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Old 08-16-2012, 12:51 AM   #26
Honey Badger
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

It's interesting that you bring up Gaius Marius. He is one of my dark horses of a great military commanders that is basically relatively unknown to most people who haven't studied extensive Roman history. Actually, I would take Gaius Marius over Napoleon for many different reasons. Marius would make my top ten list. Napoleon might crack my top 25.

Interestingly he is only 5th on my greatest Roman commander list. As much as I like Gaius Marius as a commander (he revolutionized an already very strong Roman military as well as fortified his army as well as anyone) I would rank Julius Caesar, Pompeii and my dark horse GOAT ahead of him which I didn't plan on unveiling this early in the thread but why not.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla may actually be my GOAT. And a lot of people will take Pompeii, Caesar and certainly you will take Marius > Sulla but I am actually prepared to make a pretty strong case for Sulla as the GOAT. I certainly will make the case for him over the other 3 listed above. I actually think a strong case can be made for Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus as well, but it definitely is a close race with Sulla.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:55 AM   #27
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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It's interesting that you bring up Gaius Marius. He is one of my dark horses of a great military commanders that is basically relatively unknown to most people who haven't studied extensive Roman history. Actually, I would take Gaius Marius over Napoleon for many different reasons. Marius would make my top ten list. Napoleon might crack my top 25.

Interestingly he is only 5th on my greatest Roman commander list. As much as I like Gaius Marius as a commander (he revolutionized an already very strong Roman military as well as fortified his army as well as anyone) I would rank Julius Caesar, Pompeii and my dark horse GOAT ahead of him which I didn't plan on unveiling this early in the thread but why not.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla may actually be my GOAT. And a lot of people will take Pompeii, Caesar and certainly you will take Marius > Sulla but I am actually prepared to make a pretty strong case for Sulla as the GOAT. I certainly will make the case for him over the other 3 listed above. I actually think a strong case can be made for Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus as well, but it definitely is a close race with Sulla.
Well, I just happened to have listened to Dan Carlin's Marius-Sulla episodes this week (for the 3rd time), so I'm more than happy to indulge in any Marius Sulla discussion. I think I said in that other thread that of all the Roman GOATS, Sulla scares me the most.

My quick take; since they never fought it ought with comparable armies, and since Marius was old and possibly senile in his 7th consulship, there's no decisive answer (at least to me) as to who was better. While it may be momentarily tempting to give Sulla the edge in the Jugurthine War (he did after all capture Jugurtha), it was by that time Marius' war, he won many significant battles that made it possible for Sulla's operation to succeed. Marius shone brightest against the Cimbri and the Teutons, who posed the greatest existential threat to Rome since Hannibal. Marius did some good things in the Social War but I think he got sick for the end of it; Sulla certainly distinguished himself the most in that war and got the consulship soon after. Sulla had a very good campaign against Mithridates that he cut short to uh... march on Rome again or something.

I can't say I know much to really judge who was the more brilliant general on the field. It seems that Sulla was more innovative, but who is to say that would have mattered. Marius was brilliant, energetic, ruthless in his own right.

As you suspect, I may nudge in favor of Marius because of the military reforms. If the question is just 'best general', I would not; if the question is 'best military leader', I think foundational reforms to the army count for a lot, and I think they count for a lot with Napoleon.

But now thinking about Sulla I'm going to have nightmares. "The lion's lair is dangerous, though the lion be not there" -- Plutarch
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:42 AM   #28
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Depends on if you are talking about strategy or tactics.

My favorite underrated is George Washington. He did more with less in the face of overwhelming odds than just about anyone ever. His main job was basically to survive. He had a poorly manned and poorly equiped ragtag bunch in the face of the greatest miltary power on the planet. His escape from NY and surprise at Trenton were great miltary achievements. Sure he needed French intervention and British indifference to eventually win but he had to hang on with practically nothing for 8 years to get there. He was truly a man of destiny and most couldn't have accomplished what he did with what he had.
Wow! This could have been my post, almost word for word, if I was having a great day!
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:56 AM   #29
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Like all things, the answer is it depends, and in this case, it depends in what area. Land battles are much different than naval.

Here's a good one, someone people won't know in western history (obviously).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yi_Sun-sin

"Perhaps his most remarkable military achievement occurred at the Battle of Myeongnyang. Outnumbered 333 ships to 13, and forced into a last stand with only his minimal fleet standing between the Japanese Army and Seoul, Yi delivered one of the most astonishing defeats in military history."

