Great Generals and Tactics Through the Ages - Page 5




 
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August 12th, 2004  
godofthunder9010
 
 
One of the dilema's in my mind is Guderian vs Manstein. Guderian began the concepts that Manstein used for his success, but both were amazing General and/or Field Marshalls. Prior to Hitler dumping the man, Guderian was an absolute phenominon. If you wanted to find him in Poland, France or Russia, all you had to do was go to the point of deepest penetration into Allied territory and there he was, tearing the enemy appart. For Manstein, you see him pulling miracles out of thin air over and over and the same sort of things. Guderian is probably the better frontline commander, Manstein likely had the greatest gift for strategy and the overal picture.

Guderian calls Manstein "the best" in his autobiography, and who's to argue. The only person who can reasonably be compared to Manstein is Guderian himself.
August 12th, 2004  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by godofthunder9010
One of the dilema's in my mind is Guderian vs Manstein. Guderian began the concepts that Manstein used for his success, but both were amazing General and/or Field Marshalls. Prior to Hitler dumping the man, Guderian was an absolute phenominon. If you wanted to find him in Poland, France or Russia, all you had to do was go to the point of deepest penetration into Allied territory and there he was, tearing the enemy appart. For Manstein, you see him pulling miracles out of thin air over and over and the same sort of things. Guderian is probably the better frontline commander, Manstein likely had the greatest gift for strategy and the overal picture.

Guderian calls Manstein "the best" in his autobiography, and who's to argue. The only person who can reasonably be compared to Manstein is Guderian himself.
Both men were military geniuses, and rank alongside the best that history has to offer.

Guderian was almost unique in military history in being a revolutionary theorist who carried out his own theories better than anyone else. As a Panzer Leader there was *no* equal - not even Rommel. What Guderian did for Nazi Germany cannot be understated. He invented the Panzerwaffen, combined arms, mechanized infantry (Panzergrenadiers) and basically was THE overriding reason why Germany was so successful in the first 3 years of war, and why they nearly won.

Manstein ranks alongside the great generals of history. His grasp of mobile defensive warfare was unsurpassed and he alone stablised the Ostfront after Stalingrad. Had Manstein been made CnC of OKH and allowed to manage the Wehrmacht from 1943 onwards, Germany might not had lost WW2.

A nation is fortunate to have one military genius in wartime. Nazi Germany had at least 2 and Guderian and Manstein were the best of the best.
August 19th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
I think General Heinz Guderian is definitely among the most famous German strategists in World War II and he had certainly influenced the development of the concept of Blitzkrieg. In my opinion, his battlefield tactics were superior to Manstein despite the fact that Guderian may have referred to him as “the best.”

During World War I Guderian served with a telegraph battalion where I think he came to understand the importance of communications during warfare. He also studied cavalry operations as well and especially those of the American Civil War. Furthermore he worked the office of inspection for inspection of motorized transportation and this experience provided him with a good understanding of the technical aspects and importance of motorization. Finally, he read both Fuller and Hart’s military books and became well learned in the operations of the British forces. From these experiences and knowledge he developed, with General Werner von Blomberg and others, his own tactics. Hitler even supported his book, “Achtung! Panzer!” as a work of military genius.

While his tactics and strategies on the battlefield were brilliant without question and he was better “connected” or loved and respected by his troop than Manstein, Guderian dealt in the realities of the battlefield and always capitalized on the advantage of his force strengths to find him success on the battlefield (i.e., speed, numbers, airpower, logistics, firepower, etc.) not his creativity. I would like to say here that a leader’s connection to his troops should never be underestimated on the battlefield and Guderian shined over Manstein on this leadership trait. Other examples of this "connection" between commanders and their warriors can be seen with leaders like Rommel, Lee, Montgomery, Subedai, Patton, and even MacArthur [as much as I dislike saying so].

