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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2009 at 00:49
yes thats true but Allenbys predecessor wasn't exactly the greatest of generals and allenby implemented many new forms of warfare that would become commonplace in ww2. maybe Atatürk learned from this defeat and maybe this is the reason he was so succesfull later in the independence war which was fought in the new way by the turks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Evrenosgazi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2009 at 08:59
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

yes thats true but Allenbys predecessor wasn't exactly the greatest of generals and allenby implemented many new forms of warfare that would become commonplace in ww2. maybe Atatürk learned from this defeat and maybe this is the reason he was so succesfull later in the independence war which was fought in the new way by the turks.
Yes Allenby was a fine general but the 1918 syria assault was a war with a certain outcome. Even a super genius could not reverse it.  Atatürk tried to protect the turkish soldiers from the war. His main task was a regular retreat and he did it. So I think he learned nothing from his opponent. The soldiers which he preserved were the crack of the independence war.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2009 at 13:10
Allenby used cavalry corps to great effect and used bombers to destroy retreatig columns. Atatürk also formed a cavalry corps under Hayrettin Pasha and also gave much importance to the small Turkish airforce, which wasn't the case before. the independence war was not fought like ww1 (like gallipoli trench wars) but in the new way where the airforce actually supports the ground forces and with corps of fast troops (cavalry) which happened in Palestine after Allenby took over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Galahadlrrp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2009 at 17:54
--After thinking long about making another post in this thread, I've come to the conclusion that the project, as it currently is, has a large flaw in it. Specifically, I mean the ranking of commanders from 1 to 100. Given the many eras, with their diverse tactics, weapons, social structures, etc, it's simply not possible to say so-and-so is #1. A general who is great in one era might be much less than great in another, because he didn't have the ability to use the weapon of that other era. Can you truly say that Alexander the Great was a better general than Erich von Manstein? Alexander might have a real problem commanding the kind of forces Manstein commanded, given his method of leadership.
--It seems to me that a better--or maybe a more accurate--way of ranking would be tiers, rather than a simple arithmetical order.
--To be scientifically objective, rather than purely subjective, you'd need to set up a large number of categories, comprising the various facets of what goes into making a general. Though it would be simplistic, rank them in each category on a scale from 0 to 10.
--A couple of categories would cover short term and long term accomplishments. In other words, their legacy.
--For example:
1. Innovation that changed how war was waged.
2. Their impact on their world;
3. Their impact on the future of their world;
4. Their impact on the future of the world as whole.
--Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar would score exceedingly high in 2-4, while Chandragupta and Genghis Khan would score exceedinly high in 1, 2 & 3, but not 4. Gustavus Adolphus and Hannibal would both score exceedingly high in 1.
--Other categories would be, for instance, grand tactics, operational strategy, grand strategy, logistics, command and control, use of combined arms. You'd have to determine what makes a commander.
--When the categories are determined, then you would rate the commanders. Some would score high in some categories, and low in others. Stonewall Jackson would score very high in operational strategy, but very low in both tactics and in command & control. Robert E. Lee would score very high in operational strategy and very low in logistics. As Jackson was a pedestrian tactician, so also was Lee a lousy quartermaster. But the Duke of Wellington would score very high in all those categories.
--In theory, when you add the totals for all the categories you should come up with a relative ranking based on ability and on their effect on the world and on the battlefield. I'm not sure which would be a better way to obtain the final ranking, either come up with a total and let numerical order sort them out, or get that number and divide by the total of the categories. Any statisticians out there who have thoughts on it?
--Generally speaking--no pun intended--Zhukov ought to be very high, even though he never exercised one of the major qualifications required for what is termed a Great Captain. He didn't make policy or control grand strategy; he executed the policies and the grand strategy he was ordered to execute; as did the Duke of Wellington--both of them would score 0 in those categories. But Hannibal, Caesar and Gustavus controlled both of those, and of the three, it seems to me that only Caesar would rate a 10 in both policy and grand strategy, if only because his succeeded completely, while the other two failed.
--When all is done, you should have an idea of how commanders rank with relation to each other, based on how they score--or don't score in all the categories. You could toss in more than 100 commanders, too, and see how the dice roll with them. Charles XII would surely be a 10 on leadership and in tactics--and maybe a 2 in strategy.
--The end result ought to come out with some clear "winners", so far as the top commanders go, after their strengths and weaknesses are summed up. You'd have ties, for sure, but so what? Few commanders would score a 10 in all categories. Genghis Khan wouldn't score as high in battles won as Napoleon would, for instance, simply because many of Genghis' victories were won by his subordinates and not him.
--Finally, you could say that the top tier commanders are those who score in the top 10 percent, say, second tier commanders, those in the top 20%, etc. Or maybe something different. Any ideas?
--There's the concept. What do y'all think about it? Does it seem a valid way to assign a relative rank to commanders from different eras? If there are flaws, what do they seem to be, and how should things be adjusted to rectify them?
--If the method seems valid, I'd guess the first step needed would be to decide on the categories that are needed in order to rate the commanders. The more there are, the better the likelihood of obtaining a valid end result.

