Who are some generals that were great tacticians but poor or mediocre strategists?

Mar 2016
405
Australia
#1
I'd prefer examples from before the 20th century, mostly because I have little to no interest in 20th century military history.

P.S. And when I say "strategists" I mean purely campaign strategists, not grand strategy, so if Napoleon is brought up as an example, his decision to invade Russia - as a grand strategic decision - should not be relevant, but purely his strategic decisions once on campaign. Too often grand strategy is less about purely military decisions and more about politics and diplomacy, and thus I don't consider it relevant to this thread.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,245
Dispargum
#2
Such has been claimed about Robert E. Lee - great at winning battles but never figured out a way to win the war for the South.
Hannibal was accused of knowing how to gain a victory but not how to use it.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,973
#3
I'd prefer examples from before the 20th century, mostly because I have little to no interest in 20th century military history.

P.S. And when I say "strategists" I mean purely campaign strategists, not grand strategy, so if Napoleon is brought up as an example, his decision to invade Russia - as a grand strategic decision - should not be relevant, but purely his strategic decisions once on campaign. Too often grand strategy is less about purely military decisions and more about politics and diplomacy, and thus I don't consider it relevant to this thread.
Napoleon strategy the during Russian campaign was poor from start to finish. He simply was not a good strategist, 1813 he failed to actual get a stratgey and danced to teh allied tune, remember he signifnctaly outnumbered the allies during the spring, . He totally mismanaged spain, 1806 stumbled into meeting engagements (so did teh Prussians, but he did not set teh terms for the battles), 1805 lucky to have been attacked at Austelritz, for his 'brallance' of this cmpaign still outnumbered a little at the importnat battle,. But of course Napoleon does not qualify as his tactics were nothing special. He was operationally quite brillant and had insight that quickly grasped the operational paradigm change that corps/divsions had. Poor Strategist. Average Tactician.

Napoleonic Nominations

Ney, excellnat commanding rear guard, master of the small tactics, hopeless at managing a battle. Just micro focus unable to see big picture.

Wittengenstein - excellent corps commander, foudned badfly at organising and managing an army. More organizational.

(Benningsen - more the otehr way around. strategically bold, tactically timid.)
 
Likes: frogsofwar
Nov 2013
675
Texas
#4
I'd prefer examples from before the 20th century, mostly because I have little to no interest in 20th century military history.

P.S. And when I say "strategists" I mean purely campaign strategists, not grand strategy, so if Napoleon is brought up as an example, his decision to invade Russia - as a grand strategic decision - should not be relevant, but purely his strategic decisions once on campaign. Too often grand strategy is less about purely military decisions and more about politics and diplomacy, and thus I don't consider it relevant to this thread.
I've always wondered who the best genereal who lost were, maybe that is relavent.

Perhaps Takeda Shingen or Uesugi Kenshin of the warring states period. Maybe Oda or Toyotomi, if you consider them to have "lost".
 
Jan 2015
3,058
Rupert's Land ;)
#8
I'd prefer examples from before the 20th century, mostly because I have little to no interest in 20th century military history.

P.S. And when I say "strategists" I mean purely campaign strategists, not grand strategy, so if Napoleon is brought up as an example, his decision to invade Russia - as a grand strategic decision - should not be relevant, but purely his strategic decisions once on campaign. Too often grand strategy is less about purely military decisions and more about politics and diplomacy, and thus I don't consider it relevant to this thread.
Both Patton & Rommel
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,542
#10
I'd prefer examples from before the 20th century, mostly because I have little to no interest in 20th century military history.

P.S. And when I say "strategists" I mean purely campaign strategists, not grand strategy, so if Napoleon is brought up as an example, his decision to invade Russia - as a grand strategic decision - should not be relevant, but purely his strategic decisions once on campaign. Too often grand strategy is less about purely military decisions and more about politics and diplomacy, and thus I don't consider it relevant to this thread.
What is a "campain strategist" ? How is "campaign" different to "operation" ?
 

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