My List of the Greatest Commanders in History

Jan 2015
5,524
Ontario, Canada
As it turns, my post was premature. I don't know of Peter's Involvement in military reforms so I can't really comment but this begs the question of who counts? If we look at people who call the shots then every political leader from a successful war should be on here, such as Lincoln, Pitt the Younger etc. but I think we can agree that they were not generals. Brooke and Marshall actively participated in planning and military organisation and held the military authority as Chiefs of Staff. Politicians who intervene in military affairs shouldn't really be classed with actual officers, if they are the list becomes much larger.

As a side note: I see Radomir Putnik in the WWI category, He was a Chief of Staff more so than a field commander in WWI, and I would say not a particularly brilliant one. I would nominate Stepa Stepanović or Živojin Mišić in his place.
Technically you could make the argument to include certain politicians. So long as they exercise military authority on an operational or strategic level. Chief of Staff also counts so long as they directly carry out military affairs.

Hypothetically I wouldn't include Abraham Lincoln because he didn't really intervene militarily in any capacity. Aside from exercising his role as C-in-C. For example he would send orders to Meade to give chase to Lee's army or order for an attack in a certain area, but his letters would usually go ignored and he rarely issued them as direct commands. I think he only really intervened militarily once or twice and he did nothing in a staff position for example.

Not sure about Radomir Putnik. Wasn't he credited for the Serbian victories in the First World War?

I’d like to see Cn Pompeius Strabo; Labienus and Metellus Pius examined for eligibility on this list.
I am considering them. If I knew where to read about their career I might speed this along.
Also made another list called "Other Generals" for generals which didn't make the cut. Just because I like to keep a record of them, or in case I change my mind I will remember what names didn't make the list.
 
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Not sure about Radomir Putnik. Wasn't he credited for the Serbian victories in the First World War?
Partially but not really. He was the Chief of Staff and did exercise some military authority but wasn't entirely responsible. 2 Serbian victories in 1914 were Cer and Kolubara. At Cer the army was commanded by Prince-Regent Alexander, the most famous event during this battle was the Drina March led by Stepanović thus he is often credited for Cer, along with others such as Petar Bojović and Pavle Jurišić Šturm. For Kolubara the battle was planned by Mišić, he served as the overall commander as well. Naturally as Chief of Staff Putnik had played a role in organising the campaign but didn't command in the field and his poor health and old age prevented him from being as effective as he perhap could be.

In 1915 he followed the army on the retreat through Albania and conducted it with skill, still his army was in large part composed of conscripts and farmers. His numbers withered due to disease, winter and desertion but the army managed to make it out alive. Before the attack by the Central Powers Putnik correctly estimated that Bulgaria would invade and proposed a preemptive strike to cripple them before they launched the invasion and avoid a 2-front war but his idea was rejected.

He and the rest of the General Staff were dismissed after the retreat and as such he had no part in the Salonika Front. He died in 1917. Mišić was the most prominent Serbian commander in Salonika and eventually rose to have the highest authority, Salonika was mostly to his credit in my opinion.
 
Jul 2017
2,295
Australia
@Lord Oda Nobunaga

Here's the first one.

GNAEUS POMPEIUS (135–87 BC), nicknamed Strabo (squint-eyed).

CAREER
-Quaestor in Sardinia (103 B.C.)
-Praetor (94)
-Pro praetor in Sicily (93)
-Consul (89)
-Proconsul (88-87)

CAMPAIGNS
89 BC - Legate for the consul Publius Rutilius Lupus at the outbreak of the Social War. Ordered to raise troops in and around his estates in Picenum. Intercepted and defeated by the combined forces of Lafrienus, Scato and Vidacilius and forced to retreat into the city of Firmum. Organised a pincer movement, catching Lafrienus and his army on two fronts, breaking the siege and killing Lafrienus. This was the first major success for the Romans in the war, and as a result civil dress replaced the mourning attire that had been decreed. The rest of Strabo's operations during this year go unrecorded.

88 BC - Elected consul alongside Lucius Porcius Cato. Intercepted and destroyed an Italian army of 15,000 in the winter of 89/88, killing 5,000; most of the survivors were either chased and killed or froze to death. Resumed operations in the Picenum area and continued the siege of Asculum whilst overseeing and conducting operations with his legates in the northern sector. An Italian attempt to relieve Asculum in November resulted in a large concentration of manpower and the largest battle of the war, with some 12 depleted Italian legions pitted against Strabo's 15 legions. The result was 18,000 Italian casualties, and 3,000 captured. Strabo then moved to capture Asculum, secured the entire northern front and celebrated the only triumph of the war.

88-87 BC - Remained in command of his veterans as proconsul. Eventually joined the Senatorial side in the civil war. Attacked the Marian general Quintus Sertorius in the northern vicinity of Rome in conjunction with consul Octavius; the results were indecisive and 600 were slain on both sides before night fell. Later repelled an attack by Cinna and Marius with a portion of his army outside the Colline Gate in aid of Octavius. Killed by the disease ravaging the armies at the time.

