My list of the Top 10 Generals ever

Nov 2010
7,158
Cornwall
#41
Only Wellington was ever in a position to accomplish this. You can't be a major power on the continent and fight a war which involves constant retreating and indirect maneuvers. Why do you think every time France or Germany fought a major war they ended up losing hundreds of thousands of men.

The kind of war you are describing only makes sense if you are an Anglo. Even America can't fight a war like this anymore. In a continental war it is all or nothing, where as Britain has the good fortune of being on an island.
I know what you are saying but I don't subscribe the the greatness of Napoleon because of his often catastrophic decisions and defeats. Ultimately a loser and mainly of his own making. Wellington could only play the cards he was dealt - should he have gambled and lost like Napoleon was inclined to?
 
Jan 2015
5,176
Ontario, Canada
#42
I know what you are saying but I don't subscribe the the greatness of Napoleon because of his often catastrophic decisions and defeats. Ultimately a loser and mainly of his own making. Wellington could only play the cards he was dealt - should he have gambled and lost like Napoleon was inclined to?
I'll expand on my previous post. I'll use this to illustrate my point. Napoleon could only play the cards he was dealt - should he have gambled by withdrawing and lost like continental powers were inclined to? The French policy since the 1400's was to push to the Rhine and dominate Italy and the primary reason was internal and external security. Napoleon succeeds in this and then has to develop a new foreign policy in order to contain Russia and to break the British thalassocracy by occupying the main ports on the Continent (which extends to Iberia and Germany).

Ultimately what could he have done differently? The only time he had a choice was whether he would invade Russia or not. The impression that people have that Napoleon could simply withdraw completely from one direction and cut his losses isn't based on the actual circumstances that to do so would essentially mean the end of French hegemony. For all the "Napoleon should have accepted this or that treaty" etc, Napoleon's greatest strength economically, politically and diplomatically was the empire. Occupying key continental ports was detrimental to the British, containing Austria behind the Alps and the Inn River, keeping Russia from expanding into Europe, suffocating Prussia by expanding into Germany... all of these things made sense as foreign policy and that together with the Grand Armee were the biggest deterrents that Napoleon had. How do we know this? Because it was everyone else's foreign policy as well.

The major problem with your position is that you are implying that Wellington succeeded in Iberia due to his own efforts. Iberia was a side theater and therefore dictated by the war in Central Europe. Moreover his own efforts depended entirely on the actions of the Spanish. If the French did not redeploy many of their troops to Germany, something they had no choice in, together with the major uprisings in Iberia in 1813 then Wellington wouldn't have made it as far as Navarra in the first place. Therefore he would not have won the Battle of Vittoria and he would not have invaded France the next year. Wellington didn't need to gamble, but gamble he did, most of his campaigns were until the French withdrew from the Peninsula.
 
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Likes: macon

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,466
Slovenia
#43
Not sure I would call Scipio and Hannibal rivals. That is only after the hindsight of Zama, their only pitched battle. Although Scipio and Hannibal had actually faced each other briefly in Italy. Scipio's rivals were actually Hasdrubal Barca, Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisco. Hannibal's rival was probably Marcus Claudius Marcellus.

As for Napoleon it certainly wasn't Wellington. Wellington's rivals were Soult and perhaps Jourdan. As for Napoleon he fought a lot of generals but the only ones that stuck were Archduke Charles (the rising star after 1795, they would go on to face each other in the Veneto in 1797, as part of a broader strategic war in 1805 and then directly in 1809). The other opponent which shows up again was Kutuzov who gave Napoleon the slip in 1805 and took command of the Russian army in late 1812. Arguably you could also throw in Barclay de Tolly for his actions in 1812, 1813 and 1814 and he was really the only intellectual on Napoleon's level. Blucher definitely pops up a lot in the latter part of Napoleon's career. He played crucial roles in 1813, 1814 and 1815, maybe not a rival as much as he was a nuisance but Blucher did give MacDonald a beating in Silesia and at Leipzig he did defeat Marmont and Ney even if with much difficulty, then Blucher took Paris in 1814 after several beatings in Eastern France. At Waterloo he was instrumental despite being defeated at Ligny... then he took Paris again in 1815. This guy just refuses to be put down.
I know what you mean and agree with you. Parallel is in a fact that both Hannibal and Napoleon were dealt a final blow by Scipio and Wellington and that their victors learned from Hannibal and Napoleon at least in some aspects. I don't think that Napoleon was learning from Wellington and Hannibal from Scipio. Hannibal and Napoleon were also having pretty free hands with their grand strategies (Hannibal was in all practical regards which mattered a king of Carthaginian Iberia), while Scipio and Wellington were more commissioned generals with less free hands.
 
