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    Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 19:29

What do you think fellow posters? Commanders who clearly were very adept in generalship etc., but do not get mentioned as much as we might think. Of course, I am viewing this from my erudition: it would be ignorantly disrespectful for me, an American, to claim George Washington is more famous than Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - without giving a geographic scope. There is of course, no such thing as the greatest general ever, without a specific criterion given. It's like asking what the best doughnut is. But taken for all in all, my 'Big Four' of military history will always stand, in my view - Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Genghis Khan (or Subotai). But in terms of raw ability, they couldn't have been in a class by themselves. Circumstances which have a bearing on one's surroundings and climate etc. were already shaped for a great leader to prosper. Even Temujin, who would come to be known as Che'ng-chi-ssu (Mandarin = 'Perfect Warrior'), or to us westerners, Genghis Khan, grew up amid a community (ies) of strife and internicine that demanded a great up-and-coming leader to succeed brilliantly; he had no choice.    

Even at the 'next level' (my view, remember), generals who may be considered comparitively underrated, such as Epaminondas, Philip II of Macedon, Scipio Africanus Major, Belisarius, Charlemagne, Timur-e Lang (Tamerlane), Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Marlborough, Wellington, Guderian, etc., etc., are well noted for their abilities and achievements.

Who should be mentioned more often? I'll throw out a few whom I consider great leaders that do not get mentioned, from my amateurish experience, as much as they could. I guess much comes down to one's opinion as to whom should be mentioned more often (or less). In chronologocal order,

Sargon (Sharru-kin), king of Akkad 'the Great' (c. 2340-2305 B.C.). The first conqueror on record who established a civilized and cultured empire, fostering a level of cohesion amongst tribal peoples. came to be the leader of a Semitic people, centered around the city of Akkad (Agade), and he adopted the bow for warfare, which had seemingly been used only for hunting by the people he subjugated in the lands around the Euphrates-Tigris system. It seems he levied from his Sumerian subjects, but he created a 'professional' force of 5,000+ men. His army was flexible enough to operate in different kinds of terrain, and against opponents of varying styles of fighting. If we knew the details, we might find that the scope of his conquests were huge, spanning over 30 wars in his over half-century of rule. Perhaps he was the creator of imperialism; he would conquer lands, but leave his own governors in control to administer things, which facilitated further expansion. His empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean, and was rife with trade, culture and governmental bureaucracy. We must wonder who or what influenced his actions; every other great had something or someone that preceded him to draw upon.

Legend (oral tradition) has it that Sargon, a child of a gardener and a prostitute some 1,000 years before Moses, was placed in a basket of reeds and set in the Euphrates. He rose up the ranks in the kingdom of Kish. Sargon set the pattern which Cyrus the Great would loosely improve upon some 1,800 years later.

Thutmose III, pharaoh of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, (d. 1436 B.C.), after his famed victory at Megiddo, which is the first major battle we have on record, and which was replete with shock action (chariots), firepower (archers), the cutting of enemy communications, and envelopment from the victor, Thutmose III campaigned successively, consolidating Egyptian rule throughout the Near East, and as far as the Euphrates. He apparently also established what was perhaps the first standing navy.

Cyrus, Founder of the Achaemenid and Persian Empire 'the Great', (d. 529 B.C.). It's too bad we do not know more about Cyrus. There is no explicit evidence for the nature of his army or details of his tactical and strategic conducts. But what is clear he succeeded rapidly at creating an empire from the Mediterranean to central Asia in a quarter of a century, and his policy was that of a liberator more than an unscrupulous conqueror; he respected the customs and religions of the vast parts of his realm. If that isn't sound policy, what is? Cyrus developed the first great imperial administration (unless Sargon did, and the records were lost are never extant), and his achievements must suggest profound leadership and innovations.

Han Xin, Chinese general of the nascent Han Dynasty (d. 196 B.C.). Considered to be perhaps the greatest general in Chinese military history. He succeeded brilliantly in securing the advancement of  the Han Dynasty. His defeat of the forces of the Zhao state at Jingxing in 205 B.C. was a masterful display of feigning retreat and deception; the Zhao forces were tricked into thinking they were being ambushed from their rear, and Han Xin destroyed them by exploiting their panic. Apparently, he was outnumbered by 6 to 1 at the onset of this battle. Three years later, Han Xin commanded the forces that destroyed the army of Xiang Yu, ushering in the Han Dynasty. The emperor Liu Pang (Kao-ti) had Han Xin executed on the pretense of conspiracy against the state, but more likely he felt threatend by the adeptness of his great general.

Muttines, Liby-Phoenician cavalry officer during the 2nd Punic War, fought under and trained by Hannibal himself. Though Syracuse had fallen to the Romans in 212 B.C., Hannibal fully understood of the strategic importance of Sicily, and sent a letter to Carthage, who responded by sending some 11,000 men to the island. Hannibal sent the brillaint Muttines from southern Italy to aid in the command of operations there. As Theodor Mommsen tells us, in his classic work, Book III, Chapter VI,
 
"Sicily thus appeared lost to the Carthaginians; but the genius of Hannibal exercised even from a distance its influence there. He despatched to the Carthaginian army, which remained at Agrigentum in perplexity and inaction under Hanno and Epicydes, a Libyan cavalry officer Muttines, who took the command of the Numidian cavalry, and with his flying squadrons, fanning into an open flame the bitter hatred which the despotic rule of the Romans had excited over all the island, commenced a guerilla warfare on the most extensive scale and with the happiest results; so that he even, when the Carthaginian and Roman armies met on the river Himera, sustained some conflicts with Marcus Marcellus himself successfully. The relations, however, which prevailed between Hannibal and the Carthaginian council, were here repeated on a small scale. The general appointed by the council pursued with jealous envy the officer sent by Hannibal, and insisted upon giving battle to the proconsul without Muttines and the Numidians. The wish of Hanno was carried out, and he was completely beaten. Muttines was not induced to deviate from his course; he maintained himself in the interior of the country, occupied several small towns, and was enabled by the not inconsiderable reinforcements which joined him from Carthage gradually to extend his operations. His successes were so brilliant, that at length the commander-in-chief, who could not otherwise prevent the cavalry officer from eclipsing him, deprived him summarily of the command of the light cavalry, and entrusted it to his own son. The Numidian, who had now for two years preserved the island for his Carthagnian masters, had the measure of his patience exhausted by this treatment. He and his horsemen who refused to follow the younger Hanno entered into negotiations with the Roman general Marcus Valerius Laevinus and delivered to him Agrigentum. Hanno escaped in a boat, and went to Carthage to report to his superiors the disgraceful high treason of Hannibal's officer; the Carthaginian garrison in the town was put to death by the Romans, and the citizens were sold into slavery..."
 
