Only about one percent of any given officer year group in the Army will make it to the level of general officer. Most of those who do will serve their time and retire without much notice by the general public. Even amongst those in the Army, most general officers are only known by those within their sphere of influence. Not until history steps in do general officers become famous for having perfected their craft. Even then only a small number of those generals seize the opportunity, distinguishing themselves above their peers.
Recently my uncle sent me an article by Michael Peck from back in June titled, “The 5 Greatest U.S. Generals in History.” Overall, the list isn’t bad: George Washington, Winfield Scott, Ulysses S. Grant, George Marshall, and Matthew Ridgway. It could, however, be a lot better.
All five Peck selected have their own merits. Washington is a no-brainer. He’s the father of the country and should be on any list of great American strategic leaders. Scott invaded Mexico in 1847 in an amphibious operation that would not be bested for almost a hundred years. Grant rose above his personal issues to succeed in defeating the Confederacy and do his part to keep the country from being permanently ripped in two. George Marshall managed the growth of the Army into the world-class organization that it still is today. And Ridgway held the line in Korea after MacArthur’s firing.
But are those five truly the greatest ever? I don’t believe so. My uncle and I went back and forth for days picking apart that list. The problem with any top five (or any other number) list is they are subjective and, as any sports fan can tell you, affected by era bias. The subjectivity problem is pretty straightforward. The list is filtered by the author according to his views on what makes someone great. Era bias, on the other hand, comes from the question of whether person X would be as effective if he or she was in time period Y? Would Babe Ruth be the same player if he had to hit against Nolan Ryan? Would Ulysses S. Grant be the same general if he served during the Korean War? As much as we try, no one can answer these questions.
So while at first glance Mr. Peck’s list seems okay, upon closer examination the flaws become clear. In Washington’s case Peck points out the flaw himself, acknowledging that Washington was not a good tactician, only needing to avoid losing while militia and guerrillas did the dirty work. Scott fought against a less-than-top-tier Mexican army. Grant was good but with the North’s clear manpower, industrial, and infrastructure advantages, did it matter in the end who was in command? Marshall never commanded troops in battle. And Ridgway, who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, was only able to manage a draw in Korea.
Below is my counter to Peck’s list. Call it the USA Today Coaches’ Poll to Peck’s AP Poll. Still recognizing the inherent subjectivity of any list, I believe a strong case can be made that any of the below could be rated more highly than the generals Peck chose. They are listed in no particular order; if they were receiving Officer Evaluation Reports, each evaluation would simply say that the rated officer is one of the top five in the Army’s history.
John J. “Black Jack” Pershing
Pershing is the first great modern American general. Born near the beginning of the Civil War, Pershing grew up in Missouri surrounded by veterans of that devastating war. Pershing’s first taste of combat was during the Spanish-American War, during which he was awarded the Silver Star as the commander of the 10th Cavalry. He then saw action during the Philippine insurrection from 1899 to 1903. His reputation as a commander during these operations and as a military attaché in Tokyo led to his nomination to the rank of brigadier general—skipping three ranks in the process. Not long after his promotion he saw action again while leading a small force, which included a young Lt. George S. Patton, in an attempt to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Unfortunately, over the course of the nearly two-year mission he was unsuccessful in his task.
But the country had a more pressing issue for Gen. Pershing. In 1917 the war in Europe finally pulled the United States into its clutches. Pershing was given the monumental task of growing and training an Army 130,000 strong into a competent fighting force of over two million. Additionally, he oversaw the creation of the modern staff construct—the G1 staff section, the G2, G3, and so on that is familiar to today’s soldiers was not formalized until Pershing took command of the American Expeditionary Force. He ended up formalizing the staff construct for the entire Army when he became the Army chief of staff in 1921. Under Pershing’s command American Forces were successful in many operations, including the Meuse-Argonne offensive that ultimately led to the final destruction of the German will to fight. Gen. Pershing and his leadership transformed the Army from a force only able to conduct small raids and counterinsurgencies into one that was able to project American power anywhere in the world and win against any of the modern armies of the time.
George S. Patton
Arguably the most famous general after George Washington, George S. Patton is the personification of what many Americans think a general should be (or more specifically George C. Scott’s portrayal in the iconic 1970 film about him is what Americans think a general should be). Born on what would later become Veterans Day in 1885, Patton first made a name for himself by leading patrols as a part of Gen. Pershing’s punitive raids into Mexico in search of Pancho Villa. His heroics during those operations caught Pershing’s eye, leading to his selection as Pershing’s aide. Later, during World War I, Patton was called on again by Pershing, this time as the first officer selected for the AEF’s new tank corps.