QUALIFICATION
At the onset of the Social War in 89, Strabo already had a reputation as a general, thus facilitating his appointment as Legate for the consul Publius Rutilius. He had considerable authority, with mandate to raise levies around his estates in Picenum and conducted independent military operations in that area. Although defeated by the combination of three insurgent armies, he successfully organised a pincer movement with a relieving army, the first major success of the war for the Romans. He became consul for the next year. Strabo started his appointment by ambushing and destroying an enemy army of 15,000. He later fought in the largest battle of the war, winning it and capturing Asculum. Under his command, the insurgency was stamped out in the northern theatre, and as a result celebrated the only triumph of the war. It can be argued that Strabo, not Sulla, was the preeminent general of the Social War. During the civil war, he also repelled an attack by Cinna and Marius outside the Colline Gate. Strabo thus qualifies for the list by standing alongside Sulla as a driving force for the Roman victory in the Social War.
 
Jul 2017
2,295
Australia
QUINTUS CAECILIUS METELLUS PIUS (130-63 BC), nicknamed Pius.

CAREER
-Cadet under his father in the Jugurthine War (109-107 BC)
-Legate in the Social War (89 BC)
-Praetor in the Social War (88 BC)
-Propraetor against Samnium (87-86 BC)
-Legate (primary) under Sulla in the second civil war (83-82 BC)
-Pontifex Maximus (82 BC)
-Consul alongside Sulla (80 BC)
-Proconsul (79-71 BC)
-Remains Pontifex Maximus until his death in 63 BC, when Caesar replaces him

CAMPAIGNS

89 BC – Serving as a legate (probably under Strabo), won several important battles against the Marsi late in the year.

88 BC – Metellus succeeded Coscondius as praetor in the southern theater. Attacked and defeated the Apulians in battle. The leading insurgent leader Silo was killed.

87-86 BC – Entrusted as Propraetor to campaign against the remnants of the insurgency.

83-82 BC – Metellus and Sulla fight Norbanus at Canusium and kill 6,000 men. Metellus later routed Carbo’s lieutenant Carinas on the banks of the river Aesis. This victory caused the country to secede from the consuls to Metellus himself. Defeated another army of Carbo, and during the battle five enemy cohorts deserted to him. Was attacked by Carbo and Norbanus in his camp, but defeated them, killing 10,000 of the enemy, with a further 6,000 deserting to him. Conquered Cisalpine Gaul from the Marians.

79-71 BC – Sulla sends Metellus to Spain as Proconsul of Hispania Ulterior to deal with the rogue Marian general Sertorius. He arrived in his province with what was likely 2-3 legions, along with 2,000 replacements for the two garrison legions (Spann, 65). After his legate Balbus was defeated by Sertorius, and the governor of the other Hispania, Calvinus, likewise defeated by Sertorius’ lieutenant Hirtuleius, Metellus took a more personal role in the campaign, only to find that Sertorius refused to engage him in the field. He advanced on a different line of advance, operating to the west and south-west, besieging Lacobriga. Faced with a similar situation his father Numidicus was in during the Jugurthine War – being unable to come to pitched battle with an elusive and mobile foe using guerrilla tactics – Pius settled on laying waste to the countryside, sacking towns and hamlets, killing men of military age etc. in order to force Sertorius to defend or slowly lose his bases of operation and supply. Pius also established a belt of fortifications north from the Anas through the center of what is now modern Estremadura. He additionally called for assistance from the governor of Transalpine Gaul, L. Manlius, but his force of three legions and cavalry were intercepted and destroyed by Hirtuleius. The consuls of 77 BC did not want to join Metellus in Spain, and so Pompey was sent in a Proconsular command to assist. He arrived in the spring of 76 after wintering in Narbo. Whilst Pompey campaigned via the coast in order to establish a springboard from which to expand inland, Hirtuleius was entrusted by Sertorius to tie Metellus down in Lusitania. Metellus managed to engage and rout Hirtuleius using a Cannae-like maneuver, holding back his center and enveloping the wings, inflicting 20,000 casualties on the enemy army. Pius and Pompey later engaged Sertorius in a pitched battle, allegedly at Segovia. While Sertorius defeated Pompey, Pius simultaneously defeated Perperna, and Sertorius withdrew, the overall result indecisive, except that Sertorius’ forces were permanently reduced to suitability only for guerrilla warfare. No longer could he confront Pius and Pompey in the open field, and so his opponents settled on a pattern of slowly but surely extending their influence via sieges. With Sertorius’ assassination in 72 BC, the war was quickly and decisively wrapped up by the two Proconsuls, and Pius celebrated a joint triumph with Pompey in 71 BC.
 
Jul 2017
2,295
Australia
I'd also like to nominate Pius' father.

