Great Generals and Tactics Through the Ages - Page 4

May 15th, 2004  
I always thought it was genius that the staff of Schwartzkopf used the battle of Vicksburg in the Civil War as a template for the ground war portion of Desert Storm.
May 22nd, 2004  

Topic: Re: Top commanders of WWII

Originally Posted by M1AbramsGuy
It is almost held in total non-dispute that von Manstein was the greatest commander of WWII, both sides, including Japanese.
Yeah, a great deal of military historians agree. He was probably the main reason why the Red Army didn't reach Germany until 1945. His vital recapture of Kharkov in early '43 saved an entire German Army Group from envelopment and total collapse. Then Hitler wasted it all with the disaster that was Kursk..

Originally Posted by M1AbramsGuy
The only other general held in as much esteem would have probably been Heinz Guderian, father of the modern Blitzkreig/combined arms tactic used by the Germans to sweep Europe and the Soviet Union, until Hitler interfered one too many times and turned them into a defensive force.
To be fair some of the less foresighted old school generals like Von Rundstedt and Von Kluge didn't truly appreciate Blitzkrieg either. But yeah, Hitler diverted vital units and objectives of the Wehrmacht at critical times that ultimately cost them victory in Russia. And yes I hold Guderian with the utmost regard too. If Hitler had listened to him and Manstein as well as others then I'm fairly sure Moscow would have been captured in the fall of 1942.

Originally Posted by M1AbramsGuy
Other great commanders were von Leeb, von Bock and List... all very capable army groupe commanders (some commanding as many as 70 divisions at a time). The Soviets had good men in Zukov, and Timoshenko. However, their German counterparts were clearly the better quality officers and commanders. The German Army of that era, was probably the highest quality military force the world had ever seen (factoring out technological advancements). The men were well trained, and motivated, the junior officers were equally motivated, and the senior commanders had about as much experience as can be expected or demanded of a general officer (many of them were decorated WWI vets). The average age of a German general was some 10 years older than his allied counterpart, and 15 years older than his Soviet counterpart. Many of the best Russian generals were purged by Stalin in the 20's and 30's.

They made do with far less resources and a far less intimidated soldier to accomplish a lot. They could have beaten the Soviets had Hitler allowed them to take Moscow before turning them South. By the time Hitler realized his folly (due to the constant pressure from Halder), it was already the onset of winter.
Personally, I feel that Zhukov was a great general and he was as good if not better than most of the German commanders. As I posted earlier I would place him the 3rd best commander of WW2 behind Manstein and Guderian.

Yes I also agree that the Wehrmacht of 1940-43 was the finest modern army in history, in terms of combat experience, quality of training, execution of tactics, motivation and general elan and espirit de corps. It was an army that swept all before it and for a time it seemed like the Wehrmacht would never be defeated. I honestly don't think we'll see a time again when one army stands so far above its peers like the Wehrmacht did when Blitzkrieg ruled the world.
May 30th, 2004  
My suggestion would also be George S Patton. He was a Primadonna, this is true. But he got the job done. In this temperment he also wasnt afraid to let his leaders know his stance. Everywhere Patton went, the Germans thought that was the main point of attack. Patton was used as a diversion on D-Day and even after that he conquered some 80,000 square miles and inflicting 1 and a half million enemy casualties, before being relieved for an inevitable war he forsaw...even though it turned out to be a cold war. The US lost its first major engagement against the Germans and they called on Patton, not Marshall or anyone else. He didnt care about his soldiers? This is far from the truth. If you fought like soldiers, he loved the hell out of you. If you were "yellow bellied" then of course he had no respect for you. The man knew what needed to be done and kept his troops moving. A few other high points for him were the 1912 olympics, helping invent the coax tank mount for cannon and machine gun, rescued a woman from abductors while in a tux lol, rescued 3 boys from a capsized boat, was wounded in WW1 while looking for a way to rescue mired tanks.

Since the 20's Patton thrived and fought tooth and nail for more armored type vehicles since he was a tanker and graduated the first 500 american tankers in WW1. Thanks to his insistence on having a stroing striking armored force, Patton went to training his division he was given in prep for a war that was soon to come (this was before WW2 started). He would also use light recon planes to observe his men in training. Much of the credit for light observation planes coming into use in the Army can be attributed to this training technique of Patton's. There are alot of other things unknown mostly about Patton...and yes, Im a big fan

He did all this and couldnt even read until the age of 12. His aggressiveness was soon learned while playing football at the Virginia Military Institute when he had suffered 3 broken nose and 2 broken arms as a defensive end.

and as a second, I should be placed in the lis. A computer strategy game has nothing on me and I've defeated em ALL!!! lol j/k
May 31st, 2004  
in the ancient times definitely Caesar - he not only had briliant tactics(Alesia, Pharsalus, Thapsus) and great strategy(brilliant during the war againt Pompeus and the senate) but also showed a lot of personal example.
Alexander the Great, i think, is a lot overestimated for the fact that he conquered VAAAAST territories in very few years when he was very young - yes,he had high quality commanding skills, best education of his time, but he had been given by his father great army and resources. He just used the unstopable at that time elite Macedonian phalanx and his strategy was just push forward till you have any men left.
In the time around french revolution it is defitely Aleksandr Souvorov
During WW2 - Von Meinstein was the best. Credit to Romel for tactical warfare, leadership and achieving a lot with very few resources (the British threw most of their resources in Africa at that time while Germany sent there only what could be shifted from the main front in Russia and it was not much at all.
May 31st, 2004  
Just to mention - is won't be bad to discuss great tactics too
here is one that I think is revolutionary for it's time - Caesar's at Pharsalus
May 31st, 2004  
bush musketeer