Edited by Galahadlrrp - 13-Apr-2009 at 17:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DSMyers1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2009 at 18:15
Good post, Galahadlrrp.  I have tried to find a numerical way to do this list, as I have with the Top 100 Leaders (in progress), but have been unable to do so--primarily due to a lack of sources on specifics about many generals.  As such, it becomes very difficult to quantify the general's skill in a specific area.  Ancient generals suffer the most, as well as East Asian generals with few English sources.  Thus the more qualitative form this list has taken.  Trust me, I would go with a quantitative system if I could--I'm an engineer and a great fan of quantifying everything.

That said, Spartan actually put together a very good tier-based list that served as one of the original sources for this list.  Find it at The Commanders of History: A Compilation on this forum.  His research is more comprehensive than mine, I am sure.  I have tried to use a more open system, with input from many people about generals I don't know much about.  It is well-nigh impossible to do enough research on one's own to create a comprehensive list... I do not have the time to do that.  I simply endeavor to moderate and cull through this and other threads and assemble a "consensus" list (but one that reflects good scholarship and an unbiased perspective, as much as possible.)

As I mentioned before, my criteria are here: Evaluation of Generals.

I also dislike ranking a general based on their legacy--being a general is about results.  If the current system is good and good results were obtained, I do not think we should punish them for not innovating.  A general's job is to win the war, achieve the aims--not come up with new methods to do so unless that is what is required to achieve the aims.  That's my take on generals' legacies...  For Leaders my criteria is opposite and legacy is critical.


Edited by DSMyers1 - 13-Apr-2009 at 18:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2009 at 19:53
Originally posted by DSMyers1 DSMyers1 wrote:


I also dislike ranking a general based on their legacy--being a general is about results.  I


results of battles or results of the wars in which those battles were fought?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DSMyers1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 19:37
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

Originally posted by DSMyers1 DSMyers1 wrote:


I also dislike ranking a general based on their legacy--being a general is about results.  I


results of battles or results of the wars in which those battles were fought?


Both, depending on their level of responsibility.  If they were responsible for the conduct of the war, the war.  If for the campaign, the campaign.  If for the battle, the battle.  It all depends on what was in their power/under their authority.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 19:41
but we can't see battles independently from wars. battles are only fought in the context of the war or campaign, battles are never fought just for fun like playing chess, that's against the "rules of war". fighting battles without purpose only weakens you. it is important to point that out in regards to people like Hannibal and Napoleon to some degree.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DSMyers1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 22:35
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

but we can't see battles independently from wars. battles are only fought in the context of the war or campaign, battles are never fought just for fun like playing chess, that's against the "rules of war". fighting battles without purpose only weakens you. it is important to point that out in regards to people like Hannibal and Napoleon to some degree.


I am aware of that.  Typically, I evaluate the generals according to the criteria I set forth above.  Thus the grand strategy and the campaign strategy are preeminent and the tactical mastery secondary, with the personal leadership lesser.  Thus I care little for Karl XII of Sweden despite his tactical brilliance.  The great generals win the campaign with a minimum of losses, perhaps without even having to fight a battle of note.  Sun Tzu had much to say on that.

That said, some did all that could be done given their situation, and I do allow for level of difficulty--hence my esteem for Hannibal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 16:43
Originally posted by DSMyers1 DSMyers1 wrote:


That said, some did all that could be done given their situation, and I do allow for level of difficulty--hence my esteem for Hannibal.


well that's just Lost Cause rhetorics. there were numerous people in numerous times and locations in a much worser situation and suceeded nevertheless.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jubelu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 15:34
Anyone who are versed in Middle Byzantine History (The period between Justinian and Heraclius, or even later into the Iconoclasm! Could you please name at least 3 generals in which they refused from pillaging a settled area after a battle, and yet receive a high potentiality of mutinies, rebellions and usurps within their own army?

I aplogise for this, for I have been very desperate in attempting to understand better this period (particularly from Heraclius to the Isaurian dynasty). The scarce of available primary documents that I have strongly felt creates such an impression!

Thank you!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rubedo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 16:49
Hi, everybody! (Now You all say: ''Hi, Dr. Nick!'')

Nice work. Some things...

I don't understand why is Han Xin on 32, while Xiang Yu is not even on the list? According to my knowledge of that period of Chinese history, which is, albeit, pretty modest, Xiang Yu was at least on the same level, if not better. I remember reading one article here that said that he was considered ''peerless warrior'' and that Han Xin himself considered him invincible. I've googled this and found something on his wiki article:

Even Han Xin, one of the greatest commanders in Chinese history who was given the title 'Invincible Against Metal' by Liu Bang, knew of Xiang Yu's invincibilities, and never really confronted him in battle. Instead Han Xin used the strategy of isolating Xiang Yu, which Liu Bang took advantage of, and betrayed Xiang Yu on the peace treaty.

