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How would you rank the greatest US generals?
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Proud Bammer Offline
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Post: #31
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
Washington is the only American general to win a war as the underdog.
06-13-2014 06:29 PM
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UCGrad1992 Offline
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Post: #32
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
(06-12-2014 01:22 PM)UofM_Tiger Wrote:  the island hopping campaign was the brain child of Nimitz, not MacArthur. MacArthur had the army slogging through the rain forest on New Guinea to provide a base for his return.

Actually, the US Navy first developed the island hopping strategy at the turn of the 20th century due to a series of events caused by Japan that threatened U.S interests in the western Pacific:

Quote:The U.S. Navy began to draft, as early as 1897, war plans against Japan, which were eventually code-named "War Plan Orange. " The war plan of 1911, which was drafted under Rear Admiral Raymond P. Rodgers, included an island-hopping strategy for approaching Japan.

Quote: General Douglas MacArthur greatly supported this strategy in his effort to regain the Philippines. This strategy began to be implemented in late 1943 in Operation Cartwheel. While General Douglas MacArthur claimed to have invented the strategy, it initially came out of the Navy.

https://www.boundless.com/u-s-history/fr...-to-tokyo/

My point was that regardless of who "invented or first developed" the tactic of island hopping, MacArthur used it effectively in his Pacific Theater strategy as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific.
06-13-2014 09:56 PM
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Owl 69/70/75 Offline
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Post: #33
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
US military history is not full of great generals.

As someone noted above, Washington is the only US military leader to win a war as an underdog. And he did it without really winning a major battle, but by being a pest and outlasting the British resolve--kind of like what is happening to us today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We win wars, not by having great leaders but by having superior logistics. The greatest military leader in US history was probably someone like Henry Ford or Henry J. Kaiser, because that's how we win wars.

It is often said that there are two types of officers--warriors and paper shufflers. War in this era is such a political event that ideally you need one of each. Ike and Bradley were paper shufflers, Patton and MacArthur were warriors. In Desert Storm, Schwartzkopf was the warrior and Powell the paper shuffler. Probably the best leadership we ever had was WWII in the Pacific, with Nimitz and Halsey and Spruance. But they were helped because Honolulu was not exactly on the beaten path so they didn't get the same level of media scrutiny as the war in Europe, so their paper shuffling needs were lower, and even then it was our industrial capacity the made the difference.

The Japanese had three possible targets at Pearl Harbor. The carriers would have been #1, although by coincidence or luck or perhaps something more sinister, they were away at the time. Without carriers, the Japanese opted for the battleships. Had they gone instead for knocking out the repair facilities, they might have won the war.
06-14-2014 07:54 AM
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bitcruncher Offline
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Post: #34
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
(06-14-2014 07:54 AM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  US military history is not full of great generals.

As someone noted above, Washington is the only US military leader to win a war as an underdog. And he did it without really winning a major battle, but by being a pest and outlasting the British resolve--kind of like what is happening to us today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We win wars, not by having great leaders but by having superior logistics. The greatest military leader in US history was probably someone like Henry Ford or Henry J. Kaiser, because that's how we win wars.

It is often said that there are two types of officers--warriors and paper shufflers. War in this era is such a political event that ideally you need one of each. Ike and Bradley were paper shufflers, Patton and MacArthur were warriors. In Desert Storm, Schwartzkopf was the warrior and Powell the paper shuffler. Probably the best leadership we ever had was WWII in the Pacific, with Nimitz and Halsey and Spruance. But they were helped because Honolulu was not exactly on the beaten path so they didn't get the same level of media scrutiny as the war in Europe, so their paper shuffling needs were lower, and even then it was our industrial capacity the made the difference.

The Japanese had three possible targets at Pearl Harbor. The carriers would have been #1, although by coincidence or luck or perhaps something more sinister, they were away at the time. Without carriers, the Japanese opted for the battleships. Had they gone instead for knocking out the repair facilities, they might have won the war.
It was something more sinister. There's plenty of evidence that our government knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, and they left the battleships there to be attacked. It was the only way to gain enough popular sentiment for the U.S. to enter the war on the right side.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, popular sentiment was split, with about half of the nation wanting us to enter as Germany's ally. Letting Japan attack Hawai'i changed that sentiment overnight.
06-14-2014 09:59 AM
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UCGrad1992 Offline
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Post: #35
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
(06-14-2014 09:59 AM)bitcruncher Wrote:  
(06-14-2014 07:54 AM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  US military history is not full of great generals.

As someone noted above, Washington is the only US military leader to win a war as an underdog. And he did it without really winning a major battle, but by being a pest and outlasting the British resolve--kind of like what is happening to us today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We win wars, not by having great leaders but by having superior logistics. The greatest military leader in US history was probably someone like Henry Ford or Henry J. Kaiser, because that's how we win wars.

It is often said that there are two types of officers--warriors and paper shufflers. War in this era is such a political event that ideally you need one of each. Ike and Bradley were paper shufflers, Patton and MacArthur were warriors. In Desert Storm, Schwartzkopf was the warrior and Powell the paper shuffler. Probably the best leadership we ever had was WWII in the Pacific, with Nimitz and Halsey and Spruance. But they were helped because Honolulu was not exactly on the beaten path so they didn't get the same level of media scrutiny as the war in Europe, so their paper shuffling needs were lower, and even then it was our industrial capacity the made the difference.

