My List of the Greatest Commanders in History

Oct 2018
137
China
Daming 29 people Zhu Yuanzhang and Zhu Xi: Two generations of heroes; Chang Yuchun, Li Wenzhong, Deng Yu, Tang He, Mu Ying, Feng Sheng, Fu Youde, Lan Yu, Hu Dahai, Qi Bingwen: The generals of the founding of Da Ming, with Zhu Yuanzhang sweeping the world; Liu Ji and Yao Guangxiao: two generations of good ideas; Zheng He: Seven times in the Western Ocean, many times repelled the pirates and other forces; Yu Qian: Ming Dynasty’s famous ministers, after being captured by Yingzong, led the people of Beijing to repel the shackles and revitalize the dynasty; Wang Shouren: Ming Dynasty Mingchen, extinguishing the Ning Wang rebellion; Hu Zongxian: I have recommended Qi Jiguang, and Ping pirates Wang Zhi, Xu Hai, etc., and have made great achievements. However, they repeatedly reported their merits. In order to alleviate the pressure on Zhejiang, they deliberately let go of Fujian, and they plundered Fujian and blamed Yu Dawei. For the name; Li Chengliang: During the Wanli Period of the Ming Dynasty, the Liaodong General Soldier twice defended the Liao Dynasty for 22 years. He also repeatedly reported the merits of the war, greedy and wealth, and connived in Nurhachi, laying a foreshadowing for the rise of the post-gold, not worthy of the name; Sun Chengzong: A famous minister in the late Ming Dynasty, proposed a Ping Liao policy, but unfortunately was destroyed; Xiong Tingzhuo: The outstanding military commander at the end of the Ming Dynasty, who has the courage to know the military affairs, and the good riding and shooting; the soldiers have been repeatedly shackled and cannot be a thing; Yuan Chonghuan: The military commander of the late Ming Dynasty, the superintendent of Liaodong; the strategic vision is short, arbitrarily killing Mao Wenlong, arbitrarily breaking his arms, most of his fame is because Wei Zhongxian, Jin Yong’s bragging, and even the tragic glory of Ling Xiao also made his reputation as a loyal loyal soul; Mao Wenlong: Anti-Qing generals, but unfortunately was slain by Yuan Chonghuan, His Majesty Shang Kexi, Qi Zhongming and Kong Youde were cleared, becoming the main force of the Qing Dynasty to fight the world; Li Zicheng: One of the leaders of the uprising army in the late Ming Dynasty, the emperor of the Dashun Dynasty, entered the city of Beijing and destroyed the Ming Dynasty; Li Dingguo: At the end of the Ming Dynasty, he resisted the Qing generals and fought in the two provinces, the two lakes, and forced the dead to have a virtue, and the squadron Nikan, "two kings, the world shakes"; Ma Gui, Man Gui: Anti-Qing Generals at the end of the Ming Dynasty; Shi Kefa: Nanming anti-Qing minister, the military command is lacking; Zheng Chenggong: In the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, he resisted the separatist forces, repulsed the Dutch and recovered Taiwan. 20 people in Daqing Huang Taiji, Dorgon: two males; Fan Wencheng: Huang Taiji’s plan; Hong Chengchou and Wu Sangui: Two rebels, it is with the help of these two people that Qingcai wins less; Kangxi: Cutting down and calming Taiwan; Shi Wei: Zheng’s rebellious, platform pioneer; Zeng Guofan: The main deeds - the establishment of the Xiang Army, the annihilation of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom; Zuo Zongtang: The main deeds - first assisted Zeng Guofan to destroy the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, and later forced the main defense, calmed the Xinjiang rebellion, and resisted the Russians; the reasons for the collapse - the scale of the Xinjiang rebellion is very small, can not become a famous character, the end of his life, the temperament of the famous minister concentrated; Hu Linyi, Li Hongzhang, Li Xubin: the generals of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom; Shi Dakai, Yang Xiuqing, Chen Yucheng, Li Xiucheng: General of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom; Lin Zexu, Liu Mingchuan, Liu Yongfu, Feng Zicai: Generals against Western artillery. Republic of the Republic 17
 
Oct 2018
137
China
Yuan Shikai: He has a small record in North Korea and became the first president of the Republic of China; Duan Qirui: the leader of the Northern Warlords; Huang Xing: Sun Yat-sen's military arm; Cai Wei: Asking Yuan General; Chiang Kai-shek: Commander of the Northern Expedition, and later became the leader of the Republic of China; Mao Zedong: the founder of the Republic; Bai Chongxi: Known as Xiao Zhuge, one of the leaders of the New Guilin. He has long been a staff member of the Kuomintang army and has great military talent. Unfortunately, he is not in harmony with Chiang Kai-shek and cannot lead troops to fight. Otherwise, the victory between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party is unpredictable; The performance opportunities are all confusing, such as the planning of the Battle of Taierzhuang, the temporary command of the bloody four planes to let Lin Biao eat and so on. I can't see his direct confrontation with Lin Biao, it's a pity! Peng Dehuai: commanding the 100th regiment and fighting against the US and aiding the DPRK; Su Yu: Commanding the Huaihai Campaign; Xu Xiangqian: Liberation of Shanxi; Liu Bocheng: Known as a military strategist; Du Yuming, Sun Liren, Xue Yue, Wang Yaowu, Li Zongren, Wei Lihuang: Generals of the National Army, all of whom have made outstanding achievements in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression; A total of 332 people!
 
