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Old 08-23-2012, 12:51 PM   #101
wil318466
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I think I look at things differently than most of you. Being a great leader of men is one thing, being a tactical genius is another.

This is why I put Hannibal so high. His tactics won him outrageous victories. I think him beating the Romans multiple times would be like a college football team beating the Dallas Cowboys today.

It's one thing to be a competent leader and not make mistakes. It's another to change the game with what you have available. The Germans had the best soldiers in the world and the best weapons and equipment. Wiki "Tiger tank" and "Panzer tank" and read about their kill to death ratios. There is a famous story of one Tiger tank engaging a lol amount of Russian tanks.

"On 7 July 1943, a single Tiger tank commanded by SS-OberscharfŘhrer Franz Staudegger from the 2nd Platoon, 13th Panzer Company, 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler engaged a group of about 50 T-34s around Psyolknee (the southern sector of the German salient in the Battle of Kursk). Staudegger used all his ammunition and claimed the destruction of 22 Soviet tanks, while the rest retreated. For this, he was awarded the Knight's Cross."

Obviously a great, and almost unbelievable victory, but the victory is mostly due to technological advantage. The Germans had mad success in the early stages of the war, but it was because of their speed and force concentration, which people weren't ready for. (Hitler simply went around the Marginot line, not through it).

Hannibal, on the other hand, didn't have this type of technological advantage. He used masterful tactics on the battlefield to win enormous victories, and then when he had a chance to attack Rome, he declined, knowing he could possibly wind up losing. Like I said, it's one thing to be great, and one thing to not make mistakes.

Indeed, hubris was a downfall of many many generals. Hannibal #1!
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:52 PM   #102
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Any opinion on Leon Trotsky?

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Mmm interesting point Mason, i had never thought of putting him in there. Certainly a great organizer and a master of logistics. His track record is certainly impressive, facing many invaders. I know he had some struggles in Poland, but that aside, he certainly is a king of grand strategy.

I think the reason he's not considered a general is because of his lack of involvement at the tactical level, as opposed to the 19thcentury and earlier generals. Post Napoleonic armies saw the rise of the ''Chief of Staff'' as opposed to field generals. This is why Eisenhower, Bismarck and Trotsky didn't make the list. However reviewing his civil war campaign, trotsky was more involved at the tactical level then Stalin or Eisenhower. I think im gonna find a spot in the top 100.

I have to add that ''the famous generals'': Robert Lee, Rommel, Hannibal, Napoleon and Frederick II were all VERY well versed at the tactical level. In fact i believe in pure tactics(opposed to broader scoped ''strategy''), no one can top Napoleon and Hannibal. However war and conflict is much more about Strategy and Logistics then tactics. Napoleon, Frederick and Hannibal are perfect examples. They won more battles then they lost, but they ran out of resources and ended up on the losing side. This is why Genghis Khan one of the greats; he saw the big picture, organizing the tribes and having a solid supply chain, as well as being able to face the tough climates of the steppes. It isn't about the battles, its about being ready.(enter sun tzu quote).

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Old 08-23-2012, 02:00 PM   #103
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Very true. That's why Lee is usually overrated and Grant underrated. Lee was a master of knowing his opponents weaknesses and exploiting them (lol McClellan, lol Hooker), but once his opponents became better his couldn't do anything. Grant understood the nature of the war better than previous AotP commanders and understood how he could and would win it. But you rating them right together seems about right.

Any thoughts on including other American Civil War generals on the list? Sherman maybe? Or Forrest? Forrest might be too small-time for your list (never commanded a large force), but he probably has the most impressive battle record of any Civil War general.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:56 PM   #104
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Very true. That's why Lee is usually overrated and Grant underrated. Lee was a master of knowing his opponents weaknesses and exploiting them (lol McClellan, lol Hooker), but once his opponents became better his couldn't do anything. Grant understood the nature of the war better than previous AotP commanders and understood how he could and would win it. But you rating them right together seems about right.

Any thoughts on including other American Civil War generals on the list? Sherman maybe? Or Forrest? Forrest might be too small-time for your list (never commanded a large force), but he probably has the most impressive battle record of any Civil War general.
You are correct about Forrest, he commanded somewhat too small of forces to enter the list, but also he had some struggles in Nashville(i understand he was greatly undermanned, but nonetheless). In particular the second battle of Franklin, he tried to flank accross the Harpath river and got his guys dismounted(somewhat customary for the time, but not obligatory); wrong move considering he faced a brigade of guys yielding the seven-shot Spencer carbines(repeat action rifles, opposed to muzzle loading muskets). Im sure Forrest had faced union cavalry;did he not know that union cavalry were equipped with repeating rifles? Maybe im stretching it here.