According to Livy, Muttines pushed Marcellus back to his camp in 'almost what was a regular battle' (Book 25.40). An unfortunate turn for the Carthaginian cause, and another case of Hannibal not benefitting from events that could have been different - events he had no personal control over. Perhaps he should have gone to Sicily himself in 211 B.C.
 
Publius Ventidius, Roman general (c. 90s-37 B.C.). Perhaps the greatest Roman general nobody knows (I don't mean that literally). Of humble birth, Ventidius began his career as a transport contractor to the army, serving as a client of Julius Caesar's in Gaul. seeing something in this man, Caesar promoted Ventidius to the Senate in 47 B.C., and after governing part of Gaul, Ventidius led his army into Italy in 41 B.C., prudently avoiding any fighting amid the dangerous civil strife. Ventidius may not be as well known as he should be because he was of humble birth from Picenum (central-eastern Italy).

The Parthians invaded the eastern provinces, and the charge fell upon Ventidius to oppose them. Within a couple years (39-38 B.C.)., he repulsed invading Parthians and Nabataeans (the Nabataean King, Malichus assisted Caesar in the Alexandrian campaign in 47 B.C.) in the provinces of Asia Minor and Syria in 3 battles - Cilician Gates, Mt. Amanus, and Gindarus. He led some 11 legions into the area and utilized uneven terrain; what befell Marcus Licinius Crassus 14 years earlier would not happen to him and his men. Antiochus I of Commagene (a small kingdom in northern Syria), had changed his allegiance to the Parthians, supplying them with a valuable springboard, but after defeating the Parthians and their allies, Ventidius laid siege to Antiochus' capital, Samosata (modern Samsat, eastern Turkey on the upper Euphrates). Upon defeating the Parthians, Sextus Julius Frontinus tells us Ventidius came up with an effective counter to the horse-archers in his Stratagemata, Book 2.2.5,
 
"Ventidius, when fighting against the Parthians, would not lead out his soldiers until the Parthians were within 500 paces. Thus by a rapid advance he came so near them that, meeting them at close quarters, he escaped their arrows, which they shot from a distance. By this scheme, since he exhibited a certain show of confidence, he quickly subdued the enemy"
 
For the most part, the greatest horse-archers would seem to have the upper hand when facing sedentary armies, who possessed much smaller numbers of missile throwers and bowmen, in a pitched battle, assuming there was room to maneuver. But one primary tactic of theirs would not work on armies composed of Graeco-Roman soldiers - terror. Tribal enemies of the ferocious steppe horsemen became very afraid of them, but tough, disciplined troops under the likes of Alexander or Julius Caesar would never be afraid of these 'cowards' who fought from afar shooting projectiles. One would think upon seeing this 'rapid advance', the Parthians would simply ride away, but it's perhaps not that easy, especially once they realized they were not going to get many arrows off before a rapidly approaching enemy, and they had to shoot faster, which sapped their strength more quickly. They might have became apprehensive, realizing they had to actually retreat this time from the get-go; turning hundreds, maybe thousands, of horses round on a dime cannot be done quicker than a 'rapidly advancing' enemy, who began the rapid advance from a distance of around 400 yards. Presumably, Ventidius left Brundisium, when charged with rescuing these provinces, with the object of procuring plenty of light troops, archers and slingers etc. on the way.
 
I'm just floating with all that, as, unfortunately, we (at least I) don't have acute details of this, but what is certain is that Publius Ventidius threw back the Parthians convincingly, compelling them to fight in a manner not to their likening. Perhaps they were too confident, a factor which probably cost the mighty Spartan hoplites dearly in 375 B.C., in the face of a smaller Theban force (to cite one possible example of 'over-confidence'). However, let's keep in mind Publius Ventidius was not invading Parthia, as Marcus Antonius did soon thereafter, who failed miserably. Upon his return to Rome in 38 B.C., Ventidius celebrated a splendid triumph and after his death the following year, he was given a public funeral. If Julius Caesar had undergone his grandiose plan for the eastern lands, this man would have undoubtedly been an instrumental part of it.

Cao Cao, regional Chinese warlord of the Three Kingdoms period (155-220). Probably the premier figure of his time in northern China, Cao Cao administered the origins of the Kingdom of Wei. Though his grandiose dream of a unified China failed with his naval defeat at the Red Cliffs, his uncanny victory at the Battle of Guandu over an opponent five times numerically his size shifted the balance of power in his favor amongst three major factions. Overrall, he was a brilliant soldier/statesman.
 
Narses (478- 573), or Nerses, the great Byzantine general ended the long and difficult Italian campaign; his victories at Busta Gallorum and Mons Lactorius probably matched anything his more famous rival, but still underappreciated (comparitively), Belisarius achieved, in terms of tactics in battle. Narses vanquished the Gothic leaders Totila and Teis in 552 A.D., spent the winter in Rome and Ravenna, and then defeated the Alamanni and Franks under the combined leadership of Butilinus and one Leutharis. They were soundly beaten by Narses near Capua in 554 A.D., who also subjugated all Etruria within 15 months. Again, this all happened not under Belisarius because Justinian trusted the aging eunuch more than Belisarius; after all, why would a seemingly obediant 70-something year old attempt to compromise his own dynasty?
 
Busta Gallorum is one of history's virtuoso victories. Narses deployed dismounted cavalry (he made his Lombards and Heruls fight on foot to greatly lessen their possibility of fleeing) to hold the center of his line, and dismantle the Goths with archery fire from his flanks. It was supreme generalship, and somewhat foreshadowed what Edward III displayed at Crecy nearly 8 centuries later; these tactics earned the great medieval warrior king the reputation as a military genius.
 
