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Subject: Who was the best general that (maybe) nobody ever heard of?.... rss

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Enrico Viglino
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Charles Vasey wrote:
Philip Jelley wrote:
Campaigns of Marlborough

There is of course the Duke himself; "There are few successful commanders on whom Fame has shone so unwillingly as upon John, Duke of Marlborough." Won every battle he fought, took every town he besieged.

Philip


I think most of us know him, though probably more through his family's cigarette business.


I thought the Churchill family was better known for cigars.

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Edward Kendrick
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Archbold wrote:
How about Sir James Hope Grant?

If you needed something done, something important, something tough, you sent Hope Grant.


There is an interesting portrait of Hope Grant in G M Fraser's Flashman and the Dragon, his account of Flashman's inimitable contribution to the Chinese war of 1860.
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Martí Cabré

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Not the greatest general in history, but the greatest admiral in Medieval Mediterranean was Roger of Lauria.




He was a Ghibelline Sicilian that exiled to Barcelona during the conflict between the Pope and the Emperor. There the Crown of Aragon recruited him and he won all the naval battles against the Angevins that controlled Sicily. The Crown of Aragon managed to use the conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines to expand east into the Mediterranean: Sardinia, Sicily, Naples and even Athens. Roger of Lauria was the key soldier of the time.

The wars for control of Sicily were so important that each time the French were defeated, the Pope himself (who during that time was always a brother or the French king) paid mercenary troops to keep the island under French control. When the Crown of Aragon finally took control of Sicily the Pope declared a Holy Crusade against Catalonia, hoping for a repetition of the Albigensian Crusade ("Kill them all and God will save the innocent ones"), but the French army was too reliant on its naval supply. Roger of Lauria smashed the French fleet in Les Formigues and the French army, without naval supply, was then destroyed in Col de Panissars.




The French heir to the throne was captured but later released. This victory saved Catalonia from being incorporated into the French kingdom like the Languedoc had been the century before, after the Albigensian Crusade.

Roger's tactics were based in guile and ruthlessness. He feigned retreats to allure to enemy to more favorable positions and kept galleys hidden to attack the rear of the enemy. When the galleys closed he used the infamous almogavars as elite light naval infantry that were no match for the slow and cumbersome armored knights.




In 1884 the Regia Marina launched the Ruggiero di Lauria pre-dreadnought battleship named after him. It was sunk during WWII.

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Andrew Brown
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Barbarossa wrote:
Archbold wrote:
How about Sir James Hope Grant?

If you needed something done, something important, something tough, you sent Hope Grant.


There is an interesting portrait of Hope Grant in G M Fraser's Flashman and the Dragon, his account of Flashman's inimitable contribution to the Chinese war of 1860.


I know about Hope Grant from readingFlashman and the Dragon. cool
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Eric Walters
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GringerJD wrote:

We have a lot of good guys here. But I would give special mention to General O.P. Smith, the commander who saved the 1st Marine Division from being overrun by the Chinese at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Money quote: "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction." Extra points for quietly ignoring the HQ consensus that the Chinese would never intervene in a big way, and that the war was essentially over. He positioned many supply dumps along his line of advance that saved the division's bacon when he was surrounded by the Chinese who would never enter the fight...

On the left.

 


So glad somebody noticed. His granddaughter's husband was a battalion commander of mine and she (Gail Shisler) wrote a marvelous book about him. In Tom Ricks' latest book, THE GENERAL, Oliver Prince Smith comes off as one of the few good generals we've had since WW II....
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Christian Sperling
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bob_santafe wrote:
One remarkable person well worth considering is Shaka Zulu.

As a child I've watched the Shaka Zulu TV series and have good memories about it.
I think I need to watch it again.
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Iden Hill
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I would nominate Parmenion. Trusted general of King Phillip II of Macedonia, lead the vanguard to Asia to 'liberate' the Greek cities on the western shore of Anatolia. Chosen as second in command by Big Al,after Phillip was murdered, he is credited with the a lot of the tactics used in the most notable battles against Darius. After the battle of Issus he rushed 350 kilometers to the Persian treasury at Damascus where the surprised garrison handed over 55 tons of gold and other goodies that required a train of over 7,000 pack animals. Unfortunately for him Big Al suspected him of treason and had him murdered.
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Moshe Callen
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E_T_Lee wrote:
People on this board have heard of him, but if the general public ever heard the name Belisarius is was probably on the credits of TV adventure series.