That battle aside, forrest was certainly a good general and ahead of its time in using ''mobility before strength in war''.

As far as Civil war gens, i have stonewall jackson at 37 behind guderian - i think this might be a little high, especially considering that puts him ahead of guys like Nurhaci,Sulla(which probably deserves a bump up), Charles Martel... Stonewall was brilliant, but his track record is too short. What ifs and what ifs when you start talking about Stonewall jackson...

Lee and Grant will always be tagged together, no matter where i put them. Because Lee lasted a damn long time and was innovative in the field of defensive warfare with the trench system at Petersburg and Richmond. Lee is always seen as the aggressive general; however i find that his defense of virginia was very impressive, from the peninsula campaign to the 1864 union attacks. And he is undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and inspiring generals in history...

As far as Grant is concerned, the appalling number of casualties taken to break the south is certainly a downpoint - but he still deserves good respect for his success in the west. A swift and rapid smashing of the western theather. Also, i think Grant is not known well enough for his talent to pick good commanders (sherman and George H. Thomas come to mind).

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Old 08-24-2012, 10:05 AM   #105
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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The last two Hardcore History Podcast's have dealt with Ghengis Khan. I am only partially through the first.
That is an awesome podcast. GOAT podcast. at least I know that much.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:31 AM   #106
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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
It has to be Sulla. When he was outnumbered, he would just convince the opponent's soildiers to join his army.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:25 PM   #107
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Also if we allow great small unit commanders onto the list we'll never get anywhere. I'm curious what people think of putting up great rebel leaders like Spartacus?
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:41 PM   #108
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Great small unit commanders would be another good thread.
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Old 08-24-2012, 01:06 PM   #109
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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It has to be Sulla. When he was outnumbered, he would just convince the opponent's soildiers to join his army.
Very few had Sulla's knack for this.

Sulla was the complete package. I am not exaggerating when I say that I would put him up against anyone as the possible GOAT.
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Old 08-25-2012, 01:35 AM   #110
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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It has to be Sulla. When he was outnumbered, he would just convince the opponent's soildiers to join his army.
Ok but

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AS you know, Marius had been proclaimed a public enemy, and it was the duty of any one who captured him to put him to death. The magistrates of MinturnŠ resolved to do their duty.

But no citizen was to be found who would undertake to put Marius to death, for his fame made him still terrible in their eyes.

At length a Gaul, who had seen him as he fought with the Cimbri, was sent, sword in hand, to kill the prisoner.

Marius had been thrust into a dimly-lighted room. As the Gaul opened the door he saw nothing save two eyes which gleamed like fire. As he advanced the eyes seemed to follow his every movement, until he was conscious of nothing save the terror of that burning gaze.

The next moment a loud voice cried: "Fellow, darest thou kill Gaius Marius?" and in a flash the Gaul knew that in truth he dared not. Throwing down his sword, he rushed from the room in a frenzy of terror, crying: "I cannot kill Gaius Marius." So the magistrates and citizens of MinturnŠ had the prisoner once more on their hands.
How ****ing badass is that?
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Old 08-25-2012, 02:18 AM   #111
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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How ****ing badass is that?
Ah the advantage of living a couple of thousand years into the future. I can admire bitter enemy's. Both are in my Top 10 list.

I take Sulla over Marius because Marius was a great general but Sulla had talents well beyond his military brilliance.

Sulla vs. Khan interesting matchup. Khan took more territory but Sulla faced much stiffer GOAT opponents, including Marius. All while having no support from his homeland. A guy by the name of Cesar then muddies things up because the same could be said for him as well as Sulla.

I love this thread!
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:49 AM   #112
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I have very little to contribute, but I just wanted all to thank all the contributors to this thread. It's a fascinating read.

Thank you
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:56 PM   #113
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Napoleon at times showed brilliance as a military leader that would make him on paper GOAT worthy, but I think anyone deserving of the title or even the top ten designation would not have the numerous failures he had.

Napoleon marched into Egypt in 1798 with his army in an attempt to conquer Egypt and thus cut British trading routes to the Middle-East and India and give the French naval dominance in the Mediterranean. Napoleon easily took over Egypt but as he was conquering Egypt, the British fleet, commanded by Lord Nelson, destroyed the French fleet and left Napoleon and his army stranded.