Jan 2015
5,528
Ontario, Canada
I've been spending a lot of time looking at the various Chinese commanders which were listed by user huangpan. But also looking at subjects like the China and Pacific theaters of WW2 as well as things like the Bronze Age.

The past weak I've been reading about the Roman Empire. In particular the reigns of Domitian and the Five Good Emperors. What stands out to me is that while Trajan was a veteran military officer with many campaigns and a reign full of military activity, his successors were not adept campaigners and did so out of necessity.

Hadrian was reluctantly chosen as Trajan's successor. Largely Hadrian had connections with Trajan's family and was part of Trajan's inner circle (in fact Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus were distant relatives). Hadrian had experience in public offices but had also been a tribune in Germania and Pannonia. During the Dacian Wars he was appointed as the commander of LEGIO I. During Trajan's eastern campaigns he governed Syria and when Trajan fell ill Hadrian took over the eastern campaign, but largely ordered a withdrawal from Mesopotamia and putting down uprisings in Syria and Judea, as well as peace with Parthia. After which when he became Emperor he purged multiple officers, probably since Hadrian was not an accomplished general himself and needed to rid himself of potential rivals. His reign was largely marked by a reorganization of the army and borders, he ordered fortifications built in the Danube, Rhine, Britannia and in the East. His reign however was not marked by any major wars but instead policing actions in Mauretania, Britannia, Germania, Anatolia and Dacia. The largest conflict in Hadrian's reign was the revolt carried out by Simon Bar Kokhba in Judea which resulted in his dismantling the province and carrying out a policy of resettling and expelling. He also frequently went on tour to visit the provinces and oversee various situations, while operational command was often exercised by various trustworthy generals on the frontiers and in the provinces. Hadrian's military and geopolitics were directed towards consolidation of the vast Roman Empire and its administration. More or less, he instituted the strategy which some predecessors had attempt and which would be followed by most successors.

While I am not necessarily endorsing Hadrian's command ability, it is worth considering. His strategic ability seems noteworthy and other than his lavish lifestyle and purges, was one of the best leaders of the empire. Although his military reforms were criticized for causing structural weakness within the military in later years. Largely due to the decrease in pay, attempts to discipline the soldiers, appointing regional military commands but also a new reliance on mercenaries from subject peoples and bordering tribes.
 
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Jan 2015
5,528
Ontario, Canada
Some specific amendments and notes to the above about Hadrian.

Hadrian had personally taken to the field against the Judean rebels of Simon Bar Kokhba in 133 and 134. The war was largely ended by 134 but continued by die hard rebels into 135 and 136, largely mopping up by that time. The war could be seen as that period's Vietnam War. It was physically destructive and resulted in the loss of an entire legion and destruction of entire cities. Ultimately Hadrian opted to settle Romans and build colonies but also to enslave, kill and exile many of the rebellious Judeans. Although he also made deals with loyal Judeans and used Samaritans as mercenaries. The city of Jerusalem itself had been destroyed and rebuilt as a colony with a new name.

In addition to purging a few generals in 118 he also purged senators and administrators. Leading families which could oppose his rule and largely against Hadrian's sudden elevation to the Imperial title. Trajan had never appointed a successor and in the end of his reign he had adopted his relative Hadrian. This could be interpreted as Trajan's endorsement of Hadrian but Trajan never made his intentions clear. Trajan and his wife Plotina had their niece Sabina married to Hadrian, interpreted as a further endorsement. Sabina came from a powerful family so the marriage was largely political. After Trajan's death Hadrian's succession was supported by Plotina who claimed that Trajan on his death bed had named Hadrian as his heir.

Unlike Trajan, Hadrian had planned for his succession. He adopted Lucius Aelius who died months before Hadrian. Lucius Aelius was from a prominent family and his relatives had been purged by Hadrian. He then adopted Antoninus as his heir and in turn had Antoninus adopt Marcus Aurelius, both of whom were required to live with Hadrian in his house. Later Antoninus would adopt Lucius Verus, the son of Lucius Aelius. Antoninus Pius had no military experience and his reign saw few conflicts other than minor revolts in far off corners. Where as Marcus Aurelius was chosen from childhood to succeed Hadrian and Antoninus, he seemingly had no provincial or military experience. Although during Antoninus' reign he was given the Imperium and made a Praetorian officer. After Antoninus' death Marcus Aurelius ordered for his adopted brother Lucius Verus to be made Emperor along side him.

