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Famously Mmediocre Generals

Discussion in 'World History' started by onejayhawk, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    Nelson shouldn't be held responsible for the decisions of his political masters. Parker's orders were to frustrate the Armed Neutrality, by force if necessary. Once negotiations broke down Nelson's job was to bring that force into play and finish the fighting with as little bloodshed as possible. If that meant threatening to launch fire ships at them to force a surrender then so be it. If it meant actually carrying out that threat then the responsibilty lies as much with the apparently surrendered ships as it does with Nelson.
     
  2. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    And that was exactly what the French Admiral François Paul de Brueys d'Aigalliers had tried.

    He wasn't a bad match for Nelson either; while a nobleman by birth he started out as a common sailor as thirteen years of age. Napoleon noticed him after he had run circles around the Venetian navy, and put him in charge of the naval side of the French campaign to Egypt. If Nelson missed his squadron in transit to Egypt, it might as well be said it was because de Brueys did a good job.

    He knew the RN would try to break thorugh his line of combat in an open sea engagement, which was why he positioned his fleet with the beach behind it, making that kind of break-through impossible. The flaw was that the French flagship, the 120-gun, l'Orient lay so deep in the water the entire line had to be positioned far enough from the shore Nelson could sneak a couple of his 74's in behind the French line. To even attempt that Nelson had to be able to spot the opportunity, and have the balls to exploit it by changing his MO.

    I'd say de Brueys was more than half decent, but Nelson was better.

    During the battle de Brueys, already wounded twice, commented the situation with the phrase: "A French admiral should die on his quarterdeck", which he did as l'Orient blew up.
     
  3. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    Good points Verbose, and more evidence that Nelson was not merely "lucky". No-one should blame the French commander, he did as you said his best, he was just unfortunate that his best was nowhere near Nelson on form. Just about the only real element of luck involved could be the wind, which blowing from the North prevented the unengaged French ships from coming to the aid of those in battle.
     
  4. Nylan

    Nylan Characters Welcome

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    Indeed he did and he is a brilliant general, but I've gone through a number of Napoleon's battles, and I think he's better. Not largely, but he was. Its also common knowledge that he would have won against Wellesley had he committed his Imperial Guard sooner, which he almost did.



    EDIT: The only thing I'll point out about Nelson is that Trafalgar can't be pointed to as the end-all "Nelson is amazing" battle, although he did come up with a brilliant stragey for it. The reason for this is that Villeneuve was utterly incompetent and handed Nelson the victory.
     
  5. Case

    Case The horror, the horror

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    Yeah, but they were unable to get that information to him. Nelson was greatly hampered by the RN's lack of frigates for scouting and communications and had to rely on guess work - which eventually proved right and lead to his great victory at the Nile.

    While Villeneuve was hardly a naval genius, he was no incompetant. He successfully evaded the British blockade of Toulon, led his fleet accross the Atlantic in near record time and united with other French and Spanish fleets to meet Napolean's unrealistic deadlines. These are no small achievements, and Villeneuve may have been the best Admiral the French had at the time.
     
  6. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I think he gets that rep because he was run-up for trying to assasinate Der Furher. I can see the romantic notions, too, it's much cooler to fight "The Desert Fox," former head of the dangerous"Ghost Brigade," but now the notorious "Afrikakorps." Very cool, almost Tolkein-ish. Almost.
     
  7. Hornblower

    Hornblower Cry Havoc!

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    The criticism of Nelson for taking advantage of a situation on the battlefield is astounding.
    How can you criticize a man for developing a winning strategy against an ill prepared enemy.
    In the case of Copenhagen if the government says to go and attack somebody you don't argue the politics of it. Sir Hyde Parker was the commander put in charge and given the position to carry out the foreign policy of the time. It isn't his fault about the policy... it is only his fault if he doesn't carry out that policy in accordance with the directive. During the battle Nelson identified a strategy that was incredibly risky and in the end gave a stunning victory.
    The Nile is another such event. The fact that the French fleet was poorly deployed was to his advantage. As previously mentioned a lesser light or perhaps somebody caught up in chivalry would have waited to engage at sea. Nelson crushed the French fleet and altered the course of French foreign and military policy when most of the expeditionary army was abandoned. Napoleon himself was very nearly captured.
    Trafalgar - The blockade of the French and Spanish homeports caused a gradual degradation of the mariner skills of both navies to the point that their numerical and weight of shot advantage was eroded significantly. Villeneuve was still a very capable commander but he was out done by Nelson and his band of brothers who were also incredibly capable men.
     
  8. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    And incidenatally these were commanded by Villeneuve.
     
  9. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    Since we're going on about the Napoleonic Wars, how about old Field Marshall Gephardt Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstadt as someone successful, famous, but a mediocre general?

    Energetic, courageous, tremendous ability to bounce back from adversity (like Washington?), but hardly a first-rate military mind.
    Referred to as "General Vorwärts" (General Forward), and considered a bit of a dunce by Napoleon for never really figuring out how to use flanking manouvres to his advantage.