Although militarily the Egyptian campaign accomplished very little, the French presence in Egypt had great significance in other areas particularly Napoleon's popularity. Napoleon took with him many experts to Egypt to study the artistic and literary treasures of the country. Their most significant find was the Rosetta Stone, the key to understanding ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Because of his failure to accomplish his goals for Egypt, Napoleon returned to France with only a small portion of his soldiers. To his luck, the French people had not heard of his defeat in Egypt and had been falsely told that it had been a great success because of the cultural achievements. This gave him immense support from the French people. Had the French people known of his miltary failure when he arrived back in France, there would have been little chance of him ever reaching anywhere near as high as he eventually did.

Napoleon Bonaparte ineffective leadership during the invasion of Russia of 1812 also resulted in campaign failure which calls in to question if other early success of his career make him a GOAT candidate. I say no. The invasion of Russia in 1812 was a clear turning point for Napoleon military career. The aftermath this failed invasion shattered his reputation as a tactical genius and severely questions his ability as a great military leader. The total number of Napoleon's Army (Grande Armee) outnumbered the Russian 2 to 1. Napoleon's relying on methods from prior campaign to make logistical preparation was a huge blunder. Napoleon had always lived off the land in his campaigns in order to forestall a supply problem. The Russian utilized scorch earth tactics to destroy any supplies they had so it prevent Napoleon's army from using it. The Grande Armee could not live off the land as they did prior campaigns because of weather and the harsh terrain of Russia. When he reached Moscow in September, he found it burning. There was nothing there which could feed and house his troops for the winter so he was forced to turn back toward home just as winter was setting in. His Grand Army ran out of supplies, and soldiers died of disease and the bitter cold of the Russian winter. They were equipped only in summer uniforms. Russian troops and people continually attacked them as they trudged along home. Only about 40,000 survived the march.

Contrast that with someone like Cesar who faced a quality opponent like Pompeii and was out numbered in his decisive battle. Napoleon's Army (Grande Armee) outnumbered the Russian 2 to 1. Cesar accomplished this after winning many impressive battles against lesser foes of various strength. Cesar had the boldness of Napoleon, the tactical genius, better administrative skills, won his major battles, and beat highly skilled opponents. A far better GOAT candidate if you ask me. Cesar is just one example and not even my GOAT even though he is a clear Top 10 selection.

Napoleon showed innovation a young commander, and reformed his army very much like Marius who was mentioned earlier in the thread. Sure Napoleon did not expect the scorch earth tactics and figured if he took Moscow Russia would fall, but a true GOAT candidate should have been prepared unexpected possibilities. Napoleon actually fought the type of war in Moscow (attrition) that he himself was brilliant against in earlier complains. This one failure alone calls in to question his GOAT status.

As many of you know Napoleon was not completely defeated by the disaster in Russia. The following year he raised an army of around 300,000 French troops supported by a quarter of a million French allied troops to contest control of Germany in an another very large campaign. Despite being outnumbered, he won a large victory at the Battle of Dresden. It was not until the decisive Battle of Nations that he was finally defeated and afterwards no longer had the troops to stop the Coalition's invasion of France. Napoleon did still manage to inflict a series of losses and a series of minor military victories on the far larger Allied armies as they drove towards Paris, though they captured the city and forced him out of power 1814.

I have not even brought up the train wreck of Waterloo or the one country that Napoleon could never influence or invade, Great Britain. Having experienced that he could not defeat the British because of its superior navy, Napoleon established the Continental System, a French-imposed blockade of Europe against British goods. He figured if he couldn't beat Great Britain with warfare, he would do it with economic warfare. This strategy of course was ineffective so Napoleon lost both economically as well as militarily to England also knocking him out of consideration for my top 25 GOAT list of military greats.
Two quick things. First, I'll try err on the brief side of things in my response for manageability's sake, but I did read this post a few times and appreciate the points you make. Second, most of my impressions and opinions about Napoleon were influenced by/derive from the Napoleon podcast with Cameron Reilly & David Markham, both of whom are fervidly pro-Napoleon.