The stories of prophecy flourished and in some ways overshadowed Liu Bang's glory of building the Han dynasty. During the period of war between Liu Bang and Xiang Yu, Liu Bang had once asked Han Xin, "How many soldiers can you command with efficiency?" Han Xin replied, "As many as possible -- my strength can only be increased by the number of soldiers I command." Liu Bang then asked Han Xin, who had served under Xiang Yu but was driven out, "what is Xiang Yu's weakness? Is there a way to defeat him?" Han Xin calmly replied, "No, Xiang Yu himself is invincible, he is destined to be king." Liu Bang however had a different destiny: the destiny of becoming an emperor.

Xiang Yu is popularly viewed as possessing great bravery but lacking in wisdom, as summarized in the Chinese idiom "yǒuyǒng wúmóu" (有勇無謀). His military tactics were required learning for generals, while his political blunders were also required learnings for emperors as to what not to do as leaders.

I understand that Wikipedia is not a popular source for more or less anything, so I'll let You chose if You want to take this seriously.

I've read through some pages, and noticed You DSMyers1 asking about Dušan Silni?

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with his tactical skills except partly for Battle of Velbazhd, for which he is mostly credited, and that happened while he was still a young, 22 years old, prince. To my knowledge, when it comes to military, he is mostly credited for creating strong heavy cavalry which had reputation for being probably the best in the Balkans even couple of decades after his death. For an example, probably the key fighting force of Bayezid Yildirim at both Nicopolis and Ankara was this heavy cavalry, both times led by Despot Stefan Lazarević, Bayezid's vassal. There is a story that even Tamerlane noticed how good warriors Despot and his soldiers were, and also that Bayezid was once taken as a prisoner, but that Stefan with his knights fought through the Mongols and was able to help him. Second time, when he was caught, the battle was over.

Some Serbs You could maybe mention together with Car Dušan Silni and Despot Stefan Lazarević are Stefan Nemanja - the founder of Serbian state, King Milutin - he basically conquered at least half of what is credited to Dušan, it's just that Dušan was better at keeping it together, Karađorđe - leader of First Serbian Uprising in 1804 (he was nicknamed ''Karađorđe'' by the Turks, it means ''Black George'') for whom even Napoleon reputedly said something along the lines of: ''Me being so successful with such an army is not so impressive. The fact that there is a cattle-keeper somewhere in the Balkans leading a bunch of peasants against The Ottoman Empire is.'' Although that's probably not so amazing, since Napoleon was full of nice words for practically everyone.

And there are also commanders of Serbian army during the last quarter of XIX century, both of he Balkans Wars, and The World War One (most notably The Battle of Cer, The Battle of Kolubara, and The Salonika Front). There's three of them - Radomir Putnik, Živojin Mišić, and Stepa Stepanović.
You could take some look of them and those battles at the Wikipedia if You'd like. If not, that's fine.

I'm not sure if anyone of these eight deserves a place in the top 100, but since You mentioned, haha, Tito, I guess these guys should be mentioned too.


Edited by Rubedo - 25-May-2009 at 03:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DSMyers1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2009 at 04:05
Thanks for your input, Rubedo!  I'm kind of busy now and don't have time to answer in full...

Xiang Yu is an interesting case.  I have him down around 140 with Giap and Pyrrhus.  Xiang Yu won, built a massive empire, then watched it crumble.  He failed on the diplomatic side of generalship, alienated everyone, and destroyed his own success.  Should this be counted against him?  I say that he failed on some of the higher-level facets of generalship--strategy and grand strategy.  He was a glorified warlord...  His lack of skill beyond the field of battle itself weighs against him heavily in my evaluation.  However, there are similarly handicapped generals already on the list (Charles XII, though he fought more superior and strong enemies...)

I'll have to look into the Serbs (I had looked at Mitutin, if I remember correctly).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 18:30
I've been reading this thread and kind of shaking my head in some puzzlement.

You seem to be putting a lot of weight either on American popularity (Robert E. Lee) or the size of what they conquered.  I'd question that. That leaves out any generals in defensive or guerrilla wars, for example.

And how does their impact on the future of their world make any difference in their skill as a general? For that matter if that is what you're going to judge by, William the Conqueror was probably the greatest general who ever lived (although that's an argument I would question myself, especially since I don't necessarily accept the criteria).


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Originally posted by JRScotia JRScotia wrote:

I've been reading this thread and kind of shaking my head in some puzzlement.