By the age of around 80, Narses was doing well in Italy as the viceroy of Justinian. He built roads (rebuilt, actually) and aqueducts, and somewhat restored a lost social order and rekindled a diminished feeling of morale. But he couldn't completely restore things, as the Lombards poured into the Po Valley when Narses was finally relieved by Justinian's successor, Justin II. The old eunuch lived until 97 years of age, dying peacefully in Constantinople. Belisarius, himself no spring chicken in 559 A.D. (about 55-60?), thwarted the invading Bulgars, with a small makeshift army no less, by bluffing a charge so convincingly and then pursuing the fleeing Bulgars with the impression of having a larger army, that Hannibal himself might have been in awe. Perhaps Belisarius and Narses are underrated, from many views (including my own) because of the lack of attention given to the Byzantine era compared with the ages of Rome and Greece.

Heraclius, Byzantine emperor (575-641). Heraclius' campaigns from 623-627 to secure the safety of the Empire, threatened by all sides due to recent disorder, were masterpieces of conception and execution (though costly). He took the offensive into Asia Minor and recaptured everything taken from the Byzantine Empire by the Persians under Khosru II. But he was too weakened by age and disease to make a difference when the slashing Arabs poured into the Near East, and though the Byzantines and Persians were still overlooking strong empires, they were weakened considerably from previous fighting between each other..

Khalid ibn al-Walid, Muslim general, 'the Sword of God' (d.642), was the diamond of the Arab generals. The slashing speed with which he maneuvered his horsemen was superbly implemented. The Arabs enjoyed no advantage in technology or numbers, but smashed all their opposition throughout Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Persia. Khalid was the primary leader who led his Bedouin troops to create Dar es Islam, the Land of Islam. His victory at Yarmuk over the forces of settled empires and kingdoms in 636 was one of history's great, decisive victories.

Alfred, king of Wessex 'the Great' (849-899). In the 860s, the Danes threatened to completely overrun England. Faced by an enemy too powerful to defeat decisively, Alfred kept the Danes at bay with heavy tribute (the Danegeld) in 871. He was overcome by a surprise invasion in 878 by Guthrum, but he implemented a guerilla style campaign, which saw success, before decisively winning a complete victory at Edington in 878. Alfred obtained the relative security to build a navy and institute reforms, which included a code of laws integrating Christian doctrine and a strong monarchy. A very capable ruler, no doubt.

Philip II (Philip Augustus), king of France (1165-1223). Throughout the reign of this superb monarch (who excelled as a politician as much as a soldier), the royal domains were doubled, and the royal power was consolidated at the expense of feudalism. Philip overcame a coalition of Flemish, Burgundian, and Champagnian forces in 1181-1186 to secure territory throughout northern France. He then challenged English soveriegnty, compelling the ailing Henry II to cede much land back to France. Philip joined Richard I (Coeur de Lion) on the Third Crusade, aiding in the capture of Acre but returning after quarreling with Richard. He gained ground in warring with King John, forcing the English king via a treaty to surrender Normandy, Anjou, Brittany, Men, and Touraine by 1204. Only Aquitaine and part of Poitou remained in English hands. Philip soon conquered Poitou, and the stage was set for one of history's greatest, most influential battles: Bouvines in 1214. Philip decisively defeated the allies of John under the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV in a sound display of discipline and close combat skill, as Philip utilized his slighly more numerous French knights against their mounted counterparts, whom were routed. The large number of allied infantry were isolated and suffered terribly. The alliance against Philip was shattered, and the nation of France was practically created, following great social reforms. Feudalism became outmoded, amd Paris was paved and walled, and the first Louvre was built.     

Subotai (Sabutai, Subedei) (d.1248), Mongol orlok. Possibly military history's greatest grand strategist (maybe more!), Subotai was a master of every aspect of warfare, and masterminded the most dynamic and devastating military sweep in military history. Beginning in 1236, Subotai systematically destroyed most of the Russian states, using the frozen rivers in winter as highways to penetrate deep and fast into his enemy's territory while avoiding thick forestry, which would nullify the deadly simplicity of Mongol cavalry tactics. When he fell upon eastern Europe, Subotai split his army into three columns, keeping the flank columns ahead of his main central force. This dispersion of force protected him from a thrust from the west. In an awesome and violent display of superior generalship, Subotai and his subordinates destroyed the flower of Polish, German, and Hungarian military resistance at the smashing battles of Liegnitz and the Sajo River with incredibly viable tactics of mobility and convincing 'retirement'. As we know, the Mongols stopped in 1241. Perhaps Hungary was always to be the terminus of their conquests. Maybe not. We've discussed this huge 'alternate history' scenario before on other threads.

Bertrand du Guesclin (1320-1380), constable of France. Perhaps the greatest leader to gain so much without a major battle. After the English gained a foothold in France following the great victory at Crecy in 1346, du Guesclin, after failing in his support of Charles of Blois in the Breton War, du Guesclin was captured by the English and soon ransomed by Charles V of France ('the Wise'), of whose service du Guesclin entered, with the purpose of ridding France of English presence. After some success, he was captured by Peter 'the Cruel' of Castile and Leon and Edward the Black Prince in 1367, but beginning in 1369, he undertook a brillaint, Fabian-style branch of wafare against the English. He avoided battle with the main English force while harrassing and hampering the English movements, and nibbling pieces of territory away from them. His policy of no attack without surprise centered on swooping down on garrisons with internal help, ambushing convoys and reinforcements, and ensnaring dispatch riders and officers with weak escorts. Every move was fullfilled with commando-like speed and violence. By 1374, the English were pushed into Brittany, but du Guesclin fell into dispute with the king. He died on an expedition in 1380. Henry V, an outstanding warrior-king, would not have achieved what he did at Agincourt in 1415 if du Guesclin's policy had been followed with efficiency.