On Egypt -- It wasn't a success, but it wasn't a disaster. If anything, it fulfilled his objective of killing time on some conquest to maintain his popularity in France (achieved, as you say, not by results but by propaganda). Napoleon seemingly never understood naval matters, but I don't know what he could have done about Nelson in 1798. Also, he was still dealing with the Directory at this point; did he have as free a hand in Egypt as he had later on as Emperor? Probably not. I suppose the French forces suffering an outbreak of the plague by the end of the campaign is normal variance, but it's something to note.

On Caesar & Russia -- Let me begin by asking this, if Napoleon was struck dead by lightning in late 1811 or early 1812 (not quite in as dominant a position as he was between 1806 and 1809, but still pretty dominant), would we not all immediately put him in the top 3? Napoleon's career from 1795 to 1811 is shockingly amazing. He took on and defeated, over and over again, the best armies of Europe. His tactics and reforms defined warfare for decades after his exile and death.

I would strongly disagree that Caesar faced better opponents. Caesar's main military achievements were the conquest of Gaul and defeating Pompey. It's hard to compare the conquest of Gaul to anything that a modern military commander had to do, and for all the hardships and Caesar's clever innovations, he was never facing quality professional armies. Pompey was indeed a giant, but the way the civil war unfolded, Pompey & the senate were caught with their pants down; they had to flee and regroup. Pompey's best legions were in Spain I believe, and Pompey & the senate were in Greece. Pompey's current army was composed of inferior troops to Caesar's hardened Gallic legions. Still, at Dyrrhachium, Pompey screwed up very very badly, having broken through Caesar's fortifications and then ordered a halt to the pursuit of a defeated Caesar (a mistake Napoleon sometimes made himself). At Pharsalus, Pompey again screwed up very badly, having a bunch of advantages in troop numbers and positioning, which he failed to convert.

And that's just about it for Caesar. Had he not been assassinated and managed to destroy Parthia in 44/43 BC, I think his resume would be significantly improved. As it stands, I would put the military resumes of Marius and Sulla and Scipio and Constantine and (oddly enough, for all of his other conquests) Pompey above Caesar's. Of course, Caesar's political savvy exceeds all of these men combined (or even multiplied).

Back to Napoleon. Not much I can say about Russia other than that it was completely and utterly horrendous for Napoleon. I'd love to read Napoleon's own thoughts about why the Russian campaign got away from him as badly as it did, like, what did he foresee and what caught him by surprise? The basic idea was that he did not intend to stay there long, that he wanted one decisive battle against Alexander, win, and then sue for peace. As it became clearer that this wasn't going to happen, should he have known to get the **** out of there? Maybe, but what GOAT is remembered for retreating with the greatest army ever assembled?

The question with Russia more broadly is how much that failure takes away from his other accomplishments and GOAT status. I see it as a huge failure, but a failure that actually makes it possible to have an interesting GOAT debate, because without that failure, I think Napoleon is the GOAT ainec. Think about what he did; he, not of noble birth, was at war with dynasties, global empires, and the best European armies for 20 years, and he defeated everybody for about 16 of those years.

Quick point about Waterloo -- There's no way Napoleon was going to survive the war even if he had won at Waterloo. And the major errors of Waterloo were Ney's inept charge and Grouchy not being on Blucher's ass (march to the sound of the guns). I don't think Napoleon deserves a lot of blame for that.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:41 PM   #114
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Two quick things. First, I'll try err on the brief side of things in my response for manageability's sake, but I did read this post a few times and appreciate the points you make. Second, most of my impressions and opinions about Napoleon were influenced by/derive from the Napoleon podcast with Cameron Reilly & David Markham, both of whom are fervidly pro-Napoleon.

On Egypt -- It wasn't a success, but it wasn't a disaster. If anything, it fulfilled his objective of killing time on some conquest to maintain his popularity in France (achieved, as you say, not by results but by propaganda). Napoleon seemingly never understood naval matters, but I don't know what he could have done about Nelson in 1798. Also, he was still dealing with the Directory at this point; did he have as free a hand in Egypt as he had later on as Emperor? Probably not. I suppose the French forces suffering an outbreak of the plague by the end of the campaign is normal variance, but it's something to note.

On Caesar & Russia -- Let me begin by asking this, if Napoleon was struck dead by lightning in late 1811 or early 1812 (not quite in as dominant a position as he was between 1806 and 1809, but still pretty dominant), would we not all immediately put him in the top 3? Napoleon's career from 1795 to 1811 is shockingly amazing. He took on and defeated, over and over again, the best armies of Europe. His tactics and reforms defined warfare for decades after his exile and death.

