Napoleon Bonaparte was the Greatest.

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,762
Australia
I think Napoleon was a great commander and reformer - one of the best until he started believing his own propaganda. I think Caesar and Philip II were both better all-round commanders/politicians/statesmen. Frederick the Great would make the short list too.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,762
Australia
So competent, that France was utterly defeated and he died in exile. Paris was occupied by foreign armies for the first time in 400 years.
Hannibal was one of the greatest tacticians ever produced but even he eventually lost a battle. Sometimes you simply can't win. It doesn't make the man any less. Some of the best commanders lost plenty of times, but they managed to survive their mistakes and learn from them.
 
Sep 2018
25
michigan
One of the points for Julius Caesar was the length of his achievements, but after his death Rome went into the same civil wars that had plagued it in years prior due to the extreme power of generals. The triumvirate was reestablished with new faces and Rome went into a cold war between Antony and Octavian(well to be fair a decent amount of it towards the end was just Octavian politically degrading Antony). Maybe i am missing some key reforms he made during his last years in Rome but nothing seems to point towards the grand roman empire until Octavian established the principate (probably not JC's intention because as i understand it he wanted to recreate the republic). nothing seemed to be going in the favor of the roman empire we know till octavian took full power and ruled over Rome.(which would be a downright foolish assumption to make in the aftermath of JC's demise).
 
Sep 2016
1,278
Georgia
Hannibal was one of the greatest tacticians ever produced but even he eventually lost a battle. Sometimes you simply can't win. It doesn't make the man any less. Some of the best commanders lost plenty of times, but they managed to survive their mistakes and learn from them.
Napoleon ruled the biggest and most populated ( bar Russia ) country in Europe. Hannibal never had such resources at his disposal. Napoleon also didn't lose just 1 battle and had plenty of failures.

France was able to conquer Austrian Netherlands, crush Dutch Republic and defeat Spain before Napoleon even begun his first campaign in 1796.

Not to mention, that before 1799 Napoleon also failed in his Egyptian campaign and ran away, leaving his army.
 
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macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,074
Slovenia, EU
Napoleon can't be top in military sense because of Russian campaign. Period.

Because all his achievements, reforms and many victories he deserves a position around end of top ten.

Caesar
Genghis
Khalid
Hannibal
Timur
Bai Qi

are all before him. It is easy to defend why.
 
Feb 2019
867
Serbia
Napoleon ruled the biggest and most populated ( bar Russia ) country in Europe. Hannibal never had such resources at his disposal. Napoleon also didn't lose just 1 battle and had plenty of failures.

France was able to conquer Austrian Netherlands, crush Dutch Republic and defeat Spain before Napoleon even begun his first campaign in 1796.

Not to mention, that before 1799 Napoleon also failed in his Egyptian campaign and ran away, leaving his army.
I agree on Hannibal.

Before Napoleon begun his campaigns you say that France defeated Spain and crushed the Dutch Republic. It is true but Spain wasn't the scariest enemy in the world at the time and the Dutch Republic really wasn't that threatening, Austria and Britain gave France more trouble in the Low Countries theatre. However we can't deny Napoleon's skill in the 1st coalition and his Italian Campaign. His appointment to the command was a bit shady but he did good work, especially when you compare to how the French Rhine Campaign went.

In Egypt you can argue that it was a mistake to even go there. He was heavily outnumbered and surrounded by a hostile population with his navy destroyed, he had no choice but to run away. I agree that he is overrated in the military sense especially when we look at some of his brilliant strategic decisions such as the Continental System, the Intervention in Spain and most importantly the Invasion of Russia. In the 6th Coalition he also made many strategic blunders which effectively cost him the war. Same can be said for the Waterloo Campaign and his failure to knock out the Prussians after Ligny as well as Ney's mistakes in the campaign.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,464
South of the barcodes
Hannibal was one of the greatest tacticians ever produced but even he eventually lost a battle. Sometimes you simply can't win. It doesn't make the man any less. Some of the best commanders lost plenty of times, but they managed to survive their mistakes and learn from them.
Yes, he controlled a unified nation (his secret Police saw to that) one of the most powerful armies of his era, a decent navyand either controlled or could intimidate most nations in europe.

He could have sat back, got the economy under control, improved welfare, built up his manpower and manufacturing and left France in a better position.

Instead his psychological flaws meant he could never live with a deal, if he had a problem he sent an army instead of a diplomat, he strangled trade, threw his population away in interminable wars that drained his economy and let his navy shrink to allow the army to be paid for, giving Britain control of Frances colonies and the income from them that he desperately needed!

Napoleon was a first rate General, a vsionary with the legal reforms needed to run a country, its just a pity he was a ham fisted ruler and could be outclassed as a diplomat by a friday night drunk.
 
Sep 2016
1,278
Georgia
Before Napoleon begun his campaigns you say that France defeated Spain and crushed the Dutch Republic. It is true but Spain wasn't the scariest enemy in the world at the time and the Dutch Republic really wasn't that threatening, Austria and Britain gave France more trouble in the Low Countries theatre.

In Egypt you can argue that it was a mistake to even go there. He was heavily outnumbered and surrounded by a hostile population with his navy destroyed, he had no choice but to run away.
Only French also overrun Low Countries by 1795. France achieved victories in Austrian Netherlands and annexed those territories. In 1795 Prussia also left the war.

Suvorov was forced to retreat from Switzerland and Russians abandoned the war in 1799, before Napoleon even returned to Europe. In 1800 Moreau achieved decisive victory over Austrians in Battle of Hohenlinden. Napoleon was saved from defeat by Desaix at Battle of Marengo in 1800. Not to mention, that a lot of credit in 1800 campaign also belongs to Massena.

Napoleon's performance in Italian campaign was great. However, he also never fought great or really talented military commanders during his First Italian Campaign in 1796 - 1797.

Napoleon still abandoned his soldiers in Egypt. What reaction would be now in USA, if some general abandoned American troops in hostile land and ran away ? He certainly wouldn't be glorified that much.
 
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