Jan 2015
5,176
Ontario, Canada
#44
I know what you mean and agree with you. Parallel is in a fact that both Hannibal and Napoleon were dealt a final blow by Scipio and Wellington and that their victors learned from Hannibal and Napoleon at least in some aspects. I don't think that Napoleon was learning from Wellington and Hannibal from Scipio. Hannibal and Napoleon were also having pretty free hands with their grand strategies (Hannibal was in all practical regards which mattered a king of Carthaginian Iberia), while Scipio and Wellington were more commissioned generals with less free hands.
I don't really think that Napoleon had anything to learn from Wellington. Anyway if you look at the Waterloo campaign Napoleon had Wellington on the ropes. I would say that it was Wellington who did not learn from Napoleon, as his decision making shows. Wellington was playing a la 1700's style warfare, against other generals who did so as well. Napoleon was employing methods which had not been replicated by his contemporaries, 1800's style or Modern warfare. Blucher at least was able to see where the campaign was going, unlike Wellington.

Hannibal had nothing to learn from Scipio either, what was there to learn?
 
Likes: macon
Jul 2018
19
Pakistan
#45
This is my (unfinished) list of the top 10 generals ever.
1. Khalid bin Walid
2. Alexander the Great
3. Julius Caesar
4. Napoleon Bonaparte
5. Hannibal Barca
6. Subedei
7.
8.
9.
10.
Could you please suggest some generals to fill in the final places. I was thinking of Manstein, Suvorov, John Churchil and Frederick the Great. Please don't forget to mention WHY your selected generals should be in the list.
Guys the purpose of asking was that you could suggest some good generals in a specific order to fill up the remaining places. Again, I was thinking of adding Suvorov, Frederick the Great, Marlbrough, Eugene of Savoy, Chingis Khan, von Manstein. Wiuld you place them in an order and/or suggest your own generals to fill the remaining places. But whatever you do please remember to state WHY you think they deserve to be where you put them.
 
Jan 2016
465
Macedonia
#47
would be interesting to have an all-star list based on country.

Britain: Richard Lionheart; or Wellington.
France: Napoleon.
Italy/Rome: Caesar or Scipio Africanus
Spain/Iberia; Hannibal
Austria-Hungary; Archduke Charles
Sweden/Scandinavia; Gustavus Adolfus
USA: probably Winfield Scott.
CSA: Robert E. Lee
Mexico; Santa Ana?
South America; Bolivar?
Germany; Rommel? von Rundstedt? maybe the first von Moltke?
don't know enough about Asia/Middle East (other than Ghengis Khan)
Spain: Gonzalo de Cordoba
Netherlands: Maurice of Nassau
Belgium (or Bavaria): Tilly
Austria: Eugene of Savoy
Prussia/Germany: Frederick the Great or Moltke
Sweden: Gustavus Adolphus
Hungary: John Hunyadi
Romania/Moldova: Stephen the Great
Czech: Jan Zizka
France: Napoleon
Italy: Caesar in old times, Montecuccoli in new times
Albania: Skanderbeg
Bulgaria: Simeon the Great
Serbia: Stefan Dusan
Russia: Alexander Suvorov
Lithuania: Vytautas the Great
Poland: Hetman Koniecpolski
Greece: Alexander the Great
Finland: Mannerheim
Britain: Marlborough
USA: Grant
CSA: Lee
Mexico: Benito Juarez
Peru: Antonio Jose de Sucre
Chile: Lautaro
Colombia/Bolivia/Venezuela: Simon Bolivar
Northwestern Africa: Hannibal
Egypt: Saladin
Arabia/Palestine/Iraq: Khalid ibn al-Walid
Syria: Muawiya
Turkey: Selim I
Iran: Cyrus the Great
Uzbekistan: Timur
Turkmenistan: Babur
Afghanistan: Ahmad Shah Durrani or Mahmud Ghazni
Pakistan: Muhammad Ghori
India: Chandragupta Maurya
China: Bai Qi or Han Xin
Mongolia: Genghis Khan
Japan: Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Vietnam: Tran Hung Dao or Giap

(this list doesn't include admirals)
 
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Likes: sailorsam
Oct 2016
855
Merryland
#48
Spain: Gonzalo de Cordoba
Netherlands: Maurice of Nassau
Belgium (or Bavaria): Tilly
Austria: Eugene of Savoy
Prussia/Germany: Frederick the Great or Moltke
Sweden: Gustavus Adolphus
Hungary: John Hunyadi
Romania/Moldova: Stephen the Great
Czech: Jan Zizka
France: Napoleon
USA: Grant
CSA: Lee
Mexico: Benito Juarez


(this list doesn't include admirals)
very interesting thanks
I confess I hever heard of half these people
I still say Charles for Austria but Eugene is a good choice. probly had more actual victories.
 
Nov 2010
7,158
Cornwall
#49
Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba was good,, for for 'Spain' it has to be El Cid. Though you could argue there was no 'Spain' for another 300 years and he basically just fought for himself.
 

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