Gaston de Foix (1489-1512), French general in the French/Italian Wars of the 16th century. He was the Duc de Nemours, nephew of King Louis XII, and his father was killed at the fame Battle of Cerignola, in which the great Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordobo, 'el Gran Capitan', (another who could easily make this thread), commandeed his battle-hardened Spanish to victory in the first major clash won by infantry firepower in 1503. French fortunes were very low after Cerignola, and the young Gaston was appointed by his uncle to lead the French forces in Italy in 1511. He raised the siege of Bologna and defeated the Venetians around Brescia after some superb force-marching. At the age of 23 (maybe 24), de Foix was killed while aiding instrumentally in vanquishing the Spanish at Ravenna, supporting the famed, freebooting landsknechts (German mercenaries). The Spanish would ultimately restore their situation, as Francis I renounced his claims in Italy after suffering defeat at the Battles of La Bicocca and Pavia. But the young Gaston immersed himself in glory in one brief campaign.

Stanislaw Koniecpolski (1594-1646) was ultimately the Grand Crown hetman (second in rank to the king) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. One would have to be a scrooge not to respect this man; his entire life from about 15 years of age was involved in war, and it was all about the defense of his people. Like his great rival Gustavus Adolphus, Stanislaw was a wordly and educated man, though afflicted with an apparent speech impediment, who spent time in western Europe to learn foreign cultures and languages etc. Stanislaw fought in the wars against the Muscovites, and was present at both the smashing Polish victory at Klushino (Kluszyn) in 1610 and the siege of Smolensk a year later. In 1614 Stanislaw put down a rebellion amongst the Commonwealth army (kwarta army), and the next year he  began fighting the Tartars, defeating them at Rohatyn (SW Ukraine). In 1617 he was a subordiante to his mentor Stanislaw Zolkiewski, and they pushed back the Ottomans in 1618, after some failed negotiations, and it seems he suffered a defeat in 1619 at the hands of Tartars, and his first wife, Katarzyna, died in labor with his first son. The details of the Muscovite and Moldavian Wars involving the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth are very complicated, and beyond the grasp of my immediate knowledge.
 
In September of 1620, the Poles suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the Ottomans at Tutora (Cecora) in 1620, where Zolkiewski was killed and Koniecpolski, after saving much of the army in an ordered retreat, was caught and taken prisoner, along with many magnates. Their freedom was paid for four years later. Stanislaw began fighting Tartars almost immediately, repulsing raids into southern Poland, particularly in two significant clashes, one at Dzwinogrod, the other at Martynow. Koniecpolski's efficacious use of fast and light kozak cavalry (this name would be later changed to pancerni to distinguish them from rebellious ethnic Cossacks) was sublime against the Tartars, who were forced back east. However, he had some trouble in October 1625 with rebellious Cossacks, but a ceasefire was achieved, with the Cossacks agreeing to terms, including no provoking of the Tartars by raids along the Black Sea. But the Tartars invaded in 1626 again in the modern regions around L'viv (Lwow). Koniecpolski pounced on the rear-guard of their army, and prepared for a 2nd invading wave, but they never came.
 
By this time the Swedes had rekindled the Polish-Swedish War, quickly conquered Livonia and, under Gustavus Adolphus, were entrenched in Ducal Prussia. Koniecpolski swiftly marched NW to face them after handling enemy Tatar forces, and quickly neutralizing much of their earlier success; he too back Puck (NW of Danzig), and repulsed a reinforcing attempt by German Protestants at Hammerstein (now Czarne) in the spring of 1627. The war with the Swedes saw more attrition than battlefield action; Gustavus beat Koniecpolski at Tczew in September of 1627, and Koniecpolski, finally with some help from Catholic allies from Germany, returned the favor at Trzciana nearly two years later. Gustavus surmised that war would pay for itself in the fertile and rich lands of Ducal Prussia; he was partly right, but he was impeded from Koniecpolski's own strategy of raiding and pillaging. In both major battles fought between them, the winner caught the other in an unfavorable position, and the loser maneuvered well to prevent a disaster. The Truce of Altmark was agreed with the political maneuverings of Cardinal Richelieu carrying much weight. Both sides were exhausted from attritional war in a land devastated, and Gustavus, still working out his great theories and reforms of warfare, got out of there with favorable conditions. In my opinion, Koniecpolski, not the more famous Catholic commanders the Lion would face and defeat in Germany, was his finest opponent. A detailed thread from yours truly is available, in which an astute Polish student (cegorach), possessed of superior knowledge to myself from the Polish view, was very helpful,
 
 
A rising Cossack rebellion ('unregistered' Cossacks) under Taras Fedorovych, however, finally overcome Koniecpolski in late May of 1630, but negotiations were never to Fedorovych's wishes, as the Cossacks lacked supplies and energy for a mass uprising. Basically, an increase in the number of registered Cossack soldiers (ie, ethnic Cossacks part of the Polish-Lithuanian army), as well as the regular payment of wages.
 
In 1633 Koniecpolski defeated invading armies near the river Prut (July) and again near the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi , being outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 in the second. The Ottomans agreed to terms in September of 1634. In August of 1635 Koniecpolki retook the Kodak fortress, which had been captured by one Ivan Sulima, a Cossack hetman. Sulima was executed in Warsaw 4 months later. The taking and re-taking of the fortress occured near modern Dnipropetrosvk, in the Ukraine.
 
Koniecpolski took measures to improve the quality and quantity of infantry units of his forces, modernize the army, concentrate on the development of artillery, and draft mercenaries learned in the western methods of war; but it was the reform which created western style Polish infantry (non-mercenary) which brought the army to its peak between 1633-1648. Koniecpolski also added dragoons to his forces, and supported plans to create a Commonwealth Fleet for the Baltic, primarily to disrupt Sweden's naval power (Gustavus was now dead), but the king wasn't supported by the szlachta (Polish nobility) enough. For the most part, the people of the Commonwealth certainly didn't carry any imperialistic motives.
 
Polish apologists are not far-fetched if they claim that the army under Koniecpolski in the late 1630s/early 1640s was as balanced and strong as any other in Europe. Koniecpolski destroyed Tatar forces which were faster and more elusive than any other enemies of the Commonwealth. Imagine, Koniecpolski, now with good artillery and infantry, matched against Gustavus at his peak (1630-1632), or Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde (1643).
 