The Japanese had three possible targets at Pearl Harbor. The carriers would have been #1, although by coincidence or luck or perhaps something more sinister, they were away at the time. Without carriers, the Japanese opted for the battleships. Had they gone instead for knocking out the repair facilities, they might have won the war.
It was something more sinister. There's plenty of evidence that our government knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, and they left the battleships there to be attacked. It was the only way to gain enough popular sentiment for the U.S. to enter the war on the right side.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, popular sentiment was split, with about half of the nation wanting us to enter as Germany's ally. Letting Japan attack Hawai'i changed that sentiment overnight.

Great points Owl. There's no question it takes a combination of successful factors and collective leadership to win a major war or conflict. All of the generals that have been mentioned in this thread have varying degrees of battlefield/tactical prowess, circumstantial improvisation, political acumen, administrative proficiency, leadership skills and charisma, etc. I would only make the point that IMO the great generals ultimately have to perform on the battlefield when it counts despite the external support structure and political factors.

To Owl and bit's point on Pearl Harbor...I am familiar with the theory that the U.S. knew "something" beforehand but it would be a damn shame and morally/ethically wrong if our leadership purposefully sacrificed the lives of soldiers and civilians in that manner to open the door to war with Japan. If we anticipated/knew the pending attack beforehand it would make more sense to position our carriers in strategic areas around Pearl Harbor. That would have allowed our air support to counter the Jap's planes and made the outcome more favorable to the U.S. IMO. Japan would still have been the aggressor for the attack and political and public support-wise the justification for war would ensue.

Quote: Several writers, including journalist Robert Stinnett and former United States rear admiral Robert Alfred Theobald, have argued that various parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may even have let it happen or encouraged it in order to force America into war via the so-called "back door." However, this Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory is rejected by mainstream historians.

I realize that historians can still be wrong in full or in part but this conspiracy definitely has some holes in it. Just sayin'.....
06-14-2014 11:15 AM
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bitcruncher Offline
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Post: #36
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
Mainstream historians tend to follow the belief that the government actually works for the people too, and we all know that's a crock.
06-14-2014 12:26 PM
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Kaplony Offline
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Post: #37
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
There have been some good ones mentioned already, so I'll skip over those to bring up a fewer lesser known ones who's leadership and/or strategy should be more highly celebrated.


Nathanael Greene probably played as big of a part in the eventual defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown as anybody. When he split his forces in the Carolinas he forced Cornwallis to do the same, resulting in Patriot victories at Cowpens and Kings Mountain. Then his strategic retreat forced Cornwallis to chase him, and most importantly in order to keep up forced Cornwallis to shed much of his equipment and provisions, thus weakening his forces. When Greene faced Cornwallis in full scale battle he rarely outright defeated him, but even in defeat he forced Cornwallis to expend more resources than he was able to replace. This eventually forced Cornwallis out of the Carolinas and into Virginia where he was eventually defeated.


Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller is an American military leader that outside of the Marine Corps and a small segment of history buffs doesn't get anywhere near the credit he deserves. He fought in the "Banana Wars" in Haiti and Nicaragua, WWII and Korea and served as an exemplary leader of men in almost every case. He didn't achieve a general's rank until after his masterful actions during the withdrawal from Chosin Reservoir, but Puller was without a doubt one of the best battlefield leaders in US history.
(This post was last modified: 06-14-2014 02:52 PM by Kaplony.)
06-14-2014 02:52 PM
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Post: #38
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
It's an odd thing, being considered great. What does that mean? If it means getting men to buy into your cause and being effective in completing a mission, then I think Washington and even N.B. Forrest have to be included.

To include Lee means to gloss over his order for Pickett's charge. To me, that is one of the biggest blunders in military history.
07-10-2014 11:50 AM
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HeartOfDixie Offline
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Post: #39
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
(07-10-2014 11:50 AM)Phillip26r Wrote:  It's an odd thing, being considered great. What does that mean? If it means getting men to buy into your cause and being effective in completing a mission, then I think Washington and even N.B. Forrest have to be included.

To include Lee means to gloss over his order for Pickett's charge. To me, that is one of the biggest blunders in military history.

If it had worked, the charge, the war would have been over. It's only a blunder because it didn't pan out.
07-10-2014 12:58 PM
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john01992 Offline
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Post: #40
RE: How would you rank the greatest US generals?
(07-10-2014 12:58 PM)HeartOfDixie Wrote:  
(07-10-2014 11:50 AM)Phillip26r Wrote:  It's an odd thing, being considered great. What does that mean? If it means getting men to buy into your cause and being effective in completing a mission, then I think Washington and even N.B. Forrest have to be included.

To include Lee means to gloss over his order for Pickett's charge. To me, that is one of the biggest blunders in military history.

If it had worked, the charge, the war would have been over. It's only a blunder because it didn't pan out.

it didn't pan out because it was a terrible idea. this isn't risk where it comes down to the role of dice and random chance of something going wrong.
07-10-2014 01:22 PM
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