You seem to be putting a lot of weight either on American popularity (Robert E. Lee) or the size of what they conquered.  I'd question that. That leaves out any generals in defensive or guerrilla wars, for example.

And how does their impact on the future of their world make any difference in their skill as a general? For that matter if that is what you're going to judge by, William the Conqueror was probably the greatest general who ever lived (although that's an argument I would question myself, especially since I don't necessarily accept the criteria).


The Criteria are here:
Quote

Evaluation of Generals

These are the primary facets to consider in evaluating generals’ skills:

  1. Individual battlefield inspirational leadership—leadership of the soldier

a.       Exemplary work/Personal bravery

b.      Motivation

c.       Discipline

d.      Equipment (and hence innovation in equipment)

e.       Logistics (small scale)

  1. Tactical mastery—gaining success on the battlefield

a.       Maneuver

b.      Anticipation

c.       Timing

d.      Deception of intentions

e.       Organization of army

f.        Selection of ground for battle

g.       Disposition of troops

h.       Reconnaissance

i.         Evaluating options

j.        Audacity at proper times

k.      Understanding the enemy

2.5.(Less important) Siege mastery—gaining success in sieges

a.       Logistics

b.      Engineering

c.       Timing

d.      Intelligence gathering

e.       Motivation of troops

  1. Strategic mastery—gaining success in campaign through maneuver or battle

a.       Logistics

b.      Maneuver on large scale

c.       Understanding opportunities

d.      Diplomacy with allied armies/generals

e.       Forcing battle when necessary

f.        Obtaining results from victories in battles

g.       Limiting fallout from defeats in battles

h.       Choosing when to siege and when to bypass strong points

i.         Large-scale organization of army(s)

j.        Audacity at proper times

k.      Evaluating the enemy’s options

l.         Defense—fortifications

  1. Grand strategic mastery—gaining victory/the ends desired through the military campaigns (political victory/conquest)

a.       Diplomacy with allies and foes

b.      Intelligence gathering

c.       Understanding when to go to war

d.      Playing off rivalries

e.       Properly using strategic victories

f.        Choosing proper goals for campaigns

g.       Peace negotiations

h.       Pacification of inhabitants conquered

 

All of these must be considered in relation to:

  1. The relative strength of each side in each of these 4 facets
  2. The skill of opponents
  3. The economy with which victory in each of these 4 facets was one (in money, destruction of property, and manpower).
  4. Where the general was limited by influences out of his control (for instance, many generals had no opportunity to exhibit facet #4, grand strategy).
  5. Where generals were stabbed in the back/not supported by their own nations—see Barca, Hannibal.
  6. Whether the methods in which victories were gained were innovative or common practice (a small influence, but perhaps should be considered).
  7. The time scale of victories
That is what I am trying to use, and I am certainly open to suggestions.  I do not include impact as a primary criterion.  I try to ignore that, in fact--that is for the Top 100 Leaders, whose very metric is impact.  I try not to be biased at all; many such lists betray the author's background and I endeavor to not do so.  I am weak on East Asian generals due to a lack of sources.

Do you have any particular changes in mind?  List candidates and where they should move/go.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jun-2009 at 20:25
Originally posted by JRScotia JRScotia wrote:

the size of what they conquered.  I'd question that. That leaves out any generals in defensive or guerrilla wars, for example.


size of what they conquered for me is a valid argument, isn't that one of the primary jobs of generals? of course that's not the only criteria but unfortunately (for them) defensive generals have a default handicap to them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonathan4290 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jun-2009 at 05:06
I think we all remember the ensuing mess when I tried to bring in some guerrilla generals, mainly Giap, and I don't think that's about to change.
 
However as far as defensive generals, I put forth German General Walther Model aka Hitler's Fireman for consideration. He certainly had a few defensive masterpieces did he not?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jun-2009 at 17:19
you can still try again, many people who opposed him aren't here any longer. I also think Model belongs to the better of Germanies ww2 generals.
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Hey guys, I'm new here, been lurking around on the forum for a while, finally decided to join today. Just a couple of suggestions, good English sources are hard to find on these generals, so I'm sorry if my suggestions seem trite. Bear with me!
 
Lin Piao(Biao), commanded the PLA in the northeastern China theatre during the Chinese civil war. He is probably most famous for the Liaoshen Campaign, for successfully reversing the war in the CCP's favour by trapping and destroying four NRA army groups in northeastern China, or 470 thousand men.
 
Peng Dehuai, commander of the PVA during the Korean war. Successfully implemented advanced infantry tactics time and time again, including stealth and infiltration, surround and destroy with local superiority, hugging tactics to negate Allied superiority in aircraft and artillery support etc. which forced the longest retreat of the US Army in history, while having vastly underequipped units by Western standards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 19:22
good suggestions there, I already heard of Lin Biao. unfortunately, as you said, sources are hard to find in the Western World.
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