It wasn’t until World War II that Patton’s legacy was set. Patton won battles at every turn. From taking over II Corps in North Africa to moving the Seventh Army across Sicily, his victories were well known by friends and foes alike. Germany was so focused on Patton that they dedicated the majority of their defenses in Europe to protecting against a fake army that they believed was being led by him. When Patton did finally make it to Europe after D-Day his victories continued to rack up. Most notable was his relief of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. Col. Oscar Koch, the Third Army G2, had anticipated, the German attack that enabled Patton to be unsurprised by German actions during the Battle of the Bulge. Because of this early warning by his G2, Patton was able to be in position to save the defenders at Bastogne. Patton continued on to Germany. Nothing the German Army threw at Patton could stop his advance. Only orders from Gen. Eisenhower ultimately stopped him from taking Berlin. In the end Patton’s Third Army was credited with capturing over 80,000 square miles and inflicting over a million casualties.
William T. Sherman
William T. Sherman believed the only way to win the Civil War was to completely destroy the South’s will to fight, and he did so with ruthless efficiency through what would later be termed “Total War.” Sherman began the war as the superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy, having resigned his commission after the Mexican-American War in which he did not fight. Once war broke out, however, Sherman resigned from his teaching post and was made a colonel in the US infantry. He saw his first action of the war in the east during the Battle of First Manassas. After the battle he was promoted and sent to the Western Theater where after some setbacks, including being overrun at Shiloh, he met Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Grant and Sherman went on to Vicksburg, locking down one of the most strategically important locations of the war.
After Vicksburg, Grant was promoted, leaving Sherman in charge of everything in the west. Sherman realized that the only way to defeat the Confederacy was to completely destroy the South’s will to fight. He knew that even if the Army of the Confederacy was defeated the people of the South were not likely to surrender. Sherman’s solution was to move from Atlanta to Savannah in what would come be known as his “March to the Sea.” Sherman’s force lived off the land, laying waste to the countryside on a massive scale as he moved across Georgia. He continued his destructive campaign by moving north into South Carolina. After all was said and done Sherman accepted the surrender of all Confederate troops in Georgia, Florida, and both Carolinas, the largest surrender of the war.
Probably the most controversial pick on the list for his personal transgressions, Gen. David Petraeus is credited with bringing counterinsurgency back into the Army and turning around the Iraq war. Gen. Petraeus built a reputation of being the best at whatever he did. From winning top honors at Ranger School to winning the Gen. George C. Marshall award for top graduate at the Command and General Staff College, Petraeus didn’t know how to be in second place. He also built a reputation for deep thinking by earning both a master’s degree and a doctorate from Princeton and then teaching at West Point.
Gen. Petraeus didn’t see his first operational deployment until he was a lieutenant colonel, when he served as the chief of operations for the UN Mission in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy in 1995. After that he served in both Operation Desert Spring in Kuwait and Operation Joint Forger in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a brigadier general.
It wasn’t until the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 that that Gen. Petraeus’s star really began to shine. As the commander of the famed 101st Airborne Division, then Maj. Gen. Petraeus used his understanding of counterinsurgency operations to maintain control of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq—a city that would later become a sparkplug for violence throughout the country, and just over a decade later would be the stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.
Gen. Petraeus recognized that the military was not effectively using the lessons of the past with regard to counterinsurgency. He used his position as the commander of the Army Combined Arms Center to change the Army’s doctrine on the subject. The result was Field Manual 3-24: Counterinsurgency, arguably the most read doctrinal publication ever. It was so popular that book stores like Barnes and Noble and Amazon began selling the manual.
Because of his expertise in counterinsurgency operations and successful leadership as a division commander in Mosul, President George W. Bush selected him to lead all forces in Iraq. Overseeing the “Surge” and the building of the Sons of Iraq program on the success of the “Anbar Awakening,” along with solidifying a renewed emphasis on counterinsurgency tactics, Gen. Petraeus is credited with turning the tide of the Iraq War by reducing the number of SIGACTs (“Significant Activities”—essentially any attack, IED strike, or similar combat event) in the country from several hundred a day to a handful a week, allowing the Iraqi government and military the time they needed to stand on their feet.
The only Medal of Honor winner on the list, Gen. Douglas MacArthur also has the distinctions of being the only one on the list to be fired from his position of leadership and the only one to have served in three major conflicts—World Wars I and II and the Korean War. And he and his father are one of only two father and son duos to receive the nation’s highest award. MacArthur served in various positions in the 42nd Division which participated in the battles of St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Sedan during WWI.
After the fall of the Philippines in 1942, in the early months of the United States’ participation in World War II, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor for his defense of the Philippine islands and appointed as the supreme commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. MacArthur maneuvered forces from island to island, pushing the Japanese west until he liberated the Philippines in October 1944. Soon after he was promoted to General of the Army and given command of all forces in the Pacific, and nine months later accepted the surrender of Japan ending the war.
MacArthur was once again called upon in 1950 to lead the United Nations coalition in Korea. Gen. MacArthur arrived in Korea with the UN force in a dire situation, pinned in a small enclave in the southeastern end of the peninsula. Under MacArthur’s leadership, US and coalition forces were able to reverse the tide and push North Korean forces almost to the border with China. This triggered China’s involvement in the war, which, triggered a series of events that ultimately led to his being fired by President Truman for insubordination.