Koniecpolski's health was not good by 1637, and another commander, one Mikolaj Potocki, crushed Cossack and Tartar uprisings between 1637-1639. However, in the years following Koniecpolski's death, both Potocki and one Marcin Kalinowski were not inspiring against the Cossacks, to say the least. In 1644 Koniecpolski commanded a sizeable army of some 20,000 men against the Ottomans under Tuhaj-bej, crushing them at Ochmatow in wintry conditions; Koniecpolski quickly destroyed them before they could divide and utilize their mobility. This dazzling success, spurred king Wladyslaw IV to consider an offensive strike against the Ottoman Empire, but Koniecpolski prudently suggested such a venture was unrealistic to succeed, and though Wladyslaw was obstinate, he never received the internal support for it to amount to anything. But Koniecpolski sought to campaign against the Crimean Tartars in a limited capacity, and supported conciliatory measures with Moscow, which would make more secure such an objective. An astute statesman, Koniecpolski also foresaw the real danger of Cossack discontent, and advocated conciliation with them too, but it didn't foster with significant success. Stanislaw Koniecpolski died in March, 1646. Seldom has a man fought consistently for so long with all of it about defending his country. He was a great man, as a contemporary of his wrote,
 
"Stanislaw Koniecpolski was a man of great courage and noble character. In company, he was polite and sociable. He was no hasty to engage in a fight, and in every military undertaking he acted with caution, like his former commander, Stanislaw Zolkiewski. Due to his stuttering habit his friends used to say: 'his actions come sooner than his words.' Physically he was a very strong man. This was evident in the way he handled the bow and arrow. When he let the arrow go it would easily pierce steel armor."
 
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose (1612-1650). Dynamic Scottish nobleman and soldier! He distinguished himself against Charles I in the Bishops' Wars, suppressing royalists and Episcopalians, but then took the king's side for fear of oligarchical control from the Presbytyerians. He desired some form of consitutional government, but also identified that the turbulent Scottish nobles could be controlled only by monarchy. He failed to subdue Scotland in the king's name, but wound up fighting a dazzling campaign in 1644-1645 against the Presbyterians with his force of ill-equipped, vastly outnumbered, but superbly talented Highlanders. Montrose's mountain-fighting strategy was brilliant, coupled with inspiring leadership of fierce clansmen. He started to gain control of much of Scotland, but the defeat of Cgarles at Naseby left him isolated, and he could not permanently unite the Scottish roylalists . He was defeated by David Leslie, fled to Norway, returned with the hope that the nominal rule of the exiled Charles II was a reality, and was captured and hanged. A brilliant but reckless figure, Montrose was certainly worthy of the romanticism that has followed him.   

Michiel de Ruyter, Dutch admiral (1607-1676). One of the greatest naval commanders ever, and a veritable hero to his people. Against vastly superior forces of the enemy of England and France, de Ruyter captured English holdings in western Africa, saved his fleet from disaster via outstanding tactical withdrawing in the North Sea (North Foreland), and burned the English ships in a bold attack down the Thames (Medway) in 1667, extricating himself in a solid manner. His brilliant manuevering amid the Battle of Texel (NW Netherlands) saved the United Provinces from invasion in 1673. He protested the condition the Dutch fleet in the mid 1670s, but fought against superior forces of France in the Mediterranean off Sicily, in which a seeming stalemate turned against the Dutch and Spanish only with a mortal wound inflicted upon the 68-69 year old leader. In 1636, de Ruyter, while leading a merchant fleet, applied rancid butter to the decks of his own ships, knowing the pirates he was facing would board him. He had his own sailors wear socks which kept their footing. When the pirates boarded, well....you guess.

Nadir Shah (1688-1747), shah of Persia. The last of the great Asiatic conquerors (reputedly). The yound Nadir earned a reputation for bravery while in the service of the governor of the province of Khurasan (NE Iran). Soon he enetered the servic eof the son of the shah Husein, Tahmasp. When Tahmasp began to assert territorial claims against the dominant Afghans , Nadir took the nominal title of his slave (Tahmasp Kuli, took command of his forces, and began winning battles against the Afghans, who were swept away with heavy losses. Thamasp was restored to the rule of Persia, but Nadir was the was now the powerful figure of the realm. Nadir deposed the shah in 1732 after an ill-advised conciliatory peace with the Turks, whom Nadir had recently warred successfully against. The young Abbas was placed on the throne with Nadir as regent. Though he suffered a serious setback against the Turks in 1733, he rebuilt his army from nothing in a couple of months. The conquests continued, with Nadir restoring the western boundary to what it had been before the Afghan invasions. In 1736, little Abbas died, and Nadir was made shah. His attempt to unify the Shiites and Sunnites within the Ottomon and Persian lands failed, but his invasion of the Mogul Empire in India, including a masterful, deceptive capture of the Khyber Pass, was a brillaint success, with other conquests following in other directions. Nadir was a brillaint strategist, combining mobility with with concentrated light artillery fire. He employed western 'specialists' in the consultation of naval power and artillery science. Much like Frederick the Great, Nadir recruited extensively beyond his borders, and restored morale to a Persian military which had been beaten up by the likes of martial forces of the Afghans and Turks. Under Nadir, with his policy of improved discipline and drill, and the creation of a specially trained unit of marksmen (the jazayirchis), the tables turned. Nadir astutely identified that Europe by his time was pulling ahead in the sphere of military technology, and he made use of this reality against his enemies. His later years were, however, were darkened by his delving into tyranny, greed, and suspicion (he had his own son blinded). He was assassinated in 1747 by his own men.

