Examples of successful generals getting promoted with little to no experience

Oct 2018
129
US
Bedford Forrest. Commodity trader before the War, enlisted as a high private. One of very few Tennessee millionaires in 1860, he raised his first regiment out of personal funds. With a rudimentary education and zero prior military experience, he almost singlehandedly created modern mobile warfare. Lost one major battle, Selma, in the Spring of 65.

Epic Forrest quotes:

No d***** man kills me and lives.

I mean to cut my way out of here or bust h*** wide open trying.

I will be dead and in my coffin before I will obey one more order from you. If you were any part of the measure of a man, I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it.

Easily one of the 5 best cavalrymen or dragoons who ever lived; his troopers fought as mounted infantry and dismounted for battle. Saved Hood's bacon on the retreat from Franklin and ended the War as commander of Forrest's Cavalry Corps. Virtually independent command, ostensibly the Cavalry of the Army of Tennessee.

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May 2018
928
Michigan
When Wellesley arrived in India, he suddenly went from being 'just another king's officer in Dublin court' to 'Commanding officer of one of the few King's regiments on the continent...and your brother now has the same authority as a European Absolute Monarch over the entire area.

This did not always help. Before he attained legendary status in the British military, many thought he got senior positions during the Fourth Anglo Mysore War and Anglo Marattha War due to his brother's influence. General Sir David Baird was openly contemptful of Wellesley getting command of Nizam's forces when the British marched in Serigapatem, even though Baird had seniority.

I can say this: if someone said that I only got a job because my brother was Governor, probably almost to the point of having to duel, and I then do a better job than profressionals with much more experience, I might not be so graceful.
 
May 2018
928
Michigan
Napoleon. Appiontted with virtually no command experince, due to political influence. Compared to his divison commanders shockingly inexperinced.
I would agree there. As an artillery major during Toulon, he was basically the one setting the French strategy for the battle/siege. Artillery majors typically don't determine the strategy for the entire army, much less carry it through to completion successfully!
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,760
I would agree there. As an artillery major during Toulon, he was basically the one setting the French strategy for the battle/siege. Artillery majors typically don't determine the strategy for the entire army, much less carry it through to completion successfully!
He was not. He suggested taking one redoubt and placing a battery there over looking the bay.. There have been claims that plan was suggested by others before him. And he did not even oversee the execution of the plan.

Regardless it was much less experience than Massena, Augereau, Serurier, Kellerman, all had much much more and successful command experience.
 
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Oct 2011
837
Nathanael Greene, went from an elected state militia leader to a General a year later. He served as quartermaster general and was effective in keeping the continental army fed and supplied. Later he took over the southern Continental Army after Gates left it in shatters. He led Cornwallis on a chase in the Carolinas that left the British exhausted and taking shelter in Yorktown.
 
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Oct 2011
837
I'll toss this out also.

Võ Nguyên Giáp

Giáp had no direct military training and was a history teacher at a French-speaking academy, influenced by historical military leaders and personally citing T. E. Lawrence and Napoleon as his two greatest influences.[2] He would later earn the moniker "Red Napoleon" by some Western sources.[3]
 
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May 2019
227
Salt Lake City, Utah
American premier officers in WWII without significant battle experience before WWII. Eisenhower. Marshall. Bradley.
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,001
I don't know if it has been mentioned, but the Duc d'Enghien, the Great Conde, commanded the French army at Rocroi when aged about 22. He was a talented commander, despite the Fronde, and his qualification for high command was that he was a "prince of the blood." That was all it took.