Jump to content



Greatest General??


Recommended Posts

Sorry if this has been dicussed in a forum before but I couldn't find one so I said I'd make one. So who do you think is the best general?Alexander?Caesar?


There are massive tactical changes due to gunpowder so you can give pre and post gun powder opinions if you want.


I think my vote goes to Hannibal, if only because he's my favourite and because of the battle of Cannae.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, my vote went with the great Ghengis Khan. The ruler of one of the, and I think it was actually the, largest land empire in the world. Definately gets the vote for the best horsemen in the world ever.


As for modern times. I think that Patton and Rommel are tied.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Wow..... DS that was quite the bash of one of the greatest American Generals in history. Care to elaborate?


We are talking greatest generals in all of human history. And somehow Patton was without a doubt a very competent and successfull General, but with the best?


Alexander, Hannibal Barca, Napoleon Bonaparte are on a whole different level then Patton.


Patton is more in the group of Rommel, Robert E Lee , John Churchill 1st Duke of Marlborough, Montgomery and Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington.




To the best I would like to add Quintus Sertorious who never lost a battle against Rome while it was at it's height of power and only through his assassination by treasonous nobles under him was his threat eliminated.

Also Arminius (alternatively called Hermann), who won the decisive battle against Rome that was so bloody and crushing that Rome forever gave up aspirations to conquer Germania. Also fought at the height of Rome's strength. { Boudicca who is also somewhat famous tried afterwards to follow his example but failed terribly, 10,000 Roman soldiers were able to decisively defeat her 230,000+ troops }. Which shows how competent the Roman army was at the time. He first destroyed 20,000 men the Roman's had, then when the Emperor himself sent his nephew north with 100,000 men to reconquer the area. Which Arminius, even though not able to fully destroy them managed to inflict such heavy losses upon they retreated and abandoned all Roman towns north of the Rhine.



Somehow I doubt Patton's skill or feats are anywhere near what these men. Arminius all under the age of 30. I don't deny that Patton is probably one of the better if not deserving to be counted to the best of the modern Generals. But against these men and the already mentioned (Alexander, Hannibal, etc..) he does not compare.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rommell's rep comes from achieving great results against reasonable odds with limited resources. However, he wasn't really tested by a worthy adversary until Patton turned up, at which point Rommell was defeated. Actually, any study of WWII generals is hampered by the enormous material difference between the sides (the Germans having enormous advantages over the Allies in the early war, whilst the Allies and Russians reversed that in the later war). Rommell was good, certainly, just perhaps slightly overrated.


However, in WWII, mention also has to go to Manstein and Guderian's joint development of the Blitzkrieg/encirclement strategy (itself derived from Hitler's obsession with Cannae, which leads us back to Hannibal). When Ariel Sharon destroyed the Egyptian advance in the Yom Kippur War, he basically stole the encirclement maneuver from Manstein (possibly deeply ironic). On the Russian side Zhukov needs to be mentioned for developing the plans that shattered and reversed the German advance on Moscow; he organised the successful defence of Leningrad against the German siege; and he engineered the strategically devastating victory at Stalingrad, from which Germany never recovered. At the tactical level General Chuikov, who personally led the street-level fighting in Stalingrad and later accepted the official surrender of the German Army in Berlin after Hitler's suicide, is also worthy of mention. The Finnish General Mannerheim is also worth mentioning as his army achieved the greatest kill/loss ratio in the war and he conceived of limited military strategic objectives, achieved them, and held them even when his ally Hitler was defeated. The Japanese Admiral Yamamoto is also worth mentioning for his startling development of carrier warfare which completely changed the face of warfare in the latter half of the 20th Century, and also for his strategic realism (he never believed for a second that victory over the USA was possible for Japan).


Napoleon Bonaparte needs a mention for his impressive number of constant successes in warefare. However, his inability to realise when he had gone too far means he cannot be called a truly great general in the strategic sense. Tactically, his powers were also waning at both Leipzig and Waterloo, which probably removes him from contention. Still, he has to be in any discussion of a truly great general.


On the list I went for Alexander, who successfully achieved an unprecedented number of successful military victories and spread his empire's influence over a truly vast area given technological limitations, and led to the establishment of a Greek cultural influence that endured for centuries (Afghan farmers still tell and retell stories of the Alexander legend today, divorced from any historical teachings). Guagamala remains a stunning military success by any standards.


Among the Romans Caesar was a major general, achieving truly glorious victories at Alesia and Pharsalus. Mark Antony is worthy of mention for his impressive success at Philippi (arguably the largest battle of antiquity, depending on what numbers you believe were at Thermopyle), although he threw it away at Actium by committing to battle when half his army and navy was riddled with illness. Idiot.


