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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 20th, 2017, 03:18 PM   #41

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
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.
Hmm, I must have gotten those confused. Hurtgen was further to the southeast, right?
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Old July 20th, 2017, 03:28 PM   #42

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Originally Posted by Viperlord View Post
My votes went to Ulysses S. Grant, Winfield Scott, and George C. Marshall.

Grant is probably the most versatile of the names on the list; where some like Patton or MacArthur were primarily theater or field commanders and other likes Eisenhower or Marshall had to run overall war efforts, Grant had to wear all of those hats. He was the most successful Union army commander in the field prior to his 1864 promotion. During that time, aside from being successful operationally, he had to coordinate closely with the navy, deal with thorny political issues involving slavery and how to deal with occupied Confederate territory and disloyal citizens, work with a difficult, suspicious and questionably capable superior in Henry Halleck, deal with doubts originating from Washington itself about his fitness to command, and wrestle with difficult subordinates (William Rosecrans) and outright disloyal ones (John McClernand).

Despite all that, he's the leading Union commander by 1864, and in the supreme commander role, waging war across the continent on a scale that no US general had to deal with before, and still dealing with the difficult politics that helped destroy his predecessors, he successfully brought the war to its conclusion, while simultaneously still partially fulfilling the role of a field commander, and successfully, in the end, as he removed Lee's army from the war by outmaneuvering Lee and trapping him in Petersburg, while giving the overall Union war effort the guiding direction it had sorely lacked to that point.

Winfield Scott is the giant of early US military history, with all due respect to George Washington. Scott shaped the course of the US military between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and his campaigns in Mexico were superb examples of his military skills in the field. Many of the Civil War's future leaders learned key parts of their craft from him.

George Marshall was both a great soldier and a great statesman, and earned his title of the organizer of victory. Overseeing and arranging the expansion of the US military and putting key men in place to lead it may have been "pencil pushing," as someone put it, but it was crucial work, and he did it. His post-war work is if anything, even more laudable.
I'd agree with all of these IF you exclude Washington. Washington was great not for his victories, but for keeping his army together and somewhat viable, thus setting up the conditions for eventual victory.

In essence Washington was not the best tactical or strategic general, but like Batman he was what the country needed. Without Washington there is no USA.

Not counting Washington I'd count Scott far and ahead of all the others. History forgets Scott was the underdog, outnumbered, under supported, and against a determined enemy. It does help that he was fighting Santa Ana, the Loser of the West (hey I'm Texan I had to say that).

Last edited by zincwarrior; July 20th, 2017 at 03:34 PM.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 03:46 PM   #43

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Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
Hmm, I must have gotten those confused. Hurtgen was further to the southeast, right?
Hurtgen would be north of where Patton was. The big German city that would be associated with that campaign would be Aachen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCrtgen_Forest
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Old July 20th, 2017, 04:03 PM   #44

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Hurtgen would be north of where Patton was. The big German city that would be associated with that campaign would be Aachen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCrtgen_Forest


Well, if there's one part of military history where I get my geography mixed up, it's WWII.

Anyway with that battle, aye yai, I do like Bradley, but that must be a factor in his non-consideration for this thread.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 06:40 PM   #45

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Originally Posted by zincwarrior View Post
I'd agree with all of these IF you exclude Washington. Washington was great not for his victories, but for keeping his army together and somewhat viable, thus setting up the conditions for eventual victory.

In essence Washington was not the best tactical or strategic general, but like Batman he was what the country needed. Without Washington there is no USA.
I concur completely. Ultimately, what is a general? A leader of an army. What is the goal of the general? To win. A similar comparison is Garibaldi when he united Italy. Not a great tactician, but an inspiring leader who accomplished his goal, like Washington.
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Old July 20th, 2017, 06:47 PM   #46

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I mean sort of, Garibaldi didn't accomplish any of his political goals. No Italian Republic, he didn't take Rome, Triento was still Austrian, Nizza was still French and he failed in his own political career. His only real accomplishment was taking Sicily and Naples. His activity in France and South America was also a huge waste of time. Other than that his direct military contributions come from side theaters during all three Italian Independence Wars.
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Old July 21st, 2017, 07:46 AM   #47
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Washington was a great leader, but as a general he wasn't that successful. He wasn't at Saratoga, Cowpens, or Kings Mountain. Yorktown was Rochambeau's idea. Compare that to Scott and Grant who won consistently. Why pick as a greatest general someone who just did OK, when there are several really successful generals?

I don't know how to evaluate Marshall and Eisenhower, as they managed things from Washington and London respectively. Eisenhower was never in combat in any war. I don't see why they got so many votes, and am not clear what they did that was so great.

Arnold had a spectacular record. He might not be included because of his treason and not being high enough ranked. As mentioned, Morgan as had great success. While I don't care for his approach, Andrew Jackson deserves mention. I think highly of Thomas. Forrest and Cleburne did great jobs: they weren't of the highest rank, but that is partly because they Confederacy favored West Point graduates from planter backgrounds.
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Old July 21st, 2017, 07:57 AM   #48

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Originally Posted by betgo View Post
Washington was a great leader, but as a general he wasn't that successful. He wasn't at Saratoga, Cowpens, or Kings Mountain. Yorktown was Rochambeau's idea. Compare that to Scott and Grant who won consistently. Why pick as a greatest general someone who just did OK, when there are several really successful generals?

I don't know how to evaluate Marshall and Eisenhower, as they managed things from Washington and London respectively. Eisenhower was never in combat in any war. I don't see why they got so many votes, and am not clear what they did that was so great.

Arnold had a spectacular record. He might not be included because of his treason and not being high enough ranked. As mentioned, Morgan as had great success. While I don't care for his approach, Andrew Jackson deserves mention. I think highly of Thomas. Forrest and Cleburne did great jobs: they weren't of the highest rank, but that is partly because they Confederacy favored West Point graduates from planter backgrounds.
Washington kept his army together in very trying circumstances, won some key successes whenever he was in New Jersey that helped with that, and was just generally a charismatic commander who could organize, inspire and care for his troops. He also kept his army going in spite of very tepid support from many of the colonies. As I said in the 'what makes a good general' thread, one doesn't necessarily to have battle tactics as a strong suit if they make up for it elsewhere, which is precisely Washington as a commander in a nutshell. He was indispensable.
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Old July 21st, 2017, 07:59 AM   #49

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I don't see why Arnold is so spectacular. He never served at a particularly high level of command.
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Old July 21st, 2017, 09:08 AM   #50

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Quote:
Originally Posted by betgo View Post
Washington was a great leader, but as a general he wasn't that successful. He wasn't at Saratoga, Cowpens, or Kings Mountain. Yorktown was Rochambeau's idea. Compare that to Scott and Grant who won consistently. Why pick as a greatest general someone who just did OK, when there are several really successful generals?

I don't know how to evaluate Marshall and Eisenhower, as they managed things from Washington and London respectively. Eisenhower was never in combat in any war. I don't see why they got so many votes, and am not clear what they did that was so great.

Arnold had a spectacular record. He might not be included because of his treason and not being high enough ranked. As mentioned, Morgan as had great success. While I don't care for his approach, Andrew Jackson deserves mention. I think highly of Thomas. Forrest and Cleburne did great jobs: they weren't of the highest rank, but that is partly because they Confederacy favored West Point graduates from planter backgrounds.
Ngyuyen Giap never won a pitched battle against the US, yet South Vietnam is now communist. Hannibal won nearly every battle he was in yet Carthage was destroyed.

Its not the battles you win. Its if you win.
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