I know of him because before switching fields I intended to professionally study Roman history. What's frustrating is just how much key information we don't know about him.
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Clement Tey
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Zhuge Liang.
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Midnight Reaper
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I was thinking about this today and yesterday and one name comes to mind for me: Charles Martel. From that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Martel
Quote:
The illegitimate son of Frankish strongman, Pepin of Heristal, and a noblewoman named Alpaida, Martel successfully asserted his claims to power as successor to his father as the power behind the throne in Frankish politics. Continuing and building on his father's work, he restored centralized government in Francia and began the series of military campaigns that re–established the Franks as the undisputed masters of all Gaul. In foreign wars, Martel subjugated Bavaria, Alemannia, Frisia, vanquished the pagan Saxons, and halted the Islamic advance into Western Europe at the Battle of Tours.

Martel is considered to be the founding figure of the European Middle Ages. Skilled as an administrator and warrior, he is often credited with a seminal role in the development of feudalism and knighthood. Martel was a great patron of Saint Boniface and made the first attempt at reconciliation between the Papacy and the Franks.


For the Battle of Tours alone he would be on this list. For all of his achievements, he was nearly in a class all his own.

-M_R
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Eric Jablow
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Perhaps having Victor Davis Hanson write about you makes you ineligible here, but there's something to be said for Epaminondas of Thebes, who ended the power of Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra. Of course, the ensuing power vacumn led to Alexander's conquest of Greece.
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Moshe Callen
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Charles Martel is hardly obscure.
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Steve Arthur
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EricRJ wrote:
Perhaps having Victor Davis Hanson write about you makes you ineligible here, but there's something to be said for Epaminondas of Thebes, who ended the power of Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra. Of course, the ensuing power vacumn led to Alexander's conquest of Greece.



An excellent choice!!!...
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Wendell
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whac3 wrote:
Charles Martel is hardly obscure.


Alas, he is to your average non-history-consuming person. I bet if you polled people, more would say "fashion designer" than "famous captain who defeated the Moors".
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Charles Vasey
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wifwendell wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Charles Martel is hardly obscure.


Alas, he is to your average non-history-consuming person. I bet if you polled people, more would say "fashion designer" than "famous captain who defeated the Moors".


Wasn't he a French singer of the Forties.....
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stephen
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Not sure if he counts either by being obscure enough or highly ranked enough. But I would acknowledge the courage and humanity in terrible conditions of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. Leading a hopelessly underfunded and resourced UN mission to Rwanda, in spite of his best troops being withdrawn and no political support from the UN itself he stood his ground and at great personal cost continued to do his best to stop the genocide that was taking place in that country.
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Steve Arthur
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emmersonpoole wrote:
Not sure if he counts either by being obscure enough or highly ranked enough. But I would acknowledge the courage and humanity in terrible conditions of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. Leading a hopelessly underfunded and resourced UN mission to Rwanda, in spite of his best troops being withdrawn and no political support from the UN itself he stood his ground and at great personal cost continued to do his best to stop the genocide that was taking place in that country.


Maybe not excellent generalship but something more important...an excellent human being!!!
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Christina Kahrl
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I figure Belisarius has gotten a ton of credit, when the near-peer who may properly belong on this list is Narses. YMMV, naturally.

Edit: Written before seeing others already note the noteworthy Narses.
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Christina Kahrl
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How about Radetzky, or does he qualify as too high-profile?
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Joel Brighton
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calandale wrote:
I've always been quite fond of Narses, whom I believe was
undefeated. He replaced the far better known Belisarius,
and finished the job the more famous general couldn't complete.


It's been a while since I read about these gentlemen but wasn't Narses able to 'finish the job' because he received the troops and materiel that had been denied to Belisarius? Something to do with Imperial jealousies?
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Charles Vasey
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DiamondSylph wrote:
How about Radetzky, or does he qualify as too high-profile?


He should waltz it.
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Eric Lai
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General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, undefeated German General in charge of the East Africa Campaign, won despite very poor odds using local know how, a regular Ho Chi Minh.
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Garfink wrote:
General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, undefeated German General in charge of the East Africa Campaign, won despite very poor odds using local know how, a regular Ho Chi Minh.


Hmm...I had pushed his counters in Sideshow: The Campaign for German East Africa 1914-1918 when I was young. I felt the system was as awkward and clunky as him.cry
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Enrico Viglino
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joebri wrote:
calandale wrote:
I've always been quite fond of Narses, whom I believe was
undefeated. He replaced the far better known Belisarius,
and finished the job the more famous general couldn't complete.


It's been a while since I read about these gentlemen but wasn't Narses able to 'finish the job' because he received the troops and materiel that had been denied to Belisarius? Something to do with Imperial jealousies?


That's indeed the general criticism of Narses. Basically though, both were
sent out with a significant army. Belisarius frittered his away. He also
played politics (or had supporters do so) in such a manner that the emperor
didn't trust him - which prevented reinforcements, and led to his recall.
His prior command was an unfinished conquest though - he spent 15 years
in North Africa, and failed to subdue it as well.
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Gary Selkirk
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British General Sir Richard O'Connor of 1940 North African Desert fame.
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