The greatest example of "the strongest commander VS the weakest commander"

Which pair is the greatest example of "the strongest commander VS the weakest commander"

  • Napoleon Bonaparte VS Johann Peter Beaulieu

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Napoleon Bonaparte VS Karl Mack von Leiberich

    Votes: 8 34.8%
  • Frederick the Great VS Charles of Lorraine

    Votes: 3 13.0%
  • Yamashita Tomoyuki VS Arthur Percival

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Robert the Bruce VS Edward II

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Georgy Zhukov VS Frederich Paulus

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Albert Kesselring VS Mark Clark

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Erwin Rommel VS Lloyd Fredendall

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Robert Lee VS George McClellan

    Votes: 3 13.0%
  • Issac Brock + Tecumseu VS William Hull

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • other ideas (please specific)

    Votes: 3 13.0%

  • Total voters
    23
Oct 2016
888
Merryland
#51
my vote was Yamashita v Percival. Yamashita drove his men though varied terrain against an emplaced enemy that barely fought back. Percival either didn't know what was going on or didn't pop out of his office to fix. either way blatantly incompetent. he could at least have stripped the field of supplies; the IJA feasted on 'Churchill rations'.

+1 on Oconnor v Graziani. a few smacks and the Italians surrendered in droves. doesn't say much for their leadership.

Lee vs Hooker or Burnside. both times the CSA was outnumbered; both times they crushed the Federals. (battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg)

might have been mentioned--against whom did Hannibal fight in the Trebsime (sp?) and Cannae? they were quite overmatched. read somewhere that the Romans would alternate commanders and Hannibal picked the day when the Romans would have the young inexperienced guy in charge (at Cannae).
 
May 2018
493
Michigan
#52
Hannibal Barca vs most Roman generals other than Scipio, Marcellus and Fabius. Most of the generals Hannibal fought in the Second Punic War were if subpar quality. He was so good that Marcellus merely *not losing* to Hannibal at Nola was considered a major achievement.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,074
#53
We already had this debate. You are only focusing on the Ulm campaign, a time frame of 25 September to 20 October, 1805. But my focus starts in August of 1805 when the war became inevitable.
Mack's plan was bad but his actions came with the assumption that the French wouldn't be ready for war until around October, same time that the Austrians would finish mobilizing. Mack was not expecting to only have 70,000 men when the actual war broke out.
Not true. Mack did not expect to have move troops. The Assumption was that Itlay would be the main threatre and Napooen would March his main army down to Itlay for some reason.

Mack assumed he would be facing less Man noyt that he wouyld have more,

Regardless once he knew he was massivelu outnumbered, he had achance to withdraw. He chose to dither instead.

That's not true. Mack at Ulm or Melas at Marengo, the difference is night and day.
Battle of Berezina - Wikipedia
Nope. Not even close. The scale of losses was vastly more in 1812 in Russia.

How does a tenth of the Army escaping somehow negate the loss of 500,000 men?

Most of Mack's and Melas men lived,
 
Likes: Edric Streona
Jan 2015
5,235
Ontario, Canada
#54
Hannibal Barca vs most Roman generals other than Scipio, Marcellus and Fabius. Most of the generals Hannibal fought in the Second Punic War were if subpar quality. He was so good that Marcellus merely *not losing* to Hannibal at Nola was considered a major achievement.
Well it was more that Marcellus undermined Hannibal's strategy. So Marcellus didn't really need to outright defeat Hannibal and he didn't want to either. He just needed to prevent Hannibal from eliminating the Roman forces and to prevent Hannibal from gaining further positions in the south.
 
Jan 2015
5,235
Ontario, Canada
#55
Not true. Mack did not expect to have move troops. The Assumption was that Itlay would be the main threatre and Napooen would March his main army down to Itlay for some reason.
Actually, the answer is both. Mack et all assumed that the main theater would be Italy. But either way they didn't have enough troops to have the forces in Italy or Germany at full strength.

Mack assumed he would be facing less Man noyt that he wouyld have more,
Well yeah because he thought that the French would concentrate in Italy. But even that being the case he wasn't planning to go to war with only 70,000 men. The idea was to knock out the threat posed by the German states and to secure the Upper Rhine. He was counting on receiving reinforcements when the Austrians finished mobilizing so his army would have been at full strength by October. They weren't counting on the French being ready or beginning hostilities prior to then.

Regardless once he knew he was massively outnumbered, he had a chance to withdraw. He chose to dither instead.
Again, you're only focusing on this specific event but not the broader context.
Mack had no idea he was fighting the entire French army. The French masked their presence and he expected both from reports and calculations that the French forces would be roughly the same size as his own. So he had no reason to retreat and his plan was merely to secure his position.

Nope. Not even close. The scale of losses was vastly more in 1812 in Russia.
Context is key. Why did they take losses and was this necessarily within Napoleon's control?
Plus Russian losses in 1812 were comparable to those which the French incurred.
As for the retreat... The Grand Armee had been split into various corps and columns which Napoleon had no way to command. Command had devolved to the Corps level if not the Division level or Brigade level in many cases. At that time Napoleon could only command the troops immediately assembled around his person. In so far as carrying out a retreat, Berezina shows that he clearly did better than Mack or Melas and in much more extreme circumstances.