Is this list perfect? Probably not. Are there other more deserving officers who were snubbed? With thousands upon thousands of general officers in American military history, it’s very possible. That’s the beauty of lists like these: they strike up a healthy debate on what makes a successful and great leader in the profession of arms. But at the very least, no one can argue that Pershing, Patton, Sherman, Petraeus, and MacArthur are not qualified to be in the discussion.
You ask: "Grant was good but with the North’s clear manpower, industrial, and infrastructure advantages, did it matter in the end who was in command?" Yes, it did. Until Grant, Lincoln did not have a fighting general. If that had continued, many different outcomes were possible. Grant is one of my personal heroes. (As is Lincoln.)
Agree. He needs to be at the front, where he fought.
Grant pointed out that the preceding six generals weren't getting the job done.
Thank you for weighting this. History has forgotten many of the great things that Grant did for our country. We would have lost the Civil War if not for the determination and perseverance of Grant. He had his flaws as does every other man, yet he rose above them and succeeded.
Firstly let me say I’m a bit irate that it was mentioned won the Medal of Honor you don’t win it’s not a contest. Secondly it’s hard to really who was the greatest general of all. Time. Because many where are at different time periods. Yes Omar Bradley , Patton, macArther where all at the same time they where at different areas in their war. It’s hard to say who was the greatest .
Prince Royale The King of Thailand!
Prince Royale the King of Thailand! I'm good with Taiwan.
Taiwan and Morocco. Prince Royale, the King of Thailand!
This list is pretty awful. It seems to be a list of only the big names and for some reason somebody decided to throw David petraeus in there. Obviously you've got guys like Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower missing from the list and I have no understanding of how Douglas MacArthur makes it. Obviously Sherman couldn't have been Sherman if Grant hadn't paved the way for him. Speaking of civil war generals I think Joshua Chamberlain should be on the list.
What about General Austin S Miller? By what I have red about him he sounds pretty darn great an he should be in here.
If you doubt the validity of Douglas MacArthur, you only have to read about him. My first book would "American Caesar."
I agree, ad here are my reasons:
1) Grant was essentially fighting a counter-insurgency war (the rebels were the insurgents, who had overturned the government in the South). That is the THE most difficult war to win, ESPECIALLY with the limited political constraints of a liberal democracy, which Lincoln mostly upheld, with some major exceptions. Grant was not fighting a conventional war alone, he had to use politics, diplomacy, and to a large extent get the heats and minds of many of the South that they would be treated respectfully if they surrendered. His terms of surrender at the end of the Appomattox campaign s just one example.
2) Grant was also fighting a CIVIL WAR, the SECOND most difficult war to win, against his own countrymen and many personal friends.
3) Grant came up from almost nothing at the start of the war. Yes, he had graduated from West Point, had much combat experience in the Mexican-American War (which he opposed) but had been drummed out of the Army over 10 years previously, as a newly minted Captain, mostly for being drunk on duty, one time, and wanting to avoid Court Martial. He had that negative reputation when the war started, was initially refused a commission, volunteered to train local soldiers and that is how he started in 1861…and by the end of 1864 he was THE commanding general of all Union forces (over a million soldiers I believe). That alone must be one of the greatest feats in military history.
4) The Union had, for all practical purposes, no standing Army, and most of the best trained officers, such as Robert E. Lee (to whom Lincoln had offered command of the Union Army in 1861 before he resigned his commission) deserted to the South. Grant had mostly volunteers with little or no military experience. Worst, he had to put up with political generals, congressmen and the like with no military experience, some of them either outranking him in the beginning or having independent commands (meaning he could not just fire them).
5) The South didn't have to win. They just had NOT to lose, in their home turf, until 1864 when a Democrat would then be elected and offer peace terms. Grant's victories in Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, which led to Vicksburg being even possible, and his risky decision to let Sherman loose with zero way to communicate with him and no supply lines, led to the burning of Atlanta, which broke the back of the Confederacy and allowed Lincoln get re-elected. It was a race against time, and he JUST beat it, after starting at the very bottom just 3 years before!
Also, the dexterity and speed Grant maneuvered hundreds of thousands of soldiers like they were merely a regiment, along with his tactical genius of changing tactics as the situation demanded, and hist meritocratic approach to an army (promoting talented people based solely on merit) makes Grant the American Napoleon.
Pershing, Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Jimmy Stewart
You forgot Omar Bradley. As did everyone else. Opting for civil was Generals. But only the name recognition type.
You should read Stephen Ambrose’s books. I some how feel he didn’t much care for Bradley.
British historians are highly critical of Ambrose's WW2 history saying he made it look like the Americans were in.all the key theaters kicking ass. In fact 80% of the war was fought in the East
I'm an American and I agree with the British historians.
"Opting for civil was Generals. But only the name recognition type." At least that's not confusing. What does that mean?
Not really. Omar Bradley refused to believe the Germans could mount an offensive in the West and was partially responsible for the Americans being so unprepared for the Battle of the Bulge. Worse than that, once that battle started, he stayed away – detached and frozen in place. Despite being a friend of Ike's, Eisenhower's account is pretty damning.