QUINTIUS CAECILIUS METELLUS NUMIDICUS (160-91 BC)

CAREER
-Quaestor (126 BC)
-Tribune (121 BC)
-Aedile (118 BC)
-Praetor (115 BC)
-Governor of Sicily (114 BC)
-Consul (109 BC)
-Censor (102 BC)

CAMPAIGNS

109-8 BC – The African army was taken over by Metellus after becoming consul in 109 BC. Restoring the discipline of the army there which had faltered significantly under its previous generals, Metellus followed a policy of targeting enemy fortresses, rather than follow the failed examples of his predecessors and attempt to confront the mobile Jugurtha and his Numidian cavalry with infantry in the desert. He took several fortifications, including the capital city of Cirta. After thwarting a surprise attack and further beating Jugurtha in another engagement, the Numidian king was forced to recruit auxiliary troops among the Gaetulian tribes, and allied with Bocchus, the king of Mauretania, in return for territorial concessions. Misunderstandings of Metellus’ situation caused public unease in Rome, and Marius, a deputy of Metellus, gained the consulship in 108. However, Marius simply continued the intensified military training Metellus had introduced, and his strategy was simply Metellus’ but on a larger scale, which was afforded by the additional troops granted to his command. Upon his return to Rome, Metellus celebrated a triumph and was awarded the cognomen Numidius, much to the irritation of Marius.
 
Jan 2015
5,524
Ontario, Canada
Partially but not really. He was the Chief of Staff and did exercise some military authority but wasn't entirely responsible. 2 Serbian victories in 1914 were Cer and Kolubara. At Cer the army was commanded by Prince-Regent Alexander, the most famous event during this battle was the Drina March led by Stepanović thus he is often credited for Cer, along with others such as Petar Bojović and Pavle Jurišić Šturm. For Kolubara the battle was planned by Mišić, he served as the overall commander as well. Naturally as Chief of Staff Putnik had played a role in organising the campaign but didn't command in the field and his poor health and old age prevented him from being as effective as he perhap could be.

In 1915 he followed the army on the retreat through Albania and conducted it with skill, still his army was in large part composed of conscripts and farmers. His numbers withered due to disease, winter and desertion but the army managed to make it out alive. Before the attack by the Central Powers Putnik correctly estimated that Bulgaria would invade and proposed a preemptive strike to cripple them before they launched the invasion and avoid a 2-front war but his idea was rejected.

He and the rest of the General Staff were dismissed after the retreat and as such he had no part in the Salonika Front. He died in 1917. Mišić was the most prominent Serbian commander in Salonika and eventually rose to have the highest authority, Salonika was mostly to his credit in my opinion.
I'm not really sure I understand. So you are saying that the issue is that Radomir Putnik was only Chief of Staff? Would you have this problem with Moltke who was also Chief of Staff?

From what I've been able to find it seems that Radomir Putnik was largely in command since Prince Alexander was only nominally in command.
 
I'm not really sure I understand. So you are saying that the issue is that Radomir Putnik was only Chief of Staff? Would you have this problem with Moltke who was also Chief of Staff?

From what I've been able to find it seems that Radomir Putnik was largely in command since Prince Alexander was only nominally in command.
Not that he was Chief of Staff, but that he was not a particularly exceptional one, got dismissed halfway through the war so didn't fight in Salonika while Mišić did and Putnik's only battle that I would class as brilliant is the planning for Kolubara. Mišić was also responsible for Kolubara and Putnik was only partially responsible for Cer, again with much of the credit going to Stepanović, I have an issue with saying that he was in whole responsible for Serbian victories (He partially was, partially.) because I think that others performed better. I would put Mišić in Putnik's place because I find him more responsible for Kolubara and the fact that his career was longer, he ultimately fought at Salonika and played no small role in knocking out Bulgaria during the final months of 1918.

Putnik was a decent Chief of Staff, just not good enough to warrant the list in my opinion, if you want a Serbian WWI general on the list I nominate Mišić.
 
Jan 2015
5,524
Ontario, Canada
Not that he was Chief of Staff, but that he was not a particularly exceptional one, got dismissed halfway through the war so didn't fight in Salonika while Mišić did and Putnik's only battle that I would class as brilliant is the planning for Kolubara. Mišić was also responsible for Kolubara and Putnik was only partially responsible for Cer, again with much of the credit going to Stepanović, I have an issue with saying that he was in whole responsible for Serbian victories (He partially was, partially.) because I think that others performed better. I would put Mišić in Putnik's place because I find him more responsible for Kolubara and the fact that his career was longer, he ultimately fought at Salonika and played no small role in knocking out Bulgaria during the final months of 1918.

Putnik was a decent Chief of Staff, just not good enough to warrant the list in my opinion, if you want a Serbian WWI general on the list I nominate Mišić.
Sure thing, I will look into it. Thanks for the information.
 

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