Most military commanders who had astonishing success had technological advantages over their rivals. Armies were unprepared for Khan's horsemen, that's why he did so well. As far as tactics, Hannibal is probably the most studied military commander ever. The pincer movement is still taught to this day, I believe. His decimation of the Roman armies was more than just remarkable.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:02 PM   #30
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Well, I just happened to have listened to Dan Carlin's Marius-Sulla episodes this week (for the 3rd time), so I'm more than happy to indulge in any Marius Sulla discussion. I think I said in that other thread that of all the Roman GOATS, Sulla scares me the most.

My quick take; since they never fought it ought with comparable armies, and since Marius was old and possibly senile in his 7th consulship, there's no decisive answer (at least to me) as to who was better. While it may be momentarily tempting to give Sulla the edge in the Jugurthine War (he did after all capture Jugurtha), it was by that time Marius' war, he won many significant battles that made it possible for Sulla's operation to succeed. Marius shone brightest against the Cimbri and the Teutons, who posed the greatest existential threat to Rome since Hannibal. Marius did some good things in the Social War but I think he got sick for the end of it; Sulla certainly distinguished himself the most in that war and got the consulship soon after. Sulla had a very good campaign against Mithridates that he cut short to uh... march on Rome again or something.

I can't say I know much to really judge who was the more brilliant general on the field. It seems that Sulla was more innovative, but who is to say that would have mattered. Marius was brilliant, energetic, ruthless in his own right.

As you suspect, I may nudge in favor of Marius because of the military reforms. If the question is just 'best general', I would not; if the question is 'best military leader', I think foundational reforms to the army count for a lot, and I think they count for a lot with Napoleon.

But now thinking about Sulla I'm going to have nightmares. "The lion's lair is dangerous, though the lion be not there" -- Plutarch
If you enjoy hardcore history and are interested in Sulla, I highly recommend "Sulla: The Last Republican" it's an expensive book. $33 bucks in paperback. I actually rented it to view on my Kindle for about $12 for a month.

It is an excellent book going into detail about Sulla, his life and speculates on his motivations. The book is balanced about the positive and negative qualities of the man but does put a positive spin on him.
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Old 08-16-2012, 07:24 PM   #31
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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You have to look at the situation though. If the British were lead by Ghengis Khan we would now be British. If the colonies were lead by Ghengis Khan we would probably also now be British
FYP

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You have to look at the situation though. If the British were lead by Ghengis Khan we would now be obliterated. If the colonies were lead by Ghengis Khan Britain would probably be a US territory
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:51 PM   #32
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I'll throw in my dark horse; from low man on the tetrarchic totem pole to sole emperor of a reunited Roman empire (often outnumbered in the civil wars), and also scoring significant victories against the Franks, Alamanni & Sarmatians, *drum roll*

Emperor "What would Jesus do? Oh yeah, slaughter everybody." Constantine the Great.
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:07 AM   #33
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I'll throw in my dark horse; from low man on the tetrarchic totem pole to sole emperor of a reunited Roman empire (often outnumbered in the civil wars), and also scoring significant victories against the Franks, Alamanni & Sarmatians, *drum roll*

Emperor "What would Jesus do? Oh yeah, slaughter everybody." Constantine the Great.
Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus is an excellent "Dark Horse"!!!!! The entire Byzantine Empire is very underrated by many.

Another dark horse but clearly not my GOAT or even top 10 (but I would take him over many more famous) General Belisarius was another leading Byzantine general during the reign of Emperor Justinian I is also someone that is worth studying.

Last edited by Honey Badger; 08-17-2012 at 12:08 AM. Reason: I just love old Latin Names
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:16 AM   #34
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus is an excellent "Dark Horse"!!!!! The entire Byzantine Empire is very underrated by many.

Another dark horse but clearly not my GOAT or even top 10 (but I would take him over many more famous) General Belisarius was another leading Byzantine general during the reign of Emperor Justinian I is also someone that is worth studying.
Belisarius likely could have reconquered the entire Western Empire if it hadn't been for the those pesky fleas.
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Old 08-17-2012, 05:48 AM   #35
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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You have to look at the situation though. If the British were lead by Ghengis Khan we would now be British. If the colonies were lead by Ghengis Khan we would probably also now be British