This is not to say that Guderian never faced a tough foe or was ever at a great disadvantage, but in most situations, Guderian found his units to have battlefield superiority or advantages that he always played and used brilliantly. Ironically, in war, leaders are also likely to find themselves in combat with an opponent who has all the advantages.......a situation against all odds where ingenuity and creativity are perhaps the only vessels of battlefield success. In my opinion, combat situations where leaders who have the obvious disadvantage but still delivered the victory are the best examples of genius on the battlefield. General Miltiades at the Battle of Marathon; Rommel at Tobruk; Forrest at Brice’s Crossroads; and Admiral Chester Nimitz at Midway who commanded bedraggled remnants of a U.S. Fleet that had survived Pearl Harbor against a Japanese navy that had just shown itself invincible across almost half the surface area of the globe, winning every battle it had ever fought in the Pacific and Indian oceans are just a few examples of such successes.
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August 19th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
IrishWizard
Quote:
Naval: (Forgive spelling) Farragut
Great military leaders.......with the best naval commander being Admiral David Farragut of the American Civil War? Although he did find success at New Orleans and Mobile Bay, Admiral Farragut would never find a place in world history as the best naval commander especially in light the outstanding tactical naval accomplishments of Admirals like Limpus, Halsey, Fisher, Donitz, Yamamoto, Nimitz, Hipper, and Nelson to name a few. As to your anticipated spelling error, you are again incorrect. Farragut is spelled correctly.
August 19th, 2004  
godofthunder9010
 
 
So who is the better, Nelson or Donitz? I can't decide.
August 20th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
godofthunder, that is a very good question and one that I cannot objectively answer without a little reading and thinking. Off the top of my head, I would say Nelson, but please do give me some time on this one and at least allow me to ponder it a bit.
August 24th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
With a passion for military history, I would like to see more forums like this and eagerly wait to read future responses. I believe Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel was among the greatest battlefield general throughout world history. Although he also helped did revolutionize modern military warfare, Rommel was truly a military historian himself and frequently studied historical battles. While my selection of Rommel may not be “textbook commander,” I think his deception skills on the battlefield and how he incorporated this in his combat strategies were likely second to none. In fact, he was nicknamed the Desert Fox by both his friends and enemies, because he constantly improvised and used tricks in order to outsmart his enemies. Also at the same time, I might add that Rommel was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Rommel was the youngest German Field Marshal ever, since he received the promotion at the age of 50. As to his credits in deception, I would like to point to two examples. One example of his brilliance that I will illustrate is how Rommel successfully use anti-aircraft guns against tanks. From mid April to mid June, the British launched small-scale offensives but were forced to retreat to defensive positions by 88mm Flak (anti-aircraft) guns deployed as anti-tank guns. Here, Erwin Rommel deployed and dug in his 88mm Flak guns in the U-shaped formation. They were dug in so deep, that the barrel looked only 30 to 60cm over the ground level. They were dug in because they had no wheels and stood very high on large pods and had a high profile. Then a low tent was erected over the position of every gun and even with field glasses it was impossible to distinguish them from sand dunes. Since the British saw a lot of sand dunes, they were not disturbed by them as well as that they didn't know of any German weapon with the profile as low as the small sand dunes. Then Rommel sent his light tanks to fake an attack on British positions. The British Crusaders saw an easy prey and followed Panzers to attack, while Panzers withdraw in the U-shape. At point-blank range, sometimes requiring nerves of steel for the 88mm Flak gun crews, the trap sprang and they opened fire. My second example of his brilliant deception strategies come to light when Rommel ordered his troops to attach bundles of wood and bushes on long ropes to all the supply trucks and some Italian light tanks. The Italian light tanks drove in the first line, one after the other, behind them all the supply trucks. The attached bundles of wood and bushes made immense clouds of dust. For the British, it looked like the real full-scale attack. The Brits not only withdraw, but also turned their delaying forces in the wrong direction. At the same time, Rommel attacked from the other direction with his German Panzer Division. The British were completely outwitted and defeated. Although I could illustrate example after example, I think Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel – “Der Wustenfuchs” – was another among the greatest military strategist on the battlefield.
August 24th, 2004  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hurlbert
With a passion for military history, I would like to see more forums like this and eagerly wait to read future responses. I believe Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel was among the greatest battlefield general throughout world history. Although he also helped did revolutionize modern military warfare, Rommel was truly a military historian himself and frequently studied historical battles. While my selection of Rommel may not be “textbook commander,” I think his deception skills on the battlefield and how he incorporated this in his combat strategies were likely second to none. In fact, he was nicknamed the Desert Fox by both his friends and enemies, because he constantly improvised and used tricks in order to outsmart his enemies. Also at the same time, I might add that Rommel was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Rommel was the youngest German Field Marshal ever, since he received the promotion at the age of 50. As to his credits in deception, I would like to point to two examples. One example of his brilliance that I will illustrate is how Rommel successfully use anti-aircraft guns against tanks. From mid April to mid June, the British launched small-scale offensives but were forced to retreat to defensive positions by 88mm Flak (anti-aircraft) guns deployed as anti-tank guns. Here, Erwin Rommel deployed and dug in his 88mm Flak guns in the U-shaped formation. They were dug in so deep, that the barrel looked only 30 to 60cm over the ground level. They were dug in because they had no wheels and stood very high on large pods and had a high profile. Then a low tent was erected over the position of every gun and even with field glasses it was impossible to distinguish them from sand dunes. Since the British saw a lot of sand dunes, they were not disturbed by them as well as that they didn't know of any German weapon with the profile as low as the small sand dunes. Then Rommel sent his light tanks to fake an attack on British positions. The British Crusaders saw an easy prey and followed Panzers to attack, while Panzers withdraw in the U-shape. At point-blank range, sometimes requiring nerves of steel for the 88mm Flak gun crews, the trap sprang and they opened fire. My second example of his brilliant deception strategies come to light when Rommel ordered his troops to attach bundles of wood and bushes on long ropes to all the supply trucks and some Italian light tanks. The Italian light tanks drove in the first line, one after the other, behind them all the supply trucks. The attached bundles of wood and bushes made immense clouds of dust. For the British, it looked like the real full-scale attack. The Brits not only withdraw, but also turned their delaying forces in the wrong direction. At the same time, Rommel attacked from the other direction with his German Panzer Division. The British were completely outwitted and defeated. Although I could illustrate example after example, I think Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel – “Der Wustenfuchs” – was another among the greatest military strategist on the battlefield.
Hi David. I think Rommel is an excellent TACTICAL battlefield commander who made very good use of his somewhat meagre resources in the Afrika Corps. It should be noted that he was amongst the finest exponents of mobile warfare in WW2 along with Hoth, Hoeppner, Patton and of course Guderian.

