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Old June 29th, 2018, 03:13 AM   #1

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Least Favorite Generals


The flip side of my "Favorite Generals" thread, I don't allege that these men were the "worst" generals in history (certainly not in the case of Napoleon). But I do not look favorably upon these generals. In many ways, the general is not to blame: I find dogmatic fanboys annoying.

1. Napoleon Bonaparte
No one can deny his military genius, but he had the ego the size of the Eiffel Tower. He had the chance to transform the chaotic French Revolution into something meaningful, but Napoleon himself put it best: "They expected me to be another Washington." He built a personality cult that is still alive today: his fanboys, who excuse him of almost anything.

2. Alexander the Great
Also a military genius, he was mentally unstable. Going on drunken benders and killing your friends in duels is not the mark of a great leader. He exacerbated the chaos after his death by refusing to name an heir. Like Napoleon, he has an annoying fan base.

3. Lloyd Fredendall
One of the worst generals in history, I find his leadership detestable. As a soldier with combat leadership experience, I have difficulty excusing his failure to lead. His tactical and strategic mistakes are well known.

4. Robert E. Lee
This one is less personal. I have great respect and admiration for Lee as a General and as a man. It is his fan base and his detractors that annoy me: to many in the South, he was the second coming. His opponents are no better: they often hate him for largely political reasons. People either praise him or damn him without understanding the man.

5. Napoleon III (and all the Marshals of the Franco-Prussian War).
Where do I begin? The Prussians made some very serious mistakes, particularly Steinmetz. And the French refused to capitalize on them. They lost battles that Lord Cardigan or Braxton Bragg could have won. While France was fighting for its life, its Marshals were busy fighting among themselves. Napoleon III got so epic-ally played by Bismarck you could say he was a "child in the hands of a giant."
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Old June 29th, 2018, 03:26 AM   #2

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I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of Alexander, especially since the murder of Cleitus happened very late into the "Persian years" so-to-speak. His campaign after Issus to capture the eastern seaboard, including capturing Tyre was a brilliant demonstration of strategical knowledge.


I don't really think he was mentally unstable. Plus, his father binge drank a lot as well, including throwing himself into the front lines after heavy drinking. It was a Macedonian necessity, especially as king, to be a drinker.


As for Napoleon, I can understand the fanboyism aspect, though I've barely seen any other general who has so successfully conducted conscript troops against regulars and won on multiple occasions.

Last edited by Duke Valentino; June 29th, 2018 at 03:40 AM.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:05 AM   #3

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I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of Alexander, especially since the murder of Cleitus happened very late into the "Persian years" so-to-speak. His campaign after Issus to capture the eastern seaboard, including capturing Tyre was a brilliant demonstration of strategical knowledge.


I don't really think he was mentally unstable. Plus, his father binge drank a lot as well, including throwing himself into the front lines after heavy drinking. It was a Macedonian necessity, especially as king, to be a drinker.


As for Napoleon, I can understand the fanboyism aspect, though I've barely seen any other general who has so successfully conducted conscript troops against regulars and won on multiple occasions.
With Napoleon's conscripts against enemy regulars, that is true in 1814, or in 1813 when up against the Russians. Otherwise, his troops were hardly less experienced than his counter-parts, and the Prussians themselves had to make-do with no small proportion of their armies composed of Landwehr in 1813-15.

I echo you here though besides that one caveat.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:07 AM   #4
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Marlborough and Eugen
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:18 AM   #5
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1 Kutuzov

Just abominable at Borodino and Austerlitz. Much more concerned about his own interests than the fate of the Russian army. A sly cunning operator who liked set other up for the blame.

2, Murat

A military idiot, with out any idea of tactics, without the slightest interest in the day to professionalism of being a soldier. Without the slightest care for his men or horses. An indictment on Nepotism.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:20 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by frogsofwar View Post

3. Lloyd Fredendall
One of the worst generals in history, I find his leadership detestable. As a soldier with combat leadership experience, I have difficulty excusing his failure to lead. His tactical and strategic mistakes are well known.
Strategic mistakes ?
While I fully agreed he was a very poor Corps commander, I am puzzled by the claim he made strategic mistakes, he wasn't high ranking enough to make strategic decisions.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:22 AM   #7
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With Napoleon's conscripts against enemy regulars, that is true in 1814, or in 1813 when up against the Russians. .
partially, large parts of the Russian army were the conscripts of the army of the reserve, arrived during the armistice, the Russian army suffered as well in 1812.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 04:48 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
With Napoleon's conscripts against enemy regulars, that is true in 1814, or in 1813 when up against the Russians. Otherwise, his troops were hardly less experienced than his counter-parts, and the Prussians themselves had to make-do with no small proportion of their armies composed of Landwehr in 1813-15.

I echo you here though besides that one caveat.
Napoleon pulled a quasi-Moltke in that he organized a military-political complex for war but without the refinement of Moltke's General Staff. He was thus able to command armies of massive size, rarely seen outside ancient China.

One oddity about Napoleon is that many historians discount the significance of the Peninsular War in his downfall. Napoleon disagreed, saying "It was the Spanish ulcer that ruined me." While I personally believe that Napoleon met his true "Waterloo" at Leipzig, its an odd case of pro-Napoleon historians trying to downplay Wellington but accidentally criticizing Napoleon himself.

I can guess that because Napoleon had significantly less involvement in the Peninsular War vs Russia, it was politically beneficially for him to blame defeat in that theater.

If Napoleon was right, it wouldn't be the last time France got into trouble over who sat on the Spanish throne. Hell, it wasn't the last time a Napoleon would screw up over who ruled Spain.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 06:01 AM   #9

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Napoleon- as stated egomaniac dictator. Brutal.

Any WW2 German ones- some were rabid Nazis. Other might have been decent honorable men but they still support a vile system and are overhyped by Wehrmacht fan boys.

Frederick the Great- Prussian. So he has that against him from the start. But he comes across as an unlikable guy.
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Old June 29th, 2018, 06:22 AM   #10
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Napoleon- as stated egomaniac dictator. Brutal.

Any WW2 German ones- some were rabid Nazis. Other might have been decent honorable men but they still support a vile system and are overhyped by Wehrmacht fan boys.

Frederick the Great- Prussian. So he has that against him from the start. But he comes across as an unlikable guy.
Come on, excuse Frederick, his dad was a douche
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