Most Overrated General

Mar 2016
747
Antalya
#21
Napolean. First class tactician, poor strategist. He is no match for likes of Genghis Khan or Timur. He is several tiers below, but still better than overwhelming majority of generals in history, imo.
 
Apr 2014
365
Istanbul Turkey
#22
Napoleon Bonaparte : He promoted way too high too young (Brigadier at what 23 years old ) during Revolution due to his ambition , oppurtunism of the times and his contacts (without Committe of Public Safety Corsican member Salticeri , his own brother Lucien a Conventon member and Robespierre brothers where would he be I wonder ?) and lack of high ranking officers in French Revolutionary Army (most of them were either executed or exiled after Revolution) After that further contacts in high places like Barras from Directory goverment , collection of enbling young and ambitious officers like him around his close circle (Napoleon was not a lone God as his romantic fans thought he was , he was a gifted and ambitious general who surrounded with high talent and took over their credits. When General Moreau defeated Austrians at Upper Rhine in 1800 during War of Second Coalition , everyone congragulated Napoleon while in fact he was about to be crushed in Marengo only to be saved by Desaix counter attack which cost poor Desaix his life. Napoleon gathered credits of both of their victories then exiled Moreau. The same luck did not hold in Waterloo 15 years later because he had no Berthier as Chief of Staff , no Desaix as reserve corps commander and no Moreau whose credits he could display as his own) due to meritocracy of Republican France and natural born advantages French Army had due to modifications and advances they did first (like mass mobilisation , Napoleon owes a huge one to Lazerne Carnot or Baron du Tot's artillery tactics , which Napoleon utilised a lot as an artilleyman) He took over a military machine which he refined for sure like Corps system and fast movement with first modern staff system but then used that military machine to elevate himself to godhood status and wrecking that military machine and French demography meanwhile.

Erwin Rommel : When Churchill under vote of No Confidence from Commons during July 1942 remarked in his speech "We were against a great general (Rommel)" he complated Goebbels work and rose Rommel to a martial honorable knight of Germany level. Both Churchill and British military establishment were aiming at this point to conceal weakness of operational structure in British Army and incompatence of British generals and their weird command/authority status in desert so far not to mention doctrine problems , all these matters that should have been solved before the war during peacetime if not cutting of British Empire defence budgets constantly and low priorty given to national defence due to politicians meddling. People usually forget there are two sides in war. Otherwise morale of British people suffer , especially level of interfarence Churchill initiated from London to his generals in field was known (fall of Singapore snd Tobruk partially due to pointless defence stragies of London and Churchill)

Rommel was overpromoted too young (just like Napoleon) During war both his self promotion , Nazi propaganda and Allied propaganda to cover up their failures in field despite numerical superiorty on paper and after the war due to manner of his death and rinse clean effort of West Germany and Bundeswehr , he became honorable knight of Germany. Funny thing is Rommel never had to fight off against like Model , Hoth , Guderian , Schoeder under adverse conditions of not just enemy superiorty but terrain , climate. Eventually the conditions that stalled and brought down him and his Afrikakorps Aryan superman (%45 of Panzer Army Africa , rest were Italians whose better fighting record was forgotten partially due to dismissive attitude of Germans abaut their allies including Italians. During defeats of Panzer Army Afrika usually Italians were left behinds and stood out for rear guards , sacrificed by Germans. ) were his own making of over ambition-to conquer Nike delta and Suez-overextending his rear supply lines beyond breaking point and logistical resources he had and allocated from his superiors (OKW and Commando Supremo Rome were well aware till mid 1942 that due to British supremacy in Mediterranean and low unload capacity of Libyan harbours , only a limited amount of combat power and supplies could be shipped to Africa but of course Rommel was no strategist and no logistician , instead dismissed logistics as Italian affair then both he and his post war acolytes blamed Italians for supply difficulties , meanwhile no one reminded that Rommel himself decided to march into Egypt after fall of Tobruk in June 1942 , no one ordered him to do so , overexteded his rear supply lines unnecessarily under RAF air dominance , it can be assumed that his recent over promotion to Field Marshal rank at such a young age got over his head. When he was stalled at Alamein at the end of such an unsustainable suuply tail , he could have retreated , when British offensive started on October 1942 , under those conditions , he sould definetely retreated instead he wated alost %60 of his army for nothing at Second Battle of Alamein then retreated. When he was faced a compatent general like Montgomery who understood his army and his weak and strong points , Rommel was defeated constantly and eventually left his army to be captured in Tunisia 1943 with face saving excuse of health reasons (a.ka Axis MacArthur iin North Africa instead of Phillipinnes) When he was assigned in Army Group B , instead of being on constantly alert on 1944 spring and summer despite all indications of Allied landing preperations on France , he left for Germany to celebrate his wife's birthday just before D-Day ! Eventually he missed his only chance to defeat Allied invasion and then later his (non) nvolvement off 20th July conspiracy and his forced suicide made him a myth out of him.
 
Mar 2019
512
Kansas
#25
Caesar doesn't just have his story. It's corrobarated in a lot of ways by other authors. Plus, we need to realise that people who are constantly successful in warfare over many years and in different situations are a bit mor than "lucky".
Yeah given when he crossed the Rubicon, Rome had a collective bowel motion.......something a lot more than luck is in play here.
 
Oct 2016
1,079
Merryland
#27
Von Moltke the elder
the Prussians were fortunate in that the French army was an ill-led mess.

I think Bonaparte was brilliant early but lost his edge and ended in mediocrity. years and years of fighting just about everybody in Europe would do that. (nobody's fault but is own)
 
Likes: macon
Nov 2011
4,688
Ohio, USA
#28
I feel that skilled generals of renown tend to be more overrated than poor or mediocre ones. Napoleon did numerous mistakes that some lesser-known commanders might not have done in his shoes, as did Julius Caesar, and even Alexander the Great. Of course, they were all highly competent and extraordinarily successful, but they were far from the flawless gods of war that certain pseudo-historians make them out to be. I believe we make a grave error in associating fame and success with competence. For instance, I personally consider Frederick the Great of Prussia - often referred to as one of the great military minds of European history - a capable but unexceptional commander. He led arguably the most efficient military machine in Europe at the time against an empire in decline with a substandard army, yet managed to lose multiple battles where a truly gifted general would have won with ease.
I agree that Frederick is overrated to a certain extent due to certain critical errors of judgment that crop up about half the time, errors that he often failed to make good upon. However, I find your rationale here unsound, as you are gravely selling the Austrians short. With the exception of lacking iron ram rods, the Austrians of the SYW were very nearly as good as the Prussians. That is an important advantage for the Prussians but that hardly means the Austrians were sub-standard. They weren’t in decline during the time of Maria Theresa either. Austrian decline wouldn’t set in until at least the time of Francis I and Napoleon or perhaps beyond, though the genesis of decline might have happened as early as the ideal yet misguided reforms of Joseph I.

Couple that with also fighting the extremely tough Russians and Frederick’s task was from easy and he did have a few brilliant successes, regardless of his other screw-ups.
 
Last edited:

Similar History Discussions