    It would be in character after all. Blücher started out as a common hussar, advanced to cavalry general, before becoming part of the patriot-party in Prussian politics after the first defeat at the hands of Napoleon. As is traditionally well known, cavalry men may be dashing, but they also need to be thick as bricks to be any bloody good.;)

    The opposite is of course true for the artillery, which tends to pick up the clever and competent men. The Russian artillery was the intellectual hub of the Russian Napoleonic army, if one is to believe Tolstoy. And of course Napoleon himself was artillery.:goodjob:
     
  10. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    Grant absolutely has a bad rap. He wass every bit Lee's equal and more.
    This is entirely correct. However, because Lee has so many fanboys writing history in his favor, Grant is usually depicted as an unthinking clod who simply won because he had the larger numbers. Not that that helped Pope or MaClellan. On the second point you're wrong. Lee suffered HIGHER casualty rates then Grant. In fact, if you look at Lee's early "victories", he's taking higher casualties then the Union.

    Unfortunately, the Confederate Generals had no business building up forces for Large, Napoleonic Battles with the Union. Grant was right to say that Lee's strategy never posed a threat to the union, Johnston's did.

    A distinction needs to be drawn with Zhukov. Zhukov was a terrible commander, but a brilliant strategist. In creating a military strategy, he was a genius, but his implimentation left much lacking. He often held far too tightly to the plans he had drawn up, and some of his mistakes were inexcusible. The main reason why Soviet Casualties were so attrocious with the Battle of Berlin was Zhukov simply assumed more artillery would be better, and hey, no need for the shells after the war right? So he pounded Berlin with every gun he could, while storming the city. Soviet losses to friendly fire were attrocious during the battle of Berlin.

    To Summarize: Great Staff Officer, wouldn't want to actually serve under him.

    Too bad its not a deserved reputation.

    Mao Tse-Tung really wasn't much of a Military commander. He was a keen political strategist, but wasn't much in the way of commanding troops. Chiang Actually commanded troops well, which is why he was the leader of China. He was clearly more adept then any of the other warlords, and when he handled troops that were equal in skill and equipment to the Japanese, he did rather well.

    :thumbsdown: Eisenhower was the best general America had during the war hands down. How was he overly cautious? The only time I can think of him missing an opportunity was his decision to keep a floating reserve, rather then landing at Algiers. I would remind you that it was Eisenhower who adapted quickly when Bradley found a bridge over the Rhine, reacting within hours to something like that is very quick for a theatre commander. Some of those leaders were much worse, and are highly overrated. Patton should have been removed after Palermo, and if it wasn't for Eisenhower, he would have been. If he had any flaws as a commander, it was giving Patton too much of a free hand, because they were friends for so long.

    Ah poor McClellan. He was very much like Zhukov. His plans were brilliant, and could have ended the war years earlier...if someone else had executed it. :lol:

    Rommel didn't invent anything. Guderian set up the doctrine years prior, Rommel just executed it, but he had no more role in it then von Manstein, or other great german generals in employing it. Blitzkrieg isn't really the doctrine fo the day anymore. Mechanized warfare of course is big, but thats not the exclusive domain of Blitzkrieg. Deep Battle for example, has just as much influence probably.
     
  11. Gladi

    Gladi The ignored thread killer

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    But he did not jsut serve in WW2. And while he the Japanese effort was subpar, Zhukov's command in Manchuria simply good.
     
  12. nonconformist

    nonconformist Miserable

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    Guderian practically invented armoured warfare, that the tanks smash forwards and cut armies off and the infantry steamrollers in.
    Rommel put those into practice.


    Because Rommel is often made out to be "the good German" who stood up to Hitler and destroyed the SS with his laser eyebeams and saved two million Jews.

    Rommel was, until mid 1944, quite on good terms with Hitler, I'd go as far as calling them friends, and he was completely uncritical of all his policies, unless they affected the war adversely.
    He was involved in the July plot not becuse he opposed Hitler's policies, but because the Germans were losing the war.

    Rommel was one of the old guard of Wehrmacht/Reichswehr officers who conveniently looked past the Nazis, and rationalised their service by invoking the oath they had sworn to the Fuhrer to mitigate their blame, as well as "I didn't know about it"
     
  13. rilnator

    rilnator Emperor

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    A lot of people bag Rommel for his efforts in the '44 bomb plot due to the fact he was once an ardent Nazi and his efforts came late in the war.

    I say 'at least he did something!'. Model, Kesselring, Rundstedt, Guderian etc etc etc all did nothing. The German officer corps, particularly those in high command seemed more concerned with their careers than the fate of Germany.
     
  14. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    Thats, not really saying anything. Thats saying "At least I'm better then the other war criminals!"
     
  15. rilnator

    rilnator Emperor

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    Please list all of Rommel's war crimes.
     
  16. Adler17

    Adler17 Prussian Feldmarschall

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    Guderian was also in the bomb plot. Because of Rommel being wounded and out of action the plotters needed another famous general. Guderian came in, after having some scruples, a few days before July 20th. IIRC it was July 19th. As being so late in he was not detected by the Nazis.

    Adler
     
  17. TheDervish

    TheDervish Scion of the Achaemenids

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    Benjamin Lincoln - Continental Army
     
  18. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    Sonderkommando's in Africa, and absolute butchery of Italian soldiers in Italy.
     
  19. pawpaw

    pawpaw Now Farve-Proof

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    George Armstrong Custer comes to mind
     
  20. Provolution

    Provolution Sage of Quatronia

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    Both of the Alexander Haigs were terrible, yet famous generals.

    Alexander Haig (British Empire) squandered many lives in WW1
    Alexander Haig (American Empire) squandered many lives in Vietnam
     

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