FYP


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Originally Posted by mrbaseball
You have to look at the situation though. If the British were lead by Ghengis Khan we would now be obliterated. If the colonies were lead by Ghengis Khan Britain would probably be a US territory
I know we were both making jokes but there is more to it than the leader. In "this" situation Khan not having a "Mongol Horde" would severely hamper his results if leading the colonies. The British on the other hand were similar enough to a Mongol horde to sufficiently oblitertate the colonies. Adapting to both your own resources as well as your opponents is what makes a military leader great.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:09 AM   #36
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

The mongol horde and the British army were in no way similar. What are you guys talking about?
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:47 AM   #37
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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The mongol horde and the British army were in no way similar. What are you guys talking about?
My point was Khan with an overwhelming advantage would be different from Khan at an extreme disadvantage in regards to size of army and resources.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:39 PM   #38
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

That's kind of a meaningless comparison, though, because we can't really compare commanders across ages effectively. Even the most incompetent WWII commander probably could have wiped the floor with Alexander, or Caesar, or Genghis Khan, or Napoleon based on the collected knowledge available in his era and especially because of the types of arms available to him and his troops. It's impossible to know what the Khans could have done with 18th century arms; the horse was so central to the Mongol way of life that it's easy to envision Temujin over-relying on cavalry and being a spectacular failure, but by the same token, he was a proven adapter of new technologies, so perhaps he was so outstanding he could have destroyed Europe's armies with creative new tactics.

The only criteria we really have is how a commander fared against his contemporaries and the extent of the campaigns he waged.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:09 PM   #39
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I've studied a lot of military history in my time and come to a rather ugly conclusion. A legendary general is nothing more than a competent and professional general confronted with an idiot. This certainly covers Robert E Lee rather well. It also covers every single general in this thread that didn't have the professional soldiers vs non professional soldiers advantage. Some of them had idiotic enemies with inferior, untrained, or less technologically advanced armies.

Basically all it takes is a competent military man to utterly destroy any stupid enemy, or any enemy that has inferior troops in training, numbers, morale, or technology. Any competent military man who has these advantages present throughout his career looks like a genius.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:22 PM   #40
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I've studied a lot of military history in my time and come to a rather ugly conclusion. A legendary general is nothing more than a competent and professional general confronted with an idiot. This certainly covers Robert E Lee rather well. It also covers every single general in this thread that didn't have the professional soldiers vs non professional soldiers advantage. Some of them had idiotic enemies with inferior, untrained, or less technologically advanced armies.

Basically all it takes is a competent military man to utterly destroy any stupid enemy, or any enemy that has inferior troops in training, numbers, morale, or technology. Any competent military man who has these advantages present throughout his career looks like a genius.
Exactly! This is what I was trying to say without your eloquence.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:33 PM   #41
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

It seems to me that Mr. Baseball was indicating that Washington > Khan on the GOAT list.

Which is simply not true.

I am a great admirer of Washington as well as several other American figures of that era. But to say that someone that probably just barely cracks a top 50 list (Washington) compared to someone who should be in everyones top 10 list, and might actually be the GOAT is not a valid measure of military talent.

Sure this topic is subjective (that is what makes it fun) and you have to adjust for era's but pretty fair judgements can still be made.

As an example: It would be like saying that Rickie Weeks is a more dominant baseball player then Babe Ruth because he plays in the modern era. Which is simply not a very logical assessment of baseball excellence.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:57 PM   #42
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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It seems to me that Mr. Baseball was indicating that Washington > Khan on the GOAT list.
Give Khan what Washington had and he loses. Give Khan what the British had and he wins. Thats what I am saying. I'll admit I am not all that well versed on Khan but my impression is he rolled over unsuspecting opponents with overwhelming force.

What I am saying is, is that it all depends on the situation. If Khan was dealt the hand Washington was I doubt he does as well. Washington did a helluva lot more with 7-2 offsuit than most could. On the other hand Washington probably wouldn't have had the killer instinct to conquer that Khan had with his strong hand.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:55 PM   #43
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I don't agree with that assessment.

Rommel I can see as having that sort of advantage, just being a very smart, disciplined commander.

But Hannibal?
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:02 PM   #44
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I don't agree with that assessment.

Rommel I can see as having that sort of advantage, just being a very smart, disciplined commander.
Interesting that you bring up Rommel. Many of the tactics that he used particularly in Africa were right out of Khan's playbook. Separated by hundreds of years of history and experience.

I can offer up a great deal of evidence that Khan actually executed his style of "Maneuver warfare" better than Rommel. But the "Desert Fox's" success against the British in WWII in Africa would give a taste of what it might be like to face a modern equipped army lead by Khan.

A sample but not the full 7 course meal.
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:17 PM   #45
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I don't agree with that assessment.

