To our non-American members - who was America's greatest military mind?

Who do you think is the greatest American general?

  • George Washington

    Votes: 3 5.5%
  • Ulysses S. Grant

    Votes: 9 16.4%
  • Robert E. Lee

    Votes: 11 20.0%
  • T.J. "Stonewall" Jackson

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Votes: 7 12.7%
  • George S. Patton

    Votes: 6 10.9%
  • Douglas MacArthur

    Votes: 3 5.5%
  • someone else (tell us who!)

    Votes: 3 5.5%
  • there are no "greats" in the military history of the USA

    Votes: 8 14.5%
  • I'm not familiar enough with American history to judge

    Votes: 4 7.3%

  • Total voters
    55

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
I'm an American, and I'm deeply interested in my country's history. I'm always intrigued to see how people from outside the USA perceive its history - hence this thread.

The "Old World" has produced some figures - Napoleon, Caesar, Genghis Khan - who loom like gods in the pages of military history. Even though the US has fought its share of wars, and has certainly produced talented commanders, none of our historical generals loom quite so large. More specifically, unlike some nations on the eastern half of this planet, we don't really have a single national military hero. Regional bias, for instance, can sometimes determine whether a (history-conscious) American has more faith in Grant or Lee.

Because of our short history, some people even discredit America's great captains altogether. That's an approach that I would consider neither fair nor intelligent - but its only a matter of opinion, and that's something to which we are all entitled.

Let's begin the thread with a poll. For hopefully obvious reasons, I am going to respectfully request that my fellow Americans refrain from voting. I've also neglected to put any Native American leaders on the poll, because most prominent Indian commanders fought against the USA in the interest of their own nations.
 
Feb 2014
527
South Carolina, USA
Your list lacks a few important figures I think. Nathanael Greene, Winfield Scott, Taylor, Pershing, Marshall, Nimitz, Spruance, Ridgeway, and Schwarzkopf would make the list complete. (excluding some talented officers in minor positions)
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Your list lacks a few important figures I think. Nathanael Greene, Winfield Scott, Taylor, Pershing, Marshall, Nimitz, Spruance, Ridgeway, and Schwarzkopf would make the list complete. (excluding some talented officers in minor positions)
I felt it was better to only list a couple of the very most universally-recognized names. There is an "other" option for anyone who would like to nominate a figure not mentioned on the poll.
 

Lawnmowerman

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
9,842
Where's Brock????

You know the guy who had he not have been killed would've retaken the US for the UK with in 1812.

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Brock]Isaac Brock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 
Feb 2014
527
South Carolina, USA
I felt it was better to only list a couple of the very most universally-recognized names. There is an "other" option for anyone who would like to nominate a figure not mentioned on the poll.
Fair enough. I just hope Nimitz and Marshall in particular get some recognition.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,483
South of the barcodes
McArthur only counts in his own mind.

A mediocre talent like Patton only counts in US media who loved him far beyond his moderate accomplishments.

I'm going to have to admit to a liking for Mathew Ridgway if we're talking modern history, theres a few WW2 era Generals who shone in the Korean era but Mark clarke had dug himself a deep pit trying to get Rome that his later accomplishments barely dug him out of, Walton Walker was dead before he was famous and James Gavin never got asked to serve in that theatre.

Schwartzkopf certainly counts as a seriously competent officer with his use of bluff, fake attacks and rejecting American strategy and instead adapting Soviet attack tactics to completely bamboozle the Iraqis but he had a complete military (especially air ) superioriority to fall back on. The coalition would still have won only with far higher casualties.

Ridgway was dropped into a cesspit with the US army in full retreat, morale lower than a snakes belly and a theatre commander with more of an eye on the Presidency than the war.

He seemed to do okay.
 
Dec 2011
452
Kingdom of Mercia
Marshall. If I could have him in his WW1 / inter war partnership with Pershing - even more so. BTW - Nimitz is excluded as he was not a soldier, surely?
 
Nov 2013
1,486
Serbia
Must say, I am not very knowledgable on United States history, but here's my two cents:

From the ones listed in the poll, for me, it's a tie between Grant and Lee. Also, if I might add, I like general William Tecumseh Sherman despite him having his downs and suffering occasional personal crisis.

As for the others from the list, Washington is probably the one most recognisable outside the United States but as far as I understand he was not really a military genius.
Regarding Stonewall Jackson, I must admit I am not very familiar with him.
Finally - Patton, Eisenhower and MacArthur. No offense, but in my opinion as far as WWII goes the Germans had the best commanders overall, followed by the Soviets.
 

Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
6,680
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
For coolness under pressure, George "Rock of Chickamauga" Thomas.
For professional appraisal of ground and odds, Winfield "Regulars By God" Scott.
For dashing nautical derring-do, Stephen "Anyone willing to suffer death before defeat need suffer neither" Decatur.
For blind bulldog tenacity, Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
For keen adminstrative, organizational and morale-lifting skills in a time of national crisis, George "On to Richmond!" McClellan.
For inspiring loyalty beyond reason, Robert "It's all my fault" Lee.
For separating wheat from chaff, David "Damn the torpedoes" Farragut.

And special prize for comic relief to George "slap happy" Patton, who validates pretty much every stereotype about Americans held outside its own borders.
 
Jul 2012
217
Belgrade
They all suck.

Even though the US has fought its share of wars, and has certainly produced talented commanders, none of our historical generals loom quite so large.
Neither do, say, Manstein or Zhukov. It's a time rather than space thing.