Historically I would recommend the apt consideration of the following top tier – General Officers: Washington, Scott, Pershing, Eisenhower, and Powell.
Powell,really?hell he even helped along those lies of chemical weapons in Iraq,one very costly military blunder,one of the biggest,in wartime history,never should have been undertaken,for the middle east today,is absolute hell on earth.
powell believed what he was told by his superios who were mistaken
Powell you can’t be serious?
Powell and Austin were token Generals, as neither commanded an army at war, similar to Petraeus,
MacArthur, Patton, Washington, or Eisenhower. When was the last time a Black General commanded
an entire Army? Never. I do not wonder why.
After fighting at the battle of the bulge and stranded for days, My father a battle field Commission LT. told me that a Trooper from Tennessee looked up at Patton riding his Tank and replied….. With all do respect Sir, where the Fuck you been….
Why Powell, Douglas MacArthr did way more than Powell ?
Without any doubt: NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF
-personality: character, IQ> 150
-performance: greatest victory in modern war archieved
1) Washington 2) Grant 3) MacArthur 4) Sherman 5) Patton 6) Eisenhower 7) Sheridan 8) George Marshall 9) Matthew Ridgeway 10) Pershing
Of these Grant is the most under appreciated. He won victories at Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg (severing the Confederacy in two and gaining control of the entire MIssissippi River), then broke the stalemate with an epic victory at Chattanooga, and then assumed control of the entire Union Army. Grant then used Sherman and Sheridan to sap the will of the Confederacy by destroying their crops and crushing all resistance while he grappled and ultimately destroyed by far the best of the Confederate Armies – The Army Of Northern Virginia led by the "sainted" slave holder and traitor Robert E. Lee who had previously won every battle against the Army of the Potomac except for the Battle of Gettysburg where he escaped much to Lincoln's fury and dismay. Grant defeated Lee's army and then at Appomattox Court House accepted Lee's surrender. The terms were so generous – no arrests, the men could go straight home to their families and farms on the promise they would no longer fight, and they could retain their sidearms and horses – that it began the process of true peace. As President, Grant's reputation is also greatly maligned by the former slaveholders. A few minor financial scandals pale in comparison to 8 years of incredible achievements in extending full citizenship to African-Americans (passing the 14th and 15th Amendments), appointing thousands of African-Americans to government posts, destroying the Klu Klux Klan, creating the Justice Department to prosecute thousands upon thousands of murders of Blacks and white Republicans in the south. Grant also made great strides in bringing justice to Native Americans and appointed the first Native American to be in charge of Indian Affairs with the appointment of General Ely Parker. He fired every Indian Agent and took away the patronage system and gave the Army the power to appoint Indian Agents. He then asked the Quakers to take up the call. Grant also had one of the greatest Secretaries of State the nation ever had in Hamilton Fish. The treaty negotiated with Great Britain marked a turning point where Great Britain and the United States were from that point always friends and allies and never adversaries or enemies. Grant's reputation is half what it should be, held down by Southern racists and champions of slavery and the Lost Cause. The butcher charge is also false. More men died on the enemy's side of the battles than on Grant's side – and he achieved these superior results despite attacking and taking the offensive. In battle, the attacking side is always at a disadvantage and typically suffers greater casualties. The exceptions of course are when the defending side is taken by surprise.
Fact: Lee was not a slave owner.
Fact: Lee was not a traitor, scession was legal per the Constitution at the time and the Supreme Court controlled by Lincolns own chief justice ruled that the south were not traitors and could not be tried as such cause the Constitution was on their side.
Fact : Take a history lesson before you speak.
Fact: Lee was a slave owner. He even went to court to extend ownership of his wife's slave after her father died.
Fact: the Constitution never allowed for secession. Ever. The Declaration of Independence states that it is a people can "throw off" a government that no longer serves the people. There is no self-destruct clause in the Constitution. Never has been. The union is perpetual.
Fact: Lincoln did NOT control the Supreme Court at the start of the war. When the war started Roger Taney (of Dred Scott infamy) was Supreme Court Justice. After his death, Lincoln appointee Salmon Chase. It wasn't until 1864 that Lincoln controlled the court.
Maybe you should take a history lesson he hated slavery but could not betray Virginia where he came from personally lee was better than grant ever was and no matter what was a great general.
Fact: Lee was a slave owner that broke up every family he has.
Fact: Lee’s quote was summed up as slavery is bad for whites but good for blacks, and if one day they can be good Christians they will be civilized. He actually had to be court ordered to free his slaves.
Fact: Lee had slaves that escaped and actually took the pleasure to beat them himself.
Fact: Read Leeds’s own letters and stay off of fringe sites.
MacArthur was over in-fled egomaniac is insistence on taking the Philippines back cost thousands of American lives that did not need to be lost except for his ego they could have bypassed Philippines still on the second one Pacific and save thousands of American and allied lives that was one of Roosevelt's biggest mistakes
Ask the French, Germans, and British what it is like to attack trenches.