Immediately after taking control in 117 (while he was in his HQ in Antioch), Hadrian ordered a withdrawal from Mesopotamia. He also was required to finish putting down Jewish revolts in Judea, Cyprus, Egypt and Cyrenaica and native uprisings in those places as well as Syria. Some of the officers that put down those revolts and which fought in Mesopotamia were the ones purged by Hadrian. Then he began the march overland to Italy in order to claim Rome, where he arrived in 118 (before or after purging prominent officials). He also ordered minor withdrawals from Dacia later in his reign and gave lands there to the Roxolani for use as mercenaries. At some point tribes from the Caucasus raided Anatolia and Hadrian ordered an invasion of the kingdoms there as well as an expedition on the Black Sea. Sending with them diplomats to assess whether Roman intervention would be necessary in all those regions.

It is therefore easy to see that Hadrian's mindset, and that of his successors, was one of rooting out threats and avoiding conflicts. Largely through deterrence and the threat of force. Given that Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus had no direct heirs this must have been a factor as well (their precaution and consolidation I mean).
 
Jan 2015
5,528
Ontario, Canada
Before the break out of Bar Kokhba's revolt in 132 Hadrian had been touring Egypt in 131. For 132 and the start of 133 Hadrian had traveled to Athens, it was from there that he decided to travel to Judea with reinforcements in order to put down the revolt. However even at the time that Hadrian had been in Egypt (or even before) he had already ordered for Judea to be permanently garrisoned by two legions instead of just one. This indicates that trouble was already brewing but also highlights Hadrian's caution and consolidation mentality. The losses during this conflict from 132 to 134 were considered so high that the war was extremely unpopular not only among the senators but also among the populace. Moreover since Trajan's war in the east and Hadrian's withdrawal the legions were largely concentrated along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. For that reason legions had to be marched over from the Balkans and Egypt in order to deal with disturbances in the east.

The defeat of the Parthians in 117 and the subsequent peace must have been seen as final. Hadrian withdrew back across the Euphrates and kept that river as the border, instead of the Tigris. In fact it appears that Hadrian largely kept the buffer states such as Edessa, Adiabene and Osroene to their own devices, unlike what Trajan had done. Cities such as Europos were also returned to the Parthians and because Osroes I had defeated his son Parthamaspates he recognized Osroes I and negotiated peace with him in the 120's. Since Parthamaspates had been a Roman ally Hadrian appointed him joint King of Osroene with a man called Yalur. Despite the long standing rivalry between Rome and Parthia this peace was not broken even in the reign of Antoninus. As a result of Hadrian's policies it appeared that the east had been secured and Roman dominance over Armenia and the Euphrates was established, as tenuous as it might have been.

Antoninus' reign had been extremely peaceful with only minor disturbances in Mauretania, Judea and Britannia. During which time he ordered the the invasion of Caledonia and construction of the Antonine Wall as the new frontier (carried out by Quintus Lollius Urbicus). Some incursions by tribes in the Danube frontier and Scythian attacks against Olbia were easily dealt with. For the most part Antoninus' policies were a continuation of Hadrian's with the fortification of the borders and strengthening garrisons. In fact Antoninus is known for never having left Italy during his reign and was regarded as a scholar and administrator.

Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus were trained in Italy and probably never left Italy during their youth. Hadrian had adopted his relative Lucius Aelius (Lucius Verus' father) in 136, as his intended heir but with Marcus Aurelius as eventual successor. Lucius Aelius died in 138 and so Hadrian adopted Antoninus (the husband of Faustina, Hadrian's relative) and had Antoninus adopt Marcus Aurelius. In addition Hadrian had the Senate exempt Marcus from the 24 year limit to become a Quaestor. So at the age of 17 Marcus Aurelius was already the intended heir and his career within the administration had been decided. Hadrian died in mid-138 and succeeded by Antoninus. Antoninus had Marcus Aurelius betrothed to his daughter Faustina and trained him as his successor by being rigorously tutored and given administrative tasks. In 140 Marcus Aurelius was made Consul (being only 19 years old), in 147 he was given Imperium and Tribune powers, and then in 156 made Praetorian Tribune. It does not appear that during those 23 years Marcus or Lucius ever left Italy. Marcus had some military authority but in so far as has been recorded, he was never sent to the frontier or the provinces.
 
Likes: macon
Jan 2015
5,528
Ontario, Canada
Next I plan to go into the reign of Marcus Aurelius and his brother Lucius Verus. What little I can gauge from the Parthian War of 161-166, the Marcomannic Wars from 166-180 and the campaigns of Commodus in 'Sarmatia' (eastern Hungary) from 180 to 183 (possibly 189 as well). Marcus Aurelius' reign is interesting because of the many notable military commanders which are mentioned. Some of these generals became prominent in the reign of Commodus as well and not only overthrew him but also fought each other for power (such as Pertinax, Didius Julianus, Gaius Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus). Some generals like Marcus Pontius Laelianus and Marcus Jalius Bassus are mentioned solely in staff positions and military administration. Others like Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus, Pulbius Martius Verus and Marcus Valerius Maximianus were successful field commanders who quickly become obscure. Where as Avidius Cassius distinguishes himself in field command against Parthia and carrying out a revolt in 175 is rapidly overrun and killed. Another crucial point is the massive military build up in the Danube during that time, which dwarfs previous Roman armies.
 
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