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The Best General in History

Discussion in 'World History' started by Damnyankee, Nov 1, 2004.

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  1. bhsup

    bhsup Deity

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    Ancient: If the biblical accounts have any truth to them, Joshua's victories in Canaan as he strove to get the Israelites their promised land are incredible.

    Classical: I really don't know. Hannibal? Maybe some great leader in China or India that I'm unaware of? Hadrian?

    Dark/Middle: I'd say Belisarius.

    Renaissance: Not a clue.

    1800s onward: Good Lord, too many to choose from! I won't say Napoleon because he let his egomania leave a generation of France's soldiers dead in Russia. Guderian, Rommel, Hancock (underrated by too many imho), Zhukov, Patton, the list goes on.

    I would say that perhaps the greatest collection of great generals one side ever had at one time was either the CSA during the American civil war or the German army in WWII.
     
  2. Blanco-PL

    Blanco-PL Chieftain

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    I'm Pole and I vote for:
    -G. Zhukov (for fights against Japs and later in WWII against Germans)
    -J. Pilsudski (for Polish-Russo war in 1920)
    -Genghis Khan (for his conquests)
    -Sun Tzu (for his "Art of War")
     
  3. lz14

    lz14 Prince

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    What do the experts think of Moltke ?

    I really dont get the love for Rommel. A dude who eventually lost his battle on a secondary importance stage, will be considered the best general of all time in human history.... What gives ?
     
  4. 1889

    1889 Mayor of H-Marker Lake

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    I’d say Belisarius for his consistent decisive victories over superior opponents. Some times he would win without even engaging the enemy, he used his superior position, reputation or ruse to convince the enemy to simply abandon their plans and return home.

    Alexander had more dramatic battles, Julius Caesar had more victories, Napoleon was more popular and Macarthur led more troops, but Belisarius won his nations battles with astounding speed and economy.

    Has any general ever been more efficient?

    With that vote the score is…

    Hannibal (247-182 BC, Carthaginian) 10
    Napoleon (1769-1821, French) 10
    Alexander (356- 323 BC, Macedonian) 8
    Rommel (1891- 1944, German) 7
    Belisarius (505- 565, Byzantine) 5
    Genghis Khan (1162- 1227, Mongolian) 4
    Wellington (1769- 1852, British) 4
    Lee (1807- 1870, American) 3
    Patton (1885- 1945, American) 3
    Suvorov (1729- 1800, Russian) 3
    Eisenhower (1890- 1969, American) 2
    Frederick the Great (1717- 1786, Prussian) 2
    Julius Caesar (100- 44 BC, Roman) 2
    Nelson (1758- 1805, British) 2

    Honorable mention (one vote only)
    Grant, Scipio, Harold Godwinson, Hitler, Chief Joseph of Nez Peirce, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Mannerheim, Butler, Washington, Moltke, Jackson, Montgomery, Kublai Khan, Heinz Guderian, von Manstein, Joshua, Garibaldi, Maurice of Nassau, Arthur Currie, Leonidas, Crazy Horse, Subutai, Toussaint l’Ouvertoure, V. Vozav, Jebe Noyon, Lennart Tortensson
     
  5. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    My vote goes to the Duke of Marlborough, for his fantastic defence of Portugal from Napoleon, and thus creating the festering wound that was occupied Spain. IMO this is one of the big things that brought Napoleon down.
     
  6. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    Uhmmm Marlborough died in 1722, 47 years before Napoleon was even born and over 80 years before the Peninsula campaigns. I think you mean Wellington ;)
     
  7. nc-1701

    nc-1701 bombombedum

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    I'm American and I can't make up my mind on one so heres my list:
    Rommel, Lee, Yamamoto, (not a general but still) Sherman, Osama Bin Laden, Lee, Napolean, and Zhukov.
     
  8. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I dont know how, but I always manage to mix the two up. Yes, I mean the Duke of Wellington.

    I think it's because they both fought the French in the Low Countries.
     
  9. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I'm rather sure Osama never held the rank of General, though he did do an effective job of keeping the Reds out of Afganistan.
     
  10. nc-1701

    nc-1701 bombombedum

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    Yes I don't really care about rank he was (is) an excellent commander regardless of what his "rank" is.
     
  11. 1889

    1889 Mayor of H-Marker Lake

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    Osama’s only "rank" in the Soviet-Afghan war was Arms Dealer. He never commanded any troops, except the ones he order to kill them selves. So as a military commander he's slightly better than Marshall Applewhite but has a long way to go to match Jim Jones.
     
  12. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

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    My vote would go to Genghiz Khan..for sheer success rate and versatility against a wide range of opponents with differing strengths and weakness..

    A close second would be Alexander for more or less the same reasons as above, except that he inherited a disciplined force and stable army, whereas Genghiz had to start with much less.