In the modern age, with awesome technological resources to call upon, truly great generals are more difficult to find, although Sharon's aforementioned success in averting Israel's defeat by Egypt was impressive (although given US backing and Israeli air superiority, Israel's long-term victory was probably assured). Schwarzkopf's strategy for dealing with Iraq in the Gulf War was also an impressive major success.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes! Hanninal is winning! As for who is on the list, I don't pretned to know much about the history of generals, I put Patton up as many people on other sites seemed to think he was worthy, just as Scipio is up because some people think because he beat Hannibal at Zama he is the better general. After some Wikipedia research i would put Napolean there instead of him(Scipio).


I'm surprised Caesar hs no votes, I would have put him as the greatest Roman general, meaning he would definately be a contender...but maybe not in this poll of the greats!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Julius Caesar was an adequate general, but an excellent politician. And I don't think we've seen any modern generals with the same ability as many of the ancients. There is a reason Patton is almost a footnote in overall world history, but Alexander gets chapters unto himself.


Men like Alexander created new ways to win. All Patton did was move fast. Now, thats gives a general a tactical advantage, but I don't think it qualifies one as a "great general".


I view Alexander as very different from Caesar. Alexander could win with seemingly mystical ability, but Caesar knew how to use and consolidate his victories. Thats a simplification, I know, but I think its accurate as far as it goes.


Alexander never lost a major battle on the field, even when grossly outmanned, and out-equipped (see the battle of Issus, in which he broke the most powerful army in the world while outnumbered four to one). But he didn't secure his holdings behind him (which is what pulled him back from India and eventually cost him his life, in all likelihood).


So, as both a tactician and strategist, I vote for Alexander.


Hannibal second, for many of the same reasons. He basically had his way in Italy for 15 years, but the tactical boldness which won for him at Cannae cost him, in the end, as a strategist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would honestly say Rommel is so reknown as a large factor because of his charisma and character, sure he could win battles and outmaneuver people, however he was not great in that sense like Hannibal or Alexander.


Rommel was the rare exception in a dirty war such as WW2 he was lauded by both sides. He was called the last knight, the last gentleman and a few other honorifics.

His most famous examples are his compassion. He burned the orders from Hitler to execute all Jewish PoWs. When the British tried the very cowardly attempt to kidnap him behind enemy lines, he buried the British Major Geoffrey Keyes who died in the attempt with full military honors instead of burying him as one would a commoner as a slight to his actions. He said it wasn't the soldier's fault that they were orderred to commit such an ungentlemanlike task.

Others include when he was orderred to guard the Atlantic wall, to build the defences (that later caused such heavy losses on Allied troops) he refused to use the French there as slave laborers and had them all paid a salary for their work.

Another is in Belgium, when one of his soldiers was drunk and raped a girl from a nearby village. Rommel visited the soldiers den that night, had a long talk with him about duty and honor, left a gun with one bullet behind. The soldier a young man wrote a long suicide note about how he failed the fatherland and committed suicide. The soldier was the nephew of an important figure in Berlin, and it caused quite a bit of a stir. But Rommel did not get in trouble due to his popularity.

Eisenhower on the other hand, right after the Normandy landing there was a string of quite a few rapes perpetuated by US soldiers, it caused such animosity between the inhabitants at the US soldiers that Eisenhower threatened to hang any soldiers who after that order committed another rape. However the original perpetrators were never punished. Which gave some inhabitants the feeling the Nazis at least had more honor then the so-called liberators, which caused a significants increase in young french men joining the Waffen SS in those weeks to fight these foreigners who just came and raped their sisters and mothers in the name of liberation. However it quickly was brought under control hence it not being so well known, and most US history books wish to overlook that small fact.




Also Rommel knew of the plot against Hitler however no one knows how deeply he was in it. His daughter said he dissaproved of it, since he didn't want Germans to think the war had been lost due to betrayal. And he was torn between his love for the Fatherland and his military duty to loyalty. In the end he got the order from Hitler to commit suicide due to Rommel being close with some of the conspirators, and with his sense of duty and loyalty he wrote a suicide note mentioning his love for his nation and then shot himself and was buried with full military honors.



But he is somewhat controversial. Rommel no matter what one may say was a loyal Nazi soldier to the last. Tempering this favorable view of Rommel are the facts that he did loyally serve Hitler and the Nazi government if not throughout his life at least until 1944, that he never publicly disagreed with any Nazi actions or goals during his lifetime He dissaproved with some of the actions, however he held deep contempt at even the thought of betrayal. However it is a bit ironic at best that the man most consider to be the most humanistic and chivralous officer in WW2 was a Nazi to say the least.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...