Grant took a bunch of losers with a deeply defeatist attitude, and beat Lee from pillar to post. He forced Lee to entrench. Lee hid his entire army in deep holes in the ground to keep it from being destroyed wholesale. After thus completely dominating his opponent mentally in less than 4 weeks, Grant then executed the most amazing maneuver in the history of American military operations.
Grant's entire army, more than 100,000 men strong, disappeared.
They disappeared so completely that Lee had no idea where they went. He sent out cavalry, pickets, skirmishers, companies and regiments in all directions, looking for an enemy that had completely vanished.
Grant built one of the longest military bridges in history to that point, and moved his entire army across one of the world's major rivers, the James, while Lee floundered aimlessly and had no idea where his foe had gone. For three entire days.
If the Army of the Potomac had had any competent officers Grant would have annihilated Lee in less than 2 months operations.
Lee was completely and totally outclassed by Grant, in administration, in organization, in strategy, and on the battlefield.
You are correct and Lee was offered command of the Union Army before anyone else
Lee adamantly wrote to the Confederate Congress to Emancipate slaves – FACT. (Conditionally at first for serving in the army, then, after Gettysburg he switched his push to the Confederate government for full emancipation so that European countries could recognize and possibly mediate an end to the war. Yes – it is a fact he owned slaves – but like others, and their are plenty of primary sources written by him, he opposed the institution of slavery. You have to understand the historical perspective. Slavery was not illegal. Not until December 6th, 1865. So in that regard, he broke no laws. As for him leaving the union – that can be debated. However, I would argue he chose to fight for his home state as a matter of honor, not to uphold slavery – fight FOR his family, not AGAINST his family. Also, it should be pointed out that he didn’t even take command until late 1862. Before that he was simply the general of the Va state militia. It’s tough for many to understand the entirety of the historical perspective of the Civil War. And it’s hard for me to call many of the Confederates “traitors” based on their beliefs. Case in point, has we lost the Revolution, Washington, Knox, Hamilton, etc, would all be considered “traitors” today. They fought for what they believed in. History is written by the victors, but rarely judges through the historical perspective lense. But I’ll give a quick top 5 for me. 1 – Washington (without him, I couldn’t list a 2-5. He held off the greatest army long enough and kept together the continental army, trained and disciplined them to stay the course for victory.) 2. Robert E. lee. I’m calling him an “American” regardless of his allegiance at the time. No one in the South could have held off the union army for as long as he could. Plus, knowing ‘when’ to surrender, and ignoring Davis’s order to fight as guerrilla’s saved lives and help restore the union a bit quicker. He stood for loyalty, integrity, honor. So many great stories about him. Plus, his tactics were widely used by Europeans through WWI. 3. Sherman – for above mentioned reasons. 4. Pershing, 5. Patton.
Virginia, New York and Rhode Island all insisted upon clauses before agreeing to ratify the constitution that should the Union ever become oppressive they could go there own way with peace and would not be forced to remain in what they had voluntarily joined. Nor there descendants who it was not possible to know what government they would live under or shape the Union would take. One state cannot have powers or priviliges not allowed to the others so if 3 states had any rights of secession then all did. There was considerable question as to whether secession was legal or not and the Supreme Court did not hear or rule on it until a military victory was achieved. Secession was not deemed illegal but unilateral secession with the Court leaving the door open that there could be a legitimate secession from the Union arising from revolution. Secession was actually the dumbest move and the worst thing the 7 deep south states could have done. Over slavery that was not threatened by Lincoln as it stood. It was legal and entitled to federal protection where it existed was his position. Also that of McClellan who promised to crush any slave insurrection with an iron fist in 1861 and early 62 before the war was expanded to abolish slavery rather than just preservation of the Union. Lee had owned slaves and his father in law had him as executor a duty he did not want. He freed the last of the 200 slaves in 1862 through the courts as per the in laws wishes. He would have did so immediately had the old man not left a poorly managed and indebted estate for Lee to deal with. He wished then free within 5 years if possible and Lee did so while fighting in the war for roughly half that time. Lee was noone to model as far as racial opinions go but noone was not North or South. Not Lincoln nor Lee. Grant owned slaves in much the same way as Lee through his father in law. Neither man was even close to being pro slavery nor would either have been popular today. Northerners didn't want slavery to spread to the territories because they didnt want any black people there at all but to be reserved for the white race. Hardly humanitarian purposes. Its possible to be on the right side for the wrong reasons. How many lies were told by the republicans to former slaves concerning land and benefits that they were not only.entitled to but in dire need of. They were only a means to Republican power just as they were to slaveholders in the south. Few if any had had the best interest of black people at heart in any way shape or form. Slavery caused secession of the first 7 but the upper south remained loyal until made to choose between drawing sword against there own in the South to preserve the Union that they were trying to preserve anyway. Lincoln chose bloodshed and his course of action as rashly and ignorantly as secession was chosen. Neither understood what they were doing. 3 month volunteers to crush the rebellion show how gravely Lincoln underestimated the enormity of what was to come and the deep south in there greed abd ignorance or arrogance or both really thought they would just keep the 80% of the federal revenue they paid in tariffs and say nice knowing you. 80% of the total yearly federal tax revenue disappearing and that would just be allowed. Lincoln was right there can be no confederacy if there is to be a Union both cannot coexist. The revenue was only the beginning of the losses for the North if the confederacy is not ended. One of them was going that is a fact.