However, IMO he is somewhat unproven as he never fought on the Ostfront and never had the chance to command any organization larger than an armoured corps. Also, his reputation was somewhat built up by German propaganda who called him the 'invincible Volksmarschall' which may have led to his promotion to Generalfeldmarschall as quickly as it happened. He won no huge massive victories like Guderian or Manstein did for example and in reality contributed very little militarily after his Afrika Korps were recalled home by Hitler.

Rommel's legacy is one of fortune in my eyes. Although he was undoubtedly a talented and charismatic battlefield commander, his standing is so high because he is so familiar to the West, having fought against the British in Africa and gaining an excellent reputation. I often wonder if Rommel had instead fought on the Ostfront whether his reputation would have remained so high.

IMO Rommel would have performed very well as a Panzerkorps or possibly even a Panzerarmee commander in Russia had he been given the chance. Whether he could have managed an entire Armeegruppen with the skill of Von Bock or performed the magnificent defensive battles of Manstein is open to question. I don't think that he could have myself.
August 24th, 2004  
GuyontheRight
 
Do not forget Rommel's plan held the Allies Up In Normandy for a few monthes even after his death.
August 24th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
Doppleganger, by no means am I saying Rommel was “the best” nor am I trying to place him in a category above or below Manstein, Forrest, and/or Guderian. However, I am asserting in my opinion that Rommel was one among the great generals. With this being said, I will say that he was likely the most creative leader on the battlefield. Although he might have been elevated by German propaganda and through his battles with Britain, I think his reputation came to the forefront with his textbook on tactics and was later reinforced by the drive and initiative displayed in his command of the 7th Panzer Division during the invasion of France. Please take opportunity to read this short and interesting essay:

http://www.nwha.org/news_2Q2001/news_page7.html

No one can underestimate the importance of Rommel’s leadership and his success with the 7th Panzer Division in the invasion of France. GuyontheRight, I agree with your point, but I have found that many of Rommel’s contributions are frequently overlooked.