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View Poll Results: Who was the greatest general in American military history?
George Washington 13 22.03%
Nathaniel Greene 3 5.08%
Winfield Scott 13 22.03%
Zachary Taylor 1 1.69%
Ulysses S. Grant 22 37.29%
Robert E. Lee 16 27.12%
William T. Sherman 3 5.08%
John J. Pershing 2 3.39%
Douglas MacArthur 5 8.47%
George C. Marshall 10 16.95%
Dwight D. Eisenhower 13 22.03%
Omar Bradley 4 6.78%
George S. Patton 4 6.78%
Matthew Ridgway 6 10.17%
Other 3 5.08%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

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Old July 19th, 2017, 09:53 AM   #31

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I voted for Washington. I know it sounds like a cliche, but you cannot underestimate the importance of what Washington accomplished under the circumstances. The British Empire had exponentially more resources than Washington did. He may not have won many battles, but he inspired and he managed the war to the point of victory. He was thoroughly the underdog. With the exception of Lee (who would be my second choice), no other general on this list came in as an underdog, something to consider.
Actually the Americans were the underdogs in the Mexican-American War, at least as far as military opinion of the age went. A lot of the European military grandees had wrongly predicted a Mexican victory. Mexico started the war with a larger, more professional army and Central America is a very difficult place for an invading 19th Century army to campaign in. That the war was so lopsided in favor of the United States was in large part due to the quality leadership of the American generals in comparison to their Mexican opponents, particularly Scott.

The US did also have advantages in superior artillery and its West Point trained junior officers as well, and while also a factor in the American victory, France possessed similar advantages over Mexico, was one of the great powers of that era (the US was not yet among them) but would later fail in its military adventures in Mexico, just two decades later. US victory was not assured and both Buena Vista (Taylor rather than Scott) and Cerro Gordo could very well have gone the other way.

Last edited by Scaeva; July 19th, 2017 at 10:09 AM.
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Old July 19th, 2017, 09:04 PM   #32
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I voted for Scott based on the Mexican War, and also the Anaconda Plan and other strategic work in the Civil War. Greene had a great record. Arnold and Morgan may have done better, but one would not be included for obvious reasons and the other was not high enough ranked. I also voted for Patton, based on all of his campaigns, but particularly the European one.

I did not vote for Washington. Although he was a great leader, his military record was mixed in both the French and Indian War and War for Independence. Grant may be deserving, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for him. I could never vote for Sherman, and there were several other generals on both sides who had more impressive records. Lee had spectacular successes, but made serious mistakes. Marshall and Eisenhower did not lead soldiers in the field as generals. MacArthur made many serious mistakes and often did not follow orders.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 05:52 AM   #33

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Scott is not even worth mention.
I take it you're unfamiliar with the Mexican-American War? Scott was being undermined by President Polk, who was afraid of a Whig becoming a war heroes and then running for President. Scott was given less than half of the men, equipment and supplies he was promised. Some of Scott's chief subordinates were quarrelsome and tried to take credit for Scott's ideas. Others thought charging straight at the enemy was a good idea. A copy of Scott's plans sent to Taylor had fallen into Mexican hands. Scott was badly outnumbered by the Mexicans, who had the advantage of fighting on the defense, often with very good ground. And Scott hand a very long supply line to protect. Scott started the campaign with the largest Army-Navy combined operation in US history, made it out of the lowlands before fever season destroyed his army, and captured the Mexican capitol six months after he landed.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 06:10 AM   #34

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I voted for Scott based on the Mexican War, and also the Anaconda Plan and other strategic work in the Civil War. Greene had a great record. Arnold and Morgan may have done better, but one would not be included for obvious reasons and the other was not high enough ranked. I also voted for Patton, based on all of his campaigns, but particularly the European one.

I did not vote for Washington. Although he was a great leader, his military record was mixed in both the French and Indian War and War for Independence. Grant may be deserving, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for him. I could never vote for Sherman, and there were several other generals on both sides who had more impressive records. Lee had spectacular successes, but made serious mistakes. Marshall and Eisenhower did not lead soldiers in the field as generals. MacArthur made many serious mistakes and often did not follow orders.
You would really put Patton over those others? Sure, the likes of Washington, Lee, and MacArthur all had mixed records and made some serious mistakes at points, but they also faced far more difficult circumstances and often more difficult opponents. So much of the time Patton was facing fairly paltry or decisively out-matched opposition. He faced the area of least resistance in Sicily and blundered in the Hurtgen Forest, though I will admit he did well during the German Ardennes Offensive.

He has little of note aside from those, and his record was neither as brilliant as MacArthur's in New Guinea or at Inchon, don't compare to Lee during the Second Bull Run or Chancellorsville campaigns, to Grant during the Vicksburg, Chattanooga, or Overland/Petersburg campaigns. Nor did he show the flair Washington showed in his New Jersey Campaign or the overall leadership exemplified by Washington.

If Patton had faced the same difficulties/opposition as those others, or had the same lengthy stint in large-scale command (or Scott's brilliant conduct in Mexico) as they did, then I would be willing to put him up there with him, but he didn't. Patton had exceptional energy and even initiative at times, but overall he comes across to me as barely a step above average.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 06:18 AM   #35

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I picked only one; Winfield Scott.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 06:19 AM   #36

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I don't understand the hype for Patton either. He was perfectly fine when rampaging through virtually undefended countryside; whenever he ran into serious opposition though, his record looks less impressive, and both in Sicily and at Metz, he wasted lives charging into prepared positions because he was rushing for reasons of personal ego, to say nothing of throwing away troops trying to rescue his son-in-law. He lost more men in Lorraine against pretty second-rate German troops than MacArthur lost in New Guinea and the retaking of Leyte combined. Bastogne was good and he and Bradley did a good job of getting Fredenhall's troops back into shape.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 11:10 AM   #37
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1) Grant

2) Winfield Scott

3) Matthew Ridgway
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Old July 20th, 2017, 11:11 AM   #38
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I take it you're unfamiliar with the Mexican-American War? Scott was being undermined by President Polk, who was afraid of a Whig becoming a war heroes and then running for President. Scott was given less than half of the men, equipment and supplies he was promised. Some of Scott's chief subordinates were quarrelsome and tried to take credit for Scott's ideas. Others thought charging straight at the enemy was a good idea. A copy of Scott's plans sent to Taylor had fallen into Mexican hands. Scott was badly outnumbered by the Mexicans, who had the advantage of fighting on the defense, often with very good ground. And Scott hand a very long supply line to protect. Scott started the campaign with the largest Army-Navy combined operation in US history, made it out of the lowlands before fever season destroyed his army, and captured the Mexican capitol six months after he landed.
That's why i have him #2
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Old July 20th, 2017, 11:31 AM   #39

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Originally Posted by betgo View Post

I did not vote for Washington. Although he was a great leader, his military record was mixed in both the French and Indian War and War for Independence.
I placed a greater value on leadership rather than technique in my evaluation. Although I value tactical prowess, leadership - especially with an ill trained, ill equipped underdog army, cannot be minimized, in my opinion. Kind of like a boxer who gets knocked down, but still wins the fight on points, or the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 3 games by wide margins to the New York Yankees, but won 4 closely contested games to win the World Series title.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 01:46 PM   #40

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Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
He faced the area of least resistance in Sicily and blundered in the Hurtgen Forest, though I will admit he did well during the German Ardennes Offensive.
Patton was not involved in the fighting for the Hurtgen Forest. That was Hodges First US Army. At that time, Patton was battering US troops against post-Franco-Prussian pre-WWI forts at Metz and trying to break into Lorraine.
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