How good was Alexander the Great as a general?

Jul 2018
21
Pakistan
#1
We often hear that Alexander inherited a very powerfull army which did his conquests for him while his generalship played little part in his success. I want to know whether this is true or whether Alexander's tactics and strategy played a significant role or whether both the formidable army and Alexander's own tactics and strategy had equally important roles in his conquets.
 
Oct 2018
110
Sweden
#2
More than his generalship the person Alexander and his charisma and inspiring pressence made him a great general.
He was a very good general dont get me wrong but he didnt exactly come up against a competent foe.
 
Oct 2013
5,879
Planet Nine, Oregon
#3
It seems like his goals and tactics were often quite risky, but he knew how to inspire his men by choosing to suffer hardships with them, knew when to be benevolent and magnanimous, when to be merciless, all in the service of conquering the known world and pushing the envelope as far as possible. He happened to be in charge of a very effective war machine, but victories were not always guaranteed.
 
Aug 2016
824
USA
#4
I agree he was a very good general, but some of his greatest "victories" only came because he didn't bother to send out scouts. There are at least two times this got his entire army almost completely surrounded, and despite this, his army was so superior in terms of equipment, morale, and training that they still succeeded. This indicates less reliance on Alexander's abilities, great though they may be, because there are little tactics he could use in such a situation other than attempt to disengage. Of course, he often didn't need to.
 
Nov 2010
7,325
Cornwall
#5
I agree he was a very good general, but some of his greatest "victories" only came because he didn't bother to send out scouts. There are at least two times this got his entire army almost completely surrounded, and despite this, his army was so superior in terms of equipment, morale, and training that they still succeeded. This indicates less reliance on Alexander's abilities, great though they may be, because there are little tactics he could use in such a situation other than attempt to disengage. Of course, he often didn't need to.
I think you are countering your own argument a bit. You could say they were so powerful and confident it didn't matter. But then you could also say that how do we know how many scouts were sent out 300+ years before Christ?
 
Likes: bboomer
Aug 2016
824
USA
#6
I think you are countering your own argument a bit. You could say they were so powerful and confident it didn't matter. But then you could also say that how do we know how many scouts were sent out 300+ years before Christ?
I don't see how I am countering my argument.
The OP uses the terms tactics and strategy. I was referring to equipment, morale, and training.
Allowing an entire army to be almost completely surrounded simply doesn't happen with good scouts.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,776
Las Vegas, NV USA
#7
This may be slightly off topic, but I've always wondered how Alexander maintained control of his conquered lands as he marched east all the way to India. With about 40,000 men to both fight and occupy lands seems very difficult. That he did it was rather amazing. Were occupation forces recruited from outside his main army and if so, how could he trust them?
 
Nov 2010
7,325
Cornwall
#8
I don't see how I am countering my argument.
The OP uses the terms tactics and strategy. I was referring to equipment, morale, and training.
Allowing an entire army to be almost completely surrounded simply doesn't happen with good scouts.
Countering in a way because he did not send scouts yet was exceptionally brilliant to win? In any case sources are very limited away from key points. Who would normally chronicle use of scouts in 330BC?

Lets not forget he was a mad megalomaniac, but he's got to be high on the list of people you wouldn't want invading your land!

This may be slightly off topic, but I've always wondered how Alexander maintained control of his conquered lands as he marched east all the way to India. With about 40,000 men to both fight and occupy lands seems very difficult. That he did it was rather amazing. Were occupation forces recruited from outside his main army and if so, how could he trust them?
Not sure he always did keep control. I think like most areas in this situation (ref Charlemagne and Saxons) there was the odd massacre he had to come back and punish - or mass blinding/cutting odff of various facial features . As soon as the main army moves on people fancy their chances
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,539
Slovenia
#9
I can't understand his logistics. He and his general staff were bunch of geniuses to pull it through those distances. I don't get it how someone pulls 30-40.000 infantry in antiquity through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan left and right, up and down all the way to India. We celebrate Hannibal because of a measely kms from Pirenees to Po valley!

I've read a lot on Alexander n this forum but I still consider Darius as inferior leader while a mediocre opponent would probably stop Alexander before Iran. Persians were having so much better starting point, they only needed to wear Alexander's army down and distances were so big that they were having many chances in doing so.
 

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