Rommel I can see as having that sort of advantage, just being a very smart, disciplined commander.

But Hannibal?
As for Hannibal I put him around 10 - 12 on my GOAT list.

Khan > Hannibal for 2 very clear reasons.

Hannibal/ Carthage lost to Rome and Scipio Africanus another strong GOAT candidate. Khan pretty much crushed any opponent he put in his cross hairs. Hannibal wins were not as decisive, even though he faced stronger opponents Khan. Scipio should be on anyone's top 10 GOAT list. Khan faced no-one even close to the top 25.

Khan learned and evolved very brutally effective siege tactics into his arsenal. Hannibal never adapted any effective siege tactics thus never could take Rome.

I am willing to listen to the Hannibal fan club but still think he clearly falls short of Khan as the GOAT for the above reasons.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:14 PM   #46
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Give Khan what Washington had and he loses.
On what basis? Are you under the impression that Khan's victories were easy? The Jin Dynasty and the Empire of the Khwarizmian Shah were no pushovers--on the contrary, they were probably the greatest military powers in Asia at the time. Genghis Khan had another big (military) advantage over Washington: he was utterly ruthless, whereas Washington was a gentleman. Give Khan an army against an enemy that expects war to be conducted by certain rules, and it's curtains. I'd say that if you gave Khan Washington's command, he smashes the British, presses the Native tribes into service, launches a coup against the Continental Congress (making himself into an American Cromwell with fewer scruples), turns Canada into a smoking wreck, and seizes everything West of the Mississippi he can get his hands on.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:26 PM   #47
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Washington? Come on, this is almost as bad as when Spike's Greatest Warrior show had Washington edging out Napoleon in a 5v5 computer simulation. He was a great general but the America in 1776 wasn't exactly the big leagues.
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:27 AM   #48
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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On what basis? Are you under the impression that Khan's victories were easy? The Jin Dynasty and the Empire of the Khwarizmian Shah were no pushovers--on the contrary, they were probably the greatest military powers in Asia at the time. Genghis Khan had another big (military) advantage over Washington: he was utterly ruthless, whereas Washington was a gentleman. Give Khan an army against an enemy that expects war to be conducted by certain rules, and it's curtains. I'd say that if you gave Khan Washington's command, he smashes the British, presses the Native tribes into service, launches a coup against the Continental Congress (making himself into an American Cromwell with fewer scruples), turns Canada into a smoking wreck, and seizes everything West of the Mississippi he can get his hands on.
Excellent post. 100% agree with every word.

This of course is speculation, but in addition unlike Washington he may have found a way to take the war across the pond to England. Any Brave Heart movie version of William Wallace fan might appreciate how this might have played out.
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:19 AM   #49
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Depends on if you are talking about strategy or tactics.

My favorite underrated is George Washington. He did more with less in the face of overwhelming odds than just about anyone ever. His main job was basically to survive. He had a poorly manned and poorly equiped ragtag bunch in the face of the greatest miltary power on the planet. His escape from NY and surprise at Trenton were great miltary achievements. Sure he needed French intervention and British indifference to eventually win but he had to hang on with practically nothing for 8 years to get there. He was truly a man of destiny and most couldn't have accomplished what he did with what he had.
There is also another great American general from this time who is not only underrated but hardly remembered and that's Nathanael Greene. His battles were really too small to qualify him for true greatness in the sense of this thread, but he was still an outstanding military person.

What's really interesting about Greene is that he lost most of the battles he fought yet liberated the South from the British.

Best wishes,
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:55 AM   #50
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Give Khan what Washington had and he loses. Give Khan what the British had and he wins. Thats what I am saying. I'll admit I am not all that well versed on Khan but my impression is he rolled over unsuspecting opponents with overwhelming force.

What I am saying is, is that it all depends on the situation. If Khan was dealt the hand Washington was I doubt he does as well. Washington did a helluva lot more with 7-2 offsuit than most could. On the other hand Washington probably wouldn't have had the killer instinct to conquer that Khan had with his strong hand.
You can't be serious. Washington was a terrific leader of men but he was no great military commander. The man mostly outlasted the British. Also calling what he had at his disposal '7-2 offsuit' is pretty correct... But that wasn't important. The British weren't going to keep the US. It took more than a month to cross the Atlantic at the time, and there was no stomach for it in Britain. Sort of like Vietnam with flintlocks.

Washington wasn't a garbage military commander but any student of military history can name a hundred men who did more with less.
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