I would strongly disagree that Caesar faced better opponents. Caesar's main military achievements were the conquest of Gaul and defeating Pompey. It's hard to compare the conquest of Gaul to anything that a modern military commander had to do, and for all the hardships and Caesar's clever innovations, he was never facing quality professional armies. Pompey was indeed a giant, but the way the civil war unfolded, Pompey & the senate were caught with their pants down; they had to flee and regroup. Pompey's best legions were in Spain I believe, and Pompey & the senate were in Greece. Pompey's current army was composed of inferior troops to Caesar's hardened Gallic legions. Still, at Dyrrhachium, Pompey screwed up very very badly, having broken through Caesar's fortifications and then ordered a halt to the pursuit of a defeated Caesar (a mistake Napoleon sometimes made himself). At Pharsalus, Pompey again screwed up very badly, having a bunch of advantages in troop numbers and positioning, which he failed to convert.

And that's just about it for Caesar. Had he not been assassinated and managed to destroy Parthia in 44/43 BC, I think his resume would be significantly improved. As it stands, I would put the military resumes of Marius and Sulla and Scipio and Constantine and (oddly enough, for all of his other conquests) Pompey above Caesar's. Of course, Caesar's political savvy exceeds all of these men combined (or even multiplied).

Back to Napoleon. Not much I can say about Russia other than that it was completely and utterly horrendous for Napoleon. I'd love to read Napoleon's own thoughts about why the Russian campaign got away from him as badly as it did, like, what did he foresee and what caught him by surprise? The basic idea was that he did not intend to stay there long, that he wanted one decisive battle against Alexander, win, and then sue for peace. As it became clearer that this wasn't going to happen, should he have known to get the **** out of there? Maybe, but what GOAT is remembered for retreating with the greatest army ever assembled?

The question with Russia more broadly is how much that failure takes away from his other accomplishments and GOAT status. I see it as a huge failure, but a failure that actually makes it possible to have an interesting GOAT debate, because without that failure, I think Napoleon is the GOAT ainec. Think about what he did; he, not of noble birth, was at war with dynasties, global empires, and the best European armies for 20 years, and he defeated everybody for about 16 of those years.

Quick point about Waterloo -- There's no way Napoleon was going to survive the war even if he had won at Waterloo. And the major errors of Waterloo were Ney's inept charge and Grouchy not being on Blucher's ass (march to the sound of the guns). I don't think Napoleon deserves a lot of blame for that.
Your skipping the major issue that is the Spanish campaign. I do agree that had he died in 1811 he would certainly be a top 3, but the Russian campaign was a disaster and he is too blame, plain and simple. Waterloo is just a cherry on top, but never ever forget the Spanish ulcer. It was a major disaster. I don't need to tell you that fighting in a two front war will always be a bad idea, yet he still did it.
Where Napoleon succeeds is in the simple fact that he is undoubtly with Hannibal, the greatest tactical military leader. He had a timing and understanding that is beyond anyone in history.
But war is so much more then battlefield tactics. It is logistics, strategy, alliances, diplomacy and other factors, especially when one is in charge of these(opposed to Hannibal, who was not the leader of his nation).
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:22 PM   #115
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Your skipping the major issue that is the Spanish campaign. I do agree that had he died in 1811 he would certainly be a top 3, but the Russian campaign was a disaster and he is too blame, plain and simple. Waterloo is just a cherry on top, but never ever forget the Spanish ulcer. It was a major disaster. I don't need to tell you that fighting in a two front war will always be a bad idea, yet he still did it.
Ulcers are seldom fatal in and of themselves. If you're saying that Napoleon could/should have wrapped up the Spanish question by 1812, I doubt that this was possible. It was a difficult situation that did not play to his strengths (ie subduing guerrillas with British backing). In 1811, it was a stalemate, by early 1812 it was probably turning against the French. Hard to say however what that would have ultimately meant for the French Empire if the Russian campaign did not occur or did not turn out to be a total disaster. If you're saying that, given what was going on in Spain, the Russian invasion was that much worse of a decision, I guess I agree, but again I think Napoleon did not envision being in Russia for more than a few months.

