The Greatest General

May 15, 2008

There has been quite a discussion on the nature of scholarship and generalship here, here, here, and here. Much of the discussion related to the utility of having a corpus of military history knowledge, and on the utility of having our military professionals and foriegn policy wonks reading that corpus.

It might be instructive to see who we think is worthy of making our collective list. List in hand, we might be able to deduce a few defining qualities that make for superior generalship, and whether the victor in battle is also the scholar.

Granted, no list can ever be exhaustive, but such lists can be instructive, and fun (I like thinking about these things, anyways).

First, a couple of gudelines:

1) No fictional generals. (I’m a huge fan of Sam Damon and Ender Wiggins, but lets keep it real)

2) Other ranks are fair game: Go ahead and mention the Air Vice Marshalls, Crown Princes, and Dukes of Earl.

My list:

  1. Alexander the Great
  2. Belisarius
  3. Mao & Giap
  4. Napoleon
  5. Rommel, tied with von Mellenthin
  6. Hannibal Barca
  7. Washington, FDR, Truman
  8. Grant, Lincoln
  9. Douglas MacArthur
  10. Matthew Ridgway

Honorable Mentions: Patton, Nimitz, Bradley, Eisenhower, Zukhov, HM Smith, Alexander Vandegrift, Spruance, Mitscher, LeMay, Pershing, Lewis Puller, OP Smith, Geiger, Zinni, Mattis, Petraeus

Crossposted at ChicagoBoyz.