James Wolfe, British Major-General (1727-1759). Joining the army (his father's regiment) at 14, serving at the age of 16 at Dettingen, as a brevet major at 19 at the Battles of Falkirk and Culloden, this dynamic disciplinarian made colonel by the age of 23, turning his regiment, the 20th foot, into one of the best-trained units in the army. He distinguished himself impressively in European campaigning, and was made second in command to Jeffrey Amherst in the French and Indian War. He diplayed a degree of skill at the siege of Louisburg that rewarded him the command of the Quebec expedition in 1759. He cut the French supply lines and laid waste to the countryside, but frontal attacks failed against Montcalm. In a brillaint move of speed and surprise, Wolfe took about 5,000 men in boats down the St. Lawrence by night, scaled the river heights and defeated the French at the Plains of Abraham in a superior demonstration of discipline; a perfect volley of fire from end to end of Wolfe's line in battle shattered the French lines. 'New France' was no more, but Wolfe fell in battle. This tremendous soldier's contribution to his craft was the realization of steadiness from discipline and training. Wolfe would not have yet been 50 in 1776. Mmmmmm.

Nathanael Greene, American Revolutionary general (1742-1786). This superb commander was with George Washington in the critical actions and conducts of Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Valley Forge. Greene was a fine quartermaster general while still holding his field duty, and found supplies to sustain the Continentals by endorsing his personal notes. He reorganized everything for the better at a very critical time, including his field work. His ability and experience in this department bore great results for the Continentals in the Carolina Campaign of 1780-1781. The British under Cornwallis had routed the Americans under Gates at Camden. Gates fled the field, and the Patriot defense of the Carolinas was broken, with only guerilla bands holding their positions and harassing the British. Greene replaced Gates, stepped in and went to work, spurted with confidence by a smashing Continental victory of frontier riflemen at Kings Mountain (Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, and William Campbell) over British raiders in SW North Carolina. Along with superb subordinates, most notably Daniel Morgan and Harry Lee, and partisan units under others, Greene waged a prudent campaign of cleverly avoiding a major engagement against superior numbers; he divided his forces and implemented a series of raids on scattered British positions. The British achieved a few Pyrrhic victories, such as Guilford Courthouse, but found themselves retreating every time. Greene maneuvered to surround Charleston, and Morgan achieved a mini-Cannae like victory at Cowpens. Greene's strategy throughout the entire war, through thick and thin, is much to be admired.

John Moore, British Lt. General (1761-1809). A master of strategy and a great trainer of men, this leader fought well in the American Independence War, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, Ireland, Holland, Egypt, Sicily, Sweden, and Spain. As commander of the British forces supporting the Spanish army against Napoleon, he solidly advanced from Lisbon into Spain, only to learn that his expected Spanish allies had been scattered by Napoleon, and that Madrid had fallen. His retreat to the NW coast, where he could be evacuated by the navy, was one of the greatest, valorous withdrawals ever, covering some 250 miles through snow-covered mountains to Corunna. Napoleon quickened to Germany to handle other things (the Austrian threat), but the able Soult took up the pursuit. After suffering much privation when arriving at Corunna, Moore still repulsed Soult's attack upon his men long enough to permit the embarkation, but was killed in the fray, much like Wolfe a half century earlier. John Moore's timely foray in Portugal prevented immediate reoccupation by the French, and William Beresford and his officers were training some 70,000 Portuguese regulars and militia. Moore exrapolated that Napoleon, stretched with more serious events in Germany, could not spare sufficient men for a successful invasion of Portugal. He was right, and the new commander came in with 23,000 redcoats, about to be joined by the Portuguese contingents. His name was Arthur Wellesley.

Chaka (Shaka), Zulu Chief 'Shaka Zulu' (d.1828). Chaka was more than merely an intrepid warrior-savage. He understood organization and tactics quite impressivley. He organized an army of 40,000 men, already under a disciplined society (in SE Africa), hardening them by long, barefoot marches, and penalized any slight indolence with death. He believed closquarter fighting was the most efficacious, thus replaced the throwing spear with a stabbing one, and the light shied with a larger, heavier one designed to hook away the opponent and expose him to the thrust of the stab. He also developed a crescent-shaped deployment (he had a buffalo in mind); the horns enveloped the enemy and the chest ate them up. He implemented reserves to counter threatening contingencies. He was planning to campaign against Europen settlers, but his terrible degree of cruelty, at first calculated to serve larger strategic ends, became uncontrolled, and he was murdered by his half-brothers. But his army was a remarkable creation, and Cetchewayo, at the helm of this structure, now with some procured firarms, crushed a well-equipped British force in the open field at Islandlwana in 1879.

Thomas Jonathen Jackson (1824-1863), Confederate subaltern to Robert E. Lee in the American Civil War. 'Stonewall' Jackson is hardly not famous, but I wonder if some students realize just how good he was; his genius, like that possessed by Alexander the Great, Charles XII of Sweden and Napoleon, was a 'feverish' one. It was indeed 'Stonewall' Jackson, not Lee, who proposed to boldly avoid frontal attacks wherever possible and strike behind Washington at Union railways and cities, thereby damaging Northern property so heavily that the Northerners hopefully would acquiesce, allowing the South to secede. It was visionary idea against a foe with superior manpower reserves and material - very Hannibalic in nature. Unfortunately for the Southern cause, Jefferson Davis didn't seem to possess this level of imagination (this is not a simple issue!). Jackson's conduct in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862, in which he was at the onset thought to be insane by many of his men, was incredible! His incredible risks were probably necessary to overcome the imbalance of opposed troop strength. In a nutshell, his rapid, brilliant manuevering with 17,500 men no less, totally deranged the Federal campaign by keeping thier converging forces at a distance, and George McClellan was deprived of expected reinforcements around Richmond. Jackson's skill and courage, in a whirlwind campaign, at this event of the war neutralized the objective of some 175,000 Union troops. It was a classic example of what a small force can achieve when commanded by man who understands the vlaue of resolution, secrecy, and mobility in war. Four times Jackson tried to pursuade Lee to conduct a campaign to sweep around the Federal flanks, surround it, and defeat it; four times Lee refused, but on Jackson's fifth try, Lee allowed him to implement one of military history's most daring displays of generalship at Chancellorsville on May 1-2, 1863. His flank march against Joseph Hooker, ostensibly a retreat, was a smashing success, as he rolled up the Federals' right line. He met his end amid the fighting however (friendly fire, actually), but 'Jeb' Stuart continued to drive Hooker away. Jackson understood fully the warfare of his times - dominated by the rifle in a defensive position, thus conventional frontal attacks were futile. He never was called on to command large numbers of men, though. A brilliant commander.
 