Wow, you really made yourself sound foolish with your "facts" which are incorrect.
You might need a history lesson. That's a fact.
Lee most certainly was a slave owner. He only a few of his own but when married he inherited hundreds and did not free them. And yes he was a traitor
Lee was by far the best ever, with one thir of the resources , he chased the union army ragged for four years
Chernow"s biography "GRANT" , says it all . grant was the greatest General in American history.
General Grant,was right on the money,when it came to making war against the enemy,just imagine if he had been general of the army before the battles of manassass,Antietam,getteysburg,etc.,every general before him commanding the army of the Potomac, were just too timid and cost untold thousands of lifes,on both sides.His beliefs period,we're to attack, and killing the enemy.
Patton was a huge diva,but ole blood and guts,believed as Grant did,attack,And kill the enemy.His
leadership of the 3rd army's March across france,and germany,has been considered one of the greatest military feats,of all time,in conquering of territory,but,the 101st airborne would argue all points of who saved who.
I could continue adding,but,there have been too many fine generals in American wartime history.
Washington, Farragut,-Admiral,Sherman,Sheridan,Pershing,Nimitz,Eisenhower, Bradley, etc.Also in parting MacArthur was lucky,and,his nickname of dugout doug fits,for his defense of Battan,was very questionable.
And unfortunately there just have been,way too many very poor leaders,and in 2018,that list fucking unfortunately continues to deeply,direly grow.
But I do digress,it is and always has been,and will be shown that it is from within the enlisted,and junior officers on down,who make these generals,etc.,great.Audie Murphy,Lt. Mike Murphy,John Basilone,John Hathcock,aka White Feather,Alvin York, Eddie Rickenbacker,Richard O'Hare,Pappy Boyington,Richard Doolittle and his b25 crews,etc,etc,etc…..
Not trying to pick at you, just thought I’d straighten out a couple of names (in case someone unfamiliar with them tries to look them up)- Hathcock’s name was Carlos Norman Hathcock II, not John; Doolittle was James Harold Doolittle, not Richard, and not what I would consider a ‘junior officer’’, as he was a Lt Colonel when in command of the Tokyo Raid of April 1942, and afterward rapidly promoted As high as Lt General during the war, commanding the 12th, 15th and 8th Air Forces. Still a great leader regardless.
Again, I’m not trying to pick at your answer or even disagree-I 100% agree that without a backbone of quality junior officers and NCO’s, few if any Generals would ever achieve any level of success. Just wanted to correct those couple of names.
Just curious, what about George Rogers Clark. I believe he is one of only a few to never lose a battle. Either no one remembers him or has overlooked him as he fought in the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio regions of the American Revolution.
Robert E. Lee? Thomas J. Jackson?
absolutely R E Lee. If Va had stayed in the Union, he would have been President. But being a man of duty, he went with his state. Don't forget, he was offer to lead the Union Army by Lincoln. Revisionist and ignorance have made him into a villain. .
Can't go along with Lee: frankly I've always thought he was overrated. He seems to have been more popular with his troops than anyone else, which certainly counts for something, and he could fight a defensive campaign, but his overall strategy and his logistics were not so good. He offensive campaigns broke down pretty quick. Jackson is a very interesting choice. He seems to be the guy that the other side never had an answer for (like Rommel with the British).
Washington- For keeping the US forces in the war long enough for French naval aid and British public opinion to bring a negiated peace and US independence.
Stonewall jackson- Without him Robert R.Lee lost his edge. Longstreet is underrated but a different type of general
Grant -The First modern general who understood what was necessary to win a total war not just a series of battles
Patton – Had many faults but scared the Germans more than any other General.
MacCarther – Helped change the ethos of Japan for the good. The battle of Inchon is the greatest feat of modern warfare. The Chinese feared him and hecould have turned the tide again had he been allowed to continue in charge in Korea
If you examine the actual German record rather than histories written by Americans, you'll find that the Germans regarded Patton as an excellent Armor officer, but not more than that. He wasn't written about, nor talked about, by the Germans except those officers directly across the line from him.
We have to remember that the Americans only had one Armor commander higher than a division. The Germans had many as did the Russians. There were lots of Russian generals more feared than Patton, and several high German officers thought Hodges had a wider strategic vision.
Before we pass judgement on Powell. What did the intelligence report indicate on chemical weapons.Plus the casualties were minimal compared to last wars. I think Powell is right up in the Top 5 since he served in several conflicts.
Putting Sherman above Grant does not make sense. Sherman was pretty much average until the Atlanta campaign. His direct opponents were Joe Johnston, John Bell Hood and a much reduced, demoralized Confederate Army. Grant was the first modern US general, with a clear grasp of strategy, logistics and tactics. Sherman's greatest achievement, the March to the Sea, itself was inspired by Grant's Vicksburg campaign.