    Some Indian generals not mentioned, but worth knowing about all the same (in no particular order):

    1. Samudragupta: Massive campaign which expanded the Gupta empire in the 3rd Century AD to include almost all the areas that are now India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan. Although actual empire was slightly less larger since the more distant conquered peoples became tributaries to the Gupta Empire
    http://www.indhistory.com/samudragupta.html

    2. Baji Rao: Undefeated in battle in India and one of the finest cavalry generals whose exploits were compulsory reading for cavalry officers in many a military academy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baji_Rao

    3. Sher Shah Suri
    Beat the then upcoming Mughals and nearly wiped their line out but for the grace of a water-carrier. Defeated a long list of Rajput kings and laid the foundations over which his old enemies, the Mughals, through Akbar, would return to reclaim and rebuild their Empire.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sher_Shah_Suri

    4. Akbar
    Though best remembered for his tolerant and wise rule as Emperor, was also an accomplished general who retook the Mughal Empire from the declining Sur Dynasty from the descendants of Sher Shah Suri and defeated the perennial thorn-in-the-side Rajput kingdoms.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar
     
  13. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Didn't he route an army ten times the size of his own, with the result being the capture of Dehli?
     
  14. shortguy

    shortguy It's a working title

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    I think that was Babur.
     
  15. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

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    Shortguy got it right..

    Babur actually did that twice. First against the Afghan ruler of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi and later against the Rajput armies led by Maharana Sangha (if I am not greatly mistaken)

    However, Babur was helped by the fact that Ibrahim Lodi's allies were secretly working with Babur to get rid of the Lodi dynasty and the Rajputs never had a great tradition of staying together on the battlefield. Doesn't take away from the fact that he was a great general, but I put Akbar above him. Personal opinion of course..
     
  16. Watiggi

    Watiggi Deity

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    My vote: Genghis and Subotai.

    Genghis was exceptional in strategy as well as leading an army of great generals. He also learned fast and adapted quickly in both strategy and the technology used in war. His strategy was about military preservation as well as victory. He was also very cunning and creative and used whatever worked (like homing pigeons set on fire! :lol:). As with most Mongol battles, they pretty much allways had the smaller force and would decisively win everytime. He would also fight and win multiple fronts at once too. The sheer organisation of Genghis made his armies self sufficient and not needing of supply lines which in turn gave them a great edge in manouverability and combat.

    Subotai, amongst other things, slaughted 9/10ths of the Russian army with only a small force of 20,000 troops. He was exceptional (as was Genghis and the other generals) at waring in winter. He is the only general ever to successfully conquer Russia in winter. He was also good at integrating conquered people into his army and ensuring that his army was self sufficient.

    I think the Mongols are greatly under-estimated in general, especially with what they accomplished. Genghis layed down the framework (the discipline and organisation) which then made combat supremely effecient, quick, adaptive and effective. Many generals have been put on a pedastal in this thread because of their ability to survive in a difficult situation (Hannibal) or to win a war from a really bad decision. But - in Taoist fashion (Sun Tzy style) - I personally hold more value in those generals that had the foresight not to put themselves in a bad position in the first place. Genghis and his generals planned meticulously and executed with precision consistantly. Because of Genghis's foresight and organisation, they could routinely attack much larger armies, be self sufficient, have strategies that minimised losses, have a leadership that allowed conquered armies to be integrated (like Persian engineers), have an army where great leaders could rise to the top and act and lead armies independantly, where they could absorb other technology and strategies, where they didn't require supply lines, etc, etc, etc. On top of that: when Genghis died, his sons and generals expanded the empire even further and faster than what he did.

    Relevent thread

    edit: oops. Didn't mean to bump it. I thought it was a recent thread.
     
  17. Bast

    Bast Protector of Cats

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    Joan of Arc. Why are women always neglected?

    :feminism:
     
  18. 1889

    1889 Mayor of H-Marker Lake

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    Her strategic and tactical skills have been under reported, but I really don't think she's the greatest general in history.

    As for neglected, she has more movies and wiki pages than most of the other folks on this list.

    I think I've underestimated Genghis and his ilk as well, but Belisarius still gets my vote. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belisarius

    I'm sure we have different opinions about which characteristics are most important too. Is great generalship revealed most by tactical or strategic victory, is its surest test in avoiding or overcoming great odds or is the greatest general simply the one who best served his (or her) nation or political masters? And how should the evidence be weighted to account for various historical circumstances?
     
  19. dutchfire

    dutchfire Deity

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    Alexander the Great?
    Although he might not be considered a real general but more a head of state.
     
  20. RickFGS

    RickFGS Deity

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    Afonso Henriques - took eveybody out of the picture, moors, castilla, leon, navarra and made a country.
     
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