Topic: great generals

the duke of wellington would be right up there because of his use of terrain, and he knew how to get the most out of the limited firepower that muzzleloading rifles have to offer.
Napoleon was one of the best tactians of his era though he tended to try things like the russia campighn that were beyond pretty much any army. the *****ula war didn't help his cause either.

sir john monash was one of the best at planing battle plans in ww1 that any army had. his battleplan at the battle of Hamel on july 4th 1918. he knew how to combine infantry,artillrey,aircraft and tanks to get the best out of them. it took only 93 minutes to capture hamel 2000 enemy dead 1600 captured. as well as over 200 machineguns captured for the loss of 1062 men. only problem it was only supposed to take 90 minutes
not a bad effort

General R.E.Lee his use of reserves in certain battles was masterly.
General Jackson was another great leader.
way to many to mention really, but they are a few to think about.
August 2nd, 2004  
David Hurlbert
I carefully read with a great deal of interests all these posts expressing a wide variety of insights as to the greatest military battlefield commanders and/or tactical generals in world history. Although I agree with most of you in terms of the many tactical geniuses noted from the early ages with Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to more modern times with Napoleon to Rommel, I do think two distinctions should be made. First, time periods. I do not think it is practical to compare tactics of modern warfare with those in ancient times. Finally, I think we should also look at tactical area of operations (land, sea, and since World War II, air). Certainly there are differences between sea and land tacticians.

Although several of you made “honorable mention” of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, I think he would at least make the top 10 list of best generals in world history. And for me, he is first on my list.

In the American Civil War, Nathan Bedford Forrest enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army. During his brief military career, he obtained the rank of Lieutenant General. He was the only man in either army to rise so far. In addition to his success, he was no “war room” or “tent operations general” (like Generals Omar N. Bradley and Robert E Lee, or Field Marshal Walther Model). In fact, Forrest was wounded four times in battle, killed thirty union soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, and had twenty-nine horses shot out from under him. His famous saying was, "War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'."

The military character of General Forrest, apart from questions of his battlefield skills, horsemanship and special wit at tactics, was admittedly that of a great leader. Although he was never formally educated in military tactics and strategies, he defeated every West Point graduate he encountered on the battlefield. His personality and his natural gift as a warrior were such that General Sherman considered him the most remarkable man the Civil War produced on either side.

General Sherman (the real butcher) said that he would get "that devil Forrest" if it cost him 10,000 soldiers and broke the US treasury. His engagement of Federal troops at Brice's Crossroads on June 10, 1864 is considered by many the perfect battle. Union Major General Samuel D. Sturgis, with more than 8,000 men was marching south into northern Mississippi to block the cavalry from attacking Sherman's supply lines. When Sturgis ran into Forrest's dismounted horsemen he assembled a perimeter around the crossroads. Forrest flanked him on both sides, the same double envelopment that worked so well near Bowling Green. In the words of civil war historian Shelby Foote,

"In his first fight, northeast (sic) of Bowling Green, the forty year old Forrest improvised a double envelopment, combined it with a frontal assault-classic maneuvers which he could not identify by name and of which he had most likely never heard..."

The bluecoats ran. A bridge over the Tishomingo Creek became a roadblock for the retreating army and ever vigilant for such opportunity, the Confederate general pounced. Sturgis would later write, "What was confusion became chaos..." as the rebels pounded the fleeing blues. With less than three thousand men Forrest had destroyed an enemy more than twice the manpower with superior firepower and weapons. This brilliant tactical victory against all odds cemented Forrest's reputation as one of the foremost mounted leaders of the war.

As for General Forrest's military record on battlefield tactics, it cannot be denied or downplayed. After the surrender of the South, when asked by a senior Union Officer who he thought his greatest general was, General Robert E. Lee replied, "Sir, that would be a gentleman who I have never had the pleasure of meeting, General Nathan Bedford Forrest." Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox), studied Forrest's battle tactics as did the U.S. Army's “Ole Blood and Guts" General George S. Patton, and General “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf. The Institute for Military Studies concluded that the Battle of Brice's Crossroads (won by Forrest) was perhaps one of the most spectacular displays of tactical genius in history.

Just as an added note before closing, Forrest's grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest III, also followed a military career reaching the rank of Major General in the U.S. Army during World War II before being killed in action in 1943.
August 3rd, 2004  
I have a to 3:

1 - von Manstein - the man was brilliant and never got the credits he deserved, after all he had never lost a battle. At Stalingrad he had actualy achived all of his objectives with his Army Group Don but hitler refused to allow 6th Army to break out from the pocket.

2 - Guderian - In my otinion he had great tactics on the paper (most of them), father of Blitzkrieg deserves at least 2nd

3 - von Runstedt - he didn't aretiate Blitzkrieg, so on the eastren front he hasn't been much good, but he gave the Allies a run for their money in Italy and was also responsible for the total defeat of operation Market Garden and thus prolonged the war untill may 1945.

I don't argue with people who put men like Caesar 1st but I just don't know that much about ancient tactics.
August 12th, 2004  
Because the eras are so distinct from one another, I don't think you can really rank them against each other, but here are some of the heavy hitters of alltime.

Gengis Khan, Subedai and maybe Batu for the Mongols
Alexander the Great for Macedonia
Caesar for the Romans (MANY other emperors should be listed, but then I'd have to go on and on)
Napoleon for France
Henry V, Drake and Admiral Nelson for England
Lee and Jackson for the US
Guderian, Manstein, Deitrich, Rommel, von Bock, Donitz ... lets just say that there were quite a list of military geniuses in Nazi Germany.

Well, there's a start anyways
August 12th, 2004  
Have to add Arthur wellsley- Duke of wellington
Blücher- only man to beat napoleon more than once
John Churchill - 1st duke of marlborough