleets under his command so that they would be more effective whether he commanded or not

4. Willingness to disobey orders to take initiative won battles when under other's command (e.g. Cape St. Vincent, Copenhagen)

5. Willingness to get his hands dirty inspired loyalty (e.g. "Nelson's patent bridge for boarding first-rates" at Cape St. Vincent, various wounds from leading marines in action at sea and on land at Tenerife, etc.)

6. Effective leadership style reached a command-system peak of efficiency equal to Prussian General staff and allowed the same tactical flexibility for subordinates that he himself had shown (e.g. the back half of the line cutting into the starboard side of the French line at the Nile)

7. Great with soundbites ("England Expects...")

8. Kinky mistress (Emma Hamilton)

9. Has big monument with birds**t on it in London

Spartacus, an escaped slave

Raised and trained an army,
defeated several roman legions
sent against him.
Alexander was possibly the greatest general of the ancient age... mastering hoplite warfare... and also mastering siege warfare....e.g The Siege of Impregnable Tyre..... He was virtually undefeated in his campaigns even when faced with the massives armies of Darius....

In the Modern Era, I hate to say it, but it could well be Ariel Sharon... He turned the Israeli army into a truely modern fighting force and surrounded an entire Egyptian Army with the relatively small IDF... However he is not a good statesman or head of state due to his extremeism and brutal respones....

For Guerialla Warfare, the one and only Che Guevarra refined it to an art though he died in one of these wars this was because he lost the support of the people due to land reforms.......
Yeah, Sharon is *justifiably* crazy. It makes me mad that he could be elected Prime minister.

I don't know as much military history as I would like. I prefer military strategy. But to chose one leader, my choice is General Trajan of ancient Rome. Trajan was the mastermind of many campaigns. He was Ceasar's personal military adviser, and like many leaders of the time, Trajan wasnot afraid to get up on a horse and fight with his men. Trajan started the great victorious military tradition of the Roman Empire.
Originally posted by LordMonarch
For Guerialla Warfare, the one and only Che Guevarra refined it to an art though he died in one of these wars this was because he lost the support of the people due to land reforms.......

I disagree.
In fact Che Guevara was a looser-guerilard. ;)

Gen. Giap or Tito are the best example of guerilla Warfare - or even Mao ... :)

Well Che liberated Cuba and he was not as brutal or ruthless as the aformentioned and was more of an idealist, truly believing the people would rise up to help him. Yet as I sai, when Che entered a country, the government usually copped on a bit and introduced some reforms to placate the masses. He wrote the book, literally on guerilla warfare that is used in part by the shining path, PLO, FARC etc.
To be fair, I think you have to look at several factors

1. What the General started with personnally
(ie education, money etc)

(Nelson started at the top) 0 point
(Eisenhover Regular citizen) 1 points
(Spatacus illiterate slave) 2 points

2. What kind of army he started with

(Alexander started with the best army in the world) 0. points
(Nelson vs French navy roughy equal) 2 points
(William Wallace vs English) 4 points

3. The fighting abilitiy of the enemy the general fought

(Total Superior, Italian invasion of Ethopia in 1870s) -4 points
(Advantage) , British vs Zulu -2 points
(Roughly equal, WW2 Eastern front 43) 0 points
(Disadvantage) Zulus vs British +2 points
(Total Inferior, Dervish victory in Sudan 1870s) +4 points

4. General's side lost/won war

WIN + 4 points
LOST - 4 points

So Hannibal would be

Feel free to adjust the point scores, It just seems to
me that some great generals would score a zero.
What about Napoleon? A strategic genious!
Eisenhower wasn't that good of a general. He was a politician in a general's uniform. De Gaulle was good, but just couldn't beat the Nazi's with one (outdated) armored division.
Originally posted by MWA
What about Napoleon? A strategic genious!
Ah! Now we're getting somewhere! :D

Napoleon displayed true brilliance in many areas, not just strategy. But when it comes to his generalship, he's almost beyond compare. His views on making war can be summed up in one quote: "The art of war is simple. You engage, and then you wait and see." Napoleon was always ready to exploit an enemys' weakness or force the enemy to fight on ground of his choosing. Although he wasn't responsible for any major technological innovations in warfare, Napoleon's influence on it was huge. By reforming his armies' orginizational structure and logistical system, he was able to defeat his enemies, who were still adhering to the methods of war used in the 18th century.

