Examples of successful generals getting promoted with little to no experience


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
Eisenhower remained in the US during WW1 in a training position. No combat experience prior to commanding Torch.

Admiral Nimitz was in submarines during WW1 and saw little, if any, action. He was in charge of the Navy's personnel division at the time of Pearl Harbor as a two star. He skipped Vice Admiral (three stars) and went straight to four stars and commander of the Pacific fleet.


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Ah well, he never published the thing. (Jospeh did his.)

Apparently only the relentless British quest for Napoleonic silly brought it to public recognition. Somehow telling.
Oct 2018
Scipio Africanus seems like an example. He had experience as a tribune, but prior to his Spanish appointment, whereby he received proconsular powers and effective command over the entire Spanish theatre, Scipio had not served as a praetor or consul and thus had not commanded an army.
Oct 2018
The emperor Julian would be an example as well. A bookworm who was made Caesar and given command over Gaul against the Frankish and Alemannic invasions, he proved to be quite competent, winning the Battle of Strasbourg, defeating the invasions and overthrowing the enemy kings. That said, his Persian campaign was a disaster.
Apr 2018
Lucullus hadn't military experiences before Second Mithridatic War and studied war during the voyage to Cyzhicus if i remember well.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
During the US Civil War both sides had to rapidly form large armies. Thus many men found themselves commanding units many times larger than they had ever done before, and many men became field officers and even generals direct from civilian life with little or no previous military experience.

So if one finds a list of successful or competent generals during the US civil War some of them will have been successful in much larger commands than they ever had before, or even have become generals without previous military experience.