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Where Napoleon succeeds is in the simple fact that he is undoubtly with Hannibal, the greatest tactical military leader. He had a timing and understanding that is beyond anyone in history.
But war is so much more then battlefield tactics. It is logistics, strategy, alliances, diplomacy and other factors, especially when one is in charge of these(opposed to Hannibal, who was not the leader of his nation).
I'm not drawing on much here, but I'd surprised if most historians think that Napoleon's abilities in logistics and strategy were anything less than very good. Were tactics by far his strongest suit? Sure. But did he move his forces around Europe very well for the most part (bonus points for crossing the Alps)? I think so. Living off the land worked great where he could do it; obviously it was a catastrophe when the land was set on fire by his enemy. Roads are a good thing to take advantage of if they are there; but if they are thoroughfares of mud, not so much.

Now diplomacy is a fascinating topic, I don't have any sense of what may have happened behind the scenes. On the face of it, Napoleon negotiated many treaties. In general, I think he desired peace more than his adversaries did. He married Marie-Louise, which, again on the face of it, should have secured him Austrian support in perpetuity. The calamity in Russia may not have been fatal to Napoleon were it not for the formation of the Sixth Coalition.

Then you had Talleyrand being Talleyrand, just sayin'.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:44 PM   #116
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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And that's just about it for Caesar. Had he not been assassinated and managed to destroy Parthia in 44/43 BC, I think his resume would be significantly improved. As it stands, I would put the military resumes of Marius and Sulla and Scipio and Constantine and (oddly enough, for all of his other conquests) Pompey above Caesar's. Of course, Caesar's political savvy exceeds all of these men combined (or even multiplied).
I really liked your post and have a whole more to respond about Napoleon but I don't have a ton of time now.

I also would take Marius, Sulla and Scipio over Caesar. If I make the case for Sulla any fan of Caesar points out that Cesar pretty much had a similar track record. Scipio is a very strong dark horse GOAT (like Sulla) that does not get enough love. If Hannibal is on anyones top ten list it is a major blunder to not have Scipio on the top 10 list as well. If Hanibal is your GOAT clearly the guy that beat him belongs in the Top 5. If for some reason I am wrong I would love to have someone make that case. Constantine over Caesar? I still take Caesar but feel Constantine is a strong top 25 candidate belonging on anyones list.

Rome produced so many quality military leaders but even I concede it would be a mistake to have 7 of the top 10 being from Rome and Hannibal.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:24 PM   #117
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I really liked your post and have a whole more to respond about Napoleon but I don't have a ton of time now.

I also would take Marius, Sulla and Scipio over Caesar. If I make the case for Sulla any fan of Caesar points out that Cesar pretty much had a similar track record. Scipio is a very strong dark horse GOAT (like Sulla) that does not get enough love. If Hannibal is on anyones top ten list it is a major blunder to not have Scipio on the top 10 list as well. If Hanibal is your GOAT clearly the guy that beat him belongs in the Top 5. If for some reason I am wrong I would love to have someone make that case. Constantine over Caesar? I still take Caesar but feel Constantine is a strong top 25 candidate belonging on anyones list.

Rome produced so many quality military leaders but even I concede it would be a mistake to have 7 of the top 10 being from Rome and Hannibal.
When you have time, do you care to elaborate on why Marius, Sulla and Scipio are better generals then Caesar? He might be tacticallly inferior to the latter, but strategically, he seems above these. He organised and talked his way to victory in gaul. He won over one of the great roman generals(pompey). I can see how Scipio would be better, but im not sure about Marius or Sulla.
Let me know your thoughts when you have time.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:32 PM   #118
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I also would take Marius, Sulla and Scipio over Caesar. If I make the case for Sulla any fan of Caesar points out that Cesar pretty much had a similar track record. Scipio is a very strong dark horse GOAT (like Sulla) that does not get enough love. If Hannibal is on anyones top ten list it is a major blunder to not have Scipio on the top 10 list as well. If Hanibal is your GOAT clearly the guy that beat him belongs in the Top 5. If for some reason I am wrong I would love to have someone make that case. Constantine over Caesar? I still take Caesar but feel Constantine is a strong top 25 candidate belonging on anyones list.
Just looking at the military resumes, it seems to me that fans of Caesar have to concede that Sulla had a more impressive military career than Caesar. The capture of Jugurtha; being the useless Catulus' legatus against the Cimbri; he pretty much solely wrapped up the Social War (and received the Grass Crown for bravery); he made the ballsiest decision ever to march on Rome (he was even deserted by his senior commanders by doing this); he wiped away Marius' urban resistance force; he went on to fight the First Mithridatic War (laying siege to Athens, winning the hugely important battles of Chaeronea and Orchomenus); marched on Rome again. By the end of it, he was so successful in killing all of his political enemies that he could walk the streets of Rome alone without fearing for his life.