Robert E Lee. Enough said.
Pershing, Grant, Patton, Stonewall Jackson (if eligible), Daniel Morgan, Zachary Taylor, Winfield Scott, Sherman, Eisenhower, Lee, (Petraeus & Andrew Jackson as alternative)
Please to see someone has Daniel Morgan, Winfield Scott, and Zachary Taylor on their list. Such a subjective thing as to who makes the top 5 or top 10 but these men were pretty amazing.
Twenty nine years as an officer in the US Army and 6 combat tours, and I don't see anyone on this list who should be here except maybe MacArthur. Washington, Grant, and Winfield Scott are easily the top three.
After that it's hard to say. I guess I'd add MacArthur as a 4th. Patton was a great field commander but lacked strategic vision. The idea of fighting the Russian Army in 1945 was insane. Sheridan also a great field commander but not sure I can put him in the top five. His poor guidance in the campaign against the Souix in 1876 didn't set up anyone for success. Probably Eisenhower or Marshall at number 5, although while strategically superior to Patton and Sheridan, they lacked the field command expertise of the latter two. I'll flip a coin for number 5. Maybe Hodges.
*Stonewall's percormce at times was great, but at the 7 Days Battle and Fredericksburg were terrible.
*Sherman was very average. His campaign to Atlanta succeeded so well because he had maps of the back-roads from his time there decades earlier. During the March to the Sea he faced almost no enemy forces other than some Confederate cavalry. Thomas faced the brunt of Hood's Army during that time. He protested Grant's Vicksburg plan which proved to be one of the great campaigns in military history.
* Robert E. Lee could succeed with the tactical envelopement as long as he faced weak generals who took the defensive, But once Grant came East, Lee spent all but the first couple days of the Wilderness behind trenches. No imagination. His Richmond-myopia was the death of the Confederacy as far as a strategic approach.
MacArthur had numerous tactical and strategic failures. He was forced to destroy his own supply depots in the Philippines because he failed to act even after air attacks. His results for the rest of the war were decent. Some mistakes and several outstanding campaigns. Other than Chromite he made numerous strategic mistakes conducting that war. His best achievement was the administration of Japan.
I would agree that MacArthur has no business even being mentioned in the company of these other Generals. I would however put Chesty Puller and General Mattis right in any of these conversations. If you are to include General Petraeus then General Mattis needs to be included in that conversation because it was both him and General Petraeus who coordinated the small unit operations that the counterinsurgency book is based upon. In truth it is a rework of the Marine Corp's manual for small wars just updated.
George Thomas. The Rock of Chickamauga. The destroyer of Hood at Nashville. A steady hand throughout the war. And a Virginian who stayed true to the Union and his oath of allegiance.
Definitely one of my Civil War favorites unfortunately overshadowed be the Grant/Sherman/Sheridan triumvirate. Kind of like setting a new world record and still ending up in 4th place.
As to the more recent nominees, how many wars have we actually won lately? Who of these can be said to have spearheaded complete and total victory?
Although Washington was a general to call him the greatest is laughable. He led his command in French and Indian war to a disasterous defeat. Was out flanked in so many battles and was poor at best in strategic overview. His only claim to fame was his ability to run away successfully to fight another day. Had the British had a compitant general in command he would have been crushed early on. Grant was a realist he knew the north would eventually win regardless but his aggressive outlook made him a great general. Patton was arguably the best command general ever to lead American troops into battle. His study if war throughout history gave him the best strategic mind of all American generals we ever had. Had he been in command in Bradley's place the war would have ended in 44 instead of 45 he knew the Saar valley to Berlin assault in 44 right after the encirclement and decimation of the falaise pocket before the Germans could regroup would have ended the war. But because Montgomery had to be placated with his failed marketgarden attack the chance to win the war fast was lost. Marketgarden allowed the Germans to regroup and bring from the East the troops needed to attack in the battle of the bulge. Had Pattan been given the troops and the gas he would have taken Berlin in fall of 44 while the Germans were tied down in Russia.. Eisenhower's only saving Grace to be on the top part of any list was he was a great politician and logistics man as far as combat leader he never lead troops in battle so we will never know. Robert e Lee was a great strategic general he won battles most generals would have lost. Enough said period. Had he stayed in the union army the war would have ended after first bull run had he been in command of the union army as Lincoln wished. His loyalty to Virginia led to the war lasting much longer than it would have had he been in charge of union forces from the get go. He not Grant would have been president after the war. Lee made Grant great. Storms Norman was probably the best of the modern era generals. Powell was a over rated general. MacArthur was short sighted during ww2 inchon was his greatest claim to fame had he listened to others Korea and ww2 would have been less costly in lives but his ego got many soldiers killed so he could grab glory. My list would be as follows.
1. Lee and Grant tied for first since separating the two is impossible Patten next, Washington next Sherman, Eisenhower, Ridgeway, storman Norman, MacArthur and then Stonewall Jackson. This list probably won't be popular with most historians but remember the truth is undeniable. Greatness is earned not given. The generals on my list earned their places or lack of it..