In battle, Napoleon could rarely be defeated. It was said that his presence on the battlefield was worth 20,000 men. His close connection with his troops and willingness to put himself in harms way inspired his men. The only battles Napoleon lost were Aspern-Essling (where he was outnumbered), Leipzig (where he was outnumbered), and Waterloo (where he faced the vaunted British Infantry). In the end, however, Wellington proved to be the better tactician.
Originally posted by Ozz
To be fair, I think you have to look at several factors

1. What the General started with personnally
(ie education, money etc)

(Nelson started at the top) 0 point

(Nelson vs French navy roughy equal) 2 points

Good to think this way, but in defence of my guy:

1. He worked his way up the ranks; while he had a distant relative in the Admiralty to watch his career, most of his promotions were rewards for success in action. As for social class, he was one of several children in a family that were the rural 1800s equal of the middle class: he was the son of a parish priest. So where do you get the idea that he "started at the top?"

2. As for the forces, while the quality of the French navy was obviously questionable in several instances, the Spanish fleet of greater quality was often also present. And his major victories were ALL fought with odds equal or against him, but in each case he was always on the offensive:

Cape St. Vincent (as captain in fleet, he makes decisive move by disobeying orders and then captures two larger ships with same boarding party) 15 RN ships vs. 27 Spanish.

The Nile: 12 RN ships of the line engaged (1 aground in attack run) vs. 13 French in a prepared defensive position

Copenhagen: odds roughly equal (Nelson took 12 ships from a fleet of eighteen; Danes had 12 plus a series of grounded ships and shore batteries but there is wide disagreement about the strength of the fleet)

Trafalgar: 26 RN vs. 33 ships of the Combined Fleet

(all counts vary depending on different authors' perspectives on what was or was not a line-of-battle ship, but these are the figures I've been used to over the years).
He was an educationed man, before entering the navy. I
was'nt aware a parish priest was middle class. I thought
the position was usually filled from the ranks of the non-
first born of the lesser nobility. I would have thought he
would have started as a midshipman not a common

I claim no expertise on Nelson or his time period.
(I love C.S. Forrester books however ;) )

All the historical figures i used were examples and i
really didn't expect to defend the numbers I assigned.
Really what i wanted to propose is some sort of common
yardstick to measure by, and I hoped new point sets
would be proposed.
Originally posted by rmsharpe
I'd have to say Patton or MacArthur.

MacArthur was a brilliant tactician - when it came to developing public relations tactic. Otherwise, he was a man determined to make himself look good, even if the operation he insisted on had no use in the war. But seriously, what grand feat of strategy did MacArthur accomplish?

The Philippines, take I? Hardly.

The New Guinea campaign? He didn't do TOO badly, but frankly, there are a lot of generals out there who could have pulled it - it was the fighting men (and the terrain, and the navy at Coral Sea), not strategy which made the real difference in new Guinea. He didn't do anything oustanding there.

The Philippines, take 2? Victory with an overwhelming advantage in production of weaponry is hardly an impressive feat.

Especially when the operation could have been skipped entirely, as some other american leaders, especially in the navy, were advocating, without much price on overall strategy. If the allies had moved on beyond the Philippines to attacking targets which could actually provide bases of operation for their heavy bombers, much time would have been saved.

I don't see anything that brilliant in what he did in Korea, either...

MacArthur was an average general at best, a poor strategist, and a brilliant public relation man.

As for best general ever, it'S an highly subjective question. Yamamoto's Pearl Harbor attack (which he planned to hold very shortly after a declaration of war, not before it) was definitely a great move, but then again, as has been discussed, Midway could have been better planned.

In the seas others who stand out include the command group of the english fleet during the Spanish Armada campaign, (Drake-Hawkyns-Howard-Frobisher), even though they were majorly helped by the ineptitude of the enemy leaders (and hindered by their own government), for a 0-loss (in terms of ships ; though it's not much higher in term of men) campaign against an enemy which posed a serious threat of overwhelming their homeland. Howard is of the four the one who deserves the least mentioning for pulling his whole squadron after a grounded ship they couldn't even reach at Calais. And Drake and Hawkyns, who were the two major sources of the new ships and tactics of the english fleet, certainly deserves more mentioning.

There are a number of other great generals and admirals, of course - it's simply very hard to pick ONE of them.
this was not a general but some belgian guy opened some ports for water and let the yser flooded stopping the invasion from german in whole europe:)
-Planned 'Fall Gelb' The succesful invasion of France
-Crossed the Dvina river with his Pz. corps in the summer of '41
-Captured Sevastopol in the summer of '42 and named Field Marshall
-In charge of relief efforts towards Stalingrad in Winter 1942
-In charge of evacuation of German forces from the Caucasus and the Donets Basin in Winter,early Spring of 1943
-Recaptures Kharkov in spring of '43 and sets the stage for a German counter-attack (Kursk)
-Hitler's Operation Citadelle fails dismally, but Manstain continues to bring the 'front-shortening' to a succesful conclusion when he is demoted in the Campaign for Northern Rumania (Besarabia).
-Post War he becomes special advisor to American Forces in Europe.
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