How does a tenth of the Army escaping somehow negate the loss of 500,000 men?
It doesn't but this is comparative. Mack was not in a position to lose 500,000 men, he didn't even have 500,000 men.

Most of Mack's and Melas men lived,
Neither Mack nor Melas were campaigning in Russia. Nor in winter.
All things considered Napoleon's performance wasn't explicitly bad in 1812. It was insufficient to achieve success but then nobody would have been able to pull it off.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,074
#56
Actually, the answer is both. Mack et all assumed that the main theater would be Italy. But either way they didn't have enough troops to have the forces in Italy or Germany at full strength.
Not sure what you are saying here, the Austrian army had limitations, and fifnicial problems that prevented the army from being at full strength. But theiy planned for war more or less knowing this.

Well yeah because he thought that the French would concentrate in Italy. But even that being the case he wasn't planning to go to war with only 70,000 men. The idea was to knock out the threat posed by the German states and to secure the Upper Rhine. He was counting on receiving reinforcements when the Austrians finished mobilizing so his army would have been at full strength by October. They weren't counting on the French being ready or beginning hostilities prior to then.
No I disagree. Nothng I've read saidfthere wasa plan to reinforce Mack's forces
.

Again, you're only focusing on this specific event but not the broader context.
Mack had no idea he was fighting the entire French army. The French masked their presence and he expected both from reports and calculations that the French forces would be roughly the same size as his own. So he had no reason to retreat and his plan was merely to secure his position.
Masked by Austrian total observance of the neutrality of Prussian Territory. Aside from that Mack was informed of French movements and strengths. He knew Napoloen had significantly larger force, he thought with add of river and osition he could hold a stronger force, totally dicounting any possiblity of movemet through Prussian terroitroty. But even later the only sensible option was withgdrawal, it was urged by other Generals he refused. He rufused to objectively view the situation when events had shown his plan was in tatters,

Specific events matter the devil is in the detail.

Context is key. Why did they take losses and was this necessarily within Napoleon's control?
The Whole cmapaign was in Napoleon's control, the preparation, the strategic planning, selection of troops and commanders. He had explict control of everything. Other commanders had to put up with subordinates, strategic goals foisted upon them.


Plus Russian losses in 1812 were comparable to those which the French incurred.
They were not. A lot of Russian losses men returned to service in 1813-14. Russian losses were large. I quibble comparable.
French losses in 1805 were comparable to Allied losses.

As for the retreat... The Grand Armee had been split into various corps and columns which Napoleon had no way to command. Command had devolved to the Corps level if not the Division level or Brigade level in many cases. At that time Napoleon could only command the troops immediately assembled around his person.
Napoloen's decsions through the campaign (and long before with his lack of enforcement of discipline) lead to the situation where his army broke down. Napoleon shaped his army, selected the troops and commanders, made all the strategic decisions. IT's complete and utter failure is 100% his repsonibility. Napoloen made no preparations for a retreat, he chose to advance well beyond his supply train, he failure to make adequate preprations for the advance, or adepuate command of his rear areas were all mistakes Napoleon made not someone else. Napoleon made teh decisons, shaped the amry and put it where it broke, it's breaking was 100% his responsibility,.

In so far as carrying out a retreat, Berezina shows that he clearly did better than Mack or Melas and in much more extreme circumstances.
Just beauce one little thing went well does not magically excuse all that went before. The Retreat was poorly organised, unplanned, and many mistakes made. Berzina Napoleon outnumbered the Russians which had to co-ordinte three seperate focres coming form completely differnet directions, andthey too were greatly suffering from appalling conditions, teh Russians were not without their own problems at Berezina, Napoleon did well but it does not suddenly mean that teh entire reterat once of unparalleled sucess. It was not. It was poorly done. And most of the surviours of Berezina were to die, and Napoleon's appiotment of the military idoit Murat was in no small way a factor in that.

Napoleon was also very fortunate that Kutuzov commanded the Russians his incompdence, outright oppoisition to destorying Napoleon's army was a large factor in Napoleon escaping with any more than 3 mne and a dog.

Most of Mack's and Melas men lived.

It doesn't but this is comparative. Mack was not in a position to lose 500,000 men, he didn't even have 500,000 men.
Mack was outnumbered. Napoleon outnumbered the Russians. Mack commanded Austrians, not the best troops in the period. Napoleon commanded the French, a better army. Mack was delusional and failed to face relaity for some week. Napoleon for months. And in teh End Mack's troops were not dead. There are good argumenst that Napoleon's bludners in 1812 were much worse.

Neither Mack nor Melas were campaigning in Russia. Nor in winter.
Napoleon had lost badly before winter became a factor. His total lack of prepartaions for winter are no one else's fault but his own. The Russian winter was hardly an unknown factor. The Winter actually began quite mildly, Napoleon arguably get a better than average run with the winter tempertaures.