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, German Oberst, (1870-1964). Possibly revered by his adversaries almost as much as his own men, and one of the great guerilla leaders of military history, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck commanded the German forces in East Africa during WW1. He knew full well the main German objective was victory in Europe, and one of his personal objectives was to tie down and divert as much of the Allied military strength away from the European theater as possible. He never had more than 3,000 German and 11,000 Askari (the indeginous soldiers) troops, yet he tied down Allied armies roughly eight times his size. He used astoundingly successful hit-and-run tactics, and was never cornered, let alone defeated. He was compelledsurrendered to the British only because Germany had signed the Armistice in 1918. Moreover, and this wasn't something paramount to his objective, his proficient leadership of black soldiers proved the equality of race on the battlefield; blacks were not inferior than whites, as was probably thought by both races for a while (definitiely by whites), if equipped and harnessed efficiently. In this specific case, they were actually better. He was a tremendous commander.
 
 
From my westercentric upbringing, underrated generals should probably include more Asiatic leaders (we have to remember where we are from; the situation of a general who seems unknown to some of us could be in stark contrast to another). Here are some others:
 
Tiglath Pileser III
Pelopidas
Iphicrates
Selucus I Nicator
Hamilcar Barca
Maodun (Mete Han)
Viriathus
Quintus Sertorius
Surena
Marcus Agrippa
Gnaeus Julius Agricola
Zhuge Liang
Shapur I
Aurelian
Flavius Stilicho
Flavius Aetius
Taizong (b. Li Shih Min)
Charles Martel
Sviatoslav I
Otto I
Alp Arslan
Wanyan Aguda
Minamoto no Yosh*tsune
Saladin (Salah al-Din)
Jala-al Din Mingburnu
Jebe (Jebei Noyan)
Chormaqan Noyan
Baybars (Baibars)
Tran Hung Dao
Edward (the Black Prince)
Henry V (of England)
Jan Zizka
Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg
Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba
Selim I
Babur (Zahir ud-Din Mohammad)
Takeda Shingen
Stefan Batory
Alessandro Farnesse (Duke of Parma)
Yi Sun-shin
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Jan Chodkiewicz
Maurice (Mauritz) of Nassau
Ambrogio Spinola
Albrecht von Wallenstein
Johan Baner
Maarten Tromp
Jan III Sobieski
Thomas Fairfax
Louis II de Bourbon (Prince de Conde)
Francois-Eugene, Prince of Savoy-Carignan
Aleksandr Suvorov
Louis Nicolas Davout
Zachary Taylor
Nathan Forrest
Crazy Horse
Jozef Pilsudski
Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk)
John Pershing
Carl Mannerheim
Chester Nimitz
William Slim
Paul Hausser
Erich von Manstein
Mao Tse-tung
Aksel Airo
Vo Nguyen Giap.
 
Goodness, that's enough! Sorry.
 
Thanks, Spartan Smile


Edited by Spartan - 25-Apr-2007 at 01:01
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  Quote Kamikaze 738 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 19:36
I believe people underestimates Lucius Aurelian, he was a good Roman emperor that secured the Roman boundaries and united a vast empire. He was consider by some historians to be the last good emperor and that the empire would never regain such pride like the one he ruled.


Edited by Kamikaze 738 - 23-Apr-2007 at 19:41
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  Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2007 at 19:57
THUTMOSE III - I've heard he was never defeated. He was Egypt's Napoleon. He made also some warfare inventions like diffrent kinds of axe, bronze armours etc.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 01:30
^
Well since he existed about 3200 years before napoleon I would say it is the other way around.
 
I would say US Grant is the most underratted general. He was IMO the greatest of the 19th Century Generals and possibly of all time. he was the first Industrial General and I would say one of the very few in history who were tactically and strategically highly competent.
 
 
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  Quote Kamikaze 738 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 10:38
Many say that Lee was the better general. I think it was stated that the president of the USA, when the war started, gave the command of the army to Lee but Lee refused because his state was cecceded to the Confederancy which is what he fought for. But no doubt that Grant was a good general in the Union forces too.
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  Quote SearchAndDestroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 10:57
About Alfred the Great, I think it's said he had thre other brothers who all died fighting the Danes. After they died, he became defacto King and then led his people and united them to fight the Danes. He was supposedly sick throughout his life, and very educated. After he had beaten the Danes he copied many books himself and gave them as gifts to nobles. I think he also started schools for Nobility and built many advanced fortification in his Kingdom to protect it. He did alot for his people. Makes me wonder if his brothers didn't die, how much the world would be different now.
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  Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 15:38
Originally posted by Sparten

^
Well since he existed about 3200 years before napoleon I would say it is the other way around.
 
I would say US Grant is the most underratted general. He was IMO the greatest of the 19th Century Generals and possibly of all time. he was the first Industrial General and I would say one of the very few in history who were tactically and strategically highly competent.
 
 
Ok, so Napoleon was Tuthmose III of FranceThumbs%20Up.
The diffrence is Tuthmose never lost and He kept his territories ( the biggest territory in Egypt history ) but of course Napoleon had harder enemies.
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  Quote Athanasios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 19:16
I think that there is no such a thing like "best general" etc. I believe that circumstances create a grate general and his victories glorious...People (me too) often overestimate historical persons (and generals of course) because of their charmy personalities...
 
For example the Belisarius campaigns are more interesting from a point of view than those of Narses because Belisarius was an ambitius teenager when he became "ypatos" in the Persian front whith many physical and mental admirable characteristics...
 
Narses ,on the other hand, was an aging eunouch- a remarcable general- but not that charmy person as Belisarius. So Narses in comparison to Belisarius is considered underrated ... 
 
An other example is Heraclius... Just imagine that if there was not the rising power of Islam, he would be considered as a second Great Alexander although Heraclius didn't want to occupy the whole Persia for obvious reasons. His succes was erased by the succes of the Arabs that its effects are obvious untill today.
 