Yes, I do agree with some of your opinions on Washington's defeats in the French-Indian war.
If you truly want a commanding General It would be General Oliver Prince Smith, USMC Korea 1950. His command under siege by hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops was legendary. He saved the lives of thousands of US Troops in the breakout to the ocean in December 1950, in -35˚ when he famously said "Retreat Hell, we are advancing in another direction.
Some excellent leaders who should get some recognition (maybe not in the top 5 or 10) but whom I dont think anyone has mentioned are Anthony Wayne, Daniel Morgan, and Benedict Arnold (that last name should stimulate some replies!). Don't want to forget Winfield Scott (already mentioned I think), Andrew Jackson or Zachary Taylor. How about George Thomas, the first "Rock"?
Arnold was probably the best field commander on either side of the war, despite his lack of a military background. He also performed extremely well as a naval commander as seen at Lake Champlain. Patton had high remarks for Arnold as a commander.
LEE AND JACKSON. GREAT MEN. GREAT GENERALS. IF LEE ONLY FOUGHT FOR THE UNION. HE WOULD BE CONSIDERED A GREAT HERO THAT KEPT THE UNION TOGETHER. EVEN THOUGH HE FOUGHT FOR THE SOUTH, HIS PHOTO WOULD BE ON THE WALL NEXT TO GEORGE WASHINGTON'S PHOTO IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, DURING THE EARLY TO MIDDLE 1900'S.
You Are right Arnold was a Brilliant tactician. But. His mistakes will forever be remembered
LEE AND JACKSON. WHAT MORE CAN I SAY.
General Austin Scott Miller. Is, has led the Resolute Coalitin mission in Afghanistan from the beginning of the war. Is honorable and dedicated to the countries mission there. He is brilliant in all aspects of warfare.
Once this conflict is in the history books, I feel he deserves this recognition.
Do believe Lee Should definitely be in there with Perishing ,Washington .Mcarthur. and Jackson
General Winfield Scott. An amphibious assault in 1842? An invasion through extremely rough terrain, surrounded by hostile countryside and cut off from your base of supplies? Praised as the greatest living general by Wellington? If he were younger at the outbreak of the Civil War could he have defeated Lee? He certainly recognized the need for an overall strategy to win the Civil War.
Old thread but a list of generals that doesn't include Forrest, Jackson, Schwarzkopf, Chamberlain, Sherman, Grant, and Bradley is flawed.
General Curtis LeMay who developed the Strategic Air Command into the most powerful deterrent to war in the 20th Century.
Robert E. Lee is the best if a list does not include him it sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
did you know that once Patton slapped a soldier in the face? And you know why? Because he was afraid. I know that. And I'm 9
Anyone else know that???
And sadly I don't know any other good generals. Well, maybe Napoleon or the 1st Duke of Wellington.
And what about John J Pershing (AKA Black Jack)? What about Dwight D Eisenhower? What about George C Marshal creator of the Marshal Plan?
The worse one which I always saw .Why are only americans there ? Definitly other countryes generals were better
Erwin Rommel did the most with the least. His brilliance was hampered by Hitler at almost every turn.
George Washington is my favorite American hero.
MacArthur lost the Phillipines with superior forces. Two days after Pearl Harbor his planes were caught on the ground. He had the biggest fleet of B17 at that time. They would of proved devasttating to the Japenese landings.
Top 3 Generals, in no certain order:
Rob’t E Lee- Geo. Patton- Benedict Arnold
I would say, "Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw" Indian Army
He was the name behind creation of New country "Bangladesh"
In 1971 India-Pakistan war when the whole world was supporting Pakistan, He won the War
Even US came into the Indian Ocean with their 7th Fleet to help Pakistan, But his strategic move of agreement with USSR proved it correctly and US didn't even entered the territory
Now the world has changed the US is India's Strategic Partner, Late though now at least they understood Whom partner with
Nathaniel Green won the American Revolution
Benedict Arnold was the best field general in the whole revolution. Them 2 never get the credit they deserve because of Washington
I think the most logical listing of the greatest can only be determined by listing – first by era (in say
50-75 year increments) and then actual results of their efforts. I mean why Lee listed?
I meant “why wasn’t Lee listed” .
Washington, Grant, Sherman, Scott, Eisenhower.
Patton physically abused enlisted men, and nothing is more cowardly for a general officer.
Pershing's punitive expedition failed.
Petraeus had a criminal lapse of judgement.
MacArthur was insubordinate.
I'd like to offer up "Mad" Anthony Wayne. After two crushing defeats he had to win in the Northwest Territory . Otherwise the grow of the United States would have been stymied for years. He developed a new strategy of fighting the Native Americans in a terrain as difficult as any jungle.
Your list is good until you named Patraeus. I guess he would only one vote if it was the top 1000 generals. Kind of shocked.
The mark of a great general is the ability to win when outnumbered. Examples are Eugene, Frederick, Napoleon, Lee, Rommel, and others.
No Union Army general was great. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan had tremendous advantages in numbers of troops, weapons, and supplies. They were good leaders, but not great generals.