Without winter Napoleon would have been beaten just as savagely. While cold killed many, lack of food is death regardless of season, many more would have lived early in the retreat, thus comsuming supplies much more quickly, making the problems much worse latter.

All things considered Napoleon's performance wasn't explicitly bad in 1812. It was insufficient to achieve success but then nobody would have been able to pull it off.
[/QUOTE]
So Napoleon gets a complete pass? It was a total disater. Most other commanders would have realised that it was beyond the armies capabilities to preceed after Smolensk. perhaps Other commanders would nbot have broiught an amry so large, and focused on effectiveness rather than size, otehr commanders might have tried to appiont compidnet commanders for important roles. Other commanders might have been instilling respect for discipline and chain of command during their tenure in high command.

Wellington certainly would have. Napoleon lack of objectivity, lack of concern for logistics, and inablity to let things go and make decisons rationally rather than egotiscally are great flaws. Any reasonable assemenet of Napoleon was a military commander must aknowledge and come to terms with these massive flaws. Napoleon was unable to admit that the prudent action was withdrawal. Napoleon was sucessful for most of his career because he had advanatages of he had been challanged early such that he had to withdraw there is no eveidence that he was able to make the rational decison.

Withdrawal in the face of teh Enemey is a difficult decision, people blast you for it, commanders dissent, troops morle suffers, even good armies can fail apart very quickly. It takes a very strong minded commander to do so. To conduct the withdrawal of large army in contact of the enemy is a very diffacult thing. Barclay de Tolly was a strong minded commander who9 kept his head on focused on what was best for his army, despite masisve dissent (and the fact that he didn;'t comand all armies giving comand problems) , this eventually cost him his command, but it Barclay who did much to prevent Borodino becaeming a real defeat by his bravey and ceaseless efforts on the day (as well as Bragration) no thanks to the almost non-involvement of Kutuzov. It was barclay that was willing to bear the burden of arguing for Moscow to be abandoned, Kutuzov was more worrying about covering his arse poltically, the withdrawal of stores and teharmy could have been handled so much better if planned for that Kutuzov had not.

Napoleon could well have been beaten by Barclay had he had command in the battle before Moscow, Napoleon only got a marginal win with all of Kutuzov's bad deployment and non-generalship. Though defeat could have been to the Grand Armee's advantage.

Barcaly de Tolly doies not get the credit he deserves. He certainly constantly outgeneralled Napoleon in 1812. It was Barclay who's skill, dogged generalship saved the allied arse at Bautzen (as he did at Boorindo). (he got some help from Ney, but how often did Napoleon's repeated selection of poor performers for roles have to be before peopel are willing to face up to the simple fact Napoleon was a poor manager of Generals)

The Excellance of Russian rearguards throughout the peirod is rarely recognised. In 1812 the French commanders wer eoften in awe of the dicpleine and awesoemness of Russian rearguards and retreats.

The Dismissal of Napoleo's defeat in 1812 down to the winter is a gross simpication that is not really true. The failure to give credit where credit is due to the Russian Army and their general Barclay de Tolly (and others) has been one of the great peices of injustices in teh hostry of the Napoleonic wars.
 
Sep 2017
565
United States
#57
So back in early 16th centure India, in kerala, there was the emerging imperial state of Calicut and the relatively smaller semi-feudal kingdom of cochin. Relation between the both grew sour over centuries starting from 13th century when Zamorin of calicut would forcefully cease a place in the vicinity of the state of 'Perumbadappu' (Later known as Cochin). In subsequent years, Zamorin launched several small scale attacks on cochin and eventually reached the capital city once, though advent of monsoons made sure Zamorin had to return. Zamorin vouched he will come back to raze the city for good.

Contemporary period saw the relation between Zamorin and Portugese turn bitter. Portugese made multiple alliances with Cochin and finally Zamorin started marching his troops as soon as the 5th Portugese Armada had left Cochin harbor for Portugal. Cochin was practically defenseless except for 150 portugese men, 4 portugese ships and their commander Duarte Pacheco Perreira. He along with a handful of Cochinese Nairs massacred the Calicut army of about 80,000 strong and over 300 ships, Is perhaps one of the greatest examples of how to use your strength well to neutralize enemy numbers :)

Battle of Cochin (1504) - Wikipedia

Perhaps one of the best examples were the badly-outnumbered side tasted decisive victory in battles!
Reading on it, seems like the Portuguese commander was pretty solid and Zamorin was quite poor.
 
May 2013
1,616
The abode of the lord of the north
#58
Reading on it, seems like the Portuguese commander was pretty solid and Zamorin was quite poor.
They were. Dealing with naval enemies wasn't really their cup of tea. Although after this war, Zamorin (Samoothiri) got vary of the portugese superiority in naval warfare and developed better navies on his own, spearheaded by his admirals called Kunjali Marakkars. Marakkars handed some crushing defeats to the portugese, however after few decades, the portugese managed to convince zamorin that new Marakkar wanted his throne. Thus portugese and zamorin joined hands in effectively capturing and killing these naval lords.

Kunjali Marakkar - Wikipedia
 

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