Yes , I believe that Grant was a great and inventive general because when his co-generals were considering "what would Napoleon do if he was in our position..." he trusted his genious....
 
Anyway i believe that the difference between Napoleon and Tuthmose III is that Napoleon's campaigns affected our lives much more than Tuthmose's but that doesn't necessarily make him a gratest general... What do people think is an other subject and the reasons are known and comprehensible...

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  Quote DSMyers1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 19:23
Spartan--

I compliment you on this excellent summary of forgotten generals.  I knew of most of them, but some of your information I had not seen.  I had not even heard of Muttines or Publius Ventidius.  I believe that Nathaniel Greene was the greatest general of the Revolutionary War--but probably wouldn't have been, had Wolfe survived!  I had never thought about Wolfe and the Revolutionary war--an interesting idea.

Thanks for the good reading!
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  Quote Laelius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 21:41
I agree with Spartan and think Grant was better than Lee personally you can't blame him for his lack of success with the clumsy AoP.  If anybody wants to learn more about Grant and his genius try reading Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, perhaps one of the best ways to learn about the man is to study the weapon he forged in this lethal mobile hard fighting hard driving Army.
 
 
As for the thread topic I get the feeling that Grant is hardly forgotten and so I plan on an entry on Major General John S. Wood of the US 4th Armored division, the American Rommel.


Edited by Laelius - 24-Apr-2007 at 21:47
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2007 at 22:26
As a wise man once said. Lee was the finest tactician, Grant was the finest stratistician. Sadly for Lee they were fighting a war not a battle.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2007 at 01:30

I must disagree Grant's overaland campaign was a sucess by any means, since at his conclusion Lee was pinned in the trenches in front of Petersberg with all the strategic mobility of an elefant with no legs.

For future Reference and to avoid confusion, he is Spartan I am Sparten.
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  Quote kilroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Apr-2007 at 15:21
One of the generals i bet no one has heard about is Domitius Corbulo, and Imperial Legate under Caligula, Claudius and Nero.   He Successfully quelled many rebellions across the Rhine in Germania against the Cherusci and Chauci tribes and even established garrisons until Emperor Claudius ordered him to pull out. 

Later, he led many successful campaigns in the east, specifically in Armenia against King Tiridates.  Nero became very wary of Corbulo's growing popularity and military prowess and soon ordered him to commit suicide, and Corbulo did without complaining. 
Kilroy was here.
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  Quote TheARRGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jun-2007 at 17:02
I'm NEW TO ALL EMPIRES!!!

....yeah, just thought i should get the traditional announcement of newbie status out of the way first...

I think that a lot of these people are DEFINITELY not mentioned as much as they should be. But if i had to choose two under-mentioned generals who i've always liked, i'd have to say that the first would be: the Mapuche General
Lautaro. The Mapuche were  (and are) a civilization native to a southern part of chile and an area of argentina. When the spanish decided to conquer that area, Lautaro was elected general (toqui) and ended up decimating quite a number of spanish military expeditions, and razing a number of forts. Some of his tactics are still studied in certain military academies. Granted, the mapuche held off spanish conquest for over 300 years, so lautaro was a small chapter in that time, but he was one of the most impressive ones.

Second (another native-to-the-americas general) would probably have been Wayna Qhapaq, an Inka emperor. In terms of sheer area conquered during his time as the leader, he was in the leagu of Alexander, Caesar, and the other "greats". Granted there aren't too many known little details of that time that i'm aware of, but i still find it impressive.
Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? "Thou shalt" is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, "I will." - Nietzsche

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  Quote Galahadlrrp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2008 at 04:27
--One "forgotten" general forgotten here is Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the more remarkable commanders in all of history. With no military education, he rose from private to Lieutenant General and succeeded at every level of command, and, in the process, lost only two battles where he commanded. The last one was at Selma, where he was outnumbered more than two to one by Wilson, and where his troops were outgunned, since Wilson's men were all armed with repeaters.
--I don't know if the Russians study him still, but the Soviets did, starting with Tukachevsky. They called his deep-penetration raids "American raids" and based their concept of armored penetrations on them.
--As for his effect on the war, General William Sherman wrote, when preparing to advance on Atlanta, "That devil Forrest must be suppressed if it costs ten thousand men and bankrupts the Federal treasury."
--And kudos for mentioning Corbulo. If a biography of him had survived, he'd be near the top of Imperial Roman generals.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2008 at 17:40
Wade Hampton who led the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia after Stuarts death was also uneducated militarically. plus he was never beaten when in command. both he and Forrest were also the only Cavalry Comamnder that would rise to the rank of Lieutenant-General in the Confederate Army.

about Tukhachevsky, not sure it was his invention though. the first Soviet Horse-Army was led by Budyonny and many Soviet commanders that would have a sucessfull career in ww2 served in it.
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  Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2008 at 18:08
What is this? Cao Cao is mentioned but not Zhuge Liang? Shocked

Other generals contemporary with Cao Cao were Zhou Yu, Lu Xun, Sima Yi and Jiang Wei, all of whom can be said to have been better generals.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2008 at 20:47
Hampton was beaten by......Custer, at the Cavalry Field at Gettysburg. The main forces engaged were Hampton and Custers.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2008 at 23:42
The cavalry action(s) at Gettysburg were relatively minor, but on July 3, JEB Stuart attempted to exploit any success Pickett might have had.  Well.....there was none.  Stuart was driven off in an engagement that lasted less than an hour, and one of his brigade commanders, Wade Hampton was bested by Custer in that action.  Certainly the high point of his career.
 
 
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  Quote Galahadlrrp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Nov-2008 at 00:03
--The high point of Hampton's career was at the Battle of Trevilian Station, the largest all-cavalry battle of the Civil War. There he beat Sheridan and the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, forcing him to break off the fight and withdraw. He also came close to destroying Custer and his brigade.
--Though some might say the high point was when he took Lee's cavalry and raided deep into Grant's rear and captured some 2500 head of cattle. These were safely brought back to Confederate lines after a march of more than 100 miles, while fighting two engagements and suffering a total loss of about 60 men. It's called The Great Cattle Raid and is one of the larger cattle rustlings in American history.
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