I would put Caesar's military career is in the top 10-15 range. He had a few moments of brilliance and some signature victories, but he was also obscenely lucky at times. What brings him back into the top 5 is that he was the shrewdest political actor of any age. To play Crassus and Pompey off each other early on (while incurring incomprehensible amounts of debt) and then to outmaneuver Cato, Cicero and anybody else who wanted a piece of him in court, just brilliant.

I'm picking Constantine over Caesar to be a little silly and controversial, ultimately I'm not aware of any super significant tactical or strategic masterpieces by Constantine. I guess I just love Constantine's political hostage to sole emperor story arc. He was also as merciless as Marius and Sulla.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:52 PM   #119
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Actually, shame on me for forgetting that I think Octavian is one of the shrewdest political actors of any age. Not really a general's general though.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:56 PM   #120
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Actually, shame on me for forgetting that I think Octavian is one of the shrewdest political actors of any age. Not really a general's general though.
Not at all. Virtually all of his military successes must be credited properly to Marcus Agrippa, the best friend an emperor could have--someone who would not only win the battle, but who would then also give his master the credit.

Octavian/Augustus though definitely had a cool, steely, Machiavellian political talent that may have exceeded even his adopted father's... but then again, Octavian lived in an age where political power was far more dependent on military power than on astute legal maneuvering, so it's hard to say. But his rise to become one of the two most powerful men in the Mediterranean from an early age should not be undervalued.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:30 PM   #121
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Not at all. Virtually all of his military successes must be credited properly to Marcus Agrippa, the best friend an emperor could have--someone who would not only win the battle, but who would then also give his master the credit.

Octavian/Augustus though definitely had a cool, steely, Machiavellian political talent that may have exceeded even his adopted father's... but then again, Octavian lived in an age where political power was far more dependent on military power than on astute legal maneuvering, so it's hard to say. But his rise to become one of the two most powerful men in the Mediterranean from an early age should not be undervalued.
Agrippa doesn't make my list because he falls in the ''admiral'' list and he is probably in the top 5 admiral all time.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:38 PM   #122
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I'm not trying to make a case for Agrippa; I'm merely agreeing that Octavian has no place on the list because he was not really any kind of commander in anything but name (just as we wouldn't give FDR credit for MacArthur or Patton, or Lincoln for Grant).
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:10 PM   #123
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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I'm not trying to make a case for Agrippa; I'm merely agreeing that Octavian has no place on the list because he was not really any kind of commander in anything but name (just as we wouldn't give FDR credit for MacArthur or Patton, or Lincoln for Grant).
Yeah for sure. Just to give him some credit, Octavian was (at least in the beginning) personally present for some of the battles. He was with Antony at Philippi for example. He was also very much the head of his army ie the person to whom the soldiers directly owed their loyalty (the President is commander in chief but it's not quite the same). He gets points with me for using the military to consolidate his power, but I agree he doesn't belong on this list.
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:13 PM   #124
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Agrippa doesn't make my list because he falls in the ''admiral'' list and he is probably in the top 5 admiral all time.
Admirals #2-5 might be fun, but Nelson was the God of the sea.
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:12 PM   #125
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Admirals #2-5 might be fun, but Nelson was the God of the sea.
I definitely did not research as much as my top 100 generals list but a quick draft would give something like this.

1.Yi-sun Shin (google him)
2.Horatio Nelson(although i might put blake, they kind of go together) (trafalgar + danemark + aboukir bay)
3.Chester B Nimitz (midway + pacific campaign)
4.De Ruyter (raid in the thames + dutch resistance)
5.Sir Andrew Cunningham (tarento + Mediterranean domination)
6.Heihachir÷ T÷g÷. (1905 russo-japanese war)
7.Blas de Lezo( underated monster. His resume speaks for itself, google it)
7.William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham (spanish armada + cadiz)
9.Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa(actium and took care of most pirate fleets in the med)
10. Admiral Donitz (Scapa flow raid + Wolf pack strategy)

Very quick draft. Although im not sure Donitz should be there, the Uboats had a fairly horrible time from 42 and upwards, especially compared to world war 1 where submarines had a much bigger success.
On a side note, im still going through my top 100 and everyone has been helpful in this thread. Keep it up fellows

Last edited by Adaptation; 08-28-2012 at 11:31 PM.
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